Modernity and Civilization

  • John JervisEmail author


‘Civilization’ enters the self-image of the modern West as an emergent property of an aesthetic community, to which the art object (painting, novel) itself belongs. Enlightenment and sensibility come together in a relation between judgement, feeling and imagination, whereby the gap between subject and object, self and other, can in principle be bridged, implying a reflexive awareness of involvement, just as there are risks posed by this, in a ‘sentimental’ excess of feeling, imaginative over-identification, and manipulative individualism. As a result, ‘civilization’ may be defined through the moral codes that rationalize the cultural repression of natural impulses, or conversely civilization may simply be seen as exhibiting the diversity of culture beyond nature, its ‘difference’. The body emerges as always potentially abject, just as mind becomes either the route to its transcendence (‘reason’), or projected into nature as sublime, as the encompassing other—returning us to the notion of an aesthetic community.


Civilization Aesthetics Sensibility Judgement Imagination Sublime 

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of KentCanterburyUK

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