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The Supersensible in Kant’s «Critique of Judgment»


Julie N. Books

In this close analysis of Immanuel Kant’s aesthetics in his Critique of Judgment, Dr. Julie N. Books, explains why Kant fails to provide a convincing basis for his desired necessity and universality of our aesthetic judgments about beauty. Drawing upon her extensive background in the visual arts, art history, and philosophy, Dr. Books provides a unique discussion of Kant’s supersensible, illuminating how it cannot justify his a priori nature of our aesthetic judgments about beauty. She uses examples from the history of art, including paintings by Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Rubens, and Constable, to support her views. This book will make a significant addition to courses on the philosophy of Kant, aesthetics, philosophy of art, metaphysics, the history of Western philosophy, ethics, psychology, and art history.
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Chapter 2: Kant’s Four Moments of Judgments about Beauty and How Aesthetic Judgments Are Synthetic A Priori Judgments


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Kant further defines judgments about beauty by discussing four essential features or “moments” that pertain to them. The first moment of a judgment about beauty (or judgment of taste), according to its quality, is disinterestedness.1 He means we are not interested in the beautiful object’s existence.2 Also, we do not want to acquire the beautiful object to fulfill our own interests, but we enjoy the beautiful object for its own sake.3 For example, when I look at a beautiful flower, I do not want to acquire it to fulfill my own interests, like wanting to take it home to show to my friends or to paint a picture of it. I enjoy it solely for its own sake. Kant says taste is the ability to judge an object based on this disinterested satisfaction, or liking that is “devoid of all interest.”4 He says the judgment of taste is “merely contemplative, i.e., it is a judgment that is indifferent to the existence of the object: it [considers] the character of the object only by holding it up to our feeling of pleasure and displeasure.”5

Is Kant right that when we make a judgment of taste or judgment about beauty, we are indifferent to the existence of the beautiful object? I believe he is not right because we do have an interest in the existence of the beautiful object. We want to acquire it and preserve its existence to experience the pleasure we get from...

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