Johnson, Samuel (1709-1784) - Research Article from Encyclopedia of Philosophy

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Religion and Morality

Johnson acknowledged an early predilection for becoming a metaphysician, but instead he became a philosopher, in the wider sense of a thinking man struggling with the problems of life, death, and immortality. A notable excursion into the realm of metaphysics, however, is his 10,000-word critical review of Soame Jenyns's Free Inquiry into the Nature and Origin of Evil (1757). The rationalistic optimism inherent in the Great Chain of Being—an optimism wherein whatever is conceivable must exist (a concept justifying the necessity of evil)—was to Johnson morally monstrous as well as metaphysically illogical. It is illogical because however many links there may be in the Chain, from the Godhead at the one extreme to the lowliest atom at the other, it is always possible to conceive of gaps between the links ad infinitum. The morality of justifying poverty and pain as cosmologically...

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This section contains 1,849 words
(approx. 7 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Johnson, Samuel (1709-1784) Encyclopedia Article
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Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Johnson, Samuel (1709-1784) from Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Copyright © 2001-2006 by Macmillan Reference USA, an imprint of the Gale Group. All rights reserved.
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