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Lyotard and Kant on the State of the Sublime in Art


Adrian Kvokačka·

University of Prešov, Slovakia



In this paper, I address the relationship between Lyotard’s account of the sublime in art and  Kant’s own attempt at considering sublime art as a possible counterpart to fine art. Lyotard recognises the roots of modern art - and avant-garde particularly - in Kant’s account of the sublime. This is interesting, for it is generally assumed that Kant didn’t devise the notion to be applied to art as such. In the lack of any explicit consideration of artistic sublime in Kant’s text, what (if any) could be the background for Lyotard’s analysis? My contention is that this reading of the Third Critique is only partially correct. Unlike what is commonly believed, much room is left in Kant’s text for consideration of the sublime in art. Kant himself envisages the possibility that the sublime be found in art and considers artistic representations of the sublime possible for art-forms. How can twentieth-century art be sublime in a Kantian way? And what role does Kant’s notion of aesthetic ideas play in Lyotard’s own account?


Kant, Lyotard, sublime, art




  1. Introduction

In this paper, I address the problematic relationship between Lyotard’s account of the sublime in art (Lyotard 1988; 1991) and Kant’s (unwritten) attempt at considering sublime art as a possible counterpart to fine art.

As is renown, in Lyotard’s view the aesthetics of modern art corresponds in itself to an aesthetics of the sublime, which develops “as a conflict between the faculty to conceive and the faculty to ‘present’ something.” (Lyotard 2010, p. 244) Lyotard relies on incommensurability and ungraspability to characterise modern art - and avant-garde especially - as sublime. Devoid of its representational intent, avant-garde art, according to Lyotard, shows an inclination towards self-reflection and towards the realm of what is most ungraspable, namely, ideas (Lyotard 1991, p. 126). Lyotard recognized the roots of modern art in Kant’s account of the sublime. Nevertheless, in The Inhuman. Reflections on Time, he affirms that the sublime we find in art is “still the sublime in the sense that Burke and Kant described and yet it isn’t their sublime anymore.” (Lyotard 1991, p. 93)

How should we make sense of this claim? And, more generally, how are we understand the role of  Kantian legacy in Lyotard’s conception of the sublime? To answer these questions, my attempt in this paper will be twofold. On the one hand, I will try to show how indebted Lyotard’s conception of the sublime is to Kant’s treatment of the notion in the Third Critique. On the other hand, tracing back to Kant some of the main patterns that intertwine in Lyotard’s account of the sublime, I will highlight the amendments that the French philosopher proposes in order to make Kantian analysis compatible with twentieth-century art.

I will proceed as follows. In section one, I focus on some passages in the Critique of the Power of Judgement[1] that attest that, despite what is commonly believed, Kant’s aesthetic theory can actually be able to incorporate the art of the sublime. Drawing on this initial survey, in section two I analyse Lyotard’s rereading of Kant and discuss some of the revisions he proposes to Kant’s original account of the notion. Finally, in section three, I examine some examples of avant-garde artworks that prove how influential Lyotard’s interpretation of Kantian sublime can be for a theoretical understanding of modern art.

  1. Kant on the Sublime in Art

As Stephen Zepke has recently pointed out: “A book on sublime art must begin with Kant’s theory of the sublime.” (Zepke 2017, p. 14) Yet, as he notices immediately after, scholars working on the topic are very soon confronted with the paradoxical fact that: “Kant categorically denied that art can supply a sublime experience.” How can one reconcile these two contradictory claims? Is there any ground, in the philosophical system Kant builds in The Critique of the Power of Judgment, to envisage the existence of an (unwritten) account of the sublime (in) art?[2]

From the account of the sublime given in the Third Critique, it may seem that Kant assumes that the sublime cannot give rise to any specific kind of art. This may be surprising, especially if one considers the whole architecture of the Third Critique. One could indeed assume that, as he has just done for the notion of beauty, Kant will explain or apply the notion of sublime to both domains of aesthetic experience - nature and art - so that in addition to the analysis of the sublime in nature, he will also provide an analysis of the sublime in art. To the best of my knowledge, Kant does not explicitly rule out the possibility of art of the sublime anywhere in the text of the Critique of the Power of Judgement. It is true, however, that he does not even offer any explicit clarification of what this art could be, nor defines its scope and function, unlike in the case of beautiful art.

