Authored by: Donald W. Crawford

The Routledge Companion to Aesthetics

Print publication date:  April  2013
Online publication date:  April  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415782869
eBook ISBN: 9780203813034
Adobe ISBN: 9781136697142


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Immanuel Kant's seminal work, the Critique of the Power of Judgment (Kritik der Urteilskraft), published in 1790 (Kant 2000), is the foundational treatise in modern philosophical aesthetics, and its importance and influence remain evident today. Until the late 1780s, Kant did not consider what we know today as aesthetics to be a legitimate subject for philosophy. He denied the possibility of principles of taste, holding that our judgments about beauty are subjective, based simply on pleasure and thus only a topic for empirical studies (anthropology or history). Nor did he regard aesthetic perception to be related to the realms of cognitive judgment, understanding and ideas. Kant's drive for philosophical systematicity led him to reconsider whether a critical examination of our faculty of feeling pleasure might uncover a third branch of philosophy, joining theoretical philosophy (metaphysics) and practical philosophy (ethics) in being based on a priori principles. Taking as his paradigm a subclass of judgments thought to be based on feeling pleasure, namely judgments that something is beautiful, which he called “judgments of taste,” he wrote his third Critique.

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