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The Problem of Free Harmony in Kant's Aesthetics (SUNY 2008) - Kenneth F. Rogerson

The Problem of Free Harmony in Kant's Aesthetics (SUNY 2008) - Kenneth F. Rogerson

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The Problem of Free Harmony in

KANT’S AESTHETICS

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Rogerson STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK PRESS .The Problem of Free Harmony in KANT’S AESTHETICS Kenneth F.

mechanical. Kenneth F. Modern—18th century. p. B2799. Rogerson. contact State University of New York Press. Albany. Title. cm. 1724–1804—Aesthetics. 1948– The problem of free harmony in Kant’s aesthetics / Kenneth F..sunypress. Aesthetics. Includes bibliographical references and index. recording. magnetic tape. I. Immanuel. electrostatic. No part of this book may be stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means including electronic.A4R67 2008 111′.Published by State University of New York Press.edu Production by Dana Foote Marketing by Michael Campochiaro Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Rogerson. or otherwise without the prior permission in writing of the publisher.85092—dc22 2008019519 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 . ISBN 978-0-7914-7625-3 (hardcover : alk. Albany ©2008 State University of New York Printed in the United States of America No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission. For information. photocopying. paper) 1. 2. NY www. Kant.

Contents Acknowledgments / vii Note on Citations and Translations / ix Introduction / 1 1 2 3 4 5 6 Appendix Postscript Notes / 119 Index / 133 The Problem of Free Harmony / 7 The Doctrine of Aesthetic Ideas / 25 Natural and Artistic Beauty / 41 Free Harmony and Aesthetic Pleasure / 57 The Extensiveness of the Criterion of Beauty / 69 Beauty. and Moral Duty / 83 The Meaning of Universal Validity in Kant’s Aesthetics / 101 The Argument for Universal Validity / 111 v . Free Harmony.

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Acknowledgments I would like to thank the two anonymous readers for State University of New York Press. and my son. Linda. Their suggestions have greatly improved this book. Dylan. for their continued support. I also thank my wife. vii .

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521–640. which is a reprint of a much earlier article of mine. I shall refer to the Critique of Pure Reason. A/B JL Kritik der reinen Vernuf (KGS 3–4). For citations to the Critique of the Power of Judgment. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press. Gr KU ix . New York: Harper and Row. pp. 2000. Critique of Pure Reason. Kemp Smith. Listed as follows are the original works and translations that I have used. N. 1992. respectively. Critique of the Power of Judgment. and the third Critique. J. I have used the translation by Guyer and Matthews with one exception: For the appendix. H. trans. Michael Young. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press. Jasche Logik (KGS 9). The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Immanuel Kant. Citations of all other of Kant’s works are to the volume and page number of the standard German edition of his collected works: Kants gesammelte Schriften (KGS). Grundlegung zur Metaphysik der Sitten (KGS 4). Kritik der Urteilskraft (KGS 5). Lectures on Logic. 1965. Paul Guyer and Eric Matthews. trans. Also. 1964. Critique of Practical Reason. The Jasche Logic. I use the Meredith translation as was the case in the original article. and the Critique of the Power of Judgment as the first Critique. Paton. Martin’s Press. the second Critique. New York: St. trans. Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals. The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Immanuel Kant. trans.Note on Citations and Translations Citations to the Critique of Pure Reason are to the standard A and B page numbers referring to the first and second editions.

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It is this claim to universality that makes aesthetic judgment rather like objective. the notion of a free harmony of the imagination and the understanding. This description of Kant’s theory is not particularly controversial.” They are subjective since they are based on our feeling of pleasure. There are. aesthetic judgments are more than this. two interpretative points that are quite controversial.” Kant believes that if and only if our aesthetic pleasure is based on such a mental state can our judgments of taste rise above mere subjectivity and make a claim that holds for all who properly appreciate aesthetic objects. When we make an aesthetic judgment we claim not only that the object pleases us but also that the object is universally pleasing. In the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment” Kant argues that an object is beautiful (is to be judged an aesthetically good object to appreciate) if and only if it gives us pleasure the source of which is a mental state similar to cognition entitled the “free harmony of the imagination and the understanding. free harmony is the basis of this pleasure.Introduction This book is a study of the first half of Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Judgment (later translated as the Critique of the Power of Judgment) and hereafter referred to as the third Critique) entitled the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment. But further. However.” My central concern is to give an interpretation of what is arguably the most important issue in Kant’s aesthetic theory. however. Scholars will disagree concern1 . He wants to argue. Ultimately. Kant’s position rests on the claim that aesthetic judgments are universally “valid” since they are based on the universal pleasurableness of the free harmony of the imagination and understanding. in a way perhaps unique to the history of philosophy. namely. Kant holds. empirical judgments. that aesthetic judgments are “subjectively universal. Kant holds that judgments of taste occupy a special position between mere subjectivity and outright objectivity. This is Kant’s way of trying to justify a kind of “objectivity” about aesthetic judgments. Virtually all scholars agree that this is Kant’s plan—to ground judgments of taste on the purported universal pleasure of free harmony. according to Kant.

Arguably the chief problematic of the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment” is to understand how Kant can talk about a manifold of particulars that is somehow rule governed but without benefit of rules. Further. exactly. he wants to hold. Finding an adequate answer to this question is a theme that runs through each of the chapters in this book. when Kant gives his account of aesthetic appreciation he claims that we “harmonize” the understanding and imagination in a way that is “free” of concepts. Kant’s doctrine of the expression of aesthetic ideas is more important for his broader aesthetic theory than is commonly thought. In the course of this book. Further. it is a hallmark of the Kantian philosophy that concepts are considered to be rules for the organization of these sense manifolds. I want to give a good answer to the question of what a free harmony is on Kant’s account and why such a mental state is pleasing. I argue that Kant himself has a solution to the problem of free harmony but it is only developed around his notion of the expression of aesthetic ideas. To oversimplify for purposes of illustration. to cognize an object as a dog is to use the “dog rule” to organize the sense data provided to me. So far so good. I want to offer a solution to this basic problem. However. a free harmony of the imagination and understanding could mean within the Kantian philosophy. head perceptions. Somehow. In the Critique of Pure Reason (Kant’s first Critique) Kant represents cognition as a matter of applying concepts to a manifold of sense data. tail perceptions. Even a sketchy description of free harmony will be slightly complicated since this notion refers back to Kant’s position on epistemology and metaphysics. it is a controversial interpretative issue concerning why Kant believes that such a mental state is universally pleasing. Kant holds that “judging” objects as instantiating our concepts is a matter of recognizing that our sense data are organized by appropriate rules. In general. fur perceptions. Each chapter is concerned in one way or another with making sense of a free harmony of the imagination and the understanding. In the latter portions of the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment” Kant gives an account of how art (and even nature) can be interpreted as expressing themes or ideas that would otherwise be . we can perceive a manifold of sense data and “harmonize” it with our faculty of concepts (rules) but in a way that is not actually conceptually rule governed. but without applying a rule. Supposedly we can appreciate (judge) a manifold of sense as being rule-like.2 Introduction ing what. These two interpretative issues are the central concerns for this book. follow the concept/rule that we have for perceiving dogs. and so on. This process of conceptualizing data from the senses is characterized in the Critique of Judgment as “harmonizing” the faculty of understanding (the faculty of concepts) with the faculty of imagination (the faculty of receiving sense data). All the leg perceptions. One may very well ask how this can be so.

In the first chapter I lay out the basic problem that a free harmony of the imagination and the understanding appears to be paradoxical by requiring us to contemplate “orderliness” yet without any defined order. It would be natural to think that expression of aesthetic ideas could play a significant role . The doctrine of expression of aesthetic ideas will solve this paradox and as a result expression of ideas becomes crucial for Kant’s aesthetic theory. sets up the basic thesis of my project here. Not only does expression of ideas play this explanatory role. I argue. This. Since I believe that expression of ideas is important to Kant’s broader theory of beauty. In the third chapter I consider a potential problem for my thesis that expression of aesthetic ideas plays an important role in Kant’s theory. I hold that expression helps to explain why aesthetic appreciation is pleasing to us and further it explains why aesthetic experience is of moral value to us. aesthetic appreciation gives expression to moral and religious notions that on Kant’s account can never be known by mere empirical cognition.Introduction 3 difficult to communicate—much more difficult to communicate than ordinary empirical concepts. For example. I further begin to develop my thesis that Kant’s doctrine of expression of aesthetic ideas will help us out of the paradox. I argue that expression of aesthetic ideas is not only consistent with the free harmony requirement but an extension and elaboration of that position. I shall argue that only the doctrine of beauty as the expression of ideas gives Kant a plausible explanation of how we can see objects of beauty as free harmonies. While the main thesis of this book is quite straightforward. but a normative role as well. Expression of ideas. an artwork (or natural object) that can be interpreted as expressing an aesthetic idea will accomplish this expression via a mental state that is free of concepts and yet orderly due to the fact that it expresses an idea. there is quite a lot to do in order to show that the position is plausible. I argue that each such attempt comes up wanting. In this way. Specifically. The topic of chapter 2 is Kant’s account of the expression of aesthetic ideas. Kant holds that an artist must create a work that provokes us to make new associations that come together in such a way to illustrate ideas that go well beyond our ordinary experience. the point of this chapter is to look more closely at the doctrine of the expression of ideas and specifically the doctrine’s connection to the requirement that beauty be the appreciation of a free harmony. Aesthetic appreciation involves interpreting a manifold of sense as organized to express an idea which is not determinable by (free of) ordinary empirical concepts. I also survey and criticize interpretations that attempt to resolve this paradox. makes sense of the otherwise paradoxical notion of a free harmony of the imagination and understanding. Free harmony is a deeply paradoxical notion that cannot be adequately explained under ususal interpretations of Kant’s theory. then.

This seemingly central question has not received sufficient attention in the literature. the emphasis on expression of ideas might seem misguided.” as originally published with minor corrections. Kant claims that such appreciation is also of moral value.” Beyond claiming that appreciation of objects as free harmonies is universally pleasing. This is a position that Kant clearly rejects and as such the current interpretations are flawed. then Kant would be wedded to the thesis that every object we could appreciate would. and have added a postscript to take into consideration current developments. following on the discussion of the previous chapter. as Kant himself indicates. Again.4 Introduction in an account of artistic beauty while it would be quite out of place concerning natural beauty. I want to consider why Kant would regard free harmony pleasing at all. universally pleasing. count as beautiful. I argue that if we were to accept current interpretations of free harmony. let alone. This chapter is largely critical of current interpretations of free harmony. namely the claim that free harmony is the source of a universal pleasure. I also offer a solution to the problem that on many readings “everything is beautiful” for Kant. But since Kant considers natural beauty at least as important as artistic beauty. in this way. defuse the objection raised. and draw out the implications this has for our moral life. In the postscript I go farther to consider and criticize . Chapter 4 addresses the issues of free harmony and expression of ideas from a slightly different direction than the previous chapters. In this appendix I argue for an interpretation of Kant’s grounding of judgments of taste that involves all of the elements discussed previously. My task in this chapter is to analyze the relationship between pleasure in free harmony. I argue that answering this evaluative question again leads to Kant’s account of expression of ideas. Even further. I lay out a case an interpretation of Kant’s argumentative strategy for establishing the universal validity of aesthetic judgments of taste that centrally uses his doctrine of aesthetic ideas. I have appended to the above chapters my essay “The Meaning of Universal Validity in Kant’s Aesthetics. Chapter 5 concerns a problem that arises in chapter 1 and is connected to the proper interpretation of the free harmony of the imagination and the understanding. I want to argue that natural beauty can be seen as expressive in a way similar to artistic beauty and. in some sense. I argue that appealing to the doctrine of aesthetic ideas will free Kant of this problem. I want to argue that the art/nature distinction in Kant has been overdrawn by scholars and that there is not an important criterial difference between the two. In this chapter I consider a question fundamental to Kant’s account of aesthetic value. Chapter 6 addresses what has become a controversial issue in the interpretation of the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment. Specifically.

excusable given the nature of the project. However. there is a central thesis that runs through each of the chapters in this book. . I intended to give enough of the relevant discussion in each chapter to move the point of the argument forward and refer the reader to a fuller treatment in other chapters. that the doctrine of expression of aesthetic ideas is needed to explain the possibility and the value of a free harmony of the imagination and the understanding. chapter 3 can be read is an independent essay on Kant’s distinction between artistic and natural beauty or chapter 6 can be read as an independent essay on the relation of beauty and morality in Kant.” For example. As described above. certain discussions will show up more than once in the book. namely. Such redundancy is. In order that these chapters work as relatively independent essays. the chapters that follow are also intended to be more or less self-standing essays addressing different aspects and problems in the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment.Introduction 5 current interpretations of Kant’s argument to the universal validity of judgments of taste. hopefully.

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minimally. as it were. to judge that a manifold of sense particulars falls under a concept (the job of the “understanding”) is to recognize that the manifold conforms to a particular rule—that the manifold is rule governed. while this is the most general description of judging. it is characteristic of the Kantian philosophy that concepts are regarded as rules for how a manifold is governed. an object that is able to occasion such a mental state of free harmony is said to exhibit “purposiveness without purpose. According to Kant. In the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment” Kant argues that an object is beautiful if and only if it is able to give us pleasure.2 The rule. To have the concept of a dog is to know what sort of order a perceptual manifold will possess. What I shall attempt here is first to lay out the problem in its most troublesome form and argue.1 The Problem of Free Harmony I want to consider a particularly troublesome problem internal to Kant’s theory of beauty.”1 The problem for Kant scholars is how to make sense of either a “free harmony” of the cognitive faculties or of a “purposiveness” not directed by a purpose. is presumed to provide a schema of what our perception of a specific empirical objects is to be. the source of which is a mental state similar to cognition called the “free harmony of the imagination and the understanding. at least for the case of artistic beauty—perhaps for natural beauty as well. 1 What we learn from the Critique of Pure Reason (Kant’s first Critique) is that the process of judgment is one of organizing a manifold of the imagination (a collection of sense particulars) by a concept of some sort. Now. Determinant judgments are ones where our predication of a “concept” to a manifold can be warranted on the grounds of experience (either directly in the case of empirical concepts or on the basis of the “possibility” of ex7 . it is important to note that for Kant there are two different species of judging: determinate judgment and reflective judgment. Further.” And. that there is a solution to Kant’s problems.

if we take the formulation of purposiveness without purpose. however. The interpretative question that arises here is. determinant (empirical) judgments roughly because “beauty” cannot be considered a class concept—a concept naming an organization of perceivable properties. How can there be a species of judging that employs no rules? One would think that the very notion of judging requires the application of some kind of rule (either determinant or reflective). and immortality are notions the application of which always outstrips our evidential base. such assertions exceed our empirical evidence. unlike ordinary cases of judgment Kant insists quite strongly that the kind of “judging” that gives aesthetic pleasure is not governed by any type of rules. be a matter of taking pleasure in the object.3 For example. (Kant’s third Critique) Kant is most interested to show that teleological judgments are reflective—they assert that nature is governed by purposes. in the Critique of Judgment. There are at least three sorts of rules that Kant thinks are inappropriate to aesthetic judging. And although. in the first moment of the Analytic of the Beautiful (the “Analytic”). then “free harmony” would seem a contradiction.” Kant wants to say that the pleasure of taste has its source in a mental operation similar to cognitive judgments. And for Kant pleasure is not an ob- . predicates “ideas” of a manifold.8 Chapter 1 perience in the case of the “pure concepts”). and in Kant’s technical sense the predication of “ideas” cannot be grounded in experience.4 Having taken this brief excursion into Kant’s doctrine of judgment. freedom. How can one have a “harmony” with the faculty of rules when one has no rule? Similarly. Beauty cannot simply described a configuration of empirical properties since judging something as beautiful must. This continues a theme from the first Critique where Kant gave ideas of reason a “regulative” function. To make a cognitive judgment is to claim that an object (manifold of perception) instantiates a certain concept (the manifold is governed by a certain rule). if Kant’s general characterization of judging is as a “harmony” between the imagination (responsible for gathering particulars) and the understanding (the faculty of giving rules). the question can be asked: How can we judge an object to be “purposive” if we do not attribute (even in an “as if” sense) some purpose to it?5 It will be useful here to consider what sorts of “rules” Kant thinks are inappropriate to the mental state of free harmony and roughly why aesthetic appreciation cannot be of these kinds. However. More precisely. Kant argues. if somewhat question-begging. that judgments of beauty cannot be ordinary. “Ideas” like God. we can now state the problem with the notions of “free harmony” and “purposiveness without purpose. it may be useful for doing science to act “as if” such judgments were true. Kant argues. A reflective judgment. in part.6 Kant’s argument against such a position is direct.

Kant argues that aesthetic judging is not a matter of claiming that an object suits any sort of “end” or “purpose” (even if our judgment is only an “as if” judgment). Judging is understood as organizing a manifold of particulars by a rule. But this conflicts with the notion (which Kant endorses) that aesthetic judging and aesthetic creation cannot be formulaic. because it has no direct connection to pleasure. Kant objects to perfectionism. then we could formulate precise standards for either evaluating or constructing artworks. there is a larger point in the background. an object is judged to be a near perfect example of some class concept. do we take pleasure in perfectionism unless we are interested in seeing near paradigm examples of class concepts.8 If they were formulaic. Kant considers two versions of this teleological position. But Kant seems to . Specifically. teleological type. we can never hope to get any sort of consensus about aesthetic value if we appeal to the whim of individual interests. We could take pleasure in recognizing that an object is “good for” some ordinary practical purpose we might have (a judgment of utility) or we could take pleasure in recognizing that an object is “good as an x”. Pleasure is the subjective (aesthetic. He starts with the premise that aesthetic pleasure must come from an activity of judging. All we would need to know in order to evaluate a work as good (or create a good one) is the purpose the work should achieve. and aesthetic evaluation could be a precise science—both of which Kant disavows. We could then set about to find the means—which presumably can be pinned down with some accuracy. Generally. Further. If judgments of taste could be reduced to judgments of utility or perfection. neither can the judging be of the reflective. Although the above is Kant’s official criticism of reducing aesthetic judging to teleological judging. Kant’s criticism of grounding beauty on either judgments of utility or perfection is that in order for “useful” or “perfect” objects to give pleasure at all we must assume some merely contingent interests on the part of those who appreciate the objects. in part. a picture may represent a paradigm case of a horse—this is the thesis of Leibnizean perfectionism Kant criticizes in ¶15. Kant seems to have worked himself into a corner. Kant would say) response to an object. In ¶9 of the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment” Kant argues that while the pleasure of taste must be founded on a mental state of “judging” an object and such judging cannot be of the conceptual. But dismissing such aesthetic “objectivism” does not end Kant’s complaints against rules used to make aesthetic judgments. We will not take pleasure in something having use value unless we are interested in the end that the object serves. that is.7 For example. Similar to his complaint against aesthetic objectivism. then creativity would be of little concern in art. determinant kind. Kant holds.The Problem of Free Harmony 9 jective property that an object can possess. Nor. presumably.

75–76) The problem is that it is very difficult to understand what sense there is in claiming that aesthetic contemplation is a kind of “judging” without rules when the very definition of judging in the Kant lexicon is that of a rule-governed activity. we are only interested in the “formal” quality of mere “rule governedness.10 Chapter 1 have taken away any candidate for a rule to organize the manifold. One rescue attempt turns upon a reading of “mere subjective purposiveness” and the strictness of the “no rule” requirement. And these seem to be the only alternatives he has to offer. but solely to the subject. (KU 5: 189–90. It appears that nothing is left and it seems that Kant is perfectly happy with this result. and the pleasure can express nothing but its suitability to the cognitive faculties that are in play in the reflecting power of judgment. if the determining ground of the judgment on this universal communicability of the representation is to be conceived of merely subjectively. Specifically. namely without . Aesthetic judging cannot be rule governed by a determinant concept or a teleological Idea. As Kant describes aesthetic judging it must be a recognition that objects are “merely subjectively purposive” where this seems to mean that the object occasions a harmony of the faculty of sense with the faculty of concepts (rules) but somehow without using any rules: If pleasure is connected with the mere apprehension (apprehensio) of the form of an object of intuition. insofar as they are in play. There are some portions of Kant’s text that suggest that while a free harmony is rule governed without a rule.” We are only concerned subjectively that the manifold is rule governed. We are not interested in what rule prescribes the order of the manifold. when Kant claims a “free” harmony is a harmony without rules. 2 There have been attempts to save Kant from the problem cited above. The following passage would seem to support such a reading: Now. perhaps he should really say that the manifold is rule governed but when we engage in aesthetic appreciation we do not care which rule it is. then the representation is thereby related not to the object. without a relation of this to a concept for determinate cognition. the crucial notion of “without a rule” should be understood in what might be called an “abstractive” sense. And in this sense. and thus merely a subjective formal purposiveness of the object.

if we assumed that “free harmony” should be understood in the abstractive sense and specifically abstracting from teleological ideas (instead of determinant concepts) we would fare no . we are only concerned with the closeness of fit between manifold and rule. it is just such cases that Kant explicitly rejects because they are lacking in “freedom. One must assume. the abstractive interpretation would promote some very odd paradigms of beauty and ones that Kant explicitly rejects. We can talk about a manifold being rule governed (which seems to be a requirement of any version of “judging”) and yet insist that the harmony of the faculties is free in the sense that aesthetic judging abstracts from the specific rule employed to unify the manifold. But beyond the charge of inconsistency. 102) On the basis of such passages. 123). for example. any paradigm will do. Yet. To say that an object occasions a “free harmony” in the abstractive sense entails that we can specify a rather precise formula for beauty: An object is beautiful if and only if there is a closeness of fit between a manifold of imagination and a rule specifying a reflective idea of utility or a rule specifying an empirical concept. Although the above would be a way of solving the puzzle of a “free harmony. do I think Kant would want to subscribe to a closeness of fit criteria in the case of ideas of utility. Perhaps. At the very least this position is seriously inconsistent with Kant’s rejection of perfectionism. This solution cannot avoid Kant’s deeper arguments against utility and perfectionism. a well-drawn square. If free harmony is taken to mean “closeness of fit to a rule” (regardless of which rule). again we would seem to be able to formulate some precise standards for the creation and evaluation of beauty—a possibility antithetical to Kant’s enterprise. The theory of perfectionism would also seem to subscribe to a “closeness of fit” criteria since there is no hint in the theory that an object is beautiful only if it measures up to some particular paradigm—rather. then well-drawn geometrical figures would be first-rate artworks. If such a criteria were adopted. then. A well-drawn square is an object with a high degree of conformity to a concept (the “square rule”) and as such would be an excellent artwork. Nor.”9 Similarly. it can be nothing other than the state of mind that is encountered in the relation of the powers of representation to each other insofar as they relate a given representation to cognition in general. it could be argued that the problem of interpreting free harmony or purposiveness without purpose can be gotten around. that the measure of “perfection” would be how well an artwork fits the paradigm concept it is intended to represent.The Problem of Free Harmony 11 a concept of the object.” it is a route that Kant should not take. (KU 5: 217. Such is suggested by Kant’s claim in ¶21 that a free harmony is also one that is “opitimal for the animation of both powers of the mind” (KU 5: 238.

apart from the fact that such paradigms are unacceptable to us. Again. There is. First. were we to attribute to Kant the view that we can simply “feel” rule governedness without applying a rule. another alternative sometimes pursued. One answer to this question. 102) There are difficulties with taking this interpretation.” As most commentators agree. it seems to be important to the Transcendental Deduction of the Categories that every manifold of representations be united by a rule.” We simply “feel” the fit of the two faculties: The powers of cognition that are set into play by this representation are hereby in a free play. there are problems with this position intrinsic to the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment. his position is difficult to distinguish from the claim that aesthetic goodness can be reduced to either the goodness of utility or perfection. it turns out after all that beauty really has to do with what Kant calls “objective purposiveness. we not interested that the orderliness appreciated is “water-pump plier” orderliness.12 Chapter 1 better. the problem we have had is one of understanding what a harmony between the imagination and understanding could be where there is no rule to account for the harmony. Thus the state of mind in this representation must be that of a feeling of the free play of the powers of representation in a given representation for a cognition in general. That is to say. On a teleological reading we would now have to admit that a well-designed wrench (the perfect water-pump pliers) is an excellent work of beauty. We appreciate that it fits well the orderliness required of a pair of water-pump pliers even though. But here again. we recognize “free harmony” by means of a “feeling. (KU 5: 217. if this is what Kant has in mind. however. since no determinate concept restricts them to a particular rule of cognition.10 From the remarks in ¶9 and ¶21 of the “Analytic” it could be claimed that Kant has a quite different way to recognize a “harmony” between the two faculties. it would be a position quite unique to the critical philosophy and may well contradict some of the more important arguments in the Critique of Pure Reason. suggested at ¶9 and ¶21.” Objects suit our “subjective” purpose of harmony of the faculties only by living up to some version of “objective” purposiveness. Kant . It would seem that under this reading. it is very difficult to reconcile this position with Kant’s claim that objects must be purposive but without purpose. Specifically. is that unlike usual cognition where recognition is achieved by the application of a rule. of course.11 But even if we could admit such an unusual activity as “feeling” a conceptual fit without using concepts. to get any version of the arguments of paragraphs 9 and 21 off the ground.

the sense in which a relationship of the imagination and understanding is suitably “free” of concepts is if it is free on any one determinate concept to pin down the order of the manifold. 103) Roughly. as entertaining as “duck-rabbit” games are. then so is free harmony. This line of reasoning is thought to be crucial to Kant’s larger argument to show the universal validity of judgments of taste. or he admits that aesthetic judging uses concepts. This is what Paul Guyer has recently called a “multicognitive” interpretation of free harmony. It would seem that a good candidate for an aesthetic object on this accounting would be one so constructed to make it easy and natural to conceptualize it under different concepts. will likely generate some odd paradigms. As Ralf Meerbote has convincingly argued. short of skepticism. but go in quite a different direction and claim that a free harmony is one whereby we can apply several different concepts to a manifold. few would put them forward as excellent aesthetic objects. Discussing free harmony Kant says: . as Guyer puts it. Kant is saddled with a nasty dilemma. Instead we are free. then it must be the case that free harmony is also universally communicable. Kant wants to argue that if ordinary cognitive states are universally communicable.13 Presumably.” Perhaps. Kant seemingly wants to argue here that. This interpretation. . for we are conscious that this subjective relation suited to cognition in general must be valid for everyone and consequently universally communicable. let me add a couple more. like others we have seen in the aforementioned. just as any determinate cognition is.” In addition to the problems that Guyer finds with this interpretation. to flit between a “multiplicity of possible concepts. somehow.The Problem of Free Harmony 13 must argue that free harmony is a mental state very much like mental state of ordinary cognition. . in which case he cannot draw a close parallel with cognition. One cannot help thinking that Wittgenstein’s duck-rabbit would come across as a prime candidate of an aesthetic object. (KU 5: 218. in which case he loses the sense of “freedom. as yet another possible interpretation one should understand free harmony not as abstracted from concepts or. However. we must assume that ordinary cognitive states are “universally communicable” and since a free harmony of the faculties is sufficiently similar to a cognitive state. .12 Either he holds that free harmony is literally a harmony devoid of concepts. But if free harmony and ordinary cognition are as radically different as the present account supposes. then Kant’s inference about universal communicability is clearly weakened. which still always rests on that relation as its subjective condition. simply devoid of concepts.

21. And. It is on the basis of this similarity that we classify an object as a certain kind. Kant seems to argue. will avoid the dilemma previously cited by Meerbote. But for now. notice how the multicognitive interpretation will make a mess of an argument like the one above. I have no reason to believe that anyone will share my recognition of order in an aesthetic object. To construct an argument for the “universal validity” of free harmony from paragraphs 9. must recognize orderliness in the same way. Although both involve a kind of “harmony” between our cognitive faculties. we will have much to say about such an argument. following Carl Posy. everyone who is confronted with a Fido-like manifold sees that it is a dog-ordered manifold. When we recognize the rule orderedness of manifold by the application of a concept.” As mentioned above. we also assert that the manifold shows a rule orderedness similar to that of other objects. in order to account for shared cognition we assume that everyone conceptualizes manifolds in the same way—that is. Henry Allison in his recent book offers an interesting interpretation of free harmony that. there is an important difference. is not a matter of classifying objects by finding a common rule. We are only concerned. with in the “subjective purposiveness” of objects. a key feature of the analogy between free harmony and cognition is broken—a feature that was intended as a cornerstone of Kant’s argument to the universal validity of aesthetic judgments. If by a free harmony of the imagination and understanding Kant means that for an appropriate aesthetic object we are “free” to see the object as displaying any number of “orderings. Thus. many commentators interpret Kant as offering an argument for the “universal validity” of aesthetic judgments on grounds similar to the “universal validity” of ordinary cognitive states. we must assume that appreciating a free harmony and applying a concept to a manifold are quite similar activities.14 Chapter 1 There is. thus.” But if this is the case. Both are a matter of finding order in a manifold. however. a free harmony denotes a kind of orderliness. then I can assume that others will feel pleasure in free harmony as well. Subjective purposiveness can now be understood as an interest in orderliness for its own sake. if successful. interprets Kant as claiming that when we engage in aesthetic contemplation “the normal concerns of cognition are . we do not simply appreciate an object’s rule orderedness. Roughly. presumably. Everyone. however. not as a concern with the order an object may share in common with others. There is one further interpretation that deserves close attention. as Kant says time and again. Again. But. if I recognize free harmony with a feeling of pleasure and I have a right to assume everyone must recognize orderliness in the same way. and 38. Henry Allison. Appreciation of beauty. a deeper problem with the “multicognitive” interpretation that is internal to the argument of the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment.

rule-governed conceptual judgment. In an ordinary. Aesthetic appreciation is presumably different from this.” Experience of Fido is rule ordered and it is rule ordered by the determinate dog rule. On the present interpretation. the “rule” could be uniquely instantiated in the case we are presently observing.16 I suspect that this interpretation puts too little distance between a “free” harmony of the imagination and understanding and an ordinary.” When I make the judgment I recognize that my manifold has a certain order and that this order is common to manifolds presented on other occasions—this is the sense in which dog functions as a class concept for me. empirical experience and aesthetic appreciation are . Paul Guyer has dubbed this type of interpretation a “precognitive” interpretation of free harmony since it considers a free harmony a recognition of an orderly manifold that is logically prior to conceptualization. For all we know or care. aesthetic appreciation of an object is very much like our Fido experience. This position seems to avoid the dilemma above. We are not concerned with comparing an object’s rule orderedness to other. Presumably.The Problem of Free Harmony 15 suspended. The difference between the two is that aesthetic contemplation is concerned with orderedness per se while an empirical judgment is further interested in determining a similarity with other objects. it’s just that we are not concerned as to whether or not that rule is instantiated anywhere else. My judgments define a class of objects in terms of common rule orderliness of their manifolds of perception. if there are any. This seems to imply that we could very well say that an aesthetic object displays a rule orderedness. Having made this distinction. Consider the judgment “Fido is a dog. Aesthetic contemplation and ordinary empirical judgments are similar in that both are concerned with finding rule orderedness in a manifold. similar objects. empirical experience of Fido. we can claim that free harmony is not conceptual and yet it describes a rule-ordered manifold. but there are problems.”14 That is to say. I recognize that the present manifold of sense exhibits an orderliness shared with a certain class of objects (dogs). presumably. This interpretation is fine as far as it goes. This is also to say that I recognize that Fido exhibits the “dog rule” shared by all “dogs.” When I make such a judgment I notice that the manifold of imagination I am presented with possesses a certain order. When appreciating an aesthetic object I “judge” the manifold to be orderly but do not compare this manifold’s orderliness to that of other similarly orderly objects. Consider again my experience of Fido. It is the order defined by my concept (rule) “dog. free harmony judging is indeed looking for rule orderedness of a manifold but since our “normal concerns of cognition” are suspended we do not follow through by applying concepts.15 I believe that there are yet problems with this attempt to free Kant of the difficulties of free harmony.

I take it. Additionally.17 I see no reason. it is not obvious how one would distinguish between good aesthetic objects and those not so good. But if this is the difference. unfortunately. then the distinction between free harmony and determinate judging is not a difference between a rule-ordered manifold (determinate judging) and a manifold that is not rule ordered (free harmony). Further. it is difficult to see that this difference cannot be overcome.16 Chapter 1 alike insofar as both involve the recognition of the rule orderness of the manifold of sense. and abstraction. Hannah Ginsborg sees the free harmony issue bound up with an even larger problem in the Kantian philosophy. in principle. we are unconcerned whether this rule shows up elsewhere in our experience. There is another attempt to resolve the dilemma that free harmony presents that is rather similar to the Alison/Posy solution. If my understanding of the above interpretation is correct. perhaps. then the distinction between aesthetic and nonaesthetic objects would be clear. reflection. Kant regards all concepts as rules describing a certain order of perceptual elements in an experience. it is hard to see that it is much of a difference. Kant loses the distinction between ordinary objects and special aesthetic objects that the free harmony criteria seems to establish.18 Kant has an account of empirical concept acquisition that is. Kant gives an example: . But this is not the case. rather sketchy.19 As we have seen. If we could make a distinction in kind between objects that were free harmonies and those that were not. It seems entirely possible that we could consider any object “aesthetically” and that any object could suit Kant’s free harmony requirement.” That is to say. To consider an object in such a way would. in the fashion suggested. suit Kant’s injunction that we consider an object merely for its “mere subjective purposiveness. if any object could be considered aesthetically. why we could not consider Fido for the rule orderness of its manifold in abstraction from our knowledge of whether this rule is multiply instantiated or not. Or. But if it is possible to consider dogs and all manner of objects as aesthetic objects. his official position as to how we come to form a new empirical concept is by way of comparison. Both the experience of Fido and the aesthetic appreciation of the Mona Lisa (for example) involve the recognition that the manifold of sense under consideration is ordered by a specific rule. we are concerned only the extent to which an object is rule ordered. The difference is that in the Fido case we also focus on the fact that the Fido rule has multiple instantiations whereas in the Mona Lisa case we do not concern ourselves with instantiations. Rather the distinction is between our recognizing a rule-ordered manifold that has multiple instantiations (determinate judging) and our recognizing a rule-ordered manifold but without reference to instantiation (free harmony).

and abstraction) do we come up an explicit rule that is the concept “tree. willow. willow. 94–95. Simply speaking English is rule governed insofar as this activity is governed by “lexical rules and rules of grammar.”20 Ginsborg gives a useful analogy. Nonetheless. How we use English unreflectively allows us the ability to extract explicit rules of usage. it seems unlikely that of all the objects in the world we would pick these individuals to work our concept-forming labor upon. The model of primitive. If we did not already have something like a “tree rule” in mind. and linden as appropriate objects to hone our formal concept of tree. 6. Our first encounters with a tree are rule governed in a “primitive” way as opposed to subsequent experiences where we approach tree with the explicit concept well in hand. and I abstract from the quantity. willow. Presumably. branches. Ginsborg applies this analogy to empirical concept acquisition.. of these. and leaves. By first comparing these objects with one another I note they are different from one another in regard to the trunk. the figure. In order to make coherent Kant’s account of empirical concept acquisition he needs to make a distinction between two ways in which one could have and use rules for the ordering of an empirical manifold. and linden as appropriate candidates to engage in a process of comparison. etc. 592) The problem with this account is that it seems one already needs a concept (rule) of tree in order to single out spruce. para. and abstraction. if we did not already have some rough concept of tree we wouldn’t have picked out a spruce. explicit rules of English usage.. a spruce. rule-governed experiences as a key to the account of empirical concept acquisition sets the stage for an interpretation of the no- . branches. we can find order in our first tree experience that will set the standard for any future tree encounters. To put the matter differently. Ginsborg’s suggestion is that initially when we consider objects like the spruce. To solve the problem of empirical concept acquisition Ginsborg admittedly goes beyond Kant’s text to suggest an account that he could have (should have) given. However. trunk. claims Ginsborg. this “exemplary” use of rules becomes the basis for subsequent. thus I acquire a concept of a tree.: but next I reflect what they have in common. a willow. Consider the first time a person runs across what we would now call a tree. Ak IX. and leaves themselves. and a linden. On that first encounter our observer would not apply the conceptual “tree” rule to the perceptual manifold—no such rule is available.The Problem of Free Harmony 17 I see. and linden we pick them out because we are using a process that is “exemplary of rules. etc.”21 All of this is rather unstudied and even unconscious.” but only subsequently (by the process of comparison. such a first encounter may yet be rule governed in a primitive sense. reflection.g. e. reflection. (Logik. Using the English language is a rule-governed activity in two senses.

however. If Ginsborg is correct. When we approach a tree for the first time we must be able to appreciate the rule governedness of the manifold in order to be able subsequently to find other instances of a tree. then part of the story of empirical cognition (the part involving concept acquisition) requires our ability to recognize the rule governedness of a manifold prior to our application of an actual rule. As we have seen. it is commonly thought that Kant’s proof of the universal validity of judgments of taste crucially depends on the premise that the mental state of free harmony is sufficiently similar to a conceptually determined cognitive state that we can regard aesthetic judgments to be as “universally valid” as an ordinary empirical judgment. An additional bonus of Ginsborg’s account is that it adds coherence to what seems to be Kant’s central arguments justifying the universal validity of judgments of taste. Thus. then it would . as Ginsborg seems to suggest.22 Under most interpretations of free harmony this similarity between free harmony and empirical judgments is difficult to explain.18 Chapter 1 tion of a “free harmony” of the imagination and understanding in the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment. If. this is just the ability required in aesthetic cases of free harmony. Kant is justified in thinking that aesthetic appreciation depends on an ability we can assume to be shared by all. How can a nonconceptually determined manifold be sufficiently similar to a conceptual manifold such that we could draw inferences from one to the other? Ginsborg’s interpretation seems to help this inference. empirical concept acquisition requires us to experience the rule governedness of a manifold without applying a rule and that this activity is very much like (if not identical to) the experience of free harmony. Ginsborg holds. This may seem mysterious.” Recall that the central interpretative problem with a “free” harmony of the imagination and understanding is trying to figure out how the imagination could harmonize with the rule function of the understanding and yet do so without rules (concepts). And. The danger with trying to argue a close similarity between free harmony and ordinary. Kant claims that when we consider an object aesthetically we consider a manifold of imagination for its conformity to the rule-governed function of the understanding but yet without applying a rule. But if Ginsborg is correct we do this sort of thing all the time in the process of empirical concept acquisition. Ginsborg’s primitive and exemplary rulegoverned experiences seem to fit the bill. as an interpretation of free harmony it suffers from difficulties similar to those found with the Allison/Posy interpretation. Ginsborg’s account may in fact go a long way in helping to understand Kant’s account of empirical concept acquisition. conceptual cognition is that one may fail to distinguish adequately aesthetic appreciation from cognition. But this is an ability to discern rule governedness without using a rule.

