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The Critique of Judgment is concerned with “judgment” as a power of the mind that is expressed in particular acts of judging. This is the sense we draw upon when we say of someone that they have good judgment, or when we put our trust in someone’s judgment. I consider Kant’s regress argument concerning judgment in the Analytic of the Principles of the first Critique. Kant has been read as concluding that if cognition is to be possible it must, on pain of infinite regress, bottom out in some non-rule-governed, “immediate” act or entity. I argue that this interpretation misconstrues the moral of Kant’s argument, as it does that of the rule-following passages in Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations with which it is sometimes aligned. The point of Kant’s argument is that judgment must be exercised: this is its condition. Kant shares with Wittgenstein (properly read) an awareness of the desire that we may have to evade the exercise of judgment and the revelations of the self that it entails. Reflective judgment, as introduced in the third Critique, is a further development of the notion of judgment as necessarily exercised and reflective of a particular mind.
This chapter turns to the question of how the judgment of taste is related to cognition and to the larger conception of judgment discussed in Chapter 2. It offers a new reading and contextualization of the argument of §21, in the Fourth Moment of the Analytic of the Beautiful, which establishes a “common sense” as a necessary condition of the universal communicability of cognition. On my reading, Kant does not provide, or seek to provide, a deduction of the judgment of taste avant la lettre. His point, instead, is to show that cognition involves its own form of reflective judgment. Cognitive judgment considered from the perspective of the third Critique – actual, situated judgment – depends on a norm beyond that of correctness: of aptness or appropriateness; of what calls for judgment. My reading is an alternative not only to the widespread “aesthetic” construal of Kant’s argument, on which it is meant to establish an aesthetic common sense, but also to the “epistemic” construal proposed by Henry Allison, on which it is meant to establish an epistemic common sense.
This chapter is centered upon the section of the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment” that Kant calls the “key” to the critique of taste and in which he elaborates the judgment of taste in terms that are striking yet scant, familiar yet elusive: a “state of mind” of “free play” of the cognitive powers, in which they are in “harmony” or “attunement” and are mutually “animated,” and in which their “subjective relation” corresponds to a “subjective condition” of cognition. I propose that a key to Kant’s thought is to be found in the notion of “universal communicability,” which this section introduces. The sense of “communication” on which it depends is, I argue, to be understood robustly, as having to do with the imparting of something to someone. I then argue that the judgment of taste turns on an experience of wanting to render communicable, or explore and articulate, one’s encounter with the extra-factual aesthetic character of the object. My interpretation reorients the role and significance of pleasure, and of feeling more generally, in the judgment of taste. The pleasure of the judgment of taste is in the object and in one’s state of mind, which the object is felt to awaken.
This chapter addresses the legitimation of the judgment of taste, the task of its deduction. Kant claims that judgments of taste may be argued about but not disputed. Is there room for a mode of supporting one’s judgment that is distinct from proof (on the one side) and from persuasion (on the other)? This chapter shows that, on Kant’s view, there is, and that aesthetic arguing occupies it. Aesthetic arguing is undertaken with the aim, or in the hope, of opening the way for the other person’s animation: helping the object bring the other person to life, or helping bring her to life for it. The free play of the cognitive faculties expresses or constitutes a caring for the object. To care for or about something or someone is to commit to ongoing engagement with it and to the furthering of one’s care itself. Caring projects an open-ended commitment and looks to the future. It is in this sense that the free play of the cognitive faculties seeks its own indefinite perpetuation. The principle of judgment entails an imperative to care about the world for its own sake, and the judgment of taste models such care.
This introductory chapter motivates and sketches the book’s approach. The chapter identifies the heart of the problem that the judgment of taste poses in terms of its apparent presumptuousness in demanding pleasure. Many scholars read Kant’s Critique of Judgment as adumbrating an account of the aesthetic that has little connection with our actual aesthetic experiences or with our ways of explaining and supporting aesthetic judgments. Among art historians, critics, and theorists, Kant is regarded as the source of a distorting notion of the aesthetic that chooses affect or pleasure over meaning. For example, Kantian aesthetics is widely taken to entail a specific approach to art criticism, viz. a narrow formalism. My interpretation aims to show that the judgment of taste is a contentful engagement with an object the terms of which are not specifiable in advance. To enter a judgment of taste is to expose one’s sense of what matters. This is why a risk of presumptuousness is characteristic of the judgment of taste. It is also why the judgment of taste is exemplary of judgment generally
The account developed in Chapter 2 may seem to conflict with Kant’s view that the judgment of taste is a distinctive sort of judgment requiring critical investigation. It has been argued, on the other hand, that Kant’s view is confused: there is no sense of “subjectivity” that sets the judgment of taste apart from other judgments (such as judgments of color) that also lay claim to normativity but present no special problem. This chapter addresses both objections. My reading suggests a requisite sense of “subjectivity.” The judgment of taste is subjective for two related reasons. The first has to do with its essential singularity, which, as I elaborate it, is more radical than the denial of principles or the holism of reasons associated with aesthetic or moral particularism. The second reason is tied to the distinctiveness of the judgment of taste’s claim to normativity. I argue that the judgment of taste represents its object as calling for recognition, where aesthetic recognition should be understood as akin to the acknowledgment of a person. My account yields an explanation of the “autonomy” of taste, according to which one’s judgment of taste must be grounded in one’s own experience of the object.
Immanuel Kant's Critique of Judgment is widely recognized as a founding document of modern aesthetics, but its legacy has fallen into disrepute. In this book Katalin Makkai calls for the rediscovery of Kant's aesthetics, showing that its centerpiece, his investigation of the judgment of taste, paints a compelling portrait of our relationships with works of art that we love. At its heart is a scene of aesthetic encounter in which one feels oneself to be 'animated' - brought to life - by an object, finding there to be something in one's experience of it, beyond what there is to know about it, that one wants to explore and articulate. Tracing Kant's insight that to judge is to reveal one's sense of what bears judging, and hence of what matters, Makkai situates Kant's aesthetics within his larger study, begun in the first Critique, of judgment's fundamental role in the life of the mind.
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