Taste, Perception and Experience
WHAT IS A JUDGMENT OF TASTE? Today, 200 years after the Critique of Judgment's first appearance, this question ought to pose no problem, yet these judgments are regularly misdescribed and their content often misrepresented. We need to get this straight, and not just for its own sake. For one thing, only if we do so can the problem posed by the Transcendental Deduction be formulated with the sharpness that it demands. That is the central problem of Kant's aesthetics, and one on which I postpone all comment until the next chapter. 1 For another, without good order here, we shall have considerable difficulty in understanding what Kant perceives as the truly idiosyncratic nature of aesthetic judgments. Just what that amounts to will be the topic of the second half of this chapter.
Judgments of taste have been variously identified as 'propositions in which beauty is predicated of objects', 2 as 'assertions that a particular object is beautiful', 3 as 'aesthetic appraisals' 4 and as 'judgments ascribing beauty to something'. 5 These models make a number of mistakes, one of which is common to all and is more serious and pervasive than the others.
The first error is not to notice that we may well entertain the proposition that Helen is beautiful without judging her to be so. Contemplating the corruption of young Paris as a means to the coveted apple, Aphrodite may have reasoned thus: 'The lad will certainly be unable to resist the prospect of possessing the most beautiful of mortals; if Helen is mortal and beautiful, and no-one