Ginsborg claims that while each act of acquisition requires the recognition of a rule governedness with a rule (like free harmony) such acquisition cannot take place without also. there is no reason to believe that any argument based on their similarity is going to succeed. Also. However. why in a Kantian account of original acquisition we could not recognize a “something” (a tree) as rule governed at one moment and only later after acquaintance with other “somethings” (trees) we start applying the concept “tree. as it were.The Problem of Free Harmony 19 seem that tree experiences are also aesthetic experiences. Ginsborg is aware of this difficulty and tries to meet it. Specifically. we fall on the other horn of the dilemma discussed earlier. But even if we were to grant this. If the processes are so very different. It would seem that we could approach a tree now and appreciate it as if we were experiencing it for the first time and did not already possess a concept of tree. But if this is so. once we have applied a concept to a tree experience we cannot approach a tree as if it were not a conceptually determined manifold.23 To distinguish the mental activity of free harmony from the act of empirical concept acquisition. the further claim that each act of acquisition is inseparable from an act of application seems. And. Maybe empirical concept acquisition is very different from aesthetic appreciation. as such. Presumably we cannot abstract the primitive act of recognizing orderliness from the final act of applying a concept. each act of acquiring a concept is also an act of applying that concept—unlike a pure free harmony experience. other than a mere assertion.”24 This seems to distinguish free harmony from empirical concept acquisition. Ginsborg holds. that original moment of appreciating rule governedness per se. there are further difficulties here. ad hoc. Ginsborg’s position does seem to get her out of the problems noted above. But maybe Ginsborg is right. it would be an aesthetic experience. I see no reason. apparently. at best. And. “(t)he act through which I acquire the concept ‘tree’ is at the same time my first act of judging something to be a tree. It cannot be the case that every act of empirical concept acquisition is also an aesthetic experience of free harmony since. perhaps approaching a tree is so very different from approaching an artwork that the cognitive processes are very different. applying our newly acquired concept in the process. Ginsborg’s interpretation of free harmony depends on her admittedly speculative account of empirical concept acquisition—particularly the claim that such concept acquisition requires a primitive recognition of a rule governedness without rules.” Nor do I see any reason in a Kantian position why we could not act as if we were seeing a tree for the first time and recreate. then experiencing a tree would be an instance of free harmony of the imagination and understanding. . if we could do such a thing. As Ginsborg puts it. at the same time.

186). (KU 5: 319. Kant argues in these sections that the “genius” who lacks the skill of organizing to express at best creates “original nonsense” (KU 5: 308.”25 I want to argue: (1) the expression of aesthetic ideas gives a definite sense to the notion of a rulegoverned manifold—it is governed by an aesthetic idea. nothing but nonsense. we would be unable to account for the work’s rule governedness. In fact. the power of judgment. Without such organization an artist cannot produce an artwork that “remains purposive” by “introducing clarity and order” (KU 5: 319. but the only appropriate way for artistic creation: To be rich and original in ideas is not as necessary for the sake of beauty as is the suitability of the imagination in its freedom to the lawfulness of the understanding. how an aesthetic object can be rule governed. 197). in its lawless freedom. at least as important is his claim that the artist must also combine his or her creativity with some sort of organization (as usual without constraint of preconceived rules). (2) this sort of rule governedness is compatible with the requirement for a “free” use of the imagination.26 While Kant understandably stresses the role of originality in artistic creation. however. The problem Kant considers in his discussion of artistic creation looks very like the one that has been bothering us: How can an artist create a work that is free and yet organized? Kant’s explicit solution in these sections is that the artist can achieve the proper organization for his work only if he or she creates a work that expresses an “aesthetic idea. is the faculty for bringing it in line with the understanding. one portion of the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment” where Kant has a solution to how a manifold can be both rule governed and free.20 Chapter 1 3 There is. The relevant discussion is contained in Kant’s description of how artistic “genius” can create works of art that express “aesthetic ideas. 197) The point Kant repeats often in these sections is that genius (which Kant defines in part as the faculty to produce aesthetic ideas) is able to create fine art only insofar as it can provide a “rule” to the free fancy of the imagination (KU 5: 307. For all the richness of the former produces. Kant goes so far as to argue that expression of ideas is not just a way of organizing a manifold to meet the rule-governed requirement. that the expression of ideas is a general solution to the problem of free harmony (for both art and nature). This is required since without genius organizing an artwork in order to express an idea.” Thus. in the admittedly narrow case of artistic creation. however. and (3) more tentatively. expression of ideas seems to play the crucial role of explaining. 186). Or more posi- .

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tively, the ability to present aesthetic ideas “is that which purposively sets the mental powers into motion” (KU 5: 313, 192).27 The evidence of these sections seems quite conclusive. Kant holds that expression of aesthetic ideas is a requirement for artistic creation and it is required because it explains rule governedness. And while Kant offers this thesis as part of an explanation of artistic creation it takes only a slight extension of his doctrine to see how it would apply to artistic appreciation as well. The artist is saddled with the task of creating a work such that when properly appreciated it stimulates the imagination in such a way as to express an idea. This, Kant claims, requires “genius.” But, we can suppose something similar goes on during aesthetic appreciation. The person who properly appreciates a work of art (or, I would maintain, natural beauty as well) must be able to interpret the elements of the work in such a way as to “see” that they come together to express an idea. As such, both the artist and the art appreciator must be able to experience an object as stimulating a free harmony of the imagination and understanding in such a manner that we interpret the object as expressing an idea. On the basis of these passages it might be granted that Kant can account for how aesthetic appreciation involves a rule-like harmony of the imagination and the understanding. Aesthetic appreciation involves our interpreting a manifold as organized in a way to best express an aesthetic idea. But perhaps it is more difficult to argue that expression of ideas is consistent with the restriction that the mental state of appreciation is “free.” Here I enlist the support of some important work on Kant by Paul Guyer. It has been argued, successfully I believe, that the mental state of appreciating an artwork that expresses ideas is one free from conceptual determination.28 It is crucial for this interpretation to notice that Kant’s description of the process of either producing or recognizing an aesthetic idea is a description of a “free harmony.” That is to say, recognizing an artwork as expressing an aesthetic idea is a case of freely harmonizing a manifold of sense with the rule faculty of the understanding:
In a word, the aesthetic idea is a representation of the imagination, annexed to a given concept, with which, in the free employment of imagination, such a multiplicity of partial representations are bound up, that no expression indicating a definite concept can be found for it. (KU 5: 316, 194)

The sense in which the expression of aesthetic ideas involves a free harmony seems to be that, as Kant understands aesthetic ideas, they refer to something that cannot be literally described—they are notions of things too big for ordinary empirical description. Kant’s favorite examples are moral and religious notions (“invisible beings, the kingdom of the blessed, hell, heaven, eternity,

22

Chapter 1

creation, etc.”) (KU 5: 314, 192). As a result, to express such an idea requires, Kant supposes, that we create works that stimulate the imagination to make all sorts of associations that substitute for a literal description of these elusive entities. And importantly, the process of expression is one that must be independent of all “concepts“—since no concepts can literally describe the notions involved. As Kant puts the matter, expression of ideas “can be communicated without constraint of rules” (KU 5: 317, 195). I shall save for the next chapter a more technical description of the expression of aesthetic ideas; here I only want to suggest how expression is a mental state compatible with the restriction that aesthetic appreciation is one of free harmony. Expression of aesthetic ideas is a “free” harmony since expression must be unlike ordinary cases of conceptual determination. In ordinary cases (either empirical concepts or teleological ideas) Kant supposes that we come to objects with a well-formed notion of what the thing is either presumed to be or what function it is presumed to serve. Judging an object to be the expression of an aesthetic idea is quite another matter. Since there can be no well-formed concept of things like heaven, hell, and so on, we give free reign to our imagination in order to interpret an object as expressing an idea of such things. This is not a matter of judging that an object falls under a given concept or serves some purpose. Neither a well-formed idea of an end nor a determinant concept is possible for the objects that art can supposedly express. As such, art cannot be governed by rules or standards in the ordinary sense. Rather, Kant claims, the artist can be said to create a “new rule” as a result of his “free use of his cognitive faculties” (KU 5: 318, 195). Regardless of how the process of expression is achieved (and Kant thinks here that genius is a mysterious gift of nature— one which cannot be taught or learned), it cannot employ any “concepts” or teleological ideas (KU 5: 317, 194). Moreover, expression of ideas, as others have pointed out, may even be compatible with what some regard as Kant’s unfortunate doctrine of perceptual formalism. That is to say, it could be argued that my interpretation comes dangerously close to claiming that all beauty must express ideas, and this interpretation seems to conflict with Kant’s supposed perceptual formalism. But, there need be no conflict here since Kant holds the plausible enough position that the artist’s job is to manipulate perceptual elements in such a way as to achieve an expression of ideas.29 What Kant suggests is that formal unity of a manifold (even if this manifold is restricted to perceptible elements) can be achieved only if the artist works up his matter with some aesthetic idea in mind.30 As mentioned above, the claim that recognizing aesthetic ideas as a mental state compatible with “free harmony” is a fairly well-accepted interpretation

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of the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment.” However, I want to claim something stronger than mere compatibility. Expression of aesthetic ideas solves the problem of interpreting “free harmony.” And further, if expression is the only way to make sense of a free harmony, then we may be forced to conclude that expression is a necessary condition for beauty. Indeed, there are passages where Kant claims that expression is criterial for beauty (KU 5: 320, 197). However, it could be argued that we should discount such passages on the interpretation that although expression of ideas may be compatible with the free harmony requirement, expression is only one species of beauty—whether an object expresses or not is quite contingent. However, if it is the case that expression is needed to explain the possibility of free harmony, then expression is far from contingent. And Kant’s pronouncement that all beauty is expressive can be taken more seriously. To be sure, there are several problems left if we try to argue that expression plays the central role I attribute to it. In spite of passages like the one just quoted, sometimes it seems that Kant holds that expression of aesthetic ideas is a feature only of artistic, not natural beauty. Thus, expression could not be criterial for all judgments of beauty. Strictly speaking, trying to argue that expression is criterial for all species of beauty goes beyond the argument of this chapter. If I have been convincing that expression solves the riddle of free harmony (even if this riddle can only be solved for artistic beauty), I have completed my task. But a little can be said in favor of assuming that Kant intends expression to be a general criteria. First, there are passages where Kant refers to beauties of nature as expressive.31 Second, some think that calling nature expressive is an odd thing to do since with nature, unlike art, we cannot strictly attribute the sort of intentionality seemingly required for expressiveness. Of art, we may say quite truly that the artist expresses something in his work, but even if we may interpret a sunset as expressing grandeur, literally it does not. Yet, trying to force such a distinction on Kant will not work for the simple reason that even in the case of artistic beauty, the recognition of expression does not depend on actually attributing intentions to a creator.32 As we shall see in more detail in the next chapter, Kant holds that art is created by “genius” that acts unselfconsciously. Thus, Kant seems able to say that with both art and nature we interpret objects “as if” created with the intention of expressing an idea. This leads to a more general point about Kant’s distinction between art and nature. For some time it was supposed that such a distinction was philosophically important to Kant’s aesthetics; however, this has been disputed recently in a number of ways.33 I shall not rehearse the arguments here but only point to one passage where Kant makes the distinction in order to show its relative unimportance for the issue of beauty:

Kant can be accused of being just wrong in thinking that all art must represent. 197) Kant argues that for a work to be art it must be intended to conform to a “concept of an Object“—where this seems to mean that the artist must first represent something by his art. after representing some object the artist can express an idea (say. but in beautiful nature the mere reflection on a given intuition. it is difficult to see the relevance of the distinction for aesthetic judgment.” And if this is the important difference between art and nature. . Of course. And subsequently. painting a picture of a woman that expresses sadness).24 Chapter 1 Beauty (whether it be of nature or of art) can in general be called the expression of aesthetic ideas: only in beautiful art this idea must be occasioned by a concept of the object. Yet. We shall look into these matters more closely in the chapter 3. is sufficient for arousing and communicating the idea of which that object is considered as the expression. This is part of the lesson supposedly learned in the “Analytic. (KU 5: 320. without a concept of what the object ought to be. appreciation of nature obviously short circuits this process (there is no sense in which nature represents). but on Kant’s own grounds the fact that an object does or does not represent is irrelevant to its beauty.

At ¶51 Kant claims that “(b)eauty (whether it be of nature or art) can in general be termed the expression of aesthetic ideas” (KU 5: 320.” However.2 None of this short description will come as any surprise to anyone familiar with the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment. thus. Also. judgments that claim a subjective. Aesthetic judgments are. Much of the discussion of Kant’s aesthetic theory centers around his attempt to justify what he takes to be aesthetic judgments’ special status. Kant’s substantive position on aesthetic value seems to be a formalism. then it is thought to follow (on traditional interpretations of Kant) that an object’s aesthetic worth (its beauty) consists in its form—the way in which a manifold is ordered. rather more confounding is Kant’s subsequent discussions. Kant argues that aesthetic judgments’ universal status can be justified only if certain objects give us pleasure the source of which is the mental state of free harmony. And since the mental state of free harmony is some kind of recognition of the order of a manifold of sense. where he appears to adopt a position typically thought to be antithetical to formalism. universal validity. seemingly. I want to consider in more detail how this doctrine fits with and helps to explain his doctrine of free harmony. 197). that expression of aesthetic ideas is a criterion (perhaps even the only criterion) for beauty. This apparently puts Kant in a bind.1 Simply put. If Kant is indeed a formalist. as we saw in the first chapter. the position that art (and perhaps nature as well) ought to be in the business of expressing certain kinds of “ideas. how expression might play a role in support of the universal validity of aesthetic judgments. from ¶42 to the end. I want to consider how expression of ideas may be of aesthetic value and. for Kant. for Kant. namely. it would appear to be inconsistent to also claim that beauty must be judged in terms of the content that an object has to communicate to its audi25 . Further. In this chapter I want to take a longer look at the notion of aesthetic ideas.” Kant goes so far as to claim. After providing a description of what it is. to express an aesthetic idea.2 The Doctrine of Aesthetic Ideas In the first chapter I suggested that Kant’s doctrine of the expression of aesthetic ideas may help to explain the problematic notion of a free harmony of the imagination and the understanding.

I mean that representation of the imagination occasions much thinking though without it being possible for any determinate thought. a concept to which no intuition (representation of the imagination) can be adequate. in turn. as Kant defines them. which. however. they are based on experience. Locke. Perhaps the most explicit description of an aesthetic idea comes in ¶49: By an aesthetic idea. For Kant. finally. concepts are rules . In fact. one important difference between Kant’s account of empirical concepts and those of the empiricists. conversely. naming the groups (by use of a concept). however. tends to look at concepts as paradigm cases of individuals—“Dog” would refer to a paradigm individual of the class of dogs. further. 1 In this section I want simply to sketch out what Kant’s doctrine of expression of aesthetic ideas amounts to and follow up in the next two sections by considering how this doctrine squares with other parts of his account (notably his commitment to formalism) and. For short. for example. The concept dog or a tree is defined by specifying the kinds of sense manifolds we would expect to experience and that could be appropriately called dog or tree. The goal of this chapter is to take a look at Kant’s discussion of expression of aesthetic ideas and see what role he may intend for the doctrine. (KU 5: 314. empirical concepts are a posteriori. In the description of aesthetic ideas Kant relies on a distinction developed in the Critique of Pure Reason (Kant’s first Critique) between concepts (Begriffe) and ideas (Ideen)—which.—One readily sees that it is the counterpart (pendant) of an idea of reason. Empirical concepts like dog or tree are notions that can be tied directly to sense intuition (sense data). an empirical concept specifies what we are to find in our sense perception. no language fully attains or can make intelligible. Kant would also agree with the empiricist that we come to form these concepts by first looking at different configuration of sense manifolds.e. gives rise to determinant or reflective judgments as discussed in chapter 1. 192) A little bit of background is appropriate here. concept.3 In this respect ordinary. i. being adequate to it. All of this is quite compatible with a fairly typical empiricist’s view of concepts. as we saw in chapter 1. falls into two groups: ordinary empirical concepts and pure or a priori concepts. what role expression might play in Kant’s account of aesthetic value. grouping them by similarities and. Concepts. consequently. To simplify. which is. There is. dog or tree refers to types of manifolds of sense intuition.26 Chapter 2 ence.

KU 5: 342. are representations (and no doubt problematic ones) that refer to objects and states of affairs beyond sensible experience. It is still the case that concepts are concrete. they apply to sense experience—in fact Kant argues that they necessarily apply to sense experience. freedom. For something to be a dog. the manifold must possess certain elements—tail. Near the end of the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment. hence. in both cases. a priori concepts are also rules specifying an order for an empirical manifold.6 None of these “ideas” is determinant according to Kant since we cannot specify the nature of the sense manifold that would count as instances of these ideas. nonetheless. Kant is primarily concerned with just three such ideas of reason: God. Pure or a priori concepts most certainly represent a great departure from traditional empiricists. Such pure or a priori concepts are very limited in number.” (Remark I. on the other hand. For example. head. Ideas.The Doctrine of Aesthetic Ideas 27 for organizing manifolds of sense. However. while a priori concepts are not derived from sense experience. That is to say. Notably. the manifold of sense of that object must measure up to the dog rule. logically prior to that sense experience. etc. We cannot do this since the objects or states of affairs are not objects of experience—are not the sort of things about which we can have sense knowledge. like ordinary empirical concepts. Kant wants further to distinguish between different kinds of ideas—rational ideas and aesthetic ideas.—and all of those elements must be of the proper form or in the proper configuration. beyond the bounds of sense verification. It does not overstate the case to say that the central project of the first Critique is to argue that there are concepts properly describing our sense-experienced world that are. in the first Critique. both a posteriori and a priori concepts are to be distinguished from ideas according to Kant.” Kant claims that aesthetic ideas are “inexponible” while rational ideas are “indemonstrable. . However.5 Both a priori and a posteriori concepts are “determinant” as regards sense intuition insofar as we can specify. the a priori concept of causality requires that there be a necessary rule of temporal succession from one happening to another. and immortality. a posteriori concepts and pure. what sort of sense manifolds fall under the concepts. a priori concepts it is nonetheless the case that a priori concepts are in a proper sense empirically determinant. In the first Critique Kant is concerned to postulate a kind of “representation” distinct from concepts that applies to objects and states of affairs beyond the bounds of sense intuition and. Kant argues primarily for the concepts of substance and causality as well as the two pure “intuitions” of space and time. That is to say. As such.4 Although there are obviously significant differences between ordinary. determinant representations by which we can come to describe what an object would be like for sensible experience. In the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment” Kant retains the basic distinction between ideas and concepts.

do this by way of abstraction. with the lightning in its claws” brings to mind the “mighty king of heaven” because of certain analogies between the majesty of the bird and the majesty of God.”) Rational ideas. knowledge. unless symbolism is very broadly defined. but in different ways. An aesthetic idea is a “representation of the imagination that occasions much thinking” (KU 5: 314. Even if we were to grant that objects and states of affairs beyond our sense experience can be suggested symbolically. that which cannot be directly experienced. but this time we do so by giving some sense of God by suggesting. (They are “inexponible. it is an open question whether symbolism must always operate analogically. Kant’s broad characterization of expression of aesthetic ideas seems plausible enough. he overdraws the difference between aesthetic and rational ideas.8 However. We might portray the idea of God. Kant holds the position that artworks (and. however. but by a mere machine (like a handmill) if it is ruled by a single absolute will” ( KU 5: 352. it is quite likely that artworks express ideas by using techniques other than symbolism. Aesthetic ideas induce so much thought that concepts cannot be adequate to the job of representation.28 Chapter 2 218. metaphorically or symbolically. Ideas of reason. by abstracting from mortal limitations—a being not limited by space and time. For example an artwork might express a range of human emotions (often examples that Kant uses) by representing persons with outward demeanor characteristic of persons having those emotions.”) As is often the case when Kant attempts to make a technical distinction. Kant now suggests. In an artwork. the idea of a “monarchical” state could represented by a “body with a soul if it is ruled in accordance with laws internal to the people.7 “Jupiter’s eagle. (They are “indemonstrable. 226). however. Or. this account of expression is not without its problems. natural objects as well) are able to express ideas of objects or states of affairs beyond our sensible experience by suggesting such things symbolically by way of an analogy. I would be hard pressed to call such a technique one of symbolism. a being not finite in power. as we shall see. attempt to represent that which has too little intuition for a concept to get a grip on. Or ex- . Kant wants to claim that both aesthetic and rational ideas attempt to go beyond experience. for example. It seems quite likely that symbolism can function in a variety of ways to express ideas—by making associations. by relying on certain conventions. and perhaps by other techniques. we may attempt to portray the very same idea of God. 192). or goodness. these labels are intended to reflect the analysis indicated in the passage from above (KU 5: 314). It seems to be Kant’s position that ideas attempt to represent objects and states of affairs that cannot be met with in ordinary sense experience.) Unusual language to one side. again using analogies. Further. In spite of these misgivings.

which no science can teach and no diligence learn. 2 At the very least Kant holds that artistic beauty can be a matter of expressing aesthetic ideas. . This is an interesting account of expression even if Kant is mistaken about the specific details of how these associations are made—namely. Genius. which gives the imagination cause to spread itself over a multitude of related representations. An artist through an exercise of “genius” is able to construct an object that stimulates a host of thoughts and associations (“rapidly passing play of the imagination”) and yet is able to shape these thoughts into a coherent whole suggesting a particular idea. which could not have been deduced from any antecedent principles or examples). many questions about the doctrine remain. We even have a rough description of how Kant believes that we come to appreciate that ideas are expressed. in short.The Doctrine of Aesthetic Ideas 29 pression of an aesthetic idea is “something else. 193). requires a faculty for apprehending the rapidly passing play of the imagination and unifying it into a concept (which for that reason is original and at the same time discloses a new rule. whether they must all by analogical and symbolic. . understandably enough. most of Kant’s discussion of aesthetic ideas occurs. 194–95) Kant’s position seems to be the following. an artist’s genius is able to bring a “new rule” to organize his or her material in order to express an idea of an object or state of affairs that goes beyond our sense experience. For example. . in the context of art and artistic creation. is intended as an account of how artworks are created such that they can be properly appreciated as expressing an idea. Kant’s primary explanation of how expression works is embedded in his account of how artistic “genius” creates an object that we come to appreciate as expressing an idea: Genius really consists in the happy relation. In fact. Kant’s general position here is that an artwork expresses an idea by stimulating the imagination to make associations that congeal into a notion of something that we cannot meet with directly in experience. of finding ideas for a given concept on the one hand and on the other hitting upon the expression for these . Given this account one may very well assume that expression of aesthetic . which can be communicated without the constraint of rules. More specifically. However. (KU 5: 317. for to express what is unnameable . which let one think more than one can express in a concept determined by words” (KU 5: 315. .

is that artistic ability is a “natural endowment” that the artist is neither well aware of nor much able to control.10 Natural objects are not intentional objects. on his own grounds this makes no sense. That is to say. In the case of teleological judgments it may be particularly useful to interpret nature “as if” purposively designed. There is no reason for Kant to believe that natural objects are created with the intention that it is appropriate for us to appreciate them as expressing an idea. it makes no sense to say that natural objects can express ideas. Kant makes it quite clear (for example. In fact. Kant’s primary account of how objects come to express is given in terms of art. This position. But of course this account is unavailable to Kant for natural objects. nonetheless. There is a larger point here as well.30 Chapter 2 ideas is something exclusive to art and artistic creation. However. Kant quite explicitly holds that beauty of either art or nature can express aesthetic ideas (KU 5: 320. As we have seen. Claiming that objects are products of intentions or purposes is particularly out of place in the Critique of Judgment (Kant’s third Critique).9 Although this topic will be considered at length in the next chapter on art and nature. Only an account like the one Kant gives for artistic creation is appropriate to claiming that an object is expressive. Kant does not hold the position that only art expresses aesthetic ideas. Kant’s account of artistic creation relies on the notion of genius. again one familiar to the Romantic tradition. through an act of genius. it can be argued that it is mistaken to think that they could express anything. Since they are not intentional. a little can be said here. There certainly are some points against considering natural objects as expressing aesthetic ideas. An artist. 186). is certainly not self-consciously planning to create a work that communicates an idea. can we properly say of it that it expresses. As we have seen above in ¶51. Kant holds that “Genius is the innate predisposition of the mind (ingenium) through which nature gives the rule to art” (KU 5: 307. Specifically. Artists. in the introductions to the third Critique) that the only appropriate kind of purposive judgments are ones that merely claim that we should regard objects “as if” designed for some purpose. create their works. One might complain that although Kant clearly says this. Kant has a quite Romantic notion of genius at work here. Artists through their use of “genius” create works such that when (properly) appreciated are understood to express an idea. 197). intentional process.12 To go farther and claim that an object is really designed to suit some purpose will often be beyond our powers to know. At the very least. this way of understanding expression for both artworks and natural objects fails on Kant’s theory. even though we cannot .11 Creation of art by genius is not a self-conscious. Unfortunately. only if we can have reason to believe that an object is created with the intention that it communicate an idea. on Kant’s conception.

Or quite generally. Kant takes the same position regarding aesthetic judging.”) If interpreting an artwork as expressing an idea is not a matter of discovering the intentions of the artist.13 If this is a correct account of expression for artworks. We can do all of this without literally attributing intentionality to these natural objects. commit the “intentional fallacy. we can properly interpret a bird’s song as expressing “joyousness and contentment.” (KU 5: 302. 354). These characterizations have lead some to suppose that the free/dependent distinction is a dis- .14 The criticism here depends on a distinction Kant develops in ¶16 between free and dependent (or adherent) beauty with a decided evaluative preference for free beauty. 114). Each of these interpretations of the expressiveness of natural objects is properly made under the caveat that the object is seen as if intentionally created to express an idea. 181) We can appreciate the beauty of trees by seeing them as “majestic and magnificent” or the beauty of the fields by seeing them as “smiling and joyful” (KU 5: 354. in the language of twentieth-century aesthetics. 180).The Doctrine of Aesthetic Ideas 31 determine whether it is in fact so designed. (We need not. then it is perfectly consistent for Kant to say that we can do this with natural beauty as well. attribute. We can also interpret nature as expressing an idea since interpreting an object as expressing does not require us to postulate an intentional creator. 114). it can yet be argued that beauty that expresses ideas is inferior to beauty that does not. For example. (KU 5: 229. is beauty that depends on a concept of what an object should be. There is another problem that confronts Kant’s doctrine of expression of ideas. like teleological judgments. First. If it can be admitted that both art and nature are capable of being interpreted as expressing aesthetic ideas. or interpret an order to the elements of the work that “add up” to the expression of an idea. Kant goes on to describe further this difference as one between beauties that do or do not have to “signify” something by themselves (KU 5: 229. whereas free beauty presupposes no such concept. it must be the case that we can properly appreciate an artwork as expressing an idea without knowing or even supposing that the artwork was created with an intention to express. But if this is how we appreciate artworks in order to understand them as expressing ideas. then it is plausible to say that we come to see an object as expressing an idea when we discern. In aesthetic appreciation we are required to look for purposiveness but. it has implications for both art and nature. We may interpret an artwork “as if” designed by intention to express an idea. Dependent beauty. we can observe the “cipher by means of which nature speaks to us in its beautiful forms” (KU 5: 301. Also we can interpret nature as if intentional (purposive) (KU 5: 306. 185). as Kant defines it. the purposiveness need only be on our interpretation—we need only be able to see objects “as if” designed for a purpose.

hence a concept of its perfection” (KU 5: 230. however. must depend on a concept and those that do not. in part. arsenal. Ideas. Seeing an object as.15 If this is correct. and “a host of marine crustaceans”) (KU 5: 229. Accordingly. then it can be argued that beauty as the expression of ideas plays a secondary role in Kant since as a species of dependent beauty it will always come out second best to free beauties. We need only notice that the issue of whether aesthetic appreciation depends on a concept is quite separate from the issue of whether an object expresses an idea. 114) are not appreciated as instances of some concept.17 Fortunately. The substance of the remark in ¶16 is that one should make a distinction between judging the beauty of objects that. Concepts. This reading of Kant blurs the distinction between ideas and concepts discussed earlier. of a building (such as a church. In this case the white lily expresses the idea of innocence and yet this has nothing to do with its “dependence” on a concept in Kant’s sense. The two categories are quite distinct. They are for Kant “free” beauties. In fact. the architectural design of a church (a conceptually dependent object on Kant’s accounting) may yet express an idea. “the beauty of a horse. developed in ¶16. Alternatively. presupposes a concept of the end that determines what the thing should be. 181). or garden-house). It would be a difficult task to defend completely Kant’s distinction between free and dependent beauty since it raises a host of problems. For example. This position can easily be expanded to rather un-Kantian examples of abstract art that would be nonconceptual.16 The free/dependent distinction. A Gothic church. are “representations” used to describe the world that can be given determinate. expands on Kant’s insistence that “pure” aesthetic judgments do not depend on concepts in the sense just sketched. but can clearly express ideas. specific empirical content. the instance of a type (or representing the instance of a type) is a separate and distinct activity from appreciating an object as expressing an idea. palace. 114). sense experience. Kant believes that nonrepresentational art and at least some natural objects (flowers. it is not the case that objects that express ideas are necessarily also dependent beauties. for Kant. Kant uses the example of the “white color of the lily seems to dispose the mind to ideas of innocence” (KU 5: 302. by their nature. . particularly emotions. In the earlier paragraphs of the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment” Kant rejects the view that objects should be judged as beautiful according to how well they exemplify a concept—such is the doctrine of perfectionism. Alternatively. in Kant’s sense. one would hope. may express the idea of soaring spirituality. A free beauty like a flower could perfectly well express an idea. birds. that task need not be addressed here. are just those problematic representations that cannot be captured by empirical.32 Chapter 2 tinction between beauty that does not express ideas (free beauty) and beauty that does express (dependent).

as we shall see. It is hard to know what we should do with the doctrine of perceptual formalism. . To take the aforementioned example. as in the above quotes from ¶14. it likely is not Kant’s intent to restrict free harmony to only a free harmony of perceptual elements. as we have seen. we can recognize that an artwork represents “Jupiter’s eagle. free harmonies not comprised solely of perceptual elements. This is surely mistaken since the free harmony requirement at most commits Kant to a formalism broadly speaking that is indifferent to the type of elements constituting the form. Unfortunately. However. But further. expression of ideas is inconsis- . at least in this example. By his own examples. Kant seems committed to perceptual formalism. there is a problem for my interpretation. at least in the “Analytic. Even more narrowly he holds. .19 As a result. It is tempting to agree with Paul Guyer that Kant confuses a narrow doctrine of perceptual formalism with a wider position that follows from the free harmony requirement. While it may be granted that expression involves a free harmony (as we saw perviously) and that this is a “formal” concern. or mere play of sensations (in time)” (KU 5: 225. Aesthetic pleasure is to be found in the organization of an object’s perceptible elements (as opposed to any cognitive content—any “meaning”): “In painting and sculpture. free harmony refers to the way a manifold is organized. Regardless of where the truth lies in the above controversy. it does not seem to be a concern with perceptual form. with the lightning in its claws.18 The free harmony requirement does indeed entail a kind of formalism since. Expression of ideas requires a free play of various cognitive elements that add up to an idea. is either shape or play: in the latter case it is either play of shapes (in space.” a doctrine of perceptual formalism.The Doctrine of Aesthetic Ideas 33 3 Kant holds that aesthetic worth is determined by the pleasure we take in the formal aspects of an object. . It may be perceptual elements (perceptual formalism). not what gratifies in sensation but merely what pleases through form. .” by giving our imagination “cause to spread itself over a multitude of related representations” which results in the idea of “the powerful king of heaven” (KU 5: 315. “(a)ll form of objects of sense . there are formal. at least in a range of cases. If this is so. It may be intellectual items (thought associations) or it may be even some third alternative. then one may argue that we cannot take seriously his claim that all beauty expresses aesthetic ideas. requires something quite different from perceptual form. 226). Kant sometimes seems to hold that only perceptual formalism follows from the free harmony requirement. at this level of generalization we need not specify what sort of elements comprise the manifold.” And further. it could be argued. . the drawing is what is essential . Expression. . 193). mime and dance). indeed in all pictorial arts .

it is easy to grant that an idea can be expressed through the appreciation of a perceptual form. We seem to be presented with the . there is every reason to believe that Kant’s own account of expression rests on precisely the same grounds as his supposed formalism. it does not rule out the importance of expression of aesthetic ideas. even if that is so. First. as usual. But he expands on this point in ¶53 where he claims that the “the form . 206). . to express . a “design a la grecque” that may well “signify nothing by themselves” (KU 5: 229. expression cannot be a requirement for all beauty as Kant seems to claim. in general. Moreover. Thus. as mentioned earlier. And. In the previous chapter we had a problem understanding how we could appreciate a manifold of particulars as “freely” conforming to the rulegovernedness requirement of understanding. The upshot here is that Kant may well have overstated his case for perceptual formalism in the early stages of the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment.” However. . it seems to be the case with contemporary abstract art that we can attend to the perceptual form and yet claim that the work is expressive. And not only is this what we would say about form and expression. it is an organization of a manifold of particulars. Not only does it seem possible that a theory of expression can be compatible with formalism on the grounds that one could hold that we appreciate expression by attending to form. 114) and yet can express any number of ideas. beauty is the expression of aesthetic ideas. it will be recalled. the appreciation of perceptual form is all important.” In ¶51 where he begins by asserting that. . Kant gives the example of music where.20 We can take this point farther. Further. but also. whatever exactly this harmony amounts to. I believe that there is a considerable amount of evidence that appreciating an object (whether art or nature) as expressing an idea is always achieved by a free harmony of the imagination and the understanding. We can attend to a perceptual form. is the claim that aesthetic appreciation involves a free harmony of the imagination and the understanding. The core of Kant’s formalism. .34 Chapter 2 tent with perceptual formalism. Expression is perfectly consistent with formalism. of these sensations (harmony and melody) serves only. Harmonizing the imagination with the understanding involves the recognition of some kind of order of a manifold of particulars. Expression of ideas is not inconsistent with perceptual formalism. instead of the form of a language. Kant clearly holds that objects can be beautiful in virtue of their perceptual form alone. setting aside textual considerations. This criticism founders on one important premise. the aesthetic idea of a coherent whole of an unutterable fullness of thought” (KU 5: 329. even perceptual formalism. he gives a number of examples where art exemplifies perceptual form and also expresses ideas. but Kant himself seems to offer just such a position later on in the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment.

