Romantic view of nature

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  • Romantic understanding of Nature
    • Sublime
      • provokes terror but has inherent 'pleasure'
      • Made up of cliffs, crags, waterfalls and glaciers
    • Beautiful
      • well-formed and aesthetically pleasing
      • Preference for the sublime over the beautiful marked the transition from the Neoclassical to the Romantic Era
    • Nature
      • Romantics see it as a substitute for traditional religion
      • Nature viewed as an educator - moral arbiter
    • Rousseau
      • Emile - (1762) is a treatise on bringing up a child - wanted children to be raised in nature and develop naturally
        • William Godwin and Mary Shelley both were great admirers
        • Victor is good - deformed by desire to improve nature
      • He believed that a child's mind was almost a blank slate - tabula rasa - but with self-preservation and compassion that needed to be filled with sensory exposure
      • Suggests that humans have the potential to be good and would be were it not for the corrupting influence of society
    • Wordsworth
      • 'I wandered Lonely as a Cloud' - to engage with nature is to find God
      • After Rousseau
      • During the industrial revolution, young children were exploited as cheap labour
    • John Locke
      • 'Essay concerning Human Understanding' - (1690) suggests that individuals born with tabula rasa as a blank slate and knowledge come from experience and perception


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