Jonathan S. Marko

Above Reason Propositions and Contradiction in the Religious Thought of Robert Boyle

Article
19/2 - Fall 2014, pages 227–239
Date of online publication: 28 mai 2015
Date of publication: 28 mai 2015

Abstract

In this essay, I argue that Robert Boyle does not hold that true religion requires us to believe doctrines that are in violation of the law of noncontradiction or that it yields logical contradictions. Rather, due to the epistemological limitations of human reason, we are sometimes called to believe doctrines or propositions that are at first blush contradictory but, upon further inspection, not definitively so. This holds for doctrines considered singly or together and is an important qualifier to the traditional line of scholarship’s flat claim that Boyle’s limits of belief are logical contradictions. My conclusions here are at odds with Jan W. Wojcik’s claim, in her important, revisionist work on the famous natural philosopher, that he teaches that sometimes we are required to believe religious doctrines that violate the law of noncontradiction.

Keywords

Cite this article

Marko, Jonathan S. “Above Reason Propositions and Contradiction in the Religious Thought of Robert Boyle.” Forum Philosophicum 19, no. 2 (2014): 227–239. doi:10.5840/forphil20141924.

Bibliography

Boyle, Robert. Advices in judging of Things said to Transcend Reason. In The Works of the Honourable Robert Boyle, vol. 4, edited by Thomas Birch, 447–469. London: printed for W. Johnston [et al.], 1772.

Boyle, Robert. Appendix to the First Part of the Christian Virtuoso. In The Works of the Honourable Robert Boyle, vol. 6, edited by Thomas Birch, 673–715. London: printed for W. Johnston [et al.], 1772.

Boyle, Robert. The Christian Virtuoso: Shewing, That by being addicted to Experimental Philosophy, a Man is rather Assisted, than Indisposed, to be a Good Christian. The First Part. London: printed by Edward Jones, 1690.

Boyle, Robert. Considerations about the Reconcileableness of Reason and Religion. In The Works of the Honourable Robert Boyle, vol. 4, edited by Thomas Birch, 151–191. London: printed for W. Johnston [et al.], 1772.

Boyle, Robert. Reflections upon a Theological Distinction. According to which it is said,That some Articles of Faith are above Reason, but not against Reason. In a Letter to a Friend. In The Works of the Honourable Robert Boyle, vol. 5, edited by Thomas Birch, 541–549. London: printed for W. Johnston [et al.], 1772.

Boyle, Robert. Reflections upon a Theological Distinction. According to which, ‘tis said, That some Articles of Faith are Above Reason but not Against Reason. In a Letter to a Friend. London: printed by Edward Jones, 1690.

Boyle, Robert. Some Considerations touching the Style of the Holy Scriptures. In The Works of the Honourable Robert Boyle, vol. 2, edited by Thomas Birch, 247–322. . London: printed for W. Johnston [et al.], 1772.

Boyle, Robert. The Works of the Honourable Robert Boyle. 6 vols. Edited by Thomas Birch. A new edition. Vol 1. London: printed for John and Francis Rivington [et al.], 1772. Vols. 2–6. London: printed for W. Johnston [et al.], 1772.

Copleston, Frederick. A History of Philosophy. Vol. 5. New York: Image Books, 1994.

Fisher, Mitchell Salem. Robert Boyle, Devout Naturalist: A Study in Science and Religion in the Seventeenth Century. Philadelphia: Oshiver Studio Press, 1945.

More, Louis Trenchard. The Life and Works of the Honourable Robert Boyle. London: Oxford University Press, 1944.

Mulligan, Lotte. “Robert Boyle, ‘Right Reason,’ and the Meaning of Metaphor.” Journal of the History of Ideas 55, no. 2 (1994): 235–257.

O’Higgins, James. Anthony Collins: The Man and His Works. The Hague: Nijhoff, 1970.

Redwood, John. Reason, Ridicule and Religion: The Age of Enlightenment in England, 1660–1750. London: Thames & Hudson, 1996.

Rogers, G. A. J. “Boyle, Locke, and Reason.” Journal of the History of Ideas 27, no. 2 (1966): 205–216.

Spurr, John. “ ‘Rational Religion’ in Restoration England.” Journal of the History of Ideas 49, no. 4 (1988): 563–585.

Wojcik, Jan W. Robert Boyle and the Limits of Reason. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

Copyright

© Forum Philosophicum