However. . It is virtually a first principle of Kant’s position that aesthetic judgments are founded on pleasure felt by the subject. I want to suggest in this section that this technical discussion does have important implications both for Kant’s theory of aesthetics and the field of aesthetics more generally. The doctrine of expression of ideas speaks to a number of difficulties in the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment. 4 To claim that expression of aesthetic ideas helps to explain how we can perceive order in a manifold without violating Kant’s injunction against concepts may seem overly facile. 97). Kant’s official reason for rejecting concepts as the ground of aesthetic judgments is that “there is no transition from concepts to the feeling of pleasure or displeasure” (KU 5: 211. Kant’s complaint against seeing aesthetic judgments as some kind of conceptual judgment is that such judgments seem able to be made without involving any reference to pleasure in appreciation. the second horn fares no better. As we have seen. overly technical. Kant’s principal complaint against judging objects aesthetically as instances of concepts stems from his rejection of “perfectionism. Appreciating beauty (either art or nature) as expressing ideas allows us to understand how we can appreciate a manifold as orderly yet without an order imposed by determinant concepts.The Doctrine of Aesthetic Ideas 35 dilemma that either a manifold is determined by a conceptual rule or it is determined by no rule at all. in the Second and Third Moments of the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment” Kant argues that aesthetic appreciation must be something other that judging an object in terms of how well it approximates a “perfect” instance of a concept. expression of ideas goes a long way to explain the possibility of a “free” (nonconceptual) harmony of the imagination and understanding. Kant clearly holds that perfectionism is an implausible theory since it makes no reference to the pleasure we feel in appreciating an object. as we have seen.” As we saw in chapter 1. In a strict sense. The alternative is that we appreciate an object (as if) designed to express an ideas. then it seems quite impossible to say that aesthetic appreciation is a matter of finding any sort of order in a manifold that is clearly the intent of Kant’s free harmony requirement. objects interpreted as expressing ideas are perfectly consistent with the requirement in the second moment of the Analytic of the Beautiful that aesthetic appreciation is a matter of taking pleasure in an object apart from a concept. But. given Kant’s distinction between concepts and ideas. If there are no rules at all. The first horn of the dilemma is eliminated by Kant’s insistence that aesthetic appreciation is not a matter of recognizing a manifold as an instance of a concept.” That is to say.

i. From this one sees: That genius (1) is a talent for producing that for which no determinate rule can be given . If the job of an artist is to create an object that is a near perfect instance of some determinant concept. . 186) Kant’s criticism of using “concepts” here is a bit different from the original complaint in the “Analytic”. A key text in this regard is ¶46 with Kant’s discussion of “Genius. Kant goes so far as to define genius as the ability to express ideas: “Genius really consists in the happy relation. then the process might be demanding but hardly original or creative. of finding ideas for a given concept on the one hand and on the other hitting upon the expression of these” (KU 5: 317. It is not creative since one knows full well what the artwork is to be like. Thus beautiful art cannot itself think up the rule in accordance with which it is to bring its product into being. In ¶46 (and elsewhere) Kant wants to stress the importance of originality of art and appreciation of beauty that is seen as breaking away from rules and concepts handed down. .e. nature in the subject (and by means of the disposition of its faculties) must give the rule to art. (KU 5: 307. that such a perfectionist doctrine does not adequately account for the pleasure at the base of an aesthetic judgment. In the passage just quoted Kant appeals to genius as the ability to come up with new and original “rules” to produce artworks. beautiful art is possible only as a product of genius. . And this account of genius and originality is further bound up with the expression of ideas. In the latter sections of the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment” Kant often contrasts beauty as expression of aesthetic ideas with a position like perfectionism on the grounds of originality. which no science can teach and no diligence learn.36 Chapter 2 there is another quite frequent complaint that Kant has against perfectionism. Yet since without a preceding rule a product can never be called art. .”21 The concept of beautiful art. consequently that originality must be its primary characteristic. . this faculty of genius is credited with the ability to be able to express these ideas by coming up with the sort of “new rule” referred to earlier. Perfectionism allows little room for creativity or originality. 194). does not allow the judgment concerning the beauty of its product to be derived from any sort of rule that has a concept for its determining ground. however. namely. It is not original since anyone striving to produce a work of perfection would presumably be going down the same path. Even more. Take the more obvious example of art. Genius is a “faculty for apprehending the rapidly passing play of the imagination and unifying it into a concept (which for that very reason is original and at the same time discloses a new rule that could not have been deduced from any antecedent .

” At first glance this does not seem to be obviously true. require determinant. unfortunately). A proper empirical concept must describe the sort of thing to be met with in sense perception. more would need to be said to defend the claim that expression of an idea must always be new and original and that this distinguishes expression of ideas from ordinary conceptualization. Concepts. at some point. Kant’s account of the expression of aesthetic ideas seems to be that ideas. Despite Kant’s looseness concerning concepts and ideas (not uncommon. “new rules. 193) in one work of art. requires an originality not required for creating new concepts. 195). attempt to refer to something beyond empirical experience. This cannot be the case with the referent of an idea. the doctrine of expression of aesthetic ideas plays an important role in his account of art and beauty more generally. In spite of the above. 192). To be sure. Kant’s account of the originality of expression of aesthetic ideas can be defended. he should have said genius is able to unify the imagination by use of a “new rule” (idea) and without the constraint of “old rules” (concepts). empirical concept since concepts are not adequate to the job of referring to that which is beyond experience. it does not seem that every time that someone creates an object in order to express an idea such expression must be original. as we have seen. If an object is constructed to express an idea we cannot construct the manifold in accordance with any given. One can very well have metarules for creating empirical . If “Jupiter’s eagle” can express the idea of “an attribute of the powerful king of heaven” (KU 5: 315.” However. but does not argue for. With the doctrine of expression of ideas Kant can explain how he can talk about a harmony of the imagination and understanding that is free from concepts and original at the same time. Second. It is important to keep in mind that expression attempts to “make sensible” that which lays beyond sense experience (KU 5: 314. As such no ordinary “concept” will be adequate.The Doctrine of Aesthetic Ideas 37 principles or examples). it can be argued. by their very nature. Kant then suggests. empirical content. that is communicated without the constraint of rules” (KU 5: 317. A couple of criticisms could be made here. it seems that even empirical concepts must have been. we can grant Kant the claim that representing objects and states of affairs beyond experience cannot be done by concept—this is true by the very definition of “concept. In the passages above Kant is rather loose with his use of “concept. then it seems that anyone who subsequently (and quite unoriginally) uses this symbolic devise can also express the same idea. First.”22 The concept of chair or dog was developed by someone at some time.” Given his distinction between ideas and concepts. This project. the claim that expression of an idea requires that one create an object according to some “new rule.

But also. cannot work this way. plausibly. is one for which there are no guidelines.” The consciousness of virtue. may be achieved in any number of ways. for the ideas they express. Kant suggests that ideas can only represent symbolically by suggesting that which cannot be literally exemplified. unlike conceptualization. even if only in thought. an open question how this value might figure into an aesthetic value judgment. when one puts oneself. Kant gives the following example: “The sun streamed forth. It may even further be true that there is no unique way in which to express an idea. There are likely many ways to express an “attribute of the powerful king. In ¶49. 194) . Kant’s position is that art and nature can give us some glimpse into objects and states of affairs that lay beyond experience. It is. in the place of a virtuous person. It turns out that there are actually several reasons that Kant gives to support the value of expression of ideas. Ideas.38 Chapter 2 concepts—look for common features among a group of objects you wish to group together under a new class concept. Expression. This activity. even if we were to grant that one could choose some standard and. 5 In this chapter I have addressed several issues concerning Kant’s doctrine of aesthetic ideas. In this last section I want to make a few further remarks about the value of appreciating objects. as tranquillity streams from virtue. aesthetically. it is reasonably clear why the expression of aesthetic ideas is valuable. I consider some problems standing in the way of understanding the doctrine as applying widely to objects of beauty (both art and nature) while not depreciating the value of expression of ideas (not relegating expression to the status of mere dependent beauty).” And. Centrally. This issue will be considered in the appendix. spreads in the mind a multitude of sublime and calming feelings. since they are nonempirical in character. It is clear that Kant believes that the expression of aesthetic ideas is valuable. however. it is nonetheless true that once upon a time originality was required in a way that it is never required for conceptualization. by now. and a boundless prospect into a happy future. nonoriginal ways of expressing such an idea. (KU 5: 316. Instead. which contains the central description of aesthetic ideas. which no expression that is adequate to a determinate concept fully captures. For now it will be sufficient to see why he thinks that the expression of aesthetic ideas is of value. I have wanted to give a description of what an aesthetic idea is for Kant and how an object is capable of expressing such ideas.

This thesis. courage. 180). But there is a related point here as well. The passage cited above does not quite say this. By way of aesthetic appreciation we get some sense of that for which we can have no empirical knowledge.23 Expression of aesthetic ideas is valuable since it is the only way in which we can have some kind of “representation” of those objects and states of affairs that go beyond empirical knowledge.” in particular. however. on the face of it. As such. that proper aesthetic appreciation gives us reason to believe that the world (nature) is amenable to our acting on the basis of practical reason. the poet can yet give us some (metaphorical) sense of what such consciousness would be like. What is interesting about this passage is that Kant seems to be claiming that beauty as the expression of aesthetic ideas is able to engage this interest of reason. having any familiarity with that which lies beyond sense seems out of the question. but later in the discussion at ¶42 Kant describes how nature speaks to us in a “language” that “seems to have a higher meaning” and gives examples of aesthetic ideas like innocence. he is particularly interested in moral ideas. At ¶42 Kant claims that “since it also interests reason that the ideas (for which it produces an immediate interest in the moral feeling) also have object” (KU 5: 300. however. and rather more difficult. are often but not always examples of moral ideas. This is part of an argument. although few in number. we are interested to know whether our ideas (of reason) can have an effect in what appears to be a mechanistically determined world.24 There is a final. That is to say. argument to the value of aesthetic appreciation and one that also depends on Kant’s attempt to forge a link between aesthetic appreciation and morality. 230). Given Kant’s epistemological position in the first Critique that knowledge must be limited by the bounds of sense. one might read Kant here as arguing that beauty as the expression of aesthetic ideas is morally valuable to us since it gives us reason to believe that the world is . and so on (KU 5: 302. The example Kant gives in the preceding quote illustrates the point. it can give us a peek into other notions beyond empirical experince. although it can be claimed as valuable that appreciation of beauty can give us insight into specific moral notions. Presumably. which will be discussed in chapter 6. Kant’s examples of aesthetic ideas. 181). seems a bit narrow since. Kant softens his position in the third Critique and the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment.The Doctrine of Aesthetic Ideas 39 It seems quite clear that aesthetic appreciation of the expression of an idea is a valuable experience for Kant since such appreciation can do a job for us that can be done in no other way. This leads to the claim that “taste is at bottom a faculty for the judging of the sensible rendering of moral ideas” (KU 5: 356. Kant’s interests in the expression of ideas extends to representations of anything that might be said to be beyond the reach of empirical concepts. we cannot form an empirical concept of the “consciousness of virtue”. Presumably.

40 Chapter 2 amenable to our efforts to act on practical reason. it helps to fill out the difficult notion of a free harmony of the imagination and the understanding. Second. it helps to explain how we can appreciate free harmony. Again. First. . the doctrine of aesthetic ideas may also help to explain in Kant why aesthetic appreciation is of value—why we should take pleasure in free harmony and specifically free harmony as expression of ideas. What I want to argue here is that the doctrine of aesthetic ideas helps Kant’s general account of aesthetic in two important ways. On my interpretation appreciation of an object as the expression of an aesthetic idea is not just compatible with finding aesthetic pleasure in a free harmony. I consider the question of the moral importance of aesthetic appreciation and its relation to aesthetic ideas in much more detail in chapter 6.

which must yet at the same time be purposive. 185) 41 . and not nature. and lower. if at the same time it looked like art. yet the purposiveness in its form must still seem to be as free from all constraint by arbitrary rules as if it were a mere product of nature. and the relation between beauty and morality. On this feeling of freedom in the play of our cognitive powers. namely.3 Natural and Artistic Beauty In the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment” Kant makes a distinction between the aesthetic appreciation of artworks and natural objects. standard than natural objects. that natural objects are intrinsically inferior to artworks. rests that pleasure which is alone universally communicable though without being grounded on concepts. whether it is the beauty of nature or art that is at issue: that is beautiful which pleases in the mere judging (neither in sensation nor through a concept).1 It should be noted that just the opposite interpretation has also been proposed. it is a misreading of the text to suppose that he intends an evaluative preference for one category over the other. And.2 The position for which I shall argue is that while Kant clearly makes a distinction between artworks and natural objects. It is commonplace to suppose that the distinction has important evaluative consequences. (KU 5: 306. further. I hope to show that attempts to read Kant as having such an evaluative preference are based on misunderstandings of other key Kantian concepts and distinctions—especially the distinction between free and dependent beauty. the notion of disinterestedness. For example. Nature was beautiful. For we can generally say. Kant is often understood to hold the claim that artworks are intrinsically inferior to natural objects and as such artworks should be judged by a different. In ¶45 of the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment” there is what I take to be a clear statement denying an evaluative distinction between objects of art and nature: In a product of art one must be aware that it is art. and art can only be beautiful (schöne) if we are aware that it is art and yet looks to us like nature.

42 Chapter 3 Kant’s position seems clear enough. an object that is a good example of a horse pleases us because we are “interested” in possessing and using a horse. As we have seen in previous chapters. Kant gives no reason to believe that one kind of object regularly does a better or worse job at meeting this criterion. Although the precise details of the notion of “purposiveness without purpose” or “free harmony” is subject to interpretative dispute as we have seen. A horse (or a pictorial representation of a horse) will display an orderliness simply because all of the parts add up to a horse. It has wheels. However. what is the same criterion. when they occasion the mental state of a “free harmony of the imagination and the understanding”—the criterion we considered in the first chapter. the sort of orderliness displayed cannot be attributed to any actual “purpose” or “concept. Or an object that serves the purpose of being a vehicle pleases us when we are “interested” in a means of conveyance. and fenders. Artworks insofar as they are human artifacts are most certainly intentional objects. Kant argues that such organization of purpose is not the kind of organization appropriate to aesthetic evaluation. To be sure Kant recognizes differences between art and nature but apparently ones that are irrelevant to their consideration as aesthetic objects. this is part of Kant’s rejection of Leibnizean “perfectionism. seats.” The pleasure we take in an orderliness lent by a determinate concept (like horse) or a teleological idea (like automobile) is an interested pleasure. There is a single criterion for “beauty. But again. an engine. which seems straightforward enough. Kant’s broad reason for why each of the above sorts of organization fails is connected to this claim that the pleasure at the foundation of a proper judgment of taste must be “disinterested. each of which contributes to the telos of an automobile.3 All of this is background for Kant’s position in ¶45. broadly Kant’s position is that in order for an object to be judged as beautiful it must possess a certain orderliness—the various elements must “hang together” in some fashion or other. Both art and nature must live up to the same criterion: purposiveness without purpose (a free harmony of the imagination and understanding). An automobile (or a pictorial representation of an automobile) will appear orderly because its parts contribute to the purpose of a vehicle. To oversimplify Kant’s argument.” Second. First. Further. What he has in mind is this.” Kant excludes two sorts of orderliness as relevant to aesthetic evaluation. Kant makes the double claim that we must approach art as if it were a product of nature and nature as if it were a product of art. They are objects cre- .” Objects are beautiful when they are “purposive” but without “purpose” or. an object may be orderly because each of the parts help serve some definite purpose. the orderliness of an object of taste should not be due to the fact that an object is an instance (perhaps a near perfect instance) of some general object.

Kant seems to claim that the best we can do for a “dependent” beauty is to make an “impure” judgment of taste. In ¶16 Kant distinguishes between beautiful objects that do not presuppose a “concept of what the object ought to be” (free beauties) versus objects which do presuppose such an concept (KU 5: 229. natural objects may characteristically fail to be aesthetically good because we have difficulty considering them as if purposive—we can find little rhyme or reason to their organization. this is thought to imply that objects capable of pure judgments of beauty (free beauties) are aesthetically superior to those capable only . we suppose. the object must seem as though all of its elements work together as though it were intentionally produced for the elements to function in this way. the passages we have been considering insist on a single standard. Further. One attempt at a stronger reading depends on Kant’s further distinction between “free” and “dependent” (or “adherent”) beauty. even differences of some aesthetic significance. it could be said that when artworks fail to meet Kant’s criterion it is often due to the fact that the works are too “studied” in their appearance—an artist’s intentions are too much in evidence. Again. But further.Natural and Artistic Beauty 43 ated by humans with some intention—if only the intention of producing an aesthetic object. proper aesthetic consideration requires that we abstract from the fact that artworks are intentional and in this respect treat it as if a natural object. However. a good aesthetic object is one that displays “purposiveness without purpose. 1 In spite of the evidence given here Kant has been interpreted as making a strong evaluative distinction between art and nature. to exemplify a concept or a teleological idea. while with a “free” beauty we can make a “pure” judgment. Kant claims that the proper aesthetic way to consider natural objects is as if they were works of art. they are not intentionally created. We should not be looking at artworks as designed.” Natural objects easily meet the “without purpose” requirement since. But even though individual artworks and natural objects may have different relative strengths and weaknesses as aesthetic objects. 114). This is not to deny that there are differences between art and nature. I see no prima facie reason to believe that one category of objects is incapable of meeting this criterion or even that one category of objects is less likely to meet the criterion. to consider an object aesthetically we must view the work as if created by an intentional agent in order to fulfill the purposive requirement. In order to derive aesthetic satisfaction from appreciating a natural object. For example.4 Alternatively. However. for example.5 But further.

Although there is much more to be said about Kant’s doctrine of disinterestedness. KU 5: 229. given Kant’s cautions against interestedness. In ¶48 Kant draws the art/nature distinction in the following way: “A beauty of nature is a beautiful thing. in order to consider a church’s beauty our appreciation of the object is. to consider what sort of thing an object is (or what purpose it serves) amounts to taking an “interest” in the object and. in some sense. this is enough to set up the connection with free and dependent beauty (and additionally. Further. 189). Both of the latter judgments are.” Specifically in ¶2 Kant argues that aesthetic judgments must be free of conceptual interestedness. One of Kant’s examples of such a dependent beauty is a church (KU 5: 230. As we have seen. are distinct from conceptual judgments. The claim in ¶4 is that conceptual judgments are “interested” in the sense that to judge an object to be good because it instantiates a kind concept or it suits a teleological idea assumes some prior concern with what kind is being realized or what end is being met. 114). 93). judgments of how well an object fits a kind concept or how well an object meets a teleological “concept” (strictly speaking teleological judgments use “ideas” in Kant’s taxonomy). Kant claims that this sort of thing is antithetical to a contemplation of an object as “good in itself” (KU 5: 207. Kant seems to suggest as much when he distinguishes free beauty from beauty that is “merely” dependent or adherent (my emphasis. such a consideration will infect the purity of an aesthetic judgment. “conceptual” judgments. the connection with artistic and natural beauties). viz. in Kant’s view. the beauty of art is a beautiful representation of a thing” (KU 5: 311. an argument can be mustered for the aesthetic superiority of natural versus artistic objects. it can be argued. Simply put. According to Kant dependent beauties “depend” on a concept of what sort of thing the object is. Kant’s point is that aesthetic judgments. constrained by the fact that in order to be a beautiful church it must live up to minimal criteria for being a church (its not important here whether we consider “church” a kind concept or a teleological idea). However. 114). Given this ammunition. All such conceptual judgments are instances of “interested” judgments to be distinguished from properly “disinterested” aesthetic judgments. The partial conclusion here is that “dependent beauties” are aesthetically inferior to “free beauties” because our judgments of dependent beauties are tainted by conceptual interests. based on felt pleasure in appreciation. . The reason the latter are depreciated harks back to Kant’s arguments in the first moment of the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment” that aesthetic judgments must be “disinterested. Kant is particularly concerned to distinguish aesthetic judgments from judging objects to be good representatives of a kind of object that does a good job of realizing some teleological end.44 Chapter 3 of an impure judgment (dependent beauties).

on the other side of the coin. In fact. As such. in part. and so on (KU 5: 229. it does not follow that this would necessarily support a preference for natural objects over artworks. Whatever we make of the free/dependent distinction.” if one wanted. Kant’s own example. It seems inappropriate on Kant’s own accounting to talk of “objects” as free or dependent beauties as opposed to evaluations (judgments) that are free or dependent. this entails that artworks are all “dependent beauties. even Kant is willing to admit that it is not universally true that all artworks are representational. Kant holds the unfortunate view that artworks (at least generally speaking) involve representation. most contentiously. it could be argued that socalled dependent judgments of beauty are at best a proper aesthetic judgment plus an aesthetically irrelevant conceptual judgment. the artworks are aesthetically inferior to natural objects. To recognize something as an artwork is to understand what it represents. According to Kant. A vase could. the art/nature and free/dependent distinctions are not coextensive.6 The free/dependent distinction is problematic. As such. Any object. be considered for the extent to which it serves the purpose of holding flowers. 114). Or. artworks employ “concepts” because they represent something (exemplify a concept). But. to evaluate an artwork is. According to the earlier arguments of the “Critique” a proper judgment of taste ought never consider exemplification of a concept or purpose as part of an aesthetic evaluation. We can have artworks that are free beauties and natural objects considered as dependent beauties. One might say that proper aesthetic evaluation should always be “independent” of the application of concepts. One could consider the vase without regard to its being a vase and one could consider a flower without regard to its species. from the above. Even if Kant has a preference for free beauties over dependent beauties. a botanist might consider the extent to which a particular flower is a good example of the species. even without the questionable application to the art/nature distinction. Finally. The discussion of ¶16 seems to imply that both artworks and natural objects can be considered as either dependent or free beauties.” since they depend on a concept of what kind of thing is represented.Natural and Artistic Beauty 45 Kant seems to think that art is necessarily representational. He cites examples in ¶16 of . so the argument goes. And. it will not establish that natural objects are aesthetically superior to works of art. Or. it is arguable whether Kant’s category “dependent (or impure) judgments of beauty” is coherent. to evaluate the extent to which it is a “good” representation. As we have seen. as Kant seems to admit. However. could be judged “dependently. at least partly. subsequent developments in the history of art (notably abstract art) make this claim seem quite doubtful. since dependent beauties are inferior to independent beauties. it would seem that any object could be judged independently of whether a concept applies to it or not.

can do so in such a way that it achieves “purposivenes without purpose” or “free harmony of the imagination and understanding” and accordingly can be judged (purely. must adhere to the same “purposiveness without purpose” criterion. Kant holds that “all music without a text” would be considered free beauty (KU 5: 229. Thus. it is often supposed that to express an idea is to represent a concept and anything that represents a concept is an inferior. found in the later sections.7 The point of these admittedly obscure remarks seems to be that artworks are representational. 191). It has been suggested that Kant has two quite different criteria for beauty: the formal criterion of purposiveness without purpose (or free harmony). seemingly incompatible. even if we must admit that artworks are representational. much of the latter portions of the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment” has to do with the notion of expression of aesthetic ideas (see ¶49 and further). foliage for borders or on wall-papers . .8 Further. And Kant goes on to explain that the ability to pick the right “form” in which to present a concept requires “taste. it does not . dependent beauty. seen in the early section of the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment” and a substantive criterion of expression of ideas. Kant describes elsewhere as a faculty able to recognize purposiveness without purpose (free harmony of the imagination and understanding). An explanation of these two. But this implies that artworks.” Taste. criteria is that the first applies to objects of nature while the latter applies to artworks. These examples of nonrepresentational aesthetic objects are also clearly examples of artworks. 2 There is a variant of the claim that the art/nature distinction corresponds to the free/dependent distinction. which represents an object. like natural objects. are free beauties. It seems entirely possible that an artwork. However. yet they are aesthetically meritorious when and only when the form of their presentation is purposive without purpose. This line of interpretation goes awry on at least three separate accounts: (1) If my analysis of the free/dependent distinction is roughly correct. this does not imply that they will always end up lower on the aesthetic scale than natural objects.46 Chapter 3 “designs a la grecque. even in cases of artworks that are representational it does not follow that our judgments of them must always be dependent and as such judged inferior to free judgments concerning natural objects.” Similarly. . if you will) according to Kant’s general criterion. As we have seen in the last chapter. which is really only the form of the presentation of a concept by means of which the latter is universally communicated” (KU 5: 312. 114). Just this position is implied by Kant in ¶48: “So much for the beautiful presentation of an object.

is sufficient for arousing and communicating the idea of which the object is considered as the expression” (KU 5: 320. without a concept of what the object ought to be. art expresses ideas by first representing something or other through a concept. Kant claims that we can appreciate the expressiveness of natural beauty without first seeing it as representational. After asserting that both art and nature express aesthetic ideas. whether representational or not each sort of object can express ideas. an artist may represent a nude in a painting and by means of which express the idea of gracefulness. In ¶51 he claims quite the contrary: “Beauty (whether it be beauty of nature or art) can in general be called the expression of aesthetic ideas: only in beautiful art this idea must be occasioned by a concept of the object. . 199). (3) There is another problem with the interpretation under consideration. For example. As such. Or an artist can produce a painting that represents “Jupiter’s eagle” but expresses the idea of a “powerful king of heaven” (KU 5: 315. Here.Natural and Artistic Beauty 47 follow that representational art objects are necessarily inferior to nonrepresentational natural objects.9 This is not so. The upshot is that it seems quite possible for natural objects as well as artworks to express aesthetic ideas. we could quarrel with the sort of distinction Kant makes between art and nature here. (2) Kant’s text does not support the claim that only artworks can express aesthetic ideas. 181). etc. Further. nonetheless. The free/dependent distinction does not match up to the nature/art distinction. The “white color of the lily” can express “innocence” without representing anything. but it is clear that he does not regard representation through a concept as equivalent to expression of ideas. But. they assume “a concept of what the object ought to be” whereas natural objects do not. on Kant’s accounting. Kant goes on to mark the difference between art and nature by claiming that art expresses “through the medium of a concept of the Object” while natural objects express by “bare reflection upon a given intuition.” but express all sorts of ideas (KU 5: 322. Or statues may represent “humans. This interpretation assumes that representing by means of a concept is the same thing for Kant as expressing an idea. Kant assumes that artworks are (generally) representational. two distinct enterprises. 197–98). one cannot make an evaluative distinction between artworks and natural objects on the basis of whether one or the other is capable of expressing ideas. gods. but in beautiful nature the mere reflection on a given intuition. The general point that expression of ideas and representation of concepts are not identical is implicit in the passage cited previously from ¶51. The white color of a lily expresses the idea of innocence and “The song of the bird proclaims joyfulness and contentment with its existence” (KU 5: 302. Expression of ideas and representation of concepts are.” On this accounting. Alternatively. again. Kant reinforces this point by giving examples of natural (nonrepresentational) objects that are properly regarded as expressing ideas. animals. Again. 193).

” Kant attempts to draw a connection between aesthetic judgments and an intellectual or moral interest in the objects judged. Here Kant claims that taking an “interest” in objects that are capable of producing in us a “disinterested delight” is “akin” to a moral interest. he apparently believes that taking the appropriate moral interest in objects is perfectly consistent with also considering them as a source of disinterested delight.13 There is a quite different attempt to distinguish the relative value of artistic and natural beauty on the basis of moral interest. 180). Kant holds just such a position: “It also interests reason that the ideas (for which it produced an immediate interest in the moral feeling) also have objective reality. Kant suggests that our moral interest is engaged just because the objects give us a disinterested delight.”11 In this respect the criticism is rather like the one based on dependent beauty.48 Chapter 3 3 There is one final strategy that is sometimes used to make an evaluative distinction between artworks and natural objects. given Kant’s commitment to disinterestedness. Instead of condemning one sort of object because it promotes a moral interest. it is the mirror image of the strategy just considered. In fact..e. this line of argument is used alternatively to support the superiority of art over nature or nature over art. If this criterion were to apply to moral interests. It is argued that Kant makes an important distinction between art and nature on the issue of moral or intellectual interest. Specifically. if one holds that promoting a moral interest is an important component to aes- . In fact. that nature should at least show some trace or give a sign that it contains in itself some sort of ground for assuming a lawful correspondence of its products with our satisfaction that is independent of all interest” (KU 5: 300. then it should not be permissible to consider an object “disinterestedly” and also take a moral interest in it. Some objects (and it is argued variously either art or nature) “depend” for their value on their ability to satisfy some moral or intellectual interest. But such objects are aesthetically inferior to the other group of objects that have no such dependence because. it is praised for just that reason. Rather obviously Kant means to distinguish aesthetically inappropriate sorts of interests criticized under the tag of disinterestedness from an appropriate interest—namely. Yet. such objects must be inferior to the others that do not depend on an “interest. i. Curiously. Toward the end of the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment. But.10 One way this argument can go is to claim that either art or nature promotes a moral or intellectual interest. And. further. a moral interest. in general.12 This argument from disinterestedness wrongly assumes that the disinterestedness criterion rules out a moral or intellectual interest in beauty. Kant claims that genuine aesthetic merit should not depend on interests.

But this is consistent with the position in ¶59—that both art and nature are of moral interest. Yet. He does not say that art is devoid of moral interest or that only nature promotes such an interest. By contrast . then one could argue that any category of object that fails to promote such an interest (or promotes the interest poorly) is deficient as an aesthetic object. Kant seems to think that those who appreciate nature cannot miss nature’s moral significance. Specifically. while art lovers are apparently more easily distracted. . if properly appreciated. are of moral importance since both are equally able to “symbolize” morality. In the latter sections of the . provides no proof of a way of thinking that is devoted to the morally good. I do assert that to take an immediate interest in the beauty of nature . more properly. This position is difficult to maintain in light of other portions of the text. Kant claims that “the beautiful is the symbol of the morally good. then natural beauty is superior to artistic beauty.Natural and Artistic Beauty 49 thetic value. are capable of satisfying a moral interest. Yet. . moral interest while art does not. neither the superiority of art over nature or nature over art can be justified by their differing moral importance. There Kant claims: “Now I glady concede that an interest in the beautiful of art .” whereas an interest in art does not show this. 227). it does not follow that people who contemplate art are as likely to recognize the moral worth of these objects as are those who contemplate nature. In the final section of the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment” (namely. about people who take an interest in either art or nature and what can be inferred about their moral disposition. . ¶42 seems inconsistent with Kant’s more general claim that art and nature live up to the same evaluative standard as well as the more specific claim in the Dialectic that both art and nature can symbolize morality.15 And. we must take care to see precisely what Kant has to say in ¶42. the claim is not about the objects of taste but. . 228). It could be that Kant holds that both art and nature. 178). The text typically used to support the superiority of nature over art (on the basis of a moral interest) is ¶42. Actually. Kant has been interpreted as claiming that natural beauty satisfies an intellectual. it seems. There is another. explanation for the apparent conflict between Kant’s position in ¶42 and later in ¶59. further. it is claimed that “we often designate beautiful objects of nature or of art with names that seem to be grounded in a moral judging” [my emphasis] (KU 5: 354. the “Dialectic of Aesthetic Judgment”). If we take Kant seriously in ¶59. Or. rather. In fact. The passages at ¶42 and ¶59 seem to stand in sharp contrast. . is always a mark of a good soul” (KU 5: 298. Both.14 Further. and possibly better.” seemingly referring to both art and nature (KU 5: 353. . . since satisfying such an interest is aesthetically valuable. Kant’s point is that an interest in nature shows the “mark of a good soul. . .

Instead. Artistic beauty is a species of natural beauty. Art is produced by a creator who is not self-conscious of what he or she is doing: “He himself does not know it and thus cannot teach it to anyone else either” (KU 5: 309. whereas.50 Chapter 3 “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment” (¶44–¶58) Kant makes a distinction between beautiful or fine art (schöne Kunst) and merely agreeable (angenehm) art. 186) Beautiful art. conceptual rule to bear on his or her creation. agreeable art might be the “art” of a soap opera calculated to provoke certain emotions. On the face of it there is a sharp conflict between the position in ¶42 where Kant seems to assert that nature. the distinction between artistic and natural beauty collapses on the side of nature. as an inborn productive faculty of the artist. Specifically. The distinction between natural beauty and artistic beauty falls on the side of nature. Kant claims. gives the “rule to art” although he or she is never conscious of what that rule is. Important to our present discussion Kant attributes creation of such unintended. There is yet one further reason. Artistic creation by genius is. Beautiful art. Since the talent. This would be in direct violation of the Kantian requirement that beauty not depend on concepts. (KU 5: 307. This seemingly odd position comes to light in Kant’s discussion of artistic genius. is of moral value and the .17 Properly understood. It is the art that pleases through reflection on the harmony of our faculties. but not art. Specifically. it turns out. But genius. In light of this distinction it can be argued that Kant’s complaint in ¶42 is against agreeable art and is not intended to apply to beautiful art. beautiful art by genius to nature: Genius is the talent (natural gift) that gives rule to art. what an artistic does not do is to bring a pre-given. genius inarticulately and unselfconsciously comes up with a new “rule” for his or her creation that does not depend on preestablished. this could also be expressed thus: Genius is the inborn predisposition of the mind (ingenium) through which nature gives the rule to art. As odd as it may seem. to doubt an important evaluative distinction between art and nature. beautiful art is the art of the (much more thought-provoking) Greek tragedy. in fact. nature working through a human agent. To put the contrast in more contemporary terms. according to Kant is a product of genius. The artist.16 Agreeable art is art intended to be “agreeable” to our senses—to please us immediately. it can be argued that art (“beautiful art”) is indirectly a product of nature after all. agreeable art is intended to play on our emotions. is the higher category of beauty with which Kant is primarily concerned. belongs to the workings of nature. itself belongs to nature. which we discussed in the previous chapter. alternatively. 188). ordinary rules.

