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This Element considers Kant's account of the sublime in the context of his predecessors both in the Anglophone and German rationalist traditions. Since Kant says with evident endorsement that 'we call sublime that which is absolutely great' (Critique of the Power of Judgment, 5:248) and nothing in nature can in fact be absolutely great (it can only figure as such, in certain presentations), Kant concludes that strictly speaking what is sublime can only be the human calling (Bestimmung) to perfect our rational capacity according to the standard of virtue that is thought through the moral law. The Element takes account of the difference between respect and admiration as the two main varieties of sublime feeling, and concludes by considering the role of Stoicism in Kant's account of the sublime, particularly through the channel of Seneca.
There can be no doubt that Kant thought we should be reflective: we ought to care to make up our own minds about how things are and what is worth doing. Philosophical objections to the Kantian reflective ideal have centred on concerns about the excessive control that the reflective person is supposed to exert over their own mental life, and Kantians who feel the force of these objections have recently drawn attention to Kant's conception of moral virtue as it is developed in his later work, chiefly the Metaphysics of Morals. Melissa Merritt's book is a distinctive contribution to this recent turn to virtue in Kant scholarship. Merritt argues that we need a clearer, and textually more comprehensive, account of what reflection is, in order not only to understand Kant's account of virtue, but also to appreciate how it effectively rebuts long-standing objections to the Kantian reflective ideal.