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Presenting an overview of philosophers, like Addison, Baillie, Gerard, Burke, and Alison, Brady reveals several recurring attributes of sublime objects: magnitude or vastness , uncommonness, and powerfulness. Most typically, the sublime is thought to be something so great, like the Grand Canyon or the ocean, that it cannot be taken in all at once with the senses. And this vastness exposes the finitude of humans to the powerful forces of nature. This kind of experience does not occur too frequently, which adds to the power of the moment of apprehension.

Following this progression of ideas about the sublime, Kant solidifies the sublime as an aesthetic category, even though his position has been thought as self-admiring. Through a careful analysis, Brady demonstrates that this conclusion would be too hasty.

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So, Kant maintains the main elements of the sublime from his predecessors, like the focus on nature, the division between the mathematical vastness and dynamical powerful , and the special experience marked by the mixed pleasure of joy and terror. But Kant moves beyond previous theories with his connection in the sublime between aesthetic experience and human freedom. We are related to external nature, but we differ from it through our freedom.

Reclaiming wonder: After the sublime

In the second part of the book, Brady begins to develop her own view of the sublime as an important and distinct aesthetic category for the natural environment. However, she first considers and rejects the possibility that the sublime can be a property of works of art, specifically the visual arts. Brady, in her historical survey, showed that the sublime became attached to natural objects, particularly ones that had the requisite vastness and power. And many paintings around the 18 th Century depicted images of the sublime in nature.

But are these paintings sublime in themselves? Brady argues that due to the lack of vastness and power, these paintings do not possess the property of sublimity, even though they do depict a sublime environment. Even very large works of land art are only deemed sublime as they are formed in a natural environment that is already considered sublime. So, in these cases, the artifact is in a sense sublime by virtue of its existence in a sublime environment.

Brady then assesses the relationship of the sublime with the similar, yet distinct, category of tragedy.

Aesthetics: Crash Course Philosophy #31

Similar to tragedy, some people, like Burke, believe that the experience of the sublime is somewhat paradoxical. The sublime provides an experience of terror, yet we enjoy the experience of it.


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Brady supports the view of tragedy that claims that the experiences of characters in a tragedy helps us to understand and sympathize with aspects of the human condition, like death and suffering. In this way, the paradox is thought to dissolve. Built on the Johns Hopkins University Campus.

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However, the same instability and variability, resulting in the sense of beauty towards harmony, completely changes its function in an elevated. Sublime, as well as beautiful, significantly transforms the logic of representation. If beauty is associated with the form or process of formation, the sublime deals with the "boundless," directly related to infinity. Thus, the sublime is based on a special form of representation - the representation of the infinite.

However, the infinite and the boundless can not be the object of representation. How should we think of the "representation of the infinite"? And will it remain a "representation"? The fact is that the problem of the sublime is not a problem of representation or unrepresentability of the infinite. This is the problem of development and the movement of the "boundless" that takes place at the border of the representation. Infinite can not be taken in the meaning of a potential or actual entity.

It denotes an operation of infinite compulsion to cut out the contour and delineate the boundaries of the form. Infinite - this is a constant search for boundaries and efforts focused on them. Moreover, such aspirations should be periodically renewed. Infinite - an endlessly resurgent effort to find a form in the formless, which can not be available.

Boundless is a constant process of simultaneous establishment and going beyond the border. The unlimited is unimaginable because it is a gesture, an operation, and not an actual state of affairs. After all, in the long run, the presentation is always directly and positively. Sublime is not a problem of representation because neither a pure negative idea nor a positive presence of "nothing" applies to it. In the absence of any correspondence and adequacy, the sublime is not even a representation of the fact of the existence of the unimaginable. Rather, we are dealing with a situation that arises in the very view that permeates it, but remains unimaginable.

Sublime-motion, generating "limitless" in itself. The boundaries of thought can not be given as an object: "The boundary is not an object for understanding, but its method". In this case, the difference between "beautiful" and "sublime" is obvious. The beautiful is in the form or form of the forms it creates. The sublime exists in the outline, the motivation, the intention, the capture of the form, regardless of the figure that this form restricts, and therefore acts as absolutely great. The beautiful is enclosed in his representation, and the sublime is manifested in the process of his movement, which is the absolute movement of the unlimited along with the boundary line.

Aesthetics, Ethics, and Nature

This is not a fact given to the subject or through the subject. The submission is presented in a no-boundary ". However, the idea always arises "on the border". This boundary, according to I. Kant, is the limit of imagination. The problem of the sublime is not a problem of large figures. It is connected with the possibility of the existence of an absolute size, that is, absolutely great.

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The quantity, unlike the absolute size, is measurable. Great raises the issue of quality.

Every form and figure is small in comparison with the infinite. Sublime is that, in comparison with what everything turns out to be infinitely small. It is located outside of existence, for every being is infinitely small in comparison with it. Imagination as the ability of representation has the right to operate only in the image, contour and figure. Therefore, there is an absolute limit of imagination, a maximum of Bild.

This maximum is the outer limit of the imagination, which receives a signal about it through the value of such artificial and natural objects as, for example, the pyramid or the ocean. But these grandiose figures are just analogies for the possibility of thinking the sublime. However, the imagination can not only reach its maximum, feeling its border. It is capable of more. At the moment of the collision with the border, he realizes his impotence. This cognitive ability is endowed with a sense of incommensurability concerning the integrity of the boundless, beyond the limits of the image.

As noted by J. Lyotard in an exalted sense "thinking becomes powerless, lost hope, disinterested in achieving the goals of freedom through nature". But in the removal from seductive natural forms, thought suddenly realizes its true purpose. Limitations, forms, schemes, rules of concepts, illegal uses, illusions that criticism constantly opposes to its power, do not matter if we accept the premise of Kantian thought that "thinking exists here" and this is "here" and this fact is absolute is an absolute.

This is what the "voice of reason" announces in a sublime sense and it is this that exalts". The border is a key moment in the life of the imagination. Sublime just happens on the border, or rather - at the time of violence over it, the process of moving it. The integrity of the sublime is integrity unlimited to the extent that it is located on the other side of the border, that is, outside the maximum.

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The integrity of the sublime is neither the integrity of the infinite as opposed to the finite forms nor the integrity of the infinite as a sum of forms. Unity, conditioned by the internal boundary, is the result of an external border, that is, unlimited. Integrity is devoid of objective qualities and does not lend itself to a positive or negative view.

However, it can not be conceived and in the form of unity much.


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Such a whole is the formless form or form of formlessness, that is, the movement of the unlimited.