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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Edmund Burke

Several books and articleſ that I've read about ruinſ have mentioned a particular work of Edmund Burke, the 18th century English philosopher, entitled A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideaſ of the ſublime and Beautiful. I therefore came to the concluſion that it was worth my trouble to read it. I downloaded the fifth edition and plunged right in, long ſ be damned.

It was a disappointment. The book was an attempt to argue scientifically what it means to be beautiful or sublime. Living in a Postmodern world, these arguments come across as archaic. Even worse, there was hardly anything about ruins in the entire 350 page essay! All there was fit in one small section: Part 1, section 15, entitled "On the Effects of Tragedy." Burke argues that ruins are exciting because they are authentic, and because we like seeing things that cause us outrage. He writes that if London were to be destroyed, it would get more tourists as a ruin than it does as a major European city.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. i agreed with gila, no need to remove the comment! ;-)