Among the many predecessors of Lessing in the realm of æsthetic speculation, two men, not philosophers by profession, are conspicuous for attention to the personal phenomena which he did not much consult; the Abbé Dubos in France and Edmund Burke〖Harvard Classics, xxiv, 11ff.〗 in England. Dubos recognizes differences in the arts conditioned by their symbols of expression; but he compares and rates the arts according to their effect upon the senses, and so prepares the way for a purely impressionistic criticism. Burke did not agree with the Frenchman’s ratings, nor did he in any manner imitate his book, however much he respected it; but he was in substantial agreement with Dubos as to the operation of æsthetic causes; and just as Dubos saw in the desire of the mind to be stimulated by something the prime motive for interest in the arts, Burke found in two of our strongest passions, love and terror, a definition of the chief ends of artistic endeavor, the beautiful and the sublime.〖H. C., xxiv, 29ff.〗 Burke was not much affected by painting. This art, the aim of which is to represent the beautiful, has, he says, little effect on our passions. But poetry, to which he was sensitive, and which, he holds, does not depend for its effect upon the power of raising sensible images, is capable of stirring the passions with a vague sense of the sublime, and is, strictly speaking, not an art of imitation.

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