Dr W Large


Analytic of Aesthetic Judgment

01 September 2006





First Moment - On the Judgement of Taste


Judgement of the beautiful has nothing to do the objective representation of artwork - i.e with cognition - on the contrary is has everything to do with the subjective (via the imagination) and it has to do with the feeling of pleasure and non-pleasure.


An aesthetic judgement is therefore not logical or cognitive, but it its determinate ground is subjective.



Every reference of representation (in this case Kant is talking about perception) can be objective, except the feeling of pleasure and displeasure since this does not refer to anything outside the subject, but only the way in which the subject is affected by a representation


It is interesting that Kant says affected by a representation here.


Thus apprehend a building, whether clearly or confused, is very different from responding to the same building in terms of the subjective feeling of displeasure or pleasure. In this case the representation is not referred to the object but to the subject - to its feeling of life, which contributes nothing to knowledge at all. Rather it just brings together the representations that the subject has. If given representations refer to the object, then they are logical or cognitive, and if they refer to the subject then they are aesthetic


If the representation is attached to an interest in the existence of the real object, the we call this relation delight. This relation of interest always refers to the faculty of desire as its determining ground.



Judgements of beauty have nothing at all to do with the real existence of the object, but what estimation we form of it in contemplation. If some one says to be that place is beautiful and I reply that I do care for such ostentations sign of wealth or further, then I am not expressing an aesthetic judgement.


It is the subjective representation of the palace that makes its aesthetic and not my judgement of its existence. As soon as a judgement of the beautiful is tinged with interest then it is not an aesthetic judgement at all. Rather I am completely indifferent to this existence



Precisely for this reason we must distinguish the aesthetic judgement from the agreeable. For what is agreeable to me might be subjective but nonetheless it is tied to an interest in the real existence of the object.


Delight has to do with sensation. Thus everything that has to do with sensation would be linked to the agreeable, if those do with reason and morality and the only goal of life would be gratification.





But if we call what pleases us and what displeases us a sensation, then this is quite different from the sensation of empirical knowledge, because in this case the representation is referred to the Object and not the Subject, which is not available for cognition, not even cognition of the subject (where the subject is treated as an object), There can be no psychology of art for Kant.


When we think about the green of the meadow as being agreeable to us, then this feeling refers to the subject - the feeling within us, and not the objective sensation of the colour green - the meadow, which we must distinguish from the purely subjective representation which we shall call feeling.


Surely there must be some relation between the objective sensation and the subjective feeling - I must see the colour green - but I don't take it up the same way - I simply refer it to the pleasure that it gives me.


But if the sensation of the object provoke an interest, this this object must be related to other objects of the same type - the aesthetic judgement is singular - just because I admire this palace it does not mean that I will admire everyone. What matter is the real existence that the object has on me  - how it affects me - the example here is one of food. It does not please but gratifies. Enjoyment has nothing at all to with aesthetic judgement - in fact if simply enjoyed things then you would not have to make any aesthetic judgement.



What is good is determined by reason through its concept - either in terms of a means to end or as an end in itself. Because an end in implied, reason must have an interest in the existence of the object.


To say something is good I must have a concept of it. But this has nothing to do with aesthetic judgements, because something can be pleasing even though it has no purpose - flowers.


People however confuse the agreeable and the good, so they see the good in terms of gratification. But this is to confuse for the agreeable to be good, which his sensation and the object, wherein the good the object comes under reason and thus the concept of the object. The difference between the good and the agreeable can also be seen in the fact then we have ask whether a good is a means to an end, or an end in itself, whereas we never do that about the agreeable.



Thus we talk about a plate of food as being agreeable, but we do not mean by that this is good in the strictest sense.  Or we can say that it is agreeable  - i.e. it looks wonderful, but later on we will know that it is not good, because it will give us the shits - it is reason which contemplates the object in this sense.


It is my relation to the object which determines the meaning and not the other way around.


This is same with my health - it might be agreeable to be healthy, but it is only in terms of reason that I could say that it does me good. If some one lived just for the sake of judgement, we would not say that they were good. Since if all you interested in were gratification why would you care about the means?  It is only through reason that a man really exists as a human being (if he lives at the level of enjoyment then he is only a animal). Any enjoyment can never be an obligation and visa versa.



