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Theology, Anti-Theology and Atheology

From Christian Passions to Scientific Emotions

ESSSAT Prize Dissertation 2000
Thomas Dixon


This dissertation is based upon an article with a similar title published in Modern Theology 15 (1999), pp. 297-330. It is a summary of research undertaken for my Ph.D. thesis, ‘From Passions and Affections to Emotions: A Case-Study in Christian and Scientific Psychologies, 1714-1903’, which investigates the theological and scientific dimensions of the history of ideas about emotions. The Modern Theology article, and my ESSSAT dissertation especially focus on the conclusions that may be drawn from this case-study in the history of psychological thought about the relationships that hold between Christian theology and the natural and human sciences.

In the essay the nineteenth-century emergence of the concept of ‘emotions’ in English-language psychology, especially in works by the Scottish thinkers Thomas Brown and Alexander Bain, and the concomitant neglect of older, theological categories of ‘passions’ and ‘affections’ of the soul and ‘moral sentiments’ is considered as an example of the displacement of Christian theologies of the soul by secular and scientific psychologies. Several morals about science and theology are drawn from this case-study.

Contributed by: Thomas Dixon

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