SHS Web Conf.
Volume 161, 202312th Kant-Readings International Conference “Kant and the Ethics of Enlightenment: Historical Roots and Contemporary Relevance”
|Number of page(s)||8|
|Section||Enlightenment Ethics and Aesthetics in Correlation|
|Published online||08 March 2023|
Kant on the fine arts: A reply to a social practices objection
Gwynedd Mercy University, 1325 Sumneytown Pike, Gwynedd Valley, PA 19437, USA
* Corresponding author: email@example.com
Nicholas Wolterstorff’s book Art Rethought objects to what he calls a now widely accepted “grand narrative” about art, originally proposed during the early modern period. According to this narrative, art came into its own once it was contemplated for its own sake from an aesthetic point of view. Although Kant is a foremost aesthetic theorist from the period in which this narrative took root, Wolterstorff does not directly criticize Kant’s aesthetic theory, choosing to discuss figures such as Karl Philipp Moritz and Wilhelm Wackenroder. I thus formulate an objection broadly based on Wolterstorff’s concerns and apply it to Kant. Roