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  • 1.
    Axelsson, Karl
    Södertörn University, School of Culture and Education, Comparative Literature.
    Political Aesthetics: Addison and Shaftesbury on Taste, Morals and Society2019 (ed. 1)Book (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Providing a gateway to a new history of modern aesthetics, this book challenges conventional views of how art's significance developed in society.The 18th century is often said to have involved a radical transformation in the concept of art: from the understanding that it has a practical purpose to the modern belief that it is intrinsically valuable. By exploring the ground between these notions of art's function, Karl Axelsson reveals how scholars of culture made taste, morals and a politically stable society integral to their claims about the experience of nature and art. Focusing on writings by two of the most prolific men of letters in the 18th century, Joseph Addison (1672–1719) and the third Earl of Shaftesbury (1671–1713), Axelsson contests the conviction that modern aesthetic autonomy reoriented the criticism and philosophy originally prompted by these two key figures in the history of aesthetics. By re-examining the political relevance of Addison and Shaftesbury's theories of taste, Axelsson shows that first and foremost they sought to fortify a natural link between aesthetic experience and modern political society.

  • 2.
    Axelsson, Karl
    Södertörn University, School of Culture and Education, Comparative Literature.
    Shaftesbury om poetisk sanning och det naturliga samhället2017In: Lychnos: Årsbok för idé- och lärdomshistoria / [ed] Katarina Leppänen, Göteborg: Lärdomshistoriska Samfundet , 2017, p. 11-26Chapter in book (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    One of the most original voices in British post-revolutionary philosophy belongs to the third Earl of Shaftesbury (1671–1713). Rather than supporting the Hobbesian and Lockean idea of modern political society as an artificially formed creation, Shaftesbury perceives society as a beneficial outcome of nature and natural rationality. Shaftes­bury’s understanding of natural society is furthermore entwined with aesthetic mat­ters. The aim of the following article is twofold. First, due to the fact that Shaftesbury’s ideas rarely are analysed in any detail by Swedish scholars, it offers an introduction to Shaftesbury’s take on the complex relation between society and poetry to readers of eighteenth-century intellectual history in general, and readers of the history of literature in particular. Second, given that Shaftesbury is frequently regarded as the first modern advocate of aesthetic autonomy, I wish to problematize such an account by showing how Shaftesbury opposes the idea that poetry holds an instrumental value for society, while he simultaneously maintains the inseparability of poetical truth, artistic whole, and political naturalism. As this article shows, the Promethean myth of creativity is central for Shaftesbury’s understanding of the relation between society and poetry.

  • 3.
    Axelsson, Karl
    et al.
    Södertörn University, School of Culture and Education, Comparative Literature. Uppsala University.
    Flodin, Camilla
    Uppsala University.
    Contemplation or Manipulation?: Aesthetic Perspectives on Nature and Animals from Shaftesbury to Bio-art2017In: Retracing the Past: Historical Continuity in Aesthetics from a Global Perspective, Santa Cruz, California: International Association for Aesthetics , 2017, p. 29-41Chapter in book (Other academic)
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