Immanuel Kant

1724-1804

 

German philosopher of the Enlightenment (a movement that advocated rationality as a means to establish an authoritative system of ethics, aesthetics, and knowledge)

Kant's work served as a bridge between the Rationalist (human reason as source of all knowledge) and Empiricist (human knowledge comes from senses and experience) traditions of the 18th century

His Copernican Revolution introduced the human mind as an active originator of experience rather than just a passive recipient of perception

 

Kant’s major works:

Critique of Pure Reason (1781): Covering the good, it presents the mental forms that exist in the subject for any successful apprehension of the external world. These universals are implanted in every human being. Pure Reason deals with the physical world.

Critique of Practical Reason (1788): Covering the agreeable, it provides a universal foundation for morals. Practical Reason deals with nonphysical ideas.

Critique of Judgment (1790): Covering the beautiful, stresses that beauty is experienced through the senses, but points us beyond mere sensation. Beauty forms harmony within our dual human nature as free and physical beings, showing us that mind and world fit.

 

Detailed analysis of Critique of Judgment

§1.     Judgment of taste is aesthetic not cognitive, uses imagination not understanding, and lies in the subject only not the object itself.

§2.     Judgment of beauty is disinterested in the object’s existence.

§3.     Judgment of agreeable refers object to subject and to how it gratifies it.

§4.     Judgment of good depends on concept and purpose.

          Agreeable = senses, good = reason, purpose so both have interest in object.

§5.     Agreeable relates to stimuli, good is practical liking, beautiful is contemplative.

          Agreeable GRATIFIES us, beautiful we just LIKE, good we ESTEEM.

          Thus liking of taste for the beautiful is disinterested and free.

§23.  Beautiful vs. Sublime:

          Beautiful relates to understanding, sublime relates to reason.

          Sublime is violent to our imagination though we judge it for that to be sublime.

          The sublime cannot be contained in an object but concerns ideas of reason.

          It is in its chaos that nature mostly arouses feelings of the sublime in us.

§25.  Sublime is what even to be able to think of proves that the mind has a power surpassing any standard of taste.

§28.  Volcanoes and hurricanes are more attractive the more fearful they are.

          Irresistibility of nature’s might makes us recognize our physical impotence, but also reveals to us an ability to judge ourselves independent of nature, and reveals our superiority over nature. Thus sublime calls forth our strength

§43.  Art vs. Nature:

          Art is doing, nature operating; product of art is work, product of nature is effect.

          We only call art that which is produced freely not based on reason.

          Art vs. Science:

          Art is practical, science theoretical, art is technic, science is theory.

          If we CAN do it once we KNOW it, then it’s not art. Art: No matter how much skill we have to make it, we still can’t make it.

          Art vs. Craft:

          Art is free, craft is mercenary.

          Even free art needs a constraint so its free spirit would have a body to inhabit.

§49.  Genius = imagination + understanding.

          Genius allows us to 1) discover ideas, and 2) find a way to express them.

          1. Genius is talent of art, not science for which we start with known rules.

          2. Genius presupposes a relation of imagination to understanding.

          3. Genius manifests itself in hoe aesthetic ideas are expressed free of rules.

          4. Genius, free, cannot submit to rules, except ones made by subject’s nature.

          So Genius originates from subject’s natural use of his free cognitive powers, so not meant to be imitated, but followed by another genius who is then aroused by it to a feeling of his own originality, allowing him to exercise in art his freedom from the constraint of rules, thus giving art a new rule.

§59.  The beautiful vs. the morally good:

          1. We like the beautiful directly in intuition not in its concept.

          2. We like the beautiful without any interest.

          3. In judging the beautiful we present the freedom of imagination.

          4. We present the subjective principle for judging the beautiful as universal but unknowable through any universal concept unlike the knowable universal concepts of the morally good.

          Judgment of Beautiful natural objects presupposes moral judgment.

          Taste lets us make a gentle transition from sensible charm to moral interest.