Is there are a Possibility of an Ugly Aesthetic Idea in Kant's Aesthetics?

In Violetta L. Waibel and Margit Ruffing (ed.), Proceedings of the 12. International Kant Congress Nature and Freedom. De Gruyter (forthcoming)

Mojca Kuplen
Central European University (PhD)
In Kant’s aesthetic theory, the association of ugliness with aesthetic ideas is not immediately apparent. Even more, it has been argued by most of Kant’s commentators that ugliness cannot express aesthetic ideas. In short, they claim that accordance with taste (i.e. free harmony between imagination and understanding) is a necessary condition for an aesthetic idea to be expressed in a way that makes sense to others. But if production of aesthetic ideas must be restrained by taste in order to have meaning and if ugliness consists in a disharmony between imagination and understanding (i.e. discordance with taste), then it follows that ugliness must essentially be nonsensical. My aim in this paper is to propose a different interpretation of the relation between Kant’s notions of aesthetic ideas and taste such that it can accommodate an ugly aesthetic idea into the overall aesthetic picture. I will argue that even though ugliness does not conform to taste it is nevertheless related to taste and thus it remains consistent with Kant’s view that taste is required for the communication of aesthetic ideas.
Keywords Kant  aesthetic ideas  beauty  ugliness  disharmony
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