“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Against the Technological Sublime

Can't You Feel the Grandeur?

...this is a not-well-written piece in Next Nature, which I look at from time to time (though this time HT David Roden). 

No distinction is drawn between Longinus, Burke, and Kant: and believe me those guys are profoundly different. The main difference being that the Burkean and Kantian sublimes are correlationist, while the Longinian is speculative. 

Because no meaningful distinction is drawn, the piece skews towards an empirical sublime: alias the Burkean one. On this view, the sublime is the power of nature to be grand, or the power of technology to manipulate.

The Burkean sublime is the George Bush sublime: shock and awe. Being crushed by POWER.

Against this, the Kantian is infinitely preferable: unconditional freedom.

It looks like Next Nature is trying to bomb us back to a pre-Kantian age, disguised as transhumanism (or whatever).

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