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Dialogue and Universalism

Volume 29, Issue 2, 2019

Philosophy in an Age of Crisis, Part II

C. E. Emmer
Pages 65-80
DOI: 10.5840/du201929222

Kantian Beauty, Fractals, and Universal Community

Benoit B. Mandelbrot, when discussing the global appeal of fractal patterns and designs, draws upon examples from across numerous world cultures. What may be missed in Mandelbrot's presentation is Immanuel Kant’s precedence in recognizing this sort of widespread beauty in art and nature, fractals avant la lettre. More importantly, the idea of the fractal may itself assist the aesthetic attitude which Kantian beauty requires. In addition, from a Kantian perspective, fractal patterns may offer a source for a sense of community with humanity. I close with an excursus on the more sombre note of Kantian sublimity which fractals can also present.