Shaftesbury, Anthony Ashley Cooper, 3d earl of

Shaftesbury, Anthony Ashley Cooper, 3d earl of,

1671–1713, English philosopher. The philosopher John LockeLocke, John
, 1632–1704, English philosopher, founder of British empiricism. Locke summed up the Enlightenment in his belief in the middle class and its right to freedom of conscience and right to property, in his faith in science, and in his confidence in the goodness of
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, adviser to the 1st earl, his grandfather, was in charge of Shaftesbury's education, which was largely classical. Ill health restricted his political life, although he served (1695–98) in the House of Commons and in the House of Lords after his accession to his title in 1699. Shaftesbury's chief contributions were in the fields of moral philosophy and aesthetics. He reacted against rationalism as an ethical basis and found true morality in a balance between egoism and altruism. That balance is possible because there is a harmony between society and the individual that makes the general welfare identical with individual happiness. Humans are innately equipped with spontaneous instincts or affections to promote such harmony. In the ethical field Shaftesbury called those instincts the moral sense, the first use of that term. His influence, especially in Germany, was considerable; his ideas were further developed by the British philosopher Francis HutchesonHutcheson, Francis
, 1694–1746, British philosopher, b. Co. Down, Ireland. He was a professor at the Univ. of Glasgow from 1729 until his death. His reputation rests on four essays published anonymously while he was living in Dublin, prior to his college teaching.
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. Shaftesbury collected most of his important essays in Characteristicks of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times (1711).

Bibliography

See biography by R. Voitle (1984); S. Grean, Shaftesbury's Philosophy of Religion and Ethics (1967); J. A. Bernstein, Shaftesbury, Rousseau, and Kant (1980); see also G. B. Walters, The Significance of Diderot's Essai sur le merite et la vertu (1971), a study of Diderot's translation of a work by Shaftesbury.

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