The claim of an aesthetical judgement to universal validity for every subject requires, as a judgement resting on some a priori principle, a Deduction (or legitimatising of its pretensions) in addition to its Exposition; if it is concerned with satisfaction or dissatisfaction in the form of the Object. Of this kind are judgements of taste about the Beautiful in Nature. For in that case the purposiveness has its ground in the Object and in its figure, although it does not indicate the reference of this to other objects according to concepts (for a cognitive judgement), but merely has to do in general with the apprehension of this form, so far as it shows itself conformable in the mind to the faculty of concepts and to that of their presentation (which is identical with that of apprehension). We can thus, in respect of the Beautiful in nature, suggest many questions touching the cause of this purposiveness of their forms, e.g. to explain why nature has scattered abroad beauty with such profusion, even in the depth of the ocean, where the human eye (for which alone that purposiveness exists) but seldom penetrates.
But the Sublime in nature — if we are passing upon it a pure aesthetical judgement, not mixed up with any concepts of perfection or objective purposiveness, in which case it would be a teleological judgement — may be regarded as quite formless or devoid of figure, and yet as the object of a pure satisfaction; and it may display a subjective purposiveness in the given representation. And we ask if, for an aesthetical judgement of this kind — over and above the Exposition of what is thought in it — a Deduction also of its claim to any (subjective) a priori principle may be demanded?
To which we may answer that the Sublime in nature is improperly so called, and that properly speaking the word should only be applied to a state of mind, or rather to its foundation in human nature. The apprehension of an otherwise formless and unpurposive object gives merely the occasion, through which we become conscious of such a state; the object is thus employed as subjectively purposive, but is not judged as such in itself and on account of its form (it is, as it were, a species finalis accepta, non data). Hence our Exposition of judgements concerning the Sublime in nature was at the same time their Deduction. For when we analysed the reflection of the Judgement in such acts, we found in them a purposive relation of the cognitive faculties, which must be ascribed ultimately to the faculty of purposes (the will), and hence is itself purposive a priori. This then immediately involves the Deduction, i.e. the justification of the claim of such a judgement to universal and necessary validity.
We shall therefore only have to seek for the deduction of judgements of Taste, i.e. of judgements about the Beauty of natural things; we shall thus treat satisfactorily the problem with which the whole faculty of aesthetical Judgement is concerned.
1 [Second Edition.]
A Deduction, i.e. the guarantee of the legitimacy of a class of judgements, is only obligatory if the judgement lays claim to necessity. This it does, if it demands even subjective universality or the agreement of every one, although it is not a judgement of cognition but only one of pleasure or pain in a given object; i.e. it assumes a subjective purposiveness thoroughly valid for every one, which must not be based on any concept of the thing, because the judgement is one of taste.
We have before us in the latter case no cognitive judgement — neither a theoretical one based on the concept of a Nature in general formed by the Understanding, nor a (pure) practical one based on the Idea of Freedom, as given a priori by Reason. Therefore we have to justify a priori the validity neither of a judgement which represents what a thing is, nor of one which prescribes that I ought to do something in order to produce it. We have merely to prove for the Judgement generally the universal validity of a singular judgement that expresses the subjective purposiveness of an empirical representation of the form of an object; in order to explain how it is possible that a thing can please in the mere act of judging it (without sensation or concept), and how the satisfaction of one man can be proclaimed as a rule for every other; just as the act of judging of an object for the sake of a cognition in general has universal rules.
If now this universal validity is not to be based on any collecting of the suffrages of others, or on any questioning of them as to the kind of sensations they have, but is to rest, as it were, on an autonomy of the judging subject in respect of the feeling of pleasure (in the given representation), i.e. on his own taste, and yet is not to be derived from concepts; then a judgement like this — such as the judgement of taste is, in fact — has a twofold logical peculiarity. First, there is its a priori universal validity, which is not a logical universality in accordance with concepts, but the universality of a singular judgement. Secondly, it has a necessity (which must always rest on a priori grounds), which however does not depend on any a priori grounds of proof, through the representation of which the assent that every one concedes to the judgement of taste could be exacted.
The solution of these logical peculiarities, wherein a judgement of taste is different from all cognitive judgements — if we at the outset abstract from all content, viz. from the feeling of pleasure, and merely compare the aesthetical form with the form of objective judgements as logic prescribes it — is sufficient by itself for the deduction of this singular faculty. We shall then represent and elucidate by examples these characteristic properties of taste.
The judgement of taste determines its object in respect of satisfaction (in its beauty) with an accompanying claim for the assent of every one, just as if it were objective.
To say that “this flower is beautiful” is the same as to assert its proper claim to satisfy every one. By the pleasantness of its smell it has no such claim. A smell which one man enjoys gives another a headache. Now what are we to presume from this except that beauty is to be regarded as a property of the flower itself, which does not accommodate itself to any diversity of persons or of their sensitive organs, but to which these must accommodate themselves if they are to pass any judgement upon it? And yet this is not so. For a judgement of taste consists in calling a thing beautiful just because of that characteristic in respect of which it accommodates itself to our mode of apprehension.
Moreover, it is required of every judgement which is to prove the taste of the subject, that the subject shall judge by himself, without needing to grope about empirically among the judgements of others, and acquaint himself previously as to their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the same object; thus his judgement should be pronounced a priori, and not be a mere imitation because the thing actually gives universal pleasure. One would think, however, that an a priori judgement must contain a concept of the Object, for the cognition of which it contains the principle; but the judgement of taste is not based upon concepts at all, and is in general not a cognitive but an aesthetical judgement.
Thus a young poet does not permit himself to be dissuaded from his conviction that his poem is beautiful, by the judgement of the public or of his friends; and if he gives ear to them he does so, not because he now judges differently, but because, although (in regard to him) the whole public has false taste, in his desire for applause he finds reason for accommodating himself to the common error (even against his judgement). It is only at a later time, when his Judgement has been sharpened by exercise, that he voluntarily departs from his former judgements; just as he proceeds with those of his judgements which rest upon Reason. Taste [merely]1 claims autonomy. To make the judgements of others the determining grounds of his own would be heteronomy.
That we, and rightly, recommend the works of the ancients as models and call their authors classical, thus forming among writers a kind of noble class who give laws to the people by their example, seems to indicate a posteriori sources of taste, and to contradict the autonomy of taste in every subject. But we might just as well say that the old mathematicians — who are regarded up to the present day as supplying models not easily to be dispensed with for the supreme profundity and elegance of their synthetical methods — prove that our Reason is only imitative, and that we have not the faculty of producing from it in combination with intuition rigid proofs by means of the construction of concepts.2 There is no use of our powers, however free, no use of Reason itself (which must create all its judgements a priori from common sources) which would not give rise to faulty attempts, if every subject had always to begin anew from the rude basis of his natural state, and if others had not preceded him with their attempts. Not that these make mere imitators of those who come after them, but rather by their procedure they put others on the track of seeking in themselves principles and so of pursuing their own course, often a better one. Even in religion — where certainly every one has to derive the rule of his conduct from himself, because he remains responsible for it and cannot shift the blame of his transgressions upon others, whether his teachers or his predecessors — there is never as much accomplished by means of universal precepts, either obtained from priests or philosophers or got from oneself, as by means of an example of virtue or holiness which, exhibited in history, does not dispense with the autonomy of virtue based on the proper and original Idea of morality (a priori), or change it into a mechanical imitation. Following, involving something precedent, not “imitation,” is the right expression for all influence that the products of an exemplary author may have upon others. And this only means that we draw from the same sources as our predecessor did, and learn from him only the way to avail ourselves of them. But of all faculties and talents Taste, because its judgement is not determinable by concepts and precepts, is just that one which most needs examples of what has in the progress of culture received the longest approval; that it may not become again uncivilised and return to the crudeness of its first essays.
The judgement of taste is not determinable by grounds of proof, just as if it were merely subjective.
If a man, in the first place, does not find a building, a prospect, or a poem beautiful, a hundred voices all highly praising it will not force his inmost agreement. He may indeed feign that it pleases him in order that he may not be regarded as devoid of taste; he may even begin to doubt whether he has formed his taste on a knowledge of a sufficient number of objects of a certain kind (just as one, who believes that he recognises in the distance as a forest, something which all others regard as a town, doubts the judgement of his own sight). But he clearly sees that the agreement of others gives no valid proof of the judgement about beauty. Others might perhaps see and observe for him; and what many have seen in one way, although he believes that he has seen it differently, might serve him as an adequate ground of proof of a theoretical and consequently logical judgement. But that a thing has pleased others could never serve as the basis of an aesthetical judgement. A judgement of others which is unfavourable to ours may indeed rightly make us scrutinise our own with care, but it can never convince us of its incorrectness. There is therefore no empirical ground of proof which would force a judgement of taste upon any one.
Still less, in the second place, can an a priori proof determine according to definite rules a judgement about beauty. If a man reads me a poem of his or brings me to a play, which does not after all suit my taste, he may bring forward in proof of the beauty of his poem Batteux1 or Lessing or still more ancient and famous critics of taste, and all the rules laid down by them; certain passages which displease me may agree very well with rules of beauty (as they have been put forth by these writers and are universally recognised): but I stop my ears, I will listen to no arguments and no reasoning; and I will rather assume that these rules of the critics are false, or at least that they do not apply to the case in question, than admit that my judgement should be determined by grounds of proof a priori. For it is to be a judgement of Taste and not of Understanding or Reason.
It seems that this is one of the chief reasons why this aesthetical faculty of judgement has been given the name of Taste. For though a man enumerate to me all the ingredients of a dish, and remark that each is separately pleasant to me and further extol with justice the wholesomeness of this particular food — yet am I deaf to all these reasons; I try the dish with my tongue and my palate, and thereafter (and not according to universal principles) do I pass my judgement.
In fact the judgement of Taste always takes the form of a singular judgement about an Object. The Understanding can form a universal judgement by comparing the Object in point of the satisfaction it affords with the judgement of others upon it: e.g. “all tulips are beautiful.” But then this is not a judgement of taste but a logical judgement, which takes the relation of an Object to taste as the predicate of things of a certain species. That judgement, however, in which I find an individual given tulip beautiful, i.e. in which I find my satisfaction in it to be universally valid, is alone a judgement of taste. Its peculiarity consists in the fact that, although it has merely subjective validity, it claims the assent of all subjects, exactly as it would do if it were an objective judgement resting on grounds of knowledge, that could be established by a proof.
1 [Charles Batteux (1713–1780), author of Les Beaux Arts reduits à un même principe.]
By a principle of taste I mean a principle under the condition of which we could subsume the concept of an object and thus infer by means of a syllogism that the object is beautiful. But that is absolutely impossible. For I must feel the pleasure immediately in the representation of the object, and of that I can be persuaded by no grounds of proof whatever. Although, as Hume says,1 all critics can reason more plausibly than cooks, yet the same fate awaits them. They cannot expect the determining ground of their judgement [to be derived] from the force of the proofs, but only from the reflection of the subject upon its own proper state (of pleasure or pain), all precepts and rules being rejected.
But although critics can and ought to pursue their reasonings so that our judgements of taste may be corrected and extended, it is not with a view to set forth the determining ground of this kind of aesthetical judgements in a universally applicable formula, which is impossible; but rather to investigate the cognitive faculties and their exercise in these judgements, and to explain by examples the reciprocal subjective purposiveness, the form of which, as has been shown above, in a given representation, constitutes the beauty of the object. Therefore the Critique of Taste is only subjective as regards the representation through which an Object is given to us; viz. it is the art or science of reducing to rules the reciprocal relation between the Understanding and the Imagination in the given representation (without reference to any preceding sensation or concept). That is, it is the art or science of reducing to rules their accordance or discordance, and of determining them with regard to their conditions. it is an art, if it only shows this by examples; it is a science if it derives the possibility of such judgements from the nature of these faculties, as cognitive faculties in general. We have here, in Transcendental Criticism, only to do with the latter. It should develop and justify the subjective principle of taste, as an a priori principle of the Judgement. This Critique, as an art, merely seeks to apply, in the judging of objects, the physiological (here psychological), and therefore empirical rules, according to which taste actually proceeds (without taking any account of their possibility); and it criticises the products of beautiful art just as, regarded as a science, it criticises the faculty by which they are judged.
1 [Essay XVIII, The Sceptic. “Critics can reason and dispute more plausibly than cooks or perfumers. We may observe, however, that this uniformity among human kind, hinders not, but that there is a considerable diversity in the sentiments of beauty and worth, and that education, custom, prejudice, caprice, and humour, frequently vary our taste of this kind. . . . Beauty and worth are merely of a relative nature, and consist in an agreeable sentiment, produced by an object in a particular mind, according to the peculiar structure and constitution of that mind.”]
