Volume 12, 2007
Philosophical Trends in the XXth Century
On Kant's Aesthetic Judgement
In the Critique of Judgement Kant develops a theory of taste, according to which taste is the ability to make judgements concerning beauty, beauty in nature and in art. These judgements are based on a particular reflective activity, an activity in which the understanding is driven into a never-ending play with the imagination.
In my paper I will try to show the actuality of Kant's aesthetic theory as a general theory of aesthetic experience, not only in connection with art, but as a particular kind of experience possible in other areas as well. Aesthetic experience is, as I read Kant, a peculiar kind of setting free, of detaching the connection between our experience and objective reality, a connection presupposed in every non-aesthetic discourse. This disconnection from the empirical world, which is essential in aesthetic reflection, I will call an aesthetic emancipatedness.
To experience something aesthetically means to set it free, to embody it in the aesthetic emancipatedness, to set it free from the boundaries of normality and make it something extraordinary; a deviation. But a deviation would only exist in contrast to that which it deviates from. Emancipatedness can only exist in contrast to a not yet emancipated condition. This explains why the aesthetic experience also affects the moral and the cognitive aspects of reality.