English 456: C20 Criticism and Theory

Questions on Immanuel Kant’s
"Analytic of the Beautiful"and "Analytic of the Sublime"

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from Critique of Judgment (1790)

"Analytic of the Beautiful"

1) What is philosophical idealism? How does it describe the relationship between the mind and the external world?

2) What implications might philosophical idealism have for broader notions about politics and societal organization? Responding to this question helps one understand why the romantic poets borrowed so heavily from Kantian ideas.

3) An aesthetic judgment (the judging of a particular object as “beautiful”) stems from a feeling of pleasure—but why are we able to feel that pleasure? It is clear that for a Kantian, beauty is not an innate property of the object itself. Where, then, should we locate beauty? What is happening that results in our pleasure and our judgment that a particular object is beautiful?

4) Once we declare an object beautiful, why, according to Kant, do we suppose we have the right to other people’s agreement? That is, we would not demand that everybody like chocolate ice cream just because we like it, but we would insist that our statement, “this red rose is beautiful” is a universally correct judgment. Why?

"Analytic of the Sublime"

1. Why might the feeling of sublimity be threatening to the individual perceiver? What does it threaten to do to our confidence in our mental powers to construe the world correctly? How do we recover from that feeling of being threatened or overawed?

2. In section 40, Kant discusses his theory about the sensus communis. How does he define this "common sense," and why is it important?

3. In section 43, Kant distinguishes "art" from "nature." What are the distinguishing characteristics of art?

4. In section 49, how does Kant treat the issue of "genius"? What can the artist or genius do especially well?

Edition: The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. Ed. Vincent B. Leitch. New York: Norton, 2001. ISBN: 0393974294.