In a letter to a friend, Shaftesbury once wrote, "You know me for a great enthusiast. . . ." 1 Despite this self-admission, and despite the frequent discussions of enthusiasm in his writings, one finds that Anglo-American scholars have on the whole failed to recognize the central place of love and enthusiasm in Shaftesbury's thought. This is true even of such reputable scholars as Leslie Stephen, Thomas Fowler, Basil Willey, and R. L. Brett. Basil Willey, for example, sees the importance of Shaftesbury's "enthusiasm" only as an attribute of man's response to Nature's beauties. 2 An important recent exception is Marjorie Nicolson's study of "the aesthetics of the infinite," in which she explores the concept of enthusiasm in relation to Shaftesbury's aesthetics. 3 What there has been in the standpoint of Anglo-American critics that has made them uninterested in or unaware of the importance of this concept is an interesting question. In contrast, German scholars like Cassirer and Wilhelm Windelband have recognized the centrality of enthusiasm in the English philosopher's world-view. Perhaps one reason is that a more vital tradition of philosophic idealism
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Publication information: Book title: Shaftesbury's Philosophy of Religion and Ethics:A Study in Enthusiasm. Contributors: Stanley Grean - Author. Publisher: Ohio University Press. Place of publication: Athens, OH. Publication year: 1967. Page number: 19.
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