Critical Thinking

In a good person had to avoid errata,

In the works of Jonathan Edwards we can
identify the binary opposition of good versus evil represented as vivid images,
specially the devil: it is represented as a spider. This strategy of linking
the evil with an animal that most people find repulsive was done in the purpose of produce an impression on people; he used metaphors
and vivid images to describe the devil with the purpose of converting people into Puritanism, as we can see in this fragment of
Sinners in the hands of an angry God:
“That world of misery, that lake of burning brimstone, is extended abroad under
you”. Consequently, the good was represented in God, and in the fact that
everyone was a sinner until they were converted and devoted to him, before it
was too late, as it is shown in this other fragment: “if God should let you go,
you … would have no more influence to uphold you and keep you out of hell, than
a spider’s web would have to stop a falling rock”.

 

Benjamin Franklin’s perspective of good and bad
was more practical and experimental. In fact, as a writer, scientist and
inventor, it is not unexpected that he used himself as the experimental subject
of his work, to be turned into a good person. His ideal was that a good person
had to avoid errata, so he started an
arduous experiment to arrive to moral perfection himself, like he writes in The
Autobiography: “I whish’d to live without committing any fault at any time;
I would conquer all that either natural inclination, custom, or company might
lead me into”. The wrong or errata is
the devil in human’s behaviour that he wants to avoid with thirteen moral virtues.
It all started with Temperance
because, as he writes in his work, “it tends to procure that coolness and
clearness of the head, which is so necessary where constant vigilance was to be
kept up, and guard and maintained against … the force of perpetual
temptations”. He was also a Puritan and his last step to the good was Humility and, with it, the imitation of
Jesus and Socrates.

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In Phillis Wheatley’s work, evil is represented
as the human behaviour as well, but in racism in concrete. She was a black
women and she defends her tone of skin from any connection with the devil,
affirming that the people that makes this connection and, in consequence, have
a racist vision, are the ones with the devil inside, like she writes in her
poem To the University of Cambridge, in
New England:

“What matchless mercy in the Son of God! / When
the whole human race by sin has fall’n”

Similarly to Benjamin Franklin, for her the
good was God, and she was determined to relate her colour of skin with a
positive biblical reference. This is why she identified her skin’s colour with
Mose’s Ethiopian wife Zipporah and with other biblical references, as she does
in On Being Brought from Africa to
America: “Remember, Christians,
Negroes, black as Cain, / May be
refin’d, and join th’ angelic train”. 

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