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The Christian Philosopher






The Christian Philosopher by Cotton Mather

The present paper is devoted to the work of Cotton Mather. Before analyzing, it is necessary to admit that all the works of the writer are performed in the peculiar manner. Mather was active defender of religion and all his works have clear content, which enables the readers to see the viewpoint of the writer and draw the parallel line between the reality and fiction. The paper under analysis is The Christian Philosopher, which is basic to realizing the historical origins of the harmony between religion and science in thoughts of American society.

The novel was published in 1721; The Christian Philosopher is the first complete book on science, which was written by an American. The author wanted to say that there is a connection between science and religion and people should not forget about it. One of the main ideas is that everything in this world has theological explanation and even science that can be explained by the laws of the nature, is derived from religion. Through building on natural theology, Mather showed the harmony between religion and the science associated.

This book is the first effort, take by an American author to look comprehensively at the "new learning" associated with the period of the Enlightenment, when everything was based and explained scientifically and people started to forget about the genuine reasons of the things (Baym et al. 36).  Mather was a thorough observer of natural phenomena, and he recognized with pleasure the scientific interpretations of reality and things, offered by Isaac Newton and John Ray (Bercovitch 23). According to Mather, such explanations did not pose any challenge to the Christian viewpoint. On the contrary, Mather established, they supported it by providing strong and indubitable evidence of design in nature. The Christian Philosopher is Mather's effort to support this thesis.

The book is about nature and religion, philosophy and theology, because here the readers can see how Mather interpreted his understanding of the world and nature and how he connected them with the religion (White 45). The main aim of the book that the author defended is that people should not forget about God and His participation in creating things: “For the Light of Reason, which enlightens every Man that comes into the World; every Man has all possible Reason to glorify GOD and never do anything whereof any Man may justly say. It seems to me unreasonable. . . “(Mather 5)

One of the most visible difficulties while reading The Christian Philosopher usually has been the sheer extensiveness of learning that goes into the composition of the book. There are quite many citations of different authors, which Mather used to support his view point; there are more than four hundred books, hundreds of allusions to traditional and scriptural sources, so for the reader it is quite easy to lose his way while reading (Valeri 56).

In general, the manner of presentation of the book is interesting and due to numerous footnotes and references to other works, it is possible to find the support of Mather’s judgment, presented in the book. Mather managed to prove that religion and science are interconnected and it is impossible to focus on just one of them. Scientific point of view is correct and has the right for existence, but the first thing that should be taken into account is religion. The book has significance for American science and literature, because it was one of the first attempts to unite science and religion and prove they cannot be separated.


Works Cited

Bercovitch, Sacvan. The Puritan Origins of the American Self. Yale: Yale University Press. 1975. Print

Mather, Cotton. The Christian Philosopher. Illinois: University of Illinois Press. 2000. Print.

Nina Baym, Wayne Franklin and Philip F. Gura. The Norton Anthology of American Literature (Shorter Seventh Edition). NY: W. W. Norton & Company. 2007. Print

Valeri, Mark.  Heavenly Merchandize: How Religion Shaped Commerce in Puritan America. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 2010. Print

White, Eugene. Puritan Rhetoric: The Issue of Emotion in Religion. NY: SIU Press. 2009. Print

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