More Kant, less Life

This evening I was reading a book on Kant & Schiller & Aesthetics … well, between episodes of rewatching Matrix Revolutions. Horst Nitschack’s “Kritik der ästhetischen Wirklichkeitskonstitution” — Critique of the aesthetic constitution of reality — from Verlag Roter Stern, 1976.

And the author has a section on analogy stuck between two other sections with similar names: Geschmackurteil und Äquivalententausch — Judgment of taste and exchange of equivalents (parts 1 and 2). Now the analogy section is limited, focusing on “Analogy and Dialectic in bourgeois thinking.” The publishing house alone should give away the Marxist tendency of the volume, which deals much less with aesthetics than it does with ideology.

He — the author — does a good job asking what the point of the 3rd Critique is, what function it plays, etc. And also in pointing out that far too many writers on the subject end up treating Kant as the or an originator of (philosophical) aesthetics on the basis of the 3rd Critique, of aesthetics as a philosophy of art and of beauty, primarily because they focus on the 1st half of the 3rd Critique. And as the author points out, and I agree, this is a fallacy. Now others, not just this author, argue convincingly that we should consider the work as a whole. I, however, won’t treat the 2nd half of the 3rd as the “true” purpose or role or function or point of it, but the two go together. See, it’s not about the teleology of nature, it’s about the perceived teleology of nature, purposiveness, which is not purpose, but at least the appearance of purpose, the “as if,” the “it seems as if it had purpose,” both a subjunctive of sorts as well as a matter of form implying finality, syntax implying semantics.

Another point to go back to, both for me — and this this author points it out — and for my 1st content chapter is to remember that the philosophical-logical function of the 3rd Critique, when dealing with the power of judgment as a “faculty” (Vermögen), is assuming the particular under the general.

This is the particular, not the individual or an example, but the particular, das Besondere, which in its particularity is also, potentially, singular. And generalizing that. Or rather, not generalizing, no, that’s not what Kant says. It’s a matter of subsuming it under the general, making it available to understanding. But it’s “Allegory” — and this is for another chapter, then, dealing with aphorism and Goethe along with the symbolic and allegorical — that that turns the particular or at least individual into a general, whereas the “Symbolic” treats it as particular. But in any case, the reason why this is important is that it’s a limit of induction, a type of inference. With induction there are enough examples to justify the general rule, but with the particular there is no logical way to get to a general statement or make the connection between particular and general, and only through the general, the world of categories and rules, the subsuming of species under genii, can we deal with understanding and rationality. Verstand.

Now, we also have to deal with purposiveness and not purpose of nature because purpose belongs to practical reason, to will, and is categorically denied nature. Nature is material and efficient causes; will is final. Metaphysics is, according to the British empiricists, the realm of formal causes, with regard to nature even and especially, but even if that is the case of Kant, he showed that we can’t treat metaphysics as a science. The 3rd Critique as a whole is part of a way to make a part of metaphysics actual science or close thereto, make it philosophically reasonable, expand or test the limits of reason.

What we end up doing is categorically questionable, and Kant knows this — applying “Freedom” to “Nature” doesn’t quite work, so we can’t do it directly. But nature and art (natural things; one of the product of God if there is one, one a product of man, genius in particular) are sub-elements of the natural world, they’re elements of the natural world in which the form is at such a level that we suspect purpose, though we can’t prove it. We can’t get from one to the other. But at a different level, at the level of reason, at the level of cognition, what we’re doing, how we make judgments about art and how we make judgments about ‘good’ (a sub-category of what we consider practical reason) are similar, just about the same.

Through the formal analogy, an analogy that compares not accidents/qualities alone but more abstract features or even sets of qualities, that’s how they can substitute for each other.

Now, this is a radical position in a sense, not so much for Kant, but for the century. The reality is that in most cultures, even then, and even today, the connection between aesthetic and ethical/moral judgments were not just similar, they were basically identical. Art was judged according to how it reflected good or bad, and when it was judged by beauty, the standard for beauty also dealt with mirroring good or bad. In Kant there is no mention of the moral quality of beauty itself. There is a heuristic connection of sorts between them, insofar as the best way to learn about one of them is to develop skill in the other (I think it is that the best way to develop good taste is to develop ethical/moral behavior, but will have to reread the 3rd Critique).

Today in music I finished The Smiths, got through a few songs by The Sugarcubes, and made it through one album by The Tea Party. Sort of Led Zeppelin meets the 90s. The north African and Indian elements fit well with the 3rd Matrix movie, so there’s a nice overlap between music and movie today. I read more of Prague and should finish it tomorrow.

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