Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Thomas Paine, utilitarian.

"For the first and great question, and that which involves every other in it, and from which every other will flow, is happiness."
Thomas Paine, The Forrester's Letters, 1776.


  1. Did Paine ever respond to Elias Boudinot's book The Age of Revelation?

  2. Thank you for your question. Paine never published a direct reply to Boudinot's 1801 THE AGE OF REVELATION nor, for that matter, to any other individual responses to AGE OF REASON. Some of his later essays for Elihu Palmer's PROSPECT can be seen as collective replies. Boudinot's work is covered, incidentally, in volume 5 of THOMAS PAINE IN AMERICA, 1776-1809 http://www.pickeringchatto.com/major_works/thomas_paine_and_america_1776_1809

  3. As I'm sure you know, the following sentence is on page 33 of Boudinot's Age of Revelation. Since you're familiar with early 19th century writing, is Boudinot, in your opinion, attacking Paine's sobriety, integrity, and morals in this passage?

    THE author of the Age of Reason, in all the pride and obstinacy of infidelity, introduces his objections to the Christian system, by an exhibition of his own creed, both affirmatively and negatively, as if his established character for sobriety, integrity, and exemplary moral conduct, entitled him to the respect and veneration of his fellow-citizens, and the world at large.

  4. Of course he is. The sentence is a mere, gratuitous ad hominem and no doubt precisely the reason that Paine refrained from a reply. That sort of thing was seen as beneath a gentleman ... but obviously not beneath a Christian.