Sublime: A glimpse into the world of aesthetic and philosophical terms. Have you ever wondered what it means to be in awe of something, to be overwhelmed by its beauty or power? Or perhaps you have pondered over the meaning of life, or the power of love? These are all questions that have been asked throughout the ages, and they are questions that are deeply rooted in philosophical and aesthetic terms. In this article, we will take a look into the world of sublime, a concept that encompasses both philosophical and aesthetic ideas. Sublime is an aesthetic term that refers to the feeling of awe and admiration one gets when looking at something beautiful, impressive, or powerful. It can also refer to a deep appreciation for something beyond our understanding, such as the power of nature or the vastness of space.
Philosophically speaking, sublime is linked to existential and metaphysical themes, such as our place in the universe or the meaning of life. Sublime can also be seen as a way of understanding and appreciating beauty in its purest form. By exploring the concept of sublime, we can gain insight into our own feelings and reactions to beauty and power. We can also gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be in awe, and how it can shape our view of the world around us. So let us dive into the world of sublime – an exploration of both philosophical and aesthetic terms.
The term ‘Sublime’was first coined by the Roman poet Longinus in his work ‘On the Sublime’.
In his work, Longinus argued that true greatness in art was achieved by creating an emotional response in the audience. He defined this emotion as ‘the Sublime’, which he described as an overwhelming emotion that inspired awe in the audience. Longinus’ view was influential in the development of aesthetic theory, particularly with regards to literature and art. In philosophy, the concept of the Sublime is closely related to Immanuel Kant’s notion of the ‘thing-in-itself’. Kant argued that there were certain aspects of reality that were beyond our comprehension and could only be experienced as an overwhelming feeling.
Kant argued that this feeling was an emotion of awe and reverence, similar to what Longinus described as the Sublime. This idea has been influential in many areas of philosophy such as metaphysics, ethics, and aesthetics. In literature, the concept of the Sublime has been used to describe moments of intense emotion or beauty. For example, in William Wordsworth’s poem ‘Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey’, he describes his experience of standing on a hill overlooking a valley as ‘sublime’. Similarly, in Mary Shelley’s novel ‘Frankenstein’, she uses the concept of the Sublime to describe Frankenstein’s experience of standing on top of a mountain and feeling overwhelmed by its beauty. In art, the concept of the Sublime has been used to describe works that evoke feelings of awe or terror.
For example, Francisco Goya’s painting ‘Saturn Devouring His Son’ is an example of a work that evokes feelings of horror and dread in its viewers. Similarly, JMW Turner’s painting ‘The Fighting Temeraire’ evokes feelings of awe and reverence due to its depiction of a majestic ship sailing into the sunset. In culture, the concept of the Sublime has been used to describe moments or experiences that are overwhelming or awe-inspiring. For example, some people have described their experience of seeing a total solar eclipse as ‘sublime’ due to its overwhelming beauty. Similarly, some people have described their experience of standing on top of a mountain or looking out over a vast landscape as ‘sublime’ due to its overwhelming scale. The concept of the Sublime has also been related to other concepts in aesthetics and philosophy such as romanticism, beauty, and the sublime moment.
Romanticism is an artistic movement that was influenced by Longinus’ idea of the Sublime. It emphasized emotions such as awe and reverence for nature and sought to capture these emotions in artworks. Beauty is another concept that has been related to the Sublime, with some philosophers arguing that certain experiences or works can be both beautiful and sublime at the same time. Finally, the ‘sublime moment’ is a concept developed by philosopher Jean-Francois Lyotard which refers to moments when an individual experiences overwhelming awe or terror.
Examples in CultureThe Sublime is often used to describe experiences of awe, beauty, and grandeur.
Examples of the Sublime can be found in literature, art, music, and film. In literature, the Sublime is used to describe a moment when a character experiences something that transcends their understanding or awareness. For example, in the novel Moby-Dick, Ishmael has an experience at sea that he describes as “sublime.” In art, the Sublime is often used to describe artwork that evokes a sense of awe or grandeur. Examples include Romanticism paintings such as J.M.W.
Turner's The Slave Ship or Caspar David Friedrich's Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog. In music, the Sublime can be heard in pieces such as Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 or Wagner's Tristan und Isolde. In film, the Sublime can be seen in directors such as Stanley Kubrick or Terrence Malick.
These filmmakers often create moments of awe and beauty that evoke feelings of the Sublime.
