The genesis of philanthropy
in The reputation of philanthropy since 1750
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This chapter draws primarily on periodical literature to show the meanings attached to philanthropy in the second half of the eighteenth century. Philanthropy was a feeling of love for humanity that brought pleasure, even rapture, to those who experienced it, all the more so as it was envisaged as universal in extent, covering all humans in the globe. The word was not used to describe what are often considered to be the hallmarks of eighteenth-century philanthropy, the voluntary hospitals, the Marine Society and other institutions. There was criticism, for example by Adam Smith, of the claim that mere humans could love all other humans, even some suggestions that misanthropy was more characteristic of humanity than philanthropy. But in the vast majority of references philanthropy was a sensation experienced in the body; it was not something that urged you to do anything or to spend money.

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