A Little Classicism and Romanticism in the Morning

 

Today I am spending my Saturday morning fleshing out one of the sparser portions of my research, a brief, concise analysis of the growth of Romantic ideology in Europe. I am trying to avoid the bias in secondary sources that indicates a direct break between Enlightenment and Romantic thinking. I’m therefore trying to search out some correlating ideologies that lean towards the increased interest in the natural world in art. My main source at the moment is the Scottish Common Sense School, which emphasizes the importance of sensory experience and the Doctrine of Moral Sentiment. Here’s what I’ve got so far in terms of a write -up. Sparse, I know. But it’s getting there.

Romantic thought grew out of a shift in European mentality, fostered directly by the Scottish Romantic thinkers who emphasized sensory experience over subjective knowledge, and propagated the concept of a “cult of sensibility.”[1] It was this emphasis on sensation as knowledge that influenced the flowering of landscape art and landscape appreciation in 19th century America. European thinkers such as Thomas Hobbes propagated concepts of the human as a sensory creature, arguing against strict rationality and subjugation of sentiment to rationalism. Hobbes argued that only “direct sensory experience could bring such absolute knowledge.”[2] As compared to the Enlightened concept that from empiricism came knowledge, Romantic thinkers began to teach the idea that sensation could be knowledge as well.

One major propagator of the emotional turn was the Scottish School of Common Sense, which emphasized the “innate ‘moral sense,’ [which] emphasized subjective of at least emotional reaction… and a combination of the doctrine of moral sentiment.”[3]


[1] Bate, Walter Jackson. From Classic to Romantic: Premises of Taste in Eighteenth Century England. University Of Michigan: Harvard University Press, (1946): 51.

[2] Bate, Walter Jackson. From Classic to Romantic: Premises of Taste in Eighteenth Century England. University Of Michigan: Harvard University Press, (1946): 55.

[3] Bate, Walter Jackson. From Classic to Romantic: Premises of Taste in Eighteenth Century England. University Of Michigan: Harvard University Press, (1946): 101.

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