Butler, Joseph


Butler, Joseph
born May 18, 1692, Wantage, Berkshire, Eng.
died June 16, 1752, Bath, Somerset

British bishop and moral philosopher.

He became dean of St. Paul's Cathedral in 1740 and bishop of Durham in 1750. His works defended revealed religion against the rationalist thinkers of his time. His The Analogy of Religion, Natural and Revealed, to the Constitution and Course of Nature (1736) attacked the doctrine of Deism, according to which knowledge of God is acquired through reason rather than revelation. His Of the Nature of Virtue, appended to the Analogy, presented a refutation of hedonism and of the notion that self-interest is the ultimate principle of good conduct.

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▪ British bishop and philosopher
born May 18, 1692, Wantage, Berkshire, England
died June 16, 1752, Bath, Somerset
 Church of England bishop, moral philosopher, preacher to the royal court, and influential author who defended revealed religion against the rationalists of his time.

      Ordained in 1718, Butler became preacher at the Rolls Chapel in London, where he delivered his famous “Sermons on Human Nature” (1726), addressed to the practical side of Christian living. After several years as a parish priest, he was appointed in 1736 head chaplain to Caroline, wife of King George II. In the same year, he published his most celebrated work, The Analogy of Religion, Natural and Revealed, to the Constitution and Course of Nature, attacking Deist (Deism) writers whose approach to God consisted in arguing rationally from nature rather than from faith in the doctrine of revelation. Butler sought to demonstrate that nature and natural religion were encumbered with the same kind of uncertainties as revealed religion. The book, together with the Wesleyan revival, silenced the importance of Christian Deism in England. His Of the Nature of Virtue, appended to the Analogy, presented a refutation of hedonism and of the notion that self-interest is the ultimate principle of good conduct; for this work Butler has been considered by some critics to be one of the foremost British moral philosophers.

      After the queen died in 1737, Butler went in 1738 to Bristol as bishop. His abilities as chaplain, however, had impressed the king, and in 1746 Butler was recalled to the royal household. A year later Butler declined an offer to become primate (archbishop of Canterbury), but in 1750 he accepted the bishopric of Durham. Among the many thinkers subsequently influenced by his arguments in favour of traditional theology was the Roman Catholic cardinal John Henry Newman (Newman, John Henry) (1801–90).

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • Butler, Joseph — (1692 1752)    An Anglican bishop, theologian and apologist against deism, Butler contributed to both philosophy of religion and ethics. In his day The Analogy of Religion (1736) was a widely celebrated attack on deism, which draws an analogy… …   Christian Philosophy

  • Butler, Joseph — (1692–1752) English moral philosopher. Born of a Presbyterian family, Butler was educated at Oriel College, Oxford, and became a minister of the Church of England, where he rose to be Bishop of Durham, as well as the spiritual adviser of Queen… …   Philosophy dictionary

  • Butler, Joseph — (18 may. 1692, Wantage, Berkshire, Inglaterra–16 jun. 1752, Bath, Somerset). Arzobispo y filósofo de la moral británico. Fue nombrado deán de la catedral de San Pablo en 1740 y obispo de Durham en 1750. En sus obras defendió la religión revelada… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Butler, Joseph — See British moralists of the eighteenth century …   History of philosophy

  • BUTLER, JOSEPH —    an eminent English divine, born at Wantage, in Berks; born a Dissenter; conformed to the Church of England; became preacher at the Rolls, where he delivered his celebrated Sermons, the first three of which contributed so much to the stability… …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • BUTLER, Joseph — (1692 1752)    English philosopher and ANGLICAN BISHOP who deplored enthusiasm. His book The Analogy of Religion (1736) is a profound attack on DEISM and a thorough refutation of deistic views …   Concise dictionary of Religion

  • Butler, Joseph — (1692 1752)    Theologian, b. at Wantage, s. of a Presbyterian linen draper, was destined for the ministry of that Church, but in 1714 he decided to enter the Church of England, and went to Oxf. After holding various other preferments he became… …   Short biographical dictionary of English literature

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  • Joseph Butler — (* 18. Mai 1692 in Wantage; † 16. Juni 1752 in Bath) war ein englischer Bischof der anglikanischen Kirche in Durham[1] und Bristol …   Deutsch Wikipedia


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