Bishop Berkeley & Ms. Eddy

This is one of several posts exploring the accusations of plagiarism leveled against Ms. Eddy, as well as what may have influenced the writing of Science & Health. This, and future posts dealing with this topic will be tagged MBEPlagiarism.

This post also contains some affiliate links, thank you for supporting

While going over my notes on Swendenborg, I came across Berkeley, another name that left with the feeling that I should know who Berkeley is. Berkeley is referred to by Dakin refers to in Mrs. Eddy. The biography of a virginal mind, Whitehead talks about him in The Illusions of Christian Science, Its Philosophy Rationally Examined, and Haushalter refers to him in Mrs. Eddy Purloins from Hegel (to name the first three sources that spring to mind). Clearly Berkeley is a someone that I should know about, and a someone that the educated middle class of the turn of the last century was aware of.

So who is this Berkeley fellow anyway?

Wikipedia tells us George Berkeley (1685 – 1753), aka Bishop Berkeley, was “an Anglo-Irish philosopher whose primary achievement was the advancement of a theory he called “immaterialism” (later referred to as “subjective idealism” by others). This theory denies the existence of material substance and instead contends that familiar objects like tables and chairs are only ideas in the minds of perceivers, and as a result cannot exist without being perceived.” (1)

Welcome to the the union of esoteric theology, philosophy and metaphysics at its finest in the form of Berkeley’s A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge (2, 3), or the condensed version:

Berkeleianism: George Berkeley’s philosophy of subjective idealism, which holds that material objects have no independent being but exist only as concepts in God’s mind and as perceptions of those concepts in other minds (4)

I must confess, I merely skimmed the 58 pages of Treatise and the accompanying wikipedia breakdown of it (3).

In my parallel skimmings, sections 25-26 stood out to me – with some emphasis added – as ideas that may have been acquired, embellished and expanded upon by Ms. Eddy as some of her ideas on matter, sensation and

25. All our ideas, sensations, notions, or the things which we perceive, by whatsoever names they may be distinguished, are visibly inactive- there is nothing of power or agency included in them. So that one idea or object of thought cannot produce or make any alteration in another. To be satisfied of the truth of this, there is nothing else requisite but a bare observation of our ideas. For, since they and every part of them exist only in the mind, it follows that there is nothing in them but what is perceived: but whoever shall attend to his ideas, whether of sense or reflexion, will not perceive in them any power or activity; there is, therefore, no such thing contained in them. A little attention will discover to us that the very being of an idea implies passiveness and inertness in it, insomuch that it is impossible for an idea to do anything, or, strictly speaking, to be the cause of anything: neither can it be the resemblance or pattern of any active being, as is evident from sect. 8. Whence it plainly follows that extension, figure, and motion cannot be the cause of our sensations. To say, therefore, that these are the effects of powers resulting from the configuration, number, motion, and size of corpuscles, must certainly be false.

26. We perceive a continual succession of ideas, some are anew excited, others are changed or totally disappear. There is therefore some cause of these ideas, whereon they depend, and which produces and changes them. That this cause cannot be any quality or idea or combination of ideas, is clear from the preceding section. I must therefore be a substance; but it has been shewn that there is no corporeal or material substance: it remains therefore that the cause of ideas is an incorporeal active substance or Spirit.

I’m going to let the Basics of Philosophy sum up Berkeley’s view of reality (5)

There exists an infinite spirit (God) and a multitude of finite spirits (humans), and we are in communication with God via our experience. Thus, what we take to be our whole experience of the world is analogous to God’s language, God’s way of talking to us, and all the laws of science and Nature we see around us are analogous to the grammar of God’s language. There is, then, in this theory, no need to postulate the existence of matter at all, as all reality is effectively mental.

I suspect this is another case of Ms. Eddy took the idea and ran with it in her own direction, as can be seen when Ms. Eddy defines Man, in Science and Health, on p. 541.

