Beyond the Finite: The Sublime in Art and Science

Beyond the Finite: The Sublime in Art and Science

Beyond the Finite: The Sublime in Art and Science

Beyond the Finite: The Sublime in Art and Science

Synopsis

Throughout its long history, and not just as the key aesthetic category for the Romantic Movement, the sublime has created the necessary link between aesthetic and moral judgment, offering the prospect of transcending the limits of measurement, even imagination. The best of science makes genuine claims to the sublime. For in science, as in art, every day brings the entirely new, the extreme, and the unrepresentable. How does one depict negative mass, for example, or the folding of a protein that is contagious? Can one capture emergent phenomena as they emerge? Science is continually faced with describing that which is beyond. This book, through contributions from nine prominent scholars, tackles that challenge. The explorations within Beyond the Finite range from the images taken by the Hubble Telescope to David Bohm's quantum romanticism, from Kant and Burke to a "downward spiraling infinity" of the 21st century sublime, all lucid yet transcendent. Squarely positioned at the interface between science and art, this volume's chapters capture a remarkable variety of perspectives, with neuroscience, chemistry, astronomy, physics, film, painting and music discussed in relation to the sublime experience, topics surely to peak the interest of academics and students studying the sublime in various disciplines.

Excerpt

There are many excellent books on the sublime written by philosophers, aestheticians, and art and cultural historians. This volume represents a first attempt to extend the discussion of the sublime into the realm of the natural scientist. The project originated in a conversation among a chemist, a behavioral neurologist, an art historian, and an architectural historian. The occasion was a conference entitled “Image & Meaning 2,” held at the Getty Center in Los Angeles in June 2005. The conversation took place in a session of this conference entitled The Sublime in Art and Science, and the ambition, which finds a broader rehearsal in this book, was to search for areas of commonality in which a topic widely discussed in art and aesthetic theory could be shared with and opened up to the discourses of the sciences. Perhaps the exchange might offer science some insights as it discovers and creates the new.

The chosen vehicle—the sublime—is broad enough in its many definitions to stimulate new thinking both in the arts and in the sciences. The sublime has meant many things over its long history as it has been applied to the emotional impact of that which is beyond beautiful. Philosophers have contemplated the . . .

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