The Philosophy of Freemasonry: An Enlightenment Analysis of the Masonic Worldview, 1688-1789

Chase, P. (2022) The Philosophy of Freemasonry: An Enlightenment Analysis of the Masonic Worldview, 1688-1789. Undergraduate thesis, University of Chichester.

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Abstract

This dissertation will construct a philosophy of Freemasonry using the methodology proposed by Clement Vidal in his work An Enduring Philosophical Agenda: Worldview Construction as a Philosophical Method.8 Vidal defines the worldview agenda as “the central aim of philosophy,” its “highest manifestation,” and his paper aimed to demonstrate how philosophical worldviews can be built by answering questions related to the ”worldview components.”9 These questions and components are listed as follows: Ontology (what is?), Explanation (where does it all come from?), Prediction (where are we going?), Axiology (what is good and evil?), Praxiology (how should we act?), and Epistemology (what is true and false?).10 This methodology as presented by and evaluate worldviews in a meaningful way given its psychological and sociological necessity in society. This dissertation will use Vidal’s methodology in conjunction with both primary and secondary Masonic sources, such as the Constitutions of the Ancient Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons and Freemasonry: A Philosophical Investigation, to answer the worldview questions that Vidal proposes in order to assemble a general philosophy of Freemasonry.11 It is here that Vidal’s methodology is useful as an academic tool because both the sources mentioned and the vast majority of other texts that incorporate a philosophical exploration of Freemasonry are written by Masons themselves. As such these texts can create tension between the academic and the individual Freemason, and have previously explicitly led to claims that the philosophy of Freemasonry cannot be understood nor analysed by non-Masons.12 Vidal’s proposal for examining a worldview is therefore beneficial in creating a bridge between the academic pursuit in investigating the Masonic philosophy and the personal spirituality inherent within such a worldview, a duality inherent within the Masonic worldview itself. This philosophy shall also then be analysed within the historical context of the Enlightenment from which it was born, introducing the eighteenth-century values, philosophies and people that influenced such a Masonic worldview. It is with high hopes that by constructing the philosophy of Freemasonry within this period of conception it will provide a baseline from which other historical research into Masonry can blossom, whether that be the colonial spread of Freemasonry during the nineteenth-century, or the persecution of the institution under fascism and communism during the twentieth-century, or even in the present world with the COVID-19 pandemic and the crisis in Ukraine. By establishing the Masonic worldview, hopefully it will be understood how fruitful this branch of research can be for understanding the very foundation of civil society.

Item Type: Thesis (Undergraduate)
Additional Information: A dissertation submitted in part fulfilment of the BA (Hons) Politics and Contemporary History
Uncontrolled Keywords: Freemason
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General)
Divisions: Academic Areas > Institute of Arts and Humanities > History
Student Research > Undergraduate
Depositing User: Gail Graffham
Date Deposited: 19 Dec 2022 11:47
Last Modified: 19 Dec 2022 11:47
URI: https://eprints.chi.ac.uk/id/eprint/6628

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