Burke and Boswell

Burke and Boswell - Trey Mouch Representing Britain The...

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Trey Mouch Representing Britain The Enquiry of a Storm In Edmund Burke’s A Philosophical Enquiry, he describes, with great detail, individual emotions and their causes. However he states almost nothing about the emotional responses of the group. We can explore the emotional responses of the group by comparing them to the responses of an individual in the same situation. On October 3 rd , Boswell and Johnson were sailing among the Hebrides of Scotland through rough seas, “a prodigious sea, with immense billows coming upon a vessel, so as that it seemed hardly possible to escape.” In Boswell’s Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides , this event is described and we can see that there is a group of people, Boswell, Col, M’Donald and the crew of the ship; and then there is an individual, Johnson. We can make the distinction between the individual Johnson and the group of men because of the differences between their emotional responses to the peril of the tempest. This passage gives us exactly the situation we need in order to compare the responses of the individual to the responses of the group. By examining Burke’s definitions and by looking at the emotions of Johnson, and then the group of men on the ship, we will compare and contrast Burke’s individual and the group. For our purposes we must first deduce which of Burke’s definitions are relevant. Certainly the sublime is an expected response to a dangerous storm. The sublime according to Burke is “whatever is fitted in any sort to excite the ideas of pain and
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danger.” Being on a ship during a violent storm certainly causes this sensation through fear of drowning, which leads to the next exposition of self preservation. The idea of potential death causes emotions of “pain and danger, and they are the most powerful of
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This note was uploaded on 04/07/2008 for the course FS 301 taught by Professor Wood during the Fall '07 term at University of Texas.

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Burke and Boswell - Trey Mouch Representing Britain The...

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