Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)


From “Critique of Judgment” first book Analytic of the Beautiful


First moment


Of the Judgment of Taste, according to quality


1) The Judgment of Taste Is Aesthetical


Beautiful isn’t pleasure or pain

The judgment of taste is therefore not a judgment of cognition,  and is consequently not logical but aesthetical.


This does not include a reference to pleasure or pain, by which nothing n the object is signified.  The judgment  is prejudgment.  In is experienced, not compared. 


It contains no mental growth.


2) The Satisfaction Which Determines the Judgment of Taste is Disinterested


The satisfaction which we combine with the representation of the existence of an object is called “interest.”  Such satisfaction always has reference to the faculty of desire. 


Now when the question is if a thing is beautiful, we do not want to know whether anything depends or can depend on the existence of the thing. 


I am concerned, not with that in which I depend on the existence of the object, [features of the object itself] but with that which I make out of this representation in myself.  Everyone must admit that a judgment about beauty, in which the least interest mingles, is very partial and is not a pure judgment of taste.


3) The Satisfaction in the Good Is Bound Up with Interest


In order to find anything good, I must always know what sort of a thing the object ought to be.  i.e. I must have a concept of it.  But there is no need of this to find a thing beautiful.


4) Comparison of the Three Specifically Different Kinds of Satisfaction


That which gratifies a man is called pleasant; that which merely pleases him is beautiful; that which is esteemed or approved by him, i.e. that to which he accords an objective worth, is good.   Pleasantness concerns irrational animals also, but beauty only concerns man.


All interest presupposes or generates a want, and, as the determining ground of assent, it leaves the judgment about the object no longer free.


For where the moral law speaks there is no longer objectively, a free choice as regards what is to be done, and to display taste in its fulfillment  is something quite different from manifesting the moral attitude of thought.  For this involves a command and generates a want.


Explanation of the beautiful Resulting from the First Moment


Taste is the faculty of judging of an object or a method of representing it by an entirely disinterested satisfaction or dissatisfaction.  The object of such a satisfaction is called the beautiful.


Second Moment

Of the Judgment of Taste, According to Quantity


6) The Beautiful Is That Which Apart From Concepts Is Represented as the Object of a Universal Satisfaction


This explanation of the beautiful can be derived from the preceding explanation of it as the object of an entirely disinterested satisfaction. All will agree, that since the satisfaction is for him quite disinterested, implies in his judgment a ground of satisfaction for all men.  For since it does not rest on any inclination of the subject, and not in reference to anything, it is universal.


But this universality cannot arise from concepts because all men don’t have that in common.  This is a subjective universality.


7) Comparison of the Beautiful with the Pleasant and the Good by Means of the Above Characteristics.


As regards the pleasant, therefore, the fundamental proposition is valid: everyone has his own taste (of sense).

This is not the case with the beautiful. 

One cannot call something beautiful that merely pleases him.


We can’t then say that each man has his own taste, because this would be the same as saying that there is no taste whatever.


At the same time we find as regards the pleasant that there is a n agreement among men in their judgments upon it.


In respect of the good [re: Plato’s forms] it is true that judgments make rightful claim to validity for everyone; but the good is represented only by means of a concept as the object of a universal satisfaction, which is the case neither with the pleasant nor with the beautiful.


8)      The Universality of the Satisfaction is Represented in a Judgment of Taste Only as Subjective


If the singular representation of the object of the judgment of taste were transformed by comparison into a concept, a logically universal judgment could result therefrom.


If we judge objects merely according to concepts, then all representation of beauty is lost.  Thus there can be no rule according to which anyone is to be forced to recognize anything as beautiful.


We can make universal logical judgments based on an apperception of a rose.  But it isn’t a statement of pleasure.  That wouldn’t refer to the thing-in-itself.


The judgment of taste itself does not postulate the agreement of everyone.


[his logical arguments require closeness and matching.]

Carve away satisfaction and the good and beauty is left, therefore it looks like this= beauty = a judgment, therefore a universal judgment or rule.