The judgement of taste is distinguished from a logical judgement in this, that the latter subsumes a representation under the concept of the Object, while the former does not subsume it under any concept; because otherwise the necessary universal agreement [in these judgements] would be capable of being enforced by proofs. Nevertheless it is like the latter in this, that it claims universality and necessity, though not according to concepts of the Object, and consequently a merely subjective necessity. Now, because the concepts in a judgement constitute its content (what belongs to the cognition of the Object), but the judgement of taste is not determinable by concepts, it is based only on the subjective formal condition of a judgement in general. The subjective condition of all judgements is the faculty of Judgement itself. This when used with reference to a representation by which an object is given, requires the accordance of two representative powers: viz. Imagination (for the intuition and comprehension of the manifold) and Understanding (for the concept as a representation of the unity of this comprehension). Now because no concept of the Object lies here at the basis of the judgement, it can only consist in the subsumption of the Imagination itself (in the case of a representation by which an object is given) under the conditions that the Understanding requires to pass from intuition to concepts. That is, because the freedom of the Imagination consists in the fact that it schematises without any concept, the judgement of taste must rest on a mere sensation of the reciprocal activity of the Imagination in its freedom and the Understanding with its conformity to law. It must therefore rest on a feeling, which makes us judge the object by the purposiveness of the representation (by which an object is given) in respect of the furtherance of the cognitive faculty in its free play. Taste, then, as subjective Judgement, contains a principle of subsumption, not of intuitions under concepts, but of the faculty of intuitions or presentations (i.e. the Imagination) under the faculty of the concepts (i.e. the Understanding); so far as the former in its freedom harmonises with the latter in its conformity to law.
In order to discover this ground of legitimacy by a Deduction of the judgements of taste we can only take as a clue the formal peculiarities of this kind of judgements, and consequently can only consider their logical form.
The concept of an Object in general can immediately be combined with the perception of an object, containing its empirical predicates, so as to form a cognitive judgement; and it is thus that a judgement of experience is produced.1 At the basis of this lie a priori concepts of the synthetical unity of the manifold of intuition, by which the manifold is thought as the determination of an Object. These concepts (the Categories) require a Deduction, which is given in the Critique of pure Reason; and by it we can get the solution of the problem, how are synthetical a priori cognitive judgements possible? This problem concerns then the a priori principles of the pure Understanding and its theoretical judgements.
But with a perception there can also be combined a feeling of pleasure (or pain) and a satisfaction, that accompanies the representation of the Object and serves instead of its predicate; thus there can result an aesthetical non-cognitive judgement. At the basis of such a judgement — if it is not a mere judgement of sensation but a formal judgement of reflection, which imputes the same satisfaction necessarily to every one — must lie some a priori principle; which may be merely subjective (if an objective one should prove impossible for judgements of this kind), but also as such may need a Deduction, that we may thereby comprehend how an aesthetical judgement can lay claim to necessity. On this is founded the problem with which we are now occupied, how are judgements of taste possible? This problem then has to do with the a priori principles of the pure faculty of Judgement in aesthetical judgements; i.e. judgements in which it has not (as in theoretical ones) merely to subsume under objective concepts of Understanding, and in which it is subject to a law, but in which it is, itself, subjectively, both object and law.
This problem then may be thus represented: how is a judgement possible, in which merely from our own feeling of pleasure in an object, independently of its concept, we judge that this pleasure attaches to the representation of the same Object in every other subject, and that a priori without waiting for the accordance of others?
It is easy to see that judgements of taste are synthetical, because they go beyond the concept and even beyond the intuition of the Object, and add to that intuition as predicate something that is not a cognition, viz. a feeling of pleasure (or pain). Although the predicate (of the personal pleasure bound up with the representation) is empirical, nevertheless, as concerns the required assent of every one the judgements are a priori, or desire to be regarded as such; and this is already involved in the expressions of this claim. Thus this problem of the Critique of Judgement belongs to the general problem of transcendental philosophy, how are synthetical a priori judgements possible?
1 [For the distinction, an important one in Kant, between judgements of experience and judgements of perception, see his Prolegomena, § 18. Cf. Kant’s Critical Philosophy for English Readers, vol. i. p. 116.]
That the representation of an object is immediately bound up with pleasure can only be internally perceived, and if we did not wish to indicate anything more than this it would give a merely empirical judgement. For I cannot combine a definite feeling (of pleasure or pain) with any representation except where there is at bottom an a priori principle in the Reason determining the Will. In that case the pleasure (in the moral feeling) is the consequence of the principle, but cannot be compared with the pleasure in taste, because it requires a definite concept of a law; and the latter pleasure, on the contrary, must be bound up with the mere act of judging, prior to all concepts. Hence also all judgements of taste are singular judgements, because they do not combine their predicate of satisfaction with a concept, but with a given individual empirical representation.
And so it is not the pleasure, but the universal validity of this pleasure, perceived as mentally bound up with the mere judgement upon an object, which is represented a priori in a judgement of taste as a universal rule for the Judgement and valid for every one. It is an empirical judgement [to say] that I perceive and judge an object with pleasure. But it is an a priori judgement [to say] that I find it beautiful, i.e. I attribute this satisfaction necessarily to every one.
If it be admitted that in a pure judgement of taste the satisfaction in the object is combined with the mere act of judging its form, it is nothing else than its subjective purposiveness for the Judgement which we feel to be mentally combined with the representation of the object. The Judgement, as regards the formal rules of its action, apart from all matter (whether sensation or concept), can only be directed to the subjective conditions of its employment in general (it is applied1 neither to a particular mode of sense nor to a particular concept of the Understanding); and consequently to that subjective [element] which we can presuppose in all men (as requisite for possible cognition in general). Thus the agreement of a representation with these conditions of the Judgement must be capable of being assumed as valid a priori for every one. I.e. we may rightly impute to every one the pleasure or the subjective purposiveness of the representation for the relation between the cognitive faculties in the act of judging a sensible object in general.1
1 [First Edition has “limited.”]
1 In order to be justified in claiming universal assent for an aesthetical judgement that rests merely on subjective grounds, it is sufficient to assume, (1) that the subjective conditions of the Judgement, as regards the relation of the cognitive powers thus put into activity to a cognition in general, are the same in all men. This must be true, because otherwise men would not be able to communicate their representations or even their knowledge. (2) The judgement must merely have reference to this relation (consequently to the formal condition of the Judgement) and be pure, i.e. not mingled either with concepts of the Object or with sensations, as determining grounds. If there has been any mistake as regards this latter condition, then there is only an inaccurate application of the privilege, which a law gives us, to a particular case; but that does not destroy the privilege itself in general.
This Deduction is thus easy, because it has no need to justify the objective reality of any concept, for Beauty is not a concept of the Object and the judgement of taste is not cognitive. It only maintains that we are justified in presupposing universally in every man those subjective conditions of the Judgement which we find in ourselves; and further, that we have rightly subsumed the given Object under these conditions. The latter has indeed unavoidable difficulties which do not beset the logical Judgement. There we subsume under concepts, but in the aesthetical Judgement under a merely sensible relation between the Imagination and Understanding mutually harmonising in the representation of the form of the Object — in which case the subsumption may easily be fallacious. Yet the legitimacy of the claim of the Judgement in counting upon universal assent is not thus annulled; it reduces itself merely to the correctness of the principle of judging validly for every one from subjective grounds. For as to the difficulty or doubt concerning the correctness of the subsumption under that principle, it makes the legitimacy of the claim of an aesthetical judgement in general to such validity and the principle of the same, as little doubtful, as the like faulty (though neither so commonly nor readily faulty) subsumption of the logical Judgement under its principle can make the latter, an objective principle, doubtful. But if the question were to be, how is it possible to assume nature a priori to be a complex of objects of taste? this problem has reference to Teleology, because it must be regarded as a purpose of nature essentially belonging to its concept to exhibit forms that are purposive for our Judgement. But the correctness of this latter assumption is very doubtful, whereas the efficacy of natural beauties is patent to experience.
If sensation, as the real in perception, is related to knowledge, it is called sensation of the senses; and its specific quality may be represented as generally communicable in a uniform way, if we assume that every one has senses like our own. But this cannot at all be presupposed of any single sensation. To a man who is deficient in the sense of smell, this kind of sensation cannot be communicated; and even if it is not wholly deficient, we cannot be certain that he gets exactly the same sensation from a flower that we have. But even more must we represent men as differing in respect of the pleasantness or unpleasantness involved in the sensation from the same object of sense; and it is absolutely not to be required that every man should take pleasure in the same objects. Pleasure of this kind, because it comes into the mind through the senses, in respect of which therefore we are passive, we may call the pleasure of enjoyment.
Satisfaction in an action because of its moral character is on the other hand not the pleasure of enjoyment, but of spontaneity and its accordance with the Idea of its destination. But this feeling, called moral, requires concepts, and presents not free purposiveness, but purposiveness that is conformable to law; it therefore admits of being universally communicated only by means of Reason, and, if the pleasure is to be homogeneous for every one, by very definite practical concepts of Reason.
Pleasure in the Sublime in nature, regarded as a pleasure of rational contemplation, also makes claim to universal participation; but it presupposes, besides, a different feeling, viz. that of our supersensible destination, which, however obscurely, has a moral foundation. But that other men will take account of it, and will find a satisfaction in the consideration of the wild greatness of nature (that certainly cannot be ascribed to its aspect, which is rather terrifying), I am not absolutely justified in supposing. Nevertheless, in consideration of the fact that on every suitable occasion regard should be had to these moral dispositions, I can impute such satisfaction to every man, but only by means of the moral law which on its side again is based on concepts of Reason.
On the contrary, pleasure in the Beautiful is neither a pleasure of enjoyment nor of a law-abiding activity, nor even of rational contemplation in accordance with Ideas, but of mere reflection. Without having as rule any purpose or fundamental proposition, this pleasure accompanies the ordinary apprehension of an object by the Imagination, as faculty of intuition, in relation with the Understanding, as faculty of concepts, by means of a procedure of the Judgement which it must also exercise on behalf of the commonest experience; only that in the latter case it is in order to perceive an empirical objective concept, in the former case (in aesthetical judgements) merely to perceive the accordance of the representation with the harmonious (subjectively purposive) activity of both cognitive faculties in their freedom, i.e. to feel with pleasure the mental state produced by the representation. This pleasure must necessarily depend for every one on the same conditions, for they are subjective conditions of the possibility of a cognition in general; and the proportion between these cognitive faculties requisite for Taste is also requisite for that ordinary sound Understanding which we have to presuppose in every one. Therefore he who judges with taste (if only he does not go astray in this act of consciousness and mistake matter for form or charm for beauty) may impute to every one subjective purposiveness, i.e. his satisfaction in the Object, and may assume his feeling to be universally communicable and that without the mediation of concepts.
We often give to the Judgement, if we are considering the result rather than the act of its reflection, the name of a sense, and we speak of a sense of truth, or of a sense of decorum, of justice, etc. And yet we know, or at least we ought to know, that these concepts cannot have their place in Sense, and further, that Sense has not the least capacity for expressing universal rules; but that no representation of truth, fitness, beauty, or justice, and so forth, could come into our thoughts if we could not rise beyond Sense to higher faculties of cognition. The common Understanding of men, which, as the mere sound (not yet cultivated) Understanding, we regard as the least to be expected from any one claiming the name of man, has therefore the doubtful honour of being given the name of common sense (sensus communis); and in such a way that by the name common (not merely in our language, where the word actually has a double signification, but in many others) we understand vulgar, that which is everywhere met with, the possession of which indicates absolutely no merit or superiority.
But under the sensus communis we must include the Idea of a communal sense, i.e. of a faculty of judgement, which in its reflection takes account (a priori) of the mode of representation of all other men in thought; in order as it were to compare its judgement with the collective Reason of humanity, and thus to escape the illusion arising from the private conditions that could be so easily taken for objective, which would injuriously affect the judgement. This is done by comparing our judgement with the possible rather than the actual judgements of others, and by putting ourselves in the place of any other man, by abstracting from the limitations which contingently attach to our own judgement. This, again, is brought about by leaving aside as much as possible the matter of our representative state, i.e. sensation, and simply having respect to the formal peculiarities of our representation or representative state. Now this operation of reflection seems perhaps too artificial to be attributed to the faculty called common sense; but it only appears so, when expressed in abstract formulae. In itself there is nothing more natural than to abstract from charm or emotion if we are seeking a judgement that is to serve as a universal rule.