But the agreeable and the good are the same in that the refer to the real existence of an object. The good is the highest object of the will.


The good and the agreeable refer to the faculty of desire which has an object, which is the former is practical and the later is pathological - in both cases not only is the object represented, but the bond between it and the subject. Where as the judgement of taste is contemplative - it has nothing at all to do with the real existence of the object



Nor is this contemplation related to concepts - aesthetic judgement is not a cognitive judgement.


The agreeable, the good and the beautiful are therefore to do with pleasure and displeasure but the object and representations are different. The agreeable is what gratifies, the good what is esteemed, and the beautiful what pleases. Animals are capable of agreeableness but only human beings can find something beautiful - both rational and animal, whereas the good only refers to the rational (even beyond the human for Kant?)


Only the delight related to taste is a free delight, since it has no interest in the object.  There is no freedom in relation to inclination or morality - since one is forced by reason and the other by the body


But isn't morality the highest expression of freedom for Kant?


This is why those who are hungry can have no taste, since they are completely determined by the body.


Having taste is absolutely different - it is an objective freedom, where as taste is a subjective on.


Second Moment


Moment of Quality


If one looks at an object without any interest  - that is without a personal interest - then one must assume that everyone must also take delight it in the same way - it is therefore universal - but it is subjective as opposed to objectively universal.



He will speak therefore as though it were a quality of the object coming under a universal objective law, but this is precisely where the mistake happens. But the universality of aesthetic judgement arises only from an subjective representation and not concept which is applied to an object. It must therefore only be a 'subjective universality'


Again we can make this distinction by thinking about the difference between the agreeable and the beautiful - the agreeable is always only about a private feeling - i.e. what is agreeable to me. Thus it does not matter to me if someone does like the taste of chocolate ice-cream even if I do.  What is agreeable has to do with subjective sensations.



It would be ridiculous to quarrel over this differences, as though it were a matter of logical concepts.


When I say something is beautiful, however, I do not just mean that it is beautiful for me, rather I mean that it you ought to find it beautiful as well. 'He speaks not merely for himself, but for all men' And it is because of this that he thing that the beauty exists objectively in the object.  He saying something is beautiful I am demanding agreement, not just the contingent fact that something agreeable to you might also be agreeable to me. Thus if you don't agree with me, I will blame you for lacking taste.


But do we not also think in matters of the agreeable that it is also a question of universality and taste? So one who is capable of making others happy has taste - but what is the universality in this case? But this is only empirical and general and not universal


There is universality in the matter of the good, but this is represented through a concept, whereas the beautiful is subjective.



What do we mean by universality in the case of aesthetic judgement - how can it both be subjective and universal is this not a contradiction in terms?


This is why it requires a transcendental analysis - the judgement is imputed to everyone, but it is not linked to a concept of an object. Without this notion of universality we would not be able to distinguish between the agreeable and the beautiful



We distinguish between the two by saying that the first is a matter of taste and the second reflection (but not reflection as thought) - the first being private and the second public. No one worries about universality when it comes to what is agreeable - if many might be in agreement - whereas it the judgement of taste is always coming across instances in which the universality is disputed  - it is not the judgement of taste is objectively universal, but I judge that everyone ought to like what I like, and there must be something wrong with them if they don't like it - even though I know objectively this would not be possible. It is precisely for this reason that we quarrel over judgements of taste, but wouldn't say anything about things that were merely agreeable


A universal judgement that has nothing at all to do with the object, whether empirically or logically, can only be aesthetic. Kant calls this a general validity which refers only to the subject representation and the feeling of displeasure and pleasure, and not to objective representation



It is true that what is objectively universal also contains what is subjective, i.e. the one who thinks or relates to the object, but the aesthetic contains no concepts and therefore there can be no logical relations


This means that all judgements of taste are singular, since there are no objective qualities that would unite many things through the same concept. Thus it is only this judgement 'this rose is beautiful' that is aesthetic - I can add up these judgement and says that 'roses are beautiful' but this is not an aesthetic judgement simple, but an aesthetic judgement linked with a logical one.


What differentiates an aesthetic judgement of taste from an aesthetic judgement of agreeableness - is that the latter might be singular, but it does not have any universality.