9)      Investigation of the Question Whether in Judgment of Taste the Feeling of Pleasure Precedes or Follows the Judging of the Object


The beautiful is that which pleases universally without requiring a concept


Third Moment



11) The Judgment of Taste Has Nothing at Its Basis but the Form of the Purposiveness of an Object (or of Its Mode of Representation)



Every purpose carries with it an interest about the object of pleasure.  The judgment of taste  can be determined by no representation of an objective purpose and consequently by no concept of the good because it is an aesthetical and not a cognitive judgment.


The judgment of taste is subjective because it is your reaction.


The subjective pleasantness can’t determine judgment.  The pleasure is to our purpose, but, the object is purposeless.  Therefore, the purpose gives us satisfaction and we judge that.  Again, Beauty is purposeless.


Our judgment then is of the subjective purpose of a purposeless object.


The satisfaction that we without a concept judge to be universally communicable; is the judgment of taste.  It must be an expressible shared thing.


13) The Pure Judgment of Taste is Independent of Charm and Emotion


Every interest spoils the judgment of taste and takes from its impartiality.  Especially if we focus on pleasure.  Charm is subsumed in beauty, but isn’t it.  The admixture confuses us though.  Charms seductively seem to add to beauty, but only distract.

Pure judgment of taste just looks at purposiveness.


14) Elucidation by means of Examples

Aesthetical judgments can be divided just like theoretical (logical) judgments into


This is due to the pleasantness or unpleasantness.  [is this like the other books discussion of the noumenal thoughts?]

These are not strictly judgments of taste.


This is judgment based on the beauty of an object or a manner of representing it.

These are pure only so much as they aren’t mingled with empirical satisfaction.


Mere colors and notes are by most people described as beautiful in themselves.  But we tend to mingle that with pleasantness too. But pleasantness is judged differently by everyone.  It is not a basis of judgment.

To keep it pure we must focus on form.


Only in its pure form is something universally beautiful.


The colors of a painting enliven it, but colors alone doesn’t make paintings worthy of contemplation or beautiful.


To say that the purity of colors and of tones, or their variety seem to add to beauty does not mean that they supply a homogenous addition to our satisfaction in the form because they are pleasant in themselves; but they do so because they make the form more exactly, definitely, and completely intuitable.


Emotion doesn’t belong to beauty, but sublimity.  Sublimity is a pleasant sensation in which is caused by a momentary checking and a consequently more powerful outflow of emotion.


15) The Judgment of Taste Is Quite Independent of The Concept of Perfection


Purposiveness without purpose is quite independent of the concept of the good.

That is because the good [like Plato’s forms] suggests an objective Purposiveness (the purpose of comparing one object to the standard of the good). 

Objective Purposiveness is either external (utility) or internal (perfection)

That is it can either have a purpose (tendency to pleasantness) in regards to the viewer, or in regards to an internal good (i.e. in-and –of itself standard of beauty).


We need both types to give a full judgment of purpose.


The objective utility cannot be the source of satisfaction because then it wouldn’t rest in the object.  The objective utility  (recognized beauty of the object)must within the object itself.


In order to have a pleasure or displeasure from an object we must first know what sort of thing it is supposed to be. 


We must know the qualitative perfection of the thing (Its agreement with the manifold in its concept.  The qualitative perfection compares it with a perfection.  It gives no purpose, it is just identity.  The identity of the perfection cannot exist without expression.  It has therefore manifest in the object (poorly or well).


And the Quantitative perfection which has to do with magnitude.


Aesthetic judgment:  Resting on subjective grounds it cannot be a concept, and so cannot be a concept of definite purpose.  There cannot be a perfection of the object because it has no purpose and so doesn’t seek perfection.


The aesthetical judgment gives absolutely no cognition.  It is of the feeling. Aesthetical judgments have to do with the ability of the beauty to harmonize with itself via the mode. They are not a concept


16) The Judgment of Taste, by Which an Object Is Declared to Be Beautiful under the Condition of a Definite Concept, Is Not Pure


There are two kinds of beauty:

            Free beauty: which is self subsistent.  It has no concept of what the object ought to be.


