Volume 1, 1998
Aesthetics and Philosophy of the Arts
The Problem of Particularity in Kant’s Aesthetic Theory
In moving away from the objective, property-based theories of earlier periods to a subject-based aesthetic, Kant did not intend to give up the idea that judgments of beauty are universalizable. Accordingly, the "Deduction of Judgments of Taste" (KU, § 38) aims to show how reflective aesthetic judgments can be "imputed" a priori to all human subjects. The Deduction is not successful: Kant manages only to justify the imputation of the same form of aesthetic experience to everyone; he does not show that this experience will universally occur in response to the same objects. This is what I call Kant’s Problem of Particularity. After critiquing Anthony Savile’s attempt to overcome this Problem by linking Kant’s aesthetics to the theory of rational ideas, I elucidate the concept of (the oft-unnoticed) aesthetic attributes (§ 49) in a way that allows us to solve the Problem of Particularity.