Man: The infinite idea of Infinite Spirit; the spiritual image and likeness of God; the full representation of Mind the idea of Principle, not person; the compound idea of God, including all other ideas; the generic term for all that reflects God’s image and likeness; the conscious identity of being, as found in Science, where man is the reflection of God or Mind and therefore is eternal that which has no separate mind from God; that which has not a single quality underived from Deity that which possesses no life intelligence or creative power of his own, but reflects all that belongs to his Maker.

Further Reading

End notes




Phineas Parkhurst Quimby & Mary Baker Eddy

This is one of several posts exploring the accusations of plagiarism leveled against Ms. Eddy, as well as what may have influenced the writing of Science & Health. This, and future posts dealing with this topic will be tagged MBEPlagerism.

This post contains affiliate links, thank you for supporting

The Mary Baker Eddy Library for the Betterment of Humanity has an extensive piece on Ms. Eddy’s relationship with P.P. Quimby.  I highly recommend reading it:

Update – these PDFs appear to have been removed from the website! 

I’ve mentioned Ms. Eddy’s relationship with P.P. Quimby (1) before, but have not yet done an in-depth piece on their relationship and P.P. Quimby as a source of “inspiration.

While Ms. Eddy was undoubtedly influenced by Quimby, the general consensus is that the conclusions she came to are entirely her own. I particularly like Dakin’s analysis of this relationship when he writes

Others of his pupils lost themselves in Quimby’s philosophy, but Mrs. Glover lost Quimby in herself” (Dakin, 92).

Eddy biographer, Gillian Gill devotes a number of pages to the issue of Ms. Eddy and P.P. Quimby, (2) taking a far more sympathetic stance on the subject than Dakin or Fraser. Gill systematically dissects any claims made by Quimby’s other students, mainly Julius and Horatio Dresser, poking holes in their claims, pointing out that they showed little interest in Quimby’s work after his passing until Ms. Eddy’s Christian Science started to gain popularity (Gill, 146).

One of the more interesting comparisons of P.P. Quimby’s work with Ms. Eddy’s is in the July 10, 1904 New York Times, in a piece entitled True Origin of Christian Science (3). Gill dismisses the piece as “bad faith or bad scholarship” (Gill, 231-232). “Bad scholarship” aside, it makes for interesting reading.

NYTimes July 10, 1904 Eddy/Quimby

NYTimes July 10, 1904 True Origins of Christian Science  (3)

Gill’s assertions of poor scholarship are not entirely incorrect, as her claims are extensively footnoted. The main point of contention being that The Quimby Manuscripts, were not published by Horatio Dresser until 1921, by which point P.P. Quimby had been dead for over 50 years, and Christian Science was well established and thriving. Furthermore, they had not been given directly to Dresser, but had instead passed through several others before arriving with him (Gill, 121). Gill’s further research shows Dresser omitted papers that were not favorable to Quimby  (Gill, 138) — the fact that the early Church attempted to suppress some of Ms. Eddy’s early work seems lost on her (Fraser
, 142).

Putting aside the scholarship and origin story issues — unless we get a time machine it is unlikely those will ever be sorted out, let us look at what comprised the core of Quimby’s teachings. There are several websites (see Further Reading below) that talk about Quimby’s work, one of them thoughtfully shared the following condensed list of Quimby’s ideas.

Seven Element List compiled by Horatio W. Dresser to explain Quimby’s ideas (4)

  1. The omnipresent Wisdom, the warm, loving Father of us all, Creator of all the universe, whose works are good, whose substance is an invisible reality.
  2. The real man, whose life is eternal in the invisible kingdom of God, whose senses are spiritual and function independently of matter.
  3. The visible world, which Dr. Quimby once characterized as “the shadow of Wisdom’s amusements”; that is, nature is only the outward projection or manifestation of an inward activity far more real and enduring.
  4. Spiritual matter, or fine interpenetrating substance, directly responsive to thought and subconsciously embodying in the flesh the fears, beliefs, hopes, errors, and joys of the mind.
  5. Disease is due to false reasoning in regard to sensations, which man unwittingly develops by impressing wrong thoughts and mental pictures upon the subconscious spiritual matter.
  6. As disease is due to false reasoning, so health is due to knowledge of the truth. To remove disease permanently, it is necessary to know the cause, the error which led to it. “The explanation is the cure.”
  7. To know the truth about life is therefore the sovereign remedy for all ills. This truth Jesus came to declare. Jesus knew how he cured and Dr. Quimby, without taking any credit to himself as a discoverer, believed that he understood and practiced the same great truth or science.

