Volume 47, Issue 1/2, Spring/Summer 2017
The Ethical Significance of Kant's Sensus Communis
From Aesthetic to Ethical Community
The paper defends an interpretation of Kant’s notion of the sensus communis as the normative ideal of a universal aesthetic community. It further proposes that this understanding is the key to illuminating his account of our moral interest in cultivating taste. A sensus communis is morally necessary because it is an essential means to the creation of the kingdom of ends, which it promotes through its sustaining of a shared symbolic network for the sake of ethical community. The moral advancement of any historical ethical community depends upon an artistic culture that promotes social communication and unity, and mitigates the vices to which the extreme ends of the class hierarchy are vulnerable. In pursuit of the cosmopolitan ideal, agents should attempt to widen their immediate artistic culture in the service of a world culture and eventual universal ethical community.