The Sublime And The Beautiful

1457 Words6 Pages
“Although imitation is one of the great instruments used by providence in bringing our nature towards its perfection, yet if men gave themselves up to imitation entirely, and each followed the other, and so on in an eternal circle, it is easy to see that there never could be improvement amongst them.” Edmund Burke, Irishman born in Dublin in 1729 is best known for his political endeavors as a proponent of the American colonies during the American Revolution, for his opposition to the French Revolution as well as a leader of the Whig party. Burke has been dubbed the founder of modern conservatism. There is, however, a lesser know side of Burke which deals with his earlier writings on aesthetics such as 1756 A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful. In the Enquiry of the Sublime and the Beautiful, Edmund Burke explores the origins of our ideas of the sublime and the beautiful and separates each into their own respective rational categories. For Burke, the beautiful is that which is well formed and aesthetically pleasing, while the sublime (which Burke positions as being the trigger for the strongest of emotions one is capable of feeling), has to do with the power to compel and destroy us. It is evident early on in the treatise that Burke elevates the sublime over the beautiful, which also marks the transition from the Neoclassical to the Romantic era. Burke positions our thoughts of the sublime and the beautiful as being
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