Edmund Burke - Essay on the sublime by Marc Vanderloo in Types > Books - Non-fiction

On the Sublime and Beautiful, by Edmund Burke : PART I.

I have sometimes wondered why Burke did not pursue this quiet and beautiful life,–free from the turmoils of public contest, with leisure, and friends, and Nature, and truth,–and prepare treatises which would have been immortal, for he was equal to anything he attempted. But such was not to be. He was needed in the House of Commons, then composed chiefly of fox-hunting squires and younger sons of nobles (a body as ignorant as it was aristocratic),–the representatives not of the people but of the landed proprietors, intent on aggrandizing their families at the expense of the nation,–and of fortunate merchants, manufacturers, and capitalists, in love with monopolies. Such an assembly needed at that day a schoolmaster, a teacher in the principles of political economy and political wisdom; a leader in reforming disgraceful abuses; a lecturer on public duties and public wrongs; a patriot who had other views than spoils and place; a man who saw the right, and was determined to uphold it whatever the number or power of his opponents. So Edmund Burke was sent among them,–ambitious doubtless, stern, intellectually proud, incorruptible, independent, not disdainful of honors and influence, but eager to render public services.

Edmund Burke developed this line of thought further in his influential essay,

On the Sublime and Beautiful, by Edmund Burke : PART I

Edmund Burke, author of Reflections on the Revolution inFrance, is known to a wide public as a classic political thinker:it is less well understood that his intellectual achievement dependedupon his understanding of philosophy and use of it in the practicalwritings and speeches by which he is chiefly known. The present essayexplores the character and significance of the use of philosophy inhis thought.

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Thomas Green: "Finished a cursory perusal of Burke on the Sublime and Beautiful. The penetrating sagacity, various knowledge, and exquisite taste displayed in this disquisition, are subordinate merits: it is the original and just mode of investigation on such topics, of which it exhibits so brilliant an example, that stamps upon it, in my estimation, its principal value" 15 April 1797; Extracts from the Diary of a Lover of Literature (1810) 30-31.

Edmund Burke - Essay on the sublime by Marc ..

The Sublime and Beautiful by Edmund Burke - …

This syllabus, by the time Burke became an undergraduatestudent at the age of fifteen (1744), not only gave attention toAristotelian manuals but also to ‘the way of ideas’enshrined in Locke's Essay concerning Human Understanding.Such a syllabus, in its Aristotelian aspect, indicated the unity of alldepartments of literature—or learning as we now call it —which was congenial to one with Burke's passion for knowledge —he wrote of his furor mathematicus, furor logicus,furor historicus, and furor poeticus .[] It also indicated the range of achievements, and the range of needs,that people had generated. The extent and variety of human activityimpressed itself upon Burke. If his practical situation in Irelandsuggested that not reason alone but also Christianity and persuasionwere necessary to improvement, Burke could now understand these needsin terms of a scheme of learning, and indeed had the opportunity todevelop the corresponding skills. At Trinity he founded a debatingsociety, where he developed his oratorical technique on theological, moraland political topics, as well as commenting on the economic andliterary life of Ireland in a periodical run by himself and hisfriends. This acquisition of skills was complemented by an opportunity forphilosophical development. This applied in particular to Burke'santecedent bent towards the imaginative branches of literature,especially romances of chivalry, such as the Faerie Queen byEdmund Spenser (the collateral ancestor from whom he derived hisChristian name). Creations of alternative worlds by the mind nowreceived a philosophical warrant from another part of the Trinitysyllabus. Locke had recognized that the mind devised complexideas. The mind had a power to receive simple ideas from the sensesand from its own reflection on them, and to make out of this materialfurther ideas that had no referent in the world of sensation. Burke'sinterest did not extend to the centaurs that Locke had mentioned, butthe ability to make complex ideas and to assemble them in new ways wascentral to Burke's way of proceeding. His philosophical methodinvolved thinking in terms of complex ideas about a connected range ofmatters, matters connected by their place in a programme of humanimprovement. Reason was fundamental to this method—but notreason alone, as we see in Burke's sole work devoted wholly tophilosophy, which made use of Locke on the way to an originaldestination.

On the Sublime and Beautiful / Edmund Burke - Adelaide

Topics Covered
Early life and education of Burke
Studies law
Essay on “The Sublime and Beautiful”
First political step
Enters Parliament
Debates on American difficulties
Burke opposes the government
His remarkable eloquence and wisdom
Resignation of the ministry
Burke appointed Paymaster of the Forces
Leader of his party in the House of Commons
Debates on India
Impeachment of Warren Hastings
Defence of the Irish Catholics
Speeches in reference to the French Revolution
Denounces the radical reformers of France
His one-sided but extraordinary eloquence
His “Reflections on the French Revolution”
Mistake in opposing the Revolution with bayonets
His lofty character
The legacy of Burke to his nation