Volume 4, 1999
Philosophies of Religion, Art, and Creativity
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 suggests a possible resolution to the problem of particularity.