The Specification of Aesthetic Values and Movements of the Imagination
. . . the satisfaction here concerns only the destination of our faculty.
KANT, Kritik of Judgment
A glance at the writings of the two most influential authors who have touched upon the subject leaves little doubt that sublimity is, historically, the class-name philosophers of art have preferred in describing and defining originality. Longinus maintained that sublime poetry elevated man near to God and endowed him with powers transcending those of the humble herd of brutes.1 Kant's interpretation of the conception treats of the mind's power to achieve a totality to which no empirical concept corresponds, as well as man's superiority over the might and power of nature herself.2
The use of the term, sublimity, has been extended beyond the field of speculation upon great art. Kant is notably eloquent, for example, in his peroration of duty,3 and equally notably, acute. In aesthetic, whatever connotations have been attached to the term in other branches of knowledge, sublimity has signified the type and value of the original and the creative. As we have observed, it is the aesthetic conception which has been used most widely to intimate that the artist's powers are divine and, as we have also pointed out,4 its most radical usage____________________