Volume 45, Issue 1, Spring 2015
J. Colin McQuillan
Kant's Critique of Baumgarten's Aesthetics
This article considers three objections Immanuel Kant raises against Alexander Baumgarten’s plan for a science of aesthetics at different points in his career. Although Kant’s objections appear to be contradictory, this article argues that the contradiction is the result of an anachronism in the composition of Kant’s Logic. When the contradiction is resolved, it becomes apparent that Kant’s main reason for rejecting Baumgarten’s aesthetics during the pre-critical period—the lack of a priori principles for a critique of taste—loses its force after Kant develops a kind of critique that yields a priori principles and then discovers a priori principles of aesthetic judgment. Instead of withdrawing his objections, Kant finds different reasons to deny that aesthetics can be a science, based on the distinction between determining and reflective judgments.