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Aesthetic Delight and Beauty: A Comparison of Kant’s Aesthetics and Abhinavagupta’s Theory of Rasa


The study aims to address the existing research gap through a thematic comparison between the aesthetics of Kant and Abhinavagupta. This paper explores Kant’s notion of aesthetic judgment based on disinterestedness with Abhinavagupta’s analysis of sādhāraṇīkaraṇa. We argue that the notions of “disinterested judgment” in Kant and sādhāraṇīkaraṇa in Abhinavagupta points towards the impersonal nature of aesthetic delight which makes the universality of aesthetic experience possible. Hence, aesthetics in both Kant and Abhinavgupta are not the personal and subjective experience but a kind of universality based on the ability to experience the impersonal joy. However, the notion of aesthetic delight in Kant is confined to the agreeable mental states only while in Abhinavgupta the notion of rasa includes both positive as well as the negative mental states like fear, disgust, etc. In this regard, the paper will also analyze the affinity between notion of sensus communius in Kant and sahṛdaya in Abhinavagupta which highlights the importance of aesthetic community and the impersonal nature of aesthetic delight.

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  1. Abhinavagupta comments, for example, on a verse through which a deer’s fear of its hunter is communicated, that the deer and its fear are both freed of their particularities (AB 273). It must be stressed, however, that there still exist for him the categories of deer and fear.





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The authors thank and acknowledge the NIAS CSP Tata Trust Project, at the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore, India, for supporting this research.

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Correspondence to Saurabh Todariya.

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Todariya, S., Rajaraman, S. & Menon, S. Aesthetic Delight and Beauty: A Comparison of Kant’s Aesthetics and Abhinavagupta’s Theory of Rasa. DHARM 5, 51–62 (2022).

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  • Aesthetics
  • Disinterested
  • Kant
  • Sādhāraṇīkaraṇa
  • Abhinavgupta
  • Sahṛdaya