The Sublime Edmund Burke on the French Revolution

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Karzan A. Mahmood


This paper aims at analysing the concept of the sublime, which is a pioneering concept of the English Romantics poetry, in relation to the French revolution in the works of Edmund Burke. Burke, unlike all other thinkers who view sublimity as a delightful and elevating feeling, perceives sublimity as an element of dangerous and terrifying incidents and objects mainly in relation with the great incident of the French Revolution. Hence, the paper concentrates on that essential metamorphosis in the content of the concept from progression to regression in the concept of sublime. Burke himself witnessed the revolution in France and propounded his philosophical viewpoints revolving around the notion of the sublime. He contended that the sublimity is whatsoever that brings about terror or is what terrifies the subjects. From this, he concluded that the French revolution was sublime because it was dangerous and threatened the natural laws and order, religion and God’s genuine sublime, traditions and constitution. In this paper, in addition, his ideas to illustrate sublime will ultimately, to some degree, be evaluated and criticised. The second part will be dedicated to demonstrating the aesthetics nature and aspect of the concept of the sublime. While the third part will display the relation of the concept, the way it is exhibited in chapter two, in relation to the great revolution in France.


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Mahmood, K. A. (2021) “The Sublime: Edmund Burke on the French Revolution”, Koya University Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, 4(1), pp. 76-85. doi: 10.14500/kujhss.v4n1y2021.pp76-85.
Author Biography

Karzan A. Mahmood, English Department, Komar University for Science and Technology, Kurdistan Region, Iraq

Karzan Aziz Mahmood is a native of Kalar City and has lived in Sulaimaniya for the last years. From 2007 to 2014, Karzan had finished his graduate and post-graduate studies in Kurdistan and the UK. He has worked with many international humanitarian organizations as a trainer, officer and translator. He has also had many communities and cultural leadership roles. Karzan has five translated and written books published in philosophy, economy, and political fields and some others will be released in the future. His master degree is in English from Swansea University in the UK and is an instructor of English department at Komar University for Science and Technology.


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