While there are undeniable parallels between the seven elements and Ms. Eddy’s teachings, neither the students of Quimby or Ms. Eddy wish them to be associated with one another. The Mary Baker Eddy Library for the Betterment of Humanity’s piece Ms. Eddy’s relationship with P.P. Quimby has a wonderful quote from Gottschalk’s Rolling Away the Stone (5). On page 72 he writes

George Quimby, a strong champion of his father’s originality, wrote, “Don’t confuse his method of healing with Mrs. Eddy’s Christian Science, so far as her religious teachings go… The religion which she teaches certainly is hers, for which I cannot be too thankful; for I should loath to go down into my grave feeling that my father was in any way connected with “Christian Science.”

Ms. Eddy biographer Gillian Gill, while not a Christian Scientist, takes several opportunities to poke holes in the Quimby/Eddy inspiration story (5). Short of discovering time travel and witnessing these events for ourselves, it seems unlikely this mess will ever be unraveled, and P.P. Quimby and Ms. Eddy forever be remembered together.

  2. Mary Baker Eddy, by Gillian Gill,+Gill&hl=en&sa=X&ei=FS3GUfKOMcmZiQKY34GgDQ&ved=0CC8Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=Quimby&f=false
  3. New York Times, July 10, 1904 True Origin of Christian Science

Further Reading

Emanuel Swedenborg & Mary Baker Eddy

This is one of several posts exploring the accusations of plagiarism leveled against Ms. Eddy, as well as what may have influenced the writing of Science & Health. This, and future posts dealing with this topic will be tagged MBEPlagerism.

This post also contains some affiliate links, thank you for supporting

Some time ago, I made a note for myself: WHO IS SWENDENBORG?! in the margins of my little black book. Why? The more I read about Ms. Eddy and her sources of inspiration, the more the name Emanuel Swedenborg keeps popping up. Dakin refers to Swendenborg in Mrs. Eddy. The biography of a virginal mind, Haushalter refers to him in Mrs. Eddy Purloins from Hegel,
he is mentioned in an interview with the Rev. Wiggian, and each time I am left with the feeling that I should know who Emanuel Swendenborg is.

So who is Emanuel Swendenborg? Wikipedia tells us Emmanuel Swendenborg was a Swedish scientist, philosopher, theologian, revelator, and mystic best known for his book Heaven and its Wonders and Hell From Things Heard and Seen (Latin name De Caelo et Ejus Mirabilibus et de inferno, ex Auditis et Visis) published in 1758.

It is worth noting that there is no mention of Ms. Eddy or Christian Science on either Swendenborg’s wikipedia page, or Heaven and Hell’s wikipedia page, however, Swendenborg is credited with influencing a

With such an impressive list, it seems likely that Swendenborg was in the public conscious during Ms. Eddy’s time, and that the contemporary sources I found would be aware of Swendenborg’s work, as would have their educated middle class audience — Christian Science’s primary demographic.

In my search for information about Ms. Eddy and Swendenborg, I came across an article by Henry M. Craig, M.D. in The New York Times dated August 18, 1907 (2). In addition to offering an interesting analysis of their respective works, it also offers a side-by-side comparison of Swendenborg/Eddy.