This evidence has led many (Ferguson 1992; Guyer 2006; Abaci 2008) to conclude that Kant did not consider the art of the sublime possible altogether and that he only saw the sublime as pertaining to the realm of nature. But is it really so? Is there a place for sublime art in Kant’s account? And where -  if anywhere - could we find any clue leading to a conception of a sublime art in his text?

An answer to these questions may emerge from considering the following claims, which for the purposes of this paper I take as relatively uncontroversial: 

(a) Kant considers an artistic representation of the sublime possible (5: §26);

(b) he explicitly claims that the sublime can also be found in the case of art (5: §23);

(c) there is no fundamental reason to exclude works of art from the field of objects that can evoke the sublime in the subject.

In the first place, Kant seems to envisage the possibility of “sublime artworks” and even offers some examples of them, like St. Peter’s Cathedral or the pyramids (5: 252).

Furthermore, he claims that he will “confine” his attention to “consider first only the sublime in objects of nature (that in art is, after all, always restricted to the conditions of agreement with nature)” (5: 245). This seems to imply that Kant does not only believe that a connection between art and the sublime is possible, but that he also intends to devote some consideration to this topic after having discussed the sublime in nature. As I have just mentioned, this intention, however, is not realized, and Kant does not return to it anywhere in the Critique of the Power of Judgement (or elsewhere).

This ambiguity has created much interpretative uncertainty in Kant studies. Scholars are divided on what value to give to this passage (that is, 5: §23). While, for example, Allison considers the examples Kant provides “a blatant inconsistency” - for these examples, he argues, are only mentioned due to their similarity with crude nature as such (Allison 2001) -, Crowther (1989), on the other hand, referring particularly to the veil of the temple of Isis, concludes that sublime art is indeed possible, and claims that “representational artworks can have a content or subject-matter which in-itself is in some sense sublime.” (Crowther 1989, p. 154)

On my part, I think that there is no principled reason for excluding art from the range of objects that may evoke the feeling of sublime (unless what Allison (2001) claims). Indeed, Kant affirms that “true sublimity must be sought only in the mind of the judging subject, and not in the object” (5: 256). This sentence implies that the proper locus of the judgement of sublime is not the sublimity of a specific object of nature, or the feeling of sublime that this object awakens in the subject, but rather the awareness of the subjective purposiveness shown in the free contrasting play of Imagination and Reason. But if what is concerned with sublime is a process happening “in the mind of the judging subject”, as Kant puts it, then sublime can apply as well to the objects of art, provided of course that they prove able to cause the same process engendered by the objects of nature.

So the question arises: are works of art capable of that?

To my mind, it is Kant himself who shows us that this is indeed the case, and he does so mainly by referring to the above-mentioned examples of art giving rise to the experience of mathematical sublime (like the pyramids or St. Peter). Similarly, he seems to believe that artistic representations of the sublime are possible at least for some art-forms like tragedy, as is testified by his famous claim: “Further, the presentation of the sublime, so far as it belongs to beautiful art, can be united with beauty in a verse tragedy, a didactic poem, an oratorio; and in these combinations beautiful art is all the more artistic.” (5: 325)

On Kant’s account, artistic representations of the sublime, however, are always tied to the idea that the sublime in art must necessarily coexist with beauty. This implies, on the one hand, that the sublime will participate in fine art (although beautiful art will remain beautiful precisely because of its ability to show objects as beautiful); and that, on the other hand, even if sublime can be seen as participating in beautiful art, nothing guarantees that the objects we call sublime “in real life” would still be recognised as such once they become the subject of artistic representation, or that they will retain their capacity of triggering the same aesthetic experience.

