The Unitarian Conscience: Harvard Moral Philosophy, 1805-1861 (review)
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BOOK REVIEWS 393 mathematics, and in world history, but proclaims that subjectivity has its own truths as well. Again, Kierkegaard does not relate necessity and nothingness (p. 111). How could he, when he refers to the "nothingness of possibility" in The Concept o/ Dread? While writing with a robust confidence about what Kierkegaard means, Shestov too often projects into Kierkegaard's thought what he believes is there. A scrupulous reader of Kierkegaard will find that many of the pronunciamentos in this book are simply gratuitous---e.g., Kierkegaard turns away from the rationalism and ethics of Aristotle (this is clearly false in regard to Kierkegaard's description of ethical existence ); only faith can vanquish the "necessity which entered the world and gained control of it through reason" (p. 20) (this is false since it is one's potentiality for [kunnen] choice which enables one to realize spiritual possibilities)~impressions of what Kierkegaard said rather than careful remarks made on the basis of a conscientious study of his works. Throughout his impressionistic study of Kierkegaard, Shestov proclaims that he countered revelation to reason; this is not the case at all since Kierkegaard did not rely upon revelation for his defense of the possibility of faith, but, like Kant, he attacked reason in order to make room for faith: the Concluding Unscientific Postscript is not an irrationalist defense of religious faith, but a subtle, carefully reasoned defense of the possibility of faith, of a passionate commitment to a subjective certainty which entails a paradoxical tension between thought and passion (Lidenskab). It is good that Shestov's book has seen the light of day in English translation; but it is, for those who feel that Kierkegaard is decidedly not "old fashioned," a mixed blessing. On the one hand, Shestov is quite sympathetic with the spirit of Kierkegaard, with the contradictory character of human existence, with what William James called the passional aspects of the self, but he is often cavalier in his assumptions about what Kierkegaard said or meant. Ironically, one could say that Shestov "understood" Kierkegaard intuitively (e.g., he is right in uncovering the despair that underlies all of Kierkegaard's writings, in holding that, for Kierkegaard, philosophy begins in despair, that life is an opportunity for katharsis, that love and goodness are often powerless in this world, etc.), but did not understand him philosophically. Despite Heidegger's condescension to Kierkegaard, he was far more philosophical in his thinking than many have given him credit for being. Shestov provides an empathetic introduction to Kierkegaard, but a misleading one. GEORGE J. STACK State University College at Brockport The Unitarian Conscience: Harvard Moral Philosophy, 1805-1861. By Daniel Walker Howe. (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1970. Pp. viii+398. $15.00) Between early Puritan days and the secular era introduced by President Eliot, the Unitarian way of looking at the world reigned supreme at Harvard. During this period the Unitarians had captured most of the Congregationalist churches in the Boston-Cambridge area, and there was a sort of tacit alliance among Unitarian professors, ministers, and prosperous merchants. It is the "Unitarian conscience" that pervaded the classroom, pulpit, and purchased pews that Mr. Howe sets out to analyze and present in an understandable light. There are twelve central figures in Howe's study of the Unitarian intellectuals, all 394 HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY of whom were associated, in one way or another, with Harvard. Four of them were successive occupants of the Alford Chair of moral philosophy: Levi Frisbie, Levi Hedge, James Walker, and Francis Bowen. Four other professors whose teaching and writing were relevant to the broad area of study then intended by the phrase "moral philosophy" complete the inner "Harvard bloc": Henry Ware, Sr. (Hollis Professor of Divinity), Henry Ware, Jr. (Professor of Pastoral Theology and Pulpit Eloquence), Andrews Norton (Dexter Professor of Sacred Literature), and Edward Tyrell Channing (Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory). The four others were Unitarian ministers, all trained at Harvard, "in whose careers the principles of Unitarian morality found expression": John Emery Abbot, Joseph Stevens Buckminster, Joseph Tuckerman , and William Ellery Channing. Howe's procedure in presenting the Harvard Unitarians is extremely clear and straightforward. In Part One...