Kant the Sublime

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  • Topic: Human, Mind, Sublime
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  • Published : March 24, 2013
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The Sublime
In Lyotard’s reading Lessons on the Analytic of the Sublime, he explains how critical thought exists within an infinite amount of creativity with no principles but in search of them. Lyotard understands the Kantian sublime as a way to comply with the standards that critically analyze postmodernism using deconstruction. Kant differentiated the sublime between the vastness and greatness and the dynamic sublime. The vastness sublime is so great we can’t just use our senses like we normally do; it requires us to heighten our senses beyond comprehension. The dynamic sublime is the way in which rationalizes things and his perceptions. Lyotard describes the boundlessness of the imagination and reason as a ‘differend’ and this is ‘to be found at the heart of sublime feeling: at the encounter of two absolutes equally present to thought, the absolute whole when it conceives, the absolutely measured when it presents.’ (Lyotard) Our imagination understands forms and measures while reason understands something without form of an infinite nature of something. There is a separation of imagination and reason and when we use the ‘enigmatic’ power of critical thought we can reflectively judge something. Kant's presentation of the sublime has been taken up by Lyotard and he explores different ways of finding a philosophical understanding of different artworks. Through Longinus and Burke we can explore the pre-modern and modern conceptions of the sublime and through all these critiques we can draw different manifestations of the sublime in art. Kant questions how can someone judge an object before knowing how to properly judge that object and how do they know what proper judging is? Longinus in part of his critique implies that man can go beyond his limitations as a human being by experiencing emotions and language. The art or technical talents was described, as the human while the sublime was something that escaped our experience of art. ‘Sublimity consists in a certain excellence and distinction in expression’ (Longinus, pg 100). To understand and have knowledge of the sublime, there needs to be a vague understanding of something that is beyond our experience or senses. He explains that there is more to the human ordinary life because we feel this through the senses, but these senses are an incorrect interpretation caused by a physical perception as opposed to a psychological one. If you think about the sublime, it cannot be pictured or imagined but we have translated and suggested through the arts and poetry. Longinus tells us that nature is the creative and the first principle of the sublime and what follows is a matter luck and good mentors. In Goodbye Lenin, a German film directed by Wolfgang Becker, Lenin tries to hide the unification of Germany during the 1990’s from his mother who was in a coma throughout those months and has to stay in bed. He successfully conned her into thinking nothing had changed by using tricks like old product bottles and filming his own news broadcasts. This film successfully executes the idea of the sublime in what was going on between his mother and the rest of the world. ‘Our faults spring from the same place as our virtues.’(Longinus)She believed everything around her was real and time had not changed but the people around her were well aware that this was a deception of reality. The way in which Lenin created the same world and reality his mother had always known is overwhelming to the senses and questions what is really for real? Burke believes that the ideas of pain and pleasure cannot be defined, but pleasure of every kind satisfies quickly. He goes on to say that there are two kinds of pleasure: the first that simply is and has no relation and the second that cannot exist without relation. The film has preserved and stopped time that defies nature and in reality cannot be done. The son is so scared and terrified that his mother will die that he tries to please her by keeping the world...
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