Reading: Extracts from Kant’s Critique of Judgment
Throughout Critique of Judgment, Kant (1888) analyses the four reflective judgments. These are the good, the agreeable, the beautiful and the sublime. The agreeable is a subjective, personal form of pleasure, whilst the good is an objective judgment. For Kant, an act is either moral or immoral, nothing in between. Furthermore, the agreeable is not a universal force, unlike the beautiful. Yet the sublime, as opposed to the beautiful, can not be apprehended. Thus, it is to be feared. The form of a flower, as an example, can be sensed by a person, in a disinterested way, as beautiful. The sublime evokes, in a sense, the feeling of mystery. A thunderous electricity bolt which strikes the Earth, amid a swarm of storm clouds, is sublime. The greatness of this event is incomprehensible to us.
The sublime is nevertheless intricately connected with the faculty of reason. For example, one does not feel the sublimity of lightning, in sensing the object in-itself, but rather in making sense of the object. The true sublime must therefore “be sought within the mind of the judging person,” says Kant, because no reason could be deduced to defend the form of electricity as sublime. Sublimity is not in the object, but within us. The mind needs to be unconcerned with its form, instead leaving judgment for the imagination and to reason. We derive pleasure when we judge an object to be sublime, agreeable or beautiful, as opposed to judging an object as pleasurable because it is beautiful, that would be subjective.
Kant, I. (1988) Extracts from Critique of Judgment, Sections 25-29.
Bibliography: Kant, I. (1988) Extracts from Critique of Judgment, Sections 25-29.
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