What Counts as Love: Jonathan Edwards's <i>True Virtue</i>

Sharon Cameron

in Impersonality

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print February 2007 | ISBN: 9780226091310
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226091334 | DOI:
What Counts as Love: Jonathan Edwards's True Virtue

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Jonathan Edwards argues that “the present existence” of any “created substance,” cannot be an effect of its past existence. Only God has continuous Being; all else is “dependent identity.” This chapter examines not only what counts as being but also what counts as love in The Nature of True Virtue. Initially it looks as if, with reference to Edwards's claims about identity as supernaturally constructed, personal identity is nothing but an effect of God's continued creation, and hence could only be threatened by the latter's cessation. This chapter argues, however, that personal identity is as deeply challenged by ideal love (one's own happiness taken universally). In the ideal of one's own happiness taken universally, which would constitute “true virtue,” there is a transcendence of personal identity. True Virtue can't acknowledge what Edwards's other works make overt: that self-transcendence has a “taste” and an “intuitive” sense. Also, it repeatedly reduces all things to self-love and allows no things to altruism.

Keywords: Jonathan Edwards; love; personal identity; true virtue; happiness; self-love; God; self-transcendence; existence

Chapter.  14161 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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