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Echoes and Mirrors» Blog Archive » Indeed

Indeed


representation + sublime:

In the Critique of Judgment Kant argued that the mathematically sublime refers to the way that the mental faculties that present visual perceptions to the mind are inadequate to the concept corresponding to it; in other words, what we are able to make ourselves see cannot fully match up to what we know is there. We know it’s a mountain but we cannot take the whole thing into our perception. Our sensibility is incapable of coping with such sights, but our reason can assert the finitude of the presentation.

With the dynamically sublime, our sense of physical danger should prompt an awareness that we are not just physical material beings, but moral and (in Kant’s terms) noumenal beings as well. The body may be dwarfed by its power but our reason need not be. This explains, in both cases, why the sublime is an experience of pleasure as well as pain.

The fact that perception is limited, and thus comprehension of the world is limited has always intrigued me. I suppose the easiest explanation would be trying to imagine some ridiculous number – you can grasp the idea of it, but there is no rational association for it. Given that much of the mind is based on association (and/or patterns) this doesn’t seem to be at all out of the question.

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