The sublime has been long understood to mean a quality of greatness that inspires awe and wonder from the 17th century onwards. The concept and the emotions it inspires have been a source of inspiration for artists and writers, particularly in relation to the natural landscape.
Today the word is used for the most ordinary reasons, for a ‘sublime’ bottle of wine or a ‘sublime’ evening. In the history of ideas it had a deeper meaning.
The art of the sublime was often suggested that it had started with Edmund Burkes philosophical enquiry (1757).
His theory is that normally we hate being made to feel small and insignificant but these experiences are to be important and rather wonderful. To explain what he meant, he developed the idea of the sublime in a book called ‘A Philosophical Enquiry Into the Origin Of Our Ideas Of The Sublime And The Beautiful’.
In my lecture we also looked at videos on Hegel, Nietzsche and Derrida who share similar views on the sublime and basically say to look behind the obvious.
If you’d like to look more into this there are some interesting videos on the school of life website on philosophy and on the tate website.