Next Article in Journal
Black Lesbians to the Rescue! A Brief Correction with Implications for Womanist Christian Theology and Womanist Buddhology
Next Article in Special Issue
“A Religious Recognition of Equality”: Liberal Spirituality and the Marriage Question in America, 1835–1850
Previous Article in Journal
Namaste Theory: A Quantitative Grounded Theory on Religion and Spirituality in Mental Health Treatment
Previous Article in Special Issue
Sovereignty of the Living Individual: Emerson and James on Politics and Religion
Article Menu
Issue 9 (September) cover image

Export Article

Open AccessArticle
Religions 2017, 8(9), 172; doi:10.3390/rel8090172

Transcendental Trinitarian: James Marsh, the Free Will Problem, and the American Intellectual Context of Coleridge’s Aids to Reflection

Department of History, Belhaven University, 1500 Peachtree St., Jackson, MS 39202, USA
Received: 19 July 2017 / Accepted: 8 August 2017 / Published: 30 August 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Transcendentalism and the Religious Experience)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [251 KB, uploaded 31 August 2017]

Abstract

Historians of American religion and Transcendentalism have long known of James Marsh as a catalyst for the Concord Transcendentalist movement. The standard narrative suggests that the Congregationalist Marsh naively imported Samuel Taylor Coleridge's Aids to Reflection (Am. ed. 1829) hoping to revivify orthodoxy in America. By providing a “Preliminary Essay” to explain Coleridge’s abstruse theology, Marsh injected Coleridge’s hijacked Kantian epistemology—with its distinction between Reason and Understanding—into American discourse. This epistemology inspired Transcendentalists such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Bronson Alcott, and it helped spark the Transcendentalists’ largely post-Christian religious convictions. This article provides a re-evaluation of Marsh’s philosophical theology by attending to the precise historical moment that Marsh chose to publish the Aids to Reflection and his “Preliminary Essay.” By the late 1820s, the philosophical problem of free will lurked in American religious discourse—Unitarian as well as Trinitarian—and Marsh sought to exploit the problem as a way to explain how aspects of Trinitarian Christianity might be rational and yet unexplainable. Attending carefully to the numerous philosophical and religious discourses of the moment—including Unitarianism, Trinitarianism, Kant, Coleridge, and Scottish Common Sense—and providing close readings of the historical philosophers Marsh engaged, this article shows how James Marsh laid the epistemological groundwork for a new romanticized Christianity that was distinct from the Concord Transcendentalists, but nonetheless part of its historical lineage. View Full-Text
Keywords: James Marsh; Transcendental; Romantic; Christianity; American religion; free will; Coleridge; Trinitarian; Unitarian; Scottish Common Sense; Kant James Marsh; Transcendental; Romantic; Christianity; American religion; free will; Coleridge; Trinitarian; Unitarian; Scottish Common Sense; Kant
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

Scifeed alert for new publications

Never miss any articles matching your research from any publisher
  • Get alerts for new papers matching your research
  • Find out the new papers from selected authors
  • Updated daily for 49'000+ journals and 6000+ publishers
  • Define your Scifeed now

SciFeed Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Koefoed, J. Transcendental Trinitarian: James Marsh, the Free Will Problem, and the American Intellectual Context of Coleridge’s Aids to Reflection. Religions 2017, 8, 172.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics

1

Comments

[Return to top]
Religions EISSN 2077-1444 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert Logo copyright Steve Bridenbaugh/UUA
Back to Top