Absurdities of Immaterialism; Or, A Reply to T. W. P. Taylder's Pamphlet, Entitled, "The Materialism of the Mormons or Latter-day Saints, Examined and Exposed."
Place Published: Liverpool
Publisher: R. James
Date Published: 1849
Edition: First State
Book Id: 45885
32pp. Very slim octavo [22 cm] Disbound pamphlet mounted between plain brown paper wrappers (faded at the edges), with an amateurish printed paper title label on the front wrapper. Good plus. There are small, light moisture stains in the top margins of the pages, and there are occasional light stains in the body of the text. First state with 'materiality' as the first word of the last line on the first page.
According to Crawley "'Absurdities of Immaterialism' is the eighth tract Orson Pratt issued during his 1848-51 British mission and, like his 'Reply to a Pamphlet,' was written in response to an attack on one of his earlier works. As its title indicates, Orson Pratt composed the tract in response to Timothy William Potter Taylder's 'The Materialism of the Mormons, or Latter Day Saints, Examined and Exposed,' which, in turn, was prompted by Orson's 'Kingdom of God, Part 1.' Taylders would go to publish 'The Mormon's Own Book' six years later, which includes a reprint of 'The Materialism of Mormons' and a few comments on 'Absurdities of Immaterialism' in a "short appendix."Although the tract was directed specifically against Mormon materialism, what seems to have been Taylder's underlying concern was the determinism of such materialists as Pierre Simon Laplace and Thomas Hobbes. His tract is divided into three sections: "The Philosophy of the Mormons is Irrational"; "The Materialism of the Mormons is not only Unscriptural but Anti-Scriptural"; and "This Mormo-Materialism is Anti-Scriptural." Quoting St. Augustine, John Locke, and the Anglican bishop Joseph Butler, George Berkeley, Rene Descartes, the chemist Joseph Priestly, Erasmus Darwin, and others, Taylder contends in the first section that immaterial substances exist - in particular the human mind. In the second and third sections, he argues that the view of the Father and Son as material beings occupying space and time denies the infinity of God the Father and God the Son and the omnipotence and omnipresence of God, constitutes Tritheism, and contradict John 4:24 and Luke 24:39 that "God is a Spirit" and "a spirit hath not flesh and bones." At the end of the tract he attacks Orson Pratt's view of the Holy Spirit as consisting of an infinite number of intelligent atoms extending throughout all space.In response Orson quotes his own set of authorities, including Butler, Priestly, Isaac Newton, and especially the Scottish philosopher Thomas Brown, whom he uses as a foil. The philosophical side of his tract, of course, is based on Newtonian view of the physical world, which makes some of his arguments less compelling today. He begins the tract with his definition of 'immaterial substance' and contends that such a substance "must posses NO properties or qualities in common with matter." The mind, he continues, is material, and thought, hope, joy, and memory are states of the mind. He then argues that "an immaterial substance can have no existence" and that "the immaterialist is a religious Atheist." He notes that the mind "has no relation to space" inasmuch as it is located in the body, has a relation to duration inasmuch as it remembers, and is susceptible of being moved from place to place, and therefore is material since it has some properties in common with material substances. Agreeing with Thomas Brown that a system of particles cannot possess a property that the individual components of the system do not possess, he concludes that the human spirit "must be composed of an immense number of particles, each of which is susceptible of almost an infinite variety of thoughts, emotions, and feelings." Crawley 429. Flake/Draper 6446.