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So here we are,  Dreyfus and me, hanging out on youtube (seriously, check out the interior of that tv-studio, it’s mental), trying to figure out if there is any way I can argue that the phenomenological novel is anti-humanist.  Neither youtube nor google offer any assistance, only opposition. But now I’m watching this and thinking maybe it doesn’t matter.

“Hegel is arguing that the reality is merely an a priori adjunct of non-naturalistic ethics, Kant via the categorical imperative is holding that ontologically it exists only in the imagination, and Marx is claiming it was offside.” Brilliant!

The sublime and the beautiful, as Schiller would have it, guides us from birth and through our dreary life.

So, I’m stuck with those damn Romantic poets again, which I find rather tedious (so full of feeling, so full of depth, so full of significance. It weighs too heavy on my psyche; I am choking on emotions and drowning in sensations). I could, possibly, really appreciate Blake because of the illustrations; they restore some sort of balance to my senses (and they keep me interested). One good thing however (as distraction, not for essay-writing) is that it gives me a convenient opportunity to indulge in the awe-inspiring, the moving, the transcendent, the admirable…the Sublime.

So here I am, hands-on with Kant and Burke and Scruton (always Scruton). I find Kant quite unreadable but his Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and the Sublime is fairly straight-forward and accessible. What a joy! And it was all going so very well. You know, I think I truly understand him, and it feels like he understands me.  Then the third chapter comes along. The chapter discussing the sexes.

“The fair sex has just as much understanding as the male, but it is a beautiful understanding, whereas ours should be a deep understanding, an expression that signifies identity with the sublime.” So basically, women like the decorative, trivial, delicate and charming, not the sublime. This is thanks to our so called beautiful understanding, which also helps us refrain from anything fundamentally, reasonably or principally useful. Descartes and Newton, planets and stars, geometry and geography, heroic battles and honorable Greeks concerns us not. “Deep meditation and a long-sustained reflection are noble but difficult, and do not well befit a person in whom unconstrained charms should show nothing else than a beautiful nature.”

In Kantian philosophy aesthetics and ethics are linked, as virtue is both morally and aesthetically beautiful. This is one of the reasons I like Kant, because he sees the beautiful and the sublime in human nature, and I need some of that because sometimes  (ok, most of the time) I lack a bit (ok, a lot) of that necessary faith in humanity. I am some sort of borderline misanthrope. But again, we women seem to have drawn the short straw and ended up with the beautiful qualities while men got the sublime.

“I hardly believe that the fair sex is capable of principles, and I hope by that not to offend, for these are also extremely rare in the male. But in place of it Providence has put in their breast kind and benevolent sensations, a fine feeling for propriety, and a complaisant soul.”

No offence Kant, but Providence can take its propriety and shove it. I will keep my principles thank you very much. Thank heavens then for Caspar David Friedrich , don’t you think? No sexism here is there? Yes, perhaps the man is facing  a more immediate danger, as in the terrifying sublime. But the sunrise is equally, if not more, sublime if you ask me. It actually seems to possess both qualities, the beautiful and the sublime; the splendid sublime – the two guides of life.

Wanderer above the Sea of Fog

Woman before the Rising Sun