‘A liberal education’

Michael R. Watts

in The Dissenters Volume III

Published in print March 2015 | ISBN: 9780198229698
Published online April 2015 | e-ISBN: 9780191744754 | DOI:
‘A liberal education’

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  • History of Religion
  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)


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This chapter analyses Matthew Arnold's views about Nonconformists, as expressed in his famous attack on Dissent, Culture and Anarchy (1869). Arnold claimed that the world was divided into Hellenists and Hebraists, the former seeking ‘to see things as they really are’, the latter emphasizing ‘conduct and obedience’. Nonconformists were Hebraists, and because of their one-sided emphasis on religion, they had ‘little leisure or inclination’ left for culture. He further claimed that Englishmen were being taught by Dissenters such as John Bright, that their happiness depended on their right to do as they liked, and that in particular Nonconformists cherished the right to worship God as they saw fit. As a consequence, as he said, ‘we are in danger of drifting towards anarchy’.

Keywords: Nonconformists; Matthew Arnold; culture; Dissenters; Dissent; anarchy; religion

Chapter.  5107 words. 

Subjects: History of Religion ; Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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