Journal of Indian Philosophy and Religion

Volume 6, October 2001

Kenneth Holmqvist, Jaroslaw Pluciennik
Pages 37-52

The Hebraic and the Indian Sublime from the Rhetoric Point of View

In Hegel's 'Aesthetics', one can find a strong distinction between the Hebraic, true sublimity and the Indian, positive sublime. The main thesis of our article is that, from the rhetorical and cognitive point of view, the two sublimities do not form an opposition, although from the theological point of view they do. In order to affirm the thesis, we briefly analyze the main figures of the sublime as presented in Pseudo-Longinos' 'On the Sublime' and the concept of the sublime in Kant. According to our theory of the sublime, the Lyotardian formula of the sublime as 'presenting the unpresentable' should be expressed as 'representing the unimaginable'. When we examine the main examples of the Hebraic and the Indian sublime, we can easily see that in both literary cultures we can find a strong mimetic element as well as antimimetic evocation of the unimaginable. We identify the mimetic element in the sublime texts not only with space seen in accord with Kant but also with 'mimesis of emotion' which is regarded as the main form of mimesis in the ancient Greek tradition, for instance in Plato.