jlb.alb10.kant.baumgarten.sublime.aesthetics.art.love.beauty

jlb.alb10.kant.baumgarten.sublime.aesthetics.art.love.beauty...

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Art, Love, and Beauty 10 2/14/08 Harries 1 10. The Sublime 1 In Kant's discussion of the beautiful we were able to note a tension: on one hand, in his discussion of free beauty, he looked forward to romanticism and indeed to more modern conceptions of art; on the other, in his discussion of the ideal, a form of dependent beauty, he showed himself in fundamental agreement with the classicism of a Winckelmann. This standing between the ages finds an even clearer expression in Kant's discussion of the sublime, as opposed to the beautiful. What we find beautiful presents itself to us, on Kant's interpretation, as if it were made to be appreciated to us. It suggests an attunement of the beautiful and the human knower: in beautiful nature we thus tend to feel at home. This is one implication of Kant's talk of purposiveness. For this reason the beautiful invites thoughts of a higher purpose behind appearance, thoughts of a creator who cares for us. With the sublime emphasis shifts to something quite different: sublime nature no longer suggests that we human beings are at home in the universe — quite the opposite. The world becomes inhospitable, something threatening and ominous. And yet it is precisely this threatening aspect that, if Kant is right, we enjoy aesthetically. Kant's discussion owes a great deal to and invites comparison with Edmund Burke's Inquiry Into the Sublime and Beautiful . If I had
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Art, Love, and Beauty 10 2/14/08 Harries 2 more time, I would love to consider Burke's distinction between the beautiful and the sublime in more detail. Here let me just review the way Burke draws the distinction. Crucial is his distinction between two kinds of passion: the passions which belong to self-preservation are opposed to the passions which belong to society. Of the former Burke has this to say: The passions which concern self-preservation, turn mostly on pain or danger. The ideas of pain, sickness, and death fill the mind with strong emotions of horror; but life and health, though they put us in a capacity of being affected with pleasure, they make no such impression by the simple enjoyment. 1 To these passions are opposed those that belong to society: The other head under which I class our passions, is that of society, which may be divided into two sorts. 1. The society of the sexes, which answers the purpose of propagation; and next that more general society, which we have with men and with animals, and which we may in some sort be said to have even with the inanimate world. (40) The distinction between the beautiful and the sublime answers to this distinction, where it is worth noting that Burke reverses the order and treats first of the sublime: 1 Edmund Burke, A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful , ed. J. Boulton ( New York: Columbia University Press, 1958 ), p. 38.
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Art, Love, and Beauty 10 2/14/08 Harries 3 Whatever is fitted in any sort to excite the ideas of pain, and danger, that is to say, whatever is in any sort
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This note was uploaded on 04/12/2008 for the course HUMS 255 taught by Professor Karstenharries during the Spring '08 term at Yale.

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jlb.alb10.kant.baumgarten.sublime.aesthetics.art.love.beauty...

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