- Anthony Ashley Cooper, third earl of Shaftesbury. Complete Works, Selected Letters, and Posthumous Writings in English with Parallel German Translation (review)
- Journal of the History of Philosophy
- Johns Hopkins University Press
- Volume 20, Number 4, October 1982
- pp. 434-436
- View Citation
- Additional Information
434 HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY Anthony Ashley Cooper, third earl of Shaftesbury. Complete Works, Selected Letters, and Posthumous Writings in English with Parallel German Translation. Standard Edition. Edited, translated, and with commentaries by Gerd Hemmerich and Wolfram Benda. 14 vols. Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt: Frommann-Holzboog, ~98~-. Part I, vol. 1, Aesthetics. Pp. 443. Subscription price DM22o per vol. by subscription; DM24o per vol., singly. The announcement of the publication of a standard edition of the complete works of the third earl of Shaftesbury will be welcomed by all those interested in that philosopher and in eighteenth-century thought. The edition, the first of its kind, will provide a parallel German translation and will include all writings published by Shaftesbury himself, those published posthumously, and previously unpublished writings found in the Shaftesbury Papers. It will contain the first versions of The Inquiry Concerning Virtue and The Moralists. Letters and notes from the Shaftesbury Papers, some not previously published, will also be included. Making this material available in a single comprehensive edition will be of great value. While the publication of the previously unpublished material is especially important, some of the published material has become very difficult to obtain. This will be a variorum edition. In the case of the Characteristics, the first edition (1711) is employed as the basic text, which is compared with previous editions of individual works and subsequent editions of the Characteristics published in 1714, 1723, 1758, 1773, and 19oo (Robertson). The edition is arranged in five parts: part 1, aesthetics (2 vols.); part 2, moral and political philosophy (2 vols.); part 3, letters and miscellaneous writings (5 vols. including 2 of letters); part 4, commentaries (3 vols.); part 5, critical studies (2 vols.). The latter will comprise a critical monograph by Gerd Hemmerich and a study, "Shaftesbury As a Literary Artist," by Wolfram Benda. Volume i of part 1 includes two works from the Characteristics--Advice to an Author and A Letter concerning Enthusiasm-and The Adept Ladys. The book is handsomely printed and reproduces the title pages from the 1723 edition of Characteristics with the emblematic illustrations that Shaftesbury himself designed for the t714 edition (a fact the editors should have noted in their introduction). The editors have chosen to retain the spelling and punctuation used in the original editions (with the exception of the eighteenth-century "s") rather than modernizing it as Robertson did. The resulting text preserves something of the look and texture of the eighteenth-century editions. The German translations by Hemmerich draw in part from the three-volume German edition of 1773. Although that translation, according to the editors, "does not meet critical standards," they have made "frequent use" of it "as a source of a literary language more akin to Shaftesbury's eighteenth-century English than a modern translation could be." (p. 24). Though this project is highly commendable, I do have certain reservations--some serious--about decisions the editors have made. They have chosed to abandon the organization of the texts made by Shaftesbury himself for the first two editions of BOOK REVIEWS 435 Characteristics. Instead they have undertaken to arrange the writings according to the subjects dealt with in them. Unfortunately, as the editors themselves acknowledge, his writings are not that compartmentalized or narrowly focussed. For the most part Shaftesbury ranges widely over a variety of subjects moving from ethics to aesthetics to philosophy of religion to metaphysics, and so on. This undercuts the pretense of this edition to be more systematic. And it puts in question the main divisions of "Aesthetics" and "Moral and Political Philosophy." Why not philosophy of religion? Shaftesbury was a deeply religious thinker, and much of what he wrote deals with religious questions (as do two of the three pieces in the first volume). It would have been better to retain Shaftesbury's own arrangement of the Characteristics, working into it the first versions of the Inquiry and the Moralists and following with a volume incorporating Second Characters plus some other material. Separating the edition into artificial and not too meaningful "parts" is less useful. Sequential numbering of volumes would also be more convenient than the projected division into parts. More serious is the decision...