Phl_341[1] - Terrance Hampton PHL 341 Mid-Term Paper Burke...

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Terrance Hampton PHL 341 Mid-Term Paper Burke in his book A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful endeavors to explain the aesthetics ideas of the beautiful and the sublime. Through analysis of Burke’s work, it is apparent that although a universal taste exists it does have elements of autonomy. In describing, the beautiful Burke brings up the notion of taste, and how it is associated with the beautiful and the sublime. Burke analysis of taste brings him to a very intriguing conclusion: Burke argues that taste is both democratic and anti-democratic. Both of these arguments have merit according to Burke. First, Burke’s perspective on how taste is democratic will be elucidated. Secondly, the contradictory spectrum of this argument, how Burke also believed that taste is objective, will be explicated. In the third section, Burke’s reconciliation of these inconsistent terms will be expounded. In part four criticisms against Burke’s argument will be presented, and it will be shown that these arguments do not undermine the central claim. Section I: The “democratic” taste In everyday life, judgments about various things are made based on personal opinion. For example, some people may see roses as beautiful while other people may see roses as repulsive. This democratic taste as Burke refers to it as is completely subjective. Burke believes that taste cannot be disputed or in other words, taste is unique to all rational beings, and no one person can say if a person derives pleasure or pain from a particular object. 1 Every individual has their own opinion on an object when they 1 1 Burke A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful p. 5
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perceive that object with their senses. Burke attributes these disparities in opinion on taste to imagination. Burke refers to imagination as the capacity of rational beings to combine or distort the information they receive from their senses into something new. 2 For instance, two people a hypothetical woman A and a hypothetical woman B see a rose in a garden they both perceive the rose with their senses in the same matter, but the power of imagination can make produce two uniquely distinct opinions about the rose. Woman A may perceive the flower as the most beautiful thing she has ever seen in her life. Woman B may be so horrified by the flower that the sight of it leads to uncontrollable screams of terror. Woman A and Woman B see the flower differently, because their imaginations cause differences in opinion about the rose. Burke indicates differences in knowledge influence how one judges one’s perceptions. 3 Woman A may have been an artist with a greater appreciate for art, so her knowledge on the subject changes her opinion. While
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