Portrait of Anthony Ashley Cooper, Earl of Shaftesbury

Shaftesbury and Learning Goodness

Found in: Characteristicks of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times, vol. 1

This quote comes in a context where Shaftesbury is talking generally about insincere or ignorant praise:

Natural Rights

“’Tis not the same with Goodness as with other Qualitys, which we may understand very well, and yet not possess. We may have an excellent Ear in Musick, without being able to perform in any kind. We may judg well of Poetry, without being Poets, or possessing the least of a Poetick Vein: But we can have no tolerable Notion of Goodness, without being tolerably good. So that if the Praise of a Divine Being be so great a part of his Worship, we shou’d, methinks, learn Goodness, were it for nothing else than that we might learn, in some tolerable manner, how to praise. For the praise of Goodness from an unsound hollow Heart, must certainly make the greatest Dissonance in the world. (FROM: SECTION V)