Anthony Ashley Cooper, Earl of Shaftesbury


1621 - 1683

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Anthony Ashley Cooper, the First Earl of Shaftesbury (1621-1683) was the grandson of a founder and leader of the English Whigs, and was tutored by John Locke. Shaftesbury rote one of the most intellectually influential works in English of the eighteenth century, the Characteristicks. Widely regarded as the first exponent of the view that ethics derives from reason and “sentiment,” Shaftesbury criticizes not only Locke but, especially, Hobbes for the dim view that “the state of nature” is “a war of all against all.” To the contrary, Shaftesbury argued that human nature responds most fully to representations of the good, the true, and the beautiful, and that human beings naturally desire society.