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Characteristicks of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times

Three-Volume Slipcased Set, with Illustrations

Third Earl of Shaftesbury

Publication Year: 2012

This new Liberty Fund edition of Characteristicks presents the complete 1732 text of this classic work of philosophy and political theory. Also included are faithful reproductions of the stirring engravings that Shaftesbury created to facilitate the reader's consideration of his meditations on the interrelationships among truth, goodness, beauty, virtue, liberty, responsibility, society, and the state. Click here to view a sample art card.

The grandson of a founder and leader of the English Whigs, and tutored by John Locke, Anthony Ashley Cooper, the Third Earl of Shaftesbury (1671–1713), wrote one of the most intellectually influential works in English of the eighteenth century. This was the three-volume Characteristicks, originally published in 1711, but revised in 1714 to accommodate the engravings of illustrations that Shaftesbury himself executed to aid the reader's consideration of his reflections on virtue as a kind of rationally achieved harmony among the affections.

Widely regarded as the first exponent of the view that ethics derives, not from reason alone, but from "sentiment," Shaftesbury criticizes not only Locke but, especially, Hobbes for the dim view that "the state of nature" is "a war of all against all." To the contrary, Shaftesbury argued that human nature responds most fully to representations of the good, the true, and the beautiful, and that human beings naturally desire society. In all of these reflections, he provides a large scope for the exercise of individual liberty and responsibility.

Douglas Den Uyl has for many years been a Professor of Philosophy at Bellarmine College, Louisville, and is Vice President of Educational Programs for Liberty Fund, Inc.

Published by: Liberty Fund

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-xii

Shaftesbury's Characteristicks of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times, first published in 1711, was the most reprinted book in English in that century. A three-volume work, the Characteristicks was influential not only in England but throughout Europe. Three centuries later, Shaftesbury is most remembered- when he is remembered at all-as the initiator of the "moral sense" school of British ethical theory...


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pp. xiii-19


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pp. 20-21

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pp. xxi-23

IF the Author of these united Tracts had been any Friend to PREFACES, he wou'd probably have made his Entrance after that manner, in one or other of the Five Treatises formerly publish'd apart. But as to all Prefatory or Dedicatory Discourse, he has told us his Mind sufficiently, in that Treatise which he calls SOLILOQUY. Being satisfy'd however, that there are many Persons who esteem these ...


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pp. 1-25

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pp. 3-36

NOW, you are return'd to ..... and before the Season comes which must engage you in the weightier Matters no relation to Business or Affairs, you may cast your Eye slightly on what you have before you; and if there be any thing inviting, It has been an establish'd Custom for Poets, at the entrance of their Work, to address themselves to some Muse: and this Practice ...


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pp. 37-61

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pp. 39-94

I HAVE been considering (my Friend!) what your Fancy was, to express such a surprize as you did the other day, when I happen'd to speak to you in commendation of Raillery. Was it possible you shou'd suppose me so grave a Man, as to dislike all Conversation of'this kind? Or were you afraid I shou'd not stand [6o] the trial, if you put...


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pp. 95-119

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pp. 96-228

I HAVE often thought how ill-natur'd a Maxim it was, which, on many occasions, I have heard from People of good understanding: "That, as to what related to private Conduct, Noone was ever the better for ADVICE." But upon farther Examination, vice' was generally given, there was no reason, I thought, to wonder [1 54] it shou'd be so ill receiv'd. Something there was which strangely inverted the Case, and made the Giver ...


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pp. i-253


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pp. iii-255


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pp. 1-257

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pp. 3-44

RELIGION and VIRTUE appear in many respects so nearly related, that they are generally pres~m'd inseparable Companions. And so willing we are to believe well of their Union, that we hardly allow it just to speak, or even think of 'em apart. It may however be question'd, whether the Practice of the World, in this respect, be answerable...

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'Book 2

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pp. 45-101

WE have consider'd what VIRTUE is, and to whom the Character belongs. It remains to inquire, What Obligation there is to VIRTUE; or what Reason to embrace it. We have found, that to deserve the name of good or virtuous, a Creature must have all his Inclinations and Affections, his Dispositions of Mind and Temper, sutable, and agreeing with the Good of his Kind, or of that System in which he is included, and of which he constitutes a PART. To stand thus well affected, and to have one's Affections right and...


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pp. 101-357

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pp. 103-507

WHAT Mortal, if he had never chanc'd to hear your Character, PALEMON, cou'd imagine that a Genius fitted for the greatest Affairs, and form'd amidst Courts and Camps, shou' d have so violent aT urn towards Philosophy and the Schools? Who is there cou'd possibly believe that one [r82] of your Rank and Credit...

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pp. iii-509

This book is published by Liberty Fund, Inc., a foundation established to encourage study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals. The cuneiform inscription that serves as our logo and as the design motif for our endpapers is the earliest-known written appearance of the word "freedom" (amagi), or "liberty." It is taken from a clay document written ...


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pp. v-511


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pp. 1-513

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Miscellaneous Reflections

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pp. 3-210

PEACE be with the Soul of that charitable and courteous Author, who for the common Benefit of his Fellow-A~thors, introduc'd the ingenious way of MISCELLANEOUS Writing!- lt must be own'd that since this happy Method was establish'd, the Harvest of Wit has been more plentiful, and the Labourers more in number than heretofore...


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pp. 211-723

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THE Judgment of Hercules

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pp. 213-240

BEFORE we enter on the Examination of our Historical Sketch, it may be proper to remark, that by the word Tablature (for which we have yet no name in English, besides the general one of Picture) we denote, according to the original word TABULA, a Work not only distinct from a mere Portraiture, but from all those wilder sorts of Painting...


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pp. 241-753

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pp. 243-252

THIS Letter comes to your Lordship, accompany'd with a small Writing intitled A NOTION: for such alone can that Piece deservedly be call'd, which aspires no higher than to the forming of a Project, and that too in so vulgar a Science as Painting. But whatever the Subject be, if it can prove any way entertaining to you, it will sufficiently answer my Design. And if possibly it may have that good...


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pp. 253-292


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pp. 293-329

Production Notes

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pp. 330-841

E-ISBN-13: 9781614878605
E-ISBN-10: 1614878609
Print-ISBN-13: 9780865972957

Page Count: 815
Publication Year: 2012