Analyze Lyotard's reworking of the Kantian Sublime.

Essay by paigeyUniversity, Bachelor'sB+, November 2007

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According to Kant in The Critique of Judgement (1790) 'the sublime moves, whilst the beautiful charms.' Kant's theory of the sublime relates strongly to that of the sublime in nature, however Kant doesn't see that it is the object in nature, which is purely sublime, but rather our minds superiority to reason over the 'unpresentable' in nature. Lyotard whilst developing and reworking this Kantian model, stipulates rather that the sublime is not that of the object or of the ability to reason, but rather that of what he calls the 'differend.' this is the straining in all aspects of our minds ability to grasp the unpresentable. Kant states that there are two stages to the sublime experience, firstly the sense of displeasure as we struggle to make sense or comprehend the experience; and the second stage is a sense of pleasure as our minds ability to reason insights a sense of superiority over nature.

Lyotard seeks to exemplify rather that there is no second stage, and that the sublime occurs in the inability to reason. Through the redevelopment of Kant's notion of the sublime, Lyotard seeks to redefine its usefulness in the existence of the modern and in particular the postmodern. It is within this movement, that the sublime can occur; as it seeks to break down the traditional aesthetic of art, by presenting the unpresentable- in a society that is seemingly blinded by meta-narratives.

According to Kant's Critique of Judgement, the sublime is that which is beyond our cognitive powers of perception, arising through an excess of sensory information (Kul-Want & Klimowski: 2005: 138). Kant relates this feeling of the sublime most heavily to that of the sublime in nature; the moment of looking, at for example, a craggy mountain or a ferocious storm, and not being able to...