A Philosophical Inquiry Into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime & Beautiful

A Philosophical Inquiry Into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime & Beautiful

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A Philosophical Inquiry Into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime & Beautiful 1818 Edition

By Edmund Burke

Printed In London

The Volume is in Very Good Condition Disbound with generally clean, well margined leaves, the front and final leaves detached, with some mild foxing on occasion, and some fraying to the leaf edges otherwise
The Volume is Complete See below for pagination & dimensions.


Title - A Philosophical Inquiry Into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime & Beautiful

Of Burke’s ‘Sublime and Beautiful’

According to Burke, the Beautiful is that which is well-formed and aesthetically pleasing, whereas the Sublime is that which has the power to compel and destroy us. The preference for the Sublime over the Beautiful was to mark the transition from the Neoclassical to the Romantic era. The origins of our ideas of the beautiful and the sublime, for Burke, can be understood by means of their causal structures. According to Aristotelian physics and metaphysics, causation can be divided into formal, material, efficient and final causes. The formal cause of beauty is the passion of love; the material cause concerns aspects of certain objects such as smallness, smoothness, delicacy, etc.; the efficient cause is the calming of our nerves; the final cause is God’s providence. What is most peculiar and original to Burke’s view of beauty is that it cannot be understood by the traditional bases of beauty: proportion, fitness, or perfection. The sublime also has a causal structure that is unlike that of beauty. Its formal cause is thus the passion of fear (especially the fear of death); the material cause is equally aspects of certain objects such as vastness, infinity, magnificence, etc.; its efficient cause is the tension of our nerves; the final cause is God having created and battled Satan, as expressed in John Milton’s great epic Paradise Lost.

Pagination & Dimensions

The volume is paginated as follows: [iii]-vii, [8-9]-97, [1]. The volume collates as follows: [A]5, B-N4. Each leaf measures about 240 mm. By 150 mm.

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