Supportive evidence to this argument can be drawn considering the role that, in Kant’s theory, aesthetic ideas play as the real centre of the sublime in the work of genius  - i.e,  that through which nature is able to speak for itself - as well as that of rational ideas as the “basis” of aesthetic ideas. For Kant, rational ideas act in a regulative way towards aesthetic ideas in the works of fine arts, and aesthetic ideas, in turn, refer back to rational ideas symbolically by way of what can be described as an insufficient form of representation - that is, a representation which can only hint at the totality of the idea itself through partial mediation via a sign.

On the other hand, rational ideas represent a way of understanding aesthetic ideas, which by themselves cannot be defined by any single concept. An aesthetic idea is indeed “that representation of the imagination that occasions much thinking though without it being possible for any determinate thought, i.e., concept, to be adequate to it, which, consequently, no language fully attains or can make intelligible.” (5: 314) Aesthetic ideas give “imagination cause to spread itself over a multitude of related representations.” (5: 315)  As soon as imagination tries to grasp them as a whole, it is overwhelmed by their infinite variety.

This impossibility of grasping aesthetic ideas as a whole and the subsequent process we make to master them is analogous to the process triggered in the subject by sublime objects of nature and shows its intrinsic relation to the sublime in its own mechanism.

This shows once again the role that the sublime can play also in the field of fine arts.

  1.  Lyotard on the Sublime in Art

As we have seen in the previous section, despite what is often assumed, there seem to be no compelling reasons to exclude the possibility of a sublime art from the account Kant provides in the Third Critique.

This is further testified by the intensive use Lyotard makes of Kant in many of his texts on the sublime (1988; 1991; 2012), where he adopts several Kantian insights to outline his own account of modern and avant-garde art. Obviously, Lyotard is aware that the internal developments that happened in the structure of art in the twentieth century - leading particularly to art’s complete denial of the relevance of beauty - require a specific explanation. This is why he intends to operate a readjustment of Kant’s classical treatment of the sublime so as to make it able to account for what he refers to as “the historical caesura” represented by the twentieth-century, and for the different effect that its art has on viewers.

The crucial premise is that in Lyotard’s view, the aesthetics of modern art corresponds in itself to aesthetics of sublime, Kantianly meant “as a conflict between the faculty to conceive and the faculty to ‘present’ something.” (Lyotard 2010, 244) Kantian themes are present especially in his Differend (1988), where Lyotard grounds his critical re-reading of the Third Critique on a discussion of two fundamental notions for Kant’s conception of the sublime, namely, presentation (Darstellung)  and subreption (Subreption).

Why do these notions need revision, according to Lyotard? Arguably, because Lyotard believes that the experience of the sublime cannot be grasped by presentation alone - i.e., the fruitful cooperation of shattered imagination and the ideas of reason -  or fixed under the mechanism of subreption. On the contrary, his view is that sublime identifies a state in which the subject cannot move forward, because every new step is insecure and, furthermore, she cannot even imagine what the next step could be.

Lyotard underlines the need to reconsider presentation by questioning the notion of the “immediacy of the given”, which represents an important concept in Lyotard’s thinking. According to Lyotard, presentation “is not at all a simple ostension, but the bridging of intuition with conception” (Lyotard 1988, p. 64), where intuition is understood as “the immediate relation of cognition to objects.” (Lyotard 1988, p. 61) Intuition is only possible if the objects are given to us, which happens when these objects affect our mind while we perceive them. Kant’s notion of the “immediacy of the given” must thus be revised: “as we see, it is not immediate” (Lyotard 1988, p. 62), he claims. Intuition, according to Lyotard, involves a process through which sensation is mediated by perception, which brings with it the matter of appearance without general validity; in this sense: “there is no hope of universality by sensation alone. Never talk about tastes or colors. Sticking to this, we would never even have givens properly termed, but only momentary impressions, affects, unrelated to objects.” (Lyotard 1988, pp. 61–62)

What is given to us by means of sensibility (i.e., the matter of appearance) only becomes representation thanks to a “space-time filtering”, namely, the subject’s forming activity that “imprints the forms of space and time (the apriori forms), which are not givens, upon the sensations.” (Lyotard 1988, p. 62) At the same time, however, appearance is related to an object through a reference function and applies “the deictic marks” on the object.

