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  • Print publication year: 2005
  • Online publication date: July 2009

1 - Selections from the Notes on the Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime


This chapter presents a selection of the notes that Kant made in 1764–65 in his own interleaved copy of his 1764 work Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime (Beobachtungen über das Gefühl des Schönen und Erhabenen). This popular work, organized around the division of aesthetic responses into the feelings of the beautiful and of the sublime that Edmund Burke had made canonical in his 1757 book A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, is primarily devoted to an exploration of differences in the aesthetic preferences between the two genders and among different nationalities and races; it offers no analysis of the concepts or experiences of the beautiful and sublime themselves and therefore foreshadows nothing of the distinctive theories of the beautiful and the sublime that Kant would offer many years later in the Critique of the Power of Judgment (1790). But the work does explore connections between the different preferences for the beautiful and the sublime and differences in moral sentiment and character, and that may be why Kant was prompted to use this volume in the months following its publication to write some of the first notes that reflect his emerging moral theory.

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