Chapter

The Calvinist Reformation

Risto Saarinen

in Weakness of Will in Renaissance and Reformation Thought

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780199606818
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729614 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199606818.003.0005
The Calvinist Reformation

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Calvin discusses Aristotle’s akrasia in his Institutio. He takes over Luther’s view of the pervasive sinfulness of human beings, but he also emphasizes that all people have conscience and continue to use their intellect; these traits express a vague similarity with John Mair. Some early Calvinists like Zwinger and van Giffen combine Neo-Stoic ideas with Aristotle’s akrasia, employing the idea of inner struggle. The Christian interpretation of Aristotle in Lambert Daneau’s ethics features prominently both weakness and strength of will (akrasia, enkrateia), arguing that they exemplify the ‘wrestling virtue’ (virtus luctans) with which all Christians must find their moral way in this life. Later Calvinists like John Case and Keckermann again approach traditional Aristotelianism. The extensive use of the example of Medea as a paradigm of inner struggle is, however, a new feature which connects many Calvinists with Neo-Stoicism.

Keywords: Calvinism; Neo-Stoicism; theology; inner struggle; virtue; Calvin

Chapter.  25017 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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