Georgia Harkness's Distinctive Personalistic Synthesis

Dissertation, Boston University (1988)
Abstract
The problem of this dissertation was to discover how Georgia Harkness's philosophical thought developed from the Boston Personalist Tradition which she studied under Edgar S. Brightman at BostonUniversity into the distinctive synoptic whole that emerged in Harkness's writings. The methods of this work are historical, analytical, and critical/comparative. ;Harkness may be the only example of Boston Personalism giving rise to a metaphysical personal realist. Her metaphysical position of theistic realism utilized concepts from critical realism to explain irrational evil in a moral and orderly universe. Her epistemology, synoptic supernaturalism, arose from her synoptic method. ;Her distinctive philosophical ethical synthesis, which continued to emerge until at least the late 1950s, was organic. She proposed a synthesis of biblical and philosophical ethics which was substantively coherent with personalism's social philosophy. Also, she developed a level theory of moral idealism to describe empirical human morality. She maintained a positive view of humanity's inherent goodness and an appreciation of humanity's inherent capacity for evil. ;Harkness's consistent set of liberal philosophical assumptions highlighted respect for human and divine personality. Using the highest level of moral idealism, triumphant religion, as a norm, she specified altruism and repect for personality as the principles which ought to govern choices in the economic sphere. Thus, Christian socialism was her preferred economic system. Harkness called nations to bring forth economic justice by means congruent with the principle of love so that economic justice might lead to world peace. ;The conclusions of the dissertation were: Harkness was a moral idealist and a metaphysical realist within the Boston Personalist Tradition. She appropriated elements from Creighton, Brightman, Knudson, Hocking, Whitehead, Tillich, DeWolf, Macintosh, and Reinhold Niebuhr into a Distinctive Synthesis. She never turned her back on philosophy, nor on Personalism. Finally, She applied her Synthesis consistently in her economic thought
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