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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 5: The Failure of the Supersensible


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For Kant, the supersensible is supposed to be the reason why there is necessary, universal agreement, but if there is no necessary, universal agreement, as I believe, then the supersensible fails. It cannot do the work for which it was intended and should be discarded. I will try to explain why there can be no necessary, universal agreement by using examples drawn from my own personal experiences, from art history, and from cultural anthropology. I will start with an example from my experiences with horses. When I look at an Arabian horse with superb conformation, I feel the animal is so amazingly beautiful that I could cry. Now, when someone else looks at that same Arabian horse, they might feel absolutely nothing pleasurable at all. If our minds worked in the same ways, through the use of our common sense, then shouldn’t we be experiencing the same kinds of feelings, the same feelings of pleasure, when we look at the same Arabian horse? I don’t think we should, because we have different experiences with horses that explain why we perceive the same things in different ways. For instance, I rode horses that were very nice to me when I was a child in Okinawa, Japan. They didn’t bite me, kick me, or try to buck me off, so my good experiences with horses made me view them with great love and reverence. However, my mother was kicked in the stomach by a horse around the same time...

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