Relationship with Other ConceptsThe concept of the Sublime is closely related to other concepts such as romanticism, beauty, and the sublime moment. In aesthetics, romanticism is focused on emotions and feelings rather than rational thought, which is often seen as the basis of the Sublime. Beauty, on the other hand, is often associated with harmony and balance, whereas the Sublime is an experience that is characterized by awe and amazement due to its grandeur and power. Finally, the sublime moment is a moment of intense emotion or pleasure that is seen as being beyond the normal realm of human experience.
All three of these concepts are related to the Sublime in that they are seen as being beyond the ordinary, yet still possessing a certain beauty or power. The Sublime can be seen as a bridge between these concepts, as it combines the emotional intensity of romanticism with the awe-inspiring power of the sublime moment. In literature, art, and culture, the Sublime often serves as a source of inspiration and creativity. By combining aspects of romanticism, beauty, and the sublime moment, artists are able to create works that are both powerful and beautiful at the same time.
Origins of the TermThe term 'Sublime' was first coined by Longinus, a Greek rhetorician, in his treatise On the Sublime.
In this work, Longinus argued that there is something greater than mere beauty that can be found in literature, art, and culture. He called this something 'the sublime'.Since then, the concept of the Sublime has been used in philosophy and aesthetics to describe experiences of awe and wonder. For example, Immanuel Kant argued that the Sublime is a mental state in which we experience an overwhelming feeling of power and majesty. Friedrich Schiller, on the other hand, argued that the Sublime is an emotion that is aroused by beauty. In modern times, theorists such as Jean-François Lyotard have used the concept of the Sublime to describe experiences of awe and terror.
For Lyotard, the Sublime is an experience of “limitless power” that can be both awe-inspiring and terrifying at the same time. The concept of the Sublime has also been used to describe artworks that evoke a feeling of awe. In particular, Romantic artists such as J.M.W. Turner and Caspar David Friedrich sought to capture the Sublime in their landscape paintings.
Examples in ArtThe concept of the Sublime has been used by artists for centuries to evoke strong emotions and feelings. One of the earliest examples is the 17th-century French painter Claude Lorrain, who used the Sublime to evoke awe and wonder in his landscapes.
Other examples from the Baroque era include Nicolas Poussin's landscapes, which evoke feelings of majesty, grandeur, and power. In the Romantic era, the Sublime was used to express emotion and appreciation for nature. Caspar David Friedrich's paintings are often cited as examples of the Sublime in art. These works often depict nature in a dramatic fashion, creating a sense of awe and power.
The Sublime has also been used in modern and contemporary art, with many artists using it to explore themes such as alienation, anxiety, and the sublime experience. Examples include Mark Rothko's abstract expressionist works and Yves Klein's monochromes. The use of the Sublime in art can be seen as a way of highlighting the beauty and mystery of the world around us. By evoking strong emotions and feelings, it can help us to appreciate the world in a different way and to reflect upon our own experiences.
Examples in LiteratureThe concept of the Sublime has been used by authors throughout history to convey powerful emotions and ideas.
In his novel Wuthering Heights, English author Emily Bronte uses the Sublime to describe the wild and untamed beauty of the Yorkshire moors. She writes, “...the sublime and beautiful are so blended in it, that it is impossible to separate them.”William Wordsworth also uses the Sublime to great effect in his poem “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey”. In this poem, he celebrates Nature and its ability to provide solace and comfort, describing it as “a presence that disturbs me with the joy/Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime/Of something far more deeply interfused.”The American poet Walt Whitman employs the Sublime in his poem “Song of Myself”. In this poem, he uses the Sublime to emphasize the power of Nature, writing, “I celebrate myself, and sing myself,/And what I assume you shall assume,/For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.”Finally, British poet Percy Bysshe Shelley uses the Sublime to evoke a sense of awe and wonder in his poem “Ode to the West Wind”.
He writes, “O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being,/Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead/Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing.”In conclusion, Sublime is an essential philosophical and aesthetic term that has had a considerable influence on literature, art, and culture. It is closely related to other concepts such as romanticism, beauty, and the sublime moment, providing a key insight into the works of literature and art that evoke feelings of awe or terror. Sublime is an example of how philosophical and aesthetic principles can be intertwined to create powerful works of art and literature. The implications of Sublime are far-reaching and continue to shape our understanding of beauty and aesthetics. By understanding the origins of this concept and its implications for philosophy and aesthetics, we can gain a deeper appreciation for the works of literature and art that make use of the Sublime.