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The Works of the Right Honourable Edmund Burke, Vol. 1

Edmund Burke

Book Overview: 

Burke's A Philosophical Enquiry is an important treatise in the history of philosophical aesthetics, putting forth a theory of two concepts of central, perennial importance to the field of aesthetics, namely, the beautiful and the sublime. Written before Burke turned 19, it is his only purely philosophical work. Despite being such an early work, Burke's Philosophical Enquiry was noted by such later philosophers as Diderot and Kant and has remained influential in the field of aesthetics.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .rk of all these is the same in the human mind; for as the senses are the great originals of all our ideas, and consequently of all our pleasures, if they are not uncertain and arbitrary, the whole groundwork of taste is common to all, and therefore there is a sufficient foundation for a conclusive reasoning on these matters.

Whilst we consider taste merely according to its nature and species, we shall find its principles entirely uniform; but the degree in which these principles prevail, in the several individuals of mankind, is altogether as different as the principles themselves are similar. For sensibility and judgment, which are the qualities that compose what we commonly call a taste, vary exceedingly in various people. From a defect in the former of these qualities arises a want of taste; a weakness in the latter constitutes a wrong or a bad one. There are some men formed with feelings so blunt, with tempers so cold and phlegmatic, that they can hardl. . . Read More

Community Reviews

There are too many sections of dull detail for those not especially in Burke's political battles in his own time for me to give this five stars, but when he is good at writing for the ages, he is very, very good.

I thought his passages on why we value what we do as individuals and as a society pro...more