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Practical FormAbstraction, Technique, and Beauty in Eighteenth-Century Aesthetics$
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Abigail Zitin

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780300244564

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300244564.001.0001

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The Figure of Practice

The Figure of Practice

(p.54) Chapter Two The Figure of Practice
Practical Form

Abigail Zitin

Yale University Press

This chapter argues that the idea of practice occupies a central position in the writings of Antony Ashley Cooper, the Third Earl of Shaftesbury, complicating the traditional association of Shaftesbury’s aesthetics with a concept of form. Practice enters the picture by way of his commitment to the moral exercises of classical Stoicism. Shaftesbury gives his modern Stoicism a Platonic inflection by using artistic and artisanal practices as metaphors, in his writing, for the development through exercise of one’s moral capabilities—Platonic, that is, in disavowing the materiality of the figure on which effective communication of meaning relies. This disavowal marginalizes the practical expertise of artists and artisans, specifically, their interested and materially determined understanding of beauty and its pleasures.

Keywords:   Shaftesbury, Aesthetics, Stoicism, Platonism, the hand as metaphor

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