By Kenneth F. Rogerson
A examine of the 1st 1/2 Kant's Critique of Judgment.
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Extra resources for The Problem of Free Harmony in Kant's Aesthetics
For to express what is unnameable . . requires a faculty for apprehending the rapidly passing play of the imagination and unifying it into a concept (which for that reason is original and at the same time discloses a new rule, which could not have been deduced from any antecedent principles or examples), which can be communicated without the constraint of rules. (KU 5: 317, 194–95) Kant’s position seems to be the following. An artist through an exercise of “genius” is able to construct an object that stimulates a host of thoughts and associations (“rapidly passing play of the imagination”) and yet is able to shape these thoughts into a coherent whole suggesting a particular idea.
The drawing is what is essential . . ” And further, “(a)ll form of objects of sense . . is either shape or play: in the latter case it is either play of shapes (in space, mime and dance), or mere play of sensations (in time)” (KU 5: 225, 226). It is hard to know what we should do with the doctrine of perceptual formalism. 18 The free harmony requirement does indeed entail a kind of formalism since, as we have seen, free harmony refers to the way a manifold is organized. However, at this level of generalization we need not specify what sort of elements comprise the manifold.
Each of these interpretations of the expressiveness of natural objects is properly made under the caveat that the object is seen as if intentionally created to express an idea. There is another problem that confronts Kant’s doctrine of expression of ideas. 14 The criticism here depends on a distinction Kant develops in ¶16 between free and dependent (or adherent) beauty with a decided evaluative preference for free beauty. Dependent beauty, as Kant deﬁnes it, is beauty that depends on a concept of what an object should be, whereas free beauty presupposes no such concept.