Presentation, which serves to combine a corresponding intuition to the concept, is, therefore, a function of judgment “without which ... there can be no knowledge” (Lyotard 1988, p. 64) and is also what distinguishes the domain of the cognitive from that of the theoretical, where Ideas, for which presentation is not possible, also belong. Determining judgements pertain to the cognitive, in which, according to Kant, “the law is sketched out for it a priori” (5: 179): to judge is indeed “to make a presentation” (in the sense of “exhibitio” (Lyotard 1988, p. 64)) because it implies setting a corresponding intuition beside the concept. Indeterminative reflective judgments, on the other hand, are “exerted outside the realm of cogni­tion: in morality [...] or in the aesthetic feeling.” (Lyotard 1988, p. 64) It follows that “the subject presents an object before a rule, determined or not, with a view to validating this rule, or discovering it, or evaluating the object.” (Lyotard 1988, p. 64)

Lyotard revises Kant’s original line of reasoning: “the subject” he claims, “cannot have presenta­tions, but only representations [...] in the juridical sense where the ‘faculties’ keep making representations, remonstrances, or grievances to each other, that is, to criticize each other through the confrontation of their respective objects.” (Lyotard 1988, p. 64) Situated within the subject, the faculties play out either a cooperative activity (as in the case of beauty, where there is a mutual agreement between them) or a contradictory activity (as in the case of the sublime).

In Lyotard’s reconstruction, thus, we mark objects as beautiful based on the feeling of pleasure which stems from the concordance between our ability of conceptual thinking and that of presentation. On the other hand, we judge objects as sublime on account of the displeasure that arises in us due to the impossibility of agreement between such abilities. Here, Lyotard’s account is questionable, because sublime is for Kant not the result of a ‘displeasure’, but is rather the attunement of the subject arising from the overcoming of displeasure, that is, from the overcoming of the discrepancy between imagination (presentation) and reason (which is responsible for conceptual thinking). This is also why Kant calls sublime a negative pleasure, where “the mind is not merely attracted by the object, but is also always reciprocally repelled by it, the satisfaction in the sublime does not so much contain positive pleasure as it does admiration or respect, i.e., it deserves to be called negative pleasure.” (5: 245)

This leads us to Lyotard’s reconception of subreption. Kant uses the notion of subreption to explain how the subject can overcome the aesthetic state she is experiencing by recalling the “inner moral vocation of human existence.” (5: 447) In Kant’s theory of sublime, the re-establishment of an agreement between our faculties is connected with the expansion of the imagination itself, through which we accept an actual representation into the whole of our (possible) representations. The inadequacy that obtains between imagination and its quest for progression to infinity, on the one hand, and reason with its claim to absolute totality as a real idea, on the other, is what leads to the awakening of the supersensible ability in us. “That is sublime” Kant states, “which even to be able to think of demonstrates a faculty of the mind that surpasses every measure of the senses.” (5: 250)

Lyotard, however, contests Kant’s use of subreption as a mechanism through which the subject is, so to speak, “brought back a stable ground”, after having sensed the unsteadiness caused by the sublime. He considers the “reconciliation” or “appeasement” that Kant ascribes to subreption simply impossible. Dissension must instead “be emphasized” (Lyotard 1984, p. 61) in the experience of the sublime if we want to make sense of twentieth-century art, an art which is based on “the sublime feeling [which] is neither moral universality nor aes­thetic universalization, but is, rather, the destruction of one by the other in the violence of their differend.” (Lyotard 1994, p. 239) This art, according to Lyotard, provides indeed many examples of such lack of steadiness and certainty (we’ll get back to this in the next section).