Kant seems to be claiming that appreciation of natural beauty is.Natural and Artistic Beauty 51 position in ¶59 where he seems to claim that both art and nature equally have moral value. moral interest. the basis of this interpretation can be found in the passage at ¶42: But since it also interests reason that the ideas (for which it produces an immediate interest in the moral feeling) also have objective reality.e. As we have seen in our earlier discussion.18 In ¶42 Kant wants to establish an intellectual. . this interest is moral. Kant makes a weaker claim that beauty can be the “symbol” of morality. an alternative interpretation that has the apparent advantage of taking both ¶42 and ¶59 at face value and rendering them consistent. (KU 5: 300. Thus. On Allison’s reading appreciation of (natural) beauty gives us a hint that nature might be amenable to our reflective judging activity—free harmony is thought by Kant to be a species of reflective judging. As such. But now . it is Kant’s consistent position that only natural beauty can satisfy a moral interest. 180) To simplify this interpretation.19 As we saw in our discussion of aesthetic ideas in the last chapter. Specifically. In ¶59. aesthetic reflective judging is rather like the moral enterprise of realizing our moral idea (the moral law) in the world. i. we need to have some idea why Kant holds in ¶42 that (natural) beauty can satisfy an intellectual. First. free harmony is a reflective activity rather like the sort of reflection we use when we attempt to see the world as instantiating ideas of reason. Henry Allison argues that Kant makes two distinct claims about the moral value of beauty. This is the strongest. There is. . This seems to be what Kant has in mind when he frequently claims that aesthetic appreciation presumes a certain “subjective purposiveness” of its objects—aesthetic objects satisfy our purpose to see the world as conducive to our reflective judging efforts. And this insight is of great moral interest to us. In chapter 6 we will be looking much more closely at Kant’s connection between beauty and morality. moral interest in beauty. noticing that objects are organized in such a way as to satisfy the purpose of reflective judgment. that nature should at least show some trace or give a sign that it contains in itself some sort of ground for assuming a lawful correspondence of its products with our satisfaction that is independent of all interest . however. however. most important connection Kant makes between beauty and morality. in part. My position is that ¶42 does not advocate the strong view that it seems to. but we must venture a little way into the issue for present purposes. Only an inferior version of art is not able to lay claim to moral worth.. our appreciation of (natural) beauty gives us a “hint” that nature is amenable to our efforts to realize our moral ideas in the world. while both natural and artistic beauty can play the lesser role of “symbolizing” morality.

we need not go into detail concerning the solution to the Dialectic. Let’s further grant that Kant makes other claims about the connection between beauty and morality that are less important than this one. In ¶59 Kant wants to show that beauty (either art or nature) can “symbolize” morality in the sense that judgments of beauty are similar in several respects to moral willing or moral judgments. In the Dialectic of Aesthetic Judgment (¶55–60) Kant’s official task is to explain how to resolve the apparently conflicting claims of judgments of taste.52 Chapter 3 Kant claims that finding nature subjectively purposive engages our moral interest since it suggests that nature is amenable to our moral ends. so the interpretation goes. Further.21 However. the point of ¶59 is quite different. Kant claims that the solution to the dialectic requires us to consider that the world may have features hidden from our senses while at the same time appreciating that we can have no knowledge of such things. not art.20 For example. on the other hand. On the one hand such judgments seem to have a sort of objectivity and yet. moral interest. but we do need to be a bit clearer about how Kant is using super- . Kant attempts to solve this “dialectic” in a fashion superficially similar to the dialectic of the Critique of Pure Reason. Fortunately. And. However. most important for our present purposes. Kant is reasonably clear that both art and nature can “symbolize” morality in these ways.22 Even granting all of this I want to argue that in paragraphs just prior to ¶59 Kant reasserts his claim from ¶42 that beauty requires us to see nature as conducive to our ideas. both aesthetic and moral judgments must be disinterested and the freedom of the imagination in aesthetic appreciation is rather like the expression of freedom in willing by the moral laws.23 To put it a bit more simply. it is even possible to see ¶59 itself as claiming that one of the reasons beauty (of art and nature) can symbolize morality is that both kinds of beauty can reinforce our belief that nature is amenable to the realization of our ideas. strictly speaking. they are based on subjective pleasure. The lesson of ¶42 is that appreciation of natural beauty engages our moral interest since it is a “sign” that nature is conducive to our moral will. For all we know nature may be nothing but mechanical determinism and our efforts to shape the world by our ideas are in vain. and so forth. can satisfy an intellectual. Kant construes beauty in this context to include both nature and art. Kant will argue that the Dialectic can be solved only by postulating something about a “supersensible” while also asserting an idealism concerning this supersensible. Let’s grant for the sake of argument that Kant’s claim in ¶42 is that (natural) beauty is morally valuable because it allows us to see nature as amenable to our moral projects. this is perfectly consistent with his claim in ¶42 that only natural beauty. we cannot know that nature will allow us to impose our moral ends on the world. And. This is particularly pressing in the Kantian philosophy since according to the Critique of Pure Reason.

But second. and most relevant to our present discussion. there is the bare idea that under the appearance of experiences there is a supersensible substrate. that of the supersensible in general without further determination. the very same thing. This theme continues in ¶58. What is interesting in the discussion of the Dialectic (at least from ¶55–58) is that Kant believes that beauty of both art and nature tells us something about the supersensible. as the principle of the ends of freedom and principle of the correspondence of freedom with those ends in the moral sphere. There is a shift in terminology. as the substratum of nature. second. Art produced by genius is given as an example of how beauty points to the supersensible in the way described . 216). third. 219). this way of looking at nature is now described as regarding nature as having a supersensible underpinning. The upshot here is that in the Dialectic (¶55f) Kant continues the theme. Kant includes in the discussion of beauty and the supersensible the example of artistic genius and the expression of aesthetic ideas (KU 5: 344. begun in ¶42.” We only regard nature “as if” purposive for us. First. For instance. the power of judgment (reflective judgment) itself (KU 5: 340. Kant includes the supersensible in the explicitly moral sense of realizing ends of freedom. The second use of supersensible seems to be making just the same point as that made in ¶42. In ¶58. But this. there is an idea of the supersensible of nature as suiting the purposes of our cognitive faculties—notably. however. And finally. (KU 5: 346. Kant suggests in the passage above. At the very heart of the aesthetic experience and the aesthetic judgment is the sense that nature is subjectively purposive in the sense that we are able to see nature as conducive to our higher cognitive aims (a claim that exceeds our sense experience). However. that appreciation of beauty allows us (perhaps requires us) to see nature as “subjectively purposive.” as responsive to our attempts to impose our ideas on it. Kant is arguing that the dialectic of aesthetic judgment can only be solved if we assume that aesthetic experience is based on the “supersensible” idea that nature is conducive to reflective judgment—that nature is conducive to our ideas. as mentioned in ¶57. We can have no empirical evidence of this supersensible design. Kant wants to insist that the notion that nature is subjectively purposive is only “ideal. as the principle of the subjective purposiveness of nature for our faculty of cognition. is very much akin to our project as moral agents of realizing our moral ideas in the world. Kant tells us in Remark II following ¶57 that he is dealing with three senses of the idea of a supersensible: First.Natural and Artistic Beauty 53 sensible and idealism in these sections. this passage is not a paradigm of clarity. however. 220–21) Admittedly. Kant seems to be dealing with the following three senses of the supersensible. the very same thing.

without being terribly clear about it. he holds that artworks presuppose a “concept of what the object ought to be” (KU 5: 229. which presumably applies only to natural beauty. 225). 227). the best explanation for the anomaly is that. Kant claims that this role applies to both art and nature. he lists four ways in which beauty is analogous to (symbolizes) morality. This position is best understood. Kant . This is about as clear as Kant can be. this is something that works with the “beautiful objects of nature or of art” (KU 5: 354. 228).24 In the end it is ¶42 that seems the anomaly in Kant’s position on the moral interest in beauty. as a claim that artworks are representational. does not yield an important evaluative distinction between art and nature. In addition to the obvious point that artworks are human artefacts and natural objects are not. in the paragraph immediately preceding the list Kant again makes reference to the supersensible and the idea of nature “harmonizing” with our higher cognitive goals (KU 5: 353. When Kant turns to the issue of beauty as the symbol of morality in ¶59. the notion of an interest in nature being purpose for our higher faculties is not included in the list (KU 5: 354. Perhaps. as suggested above. as Kant asserts in the same context.54 Chapter 3 above. This seems to be Kant’s basic distinction between art and nature in Kant’s aesthetics. (The same position as ¶42. Kant’s complaint against art in ¶42 pertains only to mere “agreeable” and not to serious “beautiful art.) And now. I maintain. But this slender difference. 114). I see that one of these connections is precisely the same as the one advocated in ¶42. which demands a priori validity for everyone” (KU 5: 351. in ¶58 where Kant insists that the purposiveness of nature that we seem to observe in aesthetic experience is to be regarded as “ideal. 4 Kant makes a distinction between artistic and natural beauty. Aesthetic appreciation is a matter of appreciating nature “as if” purposive for our higher cognitive abilities (applying ideas to the world). And. It is uncontroversial that the Dialectic makes connections between beauty and morality that are intended to include both art and nature. But. I believe. moral interest. Admittedly. This is the sort of thing that engages our intellectual. perhaps most explicitly. 227–28). However. Instead.” he claims that “the idealism of the purposiveness in judging of the beautiful in nature and in art is the only presupposition under which we can explain the possibility of taste. However.” which stands on all fours with natural beauty. It is very tempting to conclude that finding nature to harmonize with our higher faculties is intended here to be an important element in beauty “symbolizing” nature. contrary to Allison.

More specifically. as we know. I argue that yet again both art and nature are equal to the task—as indeed Kant himself seems to hold in the Dialectic. I have taken to task attempts to map other seemingly evaluative distinctions Kant makes to the art/nature distinction. one can make free aesthetic judgments about artworks. One cannot say. 185). while Kant distinguishes between artistic and natural beauty it is unlikely that the distinction will play a substantive role in Kant’s overall argument in the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment. Further. There is no reason to believe that art is always or generally superior to nature or the reverse. Both art and nature are subject to the same criterion. that judging is the problematic state of a free harmony of the imagination and the understanding. Specifically. even representational artwork. To the extent that such an interest is engaged because beauty shows nature to be subjectively purposive. Kant has a single criterion for beauty—that an object must please by means of engaging a mental state of free harmony. That is to say.” . but further there is no reason to believe that one or the other category is better at suiting this criterion.Natural and Artistic Beauty 55 should be taken seriously at ¶45 that there is a single criterion for either artistic or natural beauty: “That is beautiful which pleases in the mere judging” (KU 5: 306. I believe that if Kant is carefully read he does not assert the evaluative superiority of either art or nature as has been suggested by some authors. there is no good argument to show that artworks and natural objects fare differently as regards their ability to engage a moral or intellectual interest. And further. aesthetic judgments are based on pleasure the source of which is a kind of “judging” and. for example. that the art/nature distinction maps onto the free/dependent distinction. As such. Apparently either art or nature can do this so long as we are careful to attend to each sort of object properly.

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I will argue against a current interpretation that focuses on the early sections the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment” and holds that pleasure is the way we “recognize” the quasi-cognitive state of free harmony. judging is a matter of applying a concept (from the understanding) to a manifold of sense (from the “imagination”). which I call an “evaluative interpretation. Normally. are based on the supposed pleasure of free harmony. Kant’s position is that pleasure must be posterior to (and based on) such judging. we must assume that the judging involved here is (somehow) free of concepts. the sort of judging in which we take pleasure cannot be the ordinary kind of judging we run across. 1 Kant holds that judgments of taste. His argument is that if the pleasure were prior to judging. That is to say. Problems in interpretation begin early in the third Critique.4 Free Harmony and Aesthetic Pleasure The purpose of this chapter is to concentrate on the foundational issue of pleasure in “free harmony. there must be a “free harmony” of 57 . filling out the details of this sketch is considerably controversial. As an alternative I will offer an interpretation.” We need to know why Kant believes that free harmony is pleasing and. since concepts are ruled out. to a lesser extent. 102). In ¶9 and 21 of the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment” Kant questions whether the feeling of pleasure is prior to or posterior to “the judging (der Beurteilung) of the object” (KU 5: 216. This is additional support for my position that a full understanding of Kant’s notion of a free harmony of the imagination and understanding requires the aid of his doctrine of aesthetic ideas. However.” that emphasizes the latter sections of Kant’s work where he develops his doctrine of the expression of ideas. what possible grounds there are for claiming that it is universally pleasing. But further. since Kant has already argued that “concepts” are inappropriate to beauty. as subjectively universal. however. This is not a controversial interpretation. the pleasure could only be mere subjective pleasure with no claim to universality.

58 Chapter 4 understanding and imagination. The powers of cognition that are set into play by this representation are hereby in a free play. Donald Crawford. Accordingly. To judge an object to be beautiful we claim that it gives us pleasure and that this pleasure is “universally valid” or “universally shared. in turn. judgment. (¶9. there is no need for another judgment that free harmony causes or occasions pleasure. KU 5: 217. This apparently says that a judgment of beauty must be based on the pleasure of judging an object to be beautiful. This second act is characterized by a free harmony of the understanding and the imagination.” But further it can be argued that to claim universal validity it must be assumed that the pleasure is based on another. we find that pleasure is not something separate from the free harmony judgment. That is to say. namely. we judge a manifold of sense to be generally orderly but without applying any definite concept (rule) to specify that orderliness. Hannah Ginsborg claims that there is but one. It has been argued recently that the “two-act” interpretation is flawed. This surely looks like a vicious circle. Thus the state of mind in this representation must be that of a feeling of the free play of the powers of the representation in a given representation. There is a way to avoid this circularity. 102) This point is restated in ¶21 where Kant is again discussing the free play or free harmony of the imagination and the understanding: “this disposition cannot be determined except through the feeling (not by concepts)” (¶21. Kant seems to claim that we recognize free harmony only by a feeling of pleasure. there must be some other way to recognize them. we recognize the orderliness of a manifold by applying a concept. Paul Guyer. Pleasure is part and parcel of the singular act of judging an object to be freely harmonious. However. Distinguishing two different acts of judging avoids the circularity. Kant’s reasoning in ¶9 and ¶21 seems to be this. Indeed.1 One act is the official judgment of beauty. For instance.2 Under this recent interpretation we judge an object to be freely harmonious. and others have argued that Kant is best read as referring to two acts of judging in our experience and assessment of beauty. Kant suggests (with lit- . Typically. But now we have a problem. if we look carefully at the text of ¶9 and ¶21. 123). However. distinct act of judging. since free harmonies are “free” precisely because they do not involve the application of a concept. the pleasure must be founded on judging the object. KU 5: 239. perhaps complex. this position seems to be that one must base a judgment of beauty on a preceding judgment of beauty. so the interpretation goes. since no determinate concept restricts them to a particular rule of cognition. Kant argues that a judgment of beauty must be founded on pleasure and that.

Now this merely subjective (aesthetic) judging of the object. but on that universality of the subjective conditions of the judging of objects alone is this universal subjective validity of satisfaction. On this interpretation there is no reason to distinguish between judging a manifold to be freely harmonious and accounting for aesthetic pleasure. As such. there is no need for another “judgment of beauty” beyond this free harmony judging. we have good reason to suppose that this recognition will also work in the same way for all persons. since recognizing free harmony (by the feeling of pleasure) is also recognizing a relation between understanding and imagination. Although there are differences between the two interpretations. On the Ginsborg interpretation there is a single judgment where we pleasurably discern free harmony and. KU 5: 238. This latter claim is again made in ¶9 and 21. at the same time. grounded. (¶9. It seems overly subtle to distinguish between two distinct acts of judging versus one complex act. KU 5: 218. is just the official judgment of beauty. We judge a manifold to be freely harmonious. then. on Kant’s account. Moreover. This requires using a feeling of pleasure to recognize the free harmony. it is my position that these differences are not best explained by counting the number of judgments involved. is a matter of organizing manifolds of the imagination by the understanding. by the one-act/two-act debate. However. There clearly are differences between the Crawford/Guyer interpretation on the one hand and the Ginsborg account on the other hand. and is the ground of this pleasure in the harmony of the faculties of cognition.Free Harmony and Aesthetic Pleasure 59 tle argument) that a feeling of pleasure will do the recognitional job: We can (pleasingly) feel when our faculties are freely harmonious. A genuine dif- . Again. see also ¶21. not illuminated. And if we reflect on the source of this pleasure. they tend to be obscured. we have no need for two acts of judgment. But this. so the argument goes. or of the representation through which the object is given. The differences here seem less than earthshaking. 122–23) Kant argues that we must assume that cognitive abilities are universal among mankind. we realize that we have the right to expect such pleasure to be felt by anyone who cares to appreciate the object. which we combine with the representation of the object that we call beautiful. Thus. we have shown that free harmony is universally pleasing. we have good reason to suppose that all persons will recognize free harmony by the same feeling of pleasure. Thus. Further we must appreciate that cognition. 103. realize that this pleasure is universal. On the Crawford/Guyer interpretation there is one free harmony judgment producing pleasure and a second judgment of beauty claiming that the pleasure is universal. precedes the pleasure in it.

it is claimed that free harmony causes pleasure.60 Chapter 4 ference between the two interpretations concerns the nature of the connection between free harmony and pleasure. where Kant seems to argue for an epistemic connection between free harmony and pleasure. On the Crawford/Guyer interpretation. can we ground the “universal validity” of aesthetic judgments since universal validity requires the . Presumably the only way we can know when there is a free harmony is by a feeling of pleasure. Judging a manifold to be freely harmonious is one thing. we judge an object to be freely harmonious and. Given the close connection between free harmony and pleasure it makes no sense to talk about a further judgment to determine what is the source of aesthetic pleasure. This begins to look very odd. then we would have to say that pleasure doesn’t simply allow us to recognize the free harmony between understanding and imagination. instead. From the first Critique of Pure Reason (Kant’s first Critique) we know that what makes a relation determinate is the conceptual ordering of the manifold of the imagination. understate the tightness of the connection. Claiming that pleasure is the way we “recognize” free harmony may. There can be no manifold of sense representations constituting “dog” order unless we apply the “dog” ordering rule (concept). A concept does not merely “recognize” an orderliness but constitutes the order. the feeling of pleasure does for the free harmony relation between understanding and imagination what concepts do for a determinate relation between these faculties. The Ginsborg interpretation focuses on ¶9 and ¶21. I am far from certain whether the last bit makes any sense at all. If we were to push the analogy here between free and determinate harmonies. finding free harmony to be pleasurable is quite another thing. on some species of the interpretation. Only if we can explain and justify this. we find this activity to be pleasurable. It is difficult to understand how a manifold may achieve “orderliness” by applying (if this is the right term) a feeling. We can comprehend how a manifold can be ordered by rules. The issue is a proper explanation of the claim that free harmony is universally pleasing. but somehow makes the harmony possible. There is no order without the rule ordering provided by a concept. Presumably.3 (Or. as a separate issue. in fact. 2 The contested issue between the two interpretations is one central to Kant’s aesthetics. On the Ginsborg interpretation this distance reduces to zero.) The Crawford/Guyer interpretation maintains some distance between free harmony judging and pleasure. pleasure is the very way in which we recognize free harmony. Free harmony neither causes pleasure nor is found to be pleasurable.

7 Second. To wrest knowledge from an otherwise bewildering array of input to our senses we must be able to organize the data in some fashion. But it would seem that. As we have seen above. on any interpretation. correspondingly. we ought to be “blind” to such a nonconceptualized manifold. The importance of being able to rule-order a sense manifold and. must be organizable in terms of certain key concepts: pure concepts like substance and causality. we must be able to show that we can apply a concept to such a collection. my position is that the Ginsborg interpretation fails. But even if one could allow for a nonconceptual relationship (harmony) between imagination and understanding. we must also be able to show that a collection of sense data (intuition) adds up to something. Kant’s point is that we must be able to show that our “thoughts” have application to the world and. Although difficult to understand. important to our present issue.Free Harmony and Aesthetic Pleasure 61 universality of our feeling of pleasure. let’s grant that we know how to rec- . intuitions without concepts are blind” (A51/B75). the importance of grounding concepts in sense experience is expressed by Kant in a notable passage: “Thoughts without content are empty. It is very difficult to understand how a feeling could lend order to a manifold of sense. or principle of any kind. how there can be a harmony between understanding (the faculty of rules) and imagination without employing any concepts (rules). a feeling seems particularly ill suited to provide the kind of organizing that is required. This notion plays a large role in the Transcendental Deduction of the Pure Concepts in the first Critique of the Understanding. these are not the only problems with the recognitional interpretation. where Kant argues the general claim that all objects. for several reasons. In the first Critique Kant argues that knowledge of objects requires our organizing a manifold of sense by a concept—where concepts are construed as rules. to give a good explanation of this key point. However. the recognitional interpretation seems to violate the second half of Kant’s dictum. it is difficult to understand.4 However. in order to be knowable. A cornerstone of transcendental idealism is the claim that sense data by themselves yield no knowledge of the world.5 The first Critique passage is not easy to dismiss. To begin with. there are two problems here. Quite surprisingly. there is a specific problem with the role of feelings. Lamentably. rule. on the new interpretation we seem able to recognize (make sense of) a manifold without applying a concept. by the light of the first Critique. it is far from clear that a recognitional interpretation is consistent with Kant’s position in the first Critique.6 Actually. First. it is far from clear that a feeling is the sort of thing that could establish and recognize this peculiar relationship. There is an important reason why Kant insists that intuitions require concepts. If one were to cast about for an alternative to concepts for bringing order to a manifold. a feeling would seem a very unlikely candidate. That is to say.

We still have a long way to go in order to reach the desired conclusion. Kant needs to conclude that free harmony is the source of a universally valid pleasure.8 Unfortunately. Each of these are feelings. Kant’s aesthetic theory would be considerably less plausible if he were to argue that objects that stimulate a feeling of nausea are the beautiful ones. On the new interpretation the only way we can identify a free harmony is by a feeling. There is a considerable evaluative difference between claiming that experiencing aesthetic objects is pleasurable versus nauseating. And let’s further grant that a feeling is the only way to make this recognition. if a feeling is the only way to identify free harmony. Let’s look at these additional claims. . Even if Kant could argue that the feeling by which we recognize free harmony is pleasure. Pleasure is not just any old feeling. it does not follow. There is a further complication with the “recognitional” interpretation. and on the basis of the recognitional argument alone each could be a way of recognizing a free harmony of the imagination and the understanding. the recognitional interpretation cannot take this line. it is important for Kant that the feeling that grounds judgments of beauty is pleasure. Specifically. It would seem that nausea or tingling or vertigo or any old feeling could function as my free harmony recognitional feeling. The recognitional interpretation does not take into account the fact that to claim that something is pleasurable is to make a positive evaluative claim. and not obviously true. It is common. This evaluative implication does not attend to just any feeling. to say of Kant that the feeling of pleasure taken in appreciation of “beauty” is not qualitatively different from other pleasures. without further argument. To hold that beauty is that which gives us a qualitatively unique feeling of pleasure is to hold a position that. Rather. claims. and I think correct. not concepts. From the simple argument that free harmonies can only be recognized by some feeling nothing follows about the nature of that feeling other than its ability to recognize free harmonies. What is needed from the argument of ¶9 and ¶21 is not merely the claim that the only way we recognize a free harmony is by a feeling but by two additional. It must also be argued that every one of us recognizes free harmony by the same feeling. However. then the feeling must be qualitatively unique. Kant’s true position is that aesthetic pleasure is to be distinguished from other pleasures not because it is qualitatively unique.62 Chapter 4 ognize a free harmony by a feeling. However. that the feeling in question is pleasure. for Kant. this would commit him to a position that he may very well not want to hold. is too subjective and thus too close to the empiricists’ position of his time. but because it has a different source from other pleasures. it must assume a qualitatively unique feeling. it must be argued that this common feeling is pleasure and not some other feeling. and here I agree with other commentators like Paul Guyer. And further.

It is an obvious bit of folk psychology to observe that people have aims. attain an aim. When we satisfy a desire.”10 That is to say. In the published introduction to the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment” Kant makes just such an observation: “The attainment of every aim (Absicht) is coupled with a feeling of pleasure” (KU 5: 187. but there are other strands of argument in the text as well. desires. Typically. This is no idle remark.Free Harmony and Aesthetic Pleasure 63 We must be able to say. and purposes and that the realization of these aims gives pleasure. However. independently. My claim is simply that Kant has another and better strategy for grounding aesthetic judgments. recognitional interpretation. if we first appreciate that pleasure has evaluative implications. It will help us to understand how free harmony can be pleasing. Scratching an itch may cause me pleasure. Why should we believe that free harmony is universally pleasurable? There is an alternative to the epistemic. while I believe that there are problems in making this connection. or realize a goal it is likely mistaken to say that these activities cause us to have pleasure. 73). not realizing a goal. it is a poor account of the relation between pleasure and the attainment of aim. 3 There are problems with building an epistemic connection between free harmony and pleasure—the claim that pleasure is the way in which we recognize an occurrence of free harmony. I shall call it the “evaluative” interpretation. It is simpler and more accurate . He may well have flirted with some such argument. as the attainment of an aim. objects please us because they satisfy our desires. one would argue that free harmony. we commonly value our aims and this is why we take pleasure in their attainment. Kant has a strategy of arguing that free harmony is (universally) pleasing just because it represents the satisfaction of a (universal) aim. that we know that we are experiencing a free harmony because we are having a pleasurable feeling unlike any other: Our recognition must be based on the quality of the feeling since the alternative of distinguishing pleasures based on where they come from is not available on this interpretation.” The question is. causes pleasure for all of us. Specifically. I do not want to insist on the exegetical claim that Kant never intended to forge such a link. I believe that this is not what Kant intends and. In fact.9 Let’s reconsider the central question of the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment. on each occasion. a remark like the one cited previously is understood to mean that the attainment of an aim causes a feeling of pleasure. We cannot take this latter route since it would require us to be able to independently recognize a free harmony. but not always. The kind of interpretation I am offering has been called a “causal account of pleasure.

Insofar as we are able to achieve this ordering. as we have seen. however. Kant at least hopes that rational creatures can also take an interest in the moral law and have a positive feeling for the law because of our perception of its value.64 Chapter 4 to say that we take pleasure in attainment of aims because we value these aims.” I believe that a similar.11 Often persons are merely caused to have various feelings. Perhaps the best passages for this interpretation are ¶6 and ¶7 of the published introduction. To the extent that such objects satisfy this aim. As a relation between the two faculties free harmony presumably qualifies as a successful judging activity. and the pleasure can express nothing but is suitability to the cognitive faculties as they are in play. The universality of this aim is thought to follow from our universally shared cognitive abilities. But we need to be a bit more specific. finally. The claim is that free harmony suits the general purpose of judging that. everyone shares this judgmental aim. we take pleasure in this satisfaction: If pleasure is connected with the mere apprehension (apprehensio) of the form of an object of intuition without a relation of this to a concept for a determinate cognition. Objects that occasion a free harmony satisfy the general aim of judgment by finding sense experience amenable to our organizational efforts. consists in bringing order to a manifold of particulars. Recall that a free harmony is a “free” (nonconceptual) relationship between the understanding and imagination. the supposed locus of the epistemic interpretation: “On that universality of the subjective . 75–76) The outlines of Kant’s position are comparatively clear. (KU 5: 189–90.12 He argues that all of us have a need to employ our understanding to nature—a need to bring order to manifolds of sense. In these sections Kant makes a general connection between pleasure and the satisfaction of judgmental aims. And further. It should be clear enough that Kant wants to associate pleasure in free harmony with the broader account of pleasure in attainment of aims. noncausal account of pleasure is at work in the aesthetic theory of the third Critique of Judgment (Kant’s third Critique). and thus merely a subjective formal purposivesness of the object. Kant argues. we satisfy one of our aims. I believe that we can see this argument at work even in ¶9. we take pleasure in them. It is useful here to consider Kant’s often repeated point that the mental stare of free harmony is “subjectively purposive” or “subjectively final” (subjective Zweckmassigkeit). Given the proper interpretative context. This is what Kant describes as a feeling of “respect. And. then the representation is thereby related not to the object. but solely to the subject. There is a good analogy here between the relation of pleasure and free harmony in Kant’s aesthetic theory and the relation between moral feeling and the categorical imperative.

we can all come to agree that a particular object engages our free harmony and that the harmony is satisfying.13 Such objects are also subsumable under ordinary empirical concepts (table. 74). he attempts to avoid the conclusion that such objects are pleasing. If Kant wants to say that a free harmony is pleasing simply because it satisfies our organizing aim. will be pleasing on this account. there is a danger that the explanation for why free harmony pleases covers too much ground. And.14 The concern that pleasure in an object’s subjective purposiveness may be all encompassing is a problem that an interpretation like mine must face. Further. Any ordinary empirical object is capable of ‘harmonizing’ these faculties in several ways. Granting these shared goals and abilities. the object is a source of universal pleasure. However. Seemingly everything is beautiful for Kant. This can be understood as the claim that we all share the same judgmental goals and the same judging abilities.). which is yet another way to attribute orderliness to a manifold of particulars. However. In fact. demonstrates subjective purposiveness. The details of Kant’s position need some work. bottle. As I have suggested in earlier chap- . rock. which we combine with the representation of the object that we call beautiful. it would seem. objects or collections of objects can be interpreted teleologically. Kant holds that we all share the same conditions for judgment. however. I suspect that this argument will not stand much scrutiny. In the introduction to the third Critique Kant seems to admit that the application of the categories constitutes a harmony of the faculties and. Specifically. as such. It should be noted that there is a better strategy toward the end of the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment” for distinguishing free harmonies from other harmonies that satisfy our judgmental aims. and so on). what I want to point out is that Kant recognizes this problem and the fact that he addresses it is indirect evidence for my “evaluative” interpretation. grounded” (KU 5: 218. causality. Kant argues that applying the categories to objects is such an ordinary and pedestrian instance of subjective purposiveness that we “no longer detect any noticeable pleasure” (KU 5: 187. Any object. Empirical objects are subsumable under the first Critique’s pure concepts of the understanding (substance. chair. etc. 103). Finally. then it is difficult to comprehend why paradigm objects of beauty occupy a special status. we shall consider it in the next chapter. If Kant claims that free harmony pleases because it satisfies the general aim of “harmonizing” imagination and understanding. as such.Free Harmony and Aesthetic Pleasure 65 conditions of the judging (beurteilen) of objects alone is this universal subjective validity of satisfaction. we can all agree that the object is pleasing because it satisfies a common aim. it shows that Kant is concerned with the problems that follow from finding pleasure in free harmony to be the satisfaction of a judgmental aim. then all objects (of experience) are pleasing because all objects satisfy this aim in various ways.

Further. creation. First. as we have seen in our early discussions. that are relevant here. Kant holds in the latter sections of the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment” (¶42–43) that certain “ideas” like hell.. Potentially. eternity. fame. It is Kant’s position that such aesthetic ideas (like their cousins the rational ideas) are too big to be represented by ordinary empirical concepts. . in a way that the recognitional interpretation does not. envy. eternity.15 However. 192) can be expressed in works of art and even by interpretation of natural objects. Expression is nonconceptual in the strict sense that no ordinary concepts are quite adequate to the big ideas that are conveyed. Certain objects are able to stimulate our imagination to produce a host of associative thoughts in such a way as to suggest a larger idea. To be sure this is only a brief sketch of Kant’s admittedly contentious account of expression of ideas. it is a harmony that is both free of concepts and yet displays an organization—an organization that adds up to an idea. it may well be that in this particular instance free harmony is valuable (pleasurable) for everyone because it fulfils the special role of expressing notions that cannot otherwise be portrayed. as organized to express an idea. then. An object that expresses an aesthetic idea is purposive for judgment in the sense that we are able to interpret the object as organized in a rule-like fashion—specifically. unlike the recogntional interpretation. Notions like hell. Kant gives an account of how we can come to appreciate a manifold as possessing an order. love. Free harmonies that express ideas are satisfying or pleasurable because of the valuable job they perform of expressing ideas otherwise difficult to convey. the doctrine of the expression of aesthetic ideas can help to fill out Kant’s position. Moreover. Each of these points has been discussed in previous chapters and they will only be summarized here. The order is lent by ideas. discussed in chapter 2. The appeal to expression of ideas can explain how we are able recognize a manifold as constituting a harmony of the faculties (i. the act of interpreting an object as expressing an idea is an instance of a free harmony of the imagination and the understanding.66 Chapter 4 ters.e. and creation so exceed the capacity of mere empirical concepts that they can be portrayed only in a symbolic fashion by imaginatively bringing to mind a host of associations that suggest the larger idea. There are a couple of important points about expression of aesthetic ideas. and others (KU 5: 314. And further. the account on offer here will solve several of the problems left dangling by the recognitional interpretation. the account makes clear. we can explain why a certain species of free harmony gives pleasure. Nonetheless. showing an orderliness) without using concepts. how free harmony as the expression of ideas can satisfy the broad aim of finding objects purposive with respect to judgment (finding objects subjectively purposive). Let’s first consider the claim that expression of ideas involves a free harmony of the faculty.

thus. earlier we found that there was a problem with Kant’s holding that aesthetic pleasure is simply pleasure in the furtherance of the judgmental aim (subjective purposiveness). If the appropriate explanation of my feeling of pleasure in free harmony is its “subjective purposiveness for judgment. I recognize free harmonies by a feeling of pleasure and.Free Harmony and Aesthetic Pleasure 67 While there is agreement that expression of aesthetic ideas is an instance of free harmony and that such a free harmony is “subjectively purposive for judgment. This argument. the importance of claiming that pleasure is the way we recognize free harmony was that it served an argument for the universality of pleasure in free harmony—and. since they are like cognitive states. It could be argued that what makes a free harmony of the imagination and understanding pleasing is that such a harmony is subjectively purposive. First. To anticipate. This is the so-called everything-is-beautiful problem we will consider in the next chapter. However. we may be able to free Kant of such a charge if beauty is restricted to the satisfaction of the particular judgmental aim of expressing an idea.17 Again. Perhaps. which we shall consider in more detail in the appendix and postscript. free harmonies are universally pleasing. must be recognized in the same way. since free harmonies are free of concepts and concepts are the usual way of recognizing that a manifold of sense “harmonizes” with the understanding. is roughly that free harmonies.16 There are problems with this view. must assume that all others will also. then it surely seems that we must first recognize that the object is purposive for judgment and then take pleasure in the object because it is purposive for judgment.” then the argument from shared recognition is irrelevant to Kant’s goal of establishing the universal pleasure of free harmony. if aesthetic pleasure is pleasure in finding an object purposive for judgment. pleasure plays the recognitional role. it is even possible to incorporate the notion that aesthetic pleasure is pleasure in subjective purposiveness with an updated version of the “recognitional” interpretation and avoid an appeal to expression of ideas. But there is a third problem with trying to combine a recognitional interpretation with an evaluative interpretation of free harmony. However. Accordingly. What I have in mind is this. The problem was that such an account would allow for any object to be aesthetically pleasing since. Second. Presumably. ultimately.” it could be argued that it is not necessary here to bring aesthetic ideas into the discussion of how free harmony is pleasing. if it will explain why free harmony is pleasing for me on the grounds that free harmony displays a “subjective purposiveness for judgment. grounding the universal validity of judgments of taste. Free harmonies can be recognized only by a feeling (concepts won’t do). it seems. any object satisfies this broad aim. hopefully the doctrine of the expression of aesthetic ideas will explain how we can recognize that a manifold is (freely) purposive for judgment and take pleasure in the object for that reason.” then .

68 Chapter 4 this will also explain everyone’s feeling of pleasure in free harmony. namely. I shall conclude with a brief reconsideration of the issue that motivated the current discussion. I believe that none of these problems are insurmountable and I refer the reader to the other relevant chapters in this book. If the best interpretation of pleasure in subjective purposiveness turns out to be pleasure in expression of ideas. this also implies we can distinguish both of these activities from judging that we find an object pleasing because it is freely harmonious. I suspect that the above will go some distance toward answering the objection that for Kant all objects are beautiful. Establishing pleasure as the feeling by which we recognize free harmony seems irrelevant to the task of showing that it is universally pleasing. . there are those who will resist the idea that natural beauty can be considered as expressive. it is important to be clear about the connection between free harmony and pleasure.19 although Kant himself claims: “Beauty (whether it be of nature or art) may in general be termed the expression of aesthetic ideas” (KU 5: 320. However. If it is largely correct. other sorts of difficulties crop up. then it would further entail that both artistic beauty and natural beauty are beautiful because they express aesthetic ideas. Now while we can make these distinctions it is an open question whether we should regard these activities as separate acts of judgment or perhaps a single. then only objects that satisfy the specific judgmental aim of expressing an idea will count as “beautiful. while expression of ideas goes a long way to addressing this problem. but complex. Further. However. I suspect not much turns on an answer to this latter question. then it follows that expression of aesthetic ideas is criterial for beauty—a position not widely held by commentators. the number of “judgments” involved in the assessment of beauty. act. Instead. 197). On this issue I hold that the connection is best explained within the context of Kant’s broader discussion of teleology as a pleasure in the realization of an aim. This should come as no surprise since the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment” sits side by side with the “Critique of Teleological Judgment” to make up the third Critique. I believe that the most plausible way to explain the link between free harmony and pleasure is to say that we take pleasure in free harmony because it satisfies an aim we have. Free harmony is universally pleasing because of its subjective purposiveness for judgment.18 If expression of ideas were criterial.” Nonetheless. An obvious point of difference between my interpretation and the “recognitional” reading is that I do not think that a feeling of pleasure can constitute or recognize a free harmony of the understanding and imagination.20 But this implies that we can distinguish between recognizing an object to be freely harmonious and taking pleasure in that object because it is freely harmonious.

