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".

chapter Chapter I|20 pages

The Cambridge Platonists

chapter Chapter II|26 pages

The Life and Writings of Shaftesbury1

chapter Chapter III|27 pages

Shaftesbury’s Philosophy

chapter Chapter IV|14 pages

The Ancients and Moderns

chapter Chapter V|23 pages

The Creative Imagination

chapter Chapter VI|22 pages

The Aesthetic Judgment

chapter Chapter VII|20 pages

The Sublime

chapter Chapter VIII|21 pages

The Doctrine of Ridicule

chapter Chapter IX|22 pages

The Influence of Shaftesbury’s Thought

chapter Chapter X|16 pages

The Crisis of Reason