Theory of the Dynamic Sublime

  • Jaan Valsiner
Part of the SpringerBriefs in Psychology book series (BRIEFSPSYCHOL)


In the chapter the focus on the process of affective transcending of their mundane lives and—simultaneously—finding such self-constructed acts of invention affectively overwhelming, are viewed as the key features of sensuality. This leads to the construction of the sublime that philosophers from eighteenth century onwards have tried to understand. The dynamic moves between the mundane and the sublime do not necessarily cross the border to the post-sublime domain. They remain episodic encounters with the awesome—turned into one or another form of hyper-generalization (grotesque, humor) for their returns to the mundane domain. The zone of the sublime is where most solutions for problems in the everyday life are being contemplated. Religious institutions of all varieties have skillfully set up specific places for support for these moves—in the forms of sacred rivers and forests, temples, synagogues, churches, and other shrines. Our secularized societies add to these art museums, concert halls, movie theatres, tourist spots, restaurants, schools, psychotherapists’ offices, and saunas. Persons are expected to navigate out of their everyday life contexts of home to encounter places that support their entrance into the zone of sublime—for subsequent return to the ordinary life. In that process the pleromatic generalization pathway leads the schematization processes, with hyper-generalized affective meaning fields providing solutions for the mundane issues. Not only are affective processes primary in the human mind, but their hierarchical integration leads us to understand the seemingly paradoxical unity of love and violence in any of our societies, and within the minds. This chapter gives the historical and philosophical background to the rest of the book.


Affect Sublime humor Grotesque Aesthetics Mundane 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jaan Valsiner
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Psychologie and CommunicationAalborg UniversitetAalborgDenmark
  2. 2.Sigmund Freud PrivätUniversitet-WienWienAustria

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