It is not the concept of something that tells us whether it is beautiful, which is why we have to see it with our own eyes, but as soon as we go to see the object, and also say that it is beautiful, we believe that we are speaking with a 'universal voice'. This does not mean that everyone will say that it is beautiful, but it does impute that everyone must do so - that is I speak as though everyone must also say that this beautiful, where in matter of mere agreeableness I would not. And it is not the concept from which such an agreement would come, but from the others themselves, and this 'universal voice' is only a idea and not an empirical reality.


Section 9


What is fundamental is the universal communicability and not sensation of the pleasure which would make it merely agreeable. What is universal must refer to cognition, but the relation to cognition here is not determinate - it is not that I have a concept of the object, rather it relates to the subjective side of cognition the faculties themselves as imagination and the understanding. The mental state is the feeling of the free play of the faculties which is not constrained by any concept of a thing. It is the subjective condition, which is the harmony of the imagination and the understanding, which leads to the feeling of pleasure and which is then the communication of delight, that is the condition of the universability of this claim.


This isn't empirical - i.e. it hasn't to do with the some innate biological capacity of human beings to be social, rather but transcendental in the intellectual structures of the mind


Here is the sensation of the harmony of the faculties which is universally communicable. An objective relation is thought, whereas a subject is felt - thus I am attempted to communicate a universal feeling.


Third Moment


Relation of the ends



Transcendental definition of end: - it is the object of a concept as longs as that concept is conceived of as the cause. The causality of concept in relation to an object is its finality. Where an object as an effect is only possible through a concept as its cause, then we think of an end. Here the effect is the 'determining ground of the cause'. The consciousness of the causality of representation which preserves that state we might call pleasure, whereas displeasure is the opposite.


When the faculty of desire is determined by the concept, to act in conformity of the representation of an end, then it is a will. - but an object of state of mind can be called final even through the assumption of a 'causality according to ends'. This means that finality can exists without an end



Here Kant speaks of a finality of form without reference to an end.


Whenever we speak of an end, then we must also speak of an interest. But nor can it rest on any kind of objective end, i.e. the concept of the good. Aesthetic judgements do no rely on any concept, but only with the 'representative powers'.


Relation of the free play of the faculties is accompanied by pleasure and is said to be true for everyone, but this is neither determined subjectively or objectively - either through agreeableness of the idea of the good.


All that is left is the subjective finality in the representation of the object



What Kant calls the bare form of finality in the representation in which the object is given to us, and it is this that is 'universally communicable'


§ 12


What we are speaking here about is not a causal relation between a representation and a feeling of pleasure


Rather the pleasure exists in the consciousness itself of the finality in the play of the faculties - in which the power of the subject is increased, but which is not linked to any determinate cognition.  It is the mere form of subjective finality only.  - This pleasure is neither practical or pathological. It has nothing to do with either the good or the agreeable. But it has an internal causality of preserving the state of representation itself through the active involvement of the cognitive powers of the subject. Thus we dwell on the contemplation of the beautiful because this continues the pleasure associated with the representation.


§ 13


With interest the impartiality of the judgement of taste disappears. This is why taste has nothing at all to do with charm and emotion. The determining ground of pure taste is 'finality of form'.


§ 14


We can divide the aesthetic into the empirical and pure. The first have to do with agreeableness and disagreeableness. Pure, has to do with representations - the former of judgements of sense, the latter pure aesthetic judgements. We can only speak of pure judgements of taste if they are not at all mixed with empirical elements, that is with charm and emotion.




This is the error that some fall into when they say that the colour or a tone can be beautiful, when in truth it can only be a question of sensation.  But if we regard colour and tone as pure then we can see them as objects of aesthetic judgement. But when we are seeing them in this way what matters to us is only their form, and only this is universally communicable, since sensations by definition are personal. It is only because colour and tone are not just sensations but representations that we can say that they are beautiful at all.



Charm might be added to the beauty of form so as to cultivate taste, but we should not confuse beauty and charm.


What is essential to all the 'formative arts' is design. It is not what gratifies the sensations which is beautiful, but the form. - No doubt the colours of the drawing might add charm but this is not the same as the beauty of form.


All forms of objects of sensation are either figure or play.



Design and compositions are what determine pure judgements of taste. Charm can arrest the attentions so that it pays attention to the form, and not substitute for beauty.