Since, as we have seen, Lyotard wants to maintain the force of the contradiction entailed by sublime (“in the case of the sublime, this ‘internal’ reconciliation is a non-reconciliation.” (Lyotard 1988, p.  165), he challenges the transition that, in Kant’s account, is represented by subreption. His argument is based on the following. Kant, according to Lyotard, refers to subreption as a process we are led to both by “respect” for the object and by “imagination”, which “tries to supply a direct, sensible presentation for an Idea of reason [...]. It does not succeed and it thereby feels its impotence, but at the same time it discovers its destination, which is to bring itself into harmony with the Ideas of reason through an appropriate presentation.” (Lyotard 1988, p. 165) On Kant’s account, subreption is, therefore, as Lyotard puts it: “substitution of a respect for the object instead of for the idea of humanity in our subject).” (5: 257)

On Lyotard’s account, however, subreption should instead be seen as a “substitution of a reconciliation (reglage) between the faculties within a subject for a recon­ciliation between an object and a subject.” (Lyotard 1988, p. 165) In other words, while in beauty the representation given by the senses causes a free harmonious play between the abilities of the subject (we like the object: the mind indulges in its contemplation, etc.) so that the object appears, as it were, already adapted to our power of judgement and thus appropriate for us, the sublime has a rather opposite effect. When sublime is involved, more than a play, the interaction between the subject’s capacities becomes  rather a serious matter: the feeling of sublime is a “pleasure that arises only indirectly, being generated, namely, by the feeling of a momentary inhibition of the vital powers and the immediately following and all the more powerful outpouring of them.” (5: 245) Sublime is thus an emotion that involves no play but a serious exercise of the imagination.

According to Lyotard, the transition allowed by subreption does not really take place in any other way than as a “‘passage’ in the course of coming to pass. Its course, its movement is a kind of agitation in place, one within the impasse of incommensurability.” (Lyotard 1988, p. 167) Indeed, the subject experiencing such agitation “sees nothing, or rather sees that what can be seen is nothing and relates it back to the unpresentable.” (Lyotard 1988, p. 166) Avant-garde painting is characterized by this kind of blindness, incapacity or impossibility to represent: in this sense, it is bound to “represent the unpresentable”.

To support the idea that Kant’s understanding of subreption is inadequate to account for the artworld of the Twentieth-century, Lyotard also underlines that the sublime involves a significant time dimension, an element that he sees neglected in Kant’s theory. According to Lyotard, sublime happens and therefore any resolution of the contradiction it implies is impossible. Sublime is like a “negative sentence”, a silence at the very moment of its occurrence, when in fact we do not even see the possibility of uttering anything altogether.

As we are going to see momentarily, by presenting us with an aesthetic idea without however providing us with any ‘tangible’ or mimetic reference point, avant-garde art puts us in front of a “caesura”, a contradiction that does not allow for any resolution.

  1.  Twentieth-century Century Art as Sublime Art

In the previous section, I have discussed both what Lyotard conserves and what he revises of Kant’s notion of sublime in the account he develops in the Differend. On this account, the experience triggered by a sublime artwork is that of a shock in the subject, which experiences a sort of “breaking” in her living forces when she is confronted with the sublime. But how does this process take place? And what, more specifically, is an art of the sublime?

Historically, sublime art in Lyotard’s sense should be seen as corresponding to the art produced throughout the past century, in particular by the avant-gardes and other related artistic movements. As is renowned, avant-garde art finds its historical roots in the developments which happened within the social and artistic world of the twentieth century. In this period, mainly due to the pressure exerted by emerging technologies of image reproduction, art was gradually brought to abandon the traditional paradigm of mimetic representation and, together with seeking its own sense and meaning, embraced what Lyotard refers to as the path of the “negative presentation of the unpresentable”.

Interestingly, according to Lyotard, the transformations that occurred within the artworld of the twentieth-century had implications not only for the definition of art and its history but also for the role played by the arts in society. As he underlines, society reacted with scepticism to the emergence of these new artforms, which pushed the boundaries of present-day taste and, requiring not just simple observation, but an increasing amount of thinking to be appreciated, defied easy attempts at interpretations. “The avant-gardes thus cut themselves off from the public” (Lyotard 1991, p. 121), and their works ended up appearing “to the public of taste to be ‘monsters’, ‘formless’ objects, purely ‘negative’ entities.” (Lyotard 1991, p. 125)

