§ 25.: Explanation of the term “ sublime ” - Immanuel Kant, The Critique of Judgement 
Kant’s Critique of Judgement, translated with Introduction and Notes by J.H. Bernard (2nd ed. revised) (London: Macmillan, 1914).
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- Editor’s Introduction
- I.: Of the Division of Philosophy
- II.: Of the Realm of Philosophy In General
- III.: Of the Critique of Judgement As a Means of Combining the Two Parts of Philosophy Into a Whole.
- IV.: Of Judgement As a Faculty Legislating a Priori
- V.: The Principle of the Formal Purposiveness of Nature Is a Transcendental Principle of Judgement.
- VI.: Of the Combination of the Feeling of Pleasure With the Concept of the Purposiveness of Nature.
- VII.: Of the Aesthetical Representation of the Purposiveness of Nature.
- VIII.: Of the Logical Representation of the Purposiveness of Nature
- IX.: Of the Connexion of the Legislation of Understanding With That of Reason By Means of the Judgement
- Part I: Critique of the Aesthetical Judgement
- First Division: Analytic of the Aesthetical Judgement
- First Book: Analytic of the Beautiful
- First Moment: of the Judgement of Taste 1 According to Quality
- § 1.: The Judgement of Taste Is Aesthetical
- § 2.: The Satisfaction Which Determines the Judgement of Taste Is Disinterested
- § 3.: The Satisfaction In the Pleasant Is Bound Up With Interest
- § 4.: The Satisfaction In the Good Is Bound Up With Interest
- § 5.: Comparison of the Three Specifically Different Kinds of Satisfaction
- Explanation of the Beautiful Resulting From the First Moment
- Second Moment: of the Judgement of Taste, Viz. According to Quantity
- § 6.: The Beautiful Is That Which Apart From Concepts Is Represented As the Object of a Universal Satisfaction
- § 7.: Comparison of the Beautiful With the Pleasant and the Good By Means of the Above Characteristic
- § 8.: The Universality of the Satisfaction Is Represented In a Judgement of Taste Only As Subjective
- § 9.: Investigation of the Question Whether In the Judgement of Taste the Feeling of Pleasure Precedes Or Follows the Judging of the Object
- Explanation of the Beautiful Resulting From the Second Moment
- Third Moment: of Judgements of Taste, According to the Relation of the Purposes Which Are Brought Into Consideration Therein.
- § 10.: Of Purposiveness In General
- § 11.: The Judgement of Taste Has Nothing At Its Basis But the Form of the Purposiveness of an Object ( Or of Its Mode of Representation )
- § 12.: The Judgement of Taste Rests On a Priori Grounds
- § 13.: The Pure Judgement of Taste Is Independent of Charm and Emotion
- § 14.: Elucidation By Means of Examples
- § 15.: The Judgement of Taste Is Quite Independent of the Concept of Perfection
- § 16.: The Judgement of Taste, By Which an Object Is Declared to Be Beautiful Under the Condition of a Definite Concept, Is Not Pure
- § 17.: Of the Ideal of Beauty
- Explanation of the Beautiful Derived From This Third Moment
- Fourth Moment: of the Judgement of Taste, According to the Modality of the Satisfaction In the Object
- § 18.: What the Modality In a Judgement of Taste Is
- § 19.: The Subjective Necessity, Which We Ascribe to the Judgement of Taste, Is Conditioned
- § 20.: The Condition of Necessity Which a Judgement of Taste Asserts Is the Idea of a Common Sense
- § 21.: Have We Ground For Presupposing a Common Sense?
- § 22.: The Necessity of the Universal Agreement That Is Thought In a Judgement of Taste Is a Subjective Necessity, Which Is Represented As Objective Under the Presupposition of a Common Sense
- Explanation of the Beautiful Resulting From the Fourth Moment
- General Remark On the First Section of the Analytic
- Second Book: Analytic of the Sublime
- § 23.: Transition From the Faculty Which Judges of the Beautiful to That Which Judges of the Sublime
- § 24.: Of the Divisions of an Investigation Into the Feeling of the Sublime
- A.: — of the Mathematically Sublime
- § 25.: Explanation of the Term “ Sublime ”
- § 26.: Of That Estimation of the Magnitude of Natural Things Which Is Requisite For the Idea of the Sublime
- § 27.: Of the Quality of the Satisfaction In Our Judgements Upon the Sublime
- B.: — of the Dynamically Sublime In Nature
- § 28.: Of Nature Regarded As Might
- § 29.: Of the Modality of the Judgement Upon the Sublime In Nature
- General Remark Upon the Exposition of the Aesthetical Reflective Judgement
- Deduction of [pure 1 ] Aesthetical Judgements
- § 30.: The Deduction of Aesthetical Judgements On the Objects of Nature Must Not Be Directed to What We Call Sublime In Nature, But Only to the Beautiful.
