Notes on the Judgment of Taste

  • Louise Nisbet Roberts
Part of the Tulane Studies in Philosophy book series (TUSP, volume 3)


Kant’s efforts to discover the philosophical presuppositions of taste in the Critique of Judgment have been described as being designed to crown the total intellectual structure of his philosophical system.1 That his concern with matters of taste was prompted by a greater interest in intellectual architectonics than in the practical problems of aesthetics is not to be denied. But the historical influence of this his crowning effort has extended beyond the rarified atmosphere of system building and has found its way into the analysis of aesthetic experience.2 This poses a problem as to the evaluation of Kant’s Critique. Is Kant’s interpretation of taste to be dismissed as an empty though convenient philosophical construct or is it to be granted some status as possessing insight with respect to aesthetic experience? In such an evaluation of Kant’s contributions to aesthetics the question arises of whether the aesthetic experience retains its relative independence in the Kantian analysis or whether the aesthetic is subjugated to the intellectual or the moral. A consideration of the relationship between the aesthetic and the intellectual is particularly important since Kant approaches the theory of beauty through an interpretation of cognition. This approach has led many interpreters to hold that Kant’s theory of aesthetics is through and through intellectualistic. The contention of the present essay is that for Kant the aesthetic experiences are not only not intellectual but must be wholly distinguished from cognitive experiences. The difficulty of interpretation arises, however, because the language Kant uses to develop his theory is intellectualistic.


Conceptual Form Aesthetic Experience Cognitive Faculty Aesthetic Judgment Reflective Judgment 
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  1. 1.
    Gilbert, Katherine and Kuhn, Helmut, A History of Esthetics ( New York, The Macmillan Company, 1939 ) p. 323.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    The influence of Kant’s aesthetics can be detected in the work of many later thinkers. Santayana’s Sense of Beauty,for example, shows marked Kantian influence.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Introduction to the Critique of Judgment Bernard’s translation, pp. 17–18.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    The Critique of Judgment,Bernard’s translation, p. 66. Kant distinguishes the aesthetic from the moral on the basis that it pleases without desire. It is the distinction from the intellectual which is particularly problematic.Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    Cf. Lee, H. N.. “Kant’s Theory of Aesthetics,” Philosophical Review, Vol. XL, No. 6, Nov., 1931.Google Scholar
  6. 9.
    The Critique of Judgment, Bernard’s translation, p. 55.Google Scholar

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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1964

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  • Louise Nisbet Roberts

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