Flowers are free natural beauties.  Hardly anyone but a botanist knows what sort of a thing a flower ought to be; and even he pays no regard to this natural purpose if he is passing judgment on the flower by taste.


Many sea shells and birds are free beauties.  They represent nothing. Music without words falls into this category also.


Dependent beauty: which is dependent upon a concept. It involves a perfection of the object.


Human beauty can be dependent.  It , or a horse, or building or church, presuppose a concept of the purpose which determines what the thing is to be.  It is adherent beauty.


Now the combination of the pleasant with beauty is a hindrance to the purity of the judgment of taste.

The judgment of the taste is also blurred by combination of the beauty with the good.


We judge a building by whether or not its going to be a church.  Tattoos would also be nice, but they lay purpose to the pure beauty of the human.


Now the satisfaction in reference to internal purpose is grounded on concept. But the satisfaction of beauty presupposes no such thing.


If judgment is judged with concept it is no longer a free beauty.  It is thereby dependent.


It is true that taste gains by this combination of aesthetical with intellectual satisfaction.


The correctness of such an ideal is shown by its permitting no sensible charm to mingle with the satisfaction of taste


Beauty is the form of the Purposiveness of an object as this is perceived in it without any representation of a purpose.  It is a purposeless purposeness.





23) Transition from the Faculty which Judges of the Beautiful to That

Which Judges of the Sublime


The beautiful and the sublime agree in this that both please in themselves. Further, neither presupposes a judgment of sense nor a judgment nor a judgment logically determined, but a judgment of reflection.  Consequently the satisfaction belonging to them does not depend on sensation, as in the place of  the pleasant, nor on a definite concept, as in the case of the good.


Both invite a cognitive ride along.  So both judgments are singular, and yet announce themselves as universals.  Although they lay claim merely to the feeling of pleasure and not to any cognition of the object.


But there are differences too:

The beautiful is connected with the form of the object.  This means it is tied in with boundaries.


The sublime, on the other hand, is to be found in a formless object, it is boundless, though its totality is represented in thought.


Beauty is bound up with a representation of quality, sublime with quantity.

The beautiful brings with it a feeling of life. 

The sublime makes you check your vital signs due to a strong outflow of emotion.

The sublime is incompatible with charm.  The mind is attracted and repelled by the sublime. 


The beautiful creates pleasure, the sublime creates respect.


Natural beauty brings with t a Purposiveness.  The sublime violates purpose in respect to judgment.

It unseats our presentative faculty and does violence to the imagination.

The Sublime is Something that happens to our minds.  It is not something in NATURE!!


Natural beauty enters our minds by the analogous nature to good and understanding of purpose.  This falsely puts purpose in nature.  But sublimity puts no purpose in nature.


A. Of the mathematically sublime


25) Explanation of the Term Sublime

Absolutely great is not defined in reference to another object’s size.  Its size brings with it no principle of cognition.


If I say something is great, it appears to involve no comparison (it seems to be so in-and-of-itself).  It seems to be a standard given  a priori, like greatness of a certain virtue or of the public liberty.


Here it is remarkable that, although we have no interest whatever in an object, yet its mere size, even if it is considered as formless may bring a satisfaction with it that is universally communicable and that consequently involves the consciousness of a subjective Purposiveness in the use of our cognitive faculty.


This is not indeed a satisfaction in the object (because it may be formless, as in the case of the beautiful).  But a satisfaction in the extension of the imagination by itself.


Projecting ability on nature via the sublime makes our occulted subjective purposeness apparent. 


If we say simply of an object “it is great,” this is no mathematically definite judgment , but a mere judgment of reflection upon the representation of it.  The foregoing explanation can be thus expressed:  The sublime is that in comparison with which everything else is small. 


But in our imagination everything can be considered huge or small.  Therefore, size is not the thing that makes a thing sublime.  What is sublime is so because there is in our imagination a striving toward infinite progress and in our reason a claim for absolute totality.  The size violates our idea in our faculty for estimating the magnitude of things.  This gives us the feeling of a supersensible faculty.

