Edmund Burke's Definition Of Beauty

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What Defines Beauty? Beauty is a term we all hear and use very often, but just like many words in our vocabulary, we do not stop, think about, and process what it truly means. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, beauty is the quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit. Based on that definition and what we internally think ourselves, we can formulate some general image in our mind. Some consensus qualities are bright colors, a flowing feel, and a feeling of calmness. Based on those generalizations, then the idea of something beautiful being sublime is impossible. But is it? In my opinion, beauty and sublimity can coexist within an individual’s perception…show more content…
Edmund Burke was one of the primary Enlightenment figures who wrote on these two topics. In the excerpts from The Sublime and Beautiful, Burke made five descriptions about aspects of the sublime and another eight about the beautiful. His basic point was that beauty is the quality that causes love. This, in turn, makes us need to question what love is. The first distinction that Burke was sure to make was that love is not desire or lust. Desire and lust are “an energy of the mind that hurries us on to the possession of something”. He then proceeds to describe love as “the satisfaction that arises to the mind when you see something beautiful”. Well, based on these two definitions, we have fallen into a sort of circular course of thinking. Beauty equals love, but love comes from seeing something beautiful, then you cycle back to questioning beauty, and so on and so forth. Burke also points out that perfection does not cause beauty. He finally goes on to say that beauty is “some quality in bodies acting on the senses”. As he goes through the rest of the sections that we read through, Burke states and defines some qualities of beauty. He uses words such as smallness, smoothness, and delicacy, as well as explaining the “beautiful” colors and sounds, which are softer colors and sounds without any darkness with them. After taking in all of this from Burke, the final conclusion to be made is that beauty inspires affection and
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