The First Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia to Host a 3-week Series on How Philadelphia Shaped the U.S Constitution

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The First Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia is hosting a three-week series beginning Wednesday, January 16 on the significance of Philadelphia as the original center of American constitution making. Dr. Will Harris will inquire into the intellectual and moral ethos of the Middle Atlantic States during the Founding generation—with the formative influence of William Penn and the Scottish Enlightenment—and the contribution of this atmosphere to the character of the Constitution.

The First Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia
This “Philadelphia Dispensation” extols moderation—something very different from compromise or splitting the difference—as the founding idea at the core of Aristotle’s and James Madison’s concept of what a “constitution” is.

The First Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia is hosting a three-week series entitled "Constitution = Moderation", which examines Philadelphia’s role as the original center of American constitution making. Dr. Will Harris will inquire into the intellectual and moral ethos of the Middle Atlantic States during the Founding generation—with the formative influence of William Penn and the Scottish Enlightenment—and the contribution of this atmosphere to the character of the Constitution. This “Philadelphia Dispensation” extols moderation—something very different from compromise or splitting the difference—as the founding idea at the core of Aristotle’s and James Madison’s concept of what a “constitution” is.

Seminars will take place on three consecutive Wednesdays at The First Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, 201 S. 21st Street (21st & Walnut) from 6:30-8:00 p.m.

January 16 - The Philadelphia Dispensation
A focus on William Penn’s founding documents for Pennsylvania, and a general account of the Scottish Enlightenment views whose proponents were centered in Philadelphia and Princeton, establishing a culture of mutuality based on a logic of moderation.

January 23 - Moderation is not equal to Compromise
There is an independent theoretical ground for moderation; it has its own intrinsic strength, founded on the meaningful core of the in-between—in contrast to being the derivative of splitting the difference between extremes, each with its distorting force. An emphasis on “life, in the middle,” the hospitable site for human existence and creativity, located in the midst of the perfect or complete and the broken or incoherent. Understanding the idea of moderation as occupying exactly the same conceptual space, for Aristotle and Madison, as the concept of a constitution itself.

January 30 - Federalist, No. 37, as a Constitutive Text
A systematic inquiry into this example of a document that makes a world—an account in the words of Madison offering a theoretical key into the character of the Federalists’ concept of the American constitutional enterprise, which is seen as being founded affirmatively (but unexpectedly) in the indispensable ambiguity of human language and in our uncertain understanding of the “nature of things.” An enthusiastic endorsement of “good enough.”

About The First Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia:
The First Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia was founded in 1698. Since then we have been a home to a diverse group of Christians from the greater Philadelphia region. We are active members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Presbytery of Philadelphia and the Covenant Network.

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Jesse Garner
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