Jonathan Edwards on Beauty, Desire, and the Sensory World

Belden C. Lane

in Ravished by Beauty

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199755080
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199894956 | DOI:
 Jonathan Edwards on Beauty, Desire, and the Sensory World

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A Calvinist spirituality of desire, celebrating the beauty of God in creation, reached a new height in Jonathan Edwards in the eighteenth century. A theologian of beauty par excellence, he perceived the shared desire of the Holy Trinity as continually overflowing in its effort to replicate its glory in the wonders of the world and the beauty of the human soul. Influenced by Lockian epistemology and the fervor of the revival, he emphasized a sensory knowledge of God. This was experienced in a new “spiritual sense” that allowed believers to relish the aesthetic grandeur of a world alive with beauty. For Edwards, aesthetics were inseparably related to ethics, as he went on to emphasize how “delighting” in beauty also necessitates the “bestowing” of beauty on others.

Keywords: Jonathan Edwards; sense of the heart; spirituality; beauty; delight; physical senses; trinity; eschatology; affections

Chapter.  12076 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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