Swendenborg/EddyJohn Whitehead addresses the Swendenborg/Eddy situation in his book 1907 book The illusions of Christian science, its philosophy rationally examined (3). For brevity, and because I don’t want to slog through 247 pages of esoteric theological and philosophical discussions, I shall focus on the appendix which directly addresses Swendenborg and mental healers. In the appendix, starting on page 222, Whitehead addresses Craig’s assertions that Ms. Eddy borrowed from Swendenborg starting Rev. Wiggins perspective on the issue:

  • “No Swedenborg and all other such writers are sealed books to [Ms. Eddy]. She cannot understand such utterances and never could, but dollars and cents she understands thoroughly.” (McClure’s Magazine October 1907 p 69)

Whitehead goes on to provide an interesting analysis of Ms. Eddy’s sourcing techniques and comes to a similar conclusion as Dakin does with Ms. Eddy’s sourcing from Quimby*: she undoubtedly borrowed from Swendenborg, but her reinterpretation of his work is entirely her own. On p. 223, Whitehead describes Ms. Eddy’s method as “greatly changed in the transmission” and compares her work to a garden where Swendenborg’s idea-flowers have been “transplanted without roots.”

Whitehead goes on to compare teachings on Disease (p. 226-229), Medicine (p. 229-231), The Law of Healing (p. 231-236), Miracles (p. 236-238), and Claims (p. 238) which leads to several pages (239-241) of side-by-side passages comparing Swendenborg and Eddy’s work.

On p. 229, under the section on Medicine, Whitehead provides an interesting analysis of the contrast in teachings:

  • Mrs Eddy earnestly opposes the use of material remedies. To use them is a violation of Christian Science principles. She does indeed acknowledge that drugs have been received in her house but only for the purpose of killing vermin. Her position is that disease is a wrong belief and its true remedy is to destroy that belief. Swedenborg while teaching that the origin of disease is mental at the same time shows that it has its seat as a disease in the physical nature It must therefore be treated from both the spiritual and material planes. The spiritual cause would not manifest itself as disease in the corresponding material plane if the body by acts did not bring down the spiritual disorder into the physical nature … When the disease has gained a lodgment in the body it must be treated on its own plane.

The contrast of Eddy and Swendenborg’s approach continues, from The Law of Healing (p. 235)

  • Swedenborg’s teaching in regard to disease shows the necessity of the physician having a thorough knowledge of the physical structure and of diseases of their symptoms and causes of materia medica and the proper remedy for each disease. He should also have an extensive knowledge of the mental nature and its influence on the body This cannot be attained by three weeks instruction … When Swedenborg ascended to the spiritual plane he stood on the solid ground of his previous scientific attainments [emphasis mine]

There is no doubt that Ms. Eddy’s contemporaries felt she had sourced from Swendenborg, and the Swendenborg Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose purpose is to help people learn about Emanuel Swedenborg, shares these views, crediting the 17th century scientist with influencing Ms. Eddy as well. From their website, under “Cultural Influence” (4) they discuss

  • One of the most enduring movements involving spiritual healing was initiated by Mary Baker Eddy (1821–1910). Mrs. Eddy’s ideas, and even her very wording, are in some instances so similar to Swedenborg’s that many people have concluded that Christian Science is derived from Swedenborgianism. While Swedenborg never advocated exclusive reliance on spirit to heal the physical body (as did Mrs. Eddy), he did write voluminously on the interconnectedness of soul and body—an awareness that is now gaining ground in modern medicine. Thus Swedenborg’s influence continues to be felt today—especially among artists, spiritual seekers, and people who like to think “outside the box”! (emphasis mine)

The Swendenborg Foundation is not the only one to note these similarities, the What is happening blog which is “Blogging the beginning of Chicago’s Christian Science fellowship” has a post dated March 27, 2010 entitled What do Mary Baker Eddy and Emanuel Swedenborg have in common? (5) as part of an Interfaith meeting. This is one case where reading comments on the internet is not only okay, I acutally encourage it.

  • .. the founders of these two Christian denominations – Emanuel Swedenborg and Mary Baker Eddy – have more in common than that. They both experienced profoundly spiritual awakenings and began writing books about their spiritual insights. They both interpret the Bible from deeply spiritual perspectives and consider their teachings to be divinely inspired.

