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Shaftesbury on Sensus communis - Dictionary of Arguments

Gadamer I 30
Sensus communis/Shaftesbury/Gadamer: Shaftesbury places the appreciation of the social significance of wit and humour under the title sensus communis and expressly refers to to the Roman classics and their humanistic interpreters(1). Certainly the term sensus communis has for us (...) also a stoic, natural-law sound. Nevertheless, the humanistic interpretation based on the Roman classics and on which Shaftesbury is based, cannot be denied its correctness.
According to Shaftesbury, the humanists understood sensus communis to mean the sense of the common good, but also love of the community or society, natural affection, humanity, obligingness
"cum quibus versatur, modeste, modiceque de se sentiens«. So it is not so much a natural law endowment given to all people, as a social virtue, a virtue of the heart more than the head, which Shaftesbury means. And if he understands wit and humour from there, he also follows old Roman concepts, which in humanitas included the fine way of life, the attitude of the man who understands and makes fun, because he is sure of a deeper solidarity with his counterpart. (Shaftesbury explicitly limits wit and humour to the social interaction between friends). If sensus communis seems almost like a social virtue here, in reality a moral, even a metaphysical basis is implied.
It is the intellectual and social virtue of sympathy that Shaftesbury has in mind and on which, as we know, he has based not only morality but an entire aesthetic metaphysics. His successors, above all Hutcheson(2) and Hume, developed his ideas into the doctrine of moral sense, which was later to serve as a background for Kantian ethics.


1. Shaftesbury, Characteristics, Treatise Il, insbesondere Part. Ill, Sect. I.
2. Hutcheson verdeutlicht sensus communis geradezu durch sympathy.


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Shaftesbury
Gadamer I
Hans-Georg Gadamer
Wahrheit und Methode. Grundzüge einer philosophischen Hermeneutik 7. durchgesehene Auflage Tübingen 1960/2010

Gadamer II
H. G. Gadamer
The Relevance of the Beautiful, London 1986
German Edition:
Die Aktualität des Schönen: Kunst als Spiel, Symbol und Fest Stuttgart 1977


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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2021-06-21
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