Jonathan's Swift's Real Argument

Topics: Christianity, Catholic Church, Church of England Pages: 3 (1199 words) Published: October 8, 1999
Jonathan's Swift's Real Argument

God only knows from whence came Freud's theory of penis envy, but one of his more tame theories, that of "reverse psychology", may have its roots in the satire of the late Jonathan Swift. I do not mean to assert that Swift employed or was at all familiar with that style of persuasion, but his style is certainly comparable. Reverse psychology (as I chose to define it for this paper) means taking arguments that affirm an issue to such a degree that they seem absurd, and thus oppose the issue. Swift, in "An Argument [Against] The Abolishing Of Christianity In England" stands up for Christianity, and based on the absurdity of his defense, he inadvertently desecrates it. He sets up a fictitious society in which Christianity is disregarded and disdained, but nominal Christianity remains. The author writes to defend this nominal Christianity from abolition. The arguments that the author uses, which are common knowledge in his time, if applied to Christianity in Swift's time would be quite dangerous allegations. Indeed, the reasons that Swift gives for the preservation of the fictitious Christianity are exactly what he sees wrong with the Christianity practiced in his time. By applying Swift's satirical argument for the preservation of this fictitious religion to that which was currently practiced, Swift asserts that their Christianity served ulterior motives, both for the government and for the people.

If we are to prove that the government was using religion for selfish purposes, we must be sure that it was not serving its intended purpose, the assurance of the moral sanctity of its policies. This is quite evident in the author's comment that if real Christianity was revived, it would be, "destroy at one blow all the wit and half the learning of the kingdom; to break the entire frame and constitution of things[.]" This proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Christianity has no influence on the government's current policies....
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