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Finite Agents, Sublime Feelings: Response to Hanauer

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Tom Hanauer's thoughtful discussion of my article “The Pleasures of Contra‐purposiveness: Kant, the Sublime, and Being Human” (2014) puts pressure on two important issues concerning the affective phenomenology of the sublime. My aim in that article was to present an analysis of the sublime that does not suffer from the problems identified by Jane Forsey in “Is a Theory of the Sublime Possible?” (2007). I argued that Kant's notion of reflective judgment can help with this task, because it allows us to capture the experience of failure that characterizes the sublime without committing us to ontologically transcendent items. In a significant departure from Kant, however, my account does not require references to our moral vocation to explain the pleasure we take in the sublime; the pleasure comes from getting the right measure of our agency. For Hanauer, trouble for my analysis comes both from the discursive presentation of the sublime, its focus on judgment, and from the removal of references to our moral vocation.
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Document Type: Discussion

Publication date: April 1, 2016

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