Friday, June 24, 2011

an expressive faculty...

The historian Daniel Walker Howe, author most recently of the monumental "What Hath God Wrought?" wrote perhaps the definitive work on the philosophy of the Boston Unitarians. His "Unitarian Conscience: Harvard Moral Philosophy, 1805-1861" was and is a very important part of my development as a Unitarian. An excerpt...

"If there were a single conception that dominated Harvard Unitarian thought, psychological, social, and religious, it was the conception of harmony. The Unitarian conscience was not a repressive, but an expressive faculty; not to crush, but to harmonize, regulate, and balance was the task of the ruling power. In twentieth-century psychological terminology, the Unitarians regarded a firm sense of values as essential to an integrated personality. Only when a man was following the guidance of prudence and the moral sense was he free...They frequently led their congregations in the contemplation of the balanced character of a virtuous man. To be overcome with passion was, in Unitarian opinion, to be enslaved by a usurping tyrant."

Blessings

2 comments:

Bill Baar said...

What Hath God Wrought introduced me to Howe. The rest of his work on my to read list. He is important.

boston unitarian said...

"The Political Culture of the American Whigs" is another favorite. He is important and, as always, I thank you for your note. blessings, BU