This study presents the various perspectives from which Breton investigates man: from the perspective of the imago Dei-debate, from the perspective of hu- man nature and from the perspective of man’s identity—his English, Christian, social and political identity. Breton deems human nature generally as positive, but unstable, flawed and individualistic and therefore in need of nurture. Human nature, Breton argues, cannot sustain itself; exterior forces must nurture it. This argument formed the basis for this study’s analysis of Breton’s discourse on the Self. Early Modern understanding saw man as able to create in the same way that man was created, which meant that God’s creation could be reversed: not only by man shaping himself, but also by man shaping nature. In man’s creation na- ture is copied, replaced and even surpassed. People in the Early Modern period were unaccustomed to such artificiality and were susceptible to accepting it as an alternative reality, a world in which illusion and reality are difficult to tell apart. Breton saw this artificiality as an infringement on God’s creation, a tool for man to deceive and a threat for a community that depends on set structures for its survival. Chapters 4, 5, 6 and 7 illustrate how Breton elaborates on this threat. Breton juxtaposes internal self-nurturing, man’s capacity to fashion himself, shape his surroundings and adapt to change, against external nurturing and the authorities’ capacity to control man’s life. Breton considers self-nurturing as a threat rather than a capacity. In his eyes, the lack...
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