Professor publishes book on the work of the Philosophy of Beauty

Professor Michael Gill’s book examines how the third Earl of Shaftesbury’s theories profoundly shaped modern ideas.

A Philosophy of Beauty book cover

Anthony Ashley Cooper, the third Earl of Shaftesbury (1671–1713), developed the first comprehensive philosophy of beauty to be written in English at the turn of the eighteenth century. Shaftesbury argued that nature, religion, virtue, and art can all be truly beautiful, and that cherishing and cultivating beauty is what makes life worth living.

A Philosophy of Beauty not only rediscovers and illuminates a fascinating philosopher but also offers an inspiring reflection about the role beauty can play in our lives.

“Shaftesbury was one of the most important philosophers of the early 1700s. His thought exerted a massive influence in Scotland and throughout Europe, changing the direction of moral philosophy, aesthetics, and religion. He was also one of the most distinctive literary stylists ever to write philosophy in English. A Philosophy of Beauty elucidates Shaftesbury’s thought, explaining why it was so thrilling to his contemporaries and why it remains vital for readers of today.”

Professor Michael Gill

“Written with enviable lightness of touch and great immediacy, A Philosophy of Beauty is lively, energetic, stimulating, and engaging. As an account of Shaftesbury, it is in a class of its own; as a work that uses Shaftesbury to reflect on pressing issues of virtue, ethics, self-creation, and art, it is a singularly powerful and urgent book that has much to say to us all. Rarely, if ever, has the coherence and contemporary relevance of Shaftesbury been so forcefully displayed.”

Brian Young, University of Oxford

A Philosophy of Beauty is published by Princeton University Press and is available via the link below:

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