Enlightenment Research

  • Created by: AbbiPeace
  • Created on: 29-03-16 09:18


A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful by Edmund Burke:

According to Burke
-The Beautiful is what is well-formed and aesthetically pleasing
-The Sublime is what has the power to compel and destroy us.

The preference for the Sublime over the Beautiful was to mark the transition from the Neoclassicla to the Romantic era.

The origins of our ideas of the beautiful and the sublime can be understood by means of their casual structure. According to Aristotellian physics and metaphysics, causation can be divided into formal, material, efficient and final causes.

The formal causeof beauty is the passion of love; the material cause concerns aspects of certain objects such as smallness, smoothness, delicacy, etc; the effeicient cause is the calming of our nerves; the final is God's providence.

What is most perculiar and original to Burke's view of beauty is that it cannot be understood by the traditional bases of beauty: proportion, fitness, or perfection.

The Sublime also has a casual structure thay is unlike that of beauty. Its formal cause is thus the passion of fear, especially the fear of death. The material cause is equally aspects of certain objects such as vastness, infinity, magnificence, etc; its efficient cause is the tension of our nerves; the final cause is Gid having created and battled Satan, as expressed in John Milton's Paradise Lost.

How this relates to the Gothic:

Gothic fiction takes this aesthetic reaction and subverts it by creating delight and confusion from terror. This use of terror is called the Sublime. 

In Gothic novels, no matter the setting or villian, the sublime exists as a different experience than appreciating natural beauty. In fact, this concept deals with how authors capture their characters' trauma and fear. 

It is important to lool at the sublime in the lens of both the characters' experiences and the real world contexts that influences them. 


  • explored the human mind more throughly than any other who came before him.
  • contributions to psychology are vast.
  • One of the most influential people of the twentieth century and his enduring legacy has influenced not only psychology, but art, literature and even the way people bring up their children. 
  • Freud's lexicon has become embedded within the vocabulary of western society words he introduced through his theories are now used by everyday people, such as anal (personality), libido, denial, repression, cathartic, Freudian slip, and neurotic. 
  • Believed that when we explain our own behaviour to ourselves or others (conscious mantal activity) we rarely give a true account of our motivation.
  • -> not deliberately lying
  • -> whilst human being are great deceivers of others, they are even more adept at self-deception.
  • Our rationalisations of our conduct are therefore disguising the real reasons. 
  • Freud's life work was dominated by his attempts to find ways of penetrating this often subtle and elaborate camoflague that obscures the hidden structure and processes of personality.
  • Freud was the founding father of psychoanalysis, a method for


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