Cooper, Anthony Ashley, third earl of Shaftesbury

(2275 words)
  • Daniel Floyd (University of Aberdeen)

Anthony Ashley Cooper, the Third Earl of Shaftesbury from 1699, was famous in his own time for attacking religious enthusiasm and questioning moral theories that attributed all human actions to pure self-interest, but he is better known today as an innovator in aesthetics who linked beauty with moral virtue. A collection of essays, Characteristicks of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times (1711), began to have a significant influence on moral philosophy and aesthetics in Britain and on the continent shortly after his death. While he was alive, his treatises elicited fewer critical responses than he had hoped and he feared his ideas – especially his firm belief in natural benevolence and virtue as the original state of humanity – …

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Floyd, Daniel. "Cooper, Anthony Ashley, third earl of Shaftesbury". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 17 January 2005
[, accessed 08 July 2015.]

Articles on Cooper's works

  1. Characteristicks of Men, Manners, Opinions, and Times