About this topic
Summary

The sublime (sublimity) has been described as an experience, feeling, or judgment. As a positively valenced feeling, it is similar to excitement, astonishment, or awe. The concept become influential in aesthetics through the reception of pseudo-Longinus’s work of rhetoric, On the Sublime, where the sublime referred to that inspiring or overwhelming quality in great literary works or speeches. In the modern period, it became associated more with nature than art, and was distinguished from beauty. It was seen as a positive aesthetic experience in response to vast or powerful (apparently formless) objects such as waterfalls and mountains. As an aesthetic experience, the sublime is distinguished from moral feelings and outright fear. Given its emotional intensity, the sublime is distinguished from wonder and curiosity. 

Key works It was through the reception of Pseudo-Dionysus's work of rhetoric, On the Sublime, and modern translations such as Longinus & Broom 1757, that the concept became influential in rhetoric and philosophy. Burke 1764 and Kant 2005 contributed influential accounts of sublimity.
Introductions Shaw 2006 and Kirwan 2005 provide good introductions.
Related categories
Siblings:See also:History/traditions: The Sublime

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  1. Artistic Sublime Revisited: Reply to Robert Clewis.Uygar Abaci - 2010 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 68 (2):170-173.
  2. The Most Sublime of All Laws: The Strange Resurgence of a Kantian Motif in Contemporary Image Politics.Emmanuel Alloa - 2015 - Critical Inquiry 41 (2):367-389.
    In recent years, the claim of the unrepresentability of the Shoah has stirred vivid debates, especially following the strong positions taken by the French filmmaker Claude Lanzmann and author of Shoah (1986). This claim of unrepresentability, it can be shown, draws part of its attraction from the fact that it oscillates undecidedly between a claim of logical impossibility (“the Shoah can’t be represented”) and a normative demand (“the Shoah shouldn’t be represented”). This essay analyzes the argumentative structure of the advocates (...)
  3. The Sublime Shepherdess.Julia Cooley Altrocchi - 1940 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 15 (4):700-701.
  4. The Sublime: A Reader in British Eighteenth-Century Aesthetic Theory.Andrew Ashfield & Peter de Bolla (eds.) - 1996 - Cambridge University Press.
    This collection of texts on the Sublime provides the historical context for the foundation and discussion of one of the most important aesthetic debates of the Enlightenment. The significance of the Sublime in the eighteenth century ranged across a number of fields - literary criticism, empirical psychology, political economy, connoisseurship, landscape design and aesthetics, painting and the fine arts, and moral philosophy - and has continued to animate aesthetic and theoretical debates to this day. However, the unavailability of many of (...)
  5. La Sublimidad y Lo Sublime.Pedro Aullón de Haro - 2007 - Editorial Verbum.
    El presente ensayo consiste en una interpretación y reconstrucción histórica y teórica de lo sublime en tanto que alojable en el concepto más general que se establece de sublimidad, al tiempo que una indagación acerca de la constitución de una teoría de lo sublime.
  6. The Sublime: Precursors and British Eighteenth Century Conceptions.Karl Axelsson - 2007 - Lang.
    This book explores the impulses behind the fascination for that experience.
  7. An Essay on the Sublime (1747).J. Baillie - 1953 - Los Angeles, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, University of California.
  8. The Sublime.Garrett Baxter - 1929 - [Norfolk, Va.]The Economic Press.
  9. Art: Reaching for the Sublime.Peter Benson - 1997 - Philosophy Now 18:22-23.
  10. Sensibility and Sense: The Aesthetic Transformation of the Human World.Arnold Berleant - 2010 - Imprint Academic.
    Aesthetic sensibility rests on perceptual experience and characterizes not only our experience of the arts but our experience of the world. _Sensibility and Sense_ offers a philosophically comprehensive account of humans' social and cultural embeddedness encountered, recognized, and fulfilled as an aesthetic mode of experience. Extending the range of aesthetic experience from the stone of the earth's surface to the celestial sphere, the book focuses on the aesthetic as a dimension of social experience. The guiding idea of pervasive interconnectedness, both (...)
  11. Art, Terrorism and the Negative Sublime.Arnold Berleant - 2009 - Contemporary Aesthetics 7.
  12. Reflections on the "Wonderful Height and Size" of Gothic Great Churches and the Medieval Sublime.Paul Binski - 2010 - In C. Stephen Jaeger (ed.), Magnificence and the Sublime in Medieval Aesthetics: Art, Architecture, Literature, Music. Palgrave-Macmillan.
