Hamilton, "The Sublime: History of an Education"

The 'sublime', taken as an aesthetic category originating in Kant’s third Kritik, but by no means terminating there, has been read in strikingly symptomatic ways by late 20th-century theory. To review these different interpretations or uses of its antinomial structure is to appreciate the sublime’s continuing life in the ways in which we think the integrity, limitations and motivations of our contemporary intellectual procedures. This paper tries both to show the varieties of this ongoing education, and then to ask questions about the place of the originally aesthetic function of the sublime which these utilitarian expansions of it seem to entail. This essay appears in _The Sublime and Education_, a volume of _Romantic Circles Praxis Series_, prepared exclusively for Romantic Circles (http://www.rc.umd.edu/), University of Maryland.