there are interesting and enjoyable combinations of perfumes
or feelings or tastes, in the absence of any developed notion
of tone they are bound to suffer from an inability to generate
any interest of a deep-reaching kind. Fundamentally, tone is of
importance not for its purportedly privileged communicability,
which we had probably best forget about, but because, when we
set aside the formative arts and those of speech, it is to tone and
tone alone that we look to supply a framework within which any
sufficiently worthwhile play of sensations can occur. Without
tone, no substantive value; without value, no art. Unless and
until taste, touch and smell develop an ample sense of tone, no
Muse will offer herself to speak on their behalf.
The topic has the additional advantage of allowing us to reflect on
the integration of the arts into Kant's aesthetic without having to
worry about the complications introduced by the distinction between
dependent and free beauty. The sort of absolute music around which Kant's theory is built will be freely beautiful, if beautiful at all, even
though it is of course the artifice of man.
It is curious for the reason that it is quite at odds with the account of
truth which I have developed in earlier chapters. Nothing could ever
force on us the judgment that different people's sensible experience
of the same things was undetectably different, so it is just not a
possibility. Rather than take it as evidence that he did not think
of truth in the way that I have outlined, I shall assume that Kant
just did not notice this inconsistency. And, even if this epistemic
motivation for the introduction of the discussion of tone lapses in the
end as a result of straightening things up here, the valuational reason
for doing so will remain untouched. It is worthwhile reflecting that if Kant had put together his thoughts about truth and his assumptions
about what is genuinely communicable, he would have been able to
retain aspects of our aural experience as properly musical which he
thinks he is obliged to set down as mere irrelevant charms.
Kant never puts enough stress on the need to make essential reference
to the trained judge in his account of the beautiful. Leaving that
underemphasised makes his picture of it sound far too starry-eyed.
More accurately, this is where my own representation respects the
way in which the object has to be understood, if we are talking of
works of art. But Kant's starting place was with the beauty of nature,
and there issues of correct representation did not arise.
In the passage from §14 that I quoted, Kant's use of the expression
'tone' is uncertain. If he is reflecting on common usage there, his
own technical term will be a mere homonym. It may be thought
that he is pointing to a distinction between tone and sound already
marked in speech, and drawing attention to the pretheoretical place
that formal concerns have already acquired in our common ways of
thinking. Then his technical use of 'tone' will be quite continuous
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: Kantian Aesthetics Pursued.
Contributors: Anthony Savile - Author.
Publisher: Edinburgh University Press.
Place of publication: Edinburgh.
Publication year: 1993.
Page number: 153.
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