Summary[ edit ] 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.
British political philosopher and statesman. A philosopher and statesman, Burke ranks as a preeminent figure in western political thought. Long regarded as the father of modern conservatism, his career as a polemicist and politician spanned years of significant political turmoil in England and the West.
Writing and speaking passionately about actual and potential excesses of state authority, Burke espoused the desirability of limited, divided government.
He feared the threat to liberty posed by concentrations of governmental power whether wielded autocratically by the Crown or collectively by radical reformers in democratic assemblies.
Burke conceived of the state as a divinely-ordered hierarchy where an elite of property owners sitting in Parliament, mindful of tradition and owing allegiance to the past, would collectively posses the forbearance to govern wisely.
While affirming the need for constitutional government to adjust to new circumstances, Burke believed that reform should be prudent, practical, and specific—not predicated on abstract theories of natural rights. Writing in the Age of Enlightenment, Burke parted rank from such philosophers as John Locke, who championed a faith in the perfectibility of humankind and effectively erased the idea of original sin.
Rejecting revolutionary change predicated on a facile faith in individual will, Burke held a particular disdain for Jean Jacques Rousseau, who argued that all rights and liberties were inherent in individuals in a pre-social state, and that political allegiance was a voluntary exercise that could be revoked if the state no longer served the general will of the people.
Thus, government had a positive duty to provide a moral framework for the cultivation of a virtuous society. He attended a Quaker school in Dublin before graduating from Trinity College with a degree in Classics.
Soon married and a father himself, Burke was unable to support his family solely by writing and editing, even though his literary talents were championed by such writers as Samuel Johnson.
To increase his financial security, Burke first turned to politics inwhen he enlisted in the service of the Earl of Halifax. But his political future was decisively cast when he became the private Secretary to the Marquis of Rockingham, Charles Watson Wentworth.
A prominent Whig, Lord Rockingham led the conservative opposition party most favored by the Crown. While Burke focused much of his energy on domestic politics, he was frequently preoccupied with events outside of Britain. Burke also took up the cause of Indian subjects under British rule. In his speeches he continually railed against Parliament for its failure to provide proper oversight to the Indian population.
For seven years Burke played a major and often controversial role in the long impeachment trial of Governour Warren Hastings for alleged abuses and neglect of the basic needs of the Indian subjects under his charge. Burke insisted that governments had positive obligations to colonized people, whether that meant building roads, schools, or hospitals.
As a statesman, he believed in voting in the interest of the entire realm, and refused to be influenced by the narrow interests of any one borough; as a result, he often grew unpopular with local constituencies whose concerns were naturally parochial.
Thus he was unable to permanently hold onto any single seat in Parliament, and never achieved much personal political power. After Hastings was acquitted in his impeachment trial inBurke resigned from Parliament and retired to his rural estate in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, where he kept up correspondence and writing before succumbing to stomach cancer within three years.
He believed the colonists had just cause in resisting a government too willing to over-reach and meddle. While he did not support the idea of colonial independence, he warned his colleagues that oppressive Parliamentary measures might result in revolution. In his Speech on Moving His Resolutions for Conciliation with the Colonies Burke appealed to reason and circumstance by using historical data to shore up his arguments for the benefits of British-colonial trade.
Burke cautioned against radical change and held up the British constitution as a model which provided for responsible government reform. His polemic prompted Thomas Paine to reply with his Rights of Man pamphlet.
In An Appeal from the New, to the Old Whigs Burke writing anonymously addressed critics of his anti-revolutionary tracts by reiterating his contention that all members of civil society live with an incumbent duty to constitutional fidelity, and that other moral obligations are not a matter of choice in an divinely ordered world.
Critical Reception Burke was generally well-received and respected by peers in Parliament who admired his eloquence and cogency even though they frequently voted against him.
His laborious persistence in the impeachment pursuit of Hastings contributed to the perception that he often became zealously single-minded. Perhaps the most painful political breach for Burke occurred when he parted ways with many of his former Whig colleagues over the French Revolution. These quarrels spilled over into ongoing discussions of English politics, exacerbating competing interpretations of the Glorious Revolution and its consequences for British constitutionalism.
Placing a much heavier emphasis on tradition and historical continuity, Burke defended long-standing institutions such as the aristocracy, the Church, and the state, but these only put him at odds with the revolutionary spirit of his times.
He further asserted that the sovereignty of the Crown had not been diminished with the ascension of Parliament, but only its powers circumscribed. Other Whigs held that Revolution was necessary to assert the supremacy of the people.Edmund Burke's On the Sublime George P.
Landow, Professor of English and the History of Art, [Burke, On the Sublime, ed. J. T. Bolton. 58] In addition to the emphasis which he places on terror, Burke is important because he explained the opposition of beauty and sublimity by a physiological theory.
He made the opposition of pleasure and. Burke's most famous essay, Reflections on the Revolution in France and on the Proceedings in Certain Societies in London Relative to That Event () was a passionate diatribe denouncing the.
Burke, Edmund. – On the Sublime and Beautiful. Vol. 24, Part 2. The Harvard Classics. Essay title: Edmund Burke This paper views the significance and role that Edmund Burke ascribed to religion in his political philosophy and how this emphasis /5(1).
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The sublime, or the passion distinguished by the aesthetic defined by Edmund Burke in his Philosophical Inquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful is characterized by “astonishment [ ] in which all its motions are suspended, with some degree of horror” (57).