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Thinking Through StyleNon-Fiction Prose of the Long Nineteenth Century$
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Michael D. Hurley and Marcus Waithe

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198737827

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198737827.001.0001

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Darwin’s Theological Virtues

Darwin’s Theological Virtues

(p.149) 9 Darwin’s Theological Virtues
Thinking Through Style

James Williams

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers the ethical dimensions of Darwin’s style under the headings of the theological virtues: faith, hope, and charity. It argues that style, as the manner in which prose conducts itself, is analogous to virtue in something like the sense that ‘virtue ethics’ has described the term, the shape or telos of a way of life or behaviour. This approach to Darwin both sheds light on the natural and instinctual forms of his thought and permits us to grapple with a traditional problem for both evolution and literary criticism: the question of design. While no claim is made for Darwin as a Christian or religious writer and the ‘theological virtues’ are redescribed in intellectual and secular terms, the chapter ends by discussing some of the traces in Darwin’s style of the ethical questions it inherited from Scripture and theology.

Keywords:   Darwin, style, virtue, ethics, design, science, evolution, faith, hope, charity

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