The following Maxims of common human Understanding do not properly come in here, as parts of the Critique of Taste; but yet they may serve to elucidate its fundamental propositions. They are: 1° to think for oneself; 2° to put ourselves in thought in the place of every one else; 3° always to think consistently. The first is the maxim of unprejudiced thought; the second of enlarged thought; the third of consecutive thought.1 The first is the maxim of a Reason never passive. The tendency to such passivity, and therefore to heteronomy of the Reason, is called prejudice; and the greatest prejudice of all is to represent nature as not subject to the rules that the Understanding places at its basis by means of its own essential law, i.e. is superstition. Deliverance from superstition is called enlightenment;2 because although this name belongs to deliverance from prejudices in general, yet superstition specially (in sensu eminenti) deserves to be called a prejudice. For the blindness in which superstition places us, which it even imposes on us as an obligation, makes the need of being guided by others, and the consequent passive state of our Reason, peculiarly noticeable. As regards the second maxim of the mind, we are otherwise wont to call him limited (borné, the opposite of enlarged) whose talents attain to no great use (especially as regards intensity). But here we are not speaking of the faculty of cognition, but of the mode of thought which makes a purposive use thereof. However small may be the area or the degree to which a man’s natural gifts reach, yet it indicates a man of enlarged thought if he disregards the subjective private conditions of his own judgement, by which so many others are confined, and reflects upon it from a universal standpoint (which he can only determine by placing himself at the standpoint of others). The third maxim, viz. that of consecutive thought, is the most difficult to attain, and can only be attained by the combination of both the former, and after the constant observance of them has grown into a habit. We may say that the first of these maxims is the maxim of Understanding, the second of Judgement, and the third of Reason.
I take up again the threads interrupted by this digression, and I say that Taste can be called sensus communis with more justice than sound Understanding can; and that the aesthetical Judgement rather than the intellectual may bear the name of a communal sense,1 if we are willing to use the word “sense” of an effect of mere reflection upon the mind: for then we understand by sense the feeling of pleasure. We could even define Taste as the faculty of judging of that which makes universally communicable, without the mediation of a concept, our feeling in a given representation.
The skill that men have in communicating their thoughts requires also a relation between the Imagination and the Understanding in order to associate intuitions with concepts, and concepts again with those concepts, which then combine in a cognition. But in that case the agreement of the two mental powers is according to law, under the constraint of definite concepts. Only where the Imagination in its freedom awakens the Understanding, and is put by it into regular play without the aid of concepts, does the representation communicate itself not as a thought but as an internal feeling of a purposive state of the mind.
Taste is then the faculty of judging a priori of the communicability of feelings that are bound up with a given representation (without the mediation of a concept).
If we could assume that the mere universal communicability of a feeling must carry in itself an interest for us with it (which, however, we are not justified in concluding from the character of a merely reflective Judgement), we should be able to explain why the feeling in the judgement of taste comes to be imputed to every one, so to speak, as a duty.
1 [Kant lays down these three maxims in his Introduction to Logic, § vii., as “general rules and conditions of the avoidance of error.”]
2 We soon see that although enlightenment is easy in thesi, yet in hypothesi it is difficult and slow of accomplishment. For not to be passive as regards Reason, but to be always self-legislative, is indeed quite easy for the man who wishes only to be in accordance with his essential purpose, and does not desire to know what is beyond his Understanding. But since we can hardly avoid seeking this, and there are never wanting others who promise with much confidence that they are able to satisfy our curiosity, it must be very hard to maintain in or restore to the mind (especially the mind of the public) that bare negative which properly constitutes enlightenment.
1 We may designate Taste as sensus communis aestheticus, common Understanding as sensus communis logicus.
That the judgement of taste by which something is declared beautiful must have no interest as its determining ground has been sufficiently established above. But it does not follow that after it has been given as a pure aesthetical judgement, no interest can be combined with it. This combination, however, can only be indirect, i.e. taste must first of all be represented as combined with something else, in order that we may unite with the satisfaction of mere reflection upon an object a pleasure in its existence (as that wherein all interest consists). For here also in aesthetical judgements what we say in cognitive judgements (of things in general) is valid; a posse ad esse non valet consequentia. This something else may be empirical, viz. an inclination proper to human nature, or intellectual, as the property of the Will of being capable of a priori determination by Reason. Both these involve a satisfaction in the presence of an Object, and so can lay the foundation for an interest in what has by itself pleased without reference to any interest whatever.
Empirically the Beautiful interests only in society. If we admit the impulse to society as natural to man, and his fitness for it, and his propension towards it, i.e. sociability, as a requisite for man as a being destined for society, and so as a property belonging to humanity, we cannot escape from regarding taste as a faculty for judging everything in respect of which we can communicate our feeling to all other men, and so as a means of furthering that which every one’s natural inclination desires.
A man abandoned by himself on a desert island would adorn neither his hut nor his person; nor would he seek for flowers, still less would he plant them, in order to adorn himself therewith. It is only in society that it occurs to him to be not merely a man, but a refined man after his kind (the beginning of civilisation). For such do we judge him to be who is both inclined and apt to communicate his pleasure to others, and who is not contented with an Object if he cannot feel satisfaction in it in common with others. Again, every one expects and requires from every one else this reference to universal communication [of pleasure], as it were from an original compact dictated by humanity itself. Thus, doubtless, in the beginning only those things which attracted the senses, e.g. colours for painting oneself (roucou among the Carabs and cinnabar among the Iroquois), flowers, mussel shells, beautiful feathers, etc. — but in time beautiful forms also (e.g. in their canoes, and clothes, etc.), which bring with them no gratification, or satisfaction of enjoyment — were important in society, and were combined with great interest. Until at last civilisation, having reached its highest point, makes out of this almost the main business of refined inclination; and sensations are only regarded as of worth in so far as they can be universally communicated. Here, although the pleasure which every one has in such an object is inconsiderable and in itself without any marked interest, yet the Idea of its universal communicability increases its worth in an almost infinite degree.
But this interest that indirectly attaches to the Beautiful through our inclination to society, and consequently is empirical, is of no importance for us here; because we have only to look to what may have a reference, although only indirectly, to the judgement of taste a priori. For if even in this form an interest bound up therewith should discover itself, taste would discover a transition of our judging faculty from sense-enjoyment to moral feeling; and so not only would we be the better guided in employing taste purposively, but there would be thus presented a link in the chain of the human faculties a priori, on which all legislation must depend. We can only say thus much about the empirical interest in objects of taste and in taste itself. Since it is subservient to inclination, however refined the latter may be, it may easily be confounded with all the inclinations and passions, which attain their greatest variety and highest degree in society; and the interest in the Beautiful, if it is grounded thereon, can only furnish a very ambiguous transition from the Pleasant to the Good. But whether this can or cannot be furthered by taste, taken in its purity, is what we now have to investigate.
With the best intentions those persons who refer all activities, to which their inner natural dispositions impel men, to the final purpose of humanity, viz. the morally good, have regarded the taking an interest in the Beautiful in general as a mark of good moral character. But it is not without reason that they have been contradicted by others who rely on experience; for this shows that connoisseurs in taste, not only often but generally, are given up to idle, capricious, and mischievous passions, and that they could perhaps make less claim than others to any pre-eminent attachment to moral principles. Thus it would seem that the feeling for the Beautiful is not only (as actually is the case) specifically different from the Moral feeling; but that the interest which can be bound up with it is hardly compatible with moral interest, and certainly has no inner affinity therewith.
Now I admit at once that the interest in the Beautiful of Art (under which I include the artificial use of natural beauties for adornment and so for vanity) furnishes no proof whatever of a disposition attached to the morally good or even inclined thereto. But on the other hand, I maintain that to take an immediate interest in the Beauty of Nature (not merely to have taste in judging it) is always a mark of a good soul; and that when this interest is habitual it at least indicates a frame of mind favourable to the moral feeling, if it is voluntarily bound up with the contemplation of nature. It is to be remembered, however, that I here speak strictly of the beautiful forms of Nature, and I set aside the charms, that she is wont to combine so abundantly with them; because, though the interest in the latter is indeed immediate, it is only empirical.
He who by himself (and without any design of communicating his observations to others) regards the beautiful figure of a wild flower, a bird, an insect, etc., with admiration and love — who would not willingly miss it in Nature, although it may bring him some hurt, who still less wants any advantage from it — he takes an immediate and also an intellectual interest in the beauty of Nature. I.e. it is not merely the form of the product of nature which pleases him, but its very presence pleases him, the charms of sense having no share in this pleasure and no purpose whatever being combined with it.
But it is noteworthy that if we secretly deceived this lover of the beautiful by planting in the ground artificial flowers (which can be manufactured exactly like natural ones), or by placing artificially carved birds on the boughs of trees, and he discovered the deceit, the immediate interest that he previously took in them would disappear at once; though, perhaps, a different interest, viz. the interest of vanity in adorning his chamber with them for the eyes of others, would take its place. This thought then must accompany our intuition and reflection on beauty, viz. that nature has produced it; and on this alone is based the immediate interest that we take in it. Otherwise, there remains a mere judgement of taste, either devoid of all interest, or bound up with a mediate interest, viz. in that it has reference to society; which latter [interest] furnishes no certain indications of a morally good disposition.
This superiority of natural to artificial beauty in that it alone arouses an immediate interest, although as regards form the first may be surpassed by the second, harmonises with the refined and well-grounded habit of thought of all men who have cultivated their moral feeling. If a man who has taste enough to judge of the products of beautiful Art with the greatest accuracy and refinement willingly leaves a chamber where are to be found those beauties that minister to vanity or to any social joys, and turns to the beautiful in Nature in order to find, as it were, delight for his spirit in a train of thought that he can never completely evolve, we will regard this choice of his with veneration, and attribute to him a beautiful soul, to which no connoisseur or lover [of Art] can lay claim on account of the interest he takes in his [artistic] objects. — What now is the difference in our estimation of these two different kinds of Objects, which in the judgement of mere taste it is hard to compare in point of superiority?
We have a faculty of mere aesthetical Judgement by which we judge forms without the aid of concepts, and find a satisfaction in this mere act of judgement; this we make into a rule for every one, without this judgement either being based on or producing any interest. — On the other hand, we have also a faculty of intellectual Judgement which determines an a priori satisfaction for the mere forms of practical maxims (so far as they are in themselves qualified for universal legislation); this we make into a law for every one, without our judgement being based on any interest whatever, though in this case it produces such an interest. The pleasure or pain in the former judgement is called that of taste, in the latter, that of moral feeling.
But it also interests Reason that the Ideas (for which in moral feeling it arouses an immediate interest) should have objective reality; i.e. that nature should at least show a trace or give an indication that it contains in itself some ground for assuming a regular agreement of its products with our entirely disinterested satisfaction (which we recognise a priori as a law for every one, without being able to base it upon proofs). Hence Reason must take an interest in every expression on the part of nature of an agreement of this kind. Consequently, the mind cannot ponder upon the beauty of Nature without finding itself at the same time interested therein. But this interest is akin to moral, and he who takes such an interest in the beauties of nature can do so only in so far as he previously has firmly established his interest in the morally good. If, therefore, the beauty of Nature interests a man immediately we have reason for attributing to him, at least, a basis for a good moral disposition.
It will be said that this account of aesthetical judgements, as akin to the moral feeling, seems far too studied to be regarded as the true interpretation of that cipher through which Nature speaks to us figuratively in her beautiful forms. However, in the first place, this immediate interest in the beautiful is actually not common; but is peculiar to those whose mental disposition either has already been cultivated in the direction of the good or is eminently susceptible of such cultivation. In that case the analogy between the pure judgement of taste which, independently of any interest, causes us to feel a satisfaction, and also represents it a priori as suitable to humanity in general, and the moral judgement that does the same thing from concepts without any clear, subtle, and premeditated reflection — this analogy leads to a similar immediate interest in the objects of the former as in those of the latter; only that in the one case the interest is free, in the other it is based on objective laws. To this is to be added our admiration for Nature, which displays itself in its beautiful products as Art, not merely by chance, but as it were designedly, in accordance with a regular arrangement, and as purposiveness without purpose. This latter, as we never meet with it outside ourselves, we naturally seek in ourselves; and, in fact, in that which constitutes the ultimate purpose of our being, viz. our moral destination. (Of this question as to the ground of the possibility of such natural purposiveness we shall first speak in the Teleology.)