The sublime is that which shows a faculty of the mind surpassing every standard of the state.


26) Of That Estimation of the Magnitude of Natural Things Which Is Requisite for the Idea of the Sublime


We can in imagination measure everything. Its not that faculty that is overwhelmed.  It is the aesthetical estimation in which the effort surpasses the power of the imagination.  Here we feel the ability and the inability of the imagination.


The sublime is not in the object, but in our own state of mind in the estimation of it.

Therefore, just as the aesthetical judgment in judging the beautiful refers the imagination in its free play to the understanding (so that it can harmonize the imagination and understanding).  So does the imagination when judging a thing as sublime refer itself to the reason.


27) Of the Quality of the Satisfaction in Our Judgments upon the Sublime.


The feeling of our incapacity to attain to an idea which is a law for us is respect.

The idea of the comprehension of every phenomenon that can be given us in the intuition of a whole is an idea prescribed to us by a law of reason.. 

But our imagination exhibits its own limits and inadequacy although at the same time it shows that its destination is to make itself adequate to this idea regarded as law.

Our understanding seeks expansive reason .  Bu the sublime ever explodes reason.


It is in our nature to make nature small in the face of reason, by reason.


The feeling of the sublime is therefore a feeling of pain arising from the want of accordance between the aesthetical estimation of magnitude formed by the imagination and the estimation formed by reason.

There is at the same time a pleasure thus excited, arising from this very judgment of the inadequacy of our greatest faculty sense.


There is then a vibration between attraction and repulsion.  Our mind is boggled.The transcendent is for the imagination like an abyss in which it fears to lose itself. 


Just as imagination and understanding in judging of the beautiful, generates a subjective sense of Purposiveness by their harmony.  So imagination and reason do so by their conflict.




28) Of Nature Regarded as Might


Might is that which is superior to great hindrances.  It is called dominion if it is superior to the resistance of that which itself possesses might.  Nature, considered in an aesthetical judgment as might that has no dominion over us , is dynamically sublime.


But we can regard an object as fearful without being afraid of it.

Thus the virtuous man fears god without being afraid of him.  Because to wish to resist him and his commandments he thinks is a case that he need not contemplate.


He who fears can form no judgment about the sublime in nature, just as he who is seduced by inclination and appetite can form no judgment about the beautiful.


But the sight of the sublime things are more attractive, the more fearful they are, provided they are viewed in security.


Now, in the immensity of nature we find our own limitation. Yet, at the same timein our rational faculty we find a different , nonsensuous standard, in comparison with which everything in nature is small.  Thus in our mind we find a superiority to nature even in its immensity.


{{{{ Cognitive psychology: present a nonsense sentence and ask why it doesn’t make sense.  If it did, where would the sense come from????}}}}}


In this way, nature is not judged to be sublime inour aesthetical judgments in so far as it excites fear, but because it calls up that power in us (which is not of nature) of considering small things small and large things large.


The sublime produces respect in us, not merely by the might that it displays in nature, but rather by means of the faculty in us of judging it fearlessly and of regarding our destination as sublime in respect of it.


XLIX) Of the Faculties of the Mind That Constitute Genius


We say of certain product that they are without spirit.  What do we mean by spirit? 

Spirit, in an aesthetical sense, is the name given to the animating principle of the mind. 

But that by means of which this principle animates the soul is that which puts spirit into matter.


He maintains that this principle is no other than the faculty of presenting aesthetical ideas.

By aesthetic idea he means that representation of the imagination which occasions much thought, but without any definite thought or concept being adequate to it.


We easily see that aesthetical idea is the counterpart of a rational idea , which conversely is a concept to which no intuition (or representation of the imagination) can be adequate.


Imagination is powerful and creates other natures, out of the material it naturally has.  We play with this when we get bored.

Such representations of the imagination we may call ideas.

The poet tries, by  means of imagination, which emulates the play of reason in its quest after a maximum, to go beyond the limits of experience and to present them to sense with a completeness of which there is no example in nature.