  13. Paesaggi Sublimi: Gli Uomini Davanti Alla Natura Selvaggia.Remo Bodei - 2008 - Bompiani.
  14. The Sublime.E. F. Carritt - 1910 - Mind 19 (75):356-372.
  15. The Limits of the Sublime, the Sublime of Limits: Hermeneutics as a Critique of the Postmodern Sublime.Jerome Carroll - 2008 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 66 (2):171–181.
  16. Religion and the Sublime.Andrew Chignell & Matthew C. Halteman - 2012 - In Timothy M. Costelloe (ed.), The Sublime: From Antiquity to the Present. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    An effort to lay out a kind of taxomony of conceptual relations between the domains of the sublime and the religious. Warning: includes two somewhat graphic images. -/- .
  17. “The Place of the Sublime in Kant’s Project”.Robert Clewis - 2015 - Studi Kantiani 28:149-68.
    I emphasize the harmony between the sublime and the underlying concept of the purposiveness of nature, i.e. that the sublime is purposive through its initial contrapurposiveness. One favorable outcome of this reading is that it locates further unity in the Critique of Judgment, e.g. it helps make sense of why, besides historical reasons, Kant may have turned to the sublime in the first place in the “Critique of the Aesthetic Power of Judgment” (Part One of the CJ). I question some (...)
  18. What's the Big Idea?: On Emily Brady's Sublime.Robert R. Clewis - 2016 - Journal of Aesthetic Education 50 (2):104-118.
    “The sublime is a massive concept,” Emily Brady states in her book’s first sentence. Her lucid study of the sublime should interest scholars from a wide range of disciplines, from environmental philosophy and aesthetics to the history of philosophy, art history, and literary criticism. Although its title refers to modern philosophy, the book examines not only the period typically classified in philosophy as “modern,” but also romanticism and contemporary aesthetics. Brady aims “to reassess, and to some extent reclaim, the meaning (...)
  19. Replies to Paul Guyer and Melissa Zinkin.Robert R. Clewis - 2013 - Critique.
  20. A Case for Kantian Artistic Sublimity: A Response to Abaci.Robert R. Clewis - 2010 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 68 (2):167-170.
  21. The Kantian Sublime and the Revelation of Freedom.Robert R. Clewis - 2009 - Cambridge University Press.
    In this book Robert R. Clewis shows how certain crucial concepts in Kant's aesthetics and practical philosophy - the sublime, enthusiasm, freedom, empirical and intellectual interests, the idea of a republic - fit together and deepen our understanding of Kant's philosophy. He examines the ways in which different kinds of sublimity reveal freedom and indirectly contribute to morality, and discusses how Kant's account of natural sublimity suggests that we have an indirect duty with regard to nature. Unlike many other studies (...)
  22. Costelloe, Timothy M., Ed. The Sublime: From Antiquity to the Present. Cambridge University Press, 2012, Xiii + 304 Pp., 36 B&W Illus., $35.95 Paper. [REVIEW]Tom Cochrane - 2013 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 71 (4):390-392.
  23. The Emotional Experience of the Sublime.Tom Cochrane - 2012 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 42 (2):125-148.
    The literature on the venerable aesthetic category of the sublime often provides us with lists of sublime phenomena — mountains, storms, deserts, volcanoes, oceans, the starry sky, and so on. But it has long been recognized that what matters is the experience of such objects. We then find that one of the most consistent claims about this experience is that it involves an element of fear. Meanwhile, the recognition of the sublime as a category of aesthetic appreciation implies that attraction, (...)
  24. Magnificence in Miniature : The Case of Early Medieval Manuscripts.Adam S. Cohen - 2010 - In C. Stephen Jaeger (ed.), Magnificence and the Sublime in Medieval Aesthetics: Art, Architecture, Literature, Music. Palgrave-Macmillan.
  25. The Sublime: From Antiquity to the Present.Timothy M. Costelloe (ed.) - 2012 - Cambridge University Press.
    Machine generated contents note: 'The sublime'. A short introduction to a long history Timothy M. Costelloe; Part I. Philosophical History of the Sublime: 1. Longinus and the ancient sublime Malcolm Heath; 2...And the beautiful? revisiting Edmund Burke's 'double aesthetics' Rodolphe Gasche; 3. The moral source of the Kantian sublime Melissa Meritt; 4. Imagination and internal sense: the sublime in Shaftesbury, Reid, Addison, and Reynolds Timothy M. Costelloe; 5. The associative sublime: Kames, Gerrard, Alison, and Stewart Rachel Zuckert; 6. The 'prehistory' (...)
  26. A Theology of the Sublime.Clayton Crockett - 2001 - Routledge.
    Crockett develops a constructive radical theology from the philosophy of Kant. Reading The Critique of Judgment back into The Critique of Pure Reason, Crockett draws upon the insights of such continental philosophers as Heidegger, Derrida, Lyotard and Deleuze. This book shows how existential notions of self, time and imagination are interrelated in Kantian thinking, and demonstrates their importance for theology. An original theology of the sublime emerges as a connection is made between the Kantian sublime of the Third Critique and (...)
