Kant Essay, Research Paper
Kant argues that ?there can be no rule by which someone could be compelled to acknowledge that something is beautiful. No one can use reasons or principles to talk us into a judgment on whether some garment, house, or flower is beautiful.? What does it mean to say something is beautiful? Even though it appears to be a simple question it becomes apparent that this is a very complicated question and one of vital importance if we truly wish to understand if someone could be compelled to acknowledge that something is beautiful. Kant in his Critique of Judgment gives a considerable amount of thought to the components of aesthetic judgment. Kant puts forth the theory that aesthetic judgments are purely a subjective experience. In other words, when we judge something to be beautiful, the judgment is entirely internal, within the observer, and does not involve the actual object being judged. This paper will explore first what Kant considers a pure aesthetic judgment. Second, I will explain and discuss what Kant believes comprises a pure aesthetic judgment. Finally, I will explain and discuss whether or not someone can use a rule, reasons, principles to talk somebody into a judgment of whether something is beautiful.
First, what is an example of a pure aesthetic judgment? If one says that one likes an object, or an object is agreeable to them, they are not making a pure aesthetic judgment. What makes an object agreeable is really a part of sense perception. For example, if someone likes a particular food, it is because the senses react favorably to the sensations that the object (the food) arises in the subject. Therefore, we are ?interested? in the object itself, which therefore makes it, at least partially, an objective judgment. ?Now, that a judgment by which I declare an object to be agreeable expresses an interest in that object is already obvious from the fact that, by means of sensation, the judgment arouses a desire for objects of that kind??(48) In other words it is the interest in the object that makes it a partially objective judgment. This means that if we use sensational pleasure from an object in our judgment then our judgment is objective, which cannot be a pure aesthetic judgment. Also if someone makes a judgment about whether an object is ?good?, they are expressing something about the nature of the object. The reason that one cannot judge the object as good while making a pure aesthetic judgment is that one is actually assigning a purpose to the object which once again involves the nature of the object. For example, if a tree?s purpose is judged to be for shade, which is good, it is the subject that is making the judgment, and the ?true? purpose of the tree cannot be known. The subject is concerned with the nature of the object, and thus is making a partially objective observation. ?? The good always contains the concept of purpose, consequently a relation of reason to a volition (that is at least possible), and hence a liking for the existence of an object or action. In other words, it contains some interest or other.? (49) Like in the case of ?liking an object,? stating an object to be good includes an interest in the object, and thus cannot be a pure aesthetic judgment. For Kant, one thing that is a pure aesthetic judgment is beauty, and there are several reasons, which demonstrate how beauty relates to the above-mentioned criteria. For instance, if one states that something is beautiful, it does not mean that the object is providing them direct sensational pleasure in the same way that food is agreeable to the subject. The actual object is not vital to the determination nor is it necessary that the object exist. For example, if one sees a painting of a delicious meal and judges it to be beautiful in the purest sense, they are not concerned with whether or not the meal currently or ever existed. They are judging purely how the subject presents the material upon their mind.
Second, Kant puts forward the theory that aesthetic judgments are purely subjective experiences. Kant believes that when we judge something as beautiful, the judgment is entirely internal, within the observer, and does not involve the actual object being judged. Kant?s judgments of beauty are judgments based on (1) disinterestedness, (2) universality, (3) necessity, and (4) form of purpose.
(1) Regarding disinterestedness, Kant argues that to make a pure aesthetic judgment the judgment of beauty must be independent of interest or indifferent to the objects existence. Aesthetic purity must not be clouded by interest, emotions, or concepts. If a judgment of taste relates to a concept, then the judgment is dependent and is not a pure aesthetic judgment. (D) One example of this would be if I appreciate the qualities of a rose in a way that involved a judgment of beauty, my judgment would be based on merely an aesthetic quality and not on the existence of the rose. However, if I applied this judgment of beauty of a singular rose and applied it to roses in general then it is no longer a pure aesthetic judgment instead it is a logical judgment based on an aesthetic one. (59)
(2) We find that our judgments of taste should be universally agreed upon, but this cannot be a claim to their logical truth because ?beautiful? does not refer to something objective. (D) Instead, this authoritative claim is exemplary: (89) the beautiful object is supposed to be an outstanding instance of a ?rule? that we cannot describe. Kant believes that there is a universal validity that requires agreement of others, but what can this exemplary rule be based upon? Kant argues that cognitive faculties are common to all people and because of this judgments of taste, which are reflective judgments, can be universally valid because they depend only on universal faculties. (D)
(3) Kant argues that when we say that something is beautiful we are making a demand that everyone should agree with us. ?A judgment of taste requires everyone to assent; and whoever declares something beautiful holds that everyone ought to give his approval to the object at hand and that he too should declare it beautiful.? ?We solicit everyone else?s assent because we have a basis for it that is common to all.? (86) The reason we can make such a demand is because we are basing our judgment on our cognitive faculties, which are universal.
(4) Form of purpose focuses on the object and is not primarily involved with experiencing the subject. Because of this I will not go into detail on Kant?s concept of form of purposive. Kant does say that the form not the purpose evokes the beauty experience. (D)
Finally, Kant argues that, ?there can be no rules by which someone could be compelled to acknowledge that something is beautiful.? No one can use reason or principles to talk us into a judgment on whether some garment, house, or flower is beautiful.? By making a judgment of taste we lay claim to subjective universality, while the judgment is entirely internal, within the observer, we require others to agree. To understand why someone cannot be compelled to acknowledge that something is beautiful we must understand how pure aesthetic judgments are formed and how they lay claim to universality. As I have stated previously Kant believed that pure judgments of beauty must be independent of interest or indifferent to the objects existence, purely a subjective experience that is entirely internal, and singular judgments based on universal validity. If we can truly make a pure judgment of taste, that is a judgment that is disinterested in the object and free of concepts, then it seems to be impossible that someone could use rules, reasons, or principles to talk us into a judgment of whether something is beautiful. One reason why someone cannot use rules, reasons, or principles is that pure judgments of beauty do not refer to anything in this world instead they are singular judgments that are purely a subjective experiences. For example, when we identify birds in nature we look at certain characteristics and how those characteristics differ or resemble each other in order to be able to classify different species. These characteristics range from color, shape, dimensions etc? There are indeed rules by which we classify certain classes of birds, and these rules can be applied in the event that a new species is discovered. However, we do not apply rules in the same sense to beautiful objects and to do so seems illogical. Kant argued that an aesthetic judgments claim is exemplary: the beautiful object is an outstanding instance of a ?rule? that we cannot describe. (85) These rules do not exist; we have no logical way of determining rules that would enable us to identify a third case of beauty when confronted with two other objects that were determined previously to be beautiful.
Rules are applied to the objects being judged and are applied to a number of objects, because of this one would not be making a judgment of taste instead they would be making a logical universal judgment based on a concept. For example, if someone judges a rose to be beautiful they would be making a judgment of taste. However, if they applied that judgment of one rose to several roses based on characteristics it would become a logically universal judgment based on a concept. (59) Reasons or principles also cannot be used to talk us into a judgment on whether something is beautiful. Aesthetic experiences are derived from, ?a presentation of the imagination which prompts much thought, but to which no determinate thought whatsoever, i.e., no [determinate] concept, can be adequate, so that no language can express it completely and allow us to grasp it.? (182) The pleasure (free play) is a response to a beautiful object and allows us to communicate this to others because we are basing our judgment on our cognitive faculties that are universal. However, we do not perceive the beauty in the object we merely recognize the sensation of pleasure and by doing so we are able to determine objects, which are beautiful, and are able to express our judgments of taste.
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