Despite being so distant from the general audience, avant-garde art, according to Lyotard, still had a crucial role to play in modern society. Obviously, this role didn’t rely on this art being able to delight or appease its viewers, but rather to provoke them to think. Art wasn’t anymore “a matter of ‘pleasing’ through the beautiful”, but rather a matter “of ‘pleasing/displeasing’ through the sublime”. In this sense, its stakes were “analogous [..] to those that orient the ‘philosophical’ genre”.  A work in this art is considered to be “good (will have realized its ends, have come near them) if it obliges the addressee to ask about what it consists in.” (Lyotard 1988, p. 139)

Twentieth-century art, according to Lyotard, initiated a shift from an art-form whose purpose was to please the viewer’s senses to an art-form whose purpose was to trigger the viewer’s thought. Importantly, this shift, in Lyotard’s reconstruction, corresponds to the conceptual shift which led art to move from the category of beauty to the category of the sublime, and which led him to identify avant-garde art as an “art of the sublime” in the proper sense of the term.

To understand the historical transition from beauty to sublime brought about by modern art we can refer to some of the examples Lyotard himself provides to support his thesis. In his The Inhuman, he refers particularly to two works by the American painter Barnett Newman, Onement I, from 1948, and Now II, from 1967, as cases of artworks that thematize at their very core the concept of the “unpresentable” and thus count as intrinsically ‘sublime’. Kant’s explanation of the sublime as the process leading from aesthetic to rational ideas - modified according to Lyotard’s own reconception - finds in these artworks its best exemplification.

Onement, I (Newman 1948)

Consider Onement I. This small oil on canvas (69.2 x 41.2 cm) is the first in a series of paintings in which Newman shows a colored rectangular panel divided by a vertical band that defines the space of the work. In this case, a dark brown surface is struck by a yellow colored-band which forms a kind of “zip”, an element that repeatedly occurs in Newman’s works. According to Lyotard, Onement I. targets the impossibility of any pictorial representation of the oneness of God. One way to understand this abstract painting is thus through reference to Kant’s conception of aesthetic ideas as related to the unpresentable ideas of reason. We have a rational idea - in this case, the idea of God - that gives some constraints to depictions of the idea itself via negationis, i.e., indicating what the idea (God) is not. Since we cannot grasp God through any definite image - for, as is the case with all other ideas of reason, no image may be able to evoke the totality of this idea - the idea of God can only be hinted at by way of a sign or an emblem - the vertical line and the title of the artwork. This artwork represents thus “the unpresentable in itself”, or that the unpresentable - for example the idea of God - truly exists.

Now II (Newman 1967)

Something similar is involved in the case of Now II - a painting presenting two white areas divided or interconnected by a black strip that occupies exactly one-third of the whole work. According to Lyotard, this work can be interpreted as addressing at its heart the ungraspability of the idea of time. Being faced with the ungraspability of the concept of time is indeed what provokes us to think when we experience this painting. As Lyotard underlines, time was a kind of obsession for Newman: “Newman’s now which is no more than now is a stranger to consciousness and cannot be constituted by it. Rather, it is what dismantles consciousness, what deposes consciousness, it is what consciousness cannot formulate, and even what consciousness forgets in order to constitute itself.” (Lyotard 1991, p. 90) In this sense, as he puts it: “the purpose of a painting by Newman is not to show that duration is in excess of consciousness, but to be the occurrence, the moment which has arrived.” (Lyotard 1991, p. 79)

Interestingly, by highlighting the gap between what we can see and what we can think, these two paintings transfer to the artfield the state that is captured by Kant’s understanding of the sublime, i.e., a situation in which imagination is confronted with its own failure when trying to provide a representation of the object she is dealing with. Just like in the case of Kantian sublime, Newman’s artworks make us feel that we are betrayed by the insufficiency of our senses, and need to refer to ideas to make sense of what we experience, which our sensual givens do not or cannot explain. Since, as Lyotard claims, the subject of the Idea is itself unpresentable and no example, no token, no instance can be given of it - for how may it be possible to represent the absolute? - all that we can “present”, all that we can show, is that an “unpresentable idea” exists. This, in Lyotard’s terms, is the meaning of the “negative presentation of the unpresentable”, a process which is only made possible via the mediation of the sublime concept and the role that ungraspable rational ideas play within it.

