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New Ages, New Opinions

Shaftesbury in his World and Today

Edited By Patrick Müller

Interest in Shaftesbury is as lively and productive today as it ever was. Indeed, the past decade has seen a veritable international renaissance in studies of his work. The various theoretical approaches of which modern critics and scholars can avail themselves are reflected in the different new interpretations we now have of Shaftesbury. This collection of essays manifests this diversity, offering a representative miscellany which covers a wide range of Shaftesbury’s own intellectual interests. The focus lies on the re-evaluations of his ethics, aesthetics, politics, religion, and literary criticism, as well as examinations of the reception of his works.
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The Cosmopolitanism of Lord Shaftesbury

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Angela Taraborrelli, Sapienza Università, Roma

Whenever the Fancy is strongly at work about ye Ancients & reviving something or other of that kind; remember yt these things are already come to their Period: the Day is spent: & only a Twilight remains. Something else may arise in after Ages: but that must be a new thing, & from new seeds. (Askêmata 158)

Cosmopolitanism is an ideal steeped in a history, dating back to the Classical period where it was first conceptualised and terminologically refined in the anecdotal lore of the Cynic Diogenes of Sinope, and by exponents of Graeco-Roman Stoicism. The Middle Ages brought a Christian reinterpretation, and later the concept developed not only in a moral, but also in a jurispolitical sense, spelt out in Kant’s Perpetual Peace (1795). While Shaftesbury is not usually mentioned as one of the protagonists in the history of cosmopolitanism, he is in fact to be credited with having recovered this ideal from the Stoic tradition, and there from Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius in particular. Elaborating on some of their core concepts, he built – by virtue of the philosophical authority he enjoyed – a bridge between ancient and modern cosmopolitanism.1 It is noteworthy that the three forms in which contemporary cosmopolitanism is usually found in classifications of the concept are all present in his reflections. Some characteristics of the Earl’s notion are obviously only remotely comparable to their modern-day versions; however, Shaftesbury’s remarks can be classified, at least...

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