The Beauty of Works of Art

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Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Judgment aims to analyze the notion of a judgment of beauty or a judgment of taste. There is a basic dichotomy between two opposed sets of features that Kant explores through his various characterizations of judgments of beauty. On one hand, judgments of beauty are based on feeling (the object is not subsumed under the concept of a purpose that it is supposed to satisfy). On the other hand however, judgments of beauty are unlike judgments of the agreeable in not involving desire for the object. So what does it mean to make a pure aesthetic judgment of the beautiful? Kant investigates whether the ‘power’ of judgment provides itself with an priori principle. This principle would assert the suitability of all nature for our faculty of judgment in general. Four Moments/Disinterested Kant wonders how fine art- or the beauty of works of art- is possible and categorizes aesthetic judgments (or ‘judgments of taste’) into four “moments.” In the “First Moment” judgments of beauty are based on feeling, specifically the feelings of pleasure (he also discusses feelings of pain). However this pleasure is what he calls “disinterested.” Meaning that the subject does not need to desire the object in order to experience pleasure from it, nor must the object generate desire. We take pleasure in something simply because it is beautiful, rather than judging it beautiful because we find it pleasurable. He argues “the satisfaction which we combine with the representation of the existence of an object is called ‘interest’”(Kant 420) while “taste is the faculty of judging of an object or a method of representing it by an entirely disinterested satisfaction or dissatisfaction. The object of such satisfaction is called beautiful... ... middle of paper ... ...functions of judging is represented by the distinction between the determinative and the reflective power of judgment Kant is looking for an answer to the question: is a judgment of taste subjective? The requisites for fine art are imagination, understanding, soul and taste. Taste has both a subjective aspect, in that is consists in a felt response to the aesthetic qualities of an object, and an objective aspect, in that we can give reasons for our aesthetic judgments. Thus, it seems, the processes of appreciation and evaluation which lead to the conclusion that an object, whether a work of art or otherwise, is beautiful, are the same in all cases, and the paradigm for those processes must be that which is furnished by the appreciation and estimation of a natural beauty free of all intervention by concepts, whether the concept of art or any more specific concept.
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