Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury

English politician and Earl (1671-1713)

Anthony Ashley Cooper, 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury (February 26 1671February 4 1713) was an English philosopher and politician.

'Tis the hardest thing in the world to be a good thinker without being a strong self-examiner.
Truth is the most powerful thing in the world, since even fiction itself must be governed by it, and can only please by its resemblance.
(Not to be confused with his grandfather, Anthony Ashley Cooper, 1st Earl of Shaftesbury.)

Quotes edit

  • Through certain humors or passions, and from temper merely, a man may be completely miserable, let his outward circumstances be ever so fortunate.
    • As quoted in Day's Collacon : An Encyclopaedia of Prose Quotations: (1884), p. 930; Actual quote: "That thro certain Humours or Passions, and from Temper merely, a Man may be completely miserable; let his outward Circumstances be ever so fortunate." An inquiry concerning virtue, or merit, p. 52.
  • 'Twas the saying of [Georgias Leontinus apud Arist. Rhetor. lib. 3. cap. 18… which the Translator renders, Seria Risu, Risum Seriis discutere] an ancient sage that humour was the only test of gravity, and gravity of humour. For a subject which would not bear raillery was suspicious; and a jest which would not bear a serious examination was certainly false wit.
    • Sensus Communis: An Essay on the Freedom of Wit and Humour (1709), Part 1, Sec. 5

Characteristicks of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times (1711) edit

Quotations are cited from the edition by Philip Ayres (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1999).
  • Truth is the most powerful thing in the world, since even fiction itself must be governed by it, and can only please by its resemblance.
    • Vol. 1, p. 8; "A Letter Concerning Enthusiasm".
  • How comes it to pass then, that we appear such Cowards in reasoning, and are so afraid to stand the Test of Ridicule?
    • Vol. 1, p. 11; "A Letter Concerning Enthusiasm".
  • Gravity is of the very Essence of Imposture. It does not only make us mistake other Things, but is apt perpetually almost to mistake it-self.
    • Vol. 1, p. 11; "A Letter Concerning Enthusiasm".
  • We may have an excellent Ear in Musick, without being able to perform in any kind. We may judg well of Poetry, without being Poets, or possessing the least of a Poetick Vein: But we can have no tolerable Notion of Goodness, without being tolerably good.
    • Vol. 1, p. 26; "A Letter Concerning Enthusiasm".
  • Truth, 'tis suppos'd, may bear all Lights: and one of those principal Lights or natural Mediums, by which Things are to be view'd, in order to a thorow Recognition, is Ridicule it-self, or that Manner of Proof by which we discern whatever is liable to just Raillery in any Subject.
    • Vol. 1, p. 38; "Sensus Communis".
  • All Politeness is owing to Liberty. We polish one another, and rub off our Corners and rough Sides by a sort of amicable Collision. To restrain this, is inevitably to bring a Rust upon Mens Understandings.
    • Vol. 1, pp. 39-40; "Sensus Communis".
  • True courage…has so little to do with Anger, that there lies always the strongest Suspicion against it, where this Passion is highest. The true Courage is the cool and calm. The bravest of Men have the least of a brutal bullying Insolence; and in the very time of Danger are found the most serene, pleasant, and free. Rage, we know, can make a Coward forget himself and fight. But what is done in Fury, or Anger, can never be plac’d to the account of Courage.
    • Vol. 1, p. 66; "Sensus Communis".
  • The most natural Beauty in the World is Honesty, and Moral Truth. For all Beauty is Truth. True Features make the Beauty of a Face; and true Proportions the Beauty of Architecture; as true Measures that of Harmony and Musick.
    • Vol. 1, p. 77; "Sensus Communis".
  • 'Tis the hardest thing in the world to be a good Thinker, without being a strong Self-Examiner.
    • Vol. 1, p. 92; "Soliloquy: or Advice to an Author".
  • Never did any Soul do good, but it came readier to do the same again, with more Enjoyment. Never was Love, or Gratitude, or Bounty practis'd but with increasing Joy, which made the Practiser still more in love with the fair Act.
    • Vol. 2, p. 30; "The Moralists, a Philosophical Rhapsody".
  • Truly … as accidental as my Life may be, or as that random Humour is, which governs it; I know nothing, after all, so real or substantial as My-Self. Therefore if there be that Thing you call a Substance, I take for granted I am one. But for anything further relating to this Question, you know my Sceptick Principles: I determine neither way.
    • Vol. 2, p. 83; Part 3, Sect. 1 "Philocles to Palemon".
  • 'Tis not Wit merely, but a Temper which must form the Well-Bred Man. In the same manner, 'tis not a Head merely, but a Heart and Resolution which must compleat the real Philosopher.
    • Vol. 2, p. 206; "Miscellany III".
  • The Taste of Beauty, and the Relish of what is decent, just, and amiable, perfects the Character of the Gentleman, and the Philosopher. And the Study of such a Taste or Relish will, as we suppose, be ever the great Employment and Concern of him, who covets as well to be wise and good, as agreeable and polite.
    • Vol. 2, p. 207; "Miscellany III".
  • A Right Mind, and Generous Affection, [has] more Beauty and Charm, than all other Symmetrys in the World besides.
    • Vol. 2, p. 209; "Miscellany III".

Quotes about Shaftesbury edit

  • I agree with you, that he was a Man of Erudition, and a very polite Writer; he has display'd a copious Imagination, and a fine Turn of thinking, in courtly Language and nervous Expressions: But as, on the one hand, it must be confess'd, that his Sentiments on Liberty and Humanity are noble and sublime, and that there is nothing trite or vulgar in the Characteristicks; so, on the other, it cannot be denied, that the Ideas he had form'd of the Goodness and Excellency of our Nature, were as romantick and chimerical as they are beautiful and amiable; that he labour'd hard to unite two Contraries that can never be reconcil'd together, Innocence of Manners and worldly Greatness; that to compass this End he favour'd Deism, and, under Pretence of lashing Priestcraft and Superstition, attack'd the Bible it self; and lastly, that by ridiculing many Passages of Holy Writ, he seems to have endeavour'd to sap the Foundation of all reveal'd Religion, with Design of establishing Heathen Virtue on the Ruins of Christianity.

External links edit