1 To better understand the kind of problems that befalls Kant’s account of judgments of taste we need briefly to rehearse Kant’s argument to the end that a free harmony of the imagination and understanding can be the only ground of a “universal” pleasure. As we have seen in the first chapter. As is characteristic of Kant. Kant believes that he has found the appropriate ground with problematic notion of a “free harmony of the imagination and the understanding. it is an argument from elimination of alternatives. the only possible candidate for the pleasure at the basis of an aesthetic judgment of taste is a pleasure in “judging the object. Kant takes us to this conclusion by arguing (in ¶9 and ¶21) that a free harmony of the imagination and the understanding is the only appropriate ground for a judgment of taste. Either the pleasure of taste is founded on the mental activity of judging or it is a simple sensuous pleasure.”1 While free harmony causes problems. Thus. He argues that when (and only when) objects occasion free harmony they give us pleasure that could lay claim to universality. it is an uncontroversial. A simple sensuous pleasure cannot support a claim to universality.5 The Extensiveness of the Criterion of Beauty The central task of the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment” is to justify the subjective universal validity of aesthetic judgments by finding some plausible source for a pleasure in aesthetic contemplation that can also lay legitimate claim to universality.2 Early on in the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment” (¶9) Kant argues that the judgment that an object is aesthetically good (beautiful) must itself be founded on a prior act of “judging the object” and that this judging activity is the source of a universal pleasure3 The argument here is rather quick. straightforward interpretation of Kant to say that an object is properly judged as beautiful if and only if it can produce in us a mental state of “free harmony” when we appreciate the object.” 69 .

Concepts are rules of organization and it is the faculty of “understanding” that is responsible for making sense of this order. but without insisting on a particular order determined by a particular concept (rule). as we have seen. As we have seen in earlier chapters “judging” has a very special meaning in the Kantian philosophy. Although.” However. As a result. and all in the appropriate locations. can aesthetic judging use teleological ideas. Kant rejects the view that aesthetic judging is a matter of determining how well an object measures up to some particular concepts—for example. this is difficult to interpret. the only possible ground of aesthetic pleasure is a nonconceptual. The argument so far has been that the only possible ground for a universal aesthetic pleasure is a free harmony of the understanding and imagination. “Fido is a dog. . as we have seen. plausibly enough. “free” harmony of the imagination and the understanding. Aesthetic appreciation. To make a judgment is to apply a concept to a particular: for example. a tail.70 Chapter 5 Although there is quite a bit to question here. Kant’s account of what is involved in predicating a concept of an object is rather novel. for example. Kant has already ruled this out with his rejection of perfectionism. . we can characterize a free harmony as the judging activity where we find a manifold of particulars to be orderly. So.6 Aesthetic judging cannot involve the use of concepts. a head. For reasons discussed earlier.” “lawfulness without law” (KU 5: 240–41. Kant argues that since aesthetic pleasure can only be grounded in “judging an object” and yet cannot be grounded on the conceptual judging of an object. 120). how well a painting might represent the paradigm instance of a dog. This style of argument is known by Kant scholars as a regressive or “analytic” argument—much in the way the argument of the Prolegomena proceeds from the assumption that geometry is synthetic a pri- . For Kant concepts are rules.5 This is a thumbnail sketch of judging as it occurs in the Critique of Pure Reason (Kant’s first Critique). rules that specify the order of a manifold of sense perceptions. 125). Kant describes this paradoxical notion of a free harmony in a number of ways as “free lawfulness. the “judging” involved in aesthetic contemplation cannot be this sort of ordinary conceptual judging. This argument gets off the ground only if we grant the big assumption that there is a universal aesthetic pleasure. the representation of an end” (KU 5: 236. is not a matter of admiring the cutting qualities of the perfect pocketknife. let’s grant that Kant has shown that the only possible candidate for a universal aesthetic pleasure is pleasure in a mental state of judging an object. however.4 To predicate a concept of a particular involves the ability to recognize that a manifold of sense intuition has a certain rule orderedness. Neither. or “purposiveness without . we surely need to say more about this. to make the judgment “Fido is a dog” is to recognize that a manifold of sense (given by the faculty of imagination) is ordered by the dog rule—four legs.

and thus a merely subjective formal purposiveness of the object. the “synthetic” argument of the first Critique will attempt to support the claim that geometry is synthetic a priori. and the pleasure can express nothing but its suitability to the cognitive faculties that are in play in the reflecting power of judgment. Kant wants to rule out pleasure we may take from judging that an object is a good example of a dog or some other class of objects. purposes. insofar as they are in play. not for the judgment that is achieved. then. (KU 5: 189–90. For example. tempting to see Kant as arguing that a free harmony is pleasing to everyone since it satisfies a common aim. they are pleased. further. And. Kant also wants to rule out pleasure we may take in teleological judging—for example. even a free harmony. 73). we take pleasure in the satisfaction of our aims. People have aims. 75–76) Let’s take a look at the claim that free harmony is subjectively purposive for judgment. whereas. This general account of pleasure as the satisfaction of aims becomes relevant to the case of aesthetic pleasure when Kant goes on to argue that a harmony of our faculties. desires. To consider an object insofar as it is subjectively purposive for judgment is to consider it insofar as it suits our purpose of judging alone. He needs an argument to show not simply that free harmony is the only possible candidate for a universal pleasure but further that there is some credible reason to believe that free harmony actually gives us (all of us) pleasure. judging that all the parts of an object . complete with characteristic Kantian obscurity: If pleasure is connected with mere apprehension (aprehensio) of the form of an object of intuition without a relation of this to a concept for a determinate cognition. This seems a quite pedestrian claim. Kant clearly needs a progressive or “synthetic” argument as well. Simpler yet. and when their aims. purposes are satisfied. desires. Presumably. then the representation is thereby related not to the object. The claim is that objects that engage a free harmony of the imagination and the understanding also satisfy an aim we all have—the aim of being able to “judge” objects. to take satisfaction in an object because it suits our judgmental aim is not to take pleasure in the fact that the object instantiates some specific concept. Here is the relevant passage. The interpretation I put forward in the previous chapter is that Kant has such an argument that is developed from a broader account of pleasure. It is.7 In the introduction to the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment” Kant makes the following general claim about pleasure: “The attainment of every aim is combined with a feeling of pleasure” (KU 5: 187. but solely to the subject.The Extensiveness of the Criterion of Beauty 71 ori and reasons back to the claim that space must be ideal. is “subjectively purposive” for judgment.

102–103 and KU 5: 238. Accordingly. short of skepticism. When each of us is presented with a certain manifold of sense we will all receive the same sense data and all judge it to be governed by the same conceptual rule. This seems to follow in two steps. ¶21. That is to say. ¶21. or a pocket knife. 122–23. in ¶9. we will all judge the same manifold of fur. This is also to say that each of us obtain the same relation of our manifold of imagination with our faculty of understanding. then from .9 The upshot of this interpretation is the following. we must assume that all persons share the same cognitive abilities. further. we need to say a little more about this argument. If we are not skeptics. (See KU 5: 217. What makes free harmony pleasing is that it is subjectively purposive for our cognitive powers.” Either would be tantamount to praising an object because of the judgment it achieves. For example. pleasingly. if we now hold that aesthetic objects give us pleasure due to their purposiveness for judgment. a staple remover. then we must assume that all of us will (or can) make the same cognitive judgments on the same occasions. presumably. There could be no common point of reference between us.8 In each case taking an interest in an object because it conforms to a concept or conforms to an end would be to go down the wrong road of “perfectionism. and ¶38 Kant argues that since aesthetic pleasure in free harmony depends only on our cognitive abilities and purposes and since. if aesthetic appreciation depends on finding a manifold of sense to be purposive for judgment. But further. Kant wants to argue in ¶9. we take pleasure in our success. not praising it subjectively for the judging per se.72 Chapter 5 are well organized to contribute to the function of being a barn. When we are lucky enough to find an object that suits cognitive purpose. then short of skepticism we must all. But. in ordinary cases of cognition we must suppose that each of us judges the same manifold as suiting the purpose of judging in the same way. If we could not assume that such judging is done similarly in similar cases. is to find order in manifold of sense. This is an explanation for why free harmony is pleasing. legs. we will all be able to discern that this manifold is governed by the dog rule.) Since this is often thought to be central to Kant’s deduction of judgments of taste. and ¶38 that we are justified in assuming that a free harmony is universally pleasing since free harmony judging is sufficiently similar to ordinary cognitive judging. then there could be no claim to “objective” knowledge of a shared world. objects that provoke free harmony are ones that suit our (subjective) purpose of cognizing objects where this purpose. then we may properly conclude that pleasure in free harmony is universal.10 Presumably. and tail as an instance of a dog. A proper account of pleasure in judging per se is pleasure in finding manifolds of particulars to be amenable to our organizing efforts—again regardless of what the principle of organization might be. find the same objects subjectively purposive. First. As such.

Any ordinary. second. Any object. This follows. For example.12 2 There is much more to be said about the argument sketched above. Kant’s criteria covers far too much ground. Kant argues that a free harmony of the imagination and the understanding is universally pleasing since all of us will take pleasure in the satisfaction of our judgmental aim to organize to a manifold of sense. In the end. we must believe that when we appreciate an object as engaging our free harmony of the imagination and the understanding we will find this pleasing. then I will take pleasure in it. will be pleasing on this account. If Kant claims that free harmony pleases because it satisfies the general aim of “harmonizing” imagination and understanding. if I find an object that suits my subjective purpose of judgment. And. Again. then it is difficult to explain why traditional paradigms of beauty occupy a special status. Unfortunately. since the nonskeptic must assume that we judge similar cases similarly. I am justified in believing that everyone else will also find the same object as satisfying their subjective purpose of judgment and as a result everyone else will also take pleasure in the object. as it stands. according to the first Critique all empirical objects are subsumable under the pure concepts of the understanding (substance. but we have good reason to believe that it is universally pleasing and this in turn grounds the central claim of the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment”: to show that judgments of taste are universally valid. since any object will suit the subjective purpose of judgment. we need go no farther to understand the nature of the problem that besets Kant. . short of skepticism. this ambitious argument attempts to show that. And further. it is also the case that each of us will take pleasure in a manifold that suits the purpose of judgment. empirical object is capable of harmonizing the imagination and understanding in several ways. This presumably follows from the description of pleasure cited earlier where it is assumed that we all share the aim or purpose of finding a manifold of sense conformable to our faculty of understanding.). Every manifold of the imagination that we are able to experience as an empirical object must be organizable by the pure concepts.11 This seems to further Kant’s argument that not only is free harmony pleasing. this need only meet our “subjective” judgmental aim since we are not interested in the nature of the orderliness achieved. however. causality. But. On this interpretation. Thus. importantly. the argument presumably also shows all other persons who properly appreciate the same object will find it pleasing as well. etc. it would seem.The Extensiveness of the Criterion of Beauty 73 the above we must in principle agree in specific cases whether a manifold is purposive.

To be sure. . . A teleological judgment is yet another way to attribute orderliness to a manifold of particulars and. we no longer detect any noticeable pleasure in the comprehensibility of nature and the unity of its division into genera and species by means of which alone empirical concepts are possible . because here the understanding proceeds unintentionally . it is useful to note that Kant himself worries that pleasure in subjective purposiveness may well cover too much ground. judgmental aim. . everything is beautiful for Kant. objects or collections of objects can be interpreted teleologically. . Kant believes. by contrast the discovered unifiability of two or more empirically heterogeneous laws of nature under a principle that comprehends them both is the ground of a very noticeable pleasure. To address the first case. As evidence that we are on the right interpretative tract. . In fact. and so on). but it must certainly have been there in its time. of course. Seemingly. rock. . it seems to be Kant’s position that every empirical object is subsumable under at least one empirical concept. But further. then all empirical objects are beautiful since all empirical objects satisfy this aim in a number of ways. In section 6 of the introduction where the idea of pleasure in subjective purposiveness is introduced. . (2) harmony due to application of teleological ideas. . Kant claims that we do not (or cannot) feel pleasure in the categorial harmony between understanding and imagination since. The latter two points are connected. chair. the subject of the second half of the Critique of Judgment (Kant’s third Critique). every object of experience must suit the subjective aim of judging. This is an embarrassment of riches. Kant tries to avoid the “everything is beautiful” charge—all the while tacitly admitting that there’s a problem: In fact. If Kant holds that the pleasure that grounds judgments of beauty is pleasure due to an object’s satisfying our organizing. . although in the concurrence of perceptions with laws in accordance with universal concepts of nature (the categories) we do not encounter the least effect on the feeling of pleasure . pre- . bottle. empirical objects are also subsumable under some a posteriori concepts (table. since to determine an empirical concept of a “kind” of thing we must subscribe to the teleological notion that nature sorts itself into such kinds.74 Chapter 5 To this extent. and only because the most common experience would not be possible without it has it gradually become mixed up with mere cognition and is no longer specially noticed. 73–74) Kant attempts to rule out three cases of subjective purposiveness as candidates for aesthetic pleasure: (1) harmony due to application of the categories. and (3) harmony due to the application of empirical concepts. And further yet. (KU 5: 187.

such an activity has become so commonplace that it no longer gives pleasure. application of empirical class concepts is not pleasing because it is so commonplace. then I would nonetheless be quite pleased. become commonplace and hence not pleasing. The first argument depends on the claim that.The Extensiveness of the Criterion of Beauty 75 sumably. There are a couple of problems with this argument. is to support the claim that aesthetic pleasure is pleasure in finding a manifold organizable without making every object fit this criteria—without Kant’s opening himself to the “everything is beautiful” charge. like a dog or a house. since we do not seek that our judging aim be satisfied. this result is unintended and occurs in the course of our ordinary experience. If it has been a lifelong goal of mine to be rich and I receive as a gift a lottery ticket that turns out to yield a fortune. The second argument is that teleological judging or judging by means of an empirical concept is no longer pleasing (if it once was) since such judgments have become so commonplace. But further. Further. The satisfaction at being able to apply the pure concepts of the understanding to every object of experience does not give pleasure since. Kant’s answer to the teleological idea/empirical concept case is different. The strategy of these arguments. if I were to appreciate an object’s rule orderedness per se. I’m sure other similar examples could be cited. its satisfaction will not give us pleasure. in abstraction from its classifying empirical concept (or a teleological object in abstraction from its end or purpose) and appreciate the its rule orderedness per se. I am far from certain that this is a believable claim. On the other hand. if I could appreciate the rule orderedness per se for a dog or a house. One might think that by appreciating the same work of art or natural beauty over and over my freely judging it would. In these cases he is willing to speculate that while persons may have at one time taken pleasure in applying empirical concepts or teleological ideas to experience. I believe. On the one hand. categorial harmonies are not pleasing because they are unintended. by like reasoning. The brief arguments cited here (which are the only ones Kant gives) are not terribly strong. we do not in any way intentionally aim at this goal.13 And. And if I could appreciate the rule orderedness of any object per se. then again everything is beautiful for Kant. then it would seem that on Kantian grounds I would feel aesthetic pleasure. I see no reason why we could not consider an ordinary empirical object. a problem we have considered before. First. It surely seems that in other cases I can take pleasure in the satisfaction of my aims even if that satisfaction comes easily and unintendedly. it seems that it could also be argued that appreciation of paradigm cases of beauty (paradigm free harmonies) could just as easily wear thin over time. then it seems that I could do it for any object. . presumably.

15 In the first chapter we considered an interpretation of free harmony offered recently by Henry Allison and Carl Posy that can be employed to solve the everything-is-beautiful criticism. presumably. The problem with the rejoinder as stated is that it fails to come to terms with the explanation offered previously concerning what makes free harmonies pleasing. then it will do no good to emphasize the uniqueness of free harmonies. as such “the normal concerns of cognition are suspended. whereas. then any organized manifold (free or conceptual) ought to do the job. And. then such a requirement will disqualify all sorts of garden-variety objects as candidates for aesthetic pleasure. both appreciating free harmony and applying a concept to a manifold of sense are a similar activity of finding order in a manifold. There is a difference. there is an important difference. It has been argued that the “everything is beautiful” charge is a nonstarter since this criticism neglects the unique status of a free harmony of imagination and understanding in Kant’s account of judgments of taste. it could be argued that a well-defined conceptual ordering might do a better job at exhibiting organization than a free harmony can do. but more needs to be said to be convincing here. And. If free harmonies give pleasure simply because they exhibit organization in a manifold. All of the garden-variety objects mentioned above “harmonize” the understanding and imagination by applying an empirical concept or a teleological idea to a manifold of the imagination.14 Recall that Kant wants to argue that only free harmony is a likely source for a universal aesthetic pleasure and if we emphasize the free (nonconceptual) character of the harmony. On this interpretation Kant argues that free harmonies are pleasing since they satisfy our general aim of finding order in a manifold of sense. we also assert that the manifold shows a rule orderedness similar to that of other objects. This rejoinder surely goes in the right direction by attempting to show that free harmonies are somehow unique.”17 .16 On this interpretation. Although both involve a kind of harmony between our cognitive faculties.76 Chapter 5 There is a another answer to the everything-is-beautiful charge that has been offered in Kant’s defense. We assert that an object is one of a kind. But. between applying a concept to a manifold of sense and merely appreciating the harmony between the imagination and the understanding (“free” of concepts). if this is all there is to Kant’s argument. in the case of applying empirical concepts we are further engaged in drawing a similarity between the order found in a particular instance of a manifold and other like instances. In fact. then. free harmonies are quite unique. When we recognize the rule orderedness of a manifold by the application of a concept we do not simply appreciate an object’s rule orderedness. thus. In the free harmony case we merely consider the orderliness of the manifold. free harmonies don’t work this way. But.

Earlier I made the broad criticism that this interpretation fails to make a distinction in kind between applying concepts and free harmony judgings. If aesthetic appreciation is to be understood as judging an object to be rule orderly but without applying a rule (concept). However. as such. then. Arguably. we cannot say that all objects are beautiful. when we approach a true aesthetic object. We approach a urinal not as one of a kind. then it would seem that all empirical objects are still live candidates for beauty. After all. then the everything-is-beautiful criticism returns.The Extensiveness of the Criterion of Beauty 77 Assuming that we could make such a distinction between aesthetic contemplation and empirical judgment. If this sort of thing is possible. at the same time. However. even if Kant (under this interpretation) could avoid the criticism that everything is beautiful. Perhaps. Presumably. there have been cases in the art world that seem to encourage this sort of idea. That is to say. This is not aesthetic contemplation. Consider again the way that the Allison/Posy interpretation goes. I see no reason why we could not abstract from the concept-forming job of comparing our orderly manifold with other similarly ordered manifolds. We can appreciate the rule orderedness of any object per se. A free harmony of the imagination and the understanding is similar to ordinary empirical cognition insofar as our . we cannot simply abstract from an empirical concept (or teleological idea) to appreciate the rule orderedness of any empirical object. then perhaps this distinction will allow us to say that not all objects are to be judged as beautiful. When we experience ordinary empirical objects we proceed to apply a concept defining the orderliness of the manifold and. but we consider it for its internal orderliness. we recognize how the particular object is related to others of like kind. and the object is not considered an aesthetic object. we judge the orderliness of the manifold per se with no concern to classify the object. we can distinguish between experience of ordinary empirical objects and genuine aesthetic objects. if we abstract from any further comparisons to other like objects. it seems quite possible to appreciate the rule orderedness of a dog or a house by considering the rule orderedness of these manifolds while putting aside any comparisons of its orderliness to other. This is a very interesting reply to the everything-is-beautiful criticism but I believe that there are still problems. perhaps we cannot set aside consideration of comparisons to like objects once this comparison has been made in the process of forming an empirical concept. Perhaps this response is wrong headed. he may be faced with the equally challenging criticism that at some time in the past everything was beautiful— everything has been beautiful for someone at some time. One could see someone like Duchamp encouraging us to consider a urinal as an aesthetic object and not just as one of a kind of object. similar objects. That general criticism seems to apply more specifically to the everything-is-beautiful charge. And.

to make this account coherent. In the end these similarities make up the general rule of orderliness defining a Kantian empirical concept.” At one time every object someone encountered was antecedent to the application of an empirical concept.”20 This seems to explain how an empirically conceptualized object will fail to be beautiful. Again. But since every object subsequently was found to be rule governed (by the appropriate conceptual rule). For the reasons discussed earlier. then it will follow that ordinary objects that fit into our empirical-concept schemes will not be proper objects of aesthetic consideration. If we grant this. while at the same time insisting on the important similarities between the two enterprises. However.”18 But unlike ordinary cognition we do not actually follow through with the process of applying a concept to the manifold. Ginsborg argues that for Kant to build a coherent description of empirical-concept acquisition he must have a two-step account of how we come to recognize order in an empirical manifold. there was a time when there was no empirical concept of “dog. In order to create an empirical concept. let’s grant that we cannot consider a dog’s rule orderedness per se by abstracting from the concept “dog. as we saw in the first chapter. focusing my attention on a particular dog compared to other similar animals for the purpose of applying my class concept. Kant must assume a “primitive” notion of recognizing the order of a manifold that is logically prior to the explicit recognition of an order that is specified by an empirical concept (rule). we must compare various objects with an eye to grouping them according to similarities in the orderliness of their sense manifolds. as it were. However. every object at one time could have been appreciated as rule orderly but without the application of a rule.” although I am not convinced that this is so. They could appreciate a dog’s rule orderedness free of any concepts since their appreciation was quite literally “antecedent to the application of a concept. Hannah Ginsborg also tries to distinguish between the activity of applying a concept to an ordinary empirical object and appreciating the beauty of an aesthetic object. concepts are rules defining the order of manifolds of sense. I am. at one time every object was beautiful. Presumably. But the claim that everything was beautiful seems just as implausible as claim that everything is beautiful.78 Chapter 5 “judging” an object “invites the application of a concept. This primitive ability seems to be needed since we could not begin to compare the similarities in orderliness of manifolds (needed to form a concept) unless we had a way of recognizing orderliness prior to the . then I will not feel aesthetic pleasure. Further.19 Aesthetic contemplation (“judging”) of the object according to Allison/Posy is “antecedent to the application of a concept. Ginsborg agues. if I consider a dog’s rule orderedness as a dog. Thus. as we saw in chapter 1. Again.” There was a time when someone approached a dog and they could appreciate its rule orderedness for its own sake.

If each act of applying an empirical concept to a manifold requires a first step of primitively recognizing orderliness. And. this primitive (nonconceptual) ability to recognize the orderliness of a manifold. then it would seem that we could approach any empirical object and appreciate it for its primitive orderliness in the same way we approach paradigm cases of aesthetic objects. conceptual judging differs from the mere primitive form of judging by going on to compare the orderliness of the present object with other like objects for the purpose of classifying as a kind of object. as we have seen. we (necessarily?) apply a concept at the same time.” we could appreciate the orderliness of a particular dog without applying the concept dog. there must have been a time when this was true of all objects. Free harmonies. I believe that Ginsborg’s interpretation suffers from a fate similar to the Allison/Posy account. Such appreciation would be a case of free harmony. I want to suggest that pleasure in subjective purposiveness for judgment generally is not an appropriate criterion for Kant’s account of aesthetic pleasure because it . there must have been a time when we could. even if it is true that for an empirical object for which we have an empirical concept we cannot appreciate its orderliness without also applying a concept. However. Both activities are a matter of recognizing orderliness in what Ginsborg calls a “primitive. She seems to think that we cannot approach ordinary empirical objects in this way. everything was beautiful. She claims that anytime we experience an ordinary empirical object.21 This is the extent to which free-harmony judging and conceptual judging are thought to be similar activities. Ginsborg speculates. must be the same ability that we have when we appreciate a free harmony of the understanding and imagination. we could appreciate the free orderliness of a dog manifold and this is indistinguishable from aesthetic appreciation. Nonetheless. require us to recognize an orderliness of a sense manifold without applying a concept.” nonconceptual way. But. similar to our argument above.The Extensiveness of the Criterion of Beauty 79 use of concepts. thus. I don’t find much of an argument for this point. But now we seem to be able to distinguish between recognizing free harmonies and making an empirical judgment. I will suggest a more fruitful approach to the everythingis-beautiful charge. Moreover. before we acquired the concept of “dog. prior to our acquiring the concept dog. 3 Given the problems we have seen with current interpretations of Kant’s account of aesthetic pleasure. once upon a time. on this interpretation. Ginsborg attempts to block this move. one consistent with the results of my earlier chapters. similar to the Allison/Posy interpretation. Once upon a time. Thus. nonetheless. But let’s grant it for the moment.

It is this additional requirement that objects express ideas through a free harmony of imagination and understanding that allows Kant to avoid the kinds of criticisms we have been considering in this chapter. as I have argued in chapters 1. is perfectly consistent with Kant’s claim that we trace our aesthetic pleasure to a “free harmony. it is generally held. some objects suit it in a unique and interesting way. Objects that are interpretable as expressing ideas satisfy our moral interest in giving us a “hint” that nature is amenable to our moral projects. then we can escape the everything-isbeautiful charge. This interpretation has the added benefit of meshing well with the issue brought up in the previous chapter and that will be discussed in length in chapter 6—namely. Accordingly. Aesthetic pleasure is pleasure in finding order in a manifold that can do a most important job—it can allow an object to express ideas. And when objects satisfy our judging aim in this unique and interesting way. and 4. We will go into Kant’s connection between beauty and morality in considerable detail in the next chapter. However. the connection Kant sees between beauty and moral value. judgmental aim. not just any ordering will do since it is not simply the ordering that gives us pleasure.”22 Expression of ideas. again stemming from ¶42. then we can better understand why objects that are beautiful on this criteria are also of moral interest. can be achieved only through a free harmony of the imagination and understanding. 2. Not every object is beautiful.” This additional requirement. . Simply being purposive for any kind of judging will not do.” Beginning with ¶42 Kant can be read as arguing for the additional requirement that beauty be able to express “aesthetic Ideas. if we understand Kant as arguing that the pleasure at the base of aesthetic judgment is pleasure in finding objects as organizable in a way that suits our purpose (as stated in ¶42) of seeing objects as exemplifying ideas of reason.80 Chapter 5 covers too much ground. Kant needs to argue that of all the objects that suit our general. The criterion for aesthetic pleasure needs to be qualified in order to avoid the everything-is-beautiful charge.” I believe that Kant does develop such a position later on in the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment. that a good explanation of why Kant believes that beauty can engage our moral interest is that beauty is subjectively purposive for judgment in the specific sense that objects of beauty can realize ideas of reason. Kant does in fact hold that the only appropriate candidate for aesthetic pleasure is pleasure in finding order in a manifold (subjective purposiveness). if we adopt this interpretation. they give us a pleasure suitable to be called “aesthetic pleasure. And. This is of moral interest to us since it leads us to believe that the world is amenable to our moral efforts. In the previous chapter we considered seriously the interpretation. further. But if we emphasize this aspect of Kant’s position. then this will explain why it is not the case that every object that is organizable by some rule will qualify as beautiful.

as I have. Kant wants to argue that the mental state.The Extensiveness of the Criterion of Beauty 81 There is a downside to the interpretation that I am proposing here. If I feel pleasure in the aesthetic appreciation of an object. Recall that one of the reasons that the everything-is-beautiful criticism is generated is that some interpretations put considerable emphasis on the argument from skepticism traced out earlier.23 . However. the harder it is to avoid the everything-is-beautiful charge. I am not overly concerned that my interpretation weakens an argument from skepticism since. Presumably. Alternatively. if one argues. we may not be permitted to conclude that we will have shared responses to the activity of interpreting the world as amenable to our ideas of reason. The tighter the similarity between aesthetic appreciation and ordinary cognition. The problem with promoting this argument from skepticism is that it leads very quickly to the everything-is-beautiful charge. that the grounds of aesthetic appreciation are rather different from ordinary cognition. then I can expect that all others will feel the same pleasure given the close similarity of aesthetic appreciation and ordinary cognitive judging. at the basis of aesthetic appreciation is sufficiently similar to an ordinary cognitive state that we must assume that our responses to states of appreciation are as common and “sharable” as our cognitive beliefs are common and sharable. on independent ground. then this will weaken any such argument from skepticism for a common response to aesthetic appreciation. While we may be safe in assuming that we will have similar responses to applying concepts to the world for cognition. I believe that this argument is problematic.

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is that the connection of aesthetics with morality furthers Kant’s central argument justifying the “universal validity” of aesthetic judgments—the claim that aesthetic judgments warrant a kind of objectivity. according to Kant. as elsewhere. assuming for the moment that we knew how to make the connection between aesthetics and morality there is a further question. What does Kant want to achieve by the connection? What argumentative goal is furthered by showing that aesthetic experience is morally important? Here.6 Beauty. Beyond this broad characterization there is much that is unclear about the connection between aesthetics and morality. One interpretation.2 Quite a lot will need to be said to make this claim either clear or convincing. in some fashion.3 A twist on the latter strategy is to suggest that there is a relationship between aesthetics and morality but it is not that morality is enlisted to support the legitimacy of aesthetic experience. Rather. Aesthetic experience helps to support an interest in morality. Since Kant’s general account of beauty is based on the subjective experience of appreciation. I believe that a good way to approach the issue of the moral importance of beauty is to ask why.” These are two distinct issues that need to be sorted out. Kant wants to hold that our appreciation of beauty is important for our moral life. is aesthetic experience morally valuable?1 Broadly. however. It is unclear why Kant believes that aesthetics is important for morality and it is further unclear how (or if) the moral importance of aesthetics advances the central argument of the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment. the support is the other way around. A more common interpretation is that Kant first establishes universality of aesthetic judgment and then goes on to show how there is a moral interest in aesthetic appreciation. However. which I favor. and Moral Duty One topic that has garnered considerable attention in the scholarship on Kant’s aesthetics is the connection he attempts to make between aesthetics and morality. before doing so I want to make some preliminary remarks. Free Harmony.4 83 . similar to our experience of determining our actions by the moral law. the answer seems to be that the experience of beauty is. there is little consensus by commentators.

for the purposes of this chapter I will consider only the first issue. but not the only way. In ¶41 it is argued that developing an interest in communicable pleasures forges a bond with our fellow man such that “each expects and requires of everyone else a regard to universal communication. I want to give an interpretation of Kant concerning the moral importance of aesthetic experience. 177). We must be clear about the moral importance of beauty before we can speculate about the kind of argumentative job it is intended to do. .6 At ¶60 Kant claims that “taste is at bottom a faculty for the judging of the sensible rendering of moral ideas.5 And. However. 1 A proper interpretation of the connection between aesthetics and morality is complicated by the fact the Kant is all too generous with suggestions concerning the nature of this connection. As evidence for the secondary role of these . For example. in turn. While I have chosen to work on the first issue. There can be little doubt that Kant develops both of these strategies for linking aesthetics and morality. . Kant also holds that beautiful objects are capable of expressing specific moral ideas and this is what makes aesthetics morally important. there is an argument in ¶41 to the effect that developing an interest in beauty increases our sociability.84 Chapter 6 Both of the issues described above are important to a proper interpretation and evaluation of Kant’s position on aesthetics. This is one way Kant connects aesthetics to morality.” It is evident that the true propaedeutic for the grounding of taste is the development of moral ideas and the cultivation of moral feeling” (KU 5: 356. however. presumably. take up the issue of the argumentative role of the moral importance of beauty in the appendix and the postscript. However. They are at best icing on the cake. . I do. Kant believes that establishing the moral importance of aesthetic experience is relevant to the extended argument in the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment. Clearly. 230). the second question is far from unimportant. this bond will make us more disposed toward respecting our fellow man’s interests.” Nonetheless. Throughout the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment” Kant argues that the pleasure we find in beauty must be “communicable” or sharable by all others. as if from an original contract dictated by humanity itself” (KU 5: 297. Here it seems that aesthetic appreciation is morally important if and only if beautiful objects achieve the didactic goal of expressing moral ideas—beauty. the first question has priority. I do not believe that either of these positions represent the most central and sustained point Kant wants to make. is valuable for the moral notions it can teach us.

if “expression of moral ideas” explains the moral importance of aesthetic appreciation. It is fair to say that any time Kant describes something as having only an empirical (as opposed to a pure or a priori status) it is likely that we have not gotten to the heart of the matter.7 Although. Now. much more plausible. it is very tempting to think that aesthetics’ home turf is to comment on our moral life. I want to hold that expression of ideas is important for Kant. However. all cases of aesthetic appreciation are morally important for the same reason. that all cases of aesthetic appreciation are of moral importance and. not its content—and surely appreciating an object for the moral ideas it expresses seems to be advocating content over form. Presumably. 177). then it must be the case that all ob- . This attitude is borne out in the text of ¶41. An extreme position on Kantian formalism would have it that expression of ideas should never count as relevant to the aesthetic experience. and Moral Duty 85 positions. even if only indirectly. movies. presumably.8 On the moderate view. Kant would have a tough time claiming that it is expression of moral ideas that gives beauty its moral value. Kant holds that aesthetic value (beauty) resides in the appreciation of an object’s form. which we indirectly attach to the beautiful through our inclination to society and which is therefore empirical is of no importance to us here. To the broader point. There is something very plausible about this position both on interpretative grounds and on the broader grounds of aesthetic theory. presumably. it is interesting to note just how often works of art and beauties of nature either have explicit moral themes or are described in moral language. Referring to the propensity toward sociability Kant claims that “this interest. there is a long-standing interpretation of Kant as an aesthetic formalist. Novels. As such. And. and sculpture often feature themes speaking to how we conduct ourselves in the world. it may well be that appreciating an object as expressing an idea is achieved through the appreciation of an object’s form. A more moderate view may allow objects to be expressive so long as they meet the appropriate formal criteria. Free Harmony.Beauty. Recall that in the end Kant wants to claim. paintings. as we have seen from the text of ¶60 Kant seems to be making a very strong claim for the importance of expressing moral ideas. I believe. First. since we must concern ourselves only with what may have reference a priori. the claim that aesthetic appreciation leads to sociability is offered as an “empirical interest in the beautiful”—such is the very title of ¶41. to a judgment of taste” (KU 5: 297. the specific interpretation that beauty must express moral ideas is problematic. even if we grant that expression of ideas is compatible with appreciating form. in the end. Kant’s suggestion that our appreciation of beautiful objects is morally important because such objects express moral ideas is.

