Contingency in the Late Metaphysics of Jonathan Edwards

Walter J. Schultz


Jonathan Edwards is often portrayed as being a thoroughgoing determinist, thus precluding every sort of contingency. This judgment arises most often—and justifiably so— from what he asserts in his Freedom of the Will (1754). A contrary judgment emerges, however, when his dissertation Concerning the End for which God Created the World (completed in 1755) is closely considered by itself. 2 This paper describes and then shows how Edwards’ argumentation entails that the physical universe and its constituent physical systems are contingent in three senses: freedom to choose, existential, and synchronic.


Philosophy, Early Modern History, American Religious History,

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