Wednesday, September 26, 2007

You Kant Tell Me...


If any one reads me his poem, or brings me to a play, which, all said and done, fails to commend itself to my taste, then let him adduce Batteux or Lessing, or still older and more famous critics of taste, with all the host of rules laid down by them, as a proof of the beauty of his poem; let certain passages particularly displeasing to me accord completely with the rules of beauty (as set out by these critics and universally recognized): I stop my ears: I do not want to hear any reasons or any arguing about the matter. I would prefer to suppose that those rules of the critics were at fault, or at least have no application, than to allow my judgement to be determined by a priori proofs. I take my stand on the ground that my judgement is to be one of taste, and not one of understanding or reason.

This would appear to be one of the chief reasons why this faculty of aesthetic judgement has been given the name of taste. For a man may recount to me all the ingredients of a dish, and observe of each and every one of them that it is just what I like, and, in addition, rightly commend the wholesomeness of the food; yet I am deaf to all these arguments. I try the dish with my own tongue and palate, and I pass judgement according to their verdict (not according to universal principles).

As a matter of fact, the judgement of taste is invariably laid down as a singular judgement upon the object. The understanding can, from the comparison of the object, in point of delight, with the judgements of others, form a universal judgement, e.g.: “All tulips are beautiful.” But that judgement is then not one of taste,

Emmanuel Kant, Critique of Judgement

3 comments:

Thomas Garvey said...

It's funny to see Kant was no smarter about criticism than my Aunt Eileen. The trouble with the "it's all a matter of taste" argument is that taste is informed by perception. Sure, one person's taste is no more valid than another's - but are everyone's perceptions equally valid? Obviously not - and therefore the "taste" argument is fundamentally flawed.

Art said...

But that is what Kant was struggling with through the whole critique of judgement?

I hope the quote isn't misrepresenting him.

He arrived at the conclusion that Beauty is not a matter of taste right?

He makes a distinction between saying, "I laughed hard at that movie." and saying, "that movie is funny."

His starting point here is that opinions of taste appear to beg for universality, therefore they would appear to require a deduction.

The problem being, how do we use proof and syllogisms to get a deduction about aesthetic pleasure?

Of course, the answer he sought was in the a priori of the object and connecting it to genius.

I would say that Kant would agree with you.

In fact, I will post a quote today that will show that.

Thomas Garvey said...

Yeah, well, I've got a quote from my Aunt Eileen that would knock Kant's socks off!