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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 6: Motives for the Supersensible


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One might wonder why Kant resorted to the notion of the supersensible to justify his a priori nature of aesthetic judgments, especially when it is an ambiguous notion that fails to buttress his arguments in any significant way. In this section, I will explain and critically discuss what some commentators have said about the role the supersensible plays in his third Critique. I will also offer my own views about what Kant means by his different ideas of the supersensible and suggest some ways that Kant could have improved upon his arguments for the role of the supersensible in justifying his a priori nature of aesthetic judgments.

Werner Pluhar, the translator of the edition of Kant’s Critique of Judgment that I am using to write this book, says in his preface that there are three supersensibles, and that the one in his third Critique (the concept of nature’s subjective purposiveness) mediates the transition between the other two and so the domains of nature and of freedom.1 He believes these three supersensibles are different ways of expressing the same supersensible.2 For instance, he says Kant switches from the concept of nature’s subjective purposiveness to the concept of the supersensible underlying that same purposiveness, and he believes there is abundant textual evidence to support his view that Kant equates them (or treats them as equivalent).3 He says the third supersensible is the concept of freedom.4 ← 79 | 80 →

In Comment II of §57, “Solution of...

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