We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Receptive Human Virtues

A New Reading of Jonathan Edwards's Ethics

Elizabeth Agnew Cochran

Publication Year: 2010

Published by: Penn State University Press

Front Cover

pdf iconDownload PDF (3.6 MB)

Title Page

pdf iconDownload PDF (23.7 KB)


pdf iconDownload PDF (37.8 KB)

Table of Contents

pdf iconDownload PDF (47.4 KB)

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (50.0 KB)
pp. ix-x

Twentieth-century virtue ethics emerged as an attempt to overcome perceived inadequacies in modern moral thought. This discipline has been characterized largely by a return to premodern texts: Aristotle in philosophical circles, Thomas Aquinas in theological circles, and Plato and Augustine in the more recent workof scholars such as Robert M. Adams and Eric Gregory. Theological ethicists...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (50.6 KB)
pp. xi-xii

I am indebted to a number of people who have supported my work on this book. I am grateful to Jennifer A. Herdt for her astute and diligent guidance in workingthrough the earliest versions of this argument and for her continued thoughtful feedback as I developed this book manuscript. I also very much appreciate the dedication of Jean Porter, Gerald P. McKenny, and George Marsden, who...

read more

Chapter 1: An Ethic of Receptive Human Virtues

pdf iconDownload PDF (120.7 KB)
pp. 1-20

Jonathan Edwards’s ethic is fundamentally an ethic of receptive human virtues.These Edwardsean virtues are in some ways continuous with the goals and purposes of twentieth-century virtue ethics, which has tended to focus on recovering Aristotle in philosophical circles and Thomas Aquinas in theological circles. Edwards shares ideas in common with both of these thinkers: like Aristotle...

read more

Chapter 2: Love as Necessary and Volitional

pdf iconDownload PDF (116.9 KB)
pp. 21-39

I suggested in chapter 1 that this study of Edwards’s human virtues complementsreadings of Edwards that focus on the God-centered character of Edwardsean virtues. Because Edwards’s human virtues are each necessarily tied to divine virtuein some way, it is helpful to consider Edwards’s account of God’s virtue morefully before turning to these human virtues. An exploration of Edwards’s divine...

read more

Chapter 3: Charity as a Human Virtue

pdf iconDownload PDF (130.9 KB)
pp. 40-61

It is appropriate for a discussion of Edwards’s human virtues to begin with ‘‘true virtue,’’ or Christian love. Edwards prioritizes this virtue above the others and conceives it as mirroring and participating in the divine virtue that was the subject of the previous chapter. Edwards’s characterization of true virtue as a reflection of God’s perfections underscores the continuity of his thought...

read more

Chapter 4: Humility as a Human Virtue

pdf iconDownload PDF (162.2 KB)
pp. 62-93

Chapter 3 describes how Edwards’s truly virtuous human love images and takes part in divine virtue. By characterizing true virtue as an excellence proper to and constitutive of God’s being, Edwards offers an account of Christian love as the fulfillment of the purposes for which humans were created. Humans are able to exercise this virtue in spite of original sin, but they need the assistance of God’s...

read more

Chapter 5: Virtuos Repentance

pdf iconDownload PDF (157.7 KB)
pp. 94-123

Chapters 3 and 4 both considered a type of human virtue with a direct relationship to divine virtue. True virtue in humans images and participates in divine love, and creaturely humility, at least as the incarnate Christ embodies this virtue, is an image or type of divine mercy. In this chapter I turn to virtuous repentance, one of a category of human virtues that God cannot be said to practice because...

read more

Chapter 6: Justice and Partial Loves

pdf iconDownload PDF (203.1 KB)
pp. 124-166

In addition to the attributes that he identifies explicitly as virtues, Edwards characterizes two additional sorts of qualities as in some sense meritorious. The first of these is justice; the second is a set of natural loves that are private or partial, directed toward a subset of creation rather than toward God and the totality of God’s created universe. Edwards resists calling the pursuit of these...

read more

Conclusion : Virtues, Accountability, and Dependence

pdf iconDownload PDF (60.4 KB)
pp. 167-170

Edwards’s ethic of receptive human virtues represents a compelling vision of the human moral life as fundamentally rooted in and dependent upon God. On one level, Edwardsean virtues are qualities proper to God’s being, but in A History ofthe Work of Redemption, Edwards expands this conception of virtue to accommodate multiple dimensions of human moral experience, including human nature’s...


pdf iconDownload PDF (126.8 KB)
pp. 171-185

Works Cited

pdf iconDownload PDF (77.5 KB)
pp. 187-193


pdf iconDownload PDF (91.8 KB)
pp. 195-203

Back Cover

pdf iconDownload PDF (686.2 KB)

E-ISBN-13: 9780271053615
E-ISBN-10: 0271053615
Print-ISBN-13: 9780271048451
Print-ISBN-10: 027104845X

Page Count: 216
Publication Year: 2010