My aim in this thesis has been to try to show how English and Scottish.
aestheticians in the eighteenth century drew upon certain ideas prominent
in the writings of Hobbes, Locke, and Berkeley, and used them in formulating
solutions to problems facing them. In doing this, I have tried to exclude
all issues, even closely related ones, which might distract attention from mfr
principal theme. Questions of such moment as the influence of Bacon on
Hobbes, the relation of eighteenth century aesthetic theory to ancient aesthetic:
the influence of French philosophers and aestheticians on their English
counterparts, and the effects of the work of Shaftesbury and Hume have
therefore received no special attention.
The field I have tried to coaxer is a large one, and is still
relatively speaking unexplored, though there has been a re- awakening of
interest in it in the last fifteen years, chiefly in the United States and in
Italy. But an enormous amount of work remains to be done, and I can claim
to have done no more than touch upon the many outstanding problems.
The scheme I have adopted is as follows. The first part I have devoted
to individual problems which may be classed as psychological in nature, and
some at least of which had to be investigated before any aesthetic could be
developed. The second part deals with questions more purely philosophical -
the nature of perceptions, ideas, and language. Finally, in the third part; I
have tried to trace the growth of two of the most important schools of aesthetic
thought, both of which seem town out of suggestions made by Hobbes and
Locke. An all too short introduction is provided in the hope of supplying
what is necessarily lacking in a thesis of this nature - an overall view
of the period concerned, such as can not unfortunately be found in any other
book in English. The nearest approach to a history of eighteenth century
English aesthetic theory is Dr. Rossics introduction to his recent work,
L'Estetica dell'Empirismo Inglese.