Quite the contrary. This is a position that is textually and philosophically dubious. . Not only does Kant not limit aesthetic ideas to moral ideas. death” (KU 5: 314. 192). the enchanting smile of Mona Lisa. but we would surely worry about him if he did. I do not deny that Kant holds that sociability or expression of moral ideas are morally important features of aesthetic experience. or the stark simplicity of Mondrian’s Composition with Red. eternity . but it is questionable to attribute to Kant the view that all aesthetic objects must express moral ideas. . Again. there is consensus on the following broad outline of his position. but not all. it may well be reasonable to hold that aesthetic objects be seen as expressing some sort of ideas. This is not to suggest the Critique of Judgment (Kant’s third Critique) is “patchwork” of several views as has been argued of the Critique of Pure Reason (Kant’s first Critique). it would be a mistake to think that everything Kant has to say on the connection between aesthetics and morality can be fit into a single. To be sure. There are any number of works of art that are expressive but do not fit neatly under the category of expressing moral ideas: the existential angst of Kafka’s Castle. despite considerable interpretative disagreement on many of the issues in Kant’s aesthetics.86 Chapter 6 jects of beauty express moral ideas. 2 I believe that the strategies previously explored do not represent Kant’s best attempt to connect aesthetics to morality. . it may well be the case that Kant has several reasons for why beauty is morally important—some reasons more philosophically promising than others. He also gives an example of the expression of ideas as diverse as “the mighty king of heaven” (KU 5: 315) or “invisible beings .10 My intention in this chapter is to offer an interpretation connecting aesthetic experience and morality that can be genuinely attributed to Kant and that is philosophically viable—even if it is not the only way Kant makes such a connection. Aesthetic judgments of taste are based on the pleasure found in a free harmony of the imagination . there is clear evidence that he holds these positions.” As we have seen in earlier chapters. I believe that the key to finding a viable link between aesthetics and morality lies in Kant’s notion of “the free harmony of the imagination and understanding. .9 Yet. Blue and Yellow. 226). Nevertheless. many of Kant’s examples of expression are examples of moral ideas. However. highly unified argument leading to a well-defined thesis. Kant talks about expressing the idea of the “monarchical state” when it is either ruled by “a single absolute will” or “in accordance with laws internal to the people” (KU 5: 352.

However. and that it is credible. Free Harmony. According to Kant. I discussed the several problems with interpreting Kant as claiming that pleasure is the way in which free harmonies are recognized. In chapter 4. Pleasure in free harmony is the very foundation of Kant’s judgments of taste. Assuming that he gives such an accounting. pleasure is not just any feeling. then it follows that all beauty is morally important. if pleasure in free harmony is the aesthetic experience. The most common interpretation is one that I am calling the “recognitional” or “epistemological” interpretation. I argued that there are two fundamentally different approaches to the issue of why free harmony should be considered (universally) pleasing. there is an antecedent question here. The question of why pleasure in free harmony might be morally important is central to Kant’s project. making sense of this position is no mean feat. aesthetic experience is morally important.Beauty. There is a great danger here that a recognitional “feel the fit” inter- . As we have seen in the earlier chapters. it is important for the plausibility of Kant’s aesthetic theory that pleasure is at the foundation of judgments of taste. we have covered this ground in chapter 4 and I will only summarize the results of that discussion as it is relevant to the present question. and Moral Duty 87 and understanding. But. And. I propose that we formulate the issue of morality and beauty in the following way. specifically in ¶9 and ¶21. Before we can answer this central question we need to know why Kant would think that free harmony is pleasing at all. it does not follow that the relevant feeling is pleasure. pleasure in free harmony is a requirement for all beauty. As we shall see this is a more than slightly controversial interpretation of Kant since it is sometimes argued that only natural beauty is capable of engaging our moral interest in any important way. I shall concentrate here on the problem most relevant to the current discussion. Nevertheless. Fortunately. After all. This view has Kant arguing. that the only way that we can recognize the peculiar free harmony of the imagination and understanding is by a feeling—and the feeling of pleasure in particular. then Kant needs to show that taking pleasure in free harmony is important to our moral life. he will have gone a long way toward making a firm connection between beauty and morality. There is a considerable evaluative difference between claiming that aesthetic experience is pleasurable and claiming that it is nauseating or tingling or whatever. Even if we grant that free harmonies must be recognized by some feeling. The “recognitional” interpretation cannot do an adequate job of explaining why free harmony is pleasing. intrinsically (necessarily). if it can be shown that such pleasure is morally important. Kant needs to show that. In chapter 4. Given the centrality of pleasure in free harmony for Kant.

This aim. presumably.88 Chapter 6 pretation will miss the evaluative aspect of an aesthetic judgment of taste. If free harmony pleases since it satisfies the general aim of judgment to organize a manifold of sense particulars (intuitions) by the faculty of rules (concepts). as a mental state of free harmony. then it would seem that ab- . To do this he needs to explain how aesthetic appreciation. As such. as a free harmony. It is what I have been calling the “evaluative” interpretation. which Kant often makes in the third Critique. And free harmony is pleasing because it constitutes a “subjective formal purposiveness” of the faculty of judgment. it fails to adequately explain why free harmonies are distinctly pleasing. The big picture here is relatively clear. no concepts are involved. the details are not. 3 Fortunately. 73). Kant wants to place the pleasure of taste within a broader account of pleasure as attainment of aims. the point seems to be that the pleasure we take in apprehending an object “freely” is not a pleasure in finding the object suitable to this or that determinate kind of organization (concept) since. aesthetic pleasure can be nothing but pleasure in the mere fact that the manifold of the imagination is orderly without regard to the kind of order—a mere formal requirement. It seems that the very best this sort of interpretation can do is to explain why we must feel our way into a free harmony. Sorting this out a bit. Certain objects occasion a free harmony of the imagination and the understanding. that free harmony is “subjectively purposive” for the faculty of judgment. the mental state of free harmony satisfies our general aim of judgment—where the faculty of judgment on Kant’s account is the faculty of organizing a collection of particulars by the rule-ordering function of the understanding. The key to this strategy is the point. is one that all of us share universally (see KU 5: 183. crucially for our present concerns. made in the published introduction to the third Critique. This interpretation depends on the general claim. But. 75–76). there is an alternative to the “epistemological” explanation of the pleasure in free harmony. In the introduction Kant claims that a free harmony of the imagination and the understanding is an “apprehension” of the mere “subjective formal purposiveness of the Object” (KU 5: 189–90. However. 70). Kant wants to argue. while the big picture seems clear. as we saw in chapter 4. achieves some aim of ours.11 Seemingly. Somehow or other. that “the attainment of every aim (Absicht) is combined with the feeling of pleasure” (KU 5: 187. One problem with the details is that Kant’s account of pleasure in free harmony seems to cover too much ground.

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solutely every object (of experience) would give aesthetic pleasure. According to the first Critique every object of experience must satisfy our epistemic conditions. And, crucially, one of these conditions is that manifolds of intuition must be organizable by the pure concepts of the understanding. Every object, on this accounting, furthers the judgmental aim of bringing order to a manifold of the imagination. There is a great danger that Kant may be forced to the undesirable conclusion that every object of experience is beautiful.12 In order to avoid this problem I will appeal to the discussion in chapter 5. Kant must argue, in some fashion, that a free harmony of the imagination and understanding is different from other ways of organizing a manifold. And further, free harmony is different because it is pleasing while other ways to organize are not. It should be noted that a distinction can be made between “free” harmonies and others, but perhaps at a considerable cost. Recall that a free harmony is one that is free from the sort of “determinate” concepts that typically characterize an act of judgment. That is to say, typically a judgment for Kant is a matter of determining a specific, conceptual order of a manifold of sense. However, what makes a “free” harmony free is the fact that it is not determined by a concept. This is a central theme in the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment”; the following from ¶9 is representative: “The powers of cognition that are set into play by this representation are hereby in a free play, since no determinate concept restricts them to a particular rule of cognition” (KU 5: 217, 102). To insist that the basis for pleasure in beauty is a free harmony will serve to distinguish it from all other sorts of harmonies Kant may wish to talk about. And, therefore, it is entirely possible to hold that a free harmony is pleasing while the other kinds of harmonies between understanding and imagination are not pleasing. However, there is a problem here as well. The more Kant emphasizes the “free” aspect of free harmony, the harder it is to account for free harmonies as genuine harmonies of the understanding and imagination. To “harmonize” the understanding and the imagination is to be able to organize a manifold of sense by the rule-ordering function of the understanding. However, since free harmonies use no conceptual rules, it is difficult to see how the understanding brings order to a manifold in such a way that we can say that the two faculties are in harmony. In this sense it is unclear how there can be a “free” (nonconceptual) harmony of the imagination and understanding. It is unclear how there can be a manifold of the imagination that “harmonizes” with the conceptual, rule function of the understanding without the employment of rules.13 In this sense we are thrown back to the fundamental question of this present work, raised in chapter 1; namely, How are we to understand free harmony and the pleasure that it is presumed to give?

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4
Aesthetic pleasure is pleasure in the quasi-cognitive state of free harmony. However, we have yet to see a full explanation as to why free harmony is pleasing. The outline of an answer is relatively clear. A free harmony of the imagination and understanding is “subjectively purposive” for the faculty of judgment. And, since free harmony meets the aim of judgment, this satisfaction is met with pleasure—on the principle that generally satisfying an aim is pleasing. On the one hand, Kant needs to explain how free harmony satisfies an aim of judgment, in spite of the fact that a free harmony does not further judgment by employing concepts. On the other hand, he needs to show how a free harmony satisfies an aim of judgment in such a way that it is not true that determinate (conceptual) acts of judging also satisfy this aim. This latter is the worry that everything will turn out to be beautiful according to Kant. The answers to these questions have been discussed in earlier chapters, specifically chapters 4 and 5, and I will only briefly run through those results here. The explanation for how free harmony can be pleasing and, further, why this criterion does not generate the everything-is-beautiful problem resides with the doctrine of aesthetic ideas developed in the latter portions of the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment.”14 The following passage well represents the complex set of concerns that come together in the latter sections of the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment.”
But since it also interests reason that the ideas (for which it produces an immediate interest in the moral feeling) also have objective reality, i.e. that nature should at least show some sort of ground for assuming a lawful correspondence of its products with our satisfaction that is independent of all interest . . . reason must take an interest in every manifestation in nature of a correspondence similar to this; consequently the mind cannot reflect on the beauty of nature without finding itself at the same time to be interested in it. Because of this affinity, however, this interest is moral, and he who takes such an interest in the beautiful in nature can do so only insofar as he has already firmly established his interest in the morally good. (KU 5: 300, 180)

A lot of work gets done in this very compact passage. There is a suggestion as to how beauty (as a free harmony) can satisfy an aim of judgment in a way different from ordinary conceptual judging. Kant asserts in ¶42 that reason is interested in ideas having “objective reality.” The ideas Kant refers to here are unmistakably the aesthetic ideas that are a topic throughout the latter sections of the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment” but are discussed at length in ¶49. The

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position in these latter sections is that aesthetic appreciation is a matter of interpreting objects of art or nature as the expression of aesthetic ideas as, for example, when we interpret that “the song of a bird proclaims joyfulness and contentment with its existence” (KU 5: 302, 181), or when “the poet ventures to make sensible rational ideas of invisible being, the kingdom of the blessed, the kingdom of hell, eternity, creation, etc.” (KU 5: 314, 192). Kant goes so far as to say in ¶60 that “taste is at bottom a faculty for the judging of the sensible rendering of moral ideas” and that feeling resulting from this judging objects as rendering ideas is nothing other than “that pleasure which taste declares to be valid for all mankind in general” (KU 5: 356, 230). Expression of aesthetic ideas is the origin of aesthetic pleasure since, from the passage at ¶42, finding objects to express ideas furthers an aim we have. With a little bit of work we can see that the account of pleasure in expression of ideas is consistent with, and hopefully an extension of, the story Kant tells in the early sections of the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment.” In the early sections Kant claims that the pleasure of taste must be found in “subjective purposive”—finding experience amenable to judgment’s purpose or end to organize manifolds of sense. But now, this general account is specified. Kant claims that we satisfy a purpose of judgment when we find objects are organizable by an aesthetic “idea.” It is important to note here, for the consistency of Kant’s position, that the sort of organization that an aesthetic idea gives to a manifold is different from that given by a determinate concept. Ideas and concepts are separate in the Kantian pantheon of representations. An aesthetic idea, Kant explains, is a “representation of the imagination which by itself stimulates so much thinking that it can never be grasped by a determinate concept” (KU 5: 314, 192). Kant’s point, which is not well worked out in the text, is that some notions are too big, too complex to be represented by ordinary empirical concepts; however, aesthetic objects are able to “express” such notions by encouraging “the imagination . . . to spread itself over a multitude of related representations, which let one think more than one can express in a concept determined by words” (KU 5: 315, 193).15 The doctrine of expression of ideas provides an explanation of how aesthetic objects can be subjectively purposive for judgment. Insofar as an aesthetic object can be interpreted as expressing an idea (e.g., creation), it can be seen as exhibiting a kind of organization. In fact, ¶49 is largely devoted to explaining how artistic genius can organize artworks such that they express an idea. Similarly, one could say of natural objects that we can interpret them as expressive (again, like interpreting a bird’s song as joyfulness—KU 5: 302, 181) insofar as we interpret the natural object as if organized in such a way as to bring out that idea.16 In either the case of art or nature aesthetic appreciation, under this in-

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terpretation, is subjectively purposive for judgment. To appreciate an object as expressing an idea is to find a manifold of sense amenable to our efforts to bring order to our experience, and this is the aim of judgment generally. While, it may be granted that appreciating beauty as the expression of ideas will satisfy the aim of judgment, it is perhaps less clear that expression is consistent with Kant’s claim that aesthetic pleasure is pleasure in free harmony. To address this issue I offer nothing original. I take it as a well-accepted interpretative point that appreciating beauty as expressing an idea is an instance of freely harmonizing the imagination and the understanding.17 Again, ¶49 is the appropriate text. Here Kant argues that the sort of organization (harmony) needed to express an aesthetic idea is nonconceptual in Kant’s technical sense. For our purposes, it is enough to say that interpreting a manifold as expressing an aesthetic idea is not a matter of applying a pure, a priori concept or even an a posteriori, empirical concept. Rather, there is a degree of freedom or creativity to the process. Kant makes this point in a number of ways. Aesthetic ideas are representations that “occasions much thinking without it being possible for any determinate thought, i.e., concept, to be adequate to it” (KU 5: 314, 192). Genius, which creates expressive objects, creates a “new rule which could not have been deduced from any antecedent principles or examples” (KU 5: 317, 195 and again at KU 5: 319, 197). And, quite explicitly, Kant claims that while genius is expressing ideas this must be done by use of the “unsought and unintentional subjective purposiveness in the free correspondence of the imagination to the lawfulness of the understanding” (KU 5: 317, 195). I will take it as uncontroversial that appreciating beauty as the expression of aesthetic ideas is an instance of free harmony. I go further to suggest that free harmony as expression of ideas helps us to understand how an object can be subjectively purposive without employing concepts (or purposes). To be “subjectively purposive” a manifold of imagination must conform to the understanding (the faculty of rules). However, consistent with the free harmony requirement, this conformity to the faculty of rules must be done without concepts. The doctrine of expression of ideas allows Kant a way to talk about aesthetic appreciation as achieving a purpose of judgment (by interpreting manifolds as organized by ideas) while being free from concepts. The upshot here is that aesthetic pleasure turns out (on my interpretation) to be pleasure in the expression of aesthetic ideas. We find an object aesthetically pleasing not simply because it is amenable to our broad judgmental aim of finding manifolds of sense organizable. Rather, the more plausible explanation is that in beauty we can find expressions of notions that would not otherwise be expressed. According to Kant, “it . . . interests reason that . . . ideas . . . have objective reality” (KU 5: 300, 180). And, finally, it is the satisfaction of

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this interest that we find pleasing in aesthetic contemplation. The doctrine of expression of ideas, so far, plugs two holes in Kant’s account of the pleasure in free harmony. It explains how there can be a harmony free from conceptual organization—there is organization by an “idea.” It can also explain why we find this harmony is pleasing and not necessarily any old harmony This harmony is able to convey a notion we otherwise would be unable to convey by ordinary methods.

5
I believe that an adequate interpretation of the connection between beauty and morality should be able to put together two crucial features of Kant’s position. One ought to be able to say that the pleasure of taste is some species of pleasure in subjective purposiveness and that pleasure in this species of subjective purposiveness is morally important. Kant needs to make this connection since, in the end, he wants to claim that there is something morally important at the heart of the aesthetic experience, and that pleasure in subjective purposiveness is at the very heart. I have argued that expressing an aesthetic idea is a species of subjective purposiveness and one that plausibly explains the pleasure of taste. Interpreting an object as expressing an idea constitutes finding the object purposive for the faculty of judgment without the use of determinate concepts—satisfying one of Kant’s requirements. Assuming that some such account is correct, we need to understand why finding pleasure in the subjective purposiveness of expressive objects is also morally important. While Kant flirts with a number of ways to connect aesthetic pleasure with morality, there is a central theme. He claims that it is important that aesthetic ideas get expressed—that they have “objective reality” (KU 5: 300, 180) or “the appearance of an objective reality” (KU 5: 314, 192). And further the reason expression is important is that it somehow connects us to the “supersensible” (KU 5: 316, 194) or even the “supersensible substratum of humanity” (KU 5: 340, 216). Presumably, then, appreciating objects as expressing ideas constitutes a subjective purposivenss for judgment and this appeals to our supersensible nature. Further, it will turn out, this supersensible nature is the very underpinning of our moral life. If we can sort this all out we may be able to understand why Kant thinks that beauty is the “symbol of morality” as the heading of ¶59 announces.18 Appreciating an object as expressing an aesthetic idea is a matter of finding it subjectively purposive in a rather special way. We find that the object is amenable to our efforts to interpret it as organized by an idea. This is quite un-

It is important to the very project of morality that we be able to shape our world in accordance with an idea of reason. However. Given the importance to Kant’s moral theory of being able to interpret nature as a product of our ideas. if we grant the argument of the first Critique.19 We do have a right to expect that every object of experience will be purposive for determinate judgment since. he is at pains to show that causal determinism is at least consistent with the possibility that humans can choose to act from the idea of the moral law. are determined by causal laws. And yet.”20 That is to say. And the ability to shape the world in accordance with our ideas is “supersensible” since. every object of experience must be subsumable under the pure concepts of the understanding. At best we can merely believe that ideas like “God. how can we aspire to realize the categorical imperative in the world? This is a problem for Kant since. that we have an interest in finding nature purposive for judgment—specifically in the sense of being able to judge nature organizable by ideas. One could also say. To interpret nature as amenable to our ideas is nothing less. it is fundamental to Kant’s moral theory that we harbor the hope that ideas are realizable in the world. according to the doctrine of the first Critique. In the Critical philosophy not only do we have no reason to believe that we can act from an idea (like the categorical imperative) but there is a prima facie reason to think that such actions are impossible. a necessary condition for moral action is the assumption that nature can be a product of our intentionality—our ideas. we have no reason to believe that any idea has application to experience. Kant’s consistent position beginning in the first Critique is that strictly speaking we can never know that any piece of experience exemplifies an idea. In fact. As moral agents we must have an interest in nature being amenable to the realization of our ideas. than to see nature supported by “the supersensible substrate of humanity. in Kantian language. Kant seems to be arguing that we must be interested in whether ideas of reason are realizable in the world since we must be interested in the realizability of the moral law. Ideas by their very nature are notions that outstrip our cognitive abilities. for Kant.94 Chapter 6 expected and fortuitous since ideas (as opposed to concepts) are the sort of thing we can have no right to expect to be exemplified in our experience. knowledge of human freedom is beyond our sensible experience. we can begin to get a clearer view of why he would hold that beauty as the expression of aesthetic ideas is of moral importance. Our desire that nature . Given this position. Kant devotes considerable energy in the first Critique to showing that all events. freedom and immortality” are instantiated (Bxxx). we have no right to believe that experience will conform to our ideas. as we have seen. A central question in the moral theory is how the categorical imperative as an idea of pure reason is possible—that is to say. including human actions.

Insofar as objects are interpretable as expressing an idea they are also “subjectively purposive” since we can also see them as organizable by some sort of idea. We hope that nature can be a product of supersensible free agency. as sketched above. But if this is granted then. Further. As moral agents we surely must be concerned whether we are capable of remaking the world in accordance with our ideas— the idea of the moral law in particular. Further. finding experience amenable to our ideas satisfies this aim and is. only a limited few will be organizable as expressions of ideas. We find such purposiveness pleasing not simply because we want generally to organize experience. then it will not be the case that every object is beautiful. and Moral Duty 95 be amenable to our ideas is nothing less than a desire that there is a “supersensible substrate” to nature. So far so good. let’s consider how the agent/artist analogy might go. The controversial point of the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment” is that appreciation of beauty also satisfies this moral aim or moral interest. However. We can better understand how Kant can hold that the pleasure of taste is pleasure in finding nature subjectively purposive for judgment while avoiding the charge that everything is pleasurable in this respect. It could be argued that while a plausible analogy can be made between a moral agent and a creative artist the analogy is considerably weaker when we compare our roles as a moral agent and an appreciator of beauty. this interpretation can explain why Kant thinks that appreciation of beauty is connected to our moral life. If it is the case that as moral agents we must take satisfaction in nature being amenable to our ideas. . There are. Kant believes he is on solid ground to claim that “the beautiful is the symbol of the morally good” (KU 5: 353. And this sort of subjective finality is something we all find pleasing. beauty as the expression of ideas satisfies a kind of judgmental purpose or aim by allowing us to view nature as organizable by reason. a few important disanalogies between morality and aesthetics. Under the interpretation suggested here. pleasing. There are strengths to the sort of interpretation I offer here. then we should be similarly pleased when we are able to interpret art and nature as expressing aesthetic ideas. We have such an aim since a fundamental premise of Kant’s moral theory is that we are able see nature as a product of ideas. While every object is organizable in some way. Free Harmony. it is questionable how far this analogy can be taken and thus it is questionable how much moral importance can be granted to aesthetic experience. To this extent aesthetic appreciation shares similarities with morality. since this is the pleasurable satisfaction of a moral aim. but because we all have an “aim. First. thus.” Kant would say.Beauty. it must be recognized. in seeing experience as an expression of ideas—as a product of supersensible freedom. 227). If the most plausible interpretation of the pleasure we derive from subjective purposiveness is that we are pleased to find nature as organized by our ideas.

I do not believe this can be so. 180). perhaps. . However. Rather. takes pleasure in being able to see nature as a product of ideas—even if the appreciator is not the producer. Kant’s claim that beauty has moral significance is surely not just a claim about the value of artistic creation—if it is even that. And. that aesthetic appreciation can give us a sense that the objective world is amenable to ideas in general and. seeing objects as expressing ideas further adds depth to the central moral concern Kant has in his aesthetic theory. there may be a supersensible substrate). then the artist must be as concerned as the moral agent whether it is possible to realize ideas in the world. an appreciator of beauty is rather more passive. as discussed in this chapter. First. from our discussion of genius it is not so clear that artists can see themselves as authors. there is a response he could make. The artist must impose his or her will on the world. Part of the account above of the moral importance of aesthetic appreciation is fairly well accepted. at best. this is a bit different from the moral satisfaction we would take in the active role of exercising our freedom to remake nature in accord with our ideas. like the moral agent. it is of concern to us that “nature should at least show some trace or give a sign” that free agency based on ideas is possible (KU 5: 300. less important that we see ourselves as the authors of such ideas—as. the artist can. 192). If the business of an artist is to create a work that expresses an idea (and Kant clearly makes such a suggestion. arguably. I hold this view on two grounds. however. it seems clear enough that he holds that the appreciation of beauty is of moral importance. But second. in general. unlike my reading. As such.. hopefully. One could say that we have a moral concern that it be possible. yet there is a considerable difference between appreciation of beauty and creation of art.96 Chapter 6 One may very well claim that a moral agent and an artist share an important concern. Although. It is. it is often thought that this feature of aesthetic appreciation can be had without any appeal to Kant’s doctrine of aesthetic ideas. I know of nowhere that Kant addresses such a problem. take pleasure in being able to interpret art and nature as expressing ideas. my argument of chapter 1 and elsewhere is that the very notion of a free harmony of the imagination and understanding cannot be explained without reference to the doctrine of aesthetic ideas. It could be argued that the kind of pleasure that an appreciator of beauty enjoys is similar to the satisfaction of a moral agent. As appreciator we can. The appreciator. namely. the idea of the moral law in particular. But.e. As I have been arguing all along. to affect nature by ideas (i.21 However. specifically the interpretation of Kant as arguing that appreciation of beauty as free harmony appeals to our moral hope that the world is amenable to free agency. KU 5: 313. whereas.

one we have encountered earlier. On Kant’s account. Presumably. practical action. and it is reasonably clear that he intends “the beautiful” to cover “beautiful objects of nature or art” (KU 5: 354.22 If the position that I argue here for the moral importance of beauty holds. 186). The upshot here is that if it be the case that Kant pins the moral importance of aesthetic appreciation on the sense that nature is amenable to our acting on our ideas and. “the beautiful is the symbol of the morally good” (KU 5: 353.Beauty. see matters differently. it would seem they are potentially of equal moral importance. and weaker. 227). according to Allison. then despite what Kant seems to sometimes say beauties of both art and nature are of moral significance. notably Henry Allison. Kant makes a quite different. Very much in the mold of the romanticists. Moreover. while this seems good evidence for denying the moral superiority of natural beauty some commentators. and Moral Duty 97 Another sort of objection. as odd as it may seem. I hold that centrally what is of moral importance in our appreciation of beauty is that such appreciation encourages us to believe that nature is amenable to our ideas. Free Harmony. our appreciation suggests this by our being able to interpret either artworks or natural objects as the expression of aesthetic ideas. And. This connection between aesthetic appreciation and morality can be made only by natural beauty. 228). famously.” Kant claims. further. Subsequently in ¶59. I do not believe that there is a sharp divide between the position that Kant holds in ¶42 (aesthetic appreciation shows that nature is amenable to our moral ends) and the claim in ¶59 (aesthetic experi- . the distinction between art and nature oddly shrinks on Kant’s account due to his thesis that art (especially so-called fine art) is the product of genius. Kant holds that genius is an “inborn predisposition of the mind (ingenium) through which nature gives the rule to art” (KU 5: 307. that beauty does this through its ability to express aesthetic ideas. The first and strongest claim is that aesthetic appreciation can suggest the amenability of the world to our moral. The above reading seems to be confirmed by Kant’s remarks strategically placed at the very end of the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment. And. is that Kant sometimes seems to hold that the moral significance of beauty pertains only to natural beauty. then Kant is not entitled to make such a distinction between art and nature. artistic beauty is a special case of natural beauty. claim that beauty can “symbolize” morality by the fact that aesthetic experience is in various ways similar to moral experience. further. Allison sees Kant as making two quite different claims about the connection between aesthetic appreciation and morality. this weaker claim about the connection between aesthetics and morality pertains to both art and nature. As I have argued in chapter 3. As we saw in chapter 3.23 Both art and nature are able to express aesthetic ideas. as was argued in chapter 3.

Kant does indeed worry that teleological judging may offer the same sort of pleasure found in aesthetic judging. further. I hold that this sense that nature is conformable to our ends is possible only if we further interpret aesthetic objects (either nature or art) as the expression of aesthetic ideas There is. My interpretation may again make the criteria for beauty’s moral importance too wide. Even in ¶59. gives us an a priori (universally valid) pleasure—just like the pleasure of taste. Teleological judging. It may even be the case that Kant cannot suitably distinguish beauty and teleology.98 Chapter 6 ence is similar to moral experience). Presumably. beauty is morally importance because it is “subjectively purposive” in the sense that it allows us to interpret art or nature as a product of ideas. can give us just the same sort of pleasure as beauty and would have just the same kind of claim to moral importance. And. a more difficult problem with the interpretation offered here. aesthetic and teleological judging are both a matter of finding nature amenable to our “supersensible” ideas.24 Specifically. Kant claims that aesthetic appreciation can encourage our belief in a “supersensible” in nature that allows nature to be purposive to our higher aims. Perhaps. in . it would seem. First. if he wishes to make a principled distinction between aesthetic judging and teleological judging. it is not implausible to say that. appreciating beauty and judging the world teleologically are. Kant’s answer to this concern may not seem entirely satisfactory. Apparently. In light of the preceeding discussion. the precise location where Kant asserts that the “beautiful is the symbol of the morally good. such a claim may apply equally well to teleological judgments.” he again asserts that aesthetic appreciation encourages us to believe that there is a “supersensible” ground to nature that allows for moral freedom (KU 5: 353. for Kant. indeed. ordinary—we’re all quite used to applying such ideas to nature (KU 5: 187. He seems to claim that while. This seems an unsatisfactory way to distinguish between aesthetics and teleology. This appears merely to be different language for the same kind of point made back in ¶42. beauty may well not be unique in this role. 227). However. it is fairly clear that in the paragraphs leading up to ¶59 Kant continues the earlier theme that aesthetic appreciation (not limited to natural beauty) leads us to believe that nature is conformable to our ideas. In fact. the highest moral significance of aesthetic experience (either art or nature) is that our aesthetic experience suggests the amenability of nature to our moral projects. “we no longer feel any noticeable pleasure” resulting from such judging only because teleological judging has become too familiar. In section 6 of the published introduction Kant is concerned as to whether our ability to apply teleological ideas to nature. teleological judging does (or has) been pleasing. perhaps. such as the division of nature into genera and species. As indirect evidence for my interpretation. 74).

And. practical affair.Beauty. many controversial questions that remain even if the answers to the questions explored earlier are satisfactory. But further. it is my intention that the interpretation offered here offers better understanding of Kant’s wider project. it is less appropriate to attend to the “subjective purposiveness” of nature for its own sake. it is often the case that we will be able to unite “heterogeneous laws under higher though still empirical ones” (KU 5: 188. while in the case of aesthetic judging this is just the point of the activity. Part of the answer Kant gives to distinguish aesthetic judging from teleological judging is that we no longer “feel any noticeable pleasure” in the latter since. offer a satisfactory distinction between aesthetic judging and teleological judging. we find this sort of subjective finality satisfying because it is important to our moral life. As such. we would hope and expect our teleological judgments to take on a fairly regular and familiar pattern—for example. of course. This is pleasing since. Is it intended to help justify the universal validity of aesthetic judgments or rather to offer an incentive to engage in aesthetic appreciation? How does this account of a moral interest in beauty square with Kant’s insistence that aesthetic judgments are disinterested? I shall address some of these issues in the postscript to the appendix. teleological judging has become a routine. quite unlike aesthetic judging the point of teleological judgments is to further empirical enquiry. we all have as an aim or end that ideas be realizable in the world. However. There are. In this chapter I want to accomplish two related tasks: (1) to identify the source of aesthetic pleasure according to Kant and (2) to offer an interpretation of why such pleasure is of moral importance. but the defense he offers is perhaps better than it seems on a couple of related grounds. and Moral Duty 99 principle. there are doubtless other important issues. The very possibility of moral action depends on the assumption that we can realize ideas in the world. In aesthetic judging. . Kant presumes. Similarly. the same enterprise. That is to say. Free Harmony. in the end. I am not entirely certain that Kant can. everyday. he seems to say. 74). I believe that the best interpretative answer to the first question is that aesthetic appreciation is (universally) pleasing just in the case that we are able to judge an object as “subjectively final” in the sense that we can judge an object as expressing an idea. The only difference is that the former is somewhat more novel (and thus more obviously pleasing) than the latter. as Kant points out. the very originality and hence unexpected nature of the subjective finality will doubtless add to our appreciation of this sort of purposiveness. however. It remains an open question how Kant intends to use his claim that beauty is morally important in his wider theory of aesthetic judgment.

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1 My position. my hunch is that much of the difficulty of interpreting Kant’s argument stems from the more basic problem of understanding just what Kant thinks he must show. Universal validity implies a nonrelativistic account of judgments of taste.Appendix The Meaning of Universal Validity in Kant’s Aesthetics Kant’s project in the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment” is to show on what grounds we can make a legitimate “judgment of taste” (i. universally) that if they attend properly to the object. judgments of taste are like ordinary statements of fact. Since. Yet the parallel between judgments of taste and statements of fact cannot be taken too far. Specifically.” I shall consider here only the restricted question of how we should understand the meaning of this claim. justifying judgments of taste crucially depends on supporting their claim to “universal validity.”2 In this respect. then they ought to take pleasure in that object. simply stated. In paragraph 8 of the “Critique” Kant distinguishes between objectively and subjectively universal judgments.. Both are either correct or incorrect (“valid”) independently of who makes the judgment (“universally”). which I judge as beautiful. Only if this point is appreciated. the notion of universal validity is an easy one to understand. While recent interpretations have attempted to explain and evaluate this demonstration. Thus Kant’s position in the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment” is that a judgment of taste does not simply state personal preferences but “lays claim to everyone’s assent. as Kant acknowledges.e. I maintain. can we make any headway in identifying Kant’s argument justifying judgments of taste. a judgment that something is beautiful).e. 1 At least on the face of it. a judgment of taste issues a demand to all persons (i. is that judgments of taste for Kant are a species of imperatives..3 To make a statement of fact 101 .

Kant seems use slightly different terms to describe universal validity. in this sense. Kant holds.”6 The substance of the claim that judgments of taste are universally valid seems to be that when we take pleasure in an object that we purport to be beautiful. beauty is ultimately a matter of objects that please subjects. but rather one that can be assumed for all persons. but in some sense one that can be imputed rightfully to all. Kant claims.” To make a complicated story far too simple. the judgment will be “objectively universal”—that is. If the subsumption is done properly. Kant argues that a particular mental state. “he says of the thing it is beautiful. cannot be objectively valid because beauty is not a concept. Kant writes. When someone judges an object as beautiful. judgments of taste claim that beautiful objects are (or should be) a source of pleasure for all persons. and then speaks of beauty as if it were a property of things. To put Kant’s point in more contemporary terms. . it will be true for everyone. he judges not solely for himself.” Kant sharply contrasts this with ordinary. “Lola is a cat”—we need only subsume the object with particular properties (feline constitution) under a concept with the appropriate “marks” (felineness).” Kant continues. . nonuniversal judgments of pleasure. rather he demands (fordern) this agreement from them. Thus. Instead.5 In paragraph 7. But unlike ordinary.4 Beauty does not describe a set of properties such that objects with these properties are beautiful. however. Kant must show that there is a source of pleasure that is not contingent upon our likes and dislikes. . and does not count on others agreeing with his judgment of pleasure .102 Appendix —for example. but for everyone. subjectively universal. there is a necessary connection between free harmony and pleasure—one that holds for all persons. This necessary connection lies at the foundation of the claim to universal validity. Most objects will or will not give pleasure to various persons depending on their individual likes and dislikes. As a reader familiar with the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment” knows.” We are justified in imputing the pleasure we feel from this experience to anyone else who appreciates the object since. the position for which Kant argues is this: Properly appreciating or “estimating” certain objects leads to a mental state of “free harmony. Judgments of taste are. merely subjective reports of pleasure. to claim that an object is beautiful is to say that appreciating the object is an intrinsically pleasurable experience—a pleasure not peculiar to me. is such a source of pleasure. But judgments of taste. Kant argues. “he expects (zumutet) the very same pleasure of others. Kant calls this mental state the “free harmony of the imagination and the understanding. in order to justify the universal validity of judgments of taste. similar to cognition. we are justified in “expecting” or “demanding” that everyone find the object pleasing—that everyone agree with our “judgment of pleasure.

