Shaftesbury's Philosophy of Religion and Ethics: A Study in Enthusiasm

By Stanley Grean | Go to book overview

CHAPTER THIRTEEN
VIRTUE and HAPPINESS

Though Shaftesbury believes that our "chief interest" is to know wherein our true "happiness" lies, he rejects the theory that either happiness or good are to be defined as "what is pleasing." "For if that which pleases us be our good because it pleases us, anything may be our interest or good. . . . No one can learn what real good is. Nor can any one upon this foot be said to understand his interest." (I, 200) Or, as he writes in "The Moralists":

When will and pleasure are synonymous; when everything which pleases us is called pleasure, and we never choose or prefer but as we please; 'tis trifling to say "Pleasure is our good." For this has as little meaning as to say, "We choose what we think eligible"; and "We are pleased with what delights or pleases us." The question is "whether we are rightly pleased, and choose as we should do?" (II, 29)

The hedonistic identification of "pleasure" and "good" reduces itself, upon analysis, to a tautology with little ethical meaning. This seems more of an anticipation of G. E. Moore's "naturalistic fallacy" than A. N. Prior recognizes. 1 Shaftesbury un

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Shaftesbury's Philosophy of Religion and Ethics: A Study in Enthusiasm
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Preface ix
  • Contents *
  • Part One - Part One 1
  • Chapter One - Philosophy: True and False 3
  • Chapter Two - Enthusiasm 19
  • Chapter Three - Knowledge and Intuition: Reason and Revelation 37
  • Chapter Four - Nature and God 50
  • Chapter Five - Optimism and Evil 73
  • Chapter Six - Freedom and Destiny 89
  • Chapter Seven - Christianity and the Church 98
  • Chapter Eight - Humor and Liberty 120
  • Part Two - Part Two 135
  • Chapter Nine - Human Nature: the Social Affections 137
  • Chapter Ten - Self and Society 164
  • Chapter Eleven - Religion and Morals 184
  • Chapter Twelve - The Nature of Virtue 199
  • Chapter Thirteen - Virtue and Happiness 229
  • Chapter Fourteen - Creative Form: Beauty 246
  • Chapter Fifteen - Concluding Remarks 258
  • Notes 265
  • Selected Bibliography 281
  • Index 289
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