The Fellowship’s post inspired me to research Swedenborgianism, the church founded on the teachings of Swendenborg. From the church’s official website:

Key elements of Swedenborgian belief include:

  • God is infinitely loving and at the center of every life.
  • Truth is love in action. Actions performed out of love are genuine expressions in a physical form of what love means.
  • There is one God whose essence is Divine Love and Wisdom. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all aspects of God just as body, mind, and soul are all aspects of one person.
  • The Bible is the inspired Word of God that provides inspiration and help to lead better and more fulfilling lives. The literal sense of Scripture tells the story of the people of God, and contains a deeper meaning that illumines the journey of the human soul.
  • People are essentially spirits clothed with material bodies. At death, the material body is laid aside and the person continues to live on in the world of spirit choosing a heavenly life or a hellish one, based on the quality of life choices made here.
  • God gives everyone the freedom to choose their beliefs and live their lives accordingly. Salvation is available for people of all religions.
  • The Second Coming has taken place—and in fact still is taking place. It is not an actual physical appearance of the Lord, but rather his return in spirit and truth that is being effected as a present reality.
  • God is infinitely loving and at the center of every life.

The parallels with Christian Science are undeniable, however I find myself agreeing more with Whitehead (and Wiggins) analysis of the final product.

Further Reading

* Yes, I know, I need to write a post on Quimby

End Notes

  3. James Whitehead The Illusions of Christian Science, Its Philosophy Rationally Examined: With an Appendix On Swedenborg and the Mental Healers,

Ms. Eddy’s Inspiration Round 3

Welcome Ms. Eddy’s Inspiration Round 3 (for all posts on this topic see the MBE Inspiration tag). Answers to Ms. Eddy’s Inspiration Round 2 are now up.

As noted in Rounds 1 and 2, Ms. Eddy claims Science and Health with Key to the Scripture was divinely inspired and that her only source was the Bible, I have drawn from a variety of sources to compile the passages below. What work is hers? I’ll let you try and sort that out.

  • Science and Health by Mary Baker Eddy (the 1875 and 1994 editions)
  • Quimby Manuscript by Horatio Dresser
  • The Leiber Document found in Mrs. Eddy Purloins from Hegel (1936) by Walter M. Haushalter

** Please note I have temporarily allowed “anonymous” commenting. All first-time comments will be moderated. **

1) The time will come when the true God will be worshipped in spirit and truth, for God is a Spirit and not a man.

2) Matter is not the medium through which Spirit acts, or is manifested. Spirit is never individualized, and there is no medium for it. Spirit is infinite, because it is Intelligence, what then can limit it? Again, to Spirit Intelligence alone is Substance, and there is no matter. If the body was intelligent, it could never return to dust, for mind dies not, and Intelligence never developed from matter.

3) Jesus’ parable of “the sower” shows the care our Master took not to impart to dull ears and gross hearts the spiritual teachings which dulness and grossness could not accept. Reading the thoughts of the people, he said: “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine.”

4) The unity of God and man is made real by Spirit.

5) He travelled all through the land curing all sorts of diseases, preaching the kingdom of Science, and His fame went everywhere. Great multitudes followed Him and He went up into a higher state or Science and opened His mouth to them in truth or parables.

6) The beauty of matter passes away fading at length into decay and ugliness. But beauty itself is a thing of Life exempt from age or decay and to be this is must be a thing of Spirit.

7) Disease is the offspring of error

8) Matter and its claims of sin, sickness, and death are contrary to God, and cannot emanate from Him. There is no material truth. The physical senses can take no cognizance of God and spiritual Truth.

9) there is no truth, substance, life or intelligence in matter; all is infinite Mind. Thus matter has no reality; it is only the manifestation of Spirit.

10) That Spirit propagates matter or matter Spirit, is morally impossible.

Ms. Eddy’s Inspiration (Round 2)

Welcome Ms. Eddy’s Inspiration Round 2 (for all posts on this topic see the MBE Inspiration tag). Answers to Ms. Eddy’s Inspiration Round 1 are  now up.

As with Round 1, while Ms. Eddy claims Science and Health with Key to the Scripture was divinely inspired and that her only source was the Bible, I have drawn from a variety of sources to compile the passages below. What work is hers? I’ll let you try and sort that out.

