The Third Earl of Shaftesbury
A Study in Eighteenth-Century Literary Theory
The third Earl of Shaftesbury had generally been known as the forerunner of the Moral Sense school of philosophers in the eighteenth century. Surprisingly little attention had been paid to his importance for literature and yet undoubtedly this had been very great. Originally published in 1951, this study gives an account of Shaftesbury’s aesthetic and literary theory; his discussion of the imagination, ridicule, the aesthetic judgment and the sublime; and his anticipation of later writers such as Burke, Coleridge and Kant. It also considers Shaftesbury’s thought as part of the background of ideas in the Augustan period and his influence in such fields as literature, architecture and landscape gardening. In addition, the author assesses in more general terms Shaftesbury’s attempt to maintain a Platonic viewpoint that would be more congenial to poetry than Locke’s "new way of ideas".
Table of Contents
Preface. 1. The Cambridge Platonists 2. The Life and Writings of Shaftesbury 3. Shaftesbury’s Philosophy 4. The Ancients and the Moderns 5. The Creative Imagination 6. The Aesthetic Judgement 7. The Sublime 8. The Doctrine of Ridicule 9. The Influence of Shaftesbury’s Thought 10. The Crisis of Reason. Appendix. Index.
R. L. Brett