- § 31.: Of the Method of Deduction of Judgements of Taste
- § 32.: First Peculiarity of the Judgement of Taste
- § 33.: Second Peculiarity of the Judgement of Taste
- § 34.: There Is No Objective Principle of Taste Possible
- § 35.: The Principle of Taste Is the Subjective Principle of Judgement In General
- § 36.: Of the Problem of a Deduction of Judgements of Taste
- § 37.: What Is Properly Asserted a Priori of an Object In a Judgement of Taste
- § 38.: Deduction of Judgements of Taste
- § 39.: Of the Communicability of a Sensation
- § 40.: Of Taste As a Kind of Sensus Communis
- § 41.: Of the Empirical Interest In the Beautiful
- § 42.: Of the Intellectual Interest In the Beautiful
- § 43.: Of Art In General
- § 44.: Of Beautiful Art
- § 45.: Beautiful Art Is an Art, In So Far As It Seems Like Nature
- § 46.: Beautiful Art Is the Art of Genius
- § 47.: Elucidation and Confirmation of the Above Explanation of Genius
- § 48.: Of the Relation of Genius to Taste
- § 49.: Of the Faculties of the Mind That Constitute Genius
- § 50.: Of the Combination of Taste With Genius In the Products of Beautiful Art
- § 51.: Of the Division of the Beautiful Arts
- § 52.: Of the Combination of Beautiful Arts In One and the Same Product
- § 53.: Comparison of the Respective Aesthetical Worth of the Beautiful Arts
- § 54.: Remark
- Second Division: Dialectic of the Aesthetical Judgement
- § 55: § 56.
- § 57.: Solution of the Antinomy of Taste
- § 58.: Of the Idealism of the Purposiveness of Both Nature and Art As the Unique Principle of the Aesthetical Judgement.
- § 59.: Of Beauty As the Symbol of Morality
- § 60.: Of the Method of Taste
- Part II: Critique of the Teleological Judgement
- § 61.: Of the Objective Purposiveness of Nature
- First Division: Analytic of the Teleological Judgement
- § 62.: Of the Objective Purposiveness Which Is Merely Formal As Distinguished From That Which Is Material
- § 63.: Of the Relative, As Distinguished From the Inner, Purposiveness of Nature
- § 64.: Of the Peculiar Character of Things As Natural Purposes
- § 65.: Things Regarded As Natural Purposes Are Organised Beings
- § 66.: Of the Principle of Judging of Internal Purposiveness In Organised Beings
- § 67.: Of the Principle of the Teleological Judging of Nature In General As a System of Purposes
- § 68.: Of the Principle of Teleology As Internal Principle of Natural Science
- Second Division
- Dialectic of the Teleological Judgement
- § 69.: What Is an Antinomy of the Judgement?
- § 70.: Representation of This Antinomy
- § 71.: Preliminary to the Solution of the Above Antinomy
- § 72.: Of the Different Systems Which Deal With the Purposiveness of Nature
- § 73.: None of the Above Systems Give What They Pretend
- § 74.: The Reason That We Cannot Treat the Concept of a Technic of Nature Dogmatically Is the Fact That a Natural Purpose Is Inexplicable
- § 75.: The Concept of an Objective Purposiveness of Nature Is a Critical Principle of Reason For the Reflective Judgement
- § 76.: Remark
- § 77.: Of the Peculiarity of the Human Understanding, By Means of Which the Concept of a Natural Purpose Is Possible
- § 78.: Of the Union of the Principle of the Universal Mechanism of Matter With the Teleological Principle In the Technic of Nature.
- § 79.: Whether Teleology Must Be Treated As If It Belonged to the Doctrine of Nature
- § 80.: Of the Necessary Subordination of the Mechanical to the Teleological Principle In the Explanation of a Thing As a Natural Purpose.
- § 81.: Of the Association of Mechanism With the Teleological Principle In the Explanation of a Natural Purpose As a Natural Product.
