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Idealistic Studies

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published on August 21, 2018

Martin Donougho

Hegel’s Bathetic Sublime

Little attention has been paid to Hegel’s version of the sublime. I argue that the sublime plays a very marginal role in the Berlin lectures on aesthetics and on religion; in particular, Hegel ignores the “Romantic” sublime popular among his contemporaries. The sublime he locates in Persian poetry and more properly in Biblical Psalmody. After surveying his various articulations of the sublime, I turn to Hegel’s careful analysis of how the Psalms achieve their peculiar effects and note his focus on the “individual.” Paradoxically, while close to Romantic “subreption” (Kant’s term for subjective projection on objective world or word), their complex play with voice—and Hegel’s explication—both keep a safe distance, I contend. Turning finally to the question of anachronism and the sublime as a historical category, I suggest in a brief postscript how effects analogous to the Psalms’ rhetoric may nevertheless be detected in Terry Malick films.

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