KANT'S AESTHETIC THEORY is often called formalist, in the sense that only what we represent to ourselves expressly in spatial or temporal terms can properly be candidates for aesthetic appraisal. Anything else in our representation, in particular the mere 'matter of sensation', can at best support judgments of charm. These amount to little more than claims that the judging subject himself finds a pleasure in the object judged, one that he may or may not share with others, but which in either case is not stuff for rational debate. Put this idea together with the innocuous thought that Kant would certainly have accepted, that all the fine arts must be capable of sustaining justifiable judgments of taste, and it will follow that they must all deliver up something formal to our experience of their fundamental subject matter. Should we, within a given range of experience, find inspection to yield no such thing, then no matter what we may like to say, no matter how we may find ourselves speaking, sustained reflection will compel us to demote the topic from its aspirations to be art to something more lowly, to mere entertainment or enjoyable diversion and no more.

How thoroughgoing Kant's formalism in fact was is a matter for debate, and in the previous two chapters I have tried to show that it is no more than a superficial trait of his thinking, one which it is easy to help him overcome without distorting the main tenor of his teaching. However, in one particular domain it is of considerable interest, because, by following it through as far as he would like us to, we come to see how rich his thought about the particular arts can be, and how deeply and systematically that


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Kantian Aesthetics Pursued


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 184

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?