A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful

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Courier Corporation, Sep 28, 2012 - Philosophy - 160 pages
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This eloquent 1757 treatise on aesthetics explores how interactions with the physical world affect the formulation of ideals related to beauty and art. Edmund Burke's landmark study not only proved tremendously influential on the development of aesthetic theory, but also offered the first complete philosophical exposition for separating the beautiful and the sublime into their own respective rational categories.
The beautiful, according to Burke, comprises that which is well formed and aesthetically pleasing. The sublime, on the other hand, possesses the power to compel and destroy. This distinction bears a noteworthy historical relevance, since the popular preference for the sublime rather than the beautiful indicates the transition from the Neoclassical to the Romantic era. Burke's dissertation is both a precursor of his later political writings and one of the first major works in European literature to explore the concept of the sublime—a topic as fascinating to eighteenth-century thinkers as it is to modern philosophers and critics.

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About the author (2012)

Born in Ireland in 1729, Edmund Burke was an English statesman, author, and orator who is best remembered as a formidable advocate for those who were victims of injustice. He was the son of a Dublin lawyer and had also trained to practice law. In the 1760s, Burke was elected to the House of Commons from the Whig party. Burke spent most of his career in Parliament as a member of the Royal Opposition, who was not afraid of controversy, as shown by his support for the American Revolution and for Irish/Catholic rights. His best-known work is Reflections on the French Revolution (1790). Some other notable works are On Conciliation with the American Colonies (1775) and Impeachment of Warren Hastings (1788). Edmund Burke died in 1797.

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