Pure judgements of taste make no appeal to sensation.


§ 15


Objective finality is determined through a concept. Where as the beautiful is finality without an end. - formal finality.


Objective finality is either internal, perfection, or external, utility. The representation of the beautiful has nothing at all to do with utility, but perfection does seem to have to do with beauty.


But this would only be possible if we could think of an end. An end is the concept which it the ground of the possibility of the object. So we can't get to finality unless we have the concept of the thing. Qualitative perfection is the agreement of the manifold in the thing with the concept, whereas quantitative perfection is the completeness of anything in relation to its kind


But the formal representation of a thing has nothing at all to do with the cognition of a thing. All we have is the subjective finality in the subject which is doing the representation. - thus the subject 'feels at home' in imagining the representation to itself, but this has nothing at all to do with any concept of an object. We cannot have a objective finality without an end, but when I relate to objects aesthetically then this is precisely what I do - I abstract from any kind of end or purpose.


Aesthetic judgements only rest upon the subject and nothing else. This means that no concept is part of this judgement, and this means that there is no determinate end - what is this for? Thus subjective finality involves absolute no perfection of the object. If we didn't make this distinction, then there would not difference at all between aesthetic judgements and practical ones.




Aesthetic judgements afford no knowledge of an object, not even confused one. In aesthetic judgement, the representation of the object is only referred to the subject and nothing else. - it has nothing to do with the qualities of the object, but with its final form as it is referred to the powers of representation in the play of faculties. It has nothing to do with concepts, but with a feeling produced by the play of faculties. Aesthetics is not confused concepts - confused concepts belong to the understanding. The understanding only has a role in aesthetics in relation to the subject and not the object.


§ 16


We can also distinguish between free beauty and dependent beauty. The first is without any concept, and the second is.


Flowers are an example of free beauties when we do not consider them in terms of their natural ends. Free beauties are anything that does not represent anything else - that is we do not consider them in terms of anything else outside of them, but we only consider them in their pure form.



Other beauties seem to depend on a concept - i.e. a notion of the perfection of something, and thus an end, which sully the pure judgement of taste.


Delight that is linked to an internal end of an object is always determined by a concept, and thus can never be a pure judgement of beauty, because in some sense the representation of the object will not be free in relation to the subject, but will be linked to some concept or end of the object.


The rules of aesthetics are not rules of taste, but rules of the conjunction of taste with reason. Beauty can then come to the aid of morality or visa versa.


If we are to make a pure judgement of taste, therefore, we need to be able to abstract the concept of the object. But others might judge this object in terms of dependent beauty.


For this reason there can be no objective rules for taste - it cannot be a matter of saying that if some object a has such and such properties then it must be aesthetic. A judgement is pure to the extent that it abstract from any concept of an end, even in the case of internal ends. As soon as a judge something in terms of dependent beauty, then I am using concepts and thus referring the judgement to reason and not to the senses.


§ 17


There is no objective rule of taste - the determining ground of aesthetic judgements are feelings not concepts. But there is a universal communicability of the feeling of beauty - in other words there is a universality which has nothing to do with concepts.


There is empirical proof that some object elicit the same aesthetic response in others, though Kant calls this weak. He also calls these objects of taste exemplary. But we do not gain taste through copying others - it is an 'original faculty' - one needs as much genius to appreciate art as to create it, because it is singular and has nothing at all to do with concepts.


The ideal of the beautiful is an idea, but we must remember that ideas in Kant are not the same as concepts. It is an 'ideal of the imagination'.  We must ask ourselves whether this ideal is empirical or transcendental.


An ideal beauty cannot be free but must some to extent be fixed by a end and thus a concept. Thus an ideal of beautiful flowers is not possible, and also of a building, because although they do have ends, they are not fixed, and thus they are almost like free beauty.


Doesn't this undermine the whole distinction between free and dependent beauty, if building are almost like flowers?


Only human beings can be thought of in terms of the ideal of beauty, because they can fix their own end through reason. First through the normal idea where we judge someone as a member of the human species, and second through the rational idea, in which the ends of humanity are represented through sensibility, as though one might present them through outward form.


