Leslie Ellen Brown

Artful Virtue: The Interplay of the Beautiful and the Good in the Scottish Enlightenment

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During the Scottish Enlightenment the relationship between aesthetics and ethics became deeply ingrained: beauty was the sensible manifestation of virtue; the fine arts represented the actions of a virtuous mind; to deeply understand artful and natural beauty was to identify with moral beauty; and the aesthetic experience was indispensable in making value judgments. This book reveals the history of how the Scots applied the vast landscape of moral philosophy to the specific territories of beauty – in nature, aesthetics and ethics – in the eighteenth century. The author explores a wide variety of sources, from academic lectures and institutional record, to more popular texts such as newspapers and pamphlets, to show how the idea that beauty and art made individuals and society more virtuous was elevated and understood in Scottish society.
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443 printed pages
Original publication
2015

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