“From Edwards to Emerson to Eddy: Extending a Trajectory of Metaphysical Idealism” in The Contribution of Jonathan Edwards to American Society and Culture: Essays on America’s Spiritual Founding Father
Weddle, David L. “From Edwards to Emerson to Eddy: Extending a Trajectory of Metaphysical Idealism,” Pages 125–52 in The Contribution of Jonathan Edwards to American Society and Culture: Essays on America’s Spiritual Founding Father. Edited by Richard A. S. Hall. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 2008.
Weddle compares the views of Jonathan Edwards, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Mary Baker Eddy about how each understood the connection of divinity with the human and natural world. Edwards wrote, “God and nature are not one. … man is corrupt and his self-reliance is reliance on evil” (128), but he believed humanity was on an “endless progression toward unity with God,” even though “the particular time will never come when it can be said, the union is now infinitely perfect” (133). This New Light progression toward divine and human unity was a step toward the mysticism and pantheism in Emerson’s Transcendentalism. Emerson wrote, “there is no reality but what we sustain by mental effort” (137), and therefore humans create their own spiritual reality. For him, divinity was fully in nature and humanity and therefore reality was humanly subjective. “Eddy asks the obvious question: how could divine spirit bring forth from itself a world entirely opposite to itself? Either God is material or the world is spiritual” (147). Eddy extended Edwards’s idealism to conclude that the world is the reflection of divine Mind, the key difference being “what for Edwards is the final horizon of the believer’s hope is for Eddy a present plain of demonstration” (132).
ISBN-13 (Hardcover): 978-0779914289