The ideal of the species is an aesthetic one and not empirical one, and therefore has its origin in the subject and not the object. Because it is an aesthetic idea it can be embodied in an image.


It is through the imagination that we produce countless images of human beings and then compose the perfect human being from them.


Thus the normal idea is not taken from the experience of definite rules given in advance rather it is through the ideal of beauty, produced via the imagination (unconsciously Kant says) that such rules would be possible.


But the ideal of beauty is not just the normal idea, precisely because it is too normal and thus for Kant mediocre. What is truly beautiful is genius which always violates the rule to some extent.


The ideal of the beautiful is not just the physical figure, but contains the moral idea. We can make the highest ends visible in forms, which would be the union of imagination and reason and which is purified of any charm or emotion. But it also shows, since we are interested in the ends that the object represents, in this case the moral end, whereas an aesthetic judgement is a perception of a finality without an end - it does not point outside of itself.


Fourth Moment - Modality




§ 18

The modality of synthesis of pleasure and representation is possible, whereas the agreeable is what actually causes me pleasure. The modality of the beautiful, however is one of necessity.


But what is important is that this necessity is not an objective one. There is no necessity that others will feel the same pleasure as me. Nor it a practical necessity. The necessity, rather, is one of exemplarity


Exemplarity has nothing  at all to do with concepts, nor with a universal experience.




§ 19


When I make an aesthetic judgement, I am insisting that every one else ought to have the same taste as me. But this ought is only conditional. What allow me to make this claim is the common ground of the harmony of the faculties.


§ 20

If aesthetic judgement were like cognitive ones, then I could demand unconditioned agreement - no one argues that 2 + 2 = 5. But equally if they were 'devoid of any principle', like judgement of sense (the things that I like), then I wouldn't be making any demand at all.  Therefore rather than any objective principle, we have to speak of a subjective one. This subjective principle Kant calls common sense (sensus communis)

We should not confuse this with common understanding, whose universality is always one of concepts. This commonality is one of feeling. We have to ask ourselves, therefore, how is it possible to have a judgement that is based on a common feeling, or whether we can speak of common feelings at all.



We presuppose this common sense when we make aesthetic judgements (is this common feeling therefore only hypothetical?) It refers not to sensibility, but to the harmony of the faculties.


This is a transcendental argument - without x, we could not do why - without the presupposition of a common feeling, there would be no aesthetic judgements  - there are aesthetic judgements therefore there must be a common feeling.


§ 21



Cognitions are always universally communicable. If they were not, then we would not have anything called knowledge.


The 'disposition' of the faculties however is determined by feelings - the relation between the imagination and the understanding - and not concepts.



Is this disposition itself not communicable? But a univesal communicable feeling requires common sense.


This is not a pyschological argument, but a transcendental one. Common sense as the necessary condition of the universal communication of all knowledge.


§ 22

Thus when we make a judgement of beauty, we do so as if everyone ought to agree with us, whether they do so or not, but this universal demand is not based upon concepts. But it is not a private feeling either, which would be impossible to demand univesal assent to, since by definition it is private. Rather aesthetic judgements are dependent of the existence of what Kant calls 'public sense'.


This common sense, however, is only an 'ideal norm' and not description of facts. Since it is perfectly possible that not everyone will agree with me. It is a subjective universal: 'a necessary idea for everyone'.



Is this common sense constitutive (like the a priori structure of knowledge in the First Critique) or regulative, and thus an idea of reason? That is it natural or original, or idea of reason that in some sense we have to learn and that the common feeling of all merely the 'application of a principle', rather than something that actually exists? This is a question that Kant leaves unanswered at this stage.


General Remark

The judgement of taste refers to a critical faculty in which the object of the representation is taken up in the free play of the imagination.



Here imagination is not reproductive (as it is knowledge, where it is determined by the understanding) but productive. In the production of intuitions, it is tied down to the form of the object, but it not determined by objective laws related to the object, either in terms of the understanding or reason - theoretical or practical reason.


Thus it is wrong to say that certain objects (circles, squares and so on) must be beautiful in themselves.



In knowledge, the imagination is ruled by the understanding, in art it is


the other way around.

If we let our taste be determined by external rules, then we not longer letting our imagination be productive. Rather, again its being determined by something that is external to the free play of the faculties (we are probably sneaking in some purpose or end).