Critique of Judgement

Kritik der Urteilskraft; Critique of Judgement (1790)

Here Kant argues that a pure aesthetic judgement is characterized by disinterested pleasure. In the formation of an aesthetic judgement, the powers of cognition are in free play. Therefore, aesthetic contemplation enables us to escape our limited subjectivity and to judge things from a universal standpoint.

Kant also introduces the related concept of aesthetic autonomy, which had previously appeared in an essay by Karl Philipp Moritz, ‘Versuch einer Vereinigung aller schönen Künste und Wissenschaften unter dem Begriff des in sich selbst Vollendeten’; ‘Attempt to Unite all the Fine Arts and Sciences Under the Concept of That Which is Complete in Itself’ (1785). For a discussion of Kant’s and Moritz’s notions of aesthetic autonomy, see below, Jonathan M. Hess.

Further Reading

Terry Eagleton, ‘The Kantian Imaginary’, in Eagleton, The Ideology of the Aesthetic (Oxford: Blackwell, 1990), pp. 70-101

Jonathan M. Hess, Reconstituting the Body Politic: Enlightenment, Public Culture and the Invention of Aesthetic Autonomy (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1999)

David Wellbery, Lessing’s “Laokoön”: Semiotics and Aesthetics in the Age of Reason (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984)

David E. Wellbery, ‘Evaluation as Articulation. A Defense of Kant on Literary Value’, in Literarische Wertung und Kanonbildung, ed. by Nicholas Saul and Ricarda Schmidt (Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 2007), pp. 191-202