This imperative apparently exceeds the claim to universal validity. for Kant. The most popular way of accommodating such language is to argue that. is equivalent to the claim to universal validity. The language of the passage cited above suggests an ambiguity in Kant’s description of this notion. if only because it is so general. Presumably. appears in the later sections of the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment” where Kant’s aim is to demonstrate the moral significance of aesthetic appreciation. there is the agreement that we can rationally expect. In this context.such a demand is considered a different. However. demanding agreement in matters of taste is understood as the imperative.9 First. But in the second half of the same passage. which extends beyond universal validity. since Kant obviously talks of “demanding agreement”—indeed even of demanding it as a “duty”. Kant maintains that when we judge something as beautiful. In the first half of the passage. then (4) we are entitled to predict that anyone who properly appreciates the object will feel pleasure also. More precisely. The language of demanding agreement. to take an interest in beauty. there are two senses in which we may require everyone to “agree” that an object is pleasing. fairly uncontroversial. if we (1) properly appreciate an object (where for Kant this means we attend disinterestedly to the object’s “form of finality”). This. second. a judgment of taste is the factual prediction that. I hope. The predominant way of reading universal validity is as a “rational expectation” for agreement. The connec- . and (3) locate the source of this pleasure in the free harmony of the imagination and the understanding. (2) derive pleasure from the object.The Meaning of Universal Validity in Kant’s Aesthetic 103 This characterization of Kant’s position is. While most commentators subscribe to the “expectation” reading of universal validity. logically distinct claim for agreement. according to the predominant interpretation. Assuming Kant makes this distinction. supposedly.7 For surely there is a considerable difference between reasonably expecting something and rightfully demanding the same thing. Kant also says that we can “demand” that everyone agree with our judgment of pleasure. enforced by morality. But. It has been argued recently that there is an important distinction between “expecting” and “demanding” agreement in matters of taste. we are forced to read the universality claim as either a demand for agreement or an expectation of it in order to resolve the apparent ambiguity. they do not deny that Kant also talks about demanding agreement.8 On this interpretation. spelling out the precise meaning of universal validity is not nearly so uncontroversial. since the universality claim only states that we can expect others to feel pleasure only if they properly appreciate an object. everyone will be pleased by the object we judge as beautiful. Kant wants to show that the pleasing experience of aesthetic appreciation is of such importance that we can demand all persons to “agree” with our feeling of pleasure by demanding that they appreciate beauty. we can “expect” that everyone will be pleased by the object. under the proper conditions.

But if this is what Kant needs to show. In particular. based on the possibility of experience. in general. authorizes us to demand that everyone properly appreciate beautiful objects. the insistence on reading universal validity as an expectation raises another interpretative difficulty—namely. I believe. Kant must establish a connection between free harmony and pleasure that is known to be strictly universal—that is. Yet while this reconstruction of Kant’s support of universal validity. we must share similar feeling states on the occasion of similar dispositions of the imagination and the understanding—a premise Kant supposedly needs for his “epistemological” argument. it attempts to show that the premise that free harmony is pleasing for all persons follows from the conditions for the possibility of experience. be sufficient motivation for considering an alternative interpretation of universal validity. then the task of the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment” must be parallel to that of the Critique of Pure Reason (Kant’s first Critique).11 Anything like a detailed analysis of this epistemological argument exceeds the scope of my present project. however. However. we must know that everyone will find free harmony pleasing. correctly understood as the . And. since on the expectation interpretation the judgment that all others will feel pleasure in free harmony is a prediction about what will. where this is. Kant is represented as offering what has been called an “epistemological” argument for universal validity. construed as a rational expectation. In order to know that everyone will feel pleasure under the circumstance described. Kant must argue for an a priori factual connection between free harmony and pleasure. Only on this assumption are we justified in expecting that everyone will share our pleasure in free harmony. consistent with Kant’s epistemology. like the principles of the first Critique. According to recent interpretations. Kant supposedly argues for the connection between free harmony and pleasure in a manner analogous to the way he argues for the principles in the first Critique.12 That is to say. it seems that. has become well accepted. we must assume that all persons necessarily will find free harmony pleasing. the connection must be known to hold a priori. a connection known to hold for all persons. However. from the materials of paragraphs 21 and 38. Thus.13 Kant does not establish that. as a matter of fact. This “expectation” interpretation has direct consequences for the further issue of what Kant must show to warrant judgments of taste. of itself. for otherwise knowledge of the world would he impossible. it is also widely held that the so-called epistemological argument is inadequate. Further.” In ¶20. since no amount of empirical data could insure strict universality.10 It must be factual. happen.104 Appendix tion with morality. Kant argues that judgments of taste appeal to a common sense. what we should make of the principle of “Common Sense. The failure to find a good argument to support a rational expectation should. as the argument is typically reconstructed.

Interpreting the connection between free harmony and pleasure as factual. and does not count on others agreeing with his judgment of pleasure because they did so occasionally in the past. 2 The predominant interpretation of the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment” I have sketched out rests upon two doubtful premises: (I) that Kant distinguishes between two logically independent claims—expecting and demanding (or exacting) agreement and (2) that rationally expecting agreement is equivalent to the universality claim. but if he declares something to be beautiful. As we have seen. I claim. reveals that Kant’s univocal stand on judgments of taste is that they make a demand for everyone to take pleasure in the object judged as beautiful. in general. is what Kant means by the universal validity of judgments of taste. Specifically. he judges not solely for himself. this imperative is not different from the one Kant attempts to support by a connection with morality. then we can legitimately demand that anyone else who would appreciate the object find it pleasing since. Hence. The interpretative problem that arises is whether we should understand common sense as a constitutive principle or a regulative idea. he expects the very same pleasure of others. he says. He censures them if they judge differently and denies them taste. rather he demands this agreement from them. which he yet demands they should have. forces a constitutive reading of common sense—a reading contrary to the text. cited earlier. The first question to consider is whether or not the text supports a philosophically important distinction between expecting and demanding agreement. only by granting this connection are we justified in imputing the pleasure we feel in free harmony to all others. This. In the end Kant wants to argue that taking pleasure in free harmony is something we can demand of all persons because having such taste is akin to a moral disposition. the thing is beautiful. Further. we should understand a judgment of taste as the following imperatival claim: If we properly appreciate an object (we find it to occasion a free harmony). However. I will argue. I maintain. would seem to be good evidence for such a distinction: Many a thing may be attractive and pleasurable to him. we can demand that everyone have the “taste” to take pleasure in free harmony. A close study of the text. no one cares about that. Walter Cerf’s translation of ¶7. and then speaks of beauty as if it were a property of things.The Meaning of Universal Validity in Kant’s Aesthetic 105 principle specifying a necessary connection between free harmony and pleasure.14 . I find no evidence for the wider thesis that we can demand persons to exercise their taste by seeking out and appreciating beauty. but for everyone.

However. but in the passage from ¶7 Kant apparently understands “expecting” (zumuten) agreement as a demand (fordern) for agreement. Similarly. Yet an examination of the original German does not. he uses zumuten in both cases. for instance. One might suppose. it is in ¶59 where Kant claims that. it is much less so in the case of zumuten and fordern.15 While it may be plausible to reconstruct a factual/imperatival distinction between erwarten and fordern.”17 The original German does not. Kant’s use of the two terms in the above passage would seem to indicate nothing more philosophically important than a facon de parler employed to make a single point about judgments of taste. Such judgments do nothing but issue a demand that everyone who appreciates the object we judge as beautiful should find it pleasing. where Kant does argue for the link with morality. accurately reflects the identity of the two claims by rendering both zumuten and fordern as “demand. In the early passage from ¶7.16 If we keep in mind the closeness of meaning of zumuten and fordern. Meredith’s translation.18 Alternatively. the term Cerf consistently translates as “expect” is the verb zumuten. on the basis of morality. not as a different claim. But this is not what we find. But I have found no place where Kant uses erwarten in contexts discussing agreement. I believe. refers to the morally enforced demand to appreciate beautiful objects. not zumuten. Instead. supposedly. Kant uses zumuten and fordern interchangeably.106 Appendix The first part of the passage apparently describes universal validity as a factual (nonimperatival) statement about what we can expect others to feel. The later portion of the passage. A more standard translation of zumuten as “to require or exact” shows zumuten. well before any talk of the moral importance of beauty. in this instance. to have imperatival force. one might be tempted to force such a reading on the terms zumuten and fordern if zumuten were used only in connection with the early “epistemological” arguments and fordern were used only with the later appeal to morality. Not only can zumuten and fordern be used to make the equivalent “demand” claim. fordern. After stating that judging something as beautiful is tantamount to “expecting” (zumuten) agreement. support this sort of distinction. at least prima facie. however. agreement about an . in ¶40 and ¶59. contains just the sort of language that. like fordern. is used to express the requirement for agreement. support a factual/imperatival distinction between expecting and demanding agreement. Kant concludes without further argument (“hence”) that we can demand (fordern) agreement from everyone—even “criticize them for lack of taste” if they fail to agree. The simplest way to explain why Kant believes he can move easily from a claim about expecting agreement to one of demanding agreement is that he understands the latter as merely a reformulation of the former.19 In fact. which I have been considering. in ¶22. that the contrast in German would be the sharp factual/imperatival one between erwarten (literally “to await”) and fordern (the usual equivalent for “demand”).

(3) on the basis of the passage from ¶7. Kant reminds us what universal validity entails and he does so in unmistakably imperatival terms: For these laws (empirical generalizations about what people happen to find pleasing) only yield a knowledge of how we do judge. these terms do not support a distinction between a factual claim that persons will feel pleasure and an imperative that they ought to feel pleasure. as a matter of fact. Nor is Kant’s imperatival description of universal validity peculiar to the passage from ¶7. this reading of common sense does not well accord with the text. but they do not give us a command as to how we ought (werden soll) to judge. Kant uses both zumuten and fordern to state the position that when I properly judge an object as beautiful. .22 However. That is.” even “censure and deny them taste” if they disagree. Kant describes the claim to universal validity as a right to demand the “very same pleasure of others. I hope to show. In the passage above. a legitimate demand for agreement is just what Kant means by the universality of judgments of taste. it seems to follow that common sense—the principle specifying a necessary connection between free harmony and pleasure—must also be a factual claim. everyone who takes the trouble to appreciate the object ought to take pleasure in it. supposedly Kant must appeal to a principle that free harmony is. Such imperatival language is consistent with that used in ¶59 (cited above) where Kant’s announced intention is to ground judgments of taste in morality. Just before the deduction. the principle of common sense should also be an imperative of the sort: “Everyone ought to take pleasure in free harmony. pleasing for everyone. to cite only one example. But.21 3 Consistent with the factual interpretation of judgments of taste. (2) instead. it is admitted. in order to ground the factual claim that others will feel pleasure in an object that occasions free harmony. and what is more such a command (Gebot) as is unconditioned—and commands of this kind are presupposed by judgments of taste.The Meaning of Universal Validity in Kant’s Aesthetic 107 object’s pleasurableness can be “exacted from everyone as a son of duty” and zumuten is the term translated as “exacted. this reading of common sense does accord with the text. if my imperatival reading of judgments of taste is correct.” And. inasmuch as they require delight to be taken as immediately connected with a representation. and this demand is not different from the one supported by morality.”20 In light of Kant’s use of zumuten and fordern to characterize a claim to agreement in matters of taste we should draw three conclusions: (1) Contrary to the predominant interpretation.

This is the thrust of the so-called epistemological argument. But if we consider common sense as a regulative idea. Such regulative ideas are. This would seem to follow from the predominant interpretation since. do these references come as a surprise to a student of the Critique of Judgment (Kant’s third Critique).” And. nothing more than useful fictions that may help to uncover genuine factual truths. there are two philosophical considerations that favor a constitutive view of common sense. In ¶22. on this reading. as it were. much of the text seems to refer to Common Sense as a regulative idea. unquestionably.23 The question presents something of a dilemma for the factual interpretation. where Kant uses the term “universal voice” to do the same work as “Common Sense. I should hope. as it is often observed. The latter. The larger project of the third Critique is to argue that aesthetic and teleological judgments are species of “reflective judgments. factual principle. reflective judging is Kant’s way of describing what was considered. then universal validity could not be justified in any rigorous sense. raises the question of whether Common Sense should be regarded as a constitutive principle or a regulative Idea. it would be insufficient to justify universal validity. This is. The former is an a priori. If this were the only way to understand the notion of regulative ideas. it has been recently argued. regulative ideas are mere heuristic devices—they are not objective laws. I . one of the proponents of the factual reading of judgments of taste. If we understand the constitutive/regulative distinction as it is defined in the first Critique—namely as a distinction between principles that are necessary for the possibility of experience and principles that have no such warrant—then common sense must be constitutive. the distinction in the first Critique between the constitutive principle of causality and the regulative idea of an infinite series of causes —to use one of Kant’s examples.26 On a fairly standard reading of the constitutive/regulative distinction. as judging by use of ideas. On the other hand. On the one hand.” this principle is again classified as an idea. At best we would impute agreement to others on the basis of the mere useful fiction that everyone will find free harmony pleasing. is not factually descriptive. and yet one that does not trivialize the claim to universal validity.24 Similarly. A more adequate interpretation of common sense would be one that is consistent with the numerous passages where Kant describes the principle as a regulative idea. then regarding common sense as such an idea surely would depreciate the force of judgments of taste.25 Nor. Kant explicitly uses “Idea” and “Ideal” to characterize common sense.108 Appendix Paul Guyer. Kant justifies the claim to universal validity by establishing a necessary factual connection between free harmony and pleasure on the basis of the requirements for experience. in the first Critique. under this reading of regulative. as are constitutive principles. Kant argues. in ¶8. if common sense were regulative. Additionally. but is only a heuristic notion used to “regulate” empirical enquiry.

not factual. The moral law of the Critique of Practical Reason (Kant’s second Critique) would seem to be a perfect example of an imperatival principle as described above. and. factually descriptive statements. they are not legitimate. the moral law “regulates” our activity. But surely this is only one example of the practical role a principle may play. is imperatival. neither is it a mere useful fiction. can common sense be considered as a regulative idea. a clearer view of the distinction is needed. we should agree with the dominant interpretation that Kant uses common sense as a justificatory principle for judgments of taste. and principles that are used in a broadly practical fashion. However. Kant argues that this does not render ideas superfluous. But the nature of this necessary connection. Kant argues the critical point that such notions are neither derived from experience nor necessary for the possibility of our having experience. Further. To be sure. Rather.The Meaning of Universal Validity in Kant’s Aesthetic 109 shall not. First. While on my interpretation common sense is not an a priori factual principle. Imperatives are also nondescriptive and yet fulfill a quite different practical function. But to see this. as the text requires? This raises the larger question of where imperatival principles fit within the critical philosophy. in this case. But. but that everyone should. They tell us what we ought to do. Rather. universal imperative—one ultimately supported by morality. Kant makes two distinguishable points about regulative ideas. I maintain. reading common sense as an imperative docs not depreciate the force of judgments of taste. is required of everyone. as a matter of fact. The ideas of the first Critique function as heuristic rules in the service of empirical investigation. insofar as we heed its categorical imperative. be concerned if such a regulative reading of common sense conflicts with an expectation reading of universal validity. this does not jeopardize its universal validity just because the regulation. further that it plays this role by specifying a necessary connection between free harmony and pleasure. the distinction is better understood as a contrast between principles required for experience. Kant argues that common sense is a well-founded. I have argued on independent grounds that this interpretation is problematic. But even if reading common sense as an imperative offers an alternative interpretation of the necessity of the principle. In the “Dialectic” of the first Critique. In the previous section. Thus. nonconstitutive link between free harmony and pleasure. I believe that such principles should be understood as regulative. This is how Kant can uphold a rigorous. The moral law is surely not an a priori descriptive law (at least not for any of us with less than a “holy” will). but neither is it a merely heuristic device. It is inaccurate to describe the constitutive/regulative distinction narrowly as a distinction between principles required for the possibility of experience and mere heuristic devices. second. It is not the case that everyone will. however. For these reasons the . Instead. always take pleasure in free harmony. rather than constitutive. Instead they are assigned a practical role.

the satisfaction of interests gives pleasure. Kant would agree with this. offer something called a “deduction” of the moral law.29 Although a complete solution to this problem would require another chapter of at least equal length. particularly in ¶42. an outcome of my interpretation is that the warrant for universal validity is established by the connection with morality—well after the chapters on the deduction. It may seem odd to attribute to Kant the thesis that we can demand of anyone who appreciates the object we judge as beautiful to take pleasure in that object. On this basis. so should the deduction of judgments of taste demonstrate their subjective universal validity. Kant goes so far as to assert that a deduction of that imperative is not possible. on moral grounds. we can demand pleasure from others only in the extended sense that we can legitimately demand persons to have the sort of interest that beauty pleasingly satisfies. Kant’s position is that objects are beautiful only if they satisfy an intellectual interest. because it seriously reduces the role of the “deduction of judgments of taste. We either do or do not feel pleasure. this cannot be correct since we would expect that just as the deduction of the first Critique demonstrates the objective validity of the principles. However. the short answer here is that we should not assume that the deduction of imperatival claims must be like the deduction of factual ones. In fact. finally. We cannot be commanded to enjoy something. that we can rightfully demand all persons to have intellectual interests. but this need not have any depreciatory implications. with regard to the moral law. But it may be argued.27 4 It is nearly a truism of Kant scholarship that any attempt to settle one interpretative problem raises several more in its wake. Kant argues.30 While Kant does. I want to clarify one point about my imperatival reading of universal validity. My contribution does little to dispel this belief. the former remark should stand as a warning that the deduction of imperatives is not strictly parallel to the deduction of factual principles.28 Finally. in general. before considering the further interpretative problems. In a strict sense. Kant then claims.110 Appendix moral law is typically understood as a regulative principle.” For surely. in the second Critique. placing so much importance on the later sections of the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment” (where Kant discusses the moral importance of having intellectual interests) may seem textually implausible. . It could be argued that “taking pleasure” is simply not the sort of thing that can be demanded. that certain objects (those that lead to a free harmony) are the source of an intellectual interest and that. However.

Broadly speaking the claim to the “universal validity”of aesthetic judgments amounts to the following. What is more controversial is exactly the nature of the claim to universal validity (which I address in the original article) and.Postscript The Argument for Universal Validity In my original article (reprinted here as an appendix) I focused on the limited objective of arguing for an interpretation of the central claim of Kant’s “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment. then we must assume that when we make a cognitive judgment we can legitimately expect that others (if they are doing their proper cognitive job) will agree 111 . however. feel pleasure in the appreciation of that object—all others will “share” my pleasure. argue a preference for an argumentative strategy that went beyond the “epistemological” arguments suggested by the early sections for the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment” (¶1–40) in favor of a larger role for the later sections of the work that emphasize the expression of aesthetic ideas and the connection with ethics.” Specifically my aim was to give a reading of how the claim to the universal validity of aesthetic judgments should be understood. what kind of argument Kant has to support such a claim. short of skepticism. When I (properly) appreciate an aesthetic object and judge it to be beautiful I expect or demand that all others who (properly) appreciate the same object come to the same judgment. there are those who see Kant as arguing for universal validity on the grounds that. then all others will (or should) find the object pleasing as well. All of this is relatively uncontroversial. if we are not skeptics. we must assume that if I properly appreciate an object and find it to be pleasing. further. That is to say. to expect or demand others to agree with our judgment is to expect or demand that all others. While giving an interpretation of the claim to universal validity will obviously have an effect on how an argument in support of the claim will go. I did.1 And further. On the one hand. Here commentators fall into two camps. In this postscript I would like to offer some remarks on what sort of argument best serves Kant’s aim to support universal validity. given Kant’s analysis. who properly appreciate the aesthetic object. I did not concentrate on various interpretations of the argument that have been given.

specifically it is claimed that this recognitional feeling is a feeling of pleasure. and 38 aesthetic appreciation as free harmony relies on precisely the same faculties as cognition (understanding and imagination) and. . again from ¶9 and ¶21. again.2 I want to consider here what I believe to be the best recent attempt to construct an argument for the universal validity of judgments of taste using only the materials prior to Kant’s discussions of expression of aesthetic ideas and the connection with morality—that is to say. Kant’s argument for universal validity may be better served by looking beyond the early sections alone. If we are not skeptics.112 Postscript with our judgment. The argument. we must assume that everyone cognizes objects in the same way. then everyone else will fell pleasure as well. And. that the manifold of the imagination follows a particular conceptual rule lent by the understanding. Let’s begin by taking a wide view of the goal and strategy of such an argument. Presumably. using the materials that rely for the most part on the resources of what I had been calling the “epistemological” argumentative strategy. we must assume that we all recognize free harmony in the same way. we are justified in believing that our aesthetic response to objects will be shared in a manner similar to our shared cognitive experience of objects. then it can assumed that when I appreciate an object as engaging in me a free harmony and I feel pleasure. as a result. 21. Conclusion: Since we must all recognize “harmonies” in the same way and a free harmony can only be recognized by a feeling of pleasure. according to the argument of paragraphs 9. it is argued that free harmonies are recognized by a feeling since no concepts are appropriate. The goal of this analysis will be to show that even best efforts along these lines come up short and. some commentators (including me) see Kant’s argument from universal validity requiring the connection he makes between aesthetic appreciation. given the similarity between cognitive judging and aesthetic appreciation. Kant musters an argument prior to ¶40 that. On the other hand. on the assumption that cognitive judgments concerning the application of a concept to an individual are capable of universal assent (that is to say. Specifically. It is this universal claim to pleasure in free harmony that grounds the universal validity of aesthetic judgments. The nub of this strategy is to argue that short of skepticism we must assume that there can be (should be) universal agreement on one’s judgments of taste. But. To cognize an object is to recognize a certain relationship between the understanding and the imagination. and ethics developed in the latter paragraphs of the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment” (¶40 to the end). then we must also assume that our judgment that a particular object occasions free harmony with an attendant feeling of pleasure will be shared by all others who properly appreciate the object in question. Further. namely. expression of aesthetic ideas. assuming that we are not skeptics). according to advocates of the epistemological interpretation. goes something like this.

the interpretation of free harmony is this. If conceptual harmonies are not importantly different from free harmonies. proponents of the new epistemological interpretation argue that as odd as it seems the ability to recognize the orderliness of a manifold prior to (independent of) applying a rule is not only a plausible notion in aesthetic judging. while the connection between the two activities must be quite close. the same kind of mental state. if Kant merely holds that a free harmony of the understanding and the imagination is somewhat similar to a cognitive harmony of the faculties. even by those who believe that it is a correct interpretation of Kant. it may well follow that ordinary cognitive judgements are as good a source for aesthetic appreciation as are more traditional candidates. There is such an interpretation that has gained some popularity recently and that we considered in a different context in chapter 1. As we have seen all along. Crucial to an improved version of the epistemological interpretation is to argue. at base. For Kant concepts are rules describing the order of a manifold. the notion of a free harmony of the imagination and understanding is problematic. if Kant holds for one reason or another that free harmonies and conceptual harmonies are. but it does not follow that all of us must recognize free harmonies in the same way simply because they look something like conceptual harmonies. on some grounds. this strategy forces a nasty dilemma. Otherwise we cannot avoid the everything-is-beautiful charge. Although there are differences between the proponents. it is an absolute requirement for conceptual judging. We do have good reason to think that both sorts of harmonies must be recognized in the same way by everyone. Karl Posy. Beatrice Longuenesse. To have a “free” harmony of our faculties.5 In brief the argument for a nonconceptual judging is this. it must also be the case that they are sharply distinguished.The Argument for Universal Validity 113 This argument is widely criticized. that a free harmony of the faculties is very closely connected to conceptual judging such that if we grant shared abilities in cognition. then the strength of the argument is bolstered. Unfortunately. we must recognize the rule orderliness of a manifold of sense without applying any rules—and this seems to make no sense. as we saw in chapter 5. Yet. Apart from this new way of . Hannah Ginsborg. that every object may qualify as beautiful—the everything-is-beautiful criticism. another serious problem arises. Specifically. On the other hand. As we have seen in earlier chapters.4 On the one hand. This strategy raises the worry. then shared pleasure in free harmony follows.3 Crucial to this argument is the analogy between a free harmony of the understanding and imagination and a cognitive harmony of these faculties. then the entire argument becomes a weak argument from analogy. However. We may grant that cognition requires all of us to recognize conceptual harmonies in the same way. and Henry Allison argue that Kant needs the notion of recognizing rule orderliness without a rule in order to give a coherent account of empirical concept acquisition.

in the end. we can break out of this circle if we assume that as cognizers we must have the ability to recognize similarities of manifolds prior to the application of a rule (concept). To use Kant’s example from the Jasche Logic. and a linden share a similar orderliness in their manifold prior to forming the explicit concept of “tree. On the new epistemological interpretation. the ability to recognize a nonconceptual (free?) harmony of the imagination and the understanding is a necessary condition for shared cognition.6 But this implies that I must already know that the objects in question are trees (know the “tree rule”) in order to form my concept of tree—an obviously vicious circle.114 Postscript looking at concepts. if we assume that we have the ability to recognize that a spruce. In order to have shared cognition we must assume that everyone can acquire and use empirical concepts in the same way. a willow. pronounce them to be members of a “kind. Instead of arguing that recognizing order in a manifold without the use of concepts (as free harmony demands) is something merely analogous to cognition. On the new epistemological interpretation.” But notice. and a linden” have in common. it is argued variously by proponents of new epistemological interpretation that Kant’s account of empirical concept acquisition has a problem. a willow. willow. However. we judge a new object to be a member of the kind if its manifold is governed by the rule (concept) we found in common with our original collection of objects. If we grant this. then some interesting consequences follow for aesthetic judgment. what is being presupposed here for an account of concept acquisition is the ability to recognize the orderliness of a manifold without the application of a concept. Free harmonies are also nonconceptual harmonies. a necessary condition for empirical concept acquisition (according to this interpretation) is the common ability to recognize manifold orderliness without using a rule (concept). Before we can begin to compare several individuals for their similarities (and disregarding irrelevant differences) it seems as though we must already possess something like a concept (rule) to narrow down the right sort of objects to consider. For now. But. it seems as though I must already know that spruce. if I am to form my concept of tree by comparing what “a spruce. let’s grant this interpretation of Kant’s account of empirical concept acquisition. and linden are appropriately similar before I begin to form concept of tree. And this seems to be the same sort of ability as recognizing a free harmony of the imagination and the understanding. We go about noticing similarities between a number of individual objects and.” then (perhaps) we can give a noncircular account of how we come to acquire the explicit concept of “tree. this result appears to be important to an argument for the universal validity of aesthetic judgments since it adds support to the argument from skepticism. it can now be argued that .” Subsequently. That is to say. Kant’s account of empirical concept acquisition is quite similar to a standard empiricist’s story. Now.

When I properly appreciate an object. in the end. is to draw the connection between free harmony and pleasure by noting that a free harmony suits the purpose of judgment. and feel pleasure in this mental state. I can attribute my pleasure in appreciation to all others who properly appreciate an object. the argument shows that on the assumption of shared cognition we must also assume that we can all recognize a nonconceptual harmony of the imagination and understanding in the same way. At best. recognize that it occasions free harmony. discover that it occasions in me a free harmony. This is a good first step. and I take pleasure in this experience. when I properly appreciate an object and this appreciation results in a free harmony of the imagination and the understanding. a necessary condition for shared cognition. which I present in chapter 4. And this comes down to justifying the claim that all others will feel pleasure in free harmony. Even if this argument is successful it takes us only part way to the goal of justifying the universal validity of aesthetic judgments. And. This claim supposedly follows from the requirements for shared cognition.7 According to this interpretation. But further. in the first instance. then I can assume that all others will feel this pleasure as well. we must assume that all of us can recognize the orderliness of a manifold independently of a conceptual rule. we seem to be getting closer to the desired conclusion. free harmony is “subjectively purposive” for the faculty of judgment. this feeling is pleasure. everyone will also take pleasure in free harmony. One way that people have made the connection is by what I have called the “recognitional” interpretation. then I can claim that all others who . since generally Kant holds that satisfying one’s purposes is pleasing.The Argument for Universal Validity 115 recognizing such order is. As a result.8 Now. then free harmony is pleasing. In Kantian language. Accordingly. this occasions in me a mental state of free harmony and I derive pleasure from the experience. to account for the universal validity of judgments of taste we need to be able to claim that when I appreciate an object. They will share the experience since. Short of skepticism. then I would be warranted in believing that anyone else who properly appreciated the object would also recognize the free harmony. there is reason to believe that everyone who properly appreciates the object that occasions my free harmony will have their free harmony occassioned as well. There are a couple of interpretative strategies for making a connection between pleasure and free harmony. presumably. An alternative interpretation. The strategy adopted here must be able to justify why. depending on which account of pleasure in free harmony one prefers. And. presumably. I can claim that all others who properly appreciate the object will share this experience. in fact. it seems to follow that if I were to appreciate (aesthetically) an object. Now. the only way that we can recognize the nonconceptual order of a manifold is by a feeling. However.

Free harmony is not merely analogous to conceptual judging.” But perhaps this criticism is misguided. rather recognizing nonconceptual (free) harmonies is a necessary first step in the project of empirical concept acquisition. If this distinction is maintained. we may be able postulate empirical. at best.10 But further. one could argue. The new epistemological interpretation of the argument for the universal validity of judgments of taste has a considerable advantage over earlier interpretations. From those similarities and differences. This assumption might explain how we can begin the process of comparing various objects to the end of forming an empirical concept (rule). Cognitive judgments require concepts. We may be able to develop a coherent account of empirical concept acquisition that assumes only the ability to to recognize. a dubious argument from analogy or. perhaps worse yet. barely. there are further problems. is the claim to the universal validity of judgments of taste. And both alternatives are un- . free harmony and cognitive judgment are the same sort of activities. it is an open question whether empirical concept acquisition requires us to recognize a free harmony or merely something rather similar to it. but perhaps it is not the only explanation. Free harmony is not the same sort of activity as a cognitive judgment. I am not entirely convinced that in order to account for empirical concept acquisition we must assume the shared ability to recognize nonconceptual harmonies of the imagination and the understanding. Even so. conceptual “rules. I have several difficulties with this way of interpreting the argument for universal validity. the earlier interpretation leads to a dilemma. in which case it seems that every act of cognition is an act of aesthetic appreciation—“everything is beautiful. And.116 Postscript properly appreciate the object will feel pleasure also. if we are to have shared cognition. It is a necessary first step for any cognition.” The new epistemological interpretation avoids this dilemma. spatial-temporal objects. we must assume that we all recognize nonconceptual (free) harmonies in the same way. Let’s assume that empirical concept acquisition requires the ability to recognize the orderliness of a manifold without the use of rules. free harmonies do not. spatial-temporal objects and the further ability sort out similarities and differences between these objects. Yet. then the interpretation can avoid the everything-isbeautiful charge. on this interpretation the argument from skepticism is no longer merely an analogical argument. This final claim. It may very well be that we can form empirical concepts armed only with our ability to recognize individual.9 As we saw above. Either free harmony is merely similar to cognition in which case the argument to universal validity is. First. And this ability is guaranteed in virtue of our a priori intuitions and concepts established in the Critique of Pure Reason (Kant’s first Critique) (an a priori concept of substance and a priori intuitions of space and time).

If this is so.The Argument for Universal Validity 117 attractive. This could solve the everything-is-beautiful charge since it could be argued that free harmonies lead to aesthetic pleasure. But neither is the other. When I pleasurably experience a free harmony I know that others will as well. but the nonconceptual harmonies required for concept acquisition do not. nonconceptual harmonies in the same way. then the argument from skepticism again becomes a weak analogical argument. on Kant’s accounting. I am secure in this knowledge since free harmonies satisfy a common end of persons. it does not follow that we experience “free” nonconceptual harmonies in the same way. Whether the feeling of pleasure also helps us to recognize a free harmony or not simply does not seem needed for the larger argument. the epis- . Obviously. However. This alternative is not very attractive. Let’s assume that the kind of nonconceptual order recognition required for concept acquisition is fundamentally different from the non-conceptual free harmony experience found in aesthetic contemplation. grounding the universal validity of aesthetic judgments requires that we have a shared ability to recognize and take pleasure in “free” nonconceptual harmonies where these two abilities are merely similar. free harmonies satisfy our commonly shared end of making judgments. gave us pleasure. every object was once appreciated as beautiful. just because we must assume that we experience concept-acquiring. to be sure. First. I believe more needs to be said on this point to avoid the everything-is-beautiful charge that we encountered in chapter 5. if this is so. If we say that every act of concept acquisition requires us to recognize a free harmony and we assume that free harmonies are pleasing. However. I advocate another approach to finding an acceptable argument to universal validity of aesthetic judgments. there are still problems. For purposes of cognition we must assume the common ability to recognize concept-acquiring. But then it would follow. one would assume. Although there is much to recommend the new epistemological interpretation. There is an additional and perhaps even greater problem with this interpretation. somehow. And yet. At least once upon a time (during concept acquisition) every object was “appreciated” as displaying a free harmony and. free harmony is universally pleasing for persons. nonconceptual harmonies. Recall that the central argument for the universal validity of aesthetic judgments depends crucially on arguing for the claim that. let’s grant that the new epistemological argument has made the point that free harmonies are universally pleasing because they are subjectively purposive for judgment. Now. The new epistemological argument has a explanation for why free harmony is universally pleasing—free harmonies “subjectively purposive” for judgment. then we run up against the everything-is-beautiful charge that we considered in chapter 5. That is to say. then I claim that this alone is sufficient to establish the universal validity of aesthetic judgments.

then the important question is whether I have good grounds for further assuming that the pleasure I feel in free harmony is universally shared. overemphasizes the importance of establishing that we will all experience a free harmony of our cognitive faculties in the same way. the best explanation for why free harmony is pleasing is that it suits the purpose of the faculty of judgment. But. perhaps. as I argued in chapter 4. The principal task of Kant’s argument to the universal validity of judgments of taste is to show that certain objects (the “beautiful” ones) when properly appreciated are the source of a universal pleasure and. Assuming that we can grant that if I appreciate an object as giving rise to free harmony others will as well. And suiting our subjective purposes gives pleasure. At most the epistemological argument can show that. The most important point. I have been arguing. in my view. as it were. Kant hopes to show that this pleasure is derived from the object’s giving rise to a free harmony of the imagination and understanding. then the epistemological/recognitional argument becomes nearly irrelevant. is showing that the mental state of free harmony is universally pleasing. in order to distinguish from ordinary cognition the way aesthetic appreciation satisfies the aims of judgment it may well be necessary to enlist the doctrine of aesthetic ideas and even. It shows. . for any given object. one must look to a unique and valuable way that free harmony is purposive for judgment—and this has nothing to do with how or whether the attendant feeling of pleasure will function to pick out states of free harmony. Perhaps. For this issue. It is subjectively purposive for judgment. I believe that the point established is not the most important point of an argument to universal validity. I would argue. the connection with morality. If we can finally establish that free harmony is universally pleasing because it is subjectively purposive for judging in a special and interesting way. then I am justified in assuming that all others (if they properly attend) will also appreciate the object as a free harmony. of course.118 Postscript temological approach. I refer the reader back to my discussion in chapter 4. In end the most effective argumentative strategy for establishing universal validity may be to hold that objects that can be appreciated as expressing ideas through a free harmony suit an interesting and valuable purpose of judgment and as a result we all find this experience pleasing. Specifically. we will all recognize whether and to what extent an object engenders free harmony.11 Regardless of how strong this argument is. That is to say. the main thrust of this interpretation is to show that when I appreciate an object and this appreciation amounts to a free harmony of the imagination and understanding. but to explain why this free harmony is universally pleasing one must look elsewhere. that we have a common aesthetic object. This is well and fine.

For example.” 2. See Bxxx.” by Ralf Meerbote in Essays in Kant’s Aesthetics. 188. 5. A related term to Zweck is Absicht. It seems to be quite central to the argument of the transcendental deduction that every manifold of intuition must be capable of being united in consciousness by a rule.” 7. Calif. 11. 1982). Paul Guyer. See also Carl Posy. ¶16 of B edition. Ted Cohen and Paul Guyer (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. Henry Allison. See Kant’s discussion of originality. 12. UK: Cambridge University Press 2001). This is Kant’s argument in ¶1 of the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment. A much more complete statement of this position can be found in “Reflection on Beauty. 3. etc. A very important term in the Critique of the Power of Judgment is the German word Zweck. Paul Guyer uses the “good for/good as” distinction in his excellent article “Formalism and the Theory of Expression. Critique of the Power of Judgment. ed. See the Critique of Pure Reason. “Reflection on Beauty. 55–86. 284–88 and 318–24.” Kant-Studien 68 (1977). 166. primarily in ¶46 and ¶47. 2006). end. Kant’s Theory of Taste: A Reading of the Critique of Aesthetic Judgment (Cambridge. 1991). “Imagination and Judgment in the Critical Philosophy. I will translate this as “aim” or “goal. 10. 8. The Harmony of the Faculties Revisited. 6. 125–27. ed. Ralf Meerbote. UK: Cambridge University Press. see Paul Guyer. ed. Rebecca Kukla (Cambridge.” Aesthetics and Cognition in Kant’s Critical Philosophy.” Kant’s Aesthetics. goal. 119 . 40–41. which translators have rendered in a variety of ways: purpose.” 81f. 13.Notes Chapter 1. See A 643/B 671–A 669/B 697. I will confine myself to using “purpose” or “end” (sometimes both) to translate Zweck and related terms like Zweckmassigkeit (“purposiveness”). The Problem of Free Harmony 1. KU 5: 241–44. finality. See for instance the discussions at A 108 and A 126 for Kant’s account of concepts as rules.: Ridgeview. 14. 4. Kant and the Claims of Taste (Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 9. Ralf Meerbote (Atascadero. general remarks. 1979).

