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  • Cited by 12
  • Print publication year: 2003
  • Online publication date: July 2009

7 - Beauty, Freedom, and Morality: Kant's Lectures on Anthropology and the Development of His Aesthetic Theory


A “critique of taste” was one of Kant's long-standing philosophical ambitions. Indeed, his first announcement in 1771 to his student Marcus Herz of what was to become the Critique of Pure Reason included the theory of taste in the scope of the projected work: “I am currently occupied with a work which under the title The Bounds of Sensibility and of Reason is to work out in some detail the relationship of the fundamental concepts and laws destined for the sensible world together with the outline of that which the theory of taste, metaphysics, and morals should contain.” But as it turned out, the Critique of Pure Reason that Kant finally published in 1781 contained only a dismissive reference to Baumgarten's “failed hope” for a science of “aesthetics” that would comprise “what others call the critique of taste,” and the second edition of the Critique was only minimally more encouraging on this score. Meanwhile, Kant's first two major works on morals, the Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals published in 1785 and the Critique of Practical Reason, begun as part of Kant's revisions for the second edition of the first Critique in 1787 but released as a separate work at Easter, 1788, made no mention of the project of a critique of taste at all. Yet in December 1787, when the printing of the Critique of Practical Reason had barely been completed, Kant suddenly announced, this time to his new disciple Karl Leonhard Reinhold, that he had returned to the old project of “the critique of taste,” and indeed that he expected to finish a book on it by the following Easter.

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