Sketch of a Physical Description of the Universe
By Alexander von Humboldt
Edited by Edward Sabine
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print Publication Year: 2010
Online Publication Date:August 2011
Original Publication Year:1846
Chapter DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511708985.002
Subjects: Cosmology, Relativity and Gravitation , History of Science: General Interest
INCITEMENTS TO THE STUDY OF NATURE.
We now pass from the domain of objects to that of sensations. The principal results of observation, in the form in which, stripped of all additions derived from the imagination, they belong to a pure scientific description of nature, have been presented in the preceding volume. We have now to consider the impression which the image received by the external senses produces on the feelings, and on the poetic and imaginative faculties of mankind. An inward world here opens to the view, into which we desire to penetrate, not, however, for the purpose of investigating—as would be required if the philosophy of art were our aim—what in æsthetic performances belongs essentially to the powers and dispositions of the mind, and what to the particular direction of the intellectual activity,—but that we may trace the sources of that animated contemplation which enhances a genuine enjoyment of nature, and discover the particular causes which, in modern times especially, have so powerfully promoted, through the medium of the imagination, a predilection for the study of nature, and for the undertaking of distant voyages.