1971). 23. chapter 5..6. 30. 228). “Formalism and the Theory of Expression. The Harmony of the Faculties Revisited. 2006).” 69.” 161.” 77. section 5. 206 as examples where he discusses how ideas can be expressed through the form of perceptual elements. “Lawfulness without a Law: Kant on the Free Play of Imagination and Understanding. “Lawfulness without a Law: Kant on the Free Play of Imagination and Understanding. Specifically. See Donald W.. 1974). Uehling Jr. See Kant’s remarks at KU 5: 322. “Formalism and the Theory of Expression. Generally. 165.” 63f. ¶6. subsequently endorsed by the Romantics.” Aesthetics and Cognition in Kant’s Critical Philosophy.g. however. Kant’s most explicit discussion is in the Jasche Logic. “The Meaning of Universal Validity in Kant’s Aesthetics. UK: Cambridge University Press. . Hannah Ginsborg. 31. See Ginsborg. UK: Cambridge University Press. See Paul Guyer. See also chapter 5 of this book for a fuller criticism of this position. white expresses innocence—KU 5: 302. 28. Rebecca Kukla (Cambridge. I will be arguing here for a species of the position that Guyer calls a “metacognitive” position and a position with which he is sympathetic. The compatibility thesis has been argued by several others.” Philosophical Topics 25 (1997): 37–81. “Lawfulness without a Law: Kant on the Free Play of Imagination and Understanding. 18. See Paul Guyer. Kant’s Aesthetic Theory (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press. Ibid. Attributing the intention to express ideas to an artist is out of place since Kant holds the somewhat extreme view. 123.. 26. 17.” 59f. “The Harmony of the Faculties Revisited. 182f. Uehling Jr.120 Notes 15. Kant’s Aesthetic Theory. Ibid. See chapter 5. I am quite certain. 22.” Aesthetics and Cognition in Kant’s Critical Philosophy. 180). 16. 19. Crawford. 27. ed. 181) and even that trees can be called “majestic” or fields described as “smiling and joyful” (KU 5: 354. 24. 29. and Theodore E. 25. See appendix. 32. Kant suggests that various colors found in nature express moral ideas (e. Donald W.. Paul Guyer. 2006). 21. not some self-conscious ability of an artist (see ¶46). The Notion of Form in Kant’s “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment. 199 and KU 5: 329. The Notion of Form in Kant’s Critique of Aesthetic Judgment (The Hague: Mouton.” especially section 7. 20. Hannah Ginsborg. Rebecca Kukla (Cambridge. that Guyer would not take the position to the end that I argue. and Theodore E. that the ability to express (genius) is a “talent” that cannot be learned or taught and ultimately is attributable to nature. Crawford. Paul Guyer. ed. 59. Kant talks about “the cipher by means of which nature speaks figuratively to us in its beautiful forms” (KU 5: 301. See chapter 2 for an extensive discussion of aesthetic ideas.

namely. See Kenneth F. ed. 11. 15. CPR. 402–404. 115–17. ed. 13. “Interest. and London: University of Press of America. Robert L.” 254–55. New York. 688–703). 4. 9. 1986). New York. 95–105. see Michelle Grier. and Art: A problem in Kant’s Aesthetics. The Doctrine of Aesthetic Ideas 1. “Formalism and the Theory of Expression in Kant’s Aesthetics. Paul Guyer. For instance. Robert Paul Wolff (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press. 3. 7. Kant’s Aesthetics: The Roles of Form and Expression (Lanham. Chapter 2.. that there can be a species of beauty that does not express an idea. W. “Kant’s Theory of Beauty as Ideal Art. 1986). Zimmerman. 8. Gotshalk.” in Aesthetics. Paul Guyer. Kant’s Aesthetic Theory. For authors who discuss this point. “Formalism and the Theory of Expression in Kant’s Aesthetics. For a quite explicit pronouncement of a formalist doctrine see ¶14 (KU 5: 225). and Robert Burch. 5. see Donald Crawford. 14. See the second moment of the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment” (KU 5: 211–19). W. Nature. 12. 2001). For an excellent discussion of Kant’s commitment to formalism see Paul Guyer. See chapter 3. See my earlier discussion of this point in Kenneth F. 19–25. The key text here is ¶59.” Kant-Studien 68 (1977): 46–70. See CPR. Critique of Pure Reason. Rogerson. second analogy A 189/B 233–A 211/B 256. Gotshalk. “Form and Expression in Kant’s Aesthetic Theory. George Dickie and Richard Sclafani (New York: St. This assumes a point that I would deny.Notes 121 33. For someone who holds such a position see D. “Kant: The Aesthetic Judgment” in Kant: A Collection of Critical Essays. “Form and Expression in Kant’s Aesthetic Theory. and London: University Press of America. there is no evidence that Kant wants to say that God creates natural objects to express ideas in a way similar to the way an artist works.” 46–47. 1968). For one of the best current discussions of Kant’s doctrine of ideas. 1977). 6. 16. See chapter 3 for a further discussion of this point. The distinction between pure concepts and pure intuitions in Kant is controversial and falls outside the scope of this project. Rogerson.” British Journal of Aesthetics 7 (1967): 250–60. 10. Kant’s Doctrine of Transcendental Illusion (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Md. Md. See also..” Review of Metaphysics 3l (1978): 580–603. Kant’s Aesthetics: The Roles of Form and Expression (Lanham. See the discussion of concept formation in chapter 1. See sections 5 and 8 of the introduction to the Critique of Judgment. . B xxx for Kant’s initial discussion of ideas of reason. Martin’s. D. 2. especially Ak 352f.

See Theodore E. 23. 1 (2005). 1. the kingdom of the blessed. See KU 5: 321. Theodore E. 33–45. See chapter 3 where I discuss genius. Paul Guyer. The Notion of Form in Kant’s Critique of Aesthetic Judgment (The Hague: Mouton. 6. 92–94) is specifically concerned to rule out interests based on concepts or ideas. esp. vol. eternity. For accounts of this sort of argument see. 242–48. see Paul Guyer. See. Such an account would also conflict with Kant’s treatment of literature. no. “The Privileged Status of Interest in Nature’s Beautiful Forms: A Response to Jane Kneller.. ed. Natural and Artistic Beauty 1. “Form and Expression in Kant’s Aesthetic Theory.” British Journal of Aesthetics 7 (1967): 254f. Anne Margaret Baxley. . The disinterestedness is the topic of the first moment of the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment. 21. 227f. See the account of genius in ¶46 through ¶49 where Kant attempts to show how proper art can be produced without being too “studied. pp. and Felicitas Munzel.” Proceedings of the Eighth International Kant Congress Memphis 1995. Kant cites examples of sorts of ideas such as “invisible beings. Donald W.” ¶4 (KU 5: 207–209. “Formalism and the Theory of Expression in Kant’s Aesthetics. 19. acting morally is always acting from freedom. “The Practical Significance of Taste in Kant’s Critique of Judgment. 1986). 1974). 1996). part 4. Hoke Robinson (Milwaukee: Marquette University Press. Gotshalk. Henry Allison. We will look into this issue more fully in chapter 5. It should be noted that moral notions like virtue will lie beyond sense experience since. vol. W. and freedom is not an empirical notion. 225–28. 2001). creation.” See also my discussion of genius in chapter 2. Chapter 3.122 Notes 17. 22. section 2. Uehling Jr. 95. Kant and the Claims of Taste. 787–92. I refer the reader to the free/adherent beauty discussion in chapter 2.” The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism. hell.” etc. See Salim Kemal. 2. 3. part 2. D. according to Kant’s ethics. pp. Uehling Jr. as it pertains to expression of aesthetic ideas. Kant’s Aesthetic Theory (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press. 63. 20. 18. For a good discussion of the problems with Kant’s free/dependent distinction. Crawford. Kant’s Theory of Taste (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. argues the point that Kant subscribes to the view that aesthetic ideas can be expressed through contemplation of the perceptual form of an object. Kant and Fine Art (Oxford: Clarendon. 4. 1971). (KU 5: 314). 24. 5.” 56f.

16. 11. As is unfortunately common for Kant. “Why Beauty Is a Symbol of Morality. Kant and the Claims of Taste. 111–13. also see Salim Kemal. 170–76.’” British Journal of Aesthetics 8 (1968): 244–59. “The Interests of Disinterest. 225–28.. See Salim Kemal. 12. 219. Kant’s Aesthetics: The Roles of Form and Expression (Lanham.” Kant-Studien 68 (1977): 56. Henry Allison. . 227–28. and chapter 7. “The Unity of Kant’s ‘Critique of Aesthetic Judgment. at other times. Sometimes Kant distinguishes between aesthetic art and mechanical art. 1979). 1986).” 782–84. Kant and Fine Art. Kant’s Theory of Taste (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Note that Guyer has a rather different interpretation of the moral interest in beauty. See also KU 5: 354. where beautiful art and agreeable art are species of the aesthetic (KU 5: 305. See ¶45 (5: 306) for Kant’s distinction between fine and mechanical art. and London: University Press of America. New York.” in Essays in Kant’s Aesthetics. Gotshalk takes this position. 8. See Guyer. See Paul Guyer.Notes 123 115f. 227f. 777–86. 197. agreeable art seems to be a species of mechanical art but still contrasted with beautiful art (KU 5: 306. 19. 10. 28–32. 18. See Henry Allison. 2001). Kant and the Claims of Taste (Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Rogerson. See KU 5: 319. See also R. Md. described as the ability to achieve a free conformity to law. 7. 2001). See my discussion of genius in chapter 2. 15. 185). 228. See Gotshalk’s “Form and Expression in Kant’s Aesthetic Theory. part 4. and Salim Kemal. 230. “The Interests of Disinterest. pp. 14. 1986). Kant and Fine Art (Oxford: Clarendon.” 9. 243–48. K. he is not entirely consistent about the distinctions between different types of art. “Formalism and the Theory of Expression in Kant’s Aesthetics. 184). 17. 1982). See the list of the four similarities at KU 5: 354. esp. 1996). and Paul Guyer.” Proceedings of the Eighth International Kant Congress Memphis 1995. 1. arguing the superiority of natural beauty. 13. This comes out in Kant’s discussion of genius in the production of art and specifically how genius must be coupled with taste. Kant and Fine Art (Oxford: Clarendon. ed. vol. Kant and Fine Art (Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2001). 20. part 2. See also Kneller. 227f. See Henry Allison. 367. Hoke Robinson (Milwaukee: Marquette University Press. Kant’s Theory of Taste (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1986). Ted Cohen. Kant’s Theory of Taste (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. See Paul Guyer. 16. Elliot. and Kenneth F. 1986). ed. Ted Cohen and Paul Guyer (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. However. For an excellent discussion of this line of argument see Jane Kneller.

” in H. on Allison’s interpretation. 2006). UK: Cambridge University Press. 24. In ¶42 Kant says that certain sensations “contain a language that nature brings to us and that seems to have a higher meaning” (KU 5: 302. 178f.” See Guyer. 1979). “The white color of the lily seems to dispose the mind to ideas of innocence” (KU 5: 302. 151–60. See the discussion in chapter 6. and 170–74. “New Views on Kant’s Judgment of Taste. See Paul Guyer. 181). “Pleasure and Harmony. 100–16. Henry Allison argues a similar position. Kants Aesthetik Kant’s Aesthetics/L ‘esthetique de Kant (Berlin/New York: de Gruyter. 1974). Kant and the Claims of Taste. Note that Crawford offers a further history of this line of interpretation. 1. 22. “A regard to this analogy is customary even for the ordinary understanding. See Crawford. 8. Aesthetics and Cognition in Kant’s Critical Philosophy (Cambridge. 181). Kant is making a quite different point.. UK: Cambridge University Press. and Donald Crawford. Kants Aesthetik Kant’s Aesthetics/L ‘esthetique de Kant. ed. Actually. and London: Harvard University Press. “The Harmony of the Faculties Revisited. 228). and Kant goes on to claim that other natural colors inspire the use of moral language to describe them. Ameriks. “On the Key to Kant’s Critique of Taste. See KU 5: 340. Paul Guyer makes a similar criticism of Ginsborg’s position. 113f. . 1998) pp.” in Parret. 53–81. Henry Allison argues the contrary position that recognizing free harmony by a feeling is a harmless extension of the first Critique position. See Allison. 69–74.. ed. Kant’s Aesthetic Theory. 466–83. 216. See also Allison’s position in Kantian Review 1 (1997).. 2001). 2. 5. 6. 102–103. See also Karl Ameriks’s account of Ginsborg’s position. 28. ed. Hannah Ginsborg. and most recently in Kant’s Theory of Taste: A Reading of the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment” (Cambridge.” 4. for a similar sort of argument.” Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 72 (1991): 290–313. 3. and we often designate beautiful objects of nature or art with names that seem to be grounded in a moral judging” (KU 5: 354.” in Rebecca Kukla.” Kantian Review 2 (1998). 23. 155.124 Notes 21. Chapter 4. Free Harmony and Aesthetic Pleasure An earlier version of this chapter appeared under the title “Pleasure and Fit in Kant’s Aesthetics.. Parret. See the appendix for a discussion on Kant’s argument for the universal validity of judgments of taste. See Allison. Mass. we judge an object to be “purposive without purpose. Kant’s Aesthetic Theory (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press. “Pleasure and Harmony in Kant’s Theory of Taste: Critique of the Causal Reading. Kant and the Claims of Taste (Cambridge. It is interesting that this passage from ¶59 is very similar to a passage in ¶42 where.” and this judging engenders the mental state of “free harmony.

17. It is unclear to me why “optimal animation” on Kant’s account would be necessarily pleasing. For a discussion of this issue see chapter 3. Kant’s Aesthetics (Lanham. as a commonly held position of rejecting expression as criterial. See KU 5: 187–88.” especially the discussion at 442–43. 2001). “Formalism and the Theory of Expression in Kant’s Aesthetics. 123). 16. 18. 1990). that expression of ideas will require the sort of stimulating mental state Kant describes in ¶21 as “optimal animation. as discussed in chapter 2.” Chapter 5. Rogerson.” Journal of the History of Philosophy 34. In ¶21 Kant refers to free harmony as a state in which the faculties of imagination and understanding are in a unique state that is “optimal for the animation” of these faculties (KU5: 239. Md. Kant and the Claims of Taste. See ¶2.Notes 125 7. 111–29. 95–107. This seems to be the position that Allison now holds. See also chapter 2. Further. Makkreel. The Genesis of Kant’s Critique of Judgment (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. See Paul Guyer. 8. For an account of the history of the third Critique. 19. see John H. 1992). where Kant recognizes that the categories will constitute a harmony of the faculties. 13. 28. KU 5: 204–205. and Kenneth F. “Pleasure and Harmony. . See Henry Allison. Kant’s Theory of Taste: A Reading of the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment” (Cambridge. 20. Please see my discussion of free harmony in chapter 1. “Kant and the Significance of Taste. UK: Cambridge University Press. See the following for more complete accounts of Kant’s doctrine of expression of ideas: Salim Kemal.: University Press of America. A much fuller discussion of Kant’s argument for the universal validity of aesthetic judgments can be found in the appendix. 9. 121–23. 171–77. this account is not incompatible with my account of expression of ideas. See especially 7. See Robert Pippin. “New Views on Kant’s Judgment of Taste. 1992). This topic is discussed in depth in chapter 1. See Karl Ameriks. 102–103. 1986). and 264. Robert Pippin makes a similar point. See Groundwork to the Metaphysics of Morals (KU 4: 459–63) for this sort of discussion. 90–91. 10. One might hold that it is this feature that explains why we take pleasure in free harmony. Zammito.” 56–57. It is quite likely. See Allison. Kant’s Aesthetic Theory (London: Macmillan. Rudolf A. See Guyer. and 170–74. 4 (October 1996): 564–65. 14. Imagination and Interpretation in Kant (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 15. The Extensiveness of the Criterion of Beauty 1. 12.” 11. 95–97 and 135–37. 2.

One may well be concerned that Kant moves so easily from the claim that beauty is not a concept to the rather different claim that beauty is not based on conceptual perfectionism. . 12. See the appendix (and chapter 4) on the argument for universal validity. See my earlier discussion of this position in chapter 1. Ralf Meerbote (Atascadero. See the appendix for a description of the “epistemological argument” for universal validity for an alternative. 4. Possibly the best recent interpretation of this sort of argument is given by Henry Allison in Kant’s Theory of Taste: A Reading of the Critique of Aesthetic Judgment. Hannah Ginsborg offers an extensive discussion of Kant’s notion of concepts as rules in “Lawfulness without a Law: Kant on the Free Play of Imagination and Understanding. Kant’s Theory of Taste: A Reading of the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment” (Cambridge.” Philosophical Topics 25 (1997): 37–81. 14. See Karl Ameriks. pp. 13. 168–79. 9f.” Kant’s Aesthetics. 5. 11.” 184–92. Henry Allison. 8. See Posy.: Ridgeview. 15. Kant’s Theory of Taste: A Reading of the Critique of Aesthetic Judgment (Cambridge. Again. See chapter 1 for a discussion of free harmony as an abstraction from concepts. See Kant’s own example at B 180. 1991). See Henry Allison. 20. “Imagination and Judgment in the Critical Philosophy. 17. However. “Imagination and Judgment in the Critical Philosophy. See my discussion in chapter 4. See also an extended discussion of the role of pleasure in chapter 4. 174–77. and Posy. Henry Allison offers such a defense of the everything-is-beautiful charge in an unpublished manuscript “The Quid Facti and Quid Juris in Kant’s Critique of Taste. Also. Carl Posy. UK: Cambridge University Press 2001). 2f. 184–92. 40–41. 16. Also see my discussion of this issue in chapter 1.” 9. 7. “Imagination and Judgment in the Critical Philosophy. Henry Allison.” 40. What follows is not the only interpretation of how Kant accounts for the feeling of pleasure. 18. Calif. this is a topic that goes beyond our present concern.” 41.” See also his updated account in Kant’s Theory of Taste: A Reading of the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment. See also Carl Posy. 19. see chapter 4. UK: Cambridge University Press 2001). 10. See the discussion in the third moment of the “Analytic of the Beautiful. Kant’s Theory of Taste: A Reading of the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment” (Cambridge. 188. see my previous discussion of such a criticism in chapter 1. See Henry Allison. Kant’s Theory of Taste: A Reading of the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment.” 436f.” 41. ed. 6. “Imagination and Judgment in the Critical Philosophy. UK: Cambridge University Press 2001).126 Notes 3. “New Views on Kant’s Judgment of Taste.” 188.

The Notion of Form in Kant’s “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment” (The Hague: Mouton. vol. See Paul Guyer. 1971). See Guyer. 22. 3 (2004). See Guyer. See Hannah Ginsborg. Free Harmony. 145. “The Interests of Disinterest. 38–39. See my discussion of Kant’s argument for universal validity in the appendix.Notes 127 21. part 2. 7. 1936). and Theodore E. Kant and the Experience of Freedom (New York: Cambridge University Press. and Moral Duty This chapter is a substantially revised version of an article originally published under the title “Kant on Beauty and Morality. Beauty. 19 and 97f. pp. and Donald Crawford. . see chapter 2 of this work as well as Jane Kneller.” British Journal of Aesthetics 16 (1976): 347–53. For a description of this position see H. Adickes. 9. Kant and the Experience of Freedom. “Formalism and the Theory of Expression in Kant’s Aesthetics.” Kant-Studien 95. 203–204. Strictly speaking. Kant and the Claims of Taste (Cambridge: Harvard University Press.” Kant-Studien 68 (1977): 46–70. 6. and KU 5: 335. 1. “Two Senses of Necessity in Kant’s Aesthetic Theory. and 106–107.” in Proceedings of the Eighth International Kant Congress. 1974). Paton. 19. 1. Uehling Jr.6. 261. 1979). For example. Kant’s Aesthetic Theory (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press. Kant’s Aesthetic Theory (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press. section 5. 1. 38–46. 3. 170–76. “Formalism and the Theory of Expression. space and time are claimed to be modes of our sense perception. The so-called patchwork thesis has been attributed to the interpretations by Kemp-Smith. See Kemal.” Kant-Studien 1 (1977): 46–70. J. I am using “aesthetic” in the contemporary sense to refer to what Kant would include as objects of artistic or natural beauty. 1986). 1974). Paul Guyer takes this position in his recent writings. Kant’s Metaphysic of Experience (New York: Humanities. especially section 7. 1993). See chapter 1. Donald Crawford. See also KU 5: 326.” Philosophical Topics 25 (1997): 37–81. 2. Paul Guyer. 4. 8. On the issue of whether beauties of both art and nature can be of moral value for Kant. Paul Guyer makes quite a lot of the expression of moral ideas as the appropriate connection between aesthetics and ethics. For a sampling of positions on how the connection with morality may advance the argument for universal validity. Kant and Fine Art (Oxford: Clarendon.. chapter 5. Kant uses the term broadly to refer to all sorts of matters affecting our senses. 211. 5. vol. “Lawfulness without a Law: Kant on the Free Play of the Imagination and Understanding. Salim Kemal argues an interesting interpretation along these lines. Chapter 6. see Jeffrey Maitland. 782–84. See Guyer. 23. in the Transcendental Aesthetic of the first Critique. and Vaihinger. I have argued that expression of an idea is necessary to explain how a free harmony of the imagination and understanding is even possible.

see my extended discussion of this point in chapter 3. then showing that.” in Essays in Kant’s Aesthetics. 12. See Henry Allison. 13. 2001). free harmony satisfies an aim provides an explanation for why we find such a thing pleasing. 10. and 215–21. Kant and the Claims of Taste. Chapters 9 and 10 argue for the moral significance of natural beauty while chapter 11 argues that art and nature can “symbolize” morality. 23. I argue in chapters 2 and 3 that both art and nature are capable of being appreciated as expressing aesthetic ideas. Kant’s characterization of pleasure as satisfaction of “aims” does not appear to be offered as a complete definition of pleasure but it does seem to be offered as a sufficient condition. 18. If satisfaction of aims is a sufficient condition for pleasure. See Henry Allison. chapters 9 and 10.128 Notes 10. Again. See sections 6 and 7 of the introduction to the Critique of Judgment for a discussion of the distinction between the realization of a concept and an idea. See Henry Allison. It should be noted that not all commentators see that Kant’s claim that appreciation of beauty can speak to the supersensible underpinnings of our moral life and his claim that beauty is the symbol of morality are the same claims. UK: Cambridge University Press. For an extended discussion of Kant’s doctrine of aesthetic ideas. Kant’s talk about the supersensible is most frequent in the section entitled the “Dialectic of Aesthetic Judgment. 20. for example. Kant’s Theory of Taste: A Reading of the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment” (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2001). 17. 22. 1982). 81. 21. See John H. 15. See Zammito. 2001). and 263–68. see chapter 2. represents the third and final stage of his evolution in thought on beauty. Henry Allison makes this the cornerstone of his interpretation of the moral significance of aesthetic appreciation. 11. See the discussion in chapter 2. Zammito claims that in the latter sections of the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment” where Kant makes a connection between aesthetics and ethics. Kant’s Theory of Taste: A Reading of the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment” (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Zammito. 14. “Formalism and the Theory of Expression in Kant’s Aesthetics. for example. Kant’s Theory of Taste: A Reading of the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment” (Cambridge. see Ralf Meerbote. Allison. and 11. separates the two. The Genesis of Kant’s “Critique of Judgment” (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.” especially from KU 5: 339–46. 1992) for an interesting historical account of Kant’s text. for the claim that expressions of ideas are instances of free harmony. The introduction and part 1 are most relevant to our present purposes. “Reflection on Beauty. ed.” 46–70. See the discussion in chapter 1. 16. see chapters 9.” 7. 19. For the worry that Kant’s account may yield that every object is beautiful. 121–23. see Paul Guyer. . and Paul Guyer. And this is enough for our purposes. Ted Cohen and Paul Guyer (Chicago: Chicago University Press. 322. Also. The Genesis of Kant’s “Critique of Judgment.

Kant’s Aesthetic Theory (Madison. Kant and the Claims of Taste (Cambridge: Harvard University Press. CJ. trans. and Immanuel Kant. C.” British Journal of Aesthetics 16. For some recent versions of this reconstructed argument see Crawford (Kant’s .. 15. These are some of the more recent proponents of this interpretation. KU 5: 215. 145. 9. 2. Maitland in his “Two Senses of Necessity in Kant’s Aesthetic Theory” is the most vigorous proponent of this interpretation.” I refer to the first part of the Critique of Judgment. CJ. Walter Cerf (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill. K. “Two Senses of Necessity in Kant’s Aesthetic Theory. and R. 1952).Notes 129 24. 3 (July 1968): 245. Critique of Judgment. will be cited last by the name of the translator and the page number of translation. The English translation. Cerf. 354. CJ. but in the specific sense that the aesthetic experience is one that is universally pleasing.’” British Journal of Aesthetics 8. 18. is a specific sort of intrinsic value judgment. 1952). but it can also be found in Guyer (Kant and the Claims of Taste. Paul Guyer. By the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment. Jeffrey Maitland. 8.” Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 40. 10. 6. 3. Like ordinary intrinsic value claims. 220–21. KU 5: 212–13.” The argument of paragraph 1 (CJ. trans. Meredith (London: Oxford University Press. 7. for Kant. What I have in mind here is that a judgment of taste. 1974). especially KU 5: 346. C. The abbreviation CJ will be used to refer to the Critique of Judgment and this will be followed by the pagination of volume 5 of the Akademie-Ausgabe. Appendix: The Meaning of Universal Validity in Kant’s Aesthetics This appendix is a reprint (with few changes) of my “The Meaning of Universal Validity in Kant’s Aesthetics. KU 5: 203–204) is perhaps the clearest statement of his position. KU 5: 216. 256 and 354). 261) and Crawford (Kant’s Aesthetic Theory. 1. University of Wisconsin Press. Cerf. this interpretation is widely shared. Kant makes this point several times in the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment. Immanuel Kant. See remark 2. Also. Two translations will be referred to: Immanuel Kant. if used. Critique of Judgment. While the term “rational expectation” is Guyer’s (see Guyer. Donald Crawford. 125–31. Analytic of the Beautiful from the “Critique of Judgment.” trans. See also. 3 (Spring 1982). 1963). I refer the reader to the more extensive discussion of this position in chapter 2. 4. 145). 5. 4 (Autumn 1976): 350.. “The Unity of Kant’s ‘Critique of Aesthetic Judgment. J. Elliot. See also. 1979). For future references to this work I shall adopt the following method. they purport to be “objectively” correct. J. Meredith (London: Oxford University Press.

I believe. 23. 24. KU 5: 218. While it is Paul Guyer who draws this conclusion. Guyer. Lewis W. CJ. 261. See Guyer. See Stanley G. Beck. 223. 26. 223. 25. See Guyer. Kant and the Claims of Taste. 15. 27. KU 5: 353. it would seem that anyone holding a factual interpretation of judgments of taste must take this position. 21. 125–31). For the occurrences of zumuten see KU 5: 211. Beck (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill. Kant and the Claims of Taste.: Open Court. KU 5: 214. 16. Postscript: The Argument for Universal Validity 1. Kant is far from unambiguous on this point. Meredith. KU 5: 278. Immanuel Kant. Beck (La Salle. 321) for examples of this criticism. Critique of Practical Reason. Guyer (Kant and the Claims of Taste. The qualification “properly” is important here. Cerf. The term “epistemological argument” is Guyer’s. KU 5: 239–40. Cerf. and CJ. 1956). 48.. CJ. 154. Meredith.. The New Cassell’s German Dictionary (New York: Frank & Wagnalls. CJ.’” 245).130 Notes Aesthetic Theory. 11. 1960). 209. 13. 19. KU 5: 213. Meredith. 297. In order to demand that others agree to our judgment both we and they must attend to the proper aesthetic features of . 1969). 13. Meredith. See Elliot (“The Unity of Kant’s ‘Critique of Aesthetic Judgment. 1971). CJ. See. affect the argument here. Meredith. CJ. KU 5: 353. “Kant’s Constitutive-Regulative Distinction. and Elliot (“The Unity of Kant’s ‘Critique of Aesthetic Judgment. 13.. KU 5: 216. His most promising approach is to argue that having intellectual interests is necessary for a good will. Cerf. KU 5: 212. KU 5: 239–40. 22. 15. Lewis W.. Betteridge. 20. 52. Harold T. 302. Cerf. ed. Meredith. 12. KU 5: 296. Guyer. Cerf. 28. and Lewis W. A Commentary on Kant’s Critique of Practical Reason (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 29. 17. 30. 22. Guyer makes such a criticism.’” 215).. CJ. CJ. Note that since the original publication of this article it has been pointed out to me that the verb in question is zumuten and not muten. 132. but refers to an interpretation widely shared. 297–307. and KU 5: 353.” in Kant Studies Today. 592 17. 284–86). 385–86. KU 5: 296. 49–51.. 18. Kant and the Claims of Taste. trans. Meredith. Kant and the Claims of Taste. 154. Cerf. The subtle difference in meaning between the two verbs does not. 19.. Ill. as I had originally claimed. 223. CJ. and Guyer (Kant and the Claims of Taste. French. 14. KU 5: 13. Cerf.

Alternatively. Kant’s Aesthetics (Lanham. 94–95: 592. Hannah Ginsborg. 1998). 10.: Ridgeview. 6. If pleasure is due to nothing more than subjective purposiveness. Kant’s Theory of Taste. 1974). 1986). Cambridge. we must not evaluate an object based on our subjective “interests”—we must be disinterested.: University Press of America. Kant and the Claims of Taste. 81f. Ted Cohen and Paul Guyer (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. See. interpretation cannot. Kant and the Claims of Taste. More positively.” 2. chapter 8.Notes 131 an object. Specifically look at chapter 4 for the discussion of pleasure.” Philosophical Topics 25 (1997): 59–67. “Kant on the Significance of Taste. Salim Kemal. 115–22. See Robert Pippin. 297. 3. chapter 4 for an extensive discussion of pleasure and free harmony. avoid this criticism. Henry Allison (Kant’s Theory of Taste: A Reading of the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment”. 1986). There are some familiar problems here. ¶6. the everything-is-beautiful criticism. 73.” ed. in Essays in Kant’s Aesthetics. “The Significance of Taste: Kant. See my discussion in chapters 1 and 5 where I discuss the feel-the-fit interpretation. Calif. for example Paul Guyer. 4 (October 1996): 564–65.” Journal of the History of Philosophy 34. ed. It might even be possible to incorporate these two views. See chapter 5 for my argument that the Allison et al. Kant and Fine Art (Oxford: Clarendon. in the end. Aesthetic Reconstructions (Oxford: Basil Blackwell. Henry Allison. But there is a further problem: If aesthetic pleasure is pleasure in finding an object purposive for judgment.” in Kant’s Aesthetics. UK: Cambridge University Press. 21–28. Robert Pippin. 9. See also. It could go something like this: Since free harmony is subjectively purposive. Ralf Meerbote. 8. See Paul Guyer. it gives pleasure. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 2001) and Paul Guyer (Kant and the Claims of Taste. Beatrice Longuenesse. 7. since free harmony cannot be recognized by a concept. Md. . Aesthetic and Reflective Judgment. See KU 5: 187. Ralf Meerbote (Atascadero. and Karl Posy “Imagination and Judgment in the Critical Philosophy. then why isn’t every wellordered manifold pleasurable—this is our old friend. Ak 9. then it surely seems that we must first recognize that the object is purposive for judgment and then take pleasure in it for that reason. it will turn out. we must focus on an object’s “subjective purposiveness for judgment. the only way we can recognize such a state is by the felt pleasure.” Journal of the History of Philosophy 34 (1996): 549–69. Kenneth Rogerson. “Reflection on Beauty. Logik. Kant and the Capacity to Judge (Princeton: Princeton University Press. 40–41. 5. for a similar point. and Anthony Saville. 1982). 1987). “Lawfulness without a Law: Kant on the Free Play of the Imagination and Understanding. 1979) offer quite different versions of the epistemological argument from skepticism. Kant’s Aesthetic Theory (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press. 4. the following find that Kant’s argument to universal validity needs the help of the later materials of the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment”: Donald Crawford. For Kant this means a couple of things: Negatively. 1991).

it’s not clear that there would be shared. See Paul Guyer. This is not a trivial point.” in ed.132 Notes 11. UK: Cambridge University Press. On other interpretations (what Guyer calls the “multiconceptual” interpretations). 2006). 175f. Aesthetics and Cognition in Kant’s Critical Philosophy (Cambridge. “The Harmony of the Faculties Revisited. intentional aesthetic objects. . Rebecca Kukla.

16–19. 31–32. 116–17 free harmony pleasure and. 7. 58–61. 8. 35. 27–28. 7–8 Longuenesse. 21. 94 interests disinterest and. 79–81 value of. 25. 41–44. 12. 103 of reason. 104–108. argument from interpretations of. dependent. 66. 57–68. 67–68. 54. 66. 10–19 genius. 99 judgment determinant vs. 76. 92–96 free vs. 87. 86–92. 113–14. 91–94. 38–40 versus concepts. 29–40. 14. 66–67. 29–30. Donald. 3. 95. 97. 39. 22–26. Paul. 36. reflective. rational (of reason). 26–27. 55 natural vs. 52. 66. 21–24. 80. 39–40 moral. 65–67. 51. 102 Crawford. 16. 113. 37. 4. 1. 39. 8. 80. 117 versus ideas. 113 art. artistic. see beauty. 87. 47. 32. 14. 91–93 as solving the problem of free harmony. 33. 111–18 everything-is-beautiful criticism.Index Allison. 91–92. 96–97 Ginsborg. 74–90. 78–79. aesthetic ideas and as purposive for judgment. 102 concepts acquisition of. 66 ideas. 80–81. 50–53. 16–22. aesthetic as a criterion for beauty. 54 beauty aesthetic ideas and. 38. 102–18 feel the fit. 108 ideas. 20–23. 30–31. 80. 58–62. Hannah. 113 Guyer. 76–79. 50. 51. 80–83. see also recognition. 70–72. 35 everything-is-beautiful and. 113 133 . 97 not a concept. 48–54. Henry. 20–24. 91. 41–55. 58–60 epistemological argument. beautiful. 91. 99. 36–37 expression of idea and. 87. 48–49. 13–15. 22–29. 4–5. 85–87. 41–47.

72–73. 51–54. 113 purposiveness for higher cognitive abilities.134 Index subjective. 68. 83–88. 88. 54 . 64–68. 1. 49–54. 76–79. 7–8. 117 without purpose. 98 moral ideas and. 18. 52–54. 13–14 morality aesthetics and. 13–19. attainment of aims and. 88. demanding. 13–19. 112. 57–68. 42–46 universal validity expecting vs. 59–63. 87. 93–108 Meerbote. 61. 84 pleasure in free harmony and. 16. 41. 10–11. argument from. 94–99 in art and nature. 111–17 supersensible. 81. 92–95. pleasure and Posy. 33 aesthetic ideas and. 87 pleasure. 115–18 skepticism. 64. 14. 118 see also free harmony. 38–40. Carl. 67 recognition. 79–80. argument from. 15–16. 70–74. 93ff. 102–107 subjective universality and. 10. Ralf.

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