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date: 24 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

James Martineau’s philosophy was influenced by his upbringing in a Unitarian home and by many of the prominent thinkers of his age, including Joseph Priestley, Jeremy Bentham, William Ellery Channing, Immanuel Kant, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. His first book, The Rationale of Religious Inquiry was an attempt to examine Christianity philosophically, namely that religious truth must not be contrary to reason. His contribution to the Science and Religion debate of the nineteenth century comes from his controversies with Spencer, Tyndall, and Sedgwick. Against Spencer he argued that it was inconsistent to maintain that God exists but nothing can be known of him, against Tyndall he argued for an intellectual aspect to religion and for the creative activity of God, and against Sedgwick he advocated the priority of motive over action in morality. A major contribution to philosophical theology was his notion of God as Spirit, which enabled him to redefine the divinity and humanity of Christ. Throughout his long life he commented on many of the philosophical movements of his age. His philosophy was shaped more by these movements and his personality than by any adherence to a particular school of thought.

Keywords: Martineau, Unitarian, Priestley, Bentham, Channing, Kant, Coleridge, causality. will, conscience

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