It is easy to explain why the satisfaction in the pure aesthetical judgement in the case of beautiful Art is not combined with an immediate interest as it is in the case of beautiful Nature. For the former is either such an imitation of the latter that it reaches the point of deception and then produces the same effect as natural beauty (for which it is taken); or it is an art obviously directed designedly to our satisfaction. In the latter case the satisfaction in the product would, it is true, be brought about immediately by taste, but it would be only a mediate interest in the cause lying at its root, viz. an art that can only interest by means of its purpose and never in itself. It will, perhaps, be said that this is also the case, if an Object of nature interests us by its beauty only so far as it is associated with a moral Idea. But it is not the Object itself which immediately interests us, but its character in virtue of which it is qualified for such association, which therefore essentially belongs to it.
The charms in beautiful Nature, which are so often found, as it were, blended with beautiful forms, may be referred to modifications either of light (colours) or of sound (tones). For these are the only sensations that imply not merely a sensible feeling but also reflection upon the form of these modifications of Sense; and thus they involve in themselves as it were a language by which nature speaks to us, which thus seems to have a higher sense. Thus the white colour of lilies seems to determine the mind to Ideas of innocence; and the seven colours in order from the red to the violet seem to suggest the Ideas of (1) Sublimity, (2) Intrepidity, (3) Candour, (4) Friendliness, (5) Modesty, (6) Constancy, (7) Tenderness. The song of birds proclaims gladsomeness and contentment with existence. At least so we interpret nature, whether it have this design or not. But the interest which we here take in beauty has only to do with the beauty of Nature; it vanishes altogether as soon as we notice that we are deceived and that it is only Art — vanishes so completely that taste can no longer find the thing beautiful or sight find it charming. What is more highly praised by poets than the bewitching and beautiful note of the nightingale in a lonely copse on a still summer evening by the soft light of the moon? And yet we have instances of a merry host, where no such songster was to be found, deceiving to their great contentment the guests who were staying with him to enjoy the country air, by hiding in a bush a mischievous boy who knew how to produce this sound exactly like nature (by means of a reed or a tube in his mouth). But as soon as we are aware that it is a cheat, no one will remain long listening to the song which before was counted so charming. And it is just the same with the songs of all other birds. It must be Nature or be regarded as Nature, if we are to take an immediate interest in the Beautiful as such; and still more is this the case if we can require that others should take an interest in it too. This happens as a matter of fact when we regard as coarse and ignoble the mental attitude of those persons who have no feeling for beautiful Nature (for thus we describe a susceptibility to interest in its contemplation), and who confine themselves to eating and drinking — to the mere enjoyments of sense.
(1). Art is distinguished from Nature, as doing (facere) is distinguished from acting or working generally (agere), and as the product or result of the former is distinguished as work (opus) from the working (effectus) of the latter.
By right we ought only to describe as Art, production through freedom, i.e. through a will that places Reason at the basis of its actions. For although we like to call the product of bees (regularly built cells of wax) a work of art, this is only by way of analogy: as soon as we feel that this work of theirs is based on no proper rational deliberation, we say that it is a product of Nature (of instinct), and as Art only ascribe it to their Creator.
If, as sometimes happens, in searching through a bog we come upon a bit of shaped wood, we do not say: this is a product of Nature, but, of Art. Its producing cause has conceived a purpose to which the bit of wood owes its form. Elsewhere too we should see art in everything which is made so that a representation of it in its cause must have preceded its actuality (as even in the case of the bees), though the effect could not have been thought by the cause. But if we call anything absolutely a work of art in order to distinguish it from a natural effect, we always understand by that a work of man.
(2). Art regarded as human skill differs from science (as can from know) as a practical faculty does from a theoretical, as Technic does from Theory (as mensuration from geometry). And so what we can do, as soon as we merely know what ought to be done and therefore are sufficiently cognisant of the desired effect, is not called Art. Only that which a man, even if he knows it completely, may not therefore have the skill to accomplish, belongs to Art. Camper1 describes very exactly how the best shoes must be made, but he certainly could not make one.2
(3). Art also differs from handicraft; the first is called free, the other may be called mercenary. We regard the first as if it could only prove purposive as play, i.e. as occupation that is pleasant in itself. But the second is regarded as if it could only be compulsorily imposed upon one as work, i.e. as occupation which is unpleasant (a trouble) in itself, and which is only attractive on account of its effect (e.g. the wage). Whether or not in the graded list of the professions we ought to count watchmakers as artists, but smiths only as handicraftsmen, would require another point of view from which to judge than that which we are here taking up; viz. [we should have to consider] the proportion of talents which must be assumed requisite in these several occupations. Whether or not, again, under the socalled seven free arts some may be included which ought to be classed as sciences, and many that are akin rather to handicraft, I shall not here discuss. But it is not inexpedient to recall that in all free arts there is yet requisite something compulsory, or, as it is called, mechanism, without which the spirit, which must be free in art and which alone inspires the work, would have no body and would evaporate altogether; e.g. in poetry there must be an accuracy and wealth of language, and also prosody and metre. [It is not inexpedient, I say, to recall this], for many modern educators believe that the best way to produce a free art is to remove it from all constraint, and thus to change it from work into mere play.
1 [Peter Camper (1722–1789), a celebrated naturalist and comparative anatomist; for some years professor at Groningen.]
2 In my country a common man, if you propose to him such a problem as that of Columbus with his egg, says, that is not art, it is only science. I.e. if we know how, we can do it; and he says the same of all the pretended arts of jugglers. On the other hand, he will not refuse to apply the term art to the performance of a ropedancer.
There is no Science of the Beautiful, but only a Critique of it; and there is no such thing as beautiful Science, but only beautiful Art. For as regards the first point, if it could be decided scientifically, i.e. by proofs, whether a thing was to be regarded as beautiful or not, the judgement upon beauty would belong to science and would not be a judgement of taste. And as far as the second point is concerned, a science which should be beautiful as such is a nonentity. For if in such a science we were to ask for grounds and proofs, we would be put off with tasteful phrases (bonmots). — The source of the common expression, beautiful science, is without doubt nothing else than this, as it has been rightly remarked, that for beautiful art in its entire completeness much science is requisite; e.g. a knowledge of ancient languages, a learned familiarity with classical authors, history, a knowledge of antiquities, etc. And hence these historical sciences, because they form the necessary preparation and basis for beautiful art, and also partly because under them is included the knowledge of the products of beautiful art (rhetoric and poetry), have come to be called beautiful sciences by a confusion of words.
If art which is adequate to the cognition of a possible object performs the actions requisite therefor merely in order to make it actual, it is mechanical art; but if it has for its immediate design the feeling of pleasure, it is called aesthetical art. This is again either pleasant or beautiful. It is the first, if its purpose is that the pleasure should accompany the representations [of the object] regarded as mere sensations; it is the second if they are regarded as modes of cognition.
Pleasant arts are those that are directed merely to enjoyment. Of this class are all those charming arts that can gratify a company at table; e.g. the art of telling stories in an entertaining way, of starting the company in frank and lively conversation, of raising them by jest and laugh to a certain pitch of merriment;1 when, as people say, there may be a great deal of gossip at the feast, but no one will be answerable for what he says, because they are only concerned with momentary entertainment, and not with any permanent material for reflection or subsequent discussion. (Among these are also to be reckoned the way of arranging the table for enjoyment, and, at great feasts, the management of the music. This latter is a wonderful thing. It is meant to dispose to gaiety the minds of the guests, regarded solely as a pleasant noise, without any one paying the least attention to its composition; and it favours the free conversation of each with his neighbour.) Again, to this class belong all games which bring with them no further interest than that of making the time pass imperceptibly.
On the other hand, beautiful art is a mode of representation which is purposive for itself, and which, although devoid of [definite] purpose, yet furthers the culture of the mental powers in reference to social communication.
The universal communicability of a pleasure carries with it in its very concept that the pleasure is not one of enjoyment, from mere sensation, but must be derived from reflection; and thus aesthetical art, as the art of beauty, has for standard the reflective Judgement and not sensation.
1 [Kant was accustomed to say that the talk at a dinner table should always pass through these three stages — narrative, discussion, and jest; and punctilious in this, as in all else, he is said to have directed the conversation at his own table accordingly (Wallace’s Kant, p. 39).]
In a product of beautiful art we must become conscious that it is Art and not Nature; but yet the purposiveness in its form must seem to be as free from all constraint of arbitrary rules as if it were a product of mere nature. On this feeling of freedom in the play of our cognitive faculties, which must at the same time be purposive, rests that pleasure which alone is universally communicable, without being based on concepts. Nature is beautiful because it looks like Art; and Art can only be called beautiful if we are conscious of it as Art while yet it looks like Nature.
For whether we are dealing with natural or with artificial beauty we can say generally: That is beautiful which pleases in the mere act of judging it (not in the sensation of it, or by means of a concept). Now art has always a definite design of producing something. But if this something were bare sensation (something merely subjective), which is to be accompanied with pleasure, the product would please in the act of judgement only by mediation of sensible feeling. And again, if the design were directed towards the production of a definite Object, then, if this were attained by art, the Object would only please by means of concepts. But in both cases the art would not please in the mere act of judging; i.e. it would not please as beautiful, but as mechanical.
Hence the purposiveness in the product of beautiful art, although it is designed, must not seem to be designed; i.e. beautiful art must look like nature, although we are conscious of it as art. But a product of art appears like nature when, although its agreement with the rules, according to which alone the product can become what it ought to be, is punctiliously observed, yet this is not painfully apparent; [the form of the schools does not obtrude itself]1 — it shows no trace of the rule having been before the eyes of the artist and having fettered his mental powers.
1 [Second Edition.]
Genius is the talent (or natural gift) which gives the rule to Art. Since talent, as the innate productive faculty of the artist, belongs itself to Nature, we may express the matter thus: Genius is the innate mental disposition (ingenium) through which Nature gives the rule to Art.
Whatever may be thought of this definition, whether it is merely arbitrary or whether it is adequate to the concept that we are accustomed to combine with the word genius (which is to be examined in the following paragraphs), we can prove already beforehand that according to the signification of the word here adopted, beautiful arts must necessarily be considered as arts of genius.
For every art presupposes rules by means of which in the first instance a product, if it is to be called artistic, is represented as possible. But the concept of beautiful art does not permit the judgement upon the beauty of a product to be derived from any rule, which has a concept as its determining ground, and therefore has at its basis a concept of the way in which the product is possible. Therefore, beautiful art cannot itself devise the rule according to which it can bring about its product. But since at the same time a product can never be called Art without some precedent rule, Nature in the subject must (by the harmony of its faculties) give the rule to Art; i.e. beautiful Art is only possible as a product of Genius.
We thus see (1) that genius is a talent for producing that for which no definite rule can be given; it is not a mere aptitude for what can be learnt by a rule. Hence originality must be its first property. (2) But since it also can produce original nonsense, its products must be models, i.e. exemplary; and they consequently ought not to spring from imitation, but must serve as a standard or rule of judgement for others. (3) It cannot describe or indicate scientifically how it brings about its products, but it gives the rule just as nature does. Hence the author of a product for which he is indebted to his genius does not himself know how he has come by his Ideas; and he has not the power to devise the like at pleasure or in accordance with a plan, and to communicate it to others in precepts that will enable them to produce similar products. (Hence it is probable that the word genius is derived from genius, that peculiar guiding and guardian spirit given to a man at his birth, from whose suggestion these original Ideas proceed.) (4) Nature by the medium of genius does not prescribe rules to Science, but to Art; and to it only in so far as it is to be beautiful Art.
Every one is agreed that genius is entirely opposed to the spirit of imitation. Now since learning is nothing but imitation, it follows that the greatest ability and teachableness (capacity) regarded quâ teachableness, cannot avail for genius. Even if a man thinks or invents for himself, and does not merely take in what others have taught, even if he discovers many things in art and science, this is not the right ground for calling such a (perhaps great) head, a genius (as opposed to him who because he can only learn and imitate is called a shallow-pate). For even these things could be learned, they lie in the natural path of him who investigates and reflects according to rules; and they do not differ specifically from what can be acquired by industry through imitation. Thus we can readily learn all that Newton has set forth in his immortal work on the Principles of Natural Philosophy, however great a head was required to discover it; but we cannot learn to write spirited poetry, however express may be the precepts of the art and however excellent its models. The reason is that Newton could make all his steps, from the first elements of geometry to his own great and profound discoveries, intuitively plain and definite as regards consequence, not only to himself but to every one else. But a Homer or a Wieland cannot show how his Ideas, so rich in fancy and yet so full of thought, come together in his head, simply because he does not know and therefore cannot teach others. In Science then the greatest discoverer only differs in degree from his laborious imitator and pupil; but he differs specifically from him whom Nature has gifted for beautiful Art. And in this there is no depreciation of those great men to whom the human race owes so much gratitude, as compared with nature’s favourites in respect of the talent for beautiful art. For in the fact that the former talent is directed to the ever-advancing greater perfection of knowledge and every advantage depending on it, and at the same time to the imparting this same knowledge to others — in this it has a great superiority over [the talent of] those who deserve the honour of being called geniuses. For art stands still at a certain point; a boundary is set to it beyond which it cannot go, which presumably has been reached long ago and cannot be extended further. Again, artistic skill cannot be communicated; it is imparted to every artist immediately by the hand of nature; and so it dies with him, until nature endows another in the same way, so that he only needs an example in order to put in operation in a similar fashion the talent of which he is conscious.
