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Philosophy | The Science of Sensibility: Reading Burke's Philosophical Enquiry

The Science of Sensibility: Reading Burke's Philosophical Enquiry

Vermeir, Koen, Funk Deckard, Michael (Eds.)

2012, XXII, 338 p.

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  • First book to establish the historical, philosophical, literary, scientific importance of the Philosophical Enquiry as an independent work 
  • A long overdue ‘state of the art’ of current Burke scholarship’
  • Provides reviously unpublished original reading of the Philosophical Enquiry

Attracting philosophers, politicians, artists as well as the educated reader, Edmund Burke’s Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, first published in 1757, was a milestone in western thinking. Situated on the threshold between early modern philosophy and the Enlightenment, Burke’s oeuvre combines reflections on aesthetics, politics and the sciences. In the eighteenth century, these domains were connected by the key notion of sensibility, which structured debates not only in physiology, epistemology and psychology, but also in the arts and in politics. This notion referred to an organic sensitivity depending on the nervous structure of the human body. At the same time, however, sensibility denoted subtle moral and aesthetic perceptions, an acuteness of emotional and physical feeling and the susceptibility to delicate or powerful passionate arousal. The Science of Sensibility interprets Burke’s Philosophical Enquiry as an important contribution to this culture of sensibility and places this seminal work in its broader historical and philosophical context.

Authors in this collection come from various disciplines and give a manifold of perspectives on Burke’s Philosophical Enquiry, including approaches from art history, classics, English literature, cultural history, history of science, philosophy, political science, Irish studies, cultural studies and feminist studies. Confronting established fields with new disciplines and sub-disciplines, this edited volume reassesses Burke’s prominence in the history of ideas. The Science of Sensibility is the first book length work devoted primarily to Burke’s Philosophical Enquiry in both its historical context and for its contemporary relevance

Content Level » Research

Keywords » Aesthetics - Edmund Burke - History of Ideas - History of Science

Related subjects » History of Science - Linguistics - Philosophical Traditions - Philosophy

Table of contents 

Preface: Edmund Burke’s Philosophical Enquiry in context, M.F. Deckard, K. Vermeir.- Part 1: Science and Sensibility.- Philosophical Enquiries into the Science of Sensibility: An Introductory Essay, K. Vermeir, M.F. Deckard.- 'Communicating a Sort of Philosophical Solidity to Taste’: Newtonian Elements in Burke’s Methodology in Philosophical Enquiry, S. Ducheyne.- Hyporborean Meteorologies of Culture: Art’s Progress and Medical Environmentalism in Arbuthnot, Burke and Barr, A. Sarafianos.- From the Enquiry (1757) to the Fourth Kritisches Wäldchen (1769): Burke and Herder on the Division of the Senses, H. Parret.- Edmund Burke and John Locke on the Metaphysics of Substance, J. Pappin III.- Part 2: Sensibility in Politics, Sociability and Morals.- The Politics of Burke’s Enquiry, F.P. Lock.- Aisling Gheár  – A Terrible Beauty: The Gaelic Background to Burke's Enquiry, K. O’Donnell.- Pity and Fear: Providential Sociability in Burke’s Philosophical Enquiry, R. Bourke.- Burke and Kant on the Social Nature of Aesthetic Experience, B. Vandenabeele.- The Sublime, the Beautiful, and the Political in Burke’s Work, D.I. O’Neill.- Part 3: Aesthetics and the Science of Sensibility.- Burke’s Classical Heritage: Playing Games with Longinus, C. Ryan.- Edmund Burke among the Poets: Milton, Lucretius and the Philosophical Enquiry, P. Bullard.- ‘Expressive Uncertainty’: Edmund Burke’s Theory of the Sublime and Eighteenth-Century Conceptions of Metaphor, F. De Bruyn.- Between Knowledge and Sentiment: Burke and Hume on Taste, D. Perinetti.- Burke, the Revenge of Obscurity and the Foundation of the Aesthetic, B.S. Girons.

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