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Immanuel Kant's Critique Of Judgment, Friedrich Schiller's On The Aesthetic Education Of Man, And Edward Tylor's Primitive Culture

1923 words - 8 pages

Aesthetics, the process through which humans make judgments of beauty, shapes the culture within which people express themselves artistically. In Immanuel Kant's Critique of Judgment, Friedrich Schiller's On the Aesthetic Education of Man, and Edward Tylor's Primitive Culture, all three writers explore the origins of subjective aesthetic culture and its relationship to society, and, particularly, politics. Culture, and, in turn, the aesthetic process, creates the societal whole which eventually takes the form of the state. While these works were written, nations in Europe such as France, reacting from the Revolution, and Germany, working toward unification, struggled to identify themselves as a "whole," and these historical events greatly influenced these thinkers. Although Tylor's subject matter differs somewhat from that of Kant and Schiller, he explores the larger realm within which the processes identified by the latter two are carried out. The writers all explore, though each differently, the idea of subjectivity as it is related to judgments of beauty and the creation of a "culture" and politics in a society. While aesthetics necessitate subjectivity and in turn create a larger societal bond in the writings of both Kant and Schiller, Tylor views aesthetics as well as politics as merely parts of a larger natural social development dependent upon objective laws.In Kant's Critique of Judgment, he argues that the aesthetic process requires the individual to be removed from politics. The judgment of beauty, the most significant component in his aesthetic process, necessitates the disinterest of the judge. One cannot judge beauty if one is influenced by politics, because "a judgment of merely contemplative, i.e., it is a judgment that is indifferent to the existence of the object" (Kant 51). The judge must also reflect upon and contemplate the object of his judgments, which demands subjectivity and individual assessment. With this assertion, Kant emphasizes the value of subjectivity in formulating judgments of beauty. However, "if someone likes something and is conscious that he himself does so without any interest, then he cannot help judging that it must contain a basis for being liked [that holds] for everyone" (Kant 53-4), and so must "re-present" what he experiences as beautiful in a way that is communicable to others. An object cannot be described as beautiful unless this description is universally accepted. In this representation, one as a subjective individual and one as a social being intersect, creating the wholeness of culture. This aesthetic common ground between the individual and society necessitates that people "must have a subjective principle, which determines only by feeling rather than concepts, though nonetheless with universal validity, what is liked or disliked. Such a principle, however, could only be regarded as a common sense" (Kant 87). Beauty is not an objective property of the object itself but lies instead...

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