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Immanuel Kant ( ) Theory of Aesthetics

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Presentation on theme: "Immanuel Kant ( ) Theory of Aesthetics"— Presentation transcript:

1 Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) Theory of Aesthetics
Kant is an 18th century German philosopher whose work initiated dramatic changes in philosophy. As an “Enlightenment” thinker, he holds our mental faculty of reason in high esteem. He believes that it is our reason that invests the world we experience with structure. He believes that it is the “faculty of judgment” that enables us to have experience of beauty and grasp those experiences as part of an ordered, natural world with purpose.”

2 The Central Problems of “The Critique of Judgment”
Kant defines “judgment” as the “subsumption” of a particular under a universal. The faculty of understanding is that which supplies concepts (universals), and reason is that which draws inferences (constructs syllogisms, for example), Then judgment 'mediates' between the understanding and reason by allowing individual acts of subsumption to occur.

3 The distinction between determinate and reflective judgments I
In the determinate judgment, the concept is sufficient to “determine” the particular The concept contains sufficient information for the identification of any particular instance of it. The reflective judgment is a more difficult philosophical issue because The judgment has to proceed without a concept, sometimes in order to form a new concept.

4 The distinction between determinate and reflective judgments II
Kant’s conundrum: How could a judgment take place without a prior concept? That is: How are new concepts formed? And are there judgments that neither begin nor end with determinate concepts?

5 Kant's Aesthetics The Judgment of the Beautiful I
The Critique of Judgment begins with an account of beauty. Kant argues that such aesthetic judgments (or 'judgments of taste') must have four key distinguishing features. First, they are disinterested – we take pleasure in something because we judge it beautiful rather than the other way around. If we judge something pleasurable because it is beautiful, it is more like the judgment of what is agreeable.

6 Kant's Aesthetics The Judgment of the Beautiful II & III
Second and third, such judgments are both universal and necessary. We may say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but that’s not how we act. There is no objective property of a thing that makes it beautiful. For Kant necessity and universality are a product of features of the human mind – what he calls “common sense”

7 Kant's Aesthetics The Judgment of the Beautiful IV
Fourth, through aesthetic judgments, beautiful objects appear to be 'purposive without purpose‘ An object’s purpose is the concept according to which it was made Beautiful objects should affect us as though they have a purpose, although no particular purpose can be found.

8 Kant differs from Hume I
The key ideas for Hume were: (i) There is a definite human nature -- thus beauty could, within limits, be universal in scope; (ii) Beautiful objects [and our responses to them] involved sense or feeling, and were not cognitive; (iii) Any 'natural' responses to beauty were generally overlaid by individual and communal experiences, habits and customs.

9 Kant differs from Hume II
Hume’s main disagreement with rationalist thought on aesthetics was in the second of these ideas. (ii) Beautiful objects [and our responses to them] involved sense or feeling, and were not cognitive Kant believed that there was a basic distinction between intuitive or sensible presentations and the conceptual or rational on the other.

10 Kant: 'how are judgments about beauty possible‘ I
The First Moment: Aesthetic judgments are disinterested. Interest = a link to real desire and action There are two types of interest: by way of sensations in the agreeable and by way of concepts in the good. Only aesthetic judgment is free or pure of any such interests. Even more: the existence of the beautiful object is irrelevant. Kant is founder of “Formalist Aesthetics”

11 Kant: 'how are judgments about beauty possible‘ IIa
The Second Moment: Aesthetic judgments behave universally They involve an expectation or claim on the agreement of others – just 'as if' beauty were a real property of the object judged.

12 Kant: 'how are judgments about beauty possible‘ IIb
“I at least implicitly demand universality in the name of taste.” The way that my aesthetic judgments 'behave' is key evidence here: that is, I tend to see disagreement as involving error somewhere, rather than agreement as involving mere coincidence. Being reflective judgments, aesthetic judgments of taste have no adequate concept (at least to begin with), and therefore can only behave as if they were objective. Introduces the concept of “free play” of our cognitive faculties to help explain this.

13 Kant: 'how are judgments about beauty possible‘ IIIa
The Third Moment: purpose and purposiveness An object's purpose is the concept according to which it was manufactured; Kant claims that the beautiful has to be understood as purposive, but without any definite purpose. [definite purpose = external or internal – meant to do vs. be like. Kant argues that beauty is equivalent neither to utility nor perfection, but is still purposive.

14 Kant: 'how are judgments about beauty possible‘ IIIb
Beauty in nature, then, will appear as purposive with respect to our faculty of judgment, but its beauty will have no ascertainable purpose. Indeed, this is why beauty is pleasurable.

15 Kant: 'how are judgments about beauty possible‘ IV
The Fourth Moment: Aesthetic Judgments as being 'necessary' ‘necessary' effectively means, 'according to principle'. [SEE HIS ETHICS] Everyone must assent to my judgment, because it follows from this principle. But this necessity is of a peculiar sort: it is 'exemplary' and 'conditioned'.

16 The Deduction of Taste I
Kant argues that judgment itself, as a faculty, has a fundamental principle that governs it. This principle asserts the purposiveness of all phenomena with respect to our judgment. This is because the beautiful draws particular attention to its purposiveness; but also because the beautiful has no concept of a purpose available, so that we cannot just apply a concept and be done with it.

17 The Deduction of Taste II
He is arguing that the kinds of 'cognition' (i.e. thinking) characteristic of the contemplation of the beautiful are not, in fact, all that different from ordinary cognition about things in the world. What’s he doing here? The key idea is that of a harmony among the faculties of cognition. The Judgment of Taste is important because it provides purposive without purpose, thus providing a model of that harmony.

18 The Sublime For Kant, the other basic type of aesthetic experience is the sublime. The sublime names experiences, like violent storms or huge buildings, which seem to overwhelm us. The problem for Kant here is that this experience seems to directly contradict the principle of the purposiveness of nature for our judgment. Kant's solution is that, in fact, the storm or the building is not the real object of the sublime at all. Instead, what is properly sublime are ideas of reason.

19 Fine Art and Genius Kant argues that art can be tasteful (that is, agree with aesthetic judgment) and yet be 'soulless' - lacking that certain something that would make it more than just an artificial version of a beautiful natural object. What provides soul in fine art is an aesthetic idea. It is the talent of genius to generate aesthetic ideas.

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