James Harris (1709-80) was a highly original and important figure in 18th-century British aesthetics. This reprinting of the first edition of his complete works, edited by his son (also called James Harris) and published posthumously in 1802, should give libraries the opportunity to fill a gap in their aesthetics holdings. Harris's first work, "Three Treatises" (1744) begins with "A Dialogue concerning Art" which was the first introduction into English debate of Aristotelian aesthetic theory; next comes "A Discourse on Music, Painting, and Poetry", notable for its praise of the musical-verbal fusion in Handel's oratorios; finally, in "Concerning Happiness, A Dialogue", Harris argues that imagination is the highest form of thinking. Harris's chief work is "Hermes: or, A Philosophical Inquiry Concerning Language and Universal Grammar" (1751). Here he argues that analysis of the forms of language reveals logical structures that are the grammar of all human thought (a striking anticipation of the linguistic theories of Saussure and Chomsky).
The second volume of this edition opens with "Philosophical Arrangements" (1775) which has been called "an eclectic mixture of peripatetic logic, idealist philosophy, optimistic moral theory and literary structuralism" (Clive T. Probyn). Lastly, Harris's "Philological Inquiries" (1781) represents an attempt to apply criticism to the literature of the Middle Ages onwards in the same way as natural philosophy is applied to the material world.
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(216mm x 138mm x 104mm)
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