Kant on the Science of Aesthetics and the Critique of Taste

Kant Yearbook 9 (1):113-132 (2017)

Abstract

This article considers the reasons Kant rejects the possibility of a science of aesthetics throughout his career. It begins by surveying the background of Kant’s denial, focusing first on the introduction of aesthetics as a new science in the works of Alexander Baumgarten and Georg Friedrich Meier. After showing that there are numerous ambiguities in the way Baumgarten and Meier present their new science, the article considers Kant’s account of the differences between aesthetics and logic in the transcripts of his Lectures on Logic. Because Kant uses the differences between aesthetics and logic to explain why logic is and aesthetics is not a science, these discussions provide a great deal of insight into his conception of science as well as his views on aesthetics. Finally, the article addresses the reasons Kant continues to insist that aesthetics is not a science but “a mere critique of taste” after he announces his discovery of the a priori principles of aesthetic judgment.

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Colin McQuillan
St. Mary's University, Texas

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