If now it is a natural gift which must prescribe its rule to art (as beautiful art), of what kind is this rule? It cannot be reduced to a formula and serve as a precept, for then the judgement upon the beautiful would be determinable according to concepts; but the rule must be abstracted from the fact, i.e. from the product, on which others may try their own talent by using it as a model, not to be copied but to be imitated. How this is possible is hard to explain. The Ideas of the artist excite like Ideas in his pupils if nature has endowed them with a like proportion of their mental powers. Hence models of beautiful art are the only means of handing down these Ideas to posterity. This cannot be done by mere descriptions, especially not in the case of the arts of speech, and in this latter classical models are only to be had in the old dead languages, now preserved only as “the learned languages.”
Although mechanical and beautiful art are very different, the first being a mere art of industry and learning and the second of genius, yet there is no beautiful art in which there is not a mechanical element that can be comprehended by rules and followed accordingly, and in which therefore there must be something scholastic as an essential condition. For [in every art] some purpose must be conceived; otherwise we could not ascribe the product to art at all, and it would be a mere product of chance. But in order to accomplish a purpose, definite rules from which we cannot dispense ourselves are requisite. Now since the originality of the talent constitutes an essential (though not the only) element in the character of genius, shallow heads believe that they cannot better show themselves to be full-blown geniuses than by throwing off the constraint of all rules; they believe, in effect, that one could make a braver show on the back of a wild horse than on the back of a trained animal. Genius can only furnish rich material for products of beautiful art; its execution and its form require talent cultivated in the schools, in order to make such a use of this material as will stand examination by the Judgement. But it is quite ridiculous for a man to speak and decide like a genius in things which require the most careful investigation by Reason. One does not know whether to laugh more at the impostor who spreads such a mist round him that we cannot clearly use our Judgement and so use our Imagination the more, or at the public which naïvely imagines that his inability to cognise clearly and to comprehend the masterpiece before him arises from new truths crowding in on him in such abundance that details (duly weighed definitions and accurate examination of fundamental propositions) seem but clumsy work.
For judging of beautiful objects as such, taste is requisite; but for beautiful art, i.e. for the production of such objects, genius is requisite.
If we consider genius as the talent for beautiful art (which the special meaning of the word implies) and in this point of view analyse it into the faculties which must concur to constitute such a talent, it is necessary in the first instance to determine exactly the difference between natural beauty, the judging of which requires only Taste, and artificial beauty, whose possibility (to which reference must be made in judging such an object) requires Genius.
A natural beauty is a beautiful thing; artificial beauty is a beautiful representation of a thing.
In order to judge of a natural beauty as such I need not have beforehand a concept of what sort of thing the object is to be; i.e. I need not know its material purposiveness (the purpose), but its mere form pleases by itself in the act of judging it without any knowledge of the purpose. But if the object is given as a product of art, and as such is to be declared beautiful, then, because art always supposes a purpose in the cause (and its causality), there must be at bottom in the first instance a concept of what the thing is to be. And as the agreement of the manifold in a thing with its inner destination, its purpose, constitutes the perfection of the thing, it follows that in judging of artificial beauty the perfection of the thing must be taken into account; but in judging of natural beauty (as such) there is no question at all about this. — It is true that in judging of objects of nature, especially objects endowed with life, e.g. a man or a horse, their objective purposiveness also is commonly taken into consideration in judging of their beauty; but then the judgement is no longer purely aesthetical, i.e. a mere judgement of taste. Nature is no longer judged inasmuch as it appears like art, but in so far as it is actual (although superhuman) art; and the teleological judgement serves as the basis and condition of the aesthetical, as a condition to which the latter must have respect. In such a case, e.g. if it is said “that is a beautiful woman,” we think nothing else than this: nature represents in her figure the purposes in view in the shape of a woman’s figure. For we must look beyond the mere form to a concept, if the object is to be thought in such a way by means of a logically conditioned aesthetical judgement.
Beautiful art shows its superiority in this, that it describes as beautiful things which may be in nature ugly or displeasing.1 The Furies, diseases, the devastations of war, etc., may [even regarded as calamitous],2 be described as very beautiful, and even represented in a picture. There is only one kind of ugliness which cannot be represented in accordance with nature, without destroying all aesthetical satisfaction and consequently artificial beauty; viz. that which excites disgust. For in this peculiar sensation, which rests on mere imagination, the object is represented as it were obtruding itself for our enjoyment while we strive against it with all our might. And the artistic representation of the object is no longer distinguished from the nature of the object itself in our sensation, and thus it is impossible that it can be regarded as beautiful. The art of sculpture again, because in its products art is almost interchangeable with nature, excludes from its creations the immediate representation of ugly objects; e.g. it represents death by a beautiful genius, the warlike spirit by Mars, and permits [all such things] to be represented only by an allegory or attribute3 that has a pleasing effect, and thus only indirectly by the aid of the interpretation of Reason, and not for the mere aesthetical Judgement.
So much for the beautiful representation of an object, which is properly only the form of the presentation of a concept, and the means by which the latter is communicated universally. — But to give this form to the product of beautiful art, mere taste is requisite. By taste, after he has exercised and corrected it by manifold examples from art or nature, the artist checks his work; and after many, often toilsome, attempts to content taste he finds the form which satisfies him. Hence this form is not, as it were, a thing of inspiration or the result of a free swing of the mental powers, but of a slow and even painful process of improvement, by which he seeks to render it adequate to his thought, without detriment to the freedom of the play of his powers.
But taste is merely a judging and not a productive faculty; and what is appropriate to it is not therefore a work of beautiful art. It may be only a product belonging to useful and mechanical art or even to science, produced according to definite rules that can be learned and must be exactly followed. But the pleasing form that is given to it is only the vehicle of communication, and a mode, as it were, of presenting it, in respect of which we remain free to a certain extent, although it is combined with a definite purpose. Thus we desire that table appointments, a moral treatise, even a sermon, should have in themselves this form of beautiful art, without it seeming to be sought: but we do not therefore call these things works of beautiful art. Under the latter class are reckoned a poem, a piece of music, a picture gallery, etc.; and in some wouldbe works of beautiful art we find genius without taste, while in others we find taste without genius.
1 [Cf. Aristotle’s Poetics, c. iv. p. 1448 b: ἃ γὰρ αὐτὰ λυπηρωˆς ὁρωˆμεν, τούτων τὰς εἰκόνας τὰς μάλιςτα ἠκριβωμένας χαίρομεν θεωρονˆντες οἱ̂ον θηρίων τε μορϕὰς τωˆν ἀτιμοτάτων καὶ νεκρωˆν. Cf. also Rhetoric, I. 11, p. 1371 b; and Burke on the Sublime and Beautiful, Part I. § 16 . Boileau (L’art poétique, chant 3), makes a similar observation:
“Il n’est point de serpent ni de monstre odieux
Qui, par l’art imité, ne puisse plaire aux yeux.
D’un pinceau délicat l’artifice agréable
Du plus affreux objet fait un objet aimable.”]
2 [Second Edition.]
3 [Cf. p. 199, infra.]
We say of certain products of which we expect that they should at least in part appear as beautiful art, they are without spirit1; although we find nothing to blame in them on the score of taste. A poem may be very neat and elegant, but without spirit. A history may be exact and well arranged, but without spirit. A festal discourse may be solid and at the same time elaborate, but without spirit. Conversation is often not devoid of entertainment, but yet without spirit: even of a woman we say that she is pretty, an agreeable talker, and courteous, but without spirit. What then do we mean by spirit?
Spirit, in an aesthetical sense, is the name given to the animating principle of the mind. But that whereby this principle animates the soul, the material which it applies to that [purpose], is that which puts the mental powers purposively into swing, i.e. into such a play as maintains itself and strengthens the [mental] powers in their exercise.
Now I maintain that this principle is no other than the faculty of presenting aesthetical Ideas. And by an aesthetical Idea I understand that representation of the Imagination which occasions much thought, without, however, any definite thought, i.e. any concept, being capable of being adequate to it; it consequently cannot be completely compassed and made intelligible by language. — We easily see that it is the counterpart (pendant) of a rational Idea, which conversely is a concept to which no intuition (or representation of the Imagination) can be adequate.
The Imagination (as a productive faculty of cognition) is very powerful in creating another nature, as it were, out of the material that actual nature gives it. We entertain ourselves with it when experience proves too commonplace, and by it we remould experience, always indeed in accordance with analogical laws, but yet also in accordance with principles which occupy a higher place in Reason (laws too which are just as natural to us as those by which Understanding comprehends empirical nature). Thus we feel our freedom from the law of association (which attaches to the empirical employment of Imagination), so that the material which we borrow from nature in accordance with this law can be worked up into something different which surpasses nature.
Such representations of the Imagination we may call Ideas, partly because they at least strive after something which lies beyond the bounds of experience, and so seek to approximate to a presentation of concepts of Reason (intellectual Ideas), thus giving to the latter the appearance of objective reality — but especially because no concept can be fully adequate to them as internal intuitions. The poet ventures to realise to sense, rational Ideas of invisible beings, the kingdom of the blessed, hell, eternity, creation, etc.; or even if he deals with things of which there are examples in experience — e.g. death, envy and all vices, also love, fame, and the like — he tries, by means of Imagination, which emulates the play of Reason in its quest after a maximum, to go beyond the limits of experience and to present them to Sense with a completeness of which there is no example in nature. It is, properly speaking, in the art of the poet, that the faculty of aesthetical Ideas can manifest itself in its full measure. But this faculty, considered in itself, is properly only a talent (of the Imagination).
If now we place under a concept a representation of the Imagination belonging to its presentation, but which occasions solely by itself more thought than can ever be comprehended in a definite concept, and which therefore enlarges aesthetically the concept itself in an unbounded fashion — the Imagination is here creative, and it brings the faculty of intellectual Ideas (the Reason) into movement; i.e. a movement, occasioned by a representation, towards more thought (though belonging, no doubt, to the concept of the object) than can be grasped in the representation or made clear.
Those forms which do not constitute the presentation of a given concept itself but only, as approximate representations of the Imagination, express the consequences bound up with it and its relationship to other concepts, are called (aesthetical) attributes of an object, whose concept as a rational Idea cannot be adequately presented. Thus Jupiter’s eagle with the lightning in its claws is an attribute of the mighty king of heaven, as the peacock is of its magnificent queen. They do not, like logical attributes, represent what lies in our concepts of the sublimity and majesty of creation, but something different, which gives occasion to the Imagination to spread itself over a number of kindred representations, that arouse more thought than can be expressed in a concept determined by words. They furnish an aesthetical Idea, which for that rational Idea takes the place of logical presentation; and thus as their proper office they enliven the mind by opening out to it the prospect into an illimitable field of kindred representations. But beautiful art does this not only in the case of painting or sculpture (in which the term “attribute” is commonly employed): poetry and rhetoric also get the spirit that animates their works simply from the aesthetical attributes of the object, which accompany the logical and stimulate the Imagination, so that it thinks more by their aid, although in an undeveloped way, than could be comprehended in a concept and therefore in a definite form of words. — For the sake of brevity I must limit myself to a few examples only.
When the great King1 in one of his poems expresses himself as follows:
“Oui, finissons sans trouble et mourons sans regrets,
En laissant l’univers comblé de nos bienfaits.
Ainsi l’astre du jour au bout de sa carrière,
Répand sur l’horizon une douce lumière;
Et les derniers rayons qu’il darde dans les airs,
Sont les derniers soupirs qu’il donne à l’univers;”
1 [In English we would rather say “without soul”; but I prefer to translate Geist consistently by spirit, to avoid the confusion of it with Seele.]