  27. The Discourse of the Sublime: Readings in History, Aesthetics, and the Subject.Peter De Bolla - 1989 - Blackwell.
  28. The (Bio)Technological Sublime.J. de Mul - 2012 - Diogenes 59 (1-2):32-40.
  29. Listening to Magnificence in Medieval Paris.Emma Dilon - 2010 - In C. Stephen Jaeger (ed.), Magnificence and the Sublime in Medieval Aesthetics: Art, Architecture, Literature, Music. Palgrave-Macmillan.
  30. Crowther and the Kantian Sublime in Art.C. E. Emmer - 2008 - In Valerio Rohden, Ricardo R. Terra & Guido A. de Almeida (eds.), Recht und Frieden in der Philosophie Kants: Akten des X. Internationalen Kant-Kongresses [Right and Peace in Kant's Philosophy: Proceedings of the 10th International Kant Congress] 5 vols. Walter de Gruyter.
    Paul Crowther, in his book, The Kantian Sublime (1989), works to reconstruct Kant's aesthetics in order to make its continued relevance to contemporary aesthetic concerns more visible. The present article remains within the area of Crowther's "cognitive" sublime, to show that there is much space for expanding upon Kantian varieties of the sublime, particularly in art.
  31. The Senses of the Sublime: Possibilities for a Non-Ocular Sublime in Kant's Critique of Judgment.C. E. Emmer - 2001 - In Volker Gerhardt, Rolf Horstmann & Ralph Schumacher (eds.), Kant und die Berliner Aufklärung: Akten des IX. Internationalen Kant-Kongresses, Vol. 3. Walter de Gruyter. pp. 512-519.
    It might at first seem that the senses (the five traditionally recognized conduits of outer sense) would have very little to contribute to an investigation of Kant's aesthetics. Is not Kant's aesthetic theory based on a relation of the higher cognitive faculties? Much however can be revealed by asking to what degree sight is essential to aesthetic judgment (of beauty and the sublime) as Kant describes it in the 'Critique of Judgment.' Here the sublime receives particular attention.
  32. Helgaud of Fleury and the Liturgical Arts : The Magnification of Robert the Pious.Margot E. Fassler - 2010 - In C. Stephen Jaeger (ed.), Magnificence and the Sublime in Medieval Aesthetics: Art, Architecture, Literature, Music. Palgrave-Macmillan.
  33. Lo sguardo a picco: Sul sublime in Filostrato.Filippo Fimiani - 2002 - Studi di Estetica 26:147-170.
    This paper is dedicated to the Εἰκόνες of the two Philostrati and to the Ἐκφράσεις of Callistratus, that is to say to three Greek works that bear important witness to the genre of art criticism in Antiquity and which concern both literary history and the history of art. The first series of Εἰκόνες is the work of Philostratus the Elder (2nd-3rd century AD) and comprises sixty-five descriptions of paintings with mythological subjects, which the author assures us he has seen in (...)
  34. Medicine and Magnificence: British Hospital and Asylum Architecture, 1660–1815. [REVIEW]Sophie Forgan - 2003 - British Journal for the History of Science 36 (1):87-127.
  35. Conjunctions: Studies in Twentieth Century Women's Literature and the Sublime.Barbara Claire Freeman - 1989 - Dissertation, University of California, Santa Cruz
    My dissertation examines two predominant topics in contemporary cultural and literary studies: those of feminine sexual difference and the sublime. It explores what the current preoccupation with the sublime has to do with modern and postmodern women's writing fiction and feminist thought, and seeks to discover what in the theory of the sublime may be, and have been, gendered as feminine. I discuss some of the classic texts that make up the sublime canon in light of recent male critical treatments (...)
  36. Sublimity and the Ends of Reason: Questions for Deligiorgi.Tom Hanauer - 2016 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 74 (2):195-199.
    The sublime has come under severe criticism in recent years. Jane Forsey, for instance, has argued that all theories of the sublime “rest on a mistake”. In her article, “The Pleasures of Contra-purposiveness: Kant, the Sublime, and Being Human,” Katerina Deligiorgi () provides a rejoinder to Forsey. Deligiorgi argues—with the help of Kant—that a coherent theory of the sublime is possible, and she provides a sketch for such a theory. Deligiorgi makes good progress in the debate over the sublime. But (...)
  37. The Digital Sublime: Lessons From Kelli Connell's Double Life.Yi-hui Huang - 2012 - Journal of Aesthetic Education 46 (4):70-79.
