Swiss critic Johann Georg Sulzer's Dialogues on the Beauty of Nature (1750) and Reflections on Certain Topics of Natural History (1745) are exemplary specimens of eighteenth-century European theology, philosophy, natural history, and aesthetics. Sulzer's contemporaries – notably Goethe – read him with attention. Eric Miller's elegant translation comes with a vivid, informative, and strongly contextualizing introduction. Sulzer's early works are a curio cabinet of the philosophical and theological arguments that exercised and enticed the intelligentsia of his period. These topics and arguments have by no means forfeited pertinence today.
Chapter 1. Preface
Chapter 2. Introduction
Chapter 3. Acknowledgments: Dialogues on the Beauty of Nature
Chapter 4. Reflection on This New Edition
Chapter 5. First Dialogue: The first dialogue details the sensory beauties of nature.; They comprise:; A morning view; Natural pleasure; Change in natural beauty; Gentle effects of nature; Order and harmony of nature; Beauty of the vegetable kingdom; Beauty of
Chapter 6. Second Dialogue: Origin of the arts in nature; Comparison of nature and art; Agreeable engagement of the spirit; Nature's consummate art manifest in the eye; Wisdom in the works of nature; Wisdom in individual kinds; Exceptional example of the above
Chapter 7. Third Dialogue: An evening prospect; Evening thoughts; Champions of arbitrary chance; True order and constant equilibrium in nature; How much is owing to accident; Purpose in nature; Doubts raised against the above; Proof of purpose drawn from indiv
Chapter 8. Fourth Dialogue: Kinds of beauty in nature; Rarities in nature; In the kingdom of minerals; In the vegetable kingdom; Wonder in the generation of plants; In the animal kingdom; Metamorphoses of insects; Genius of animals; Economy and genius of bees;
Chapter 9. Fifth Dialogue: God in the beauty of nature; Highest object of thought; nature is the school of the spirits; And of the heart; Highest degree of natural beauty; Moral reflections on certain topics of natural history
Eric Miller is the author of two books of poetry. He has also translated Linnaeus's Nemesis Divina. He is an Assistant Professor in the English Department at the University of Victoria, British Columbia. Miller holds a PhD from the University of Virginia.