Mansel: God and politics

Norman, F. (2015) Mansel: God and politics. Ph.D. thesis, Canterbury Christ Church University.

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Henry Longueville Mansel (1820-71), Anglican theologian and philosopher, hastypically been remembered as a Kantian agnostic whose ideas led to those of Herbert Spencer.

This thesis provides a critical challenge to this picture, and offers a thorough revisioning of Mansel’s theology in context. First, concerning misrepresentation, I argue it was Spencer himself who, having had a youthful relationship with Mansel’s sister Katherine, developed a prejudice against him, distorted the reception of his work, and promoted the caricature image of Mansel as an unwitting agnostic and “Kantist”. With the help of Liberals such as Goldwin Smith and Leslie Stephen, Spencer’s portrayal has stuck. I refute this picture and offer an alternative reading of Mansel. Second, concerning personalism, I show that Mansel was essentially a theistic personalist, indebted to the traditions of Bishop Browne, Bishop Butler, and Scottish common sense philosophy. Mansel represents a mid-Victorian example of “IThou” philosophical theology, grounded in the religious practice of Christian prayer. Mansel’s theistic personalism had much in common with Newman’s theology, and I explore the ways in which Newman’s Grammar of Assent was written in response to Mansel’s Bampton Lectures. Third, concerning politics, I argue that Spencer’s distorted picture of Mansel as a Kantian agnostic served the political interests of partisan Liberals, and was aggressively spread by them because of Mansel’s own Tory commitments. Located in context, Mansel, is here interpreted with reference to key personal relationships and personal networks, including his connection with leading Tories, such as Lord Carnarvon and Benjamin Disraeli. Crucially, I interpret his controversies with Frederick Denison Maurice and John Stuart Mill with reference to the political events of 1859 and 1865. These controversies were simultaneously religious and political, and receive a careful contextual reading.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion
D History General and Old World > D History (General)
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Education > School of Teacher Education and Development
Depositing User: Miss Rosemary Cox
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2019 10:47
Last Modified: 07 Feb 2019 16:00

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00