Kant Essay

In the context of the essay, ‘escape’ will equate with a rejection of Kant’s notion of the beautiful, giving a clearer direction to the essay. Investigating the ‘beautiful’ is a difficult task, because it escapes any concrete definition, but the most substantiate knowledge we have to date comes from Kant’s ‘Critique Of Judgement’, the ideas formulated provide a foundation for others dealing with the beautiful. Cardinal points of the Critique to develop are: the pleasure created in the harmony of faculties, whether beauty can be seen differently from the viewpoint of the laymen and that of the artist, and the level of harmony and symmetry needed in artwork to induce beauty. It is difficult to entirely escape from Kant’s notion of the beautiful, as almost all writings on the topic refer to his Critique in some manner. In terms of the viability of his ideas, some writers point criticism, but they also develop fresh lines of enquiry. We can escape from Kant by looking at the new points raised around the subject of beauty, but analysis of their feasibility will determine how far we can either reject or move away from Kant’s established principles.

Before the argument is developed it is crucial to define Kant’s notion of ‘beautiful’, this instructs that a beautiful object causes harmony in our Imagination and Understanding, once this reaches a pleasurable level, then beauty is felt. This basic premise can’t be rejected, as it is the basic principle of beauty, accepted by almost all writers save Clive Bell. Bell rejects that beauty provokes emotions, but this is highly implausible in light of the overwhelmingly support given to Kant. We have concluded a basic understanding of how we judge beautiful objects, but it doesn’t help us with a definitive concept of beauty. This is the most difficult question to tackle, as beauty is something we “feel” and “can never be said”, setting the general flavour of all readings, surmising the impossibility of defining beauty. The aesthetics of beauty has progressed without any burning need to clarify a definition, but some writers demand a definition, regardless of the concept’s relevancy, to return beauty to “the space of philosophy”. In seeking a definition, we would escape from Kant’s notion of beauty, since his ideas would flounder if a definition was put in place. Moreover beauty already has a distinguished, albeit shaky position in philosophy, since Knight sees it as “doomed to extinction”, maybe awarding a definition would give it greater grounding. If beauty persistently eludes definition, it is possible that beauty can not be granted a permanent role in the ‘space’ of philosophy, therefore will not continue in aesthetics.

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Leaving aside the definition of beauty, instead concentrating on what we have established, that beauty evokes pleasure when the faculties work harmoniously. We may question Kant’s universality of beauty, he attests that the pleasure derived from beautiful objects can be demanded from other people, so they share the beauty of the object.. With this as a backdrop, we can’t escape from Kant’s notion of the beautiful, as it is applicable to everyone who views art, but there is room to reject the polemical principle of universality. The obvious concern, is no one person has the same judgement, overcome by the ...

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