Kant and the Claims of Taste

Guyer, P., Kant and the Claims of Taste, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2nd edition, 1997.


” Like his critiques of theoretical and practical reason, Kant’s “critique of taste” is concerned with “part of the general problem of transcendental philosophy: how are synthetic a priori judgments possible?” On Kant’s view, the justification of a judgment of taste—for which he takes as a paradigm the judgment  that a particular object, such as a rose or a painting, is beautiful—requires a deduction of a synthetic a priori judgments because in calling an object beautiful we each express our own pleasure in it, yet go beyond the evidence furnished by that feeling to impute it to the rest of mankind, as the potential audience for that object.  We presume that our feelings, just like our scientific theories and moral beliefs, can be the subject of publicly valid discourse, and that, although “there can be no rule by which anyone should be compelled to acknowledge that something is beautiful,” we are nevertheless entitled to respond to a beautiful object with a “universal voice… And lay claim to the agreement of everyone.” But the universal validity of our response to a beautiful object can neither be deduced from any concept of the object nor grounded on any information about the actual feelings of others, Kant believes,  and so it can be based only on an a priori assumption of similarity between our own responses and those of others. Thus the presumption of aesthetic judgment can be defended only if we answer this question: “how is a judgment possible which, merely from one’s own feeling of pleasure and an object, independent of its concept, estimates a priori, that is, without having to wait upon the agreement of others, that this pleasure is connected with the representation of the object in every other subject?”