Institut Jean Nicod

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The Sublime and Aesthetic Experiences

SublimAE (the Sublime and Aesthetic Experiences) seminar, in connection with SublimAE ANR project, will focus on the interdisciplinary study of Aesthetic Experiences with an eye to the sublime by bringing together philosophy, psychology, and social sciences. We will explore, on the one hand, how the experience of the sublime connects to other similar or contrast experiences (the beautiful, terrible beauty, awe, wonder, the uncanny, …), and, on the other hand, the impact these experiences, and more specifically aesthetic ones, have on our representation of the self. The seminar will feature presentations by members of the project, as well as by invited speakers.


Venue : Virtual BigBlueButton room

Contact : Margherita Arcangeli, Jérôme Dokic

For the full programme click here.

Session 1

5 Octobre 2020, de 13h00 à 15h00
Frédérique de Vignemont (CNRS-IJN)
50 shades of affective coloring of perception


Many sensory experiences somehow involve an affective dimension in addition to their sensory dimension. The crucial question is at which level the affective dimension kicks in. According to a conservative account, sensory experiences give rise to emotions, desires, and evaluative judgments, but they themselves are not affectively loaded. However, it has been recently proposed that there may be more to sensory experiences than what the conservatives assume, including evaluative content. It may then be that some sensory experiences can be endowed with features that are normally distinctive of emotional experiences.

Here I examine what it would require for visual experiences to have an affective phenomenal character. The objective of this paper is relatively modest. It is to draw the map of the various theoretical paths that a theory of affective perception could take. I will organize it around two main issues :

(i) Where is valence in perception ? In content ? In attitude ? Or in both ?

(ii) What is the relationship between the sensory and the affective components ?

We shall see that each path is filled with obstacles. Not only can one question whether visual content can represent evaluative properties, but even if it could, it is not clear that this would be sufficient for visual experiences to be affectively-loaded. Without affective mental paint, the affective phenomenology of our visual experiences might remain quite blend. The challenge then becomes almost artistic : how to blend affective and sensory mental paints ? What colour will it give rise to ?

Session 2

16 novembre 2020, de 13h00 à 15h00
Nicole Hall (Postdoctoral researcher, Philosophy, Texas A&M University)
On the Cusp of the Sublime : Environmental and Artistic Sublimity

Session 3

23 novembre, de 17h00 à 19h00
Jerrold Levinson (University of Maryland)
Musical Sublimity

Session 4

7 décembre, de 13h00 à 15h00
Pascal Engel (EHESS, CRAL)
Le mélo sublime : Douglas Sirk


Le mélodrame hollywoodien semble relever du kitsch. Mais Douglas Sirk l’a elevé jusqu’au sublime. Sirk est le créateur d’un genre dont il est l’un des rares représentants, par des films en apparence sentimentaux mais en réalité d’une subtile ironie, qui réussit à la fois à mimer le sublime et à le réaliser en acte.