Between Cognition and Morality
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© Cambridge University Press 2018. Pleasure can be said in many ways. At least, the pleasure we take in the beautiful can. Kant’s “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment” offers an extended meditation on the pleasure involved in a judgment of taste; in so doing, Kant develops many ways to examine, define, explain, and name this pleasure. The four moments of the “Analytic” are discrete, yet obviously interrelated, investigations into aspects of this feeling; Kant’s analysis exceeds even this, however. The multiplicity of ways of attending to this pleasure is a function not only of how it is constituted, but also the distinctive relation we have to it, and the unique place it occupies in our system of cognition and moral life. That this is so is evidenced not only in the text itself and its myriad engagements with and approaches to delineating this pleasure, but also in the diversity of scholarship that treats the topic. This diversity is not solely disagreement; rather, the diversity also stems from the varied legitimate angles from which one can get at the structure of or role of this pleasure. I will not, then, pretend to have something like the final word on the pleasurable feeling we find in ourselves in a judgment of taste. I will, however, suggest a way to understand this feeling that situates it in Kant’s larger philosophical project. To this end, I take up pleasure insofar as it can be seen to fulfill Kant’s promise that in the third Critique he provides for us the necessary “transition” between the theoretical and practical spheres. It is in the third Critique that Kant announces that the “[f]eeling of pleasure and displeasure” constitutes a faculty of the mind with its own principle, thus finally admitting of a critique at all (a proposition he had earlier rejected). With this, he expressly conceives of the third Critique in relation to its role in his philosophical system and in relation, then, to the principal two spheres of philosophical inquiry. While Kant is explicit that a transition is needed, he is less clear about what is actually required to effect the transition he has in mind. In this essay, I develop what I take to be necessary for a transition to be possible between the theoretical and practical spheres, between nature and freedom.
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Kant and the Faculty of Feeling