The Kantian Sublime: From Morality to Art

By Paul Crowther | Go to book overview

4 Kant's Analytic of the Sublime: From the Preliminary Sections to the Mathematical Mode

I

The second book of Part I of the Critique of Judgement is called the 'Analytic of the Sublime' and extends from § 23 to § 54, inclusively. That Kant should give this title to the second book is extremely puzzling, inasmuch as only §§ 23 to 30 are concerned explicitly with the question of sublimity. Kant's strategy here is at best complex and at worst obscure, and is due to the problematic relation in his theory between sublimity and art. (This relation is, indeed, so problematic that I shall defer discussion of it until after I have offered a reconstructed version of Kant's theory in Part III of this study.) In relation to those sections which are more directly addressed to the sublime, it should be noted that my treatment of these will for the moment be expository and interpretative, and will consider critical issues only in so far as they pertain to points not central to Kant's main argument; or in so far as they are directly raised in problems of interpretation. Let me now address, then, the opening sections of the Analytic of the Sublime.

Kant opens his discussion in § 23 with a comparison and contrast of judgements of the beautiful and the sublime. (As his arguments concentrate primarily on the points of contrast—and are somewhat contentious—I shall accordingly focus my attention on these.) Kant begins with the twofold claim that the beautiful and the sublime both please on their own account (i.e. in themselves rather than as means towards some other end), and both involve reflective judgements rather than judgements of sense or determinative judgements. From this, Kant supposes it to follow 1 that the delight which we take in them

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