Berkeley and Shaftesbury

Jaffro, L. (2022). Berkeley and Shaftesbury. In S. Rickless, The Oxford Handbook of Berkeley, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 539-559.

The Third Earl of Shaftesbury was one of Berkeley’s main targets throughout his career, and especially in Alciphron. The English moralist, who claims to adapt ancient philosophy, particularly Stoic philosophy, to the taste of a modern audience, is in Berkeley’s eyes a promoter of anti-Christian free-thinking. It is on the occasion of his criticism of Shaftesbury that Berkeley expounds his own views on the epistemology of ethical and aesthetic values, and on education. Berkeley sees in Shaftesbury, as in Hutcheson, a philosopher who makes the mistake of devaluing reasoning in favor of feeling, whereas it has a rightful place in the ethical and aesthetic fields. He rejects Shaftesbury’s appeal to “enthusiasm” and “natural taste.” Berkeley also blames him for trying to confiscate the Socratic legacy in the service of a libertine project, as if the philosophy of the ancients did not prefigure Christianity.