Increasing our knowledge of the world by reaching a domain that would otherwise be unavailable to us (that of rational ideas), a domain that we know rather than feel, avant-garde art is an ‘art of the ineffable’, an art which is announced by silence and characterized by an anamnesis of the visual; one in which, as Lyotard suggestively puts it, the visual field “hides and requires invisibilities” and shows us that art “does not simply belong to the eye (of the prince) but to the (wandering) mind.” (Lyotard 1991, p. 125)

  1.  Conclusion

In this paper, I have tried to show that, although an explicit theory of artistic sublime is lacking in the Critique of the Power of Judgement, Kant is a crucial reference for Lyotard’s conception of sublime as applied to twentieth-century art.

Although he believes that Kant’s theory needs readjustments or revisions, Lyotard heavily relies on Kant’s understanding of aesthetic ideas, on his conception of presentation as well as on his account of subreption in his explanation of the mechanism underpinning sublime.

Lyotard’s analysis proves once again how relevant Kant’s Critique of the Power of Judgment is if we want to account for the many changes that occurred in the artworld throughout the last centuries. After more than two hundred years from its original conception, so much there is still to be learnt from this work.



Abaci, Uygar, (2008), “Kant’s Justified Dismissal of Artistic Sublimity”, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 66 (3), pp. 237–51.

Allison, Henry E., (2001), Kant’s Theory of Taste: A Reading of the Critique of Aesthetic Judgment, Modern European Philosophy. Cambridge ; New York: Cambridge University Press.

Crowther, Paul, (1989), The Kantian Sublime: From Morality to Art, Oxford Philosophical Monographs. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Ferguson, Frances, (1992), Solitude and the Sublime: Romanticism and the Aesthetics of Individuation, New York: Routledge.

Guyer, Paul, (2006), Kant, Routledge Philosophers. New York, NY: Routledge.

Kant, Immanuel, (2000), Critique of the power of judgment, Translated by Paul Guyer. Cambridge, UK; New York: Cambridge University Press.

Lyotard, Jean-François, (2012), Que peindre? Adami, Arakawa, Buren, Écrits sur l’art contemporain et les artistes [Writings on contemporary art and artists], vol. V. Leuven: Leuven University Press.

Lyotard, Jean- François, (2010), ‘Answering the Question: What Is Postmodernism?’, Philosophers on Art from Kant to the Postmodernists: A Critical Reader, edited by Christopher Kul-Want, pp. 237–49. New York: Columbia University Press.

Lyotard, Jean-François, (1994), Lessons on the Analytic of the Sublime: Kant’s Critique of Judgment, [Sections] 23-29, Meridian. Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press.

Lyotard, Jean-François, (1991), The Inhuman: Reflections on Time, Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.

Lyotard, Jean-Francois, (1988), The Differend: Phrases in Dispute, Manchester: Manchester Univ. Press.

Lyotard, Jean-François, (1984), The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge. Theory and History of Literature, v. 10, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Newman, Barnett, (1967), Now II. Acrylic on canvas. The Barnett Newman Foundation, New York/ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Newman, Barnett, (1948), Onement, I. Oil, canvas. Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York City, NY, US.

Zepke, Stephen, (2017) Sublime Art: Towards an Aesthetics of the Future, Crosscurrents. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.


Descripción: kant_ctk_TRANSPARENTE1.png

· University of Prešov, Faculty of Arts, Institute of Aesthetics and Art Culture; [email protected]

[1] References beginning with the volume number 5 are to the third Critique (Kant 2000).

[2] An important caveat is needed here. In what follows, I will refer uniquely to Kant’s conception of the sublime as presented in the Critique of the Power of Judgement, leaving aside both the account he proposes in the precritical work Observations and the theory of the sublime he elaborates in his practical philosophy, although these accounts have been surely influential for contemporary discussions.


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