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Unlike William Warburton, who appealed to Divine Providence to defend church-state relations in England, Paley showed how existing hierarchies served society as a whole. Born in Peterborough, Northamptonshire, England, William Paley (1743-1805) was a leading Anglican voice in eighteenth and nineteenth century Britain. See M. G. Brock and M. C. Curthoys, eds., The History of the University of Oxford, vol. In nature the purpose of each contrivance was not to harm a creature, and since God created all things, it followed that the Deity was benevolent. He spent the remainder of his life as a clergyman, first in Appleby and Dalston for six years; then in Carlisle from 1782 to 1795 where he became archdeacon; finally in Durham and Lincoln from 1795 until his death in 1805. Also call… William Paley. Natural religion provided the moral sense school with an ethical standard and a methodology that guided their reasoning. Indeed, Paley saved some of his most scathing indictments for the idle preoccupations of the leisure class. [4. 1851. To Paley, the undeniable demands of self-interest coincided rather than conflicted with the needs of society: one unselfishly contributed to the common good for the selfish purpose of achieving the pleasures of heaven and avoiding the pains of hell. The book strongly influenced Charles Darwin. [3. Natural Theology: or, Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity. Unfortunately, too few have thoughtfully interacted with his arguments. Paley distilled fundamental elements of this consensus into his moral and political thought.8. Paleyâs emphasis on individual autonomy in his definition of virtue and moral obligation meshed more comfortably with the political axioms of liberal reformers in the nineteenth century than Benthamâs frequent authoritarian reliance on government legislation to create social happiness.12 Moreover, Paleyâs utilitarianism, despite its Christian themes, contributed powerfully to the secularization of political theory in Britain.13 In a variety of ways, including in his Natural Theology where he revised some of his earlier ideas, Paley became an important component of what A. M. C. Waterman has called âChristian Political Economyâ in the early nineteenth century.14 The complex evolution of nineteenth-century liberalism and conservatism involved a number of ideological crosscurrents. The English clergyman William Paley wrote this work about philosophy of religion, which presents his arguments of natural theology that argue for the existence of God. He was appointed a fellow and tutor of his college in 1766, and rose through the ranks of the Anglican Church. ]James J. Sack, From Jacobite to Conservative: Reaction and Orthodoxy in Britain, c. 1760â1832 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 3â4. The notion of Christian engagement thereby dovetailed conveniently into Paleyâs general theory of value. Theologians often follow Kant’s example and address various“prolegomena” or preliminary questions before trying to doany substantive metaphysics. Property increased productivity and eliminated civil struggles over ownership. Paley was inspired Newton's laws of motion and gravity which were formulated in 1687. Miracles and the Critical Mind, Paternoster, Exeter and William B. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1984. Although he never experienced the poverty of some lesser clergy, he attained genuine affluence only when he was translated to the lucrative rectorship of Bishop-Wearmouth in 1795. [13. William Paley (1743-1805) was an English vicar and philosopher of the Enlightenment. Then too, despite his published opposition to the French Revolution, some considered Paley sympathetic to radicalism, a charge that may have affected his clerical advancement. (ed. To Paley, as to thinkers before him, Godâs will could be found either in Scripture or nature, either in revealed or natural religion. A cautious though not always predictable realist, he valued social order. This fear of democracy molded his opposition to the French Revolution, during which he republished his chapter on the British constitution as a separate pamphlet to be distributed among the poor. Paleyâs strengths as a writer may still surprise readers in the twenty-first century. Paley was much less influential at Oxford. Like other eighteenth-century divines, he derived his income from a number of livings. Includes an important account of his life by his son, the editor. Natural Theology was written in the context of the natural theology tradition. In politics and ethics, Paley remained a theorist who, as in his natural theology, judged a practice by how well means were adapted to ends. As in his analysis of evil in his Natural Theology, no exception disproved a general rule. The church preserved and communicated religious knowledge among the various social classes, while providing strong incentives for talented individuals to join the clergy. The basic premise of the design argument is that the complex and functional quality of everything that exists in nature points to the existence of an intelligent designer. As part of this system, Paleyâs ethics and politics, like his biblical criticism, were intimately related to his natural theology. The Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy. ; London: T. Tegg, 1845), II, p. 310. As a theologian whose writings often implicitly challenged Original Sin, Paley mistrusted legal fictions. Writing four years before the French Revolution, Paley considered a number of possibilities, including the notion that the governed obeyed from prejudice and prescription. More positively, he offered a specific definition of happiness, whose cardinal tenet emphasized âengagement,â a notion that curiously prefigured Christian existentialism. Watson rose to a minor bishopric, but was blocked from further advancement within the church by his outspoken views. Paley struggled to reconcile the apparent cruelty and indifference of nature with his belief in a good God, and finally concluded that the joys of life simply outweighed its sorrows. He was less paradoxical when it came to charity. We'd pretend to bounce like kangaroos, stand like flamingos, and stretch like giraffes. His definition of happiness embodied strong elements of egalitarianism and reflected the New Testamentâs prejudice against wealth and privilege. In 1750, for example, the novelist Henry Fielding published a work that explored the problem of crime and was flattered when, a few years later, a committee appointed by the House of Commons recommended acceptance of some of his suggestions. The daily routine of his existence varied little after Cambridge. Module 5: Philosophy of Religion. Source: Introduction to Paley's The Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy, Foreword by D.L.
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