The Critique of Judgement, by Immanuel Kant

Fourth Moment

Of the Judgement of Taste, According to the Modality of the Satisfaction in the Object

§ 18.

What the modality in a judgement of taste is

I can say of every representation that it is at least possible that (as a cognition) it should be bound up with a pleasure. Of a representation that I call pleasant I say that it actually excites pleasure in me. But the beautiful we think as having a necessary reference to satisfaction. Now this necessity is of a peculiar kind. It is not a theoretical objective necessity; in which case it would be cognised a priori that every one will feel this satisfaction in the object called beautiful by me. It is not a practical necessity; in which case, by concepts of a pure rational will serving as a rule for freely acting beings, the satisfaction is the necessary result of an objective law and only indicates that we absolutely (without any further design) ought to act in a certain way. But the necessity which is thought in an aesthetical judgement can only be called exemplary; i.e. a necessity of the assent of all to a judgement which is regarded as the example of a universal rule that we cannot state. Since an aesthetical judgement is not an objective cognitive judgement, this necessity cannot be derived from definite concepts, and is therefore not apodictic. Still less can it be inferred from the universality of experience (of a complete agreement of judgements as to the beauty of a certain object). For not only would experience hardly furnish sufficiently numerous vouchers for this; but also, on empirical judgements we can base no concept of the necessity of these judgements.

§ 19.

The subjective necessity, which we ascribe to the judgement of taste, is conditioned

The judgement of taste requires the agreement of every one; and he who describes anything as beautiful claims that every one ought to give his approval to the object in question and also describe it as beautiful. The ought in the aesthetical judgement is therefore pronounced in accordance with all the data which are required for judging and yet is only conditioned. We ask for the agreement of every one else, because we have for it a ground that is common to all; and we could count on this agreement, provided we were always sure that the case was correctly subsumed under that ground as rule of assent.

§ 20.

The condition of necessity which a judgement of taste asserts is the Idea of a common sense

If judgements of taste (like cognitive judgements) had a definite objective principle, then the person who lays them down in accordance with this latter would claim an unconditioned necessity for his judgement. If they were devoid of all principle, like those of the mere taste of sense, we would not allow them in thought any necessity whatever. Hence they must have a subjective principle which determines what pleases or displeases only by feeling and not by concepts, but yet with universal validity. But such a principle could only be regarded as a common sense, which is essentially different from common Understanding which people sometimes call common Sense (sensus communis); for the latter does not judge by feeling but always by concepts, although ordinarily only as by obscurely represented principles.

Hence it is only under the presupposition that there is a common sense (by which we do not understand an external sense, but the effect resulting from the free play of our cognitive powers)— it is only under this presupposition, I say, that the judgement of taste can be laid down.

§ 21.

Have we ground for presupposing a common sense?

Cognitions and judgements must, along with the conviction that accompanies them, admit of universal communicability; for otherwise there would be no harmony between them and the Object, and they would be collectively a mere subjective play of the representative powers, exactly as scepticism would have it. But if cognitions are to admit of communicability, so must also the state of mind — i.e. the accordance of the cognitive powers with a cognition generally, and that proportion of them which is suitable for a representation (by which an object is given to us) in order that a cognition may be made out of it — admit of universal communicability. For without this as the subjective condition of cognition, knowledge as an effect could not arise. This actually always takes place when a given object by means of Sense excites the Imagination to collect the manifold, and the Imagination in its turn excites the Understanding to bring about a unity of this collective process in concepts. But this accordance of the cognitive powers has a different proportion according to the variety of the Objects which are given. However, it must be such that this internal relation, by which one mental faculty is excited by another, shall be generally the most beneficial for both faculties in respect of cognition (of given objects); and this accordance can only be determined by feeling (not according to concepts). Since now this accordance itself must admit of universal communicability, and consequently also our feeling of it (in a given representation), and since the universal communicability of a feeling presupposes a common sense, we have grounds for assuming this latter. And this common sense is assumed without relying on psychological observations, but simply as the necessary condition of the universal communicability of our knowledge, which is presupposed in every Logic and in every principle of knowledge that is not sceptical.

§ 22.

The necessity of the universal agreement that is thought in a judgement of taste is a subjective necessity, which is represented as objective under the presupposition of a common sense

In all judgements by which we describe anything as beautiful, we allow no one to be of another opinion; without however grounding our judgement on concepts but only on our feeling, which we therefore place at its basis not as a private, but as a communal feeling.1 Now this common sense cannot be grounded on experience; for it aims at justifying judgements which contain an ought. It does not say that every one will agree with my judgement, but that he ought. And so common sense, as an example of whose judgement I here put forward my judgement of taste and on account of which I attribute to the latter an exemplary validity, is a mere ideal norm, under the supposition of which I have a right to make into a rule for every one a judgement that accords therewith, as well as the satisfaction in an Object expressed in such judgement. For the principle, which concerns the agreement of different judging persons, although only subjective, is yet assumed as subjectively universal (an Idea necessary for every one); and thus can claim universal assent (as if it were objective) provided we are sure that we have correctly subsumed [the particulars] under it.

This indeterminate norm of a common sense is actually presupposed by us; as is shown by our claim to lay down judgements of taste. Whether there is in fact such a common sense, as a constitutive principle of the possibility of experience, or whether a yet higher principle of Reason makes it only into a regulative principle for producing in us a common sense for higher purposes: whether therefore Taste is an original and natural faculty, or only the Idea of an artificial one yet to be acquired, so that a judgement of taste with its assumption of a universal assent in fact, is only a requirement of Reason for producing such harmony of sentiment; whether the “ought,” i.e. the objective necessity of the confluence of the feeling of any one man with that of every other, only signifies the possibility of arriving at this accord, and the judgement of taste only affords an example of the application of this principle: these questions we have neither the wish nor the power to investigate as yet; we have now only to resolve the faculty of taste into its elements in order to unite them at last in the Idea of a common sense.

1 [Cp. p. 170, infra.]

Explanation of the Beautiful Resulting from the Fourth Moment

The beautiful is that which without any concept is cognised as the object of a necessary satisfaction.

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