The notion of form is "the most important notion within the Critique of Aesthetic Judgment". The sensible form involved in aesthetic judgment stands in no clear relation to the formal elements of the Transcendental Aesthetic and Logic—neither to the a priori forms of space and time, nor to the categories. It is held to be the same "kind of form" as the intuitable, "empirical form" mentioned infrequently in the Pure Reason. The author attempts to establish only "what Kant meant" as (...) distinct from its "truth." He lays a bold preparation for "the suggestion... that aesthetic experience is a window, so to speak, into the noumenal world". In Ch. I he accepts a widely-held view that Kant is the discoverer of "philosophical aesthetics" or "the autonomy of the aesthetic realm." His concern is not with this historical question. Nonetheless it may be said that he is not sufficiently aware that the autonomy found in Kant is not in understanding aesthetics as a realm of art, but only in understanding aesthetic judgment in its concern with both art and nature. Accordingly the aesthetic form of objects of art and objects of nature is treated without differentiation. The author is little concerned with form in its relation to natural purposiveness, or with the relation of form in the Aesthetic Judgment to form in the Teleological Judgment. Since nature, at least in certain contexts, supplies a kind of norm for art—a "traditional" element in Kant—the author’s exposition of the manner in which art imitates nature is not entirely satisfactory. In Ch. II, the central issue is whether "individual colors and tones are more than mere sensations". If however each may be understood as "a play of sensations" they can be said to possess a "form" and may enter into aesthetic judgments. The assumption here is that only if the parts of a beautiful thing, e.g., the individual colors of a painting, are beautiful, "can the painting as a whole be a beautiful thing". But this atomistic view of the aesthetic part is subsequently modified. In Ch. III, the imagination is said to "function without the categories" in the synthesis of aesthetic forms. The author must then oppose the view of Kemp Smith and others "that there can be no cognitive awareness or consciousness apart from the categories". He relies especially on the "judgments of perception" of the Prolegomena which "require no pure concept of the understanding". The possibility is not considered that although the imagination may indeed function "autonomously"—without the categories—in the synthesis of aesthetic form, that same synthesis may presuppose a synthesis employing the categories, especially in certain types of aesthetic experience. Some valuable clarifications are achieved of the difficult notions of "play," the harmony of form and cognitive faculties, and the universality of aesthetic judgments. The thesis of Ch. IV is that the object of experience, or the phenomenal object, is not a second object, distinct from the thing-in-itself, but an appearance of the thing-in-itself. Ch. V is devoted to Kant’s theory of art and especially to genius as the productive faculty of aesthetic ideas. The harmony of the faculties of imagination and understanding required of the artistic genius is held to be the same as the harmony which "the work of art itself... arouses in the perceiver of that work of art", but is spontaneous and original in the former case. What would be required of the productive agency in the case of natural objects of aesthetic experience lies outside the range of subject matter chosen. Kant’s view, although not entirely lucid, is that "the standard of fine art must be sought in the supersensible substrate of the artist’s faculties and that the production of the accord of the faculties of understanding and imagination ‘is the ultimate end set by the intelligible basis of our nature'". This prepares the conclusion that "the artist, as creative genius, is he who not only produces but expresses in sensible products, forms which are windows into the supersensible substrate of being". The monograph effectively raises this possibility as a central issue in the discussion of Kant’s aesthetics.—R. K. (shrink)
James K.A. Smith argues that the ontology of participation associated with Radical Orthodoxy is incompatible with a Christian affirmation of the intrinsic being and goodness of creatures. In response, he proposes a Leibnizian view in which things are endowed with the innate dynamism of ‘force’. Creatures have a certain depth of being, and are intrinsically good, just because they each have an inner virtuality that they bring into expression. Such force is said to be a metaphysical component of the (...) agent. In this paper it is asked whether John Milbank's ontology of participation can be defended by distinguishing between two senses of being a subject. Perhaps it is possible for a creature to bring into expression what is an infused ‘alien’ gift rather than a metaphysical component – to be expressive subject, but not ontic subject, for divine power. However, while this distinction promises to make sense of the reception of an indwelling ‘other’ in grace, knowledge and love, neither proper substance nor proper existence can be received in this way. A creature must be the ontic subject for its being, after all. Still, divine being might proceed from God as radical indwelling gift, as non-ontic ground for ontic being. (shrink)
James K. A. Smith’s book Awaiting the King interrogates the religious nature of contemporary politics and the political nature of Christian practice, and in doing so draws Augustine out of the ivory tower to which many have confined him, putting the late-antique theologian into a conversation with a host of contemporary voices.