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Summary

In A Philosophical Enquiry, Edmund Burke sets out to define the nature of beauty and sublimity, and establish an objective criterion for discussing aesthetics. His definition of beauty as rooted in pleasure and sexuality, and the sublime in pain and survival, aligned him with the empiricists John Locke and David Hume, as he replaced the metaphysics of Plato's aesthetics with a psychological and physiological perspective. 

According to Burke, the sublime and the beautiful are experiences that can be explained by biological and sensual factors; thus he proceeds to explain how smooth lines, sweet tastes and middle frequencies of sound can be considered beautiful, and the terror created by high mountains and dark forests can be sublime. 

These revolutionary ideas ushered in the age of Romanticism, and the Gothic genre of novels, with their delight in horror and fright, and continue to influence aesthetic theories today.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2020 Edmund Burke (P)2020 Naxos AudioBooks

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  • Easy Rhino
  • 19-06-21

Ought to be read more

If Burke were read more in public schools, our society would not be so messed up.

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  • Drone Boy
  • 29-05-21

Beauty Not in the Eye of the Beholder

This is an excellent reading of Burke's "Enquiry" and, at 6 hours in length, one can listen to it in a day, or in a couple of sittings. Although Burke's ideas about beauty appear both dated and rigidly binary, rigid particularly in terms of gender, his ideas are presented with wonderful candor and force, and they nevertheless seem to explain much about the psychology of representation in Western culture. His theory of the sublime explains much, and it is important to how we have come to relate to the natural world. The "Enquiry" thus forms much more than just a good introduction to aesthetics, or the philosophy of beauty, Indeed, in this audio-book you will also find a theory of depression and how to cure it through strenuous exercise. Much recommended for a long walk on the beach or a climb up a mountain.