- § 82.: Of the Teleological System In the External Relations of Organised Beings
- § 83.: Of the Ultimate Purpose of Nature As a Teleological System
- § 84.: Of the Final Purpose of the Existence of a World, I.E. Of Creation Itself
- § 85.: Of Physico-theology
- § 86.: Of Ethico-theology
- § 87.: Of the Moral Proof of the Being of God
- § 88.: Limitation of the Validity of the Moral Proof
- § 89.: Of the Use of the Moral Argument
- § 90.: Of the Kind of Belief In a Teleological Proof of the Being of God
- § 91.: Of the Kind of Belief Produced By a Practical Faith
Explanation of the term “sublime”
We call that sublime which is absolutely great. But to be great, and to be a great something are quite different concepts (magnitudo and quantitas). In like manner to say simply (simpliciter) that anything is great is quite different from saying that it is absolutely great (absolute, non comparative magnum). The latter is what is great beyond all comparison.— What now is meant by the expression that anything is great or small or of medium size? It is not a pure concept of Understanding that is thus signified; still less is it an intuition of Sense, and just as little is it a concept of Reason, because it brings with it no principle of cognition. It must therefore be a concept of Judgement or derived from one; and a subjective purposiveness of the representation in reference to the Judgement must lie at its basis. That anything is a magnitude (quantum) may be cognised from the thing itself, without any comparison of it with other things; viz. if there is a multiplicity of the homogeneous constituting one thing. But to cognise how great it is always requires some other magnitude as a measure. But because the judging of magnitude depends not merely on multiplicity (number), but also on the magnitude of the unit (the measure), and since, to judge of the magnitude of this latter again requires another as measure with which it may be compared, we see that the determination of the magnitude of phenomena can supply no absolute concept whatever of magnitude, but only a comparative one.
If now I say simply that anything is great, it appears that I have no comparison in view, at least none with an objective measure; because it is thus not determined at all how great the object is. But although the standard of comparison is merely subjective, yet the judgement none the less claims universal assent; “this man is beautiful,” and “he is tall,” are judgements not limited merely to the judging subject, but, like theoretical judgements, demanding the assent of every one.
In a judgement by which anything is designated simply as great, it is not merely meant that the object has a magnitude, but that this magnitude is superior to that of many other objects of the same kind, without, however, any exact determination of this superiority. Thus there is always at the basis of our judgement a standard which we assume as the same for every one; this, however, is not available for any logical (mathematically definite) judging of magnitude, but only for aesthetical judging of the same, because it is a merely subjective standard lying at the basis of the reflective judgement upon magnitude. It may be empirical, as, e.g. the average size of the men known to us, of animals of a certain kind, trees, houses, mountains, etc. Or it may be a standard given a priori, which through the defects of the judging subject is limited by the subjective conditions of presentation in concreto; as, e.g. in the practical sphere, the greatness of a certain virtue, or of the public liberty and justice in a country; or, in the theoretical sphere, the greatness of the accuracy or the inaccuracy of an observation or measurement that has been made, etc.
Here it is remarkable that, although we have no interest whatever in an Object,—i.e. its existence is indifferent to us,—yet its mere size, even if it is considered as formless, may bring a satisfaction with it that is universally communicable, and that consequently involves the consciousness of a subjective purposiveness in the use of our cognitive faculty. This is not indeed a satisfaction in the Object (because it may be formless), as in the case of the Beautiful, in which the reflective Judgement finds itself purposively determined in reference to cognition in general; but [a satisfaction] in the extension of the Imagination by itself.
If (under the above limitation) we say simply of an object “it is great,” this is no mathematically definite judgement but a mere judgement of reflection upon the representation of it, which is subjectively purposive for a certain use of our cognitive powers in the estimation of magnitude; and we always then bind up with the representation a kind of respect, as also a kind of contempt for what we simply call “small.” Further, the judging of things as great or small extends to everything, even to all their characteristics; thus we describe beauty as great or small. The reason of this is to be sought in the fact that whatever we present in intuition according to the precept of the Judgement (and thus represent aesthetically) is always a phenomenon and thus a quantum.
But if we call anything not only great, but absolutely great in every point of view (great beyond all comparison), i.e. sublime, we soon see that it is not permissible to seek for an adequate standard of this outside itself, but merely in itself. It is a magnitude which is like itself alone. It follows hence that the sublime is not to be sought in the things of nature, but only in our Ideas; but in which of them it lies must be reserved for the Deduction.
The foregoing explanation can be thus expressed: the sublime is that in comparison with which everything else is small. Here we easily see that nothing can be given in nature, however great it is judged by us to be, which could not if considered in another relation be reduced to the infinitely small; and conversely there is nothing so small, which does not admit of extension by our Imagination to the greatness of a world, if compared with still smaller standards. Telescopes have furnished us with abundant material for making the first remark, microscopes for the second. Nothing, therefore, which can be an object of the senses, is, considered on this basis, to be called sublime. But because there is in our Imagination a striving towards infinite progress, and in our Reason a claim for absolute totality, regarded as a real Idea, therefore this very inadequateness for that Idea in our faculty for estimating the magnitude of things of sense, excites in us the feeling of a supersensible faculty. And it is not the object of sense, but the use which the Judgement naturally makes of certain objects on behalf of this latter feeling, that is absolutely great; and in comparison every other use is small. Consequently it is the state of mind produced by a certain representation with which the reflective Judgement is occupied, and not the Object, that is to be called sublime.
We may therefore append to the preceding formulas explaining the sublime this other: the sublime is that, the mere ability to think which, shows a faculty of the mind surpassing every standard of Sense.