1 [These lines occur in one of Frederick the Great’s French poems: Épître au maréchal Keith XVIII., “sur les vaines terreurs de la mort et les frayeurs d’une autre vie.” Kant here translates them into German.]
he quickens his rational Idea of a cosmopolitan disposition at the end of life by an attribute which the Imagination (in remembering all the pleasures of a beautiful summer day that are recalled at its close by a serene evening) associates with that representation, and which excites a number of sensations and secondary representations for which no expression is found. On the other hand, an intellectual concept may serve conversely as an attribute for a representation of sense and so can quicken this latter by means of the Idea of the supersensible; but only by the aesthetical [element], that subjectively attaches to the concept of the latter, being here employed. Thus, for example, a certain poet1 says, in his description of a beautiful morning:
“The sun arose
As calm from virtue springs.”
1 [Withof, whose “Moral Poems” appeared in 1755. This reference was supplied by H. Krebs in Notes and Queries 5th January 1895.]
The consciousness of virtue, even if one only places oneself in thought in the position of a virtuous man, diffuses in the mind a multitude of sublime and restful feelings and a boundless prospect of a joyful future, to which no expression measured by a definite concept completely attains.2
In a word the aesthetical Idea is a representation of the Imagination associated with a given concept, which is bound up with such a multiplicity of partial representations in its free employment, that for it no expression marking a definite concept can be found; and such a representation, therefore, adds to a concept much ineffable thought, the feeling of which quickens the cognitive faculties, and with language, which is the mere letter, binds up spirit also.
The mental powers, therefore, whose union (in a certain relation) constitutes genius are Imagination and Understanding. In the employment of the Imagination for cognition it submits to the constraint of the Understanding and is subject to the limitation of being conformable to the concept of the latter. On the other hand, in an aesthetical point of view it is free to furnish unsought, over and above that agreement with a concept, abundance of undeveloped material for the Understanding; to which the Understanding paid no regard in its concept, but which it applies, though not objectively for cognition, yet subjectively to quicken the cognitive powers and therefore also indirectly to cognitions. Thus genius properly consists in the happy relation [between these faculties], which no science can teach and no industry can learn, by which Ideas are found for a given concept; and on the other hand, we thus find for these Ideas the expression, by means of which the subjective state of mind brought about by them, as an accompaniment of the concept, can be communicated to others. The latter talent is properly speaking what is called spirit; for to express the ineffable element in the state of mind implied by a certain representation and to make it universally communicable — whether the expression be in speech or painting or statuary — this requires a faculty of seizing the quickly passing play of Imagination and of unifying it in a concept (which is even on that account original and discloses a new rule that could not have been inferred from any preceding principles or examples), that can be communicated without any constraint [of rules].1
If after this analysis we look back to the explanation given above of what is called genius, we find: first, that it is a talent for Art, not for Science, in which clearly known rules must go beforehand and determine the procedure. Secondly, as an artistic talent it presupposes a definite concept of the product, as the purpose, and therefore Understanding; but it also presupposes a representation (although an indeterminate one) of the material, i.e. of the intuition, for the presentment of this concept; and, therefore, a relation between the Imagination and the Understanding. Thirdly, it shows itself not so much in the accomplishment of the proposed purpose in a presentment of a definite concept, as in the enunciation or expression of aesthetical Ideas, which contain abundant material for that very design; and consequently it represents the Imagination as free from all guidance of rules and yet as purposive in reference to the presentment of the given concept. Finally, in the fourth place, the unsought undesigned subjective purposiveness in the free accordance of the Imagination with the legality of the Understanding presupposes such a proportion and disposition of these faculties as no following of rules, whether of science or of mechanical imitation, can bring about, but which only the nature of the subject can produce.
In accordance with these suppositions genius is the exemplary originality of the natural gifts of a subject in the free employment of his cognitive faculties. In this way the product of a genius (as regards what is to be ascribed to genius and not to possible learning or schooling) is an example, not to be imitated (for then that which in it is genius and constitutes the spirit of the work would be lost), but to be followed, by another genius; whom it awakens to a feeling of his own originality and whom it stirs so to exercise his art in freedom from the constraint of rules, that thereby a new rule is gained for art, and thus his talent shows itself to be exemplary. But because a genius is a favourite of nature and must be regarded by us as a rare phenomenon, his example produces for other good heads a school, i.e. a methodical system of teaching according to rules, so far as these can be derived from the peculiarities of the products of his spirit. For such persons beautiful art is so far imitation, to which nature through the medium of a genius supplied the rule.
But this imitation becomes a mere aping, if the scholar copies everything down to the deformities, which the genius must have let pass only because he could not well remove them without weakening his Idea. This mental characteristic is meritorious only in the case of a genius. A certain audacity in expression — and in general many a departure from common rules — becomes him well, but it is in no way worthy of imitation; it always remains a fault in itself which we must seek to remove, though the genius is as it were privileged to commit it, because the inimitable rush of his spirit would suffer from over-anxious carefulness. Mannerism is another kind of aping, viz. of mere peculiarity (originality) in general; by which a man separates himself as far as possible from imitators, without however possessing the talent to be at the same time exemplary. — There are indeed in general two ways (modi) in which such a man may put together his notions of expressing himself; the one is called a manner (modus aestheticus), the other a method (modus logicus). They differ in this, that the former has no other standard than the feeling of unity in the presentment, but the latter follows definite principles; hence the former alone avails for beautiful art. But an artistic product is said to show mannerism only when the exposition of the artist’s Idea is founded on its very singularity, and is not made appropriate to the Idea itself. The ostentatious (précieux), contorted, and affected [manner, adopted] to differentiate oneself from ordinary persons (though devoid of spirit) is like the behaviour of a man of whom we say, that he hears himself talk, or who stands and moves about as if he were on a stage in order to be stared at; this always betrays a bungler.
2 Perhaps nothing more sublime was ever said and no sublimer thought ever expressed than the famous inscription on the Temple of Isis (Mother Nature): “I am all that is and that was and that shall be, and no mortal hath lifted my veil.” Segner availed himself of this Idea in a suggestive vignette prefixed to his Natural Philosophy, in order to inspire beforehand the pupil whom he was about to lead into that temple with a holy awe, which should dispose his mind to serious attention. [J. A. de Segner (1704–1777) was Professor of Natural Philosophy at Göttingen, and the author of several scientific works of repute.]
1 [Second Edition.]
To ask whether it is more important for the things of beautiful art that Genius or Taste should be displayed, is the same as to ask whether in it more depends on Imagination or on Judgement. Now, since in respect of the first an art is rather said to be full of spirit, but only deserves to be called a beautiful art on account of the second; this latter is at least, as its indispensable condition (conditio sine qua non), the most important thing to which one has to look in the judging of art as beautiful art. Abundance and originality of Ideas are less necessary to beauty than the accordance of the Imagination in its freedom with the conformity to law of the Understanding. For all the abundance of the former produces in lawless freedom nothing but nonsense; on the other hand, the Judgement is the faculty by which it is adjusted to the Understanding.
Taste, like the Judgement in general, is the discipline (or training) of Genius; it clips its wings closely, and makes it cultured and polished; but, at the same time, it gives guidance as to where and how far it may extend itself, if it is to remain purposive. And while it brings clearness and order into the multitude of the thoughts, it makes the Ideas susceptible of being permanently and, at the same time, universally assented to, and capable of being followed by others, and of an ever-progressive culture. If, then, in the conflict of these two properties in a product something must be sacrificed, it should be rather on the side of genius; and the Judgement, which in the things of beautiful art gives its decision from its own proper principles, will rather sacrifice the freedom and wealth of the Imagination than permit anything prejudicial to the Understanding.
For beautiful art, therefore, Imagination, Understanding, Spirit, and Taste are requisite.1
1 The three former faculties are united in the first instance by means of the fourth. Hume gives us to understand in his History of England that although the English are inferior in their productions to no people in the world as regards the evidences they display of the three former properties, separately considered, yet they must be put after their neighbours the French as regards that which unites these properties. [In his Observations on the Beautiful and Sublime, § iv.sub init., Kant remarks that the English have the keener sense of the sublime, the French of the beautiful.]
We may describe beauty in general (whether natural or artificial) as the expression of aesthetical Ideas; only that in beautiful Art this Idea must be occasioned by a concept of the Object; whilst in beautiful Nature the mere reflection upon a given intuition, without any concept of what the object is to be, is sufficient for the awakening and communicating of the Idea of which that Object is regarded as the expression.
If, then, we wish to make a division of the beautiful arts, we cannot choose a more convenient principle, at least tentatively, than the analogy of art with the mode of expression of which men avail themselves in speech, in order to communicate to one another as perfectly as possible not merely their concepts but also their sensations.1 — This is done by word, deportment, and tone (articulation, gesticulation, and modulation). It is only by the combination of these three kinds of expression that communication between the speaker [and his hearers] can be complete. For thus thought, intuition, and sensation are transmitted to others simulataneously and conjointly.
There are, therefore, only three kinds of beautiful arts; the arts of speech, the formative arts, and the art of the play of sensations (as external sensible impressions). We may also arrange a division by dichotomy; thus beautiful art may be divided into the art of expression of thoughts and of intuitions; and these further subdivided in accordance with their form or their matter (sensation). But this would appear to be too abstract, and not so accordant with ordinary concepts.
(1) The arts of speech are rhetoric and poetry. Rhetoric is the art of carrying on a serious business of the Understanding as if it were a free play of the Imagination; poetry, the art of conducting a free play of the Imagination as if it were a serious business of the Understanding.
The orator, then, promises a serious business, and in order to entertain his audience conducts it as if it were a mere play with Ideas. The poet merely promises an entertaining play with Ideas, and yet it has the same effect upon the Understanding as if he had only intended to carry on its business. The combination and harmony of both cognitive faculties, Sensibility and Understanding, which cannot dispense with one another, but which yet cannot well be united without constraint and mutual prejudice, must appear to be undesigned and so to be brought about by themselves: otherwise it is not beautiful art. Hence, all that is studied and anxious must be avoided in it, for beautiful art must be free art in a double sense. It is not a work like that of a tradesman, the magnitude of which can be judged, exacted, or paid for, according to a definite standard; and again, though the mind is occupied, still it feels itself contented and stimulated, without looking to any other purpose (independently of reward.)
The orator therefore gives something which he does not promise, viz. an entertaining play of the Imagination; but he also fails to supply what he did promise, which is indeed his announced business, viz. the purposive occupation of the Understanding. On the other hand, the poet promises little and announces a mere play with Ideas; but he supplies something which is worth occupying ourselves with, because he provides in this play food for the Understanding, and by the aid of Imagination gives life to his concepts. [Thus the orator on the whole gives less, the poet more, than he promises.]1
(2) The formative arts, or those by which expression is found for Ideas in sensible intuition (not by representations of mere Imagination that are aroused by words), are either arts of sensible truth or of sensible illusion. The former is called Plastic, the latter Painting. Both express Ideas by figures in space; the former makes figures cognisable by two senses, sight and touch (although not by the latter as far as beauty is concerned); the latter only by one, the first of these. The aesthetical Idea (the archetype or original image) is fundamental for both in the Imagination, but the figure which expresses this (the ectype or copy) is either given in its bodily extension (as the object itself exists), or as it paints itself on the eye (according to its appearance when projected on a flat surface). In the first case1 the condition given to reflection may be either the reference to an actual purpose or only the semblance of it.
To Plastic, the first kind of beautiful formative Art, belong Sculpture and Architecture. The first presents corporeally concepts of things, as they might have existed in nature (though as beautiful art it has regard to aesthetical purposiveness). The second is the art of presenting concepts of things that are possible only through Art, and whose form has for its determining ground not nature but an arbitrary purpose, with the view of presenting them with aesthetical purposiveness. In the latter the chief point is a certain use of the artistic object, by which condition the aesthetical Ideas are limited. In the former the main design is the mere expression of aesthetical Ideas. Thus statues of men, gods, animals, etc., are of the first kind; but temples, splendid buildings for public assemblies, even dwelling-houses, triumphal arches, columns, mausoleums, and the like, erected in honourable remembrance, belong to Architecture. Indeed all house furniture (upholsterer’s work and such like things which are for use) may be reckoned under this art; because the suitability of a product for a certain use is the essential thing in an architectural work. On the other hand, a mere piece of sculpture, which is simply made for show and which is to please in itself, is as a corporeal presentation a mere imitation of nature, though with a reference to aesthetical Ideas; in it sensible truth is not to be carried so far that the product ceases to look like art and looks like a product of the elective will.
