Sheldon, Nicholas David (2022) Radical idealism and empirical metaphysics in the work of Mary Baker Eddy. Doctoral thesis, Keele University.

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Abstract

The nineteenth-century American, Mary Baker Eddy, is well known in the United States for having founded the religion Christian Science, but she is not generally regarded as philosopher, let alone an original one. This dissertation argues that she is a philosopher, and an original one. Her Christian Science develops an empirical metaphysics which marries a radical form of idealism and scientific method by putting a priori metaphysical axioms to the test of experience. Christian Science’s denial of the existence of illness, for which she is mostly known, is merely a fragment of a daringly ambitious, radical idealism denying the existence of matter and much more besides. Many factors may have contributed to history’s mis-framing of Eddy. Her gender, the period in which she lived, and her notoriety in connection with the creation of a new religion made her appear non-conformal with the image of a philosopher. In the twenty-first century, interest has grown in the ‘lost’ female philosophers of history, although these figures have typically been overlooked due to their lack of visibility, rather than their prominence in another role. This thesis forms a part of the rediscovery of the contributions of female philosophers. Eddy wrote in a non-linear style, incorporating existing terms whose meaning she had redefined, making a careful restructuring and rephrasing of her work a necessary first step. Subsequent analysis of her system’s internal consistency and its coherency reveals three potentially fatal flaws in her system of thought; a considerable part of the thesis therefore addresses these problems and offers possible solutions to them. A final chapter summarises key aspects of Eddy’s thought together with its potential flaws, and offers suggestions for further research arising from this thesis.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Social, Political and Global Studies
Contributors: D'Oro, G (Thesis advisor)
Depositing User: Lisa Bailey
Date Deposited: 23 Jun 2022 15:08
Last Modified: 23 Jun 2022 15:08
URI: https://eprints.keele.ac.uk/id/eprint/11068

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