  • Science and Health by Mary Baker Eddy (the 1875 and 1994 editions)
  • Quimby Manuscript by Horatio Dresser
  • The Leiber Document found in Mrs. Eddy Purloins from Hegel (1936) by Walter M. Haushalter

** Please note I have temporarily allowed “anonymous” commenting. All first-time comments will be moderated. **

1) science brings to light truth and its supremacy, universal harmony, God’s entirety, and matter’s nothingness.

2) Embryology affords no instance of one species producing another; of a serpent germinating a bird, or a lion a lamb.

3) What is the weapon that destroys this life or disease? Science. This is eternal, and that destroys all other life. This is to the animal life, death. So Science to the natural man is nothing that contains life. But this Science is a Principle. This is the only living and eternal life. This Science is what rose from the dead or natural life.

4) Mind is universal, the first and only cause of all that reality is.

5) To separate the truth from the error is a Science the knowledge of which teaches how to correct an error or disease, and in this knowledge is eternal life.

6) Therefore the divine Principle of Science, reversing the testimony of the physical senses, reveals man as harmoniously existent in Truth, which is the only basis of health; and thus Science denies all disease, heals the sick, overthrows false evidence, and refutes materialistic logic.

7) The difference is not as great between the opposite species as between matter and spirit, so utterly unlike in substance and intelligence. That spirit propagates matter or matter spirit, is morally impossible.

8) Wisdom is the true man and error the counterfeit.

9)  The optical focus is another proof of the illusion of material sense. On the eye’s retina, sky and tree-tops apparently join hands, clouds and ocean meet and mingle. The barometer, — that little prophet of storm and sunshine, denying the testimony of the senses, — points to fair weather in the midst of murky clouds and drenching rain.

10) What is disease? It is false reasoning. True scientific wisdom is health and happiness. False reasoning is sickness and death; and on these two modes of reasoning hang all of our happiness and misery.

Continue reading

Ms. Eddy’s Inspiration (round 1)

Ms. Eddy claims Science and Health with Key to the Scripture was divinely inspired and that her only source was the Bible (see below).

With that in mind, I will now inform you that the passages below come from the following sources:

  • Science and Health by Mary Baker Eddy
  • Quimby Manuscript by Horatio Dresser
  • The Leiber Document found in Mrs. Eddy Purloins from Hegel (1936) by Walter M. Haushalter

I challenge you, dear readers, to sort out who wrote what — please share your answers in the comments. The correct answers will be shared in due time.

Please note I have temporarily suspended the requirement for a name/e-mail address when commenting so that “anonymous” commenters may speculate freely on the passages below. All comments will be moderated.

1) The contrast of good and evil is destroyed in God who is the only true reality. Since nothing is real and eternal, nothing is Spirit, but God and His Idea, evil has no reality. If God is admitted to be the only Mind and Life, there ceases to be any opportunity for evil.

2) Man is the expression of God’s being. If there ever was a moment when man did not express the divine perfection, then there was a moment when man did not express God, and consequently a time when Deity was unexpressed – that is, without entity.

3) Thus it is set forth that man is the supreme Idea born of Mind.

4) Eternal life is Christ or Science, this teaches us that matter is a mere shadow of substance which the natural man never saw nor can see, for it is never changed, is the same today and forever.

5) Since, then, man is the Idea of His principle, and the image and likeness of intelligent life, substance, and Spirit, he is beyond the reach of death. In the Science of Being nothing can harm or destroy him.

6) Man’s true consciousness is in the mental, not in any bodily or personal likeness to Spirit. Indeed, the body presents no proper likeness of divinity, though mortal sense would fain have us so believe.

7) Truth, Life and Love are God, the Soul of the universe and man, and the only substance of intelligence.

8) As disease is in accordance with the laws of man, a penalty is attached to every act so that everyone found guilty must be punished by the law.

9) God is infinite, the only Life, substance, Spirit or Soul, the only intelligence of the universe including man.

10) One of these elements is governed by Wisdom, the other by error, and as all belief is in this world of darkness, the truth comes in and explains the error.

For more on those claims, you can read the article entitled Mary Baker Eddy: Author by Peter J. Henniker-Heaton, From the June 1966 issue of The Christian Science Journal,

Continue reading