Nikki's Reviews > The Critique of Aesthetic Judgement

The Critique of Aesthetic Judgement by Immanuel Kant
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May 10, 11

bookshelves: philosophy
Read on May 10, 2011

Another reading for Mythology & Philosophy course. We were assigned the "second book." If time allows, and especially if I utilize Kant in my research paper, I want to go back and read the "first book." The first book purely discusses beauty. The part we read is devoted to "Analytic of the sublime." I will admit that when I first sat down with this reading, I thought of how I just kind of have a fuzzy impression of "sublime." It's not a word/concept I've ever given much thought. I decided to look it up: "impressing the mind with a sense of grandeur or power; inspiring awe, veneration, etc." I figured that was a good start. When I started reading though, I realized that this definition was rather simplistic, as I ultimately had before me seventy pages of Kant exploring all of the variations and implications of "sublime."
To begin with, Kant does set up a clear distinction of "beautiful" and "sublime." To state it briefly, the beautiful is concerned with an object that has form, understanding, quality, play, pleasure and love; the sublime is concerned with a formless object, reason, quantity, emotion, respect, and esteem. I found Kant's discussion and dissection stirring and, well, shall I use the term??... beautiful! And, at times, perhaps, it was sublime for me. Beyond the object of the text, some passages elevated my mind, excited me with images or nature, and served to remind me of its captivation. Kant does look at the sublime in nature, which is ultimately glorious not exactly for how it looks/sounds but for what it IS. As the example Kant uses: if you believe to be listening to a nightingale, the experience will be wondrous; yet when you discover it was just a boy in the bush with an instrument, all charm is gone.
A colleague recently told me that the English translators have done Kant great justice. Apparently his original German form is not only more difficult to get through, but also not as impressive. I can't speak to this since I am limited (and I really do mean that in every sense of the word) to English. I really enjoyed this translation though and do believe I find myself falling in love with Kant! He recognizes a link between morality and nature, indicating that "to take an immediate interest in the beauty of nature is always a mark of a good soul." I believe he has a true understanding of the human condition and can speak to it and about it remarkably.
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