In ‘Soliloquy, or Advice to an Author’, the third essay in his Characteristics of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times (1711, 1714), Anthony Ashley Cooper, the third Earl of Sha esbury, speculates on the ‘two widely di erent roads’ available to ‘our ingenious and noble youths’. ey may pursue ‘pedantry or school learning, which lies amid the dregs and most corrupt part of ancient literature’, or they may follow ‘the fashionable illiterate world, which aims merely at the character of the ne gentleman and takes up with the foppery of modern languages and foreign wit’. Sha esbury’s concern here is not only education, but also the practice of philosophy and the conditions of the Characteristics’ writing and reception. While it’s far from obvious from this passage, academic philosophy and ‘the fashionable … world’ represent the two pre-eminent norms of Sha - esbury’s thought. Here and throughout the Characteristics, these ‘two widely di erent roads’ are contrary extremes, and – to a degree that has been underappreciated in critical commentary – Sha esbury nds little rm ground between them: ‘ e sprightly arts and sciences are severed from philosophy, which consequently must grow dronish, insipid, pedantic, useless and directly opposite to the real knowledge and practice of the world and mankind’.1