Anthony Ashley Cooper, Third Earl of Shaftesbury: Standard Edition / II. Moral and Political Philosophy. Band 2
The earliest published versions of both ›The Moralists‹ and ›Inquiry‹ underwent considerable revision before the final texts appeared in Shaftesbury’s ›Characteristicks‹. The Standard Edition presents in each case a parallel text – the original treatise beside the finished product; readers will thus be able to follow the process of change. (For the German translation of both works see Volume II, 3.) ›The Moralists‹ and ›Inquiry‹ are possibly the best known of the writings in ›Characteristicks‹. Placed side by side to form the second volume of the ›Joint-Tracts‹, the two could in fact scarcely be more divergent. In ›Inquiry‹ Shaftesbury uses stringent argumentation to set forth his moral philosophy: a 'Study of Happiness' and 'Matter of Practice' intended as manual on how to be good. Later, in ›Miscellaneous Reflections‹, the author of ›Inquiry‹ would be described as 'a formal and profess’d Philosopher, a System-Writer, a Dogmatist, and Expounder' – the self-ironicizing words of the Earl spoken in the persona of a critic. ›The Moralists‹, by contrast, is a masterly philosophical dialogue; clearly meant to evoke the Socratic tradition as represented by Plato and Xenophon, the form is used by Shaftesbury as a medium through which to create an elegant literary portrayal of contemporary people and issues. The resulting work is a classic of modern essays in the genre. – The two treatises encompass all central themes discussed in ›Characteristicks‹.