The Religiohistorical Sublime

Daniel Gold

in Aesthetics and Analysis in Writing on Religion

Published by University of California Press

Published in print June 2003 | ISBN: 9780520236134
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520929517 | DOI:
The Religiohistorical Sublime

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This chapter explores some reasons for the characteristic aesthetic appeal of interpretive writing on religion, examining the dynamics of individual works as well as the roles played by the fresh perspectives offered by a collective science of religions. The excitement elicited by interpretive writers is of a distinctive aesthetic genre, generated by a characteristic dynamic between the intellectual structures and imaginative resonances of individual works. Interpretive writers are fascinated by the stuff of religious life, which appeals to their imaginations, but their scientific sides also make them prone to rational analysis. Kant explored the play between imagination and reason at length. This leads to his aesthetic theory, and the characteristic aesthetic of interpretive writing elaborated in this chapter turns out to be a version of Kant's sublime, which speaks to basic issues of individual perception and response. Aesthetic response, for Kant, is located in the interrelationship between two kinds of human psychological faculties: imagination, which appeals to our senses; and the faculties of the intellect, which include understanding and reason.

Keywords: aesthetic appeal; interpretive writing; sublime; religious life; Kant

Chapter.  9707 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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