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

By Stanley Grean | Go to book overview

CHAPTER ONE
PHILOSOPHY: TRUE and FALSE

Shaftesbury compares himself to an architect who, when called upon to repair part of an old building, points out that it has fundamental defects and proceeds to design an entirely new building. This represents his attitude toward much of the philosophy that preceded him in the medieval and early modern period, with the partial exception, as will be noted, of the Cambridge Platonists. He saw his philosophy as embodying something new and different, and he shared the exhilaration felt by many thinkers in his time stemming from the belief that they were opening up new dimensions of thought. (II, 251 f.)

Philosophy itself, Shaftesbury believed, was a relatively late development, preceded by the growth of religion, government, language, and the arts, though "it was long clearing itself from the affected dress of sophists, or enthusiastic air of poets, and appeared late in its genuine, simple, and just beauty." (II, 240 f.) The Greeks brought philosophy to its perfection, but Shaftesbury considered that it had subsequently gone astray. Shaftesbury's admiration for Greek and Roman thought and

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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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