Kant's account of the overpowering feeling of the sublime, and the moral law within exercised an extraordinary influence on the movements of Romanticism, Hegelian phenomenology, and Continential Philosophy. Although the topic has been of increasing interest to Kant scholars over the past twenty five years, the full significance of sublimity to Kant's systematic moral project has never been recognized. Because Kant provides the most rigorous, compelling, and historically-influential account of sublimity, many artists, literary theorists, and art historians have acquired their ideas about sublimity largely from Kant. But the absence of a clear understanding of the meaning and functions of Kantian sublimity has produced a chaotic set of discourses at odds both with each other and with Kant.This is the first book to identify sublimity's precise moral function and its essential role within the critical philosophy. The author argues that sublimity, far from being a mere appendix to the Kantian system, constitutes an essential condition for Kantian morality.
The author examines the development of sublimity throughout Kant's career, situating Kantian sublimity historically within Enlightenment and Romantic discourses on the sublime, and shows how Kant's nineteenth and twentieth century interpreters, both continental and analytic, have misunderstood and misapplied his immensely influential account of the sublime.
Dr. Joshua Rayman is currently Assistant Professor at New York City College of Technology, City University, New York.