Painting, as the second kind of formative art, which presents a sensible illusion artificially combined with Ideas, I would divide into the art of the beautiful depicting of nature and that of the beautiful arrangement of its products. The first is painting proper, the second is the art of landscape gardening. The first gives only the illusory appearance of corporeal extension; the second gives this in accordance with truth, but only the appearance of utility and availableness for other purposes than the mere play of the Imagination in the contemplation of its forms.1 This latter is nothing else than the ornamentation of the soil with a variety of those things (grasses, flowers, shrubs, trees, even ponds, hillocks, and dells) which nature presents to an observer, only arranged differently and in conformity with certain Ideas. But, again, the beautiful arrangement of corporeal things is only apparent to the eye, like painting; the sense of touch cannot supply any intuitive presentation of such a form. Under painting in the wide sense I would reckon the decoration of rooms by the aid of tapestry, bric-a-brac, and all beautiful furniture which is merely available to be looked at; and the same may be said of the art of tasteful dressing (with rings, snuff-boxes, etc.). For a bed of various flowers, a room filled with various ornaments (including under this head even ladies’ finery), make at a fête a kind of picture; which, like pictures properly so-called (that are not intended to teach either history or natural science), has in view merely the entertainment of the Imagination in free play with Ideas, and the occupation of the aesthetical Judgement without any definite purpose. The detailed work in all this decoration may be quite distinct in the different cases and may require very different artists; but the judgement of taste upon whatever is beautiful in these various arts is always determined in the same way: viz. it only judges the forms (without any reference to a purpose) as they present themselves to the eye either singly or in combination, according to the effect they produce upon the Imagination. — But that formative art may be compared (by analogy) with deportment in speech is justified by the fact that the spirit of the artist supplies by these figures a bodily expression to his thought and its mode, and makes the thing itself as it were speak in mimic language. This is a very common play of our fancy, which attributes to lifeless things a spirit suitable to their form by which they speak to us.
(3) The art of the beautiful play of sensations (externally stimulated), which admits at the same time of universal communication, can be concerned with nothing else than the proportion of the different degrees of the disposition (tension) of the sense, to which the sensation belongs, i.e. with its tone. In this far-reaching signification of the word it may be divided into the artistic play of the sensations of hearing and sight, i.e. into Music and the Art of colour. — It is noteworthy that these two senses, besides their susceptibility for impressions so far as these are needed to gain concepts of external objects, are also capable of a peculiar sensation bound up therewith, of which we cannot strictly decide whether it is based on sense or reflection. This susceptibility may sometimes be wanting, although in other respects the sense, as regards its use for the cognition of Objects, is not at all deficient but is peculiarly fine. That is, we cannot say with certainty whether colours or tones (sounds) are merely pleasant sensations or whether they form in themselves a beautiful play of sensations, and as such bring with them in aesthetical judgement a satisfaction in their form. If we think of the velocity of the vibrations of light, or in the second case of the air, which probably far surpasses all our faculty of judging immediately in perception the time interval between them, we must believe that it is only the effect of these vibrations upon the elastic parts of our body that is felt, but that the time interval between them is not remarked or brought into judgement; and thus that only pleasantness and not beauty of composition is bound up with colours and tones. But on the other hand, first, we think of the mathematical [element] which enables us to pronounce on the proportion between these oscillations in music and thus to judge of them; and by analogy with which we easily may judge of the distinctions between colours. Secondly, we recall instances (although they are rare) of men who with the best sight in the world cannot distinguish colours, and with the sharpest hearing cannot distinguish tones; whilst for those who can do this the perception of an altered quality (not merely of the degree of sensation) in the different intensities in the scale of colours and tones is definite; and further, the very number of these is fixed by intelligible differences. Thus we may be compelled to see that both kinds of sensations are to be regarded not as mere sensible impressions, but as the effects of a judgement passed upon the form in the play of divers sensations. The difference in our definition, according as we adopt the one or the other opinion in judging of the grounds of Music, would be just this: either, as we have done, we must explain it as the beautiful play of sensations (of hearing), or else as a play of pleasant sensations. According to the former mode of explanation music is represented altogether as a beautiful art; according to the latter, as a pleasant art (at least in part).
1 The reader is not to judge this scheme for a possible division of the beautiful arts as a deliberate theory. It is only one of various attempts which we may and ought to devise.
1 [Second Edition.]
1 [I.e. the case of Plastic art, with its subdivisions of Architecture and Sculpture, as is explained in the next paragraph.]
1 That landscape gardening may be regarded as a species of the art of painting, although it presents its forms corporeally, seems strange. But since it actually takes its forms from nature (trees, shrubs, grasses, and flowers from forest and field — at least in the first instance), and so far is not an art like Plastic; and since it also has no concept of the object and its purpose (as in Architecture) conditioning its arrangements, but involves merely the free play of the Imagination in contemplation — it so far agrees with mere aesthetical painting which has no definite theme (which arranges sky, land, and water, so as to entertain us by means of light and shade only). — In general the reader is only to judge of this as an attempt to combine the beautiful arts under one principle, viz. that of the expression of aesthetical Ideas (according to the analogy of speech), and not to regard it as a definitive analysis of them.
Rhetoric may be combined with a pictorial presentation of its subjects and objects in a theatrical piece; poetry may be combined with music in a song, and this again with pictorial (theatrical) presentation in an opera; the play of sensations in music may be combined with the play of figures in the dance, and so on. Even the presentation of the sublime, so far as it belongs to beautiful art, may combine with beauty in a tragedy in verse, in a didactic poem, in an oratorio; and in these combinations beautiful art is yet more artistic. Whether it is also more beautiful may in some of these cases be doubted (since so many different kinds of satisfaction cross one another). Yet in all beautiful art the essential thing is the form, which is purposive as regards our observation and judgement, where the pleasure is at the same time cultivation and disposes the spirit to Ideas, and consequently makes it susceptible of still more of such pleasure and entertainment. The essential element is not the matter of sensation (charm or emotion), which has only to do with enjoyment; this leaves behind nothing in the Idea, and it makes the spirit dull, the object gradually distasteful, and the mind, on account of its consciousness of a disposition that conflicts with purpose in the judgement of Reason, discontented with itself and peevish.
If the beautiful arts are not brought into more or less close combination with moral Ideas, which alone bring with them a self-sufficing satisfaction, this latter fate must ultimately be theirs. They then serve only as a distraction, of which we are the more in need the more we avail ourselves of them to disperse the discontent of the mind with itself; so that we thus render ourselves ever more useless and ever more discontented. The beauties of nature are generally of most benefit in this point of view, if we are early accustomed to observe, appreciate, and admire them.
Of all the arts poetry (which owes its origin almost entirely to genius and will least be guided by precept or example) maintains the first rank. It expands the mind by setting the Imagination at liberty; and by offering within the limits of a given concept amid the unbounded variety of possible forms accordant therewith, that which unites the presentment of this concept with a wealth of thought, to which no verbal expression is completely adequate; and so rising aesthetically to Ideas. It strengthens the mind by making it feel its faculty — free, spontaneous and independent of natural determination — of considering and judging nature as a phenomenon in accordance with aspects which it does not present in experience either for Sense or Understanding, and therefore of using it on behalf of, and as a sort of schema for, the supersensible. It plays with illusion, which it produces at pleasure, but without deceiving by it; for it declares its exercise to be mere play, which however can be purposively used by the Understanding. — Rhetoric, in so far as this means the art of persuasion, i.e. of deceiving by a beautiful show (ars oratoria), and not mere elegance of speech (eloquence and style), is a Dialectic, which borrows from poetry only so much as is needful to win minds to the side of the orator before they have formed a judgement, and to deprive them of their freedom; it cannot therefore be recommended either for the law courts or for the pulpit. For if we are dealing with civil law, with the rights of individual persons, or with lasting instruction and determination of people’s minds to an accurate knowledge and a conscientious observance of their duty, it is unworthy of so important a business to allow a trace of any exuberance of wit and imagination to appear, and still less any trace of the art of talking people over and of captivating them for the advantage of any chance person. For although this art may sometimes be directed to legitimate and praiseworthy designs, it becomes objectionable, when in this way maxims and dispositions are spoiled in a subjective point of view, though the action may objectively be lawful. It is not enough to do what is right; we should practise it solely on the ground that it is right. Again, the mere concept of this species of matters of human concern, when clear and combined with a lively presentation of it in examples, without any offence against the rules of euphony of speech or propriety of expression, has by itself for Ideas of Reason (which collectively constitute eloquence), sufficient influence upon human minds; so that it is not needful to add the machinery of persuasion, which, since it can be used equally well to beautify or to hide vice and error, cannot quite lull the secret suspicion that one is being artfully overreached. In poetry everything proceeds with honesty and candour. It declares itself to be a mere entertaining play of the Imagination, which wishes to proceed as regards form in harmony with the laws of the Understanding; and it does not desire to steal upon and ensnare the Understanding by the aid of sensible presentation.1
After poetry, if we are to deal with charm and mental movement, I would place that art which comes nearest to the art of speech and can very naturally be united with it, viz. the art of tone. For although it speaks by means of mere sensations without concepts, and so does not, like poetry, leave anything over for reflection, it yet moves the mind in a greater variety of ways and more intensely, although only transitorily. It is, however, rather enjoyment than culture (the play of thought that is incidentally excited by its means is merely the effect of a kind of mechanical association); and in the judgement of Reason it has less worth than any other of the beautiful arts. Hence, like all enjoyment, it desires constant change, and does not bear frequent repetition without producing weariness. Its charm, which admits of universal communication, appears to rest on this, that every expression of speech has in its context a tone appropriate to the sense. This tone indicates more or less an affection of the speaker, and produces it also in the hearer; which affection excites in its turn in the hearer the Idea that is expressed in speech by the tone in question. Thus as modulation is as it were a universal language of sensations intelligible to every man, the art of tone employs it by itself alone in its full force, viz. as a language of the affections, and thus communicates universally according to the laws of association the aesthetical Ideas naturally combined therewith. Now these aesthetical Ideas are not concepts or determinate thoughts. Hence the form of the composition of these sensations (harmony and melody) only serves instead of the form of language, by means of their proportionate accordance, to express the aesthetical Idea of a connected whole of an unspeakable wealth of thought, corresponding to a certain theme which produces the dominating affection in the piece. This can be brought mathematically under certain rules, because it rests in the case of tones on the relation between the number of vibrations of the air in the same time, so far as these tones are combined simultaneously or successively. To this mathematical form, although not represented by determinate concepts, alone attaches the satisfaction that unites the mere reflection upon such a number of concomitant or consecutive sensations with this their play, as a condition of its beauty valid for every man. It is this alone which permits Taste to claim in advance a rightful authority over every one’s judgement.
But in the charm and mental movement produced by Music, Mathematic has certainly not the slightest share. It is only the indispensable condition (conditio sine qua non) of that proportion of the impressions in their combination and in their alternation by which it becomes possible to gather them together and prevent them from destroying one another, and to harmonise them so as to produce a continual movement and animation of the mind, by means of affections consonant therewith, and thus a delightful personal enjoyment.
If, on the other hand, we estimate the worth of the Beautiful Arts by the culture they supply to the mind, and take as a standard the expansion of the faculties which must concur in the Judgement for cognition, Music will have the lowest place among them (as it has perhaps the highest among those arts which are valued for their pleasantness), because it merely plays with sensations. The formative arts are far before it in this point of view; for in putting the Imagination in a free play, which is also accordant with the Understanding, they at the same time carry on a serious business. This they do by producing a product that serves for concepts as a permanent self-commendatory vehicle for promoting their union with sensibility and thus, as it were, the urbanity of the higher cognitive powers. These two species of art take quite different courses; the first proceeds from sensations to indeterminate Ideas, the second from determinate Ideas to sensations. The latter produce permanent, the former only transitory impressions. The Imagination can recall the one and entertain itself pleasantly therewith; but the other either vanish entirely, or if they are recalled involuntarily by the Imagination they are rather wearisome than pleasant.1 Besides, there attaches to Music a certain want of urbanity from the fact that, chiefly from the character of its instruments, it extends its influence further than is desired (in the neighbourhood), and so as it were obtrudes itself, and does violence to the freedom of others who are not of the musical company. The Arts which appeal to the eyes do not do this; for we need only turn our eyes away, if we wish to avoid being impressed. The case of music is almost like that of the delight derived from a smell that diffuses itself widely. The man who pulls his perfumed handkerchief out of his pocket attracts the attention of all round him, even against their will, and he forces them, if they are to breathe at all, to enjoy the scent; hence this habit has gone out of fashion.1
Among the formative arts I would give the palm to painting; partly because as the art of delineation it lies at the root of all the other formative arts, and partly because it can penetrate much further into the region of Ideas, and can extend the field of intuition in conformity with them further than the others can.
