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Reason, Grace, and Sentiment
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 (ISBN-13: 9780511059032 | ISBN-10: 0511059035)

This volume completes Isabel Rivers' widely acclaimed exploration of the relationship between religion and ethics from the mid-seventeenth to the later eighteenth centuries. She investigates the effect of attempts to separate ethics from religion, and to locate the foundation of morals in the constitution of human nature. Focusing on moral philosophy and the educational institutions in which (or in spite of which) these ideas were developed, the book pays close attention to the movement of ideas through the British Isles, in particular the spread of Shaftesbury's thought from England to Ireland and Scotland, and the varied reception of Hume's scepticism north and south of the border. It also demonstrates the enormous influence of Shaftesbury's moral thought and the ultimate triumph of the English interpretation of Shaftesbury with the rise of Butler. Meticulously researched and accessibly written, this volume makes a vital contribution to our understanding of eighteenth-century thought.

• Interdisciplinary study touching on literature, history, philosophy, religion • Written in clear, accessible style by distinguished scholar • Based on very wide reading of primary materials


Introduction; 1. The true religion of nature: the freethinkers and their opponents; 2. Shaftesbury and the defence of natural affection; 3. Defining the moral faculty: Hutcheson, Butler, and Price; 4. The ethics of sentiment and the religious hypothesis: Hume and his critics; 5. The conflict of languages in the later eighteenth century.


'Isabel Rivers … offers a beautifully organised and lucidly written account of the movement of ideas in the period 'from Shaftesbury to Hume' - her two key figures … A splendid book for the scholarly library.' Michael Wheeler, Church Times

'This is a magisterial book, intricate, coherent, learned, lucid, luminously fair minded.' Review of English Studies

'This is an exemplary scholarly study that provides rich insights into the complex and sometimes subtle debates on religion and on morality that make the later seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries such a fascinating period in the history of thought and is a most welcome addition to Isabel Rivers's previous volume on the subject.' David A. Pailin, Journal of Theological Studies

'Isabel Rivers has concluded her important book on the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century discourses about the connection, or lack thereof, between religion and ethics. Her second volume is informed by the same wide learning, sustained balance, and encompassing generosity that distinguished its predecessor.' Robert Sullivan, Eighteenth-Century Studies

'Rivers does an exceptional job … This richly detailed book makes a substantial contribution to our understanding of the moral philosophy and religious thought of the period.' The Virginia Quarterly Review

'Will remain essential reading for students of history, theology and literature for many years.' Literature and History

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