The third Earl of Shaftesbury creates a “sociable enthusiast” in The Moralists (1708), published in his major work, Characteristicks of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times (1711). This sociable enthusiast embodies a refined form of enthusiasm in a respectable subject—a philosopher, presented as moderator of a dialogue. I argue that, for Shaftesbury, the special problems of recognizing a socially useful enthusiasm and employing it well were closely tied to ethical concerns about the culture of the philosopher’s character. These concerns led Shaftesbury to illustrate his own ideas about the dialogic personal practice of philosophy with the characters of three modern Socratics, producing an aestheticized theory of enthusiastic self-characterization in which the philosopher can only perform “true enthusiasm” by multiplying himself into different characters.
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Shayda Hoover; “Voice and Accents”: Enthusiastic Characterization in Shaftesbury’s The Moralists. Eighteenth-Century Life 1 January 2013; 37 (1): 72–96. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00982601-1895217
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