1 I must admit that a beautiful poem has always given me a pure gratification; whilst the reading of the best discourse, whether of a Roman orator or of a modern parliamentary speaker or of a preacher, has always been mingled with an unpleasant feeling of disapprobation of a treacherous art, which means to move men in important matters like machines to a judgement that must lose all weight for them on quiet reflection. Readiness and accuracy in speaking (which taken together constitute Rhetoric) belong to beautiful art; but the art of the orator (ars oratoria), the art of availing oneself of the weaknesses of men for one’s own designs (whether these be well meant or even actually good does not matter) is worthy of no respect. Again, this art only reached its highest point, both at Athens and at Rome, at a time when the state was hastening to its ruin and true patriotic sentiment had disappeared. The man who along with a clear insight into things has in his power a wealth of pure speech, and who with a fruitful Imagination capable of presenting his Ideas unites a lively sympathy with what is truly good, is the vir bonus dicendi peritus, the orator without art but of great impressiveness, as Cicero has it; though he may not always remain true to this ideal.
1 [From this to the end of the paragraph, and the next note, were added in the Second Edition.]
1 Those who recommend the singing of spiritual songs at family prayers do not consider that they inflict a great hardship upon the public by such noisy (and therefore in general pharisaical) devotions; for they force the neighbours either to sing with them or to abandon their meditations. [Kant suffered himself from such annoyances, which may account for the asperity of this note. At one period he was disturbed by the devotional exercises of the prisoners in the adjoining jail. In a letter to the burgomaster “he suggested the advantage of closing the windows during these hymn-singings, and added that the warders of the prison might probably be directed to accept less sonorous and neighbour-annoying chants as evidence of the penitent spirit of their captives” (Wallace’s Kant, p. 42).]
As we have often shown, there is an essential difference between what satisfies simply in the act of judging it, and that which gratifies (pleases in sensation). We cannot ascribe the latter to every one, as we can the former. Gratification (the causes of which may even be situated in Ideas) appears always to consist in a feeling of the furtherance of the whole life of the man, and consequently, also of his bodily well-being, i.e. his health; so that Epicurus, who gave out that all gratification was at bottom bodily sensation, may, perhaps, not have been wrong, but only misunderstood himself when he reckoned intellectual and even practical satisfaction under gratification. If we have this distinction in view we can explain how a gratification may dissatisfy the man who sensibly feels it (e.g. the joy of a needy but well-meaning man at becoming the heir of an affectionate but penurious father); or how a deep grief may satisfy the person experiencing it (the sorrow of a widow at the death of her excellent husband); or how a gratification can in addition satisfy (as in the sciences that we pursue); or how a grief (e.g. hatred, envy, revenge) can moreover dissatisfy. The satisfaction or dissatisfaction here depends on Reason, and is the same as approbation or disapprobation; but gratification and grief can only rest on the feeling or prospect of a possible (on whatever grounds) well-being or its opposite.
All changing free play of sensations (that have no design at their basis) gratifies, because it promotes the feeling of health. In the judgement of Reason we may or may not have any satisfaction in its object or even in this gratification; and this latter may rise to the height of an affection, although we take no interest in the object, at least none that is proportionate to the degree of the affection. We may subdivide this free play of sensations into the play of fortune [games of chance], the play of tone [music], and the play of thought [wit]. The first requires an interest, whether of vanity or of selfishness; which, however, is not nearly so great as the interest that attaches to the way in which we are striving to procure it. The second requires merely the change of sensations, all of which have a relation to affection, though they have not the degree of affection, and excite aesthetical Ideas. The third springs merely from the change of representations in the Judgement; by it, indeed, no thought that brings an interest with it is produced, but yet the mind is animated thereby.
How much gratification games must afford, without any necessity of placing at their basis an interested design, all our evening parties show; for hardly any of them can be carried on without a game. But the affections of hope, fear, joy, wrath, scorn, are put in play by them, alternating every moment; and they are so vivid that by them, as by a kind of internal motion, all the vital processes of the body seem to be promoted, as is shown by the mental vivacity excited by them, although nothing is gained or learnt thereby. But as the beautiful does not enter into games of chance, we will here set them aside. On the other hand, music and that which excites laughter are two different kinds of play with aesthetical Ideas, or with representations of the Understanding through which ultimately nothing is thought; and yet they can give lively gratification merely by their changes. Thus we recognise pretty clearly that the animation in both cases is merely bodily, although it is excited by Ideas of the mind; and that the feeling of health produced by a motion of the intestines corresponding to the play in question makes up that whole gratification of a gay party, which is regarded as so refined and so spiritual. It is not the judging the harmony in tones or sallies of wit — which serves only in combination with their beauty as a necessary vehicle — but the furtherance of the vital bodily processes, the affection that moves the intestines and the diaphragm, in a word, the feeling of health (which without such inducements one does not feel) that makes up the gratification felt by us; so that we can thus reach the body through the soul and use the latter as the physician of the former.
In music this play proceeds from bodily sensations to aesthetical Ideas (the Objects of our affections), and then from these back again to the body with redoubled force. In the case of jokes (the art of which, just like music, should rather be reckoned as pleasant than beautiful) the play begins with the thoughts which together occupy the body, so far as they admit of sensible expression; and as the Understanding stops suddenly short at this presentment, in which it does not find what it expected, we feel the effect of this slackening in the body by the oscillation of the organs, which promotes the restoration of equilibrium and has a favourable influence upon health.
In everything that is to excite a lively convulsive laugh there must be something absurd (in which the Understanding, therefore, can find no satisfaction). Laughter is an affection arising from the sudden transformation of a strained expectation into nothing.1 This transformation, which is certainly not enjoyable by the Understanding, yet indirectly gives it very active enjoyment for a moment. Therefore its cause must consist in the influence of the representation upon the body, and the reflex effect of this upon the mind; not, indeed, through the representation being objectively an object of gratification1 (for how could a delusive expectation gratify?), but simply through it as a mere play of representations bringing about an equilibrium of the vital powers in the body.
Suppose this story to be told: An Indian at the table of an Englishman in Surat, when he saw a bottle of ale opened and all the beer turned into froth and overflowing, testified his great astonishment with many exclamations. When the Englishman asked him, “What is there in this to astonish you so much?” he answered, “I am not at all astonished that it should flow out, but I do wonder how you ever got it in.” At this story we laugh, and it gives us hearty pleasure; not because we deem ourselves cleverer than this ignorant man, or because of anything else in it that we note as satisfactory to the Understanding, but because our expectation was strained [for a time] and then was suddenly dissipated into nothing. Again: The heir of a rich relative wished to arrange for an imposing funeral, but he lamented that he could not properly succeed; “for” (said he) “the more money I give my mourners to look sad, the more cheerful they look!”2 When we hear this story we laugh loud, and the reason is that an expectation is suddenly transformed into nothing. We must note well that it does not transform itself into the positive opposite of an expected object — for then there would still be something, which might even be a cause of grief — but it must be transformed into nothing. For if a man arouses great expectations in us when telling a story, and at the end we see its falsehood immediately, it displeases us; e.g. the story of the people whose hair in consequence of great grief turned gray in one night. But if a wag, to repair the effect of this story, describes very circumstantially the grief of the merchant returning from India to Europe with all his wealth in merchandise who was forced to throw it overboard in a heavy storm, and who grieved thereat so much that his wig turned gray the same night — we laugh and it gives us gratification. For we treat our own mistake in the case of an object otherwise indifferent to us, or rather the Idea which we are following out, as we treat a ball which we knock to and fro for a time, though our only serious intention is to seize it and hold it fast. It is not the mere rebuff of a liar or a simpleton that arouses our gratification; for the latter story told with assumed seriousness would set a whole company in a roar of laughter, while the former would ordinarily not be regarded as worth attending to.
It is remarkable that in all such cases the jest must contain something that is capable of deceiving for a moment. Hence, when the illusion is dissipated, the mind turns back to try it once again, and thus through a rapidly alternating tension and relaxation it is jerked back and put into a state of oscillation. This, because the strain on the cord as it were is suddenly (and not gradually) relaxed, must occasion a mental movement, and an inner bodily movement harmonising therewith, which continues involuntarily and fatigues, even while cheering us (the effects of a motion conducive to health).
For if we admit that with all our thoughts is harmonically combined a movement in the organs of the body, we shall easily comprehend how to this sudden transposition of the mind, now to one now to another standpoint in order to contemplate its object, may correspond an alternating tension and relaxation of the elastic portions of our intestines, which communicates itself to the diaphragm (like that which ticklish people feel). In connexion with this the lungs expel the air at rapidly succeeding intervals, and thus bring about a movement beneficial to health; which alone, and not what precedes it in the mind, is the proper cause of the gratification in a thought that at bottom represents nothing. — Voltaire said that heaven had given us two things to counterbalance the many miseries of life, hope and sleep.1 He could have added laughter, if the means of exciting it in reasonable men were only as easily attainable, and the requisite wit or originality of humour were not so rare, as the talent is common of imagining things which break one’s head, as mystic dreamers do, or which break one’s neck, as your genius does, or which break one’s heart, as sentimental romance-writers (and even moralists of the same kidney) do.
We may therefore, as it seems to me, readily concede to Epicurus that all gratification, even that which is occasioned through concepts, excited by aesthetical Ideas, is animal, i.e. bodily sensation; without the least prejudice to the spiritual feeling of respect for moral Ideas, which is not gratification at all but an esteem for self (for humanity in us), that raises us above the need of gratification, and even without the slightest prejudice to the less noble [feeling] of taste.
We find a combination of these two last in naiveté, which is the breaking out of the sincerity originally natural to humanity in opposition to that art of dissimulation which has become a second nature. We laugh at the simplicity that does not understand how to dissemble; and yet we are delighted with the simplicity of the nature which thwarts that art. We look for the commonplace manner of artificial utterance devised with foresight to make a fair show; and behold! it is the unspoiled innocent nature which we do not expect to find, and which he who displays it did not think of disclosing. That the fair but false show which generally has so much influence upon our judgement is here suddenly transformed into nothing, so that, as it were, the rogue in us is laid bare, produces a movement of the mind in two opposite directions, which gives a wholesome shock to the body. But the fact that something infinitely better than all assumed manner, viz. purity of disposition (or at least the tendency thereto), is not quite extinguished yet in human nature, blends seriousness and high esteem with this play of the Judgement. But because it is only a transitory phenomenon and the veil of dissimulation is soon drawn over it again, there is mingled therewith a compassion which is an emotion of tenderness; this, as play, readily admits of combination with a good-hearted laugh, and ordinarily is actually so combined, and withal is wont to compensate him who supplies its material for the embarrassment which results from not yet being wise after the manner of men. — An art that is to be naive is thus a contradiction; but the representation of naiveté in a fictitious personage is quite possible, and is a beautiful though a rare art. Naiveté must not be confounded with open-hearted simplicity, which does not artificially spoil nature solely because it does not understand the art of social intercourse.
The humorous manner again may be classified as that which, as exhilarating us, is near akin to the gratification that proceeds from laughter; and belongs to the originality of spirit, but not to the talent of beautiful art. Humour in the good sense means the talent of being able voluntarily to put oneself into a certain mental disposition, in which everything is judged quite differently from the ordinary method (reversed, in fact), and yet in accordance with certain rational principles in such a frame of mind. He who is involuntarily subject to such mutations is called a man of humours [launisch]; but he who can assume them voluntarily and purposively (on behalf of a lively presentment brought about by the aid of a contrast that excites a laugh)— he and his manner of speech are called humorous [launigt]. This manner, however, belongs rather to pleasant than to beautiful art, because the object of the latter must always exhibit intrinsic worth, and hence requires a certain seriousness in the presentation, as taste does in the act of judgement.
1 [Cf. “Parturiunt montes, nascitur ridiculus mus.”]
1 [The First Edition adds “as in the case of a man who gets the news of a great commercial success.”
2 [The jest may have been taken from Steele’s play, “The Funeral or Grief à la mode,” where it occurs verbatim. This play was published in 1702.]
1 [ Henriade, Chant 7, sub init.
“Du Dieu qui nous créa la clémence infinie,
Pour adoucir les maux de cette courte vie,
A placé parmi nous deux êtres bienfaisants,
De la terre à jamais aimables habitants,
Soutiens dans les travaux, trésors dans l’indigence:
L’un est le doux sommeil, et l’autre est l’espérance.”]
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:52