The Great Philosophical Debates of Nogglestead

So my beautiful wife and I were discussing the nature of aesthetics, in particular the four things from Kant’s Critique of Judgment that make a proclamation or inclination an aesthetic judgment, to whit:

  • The judgment must be free of practical considerations.
  • It must apply in all situations, universally, and not a specific or personal.
  • The object considered must have the properties that cause the pleasure being described.
  • The object must be purposeful, but not for a purpose (see also the first item).

We differed greatly in consideration of the third item. She argued very assertively that the aesthetic judgment lies in the response of the person making the judgement, that something is beautiful because it creates a pleasant reaction in the observer. The beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and all that.

Whereas I posited that the beauty lies in the qualities within the object under observation, and that, as Kant said, those qualities exist and will trigger the same feelings of joy and whatnot in any comparable observer. It’s the same argument in epistemology that people have when they say, “Is the apple red? No, you see red, so red is not a property of the apple, but of your interaction with the apple.” Absurd! Anything with similar ocular receptors viewing the apple in the same light would see red because the property that reflects light in that wavelength is IN THE APPLE.

The qualities admired as beauty are in the object, available for anyone to admire. They are not in the admirer.

“You know why I am arguing so strenuously,” I said. “When I tell you you’re beautiful, you say it’s because I love you.”

I am nothing if not consistent. She is beautiful, not because I love her, but because she is.

Kant, Sammy Kershaw, and I agree. And you can’t argue with a panel of experts on aesthetics like that.