Volume 1, 2018
Aesthetics and Philosophies of Art
The Sublimity of Alien Space
Aesthetics of the Unknown
In his analysis of the concept of home the geographer Yi-Fu Tuan makes the distinction between homeplace, home space, and alien space. Subsequently, he relates the different living spaces to different kinds of aesthetic experience. Alien space, representing the remote regions of unknown, even hostile environment, is connected with the aesthetic category of the sublime. According to Tuan, reports by adventurous explorers of extreme environments, disclose a mixture of ambivalent feelings, most appropriately described as sublime. Using Tuan’s conception of alien space as a point of departure, the paper sets out to explore some aspects of the aesthetic category of the sublime, especially as developed by Kant and Burke. The connecting of aesthetic experience to spaces, implying different degrees of homeliness, introduces an interesting perspective to the understanding of the sublime. By looking more closely into the conception of alien space, the aim of this paper is to show that Tuan’s proposal is able to throw some new light on the traditional concept of the sublime.