Mark Linsenmayer and Wes Alwan read and interpret Kant’s Critique of Judgment, sections 23-25.
This is a 13-minute preview of a 72-minute bonus recording, which you can purchase at partiallyexaminedlife.com/store or get for free here with PEL Citizenship (see partiallyexaminedlife.com/membership). You can also purchase it at iTunes Store: Search for “Partially Examined Kant Sublime.”
A Close Reading is us going line-by-line through the text to help you ferret out what’s actually being said. The point is to not only get you to understand this text, but to learn how to decode Kant, and how in general to take on difficult texts if that’s maybe something you haven’t felt confident about before.
We’ve previously explained Kant’s account of how we recognize beauty and the view of one of Kant’s influences, Edmund Burke, on the difference between recognizing beauty and experiencing something as sublime. So what is Kant’s view on the sublime?
He thinks that, as with beauty, the apparatus by which we cognize anything comes into play here, but the process only goes half way, i.e. we don’t actually apply a concept to an object. Only with the sublime, Kant thinks that instead of the Concepts of the Understanding that get almost-applied, it’s the Ideas of Reason, which are more abstract. Whereas Burke saw the sublime both in overwhelming sensory experiences but also in scary connotations in stories, Kant thinks that strictly speaking, nothing we actually experience is sublime. Sublimity has to do with the infinite, the formless, so our sensory experiences can at best suggest these ideas to us; what we’re really reacting to is not the object, but to some ideas in ourselves.
We’re here reading the translation by Paul Guyer, which you can purchase here.