Dear Lars and Other Emotional,
Before Kant, it was Edmund Burke's that first treated the subject in 1757 “A
Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and the
From the begining of part II availble at
“The passion caused by the great and sublime in nature, when those causes
operate most powerfully, is astonishment: and astonishment is that state of
the soul in which all its motions are suspended, with some degree of horror.
In this case the mind is so entirely filled with its object, that it cannot
entertain any other, nor by consequence reason on that object which employs
it. Hence arises the great power of the sublime, that, far from being
produced by them, it anticipates our reasonings, and hurries us on by an
irresistible force. Astonishment, as I have said, is the effect of the
sublime in its highest degree; the inferior effects are admiration,
reverence, and respect.”
The sublime is something external that causes an emotion: astonishment (I
like the "mind unable to entertain any other object". that often happens
when you see coffee machines working properly). Burke is considered one of
the first Romanticist Theorist (bolder guys than I would say that
Romanticists were the first Emotional Theorists)
Curious enough is the contemporary existence of Hogarth's 1753 treatise "On
Beauty" totally Rococo, theoryzing the hypersensuality of the times.
Emotional "reasoning" was really going on. In Germany 1750 and 1757,
Alexander Baumgarten published his two volumes Aesthetica inventing the
word as a scientia cognitionis sensitivae.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Lars Albinsson" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Monday, May 18, 2009 9:50 AM
Subject: SV: Emotional Theory Re: Online judgment of aesthetics
Thanks Don for his thoughts, also on the "citing business".
I guess Kant may then be a "great" reference, even from the early,
"Tall oaks and lonely shadows in a sacred grove are sublime. Flower beds,
low hedges and trees trimmed in figures are beautiful. Night is sublime, day
is beautiful. Temperaments that possess a feeling for the sublime are drawn
gradually, by the quiet stillness of a summer evening as the shimmering
light of stars breaks through the brown shadows of night and the lonely moon
rises into view, into high feelings of friendship, of disdain for the world,
of eternity…the sublime moves, the beautiful charms…"
Kant, I. (1960). Observations on the feeling of the beautiful and sublime.
Berkeley,: University of California Press.
PS: This discussion also revokes memories of the 80ies and the "Turing test"
for artificial intelligence. (A computer would be considered intelligent if
a human interacting with it could not decide whether she was interacting
with a human or a computer). I remember a researcher that stated in an
internet forum (yes, there were such way before the web): "On Monday
mornings I wouldn't pass the Turing test".
Perhaps there are those that appreciate the aesthetics of the web site
better than their own judgment and that a market of competing aesthetics
sites could develop, much like the market for magazines on interiors
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Från: PhD-Design - This list is for discussion of PhD studies and related
research in Design [mailto:[log in to unmask]] För Don Norman
Skickat: den 18 maj 2009 01:09
Till: [log in to unmask]
Ämne: Re: Emotional Theory Re: Online judgment of aesthetics
I am pleased to say that the flurry of recent posts have been delightful. I
agree with them all, even those that state they are disagreeing with me.
As Chris says, the technical mathematics and programming of that nasty
computer program may be fine, but their understanding of the phenomena they
claim to be studying is incredibly flawed.
Did I stop Chris cold with citations? Hey -- the secret weapon! We don't
need silver bullets, wooden stakes, or magical incantations: just find some
random citations and throw them. Anywhere -- just throw. Hell, it works
wonders on promotion committees as well. Oh, if you cite my papers I will
cite yours -- that is how we boos our citation count, which is what
promotion is about. It isn’t about great work, important findings or
anything like that, it is like that emotion program: just give me the
And Terry is absolutely correct in stating that we are trying to fit the
square pegs of old-fashioned emotion terms into the round holes of
contemporary society, design, and life. Yes, Ortony, Clore and Collins
struggled in their book with terminology. That book is old and barely
surviving. But Engineers love it because they can program to it. It doesn’t
matter whether or not they understand it -- what matters is that it is easy
to write a program following it.
The problem is that we don’t have new terms to replace the old. Actually all
fields suffer when they try to use a term already in the popular vocabulary
to mean something precise and technical. Even new terms do not fare well:
look at the horrible misconceptions that have arisen trying to maintain the
purity of the concept of "affordance." (I just wrote an article using the
word and the editor rejected it, saying "can't you think of a different word
for this?" No, said I, in a hurt tone of voice, well, in a hurt tone of
As for the sublime, I don't count that as an emotion. She was sublime? I am
sublime? I am sublimed with her. At her? By her? Instead of her?
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