Aesthetics and Nature: The Dream of Sublimity

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In initially tackling this topic a clear definition of what is being tackled has to be established. The difference between beauty and the sublime also has to be brought up as this is not an analogy of the beautiful, but has to do with the sublime. The argument in the greater Hippias is that the beautiful, “either is, or depends upon, what is beneficial or what pleases through the sense of hearing and sight.” But what if it is more than that? As the mind won’t always divulge the information we would like about the state of reality. In nature, the world may seem be simple or grand. It depends on the person describing it. This shows a decentralization of information. This is explained as what we perceive to be sublime is really just a channeling of an emotional state brought about by our imagination as we are thrown into a state of meditation.

Thomas Hobbes was the first philosopher recorded to tackle the topic of Imagination. He came to the conclusion that there were two types of imagination, the “simple” and the “compound.” The former of which is what he defined the “decaying sense” (I, ii). When the senses stop gathering information and the mind retreats to a state of meditation there are leftover images or phantasms. The later is that which takes previously known images or “Phantasms” and from them creates brand new images or events. (Borchert, 50)This is a definition of a term currently known as Fancy and was coined by Coleridge. This type of imagination was described as a “mode of memory”. Hume’s Treatise of Human Nature (1739-1740) clarified a theory never expanded fully by Hobbes, that “ideas tend to consort with one another because of similarity, propinquity, or causal connection. This became a powerful principle...