    The concept of the “sublime” has been discussed by a few philosophers. According to German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724–1804), the sublime refers to something “absolutely great,”1 such as the vast Sahara Desert or an earthquake, that surpasses one’s ability to comprehend with one’s reason. The sublime brings a mixture of anxiety and pleasure to those experiencing it: anxiety from the conflict between reason and imagination, and pleasure from the awareness of the supremacy of human reason. While Kant focuses on sublime (...)
  38. Magnificence and the Sublime in Medieval Aesthetics: Art, Architecture, Literature, Music.C. Stephen Jaeger (ed.) - 2010 - Palgrave-Macmillan.
  39. Richard of St. Victor and the Medieval Sublime.C. Stephen Jaeger - 2010 - In Magnificence and the Sublime in Medieval Aesthetics: Art, Architecture, Literature, Music. Palgrave-Macmillan.
  40. Cosimo De' Medici's Patronage of Architecture and the Theory of Magnificence.A. D. Fraser Jenkins - 1970 - Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 33:162-170.
  41. Kantian and Nietzschean Aesthetics of Human Nature: A Comparison Between the Beautiful/Sublime and Apollonian/Dionysian Dualities.Erman Kaplama - 2016 - Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy 12 (1):166-217.
    Both for Kant and for Nietzsche, aesthetics must not be considered as a systematic science based merely on logical premises but rather as a set of intuitively attained artistic ideas that constitute or reconstitute the sensible perceptions and supersensible representations into a new whole. Kantian and Nietzschean aesthetics are both aiming to see beyond the forms of objects to provide explanations for the nobility and sublimity of human art and life. We can safely say that Kant and Nietzsche used the (...)
  42. The Cosmological Aesthetic Worldview in Van Gogh’s Late Landscape Paintings.Erman Kaplama - 2016 - Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy 12 (1):218-237.
    Some artworks are called sublime because of their capacity to move human imagination in a different way than the experience of beauty. The following discussion explores how Van Gogh’s The Starry Night along with some of his other late landscape paintings accomplish this peculiar movement of imagination thus qualifying as sublime artworks. These artworks constitute examples of the higher aesthetic principles and must be judged according to the cosmological-aesthetic criteria for they manage to generate a transition between ethos and phusis (...)
  43. Cosmological Aesthetics Through the Kantian Sublime and Nietzschean Dionysian.Erman Kaplama - 2013 - UPA, Rowman & Littlefield.
    This book is founded on a close reading of Kant’s Opus Postumum in order both to explore the essential motivation that drove Kant to write a last comprehensive magnum opus and, by doing so, to show the essential link between his aesthetics and the idea of Übergang, the title of this last work. For this work contains not only his dynamical theory of matter defining motion as preliminary to the notions of space and time, and the advanced version of his (...)
  44. Introduction to Cosmological Aesthetics: The Kantian Sublime and Nietzschean Dionysian.Erman Kaplama - 2010 - International Journal of the Humanities 8 (2):69-84.
    This paper is founded on a close reading of Kant’s Opus Postumum in order both to explore the essential motivation that drove Kant to write a last comprehensive magnum opus and, by doing so, to show the essential link between his aesthetics and the idea of Übergang, the title of this last work. For this work contains not only his dynamical theory of matter defining motion as preliminary to the notions of space and time, and the advanced version of his (...)
  45. Magnificence and the Sublime in Medieval Aesthetics: Art, Architecture, Literature, Music. [REVIEW]Catherine Karkov - 2012 - The Medieval Review 2.
  46. Humor and Enlightenment, Part I: The Theory.Peter H. Karlen - 2016 - Contemporary Aesthetics 14.
  47. Architecture and Astronomy: The Ventilators of Medieval Cairo and Their Secrets.David King - 1984 - Journal of the American Oriental Society 104 (1):97-133.
  48. Sublimity: The Non-Rational and the Irrational in the History of Aesthetics.James Kirwan - 2005 - Routledge.
    In the history of aesthetics, few concepts have been as powerful and as elusive as the idea of the sublime, the "enthusiastic terror" that can possess us when we behold a mountain or a miracle. In his new book, James Kirwan traces the history of the sublime from its emergence in the eighteenth century to its resurgence in contemporary aesthetics. Sublimity addresses the nature of the sublime experience itself, and the function that experience has played, and continues to play, within (...)
  49. » Ästhetik im Ausgang vom Werk. Eugene Delacroix: Fantasie arabe (1833). Exemplarische Überlegungen «.Thomas Loer - forthcoming - Zeitschrift für Ästhetik Und Allgemeine Kunstwissenschaft.
  50. Tra Poesia E Physiología: Il Sublime E la Scienza Della Natura.Giovanni Lombardo - 2011 - Mucchi.
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