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Demands of Taste in Kant's Aesthetics by Brent Kalar

Demands of Taste in Kant's Aesthetics

Part of the Continuum Studies in Philosophy Series


Demands of Taste in Kant's Aesthetics by Brent Kalar

Typically philosophers have either viewed beauty as objective and judgments of beauty as universally valid, or else they have viewed beauty as subjective and regarded judgments of beauty as merely private preferences. Immanuel Kant is famous for his unique third path. Kant argues that beauty is subjective, but the judgment of taste about beauty is capable of universal validity. In his view, the beautiful is not a feature of objects themselves, but merely represents the way we respond to objects. Furthermore, the judgment of taste about beauty is a merely aesthetic judgment - i.e., one based on a feeling of pleasure we take in the object. The judgment of taste, on the other hand, possesses universal validity : to call something beautiful is implicitly to demand that all others find it beautiful as well. Kant's views about the taste for the beautiful have long been the subject of controversy. Scholars have differed over the interpretation of the demand contained in a judgment of taste and whether Kant's attempt to legitimate this demand is successful. Brent Kalar argues that the demands of taste should be understood as involving a uniquely aesthetic normativity rooted in Kant's cognitive psychology. If the basis of aesthetic pleasure in the activity of the cognitive faculties is properly understood, then Kant's attempt to legitimate the demands of taste may be regarded as a success. This leads Kalar to give a new interpretation of the nature of the beautiful according to Kant that re-examines the relationship between free play and the form of purposiveness in Kant's aesthetics, and restores the aesthetic ideas to their rightful centrality in Kant's theory.


'The clarity of Kalar's book, its evenness of temperament throughout its writing, confident without bullying, straightforward without over-simplifying, generous and judicious in its references, make it a trustworthy and congenial companion for the journey through Kant's texts, and a reliable guide in assessing much of the secondary literature that defines and advances the current state of play in academic discussions about Kant's conception of beauty.'
Stanley Cavell, Emeritus Professor, Harvard University

About the Author

Brent Kalar received his Ph.D. from Harvard University (Adams Prize, 2003), and currently teaches philosophy at the University of New Mexico, USA.

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Book Info

Publication date

15th October 2006


Brent Kalar

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Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd. an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing PLC


192 pages


Philosophy: aesthetics



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