Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Kant on beauty and biology, nature and art

Teaching this past fall Kant's aesthetics as presented in the third critique has really reinvigorated my love for Kant. So much so that in the course of sniffing out possible routes of research for my next big project I went ahead and purchased Opus Postumum and The Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science.

Let me say that in the Opus Postumum Kant indeed is a speculative philosopher, where Kant is known to have created a "post-critical" positive philosophy whose subject matter is not relegated to limits of phenomenal appearance determined by a priori categories of the human mind  Indeed, the first critique sets these limits; but the Postumum postulates...indeed speculates...beyond them.

In this post I simply wanted to mention THIS fantastic new book on Kant's aesthetics however: Thinking with Kant's Critique of Judgment.  For me personally Kant's aesthetics as presented in the third critique has some exciting leads just like the Postumum does.

From the review,
[M]any of the key terms around which Kant builds his theory of aesthetic experience, like 'beauty', 'taste', and 'pleasure', can seem outdated. More hostility still is garnered by his imperious-sounding claim that judgments of taste are 'universal' and 'necessary'. Even among those more sympathetic to his view, there arise concerns over Kant's formalism and the coherence of his analysis of the beauty of nature and art. What is more, these are only concerns internal to his aesthetics. Still other criticisms have been posed in relation to broader issues in the third Critique, like why Kant sees fit to combine an analysis of beauty with biology and how this could possibly help bridge the 'great chasm' between nature and freedom. 
Though sensitive to these criticisms, Chaouli argues that it would be a mistake to let them deter us from taking the third Critique seriously. Instead, he claims, if we 'think with' the third Critique in a way that is at once sympathetic and critical, then we will gain important insight into the distinctive nature of aesthetic experience. In this spirit, Chaouli offers a comprehensive interpretation of the third Critique that involves "wiping the dust off" Kant's seemingly outmoded concepts, "removing the malignancy" from his seemingly coercive claims, and finding a place for beauty and biology, nature and art (43).