The Environmental Sublime Chapter uri icon

abstract

  • © Cambridge University Press 2012. WHY THE SUBLIME, NOW? Academic study of the sublime has been broad, crossing disciplines such as philosophy, literary theory, critical and cultural theory, art theory, landscape studies, and architecture. However, sublimity has been neglected in contemporary aesthetics, where one might expect it to be discussed; any attention it has received is mainly confined to Immanuel Kant’s aesthetic theory or to discussions in the history of philosophy. More generally, analytic philosophy has largely ignored the topic, and although continental philosophy has shown an interest, the focus tends to be on the artistic sublime, rather than the natural sublime, despite the legacy of the natural sublime bequeathed by the eighteenth century. This collection will certainly help to fill these gaps in the literature, and a key aim of this essay is to carve out a contemporary home for the sublime. Why is discussion of the sublime neglected in these ways? It could be that the concept is considered of little relevance to current debates. Mary Mothersill’s Beauty Restored is usually credited with reviving discussions of another concept, beauty, which, historically, was central to aesthetic theory and was usually set in contrast to the sublime. Beauty is now very much back on the philosophical agenda – and on other agendas too. Is such a future possible for the sublime? Here I shall argue that the sublime is indeed relevant and that its relevance is tied to environmental thought and, in particular, to debates in environmental aesthetics. Making progress toward an environmental sublime begins by trying to understand various arguments for why the concept has been neglected. To this end, I examine and reply to three different arguments for its neglect, which I describe as follows: (1) the historical argument; (2) the metaphysical argument; and (3) the anthropocentric argument.

author list (cited authors)

  • Brady, E.

citation count

  • 10

Book Title

  • The Sublime

publication date

  • January 2012