Sensibility and the Sublime
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Philosophic attention shifted after Hegel from Kant s emphasis on sensibility to criticism and analyses of the fine arts. The arts themselves seemed as ample as nature; a disciplined science could devote as much energy to one as the other. But then the arts began to splinter because of new technologies: photography displaced figurative painting; hearing recorded music reduced the interest in learning to play it. The firm interiority that Hegel assumed was undermined by the speed, mechanization, and distractions of modern life. We inherit two problems: restore quality and conviction in the arts; cultivate the interiority the sensibility that is a condition for judgment in every domain. What is sensibility s role in experiences of every sort, but especially those provoked when art is made and enjoyed?"
about craft, style, and practice, and wide acquaintance with examples of an art. Valuation: The first three axes are continuous between extremes; this one has a point of least action—valuational neutrality—lying between them. Things encountered are more or less approved. One behavioral measure of approval is the quantity of resistance (material or psychological) one need overcome to affirm a valuation. How far would you go, what would you pay to see paintings by Lucian Freud or Veronese; would
we know the ampliative modes: teaching them doesn’t make people creative, though it does demystify the work they do. Artists learn a style’s rules by seeing or hearing work that embodies them; they play with form after discerning its plasticity: Scarlatti and Chopin altered musical expectations while using the standard keyboards of their time. We ascribe inventiveness to imagination, invoking Kant to explain the difference between associative memory and productive imagination. Minds use
hear a work or see a design against the backdrop of possibilities known to the artist. Educated perceivers comprehend a work’s form; artists know it to be a variant of many that were possible. Musicians who played or sang when famed composers directed performances of their work describe them as deeply moved. Listeners, too, were affected, but were they listening to or for the same things? The composer gloried in his success, still feeling weeks and hours of struggle and fatigue. He likely
music. Literature might have claimed this same advantage—words can express unrealized possibilities of many sorts—though it rarely loses touch with human concerns. Would it be advantageous if every art were liberated from its material references? Descartes made geometry algebraic; Point and Line to Plane proposes geometry (or rubber sheet topology) as the model for painting. Kandinsky lagged behind Descartes by a step, but the effect is similar: both sublime thought from materiality. Doing this
and aesthetic delight. Character is the steady-state achieved when viable skills and attitudes have formed. Having progressed from inner to outer, intense feeling to testable judgments, we know how to sustain viable relations to people and things that are life-sustaining or -enhancing: a partner, a job, or the sources of aesthetic pleasure. This stance—call it cognitiveaffective posture110—is complex because it embodies affective inclinations and cognitive skills pertinent to practical life,