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198 ‘‘massive intervention . . . and seaborne invasion from the Netherlands [that] removed James II’’ erases the compromise with the hereditary principle in that revolution . Scriblerians might want to know what happens to England in this multicultural, transnational ferment. On the one hand, Locke and Newton are subsumed in the foundational triad: ‘‘the Scientific Revolution , the rise of the mechanical world view, and Lockean empiricism.’’ On the other, English influence is discounted in the critical period at the turn of the century since neither Locke nor Newton has an impact on the Continent until the third decade of the century. Then, abruptly, Locke and Newton are welcomed ‘‘even among the most reactionary sections of the French Church, and by the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisition, as intellectually safe writers, innovativeperhapsbut entirely supportive of revealed religion, Providence, and the political and social order.’’Voltaire and Mme. du Chateletare the conduits, and the English trinity of Locke, Newton, and Bacon shelters the Encylopédistes from dangerous political charges. This very suggestive account makes Locke and Newton part of a wider intellectual movement,Locke’sviewsbeing disseminated by LeClerc even before the publication of the Essay Concerning Human Understanding; they also are part of a paradigm shift that they do not cause, but participate in and then come to represent . What thinker could ask for more? Regina Janes Skidmore College BLAKEY VERMEULE. The Party of Humanity : Writing Moral Psychology in Eighteenth-Century Britain. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 2000. Pp. xii ⫹ 250. $49.95. The Party of Humanity is an ambitious and far-reaching study that examines the ‘‘moralizing power of the aesthetic,’’ principally as represented in select works by Pope, with lesser attention to Johnson and Hume. The apropos title, drawn from Hume’s Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals (1751), is chosen for the eighteenth-century empiricist anticipation of our contemporary notions of ‘‘evolutionary psychology’’and neo-Kantian ‘‘normative ethics.’’ In pursuing this episteme , however, Ms. Vermeule takestwo additional bold steps. Not only does she explicate these three authors (and several others in passing) via the ‘‘normative ethics of obligation,’’she also argues that the ethical model Hume outlined should be recognized as establishing the foundations of present ethical theorization. Further, and significantly, she not only applies, but endorses and advocates the acceptance of the entire project of normative ethics of obligation, as championed by noted Harvard philosopher Christine M. Korsgaard (The Sources of Normativity,1996).Andsoweareatonce immersed in the most active area of contemporary philosophical debate, the ‘‘return to ethics,’’ which can be best characterized as a ‘‘return to Kant.’’ Ms. Vermeule’s argument is presented in three parts: ‘‘Some ParadoxesofMoral Psychology,’’ which introduces the theoretical framework; the ‘‘Art of Obligation ,’’ which focuses on Pope’s character sketches and The Dunciad; and ‘‘Spectator Morality,’’ which emphasizes Johnson ’s Life of Savage, Hume’s theory of pride, and several ‘‘jovial fanatics,’’ namely Hume, Thomas Wharton, and Cowper (and his biographer, William Hayley). The preliminary theoretical essay consists of two parts, and is chal- 199 lenging in its rapid exposition of numerous terms, concepts, and evendisciplines. The principal ‘‘paradox,’’however, is between the usual self-serving interests of moral psychology and the presumption of social transcendence in the ethical systems. Ms. Vermeule proposes ‘‘naturalism ’’ to ‘‘focus’’ the paradox, a methodology that recontextualizes ‘‘selfinterest theories of human motivation,’’ particularly via the discipline of ‘‘evolutionary psychology,’’ which leads, in turn, to ‘‘evolutionary ethics,’’ in particular Korsgaard’s ‘‘updating [of]Kant’s moral philosophy.’’The second sectionof the opening chapter then offers a preliminary outline of the moralizing power of art through an interpretation of Joseph Wright of Derby’s ThreePersonsViewing the Gladiator by Candlelight (1765). Ms. Vermeule argues that Pope and Johnson (and other writers) ‘‘desire to master the world by transcending it,’’ through denying the content and details of their potent moral adversaries and then imposing their own view of moral order on the world. This strategyembodies‘‘theethics of obligation,’’which, she asserts, is ‘‘the only one consistent with the metaphysics of the modern world.’’ Following the reasoning of Hume, Korsgaard, and other empirical ethicists, Ms. Vermeule rejects ‘‘a transcendental source for morality and values,’’ turning to the scientific discipline of ‘‘evolutionary naturalism,’’ which explains the sources of morality...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2165-0624
Print ISSN
0190-731X
Pages
pp. 198-200
Launched on MUSE
2017-04-05
Open Access
No
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