Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The sublime (from the Latin sublimis (exalted)), refers in aesthetics to the quality of transcendent greatness, whether physical, moral, intellectual or artistic. The term especially references a greatness with which nothing else can be compared and which is beyond all possibility of calculation or measurement.
The first study of the value of the sublime is the treatise ascribed to Longinus: On the Sublime. Edmund Burke and Immanuel Kant both investigated the subject (compare Burke’s Essay on the Sublime and Beautiful, 1756) and both distinguished the sublime from the beautiful. Later writers tend to include the sublime in the beautiful.
For Immanuel Kant, the sublime represent a feeling derived from aesthetic judgment, in which we realize the limits of our human nature, that is that, we realize we cannot conceive of something because it is part of the noumenal realm. Much like being next to a brick wall, we know the wall is there and that, presumably, there is something on the other side, but we cannot access it. For Kant, the thrill we get from this realization is true sublimity; the realization that we cannot fully comprehend our own nature.
The Romantics were essentially preoccupied by the sublime and especially by the sublime in Nature.
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