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A 'Sacred Thrill': presentation and affectivity in the 'Analytic of the Sublime'

A 'Sacred Thrill': presentation and affectivity in the 'Analytic of the Sublime'

Urpeth, Jim (2000) A 'Sacred Thrill': presentation and affectivity in the 'Analytic of the Sublime'. In: Rehberg, Andrea and Jones, Rachel, (eds.) The Matter of Critique: Readings in Kant's Philosophy. Clinamen Press, Manchester, UK, pp. 61-78. ISBN 1-903083-117

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This paper offers a critique of what it terms the ‘Heideggerian-deconstructive’ reading of Kant’s “Analytic of the Sublime” and develops an alternative ‘genealogical’ interpretation of it. It is argued that the ‘Heideggerian-deconstructive’ reading of Kant’s text emphasises the ‘question of presentation’. By contrast, the concerns of the ‘genealogical’ interpretation of Kant’s sublime are affective and ‘libidinal’ in character. The underlying issue concerns the prioritisation of the orders of presentation and affectivity respectively and the balance between them in Kant’s text. The paper begins with an appreciative overview of the ‘Heideggerian-deconstructive’ reading of Kant’s sublime as found in texts by Derrida, Escoubas, Lacoue-Labarthe, Lyotard, Nancy and Sallis. In the ensuing sections the ‘genealogical’ alternative is developed. It is suggested that such a ‘Nietzschean’ reading has two phases, oppositional and immanent respectively. The first phase exposes the evaluative economy of Kant’s text and identifies themes within it which endorse the constitutive values of the ‘Platonic-Christian’ tradition. Kant’s sublime appears to be a ‘moral’ response to the a-symmetry between ‘raw nature’ and the transcendent aspirations of rational-moral humanity. However, due to its oppositional character, this form of ‘genealogical’ critique does not execute a sufficiently radical critique of Kant’s text. A second, immanent form, of ‘genealogical’ reading is required. This focuses on the theme of ‘negative pleasure’ in Kant’s text and argues that it has priority over that of ‘negative presentation’. Kant’s sublime no longer appears to be ‘moral’ in orientation but advocates passionately the pleasures of a specific, non-universalisable, ‘affective-libidinal’ economy. The task arising concerns the evaluative comparison of different aesthetic sensibilities, the ‘negative pleasure’ of Kant’s sublime and the Nietzschean alternative of a ‘tragic joy’ that affirms precisely the ‘contrapurposiveness’ of ‘raw nature’ from which Kant turns away. This is a contrast between a teleological and dysteleological sublime, ‘human’ and ‘post-human’ aesthetic sensibilities.

Item Type: Book Section
Uncontrolled Keywords: Kant, the sublime, Nietzsche, affectivity, deconstruction, Lyotard
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Pre-2014 Departments: School of Humanities & Social Sciences
School of Humanities & Social Sciences > Department of Social, Political & Cultural Studies
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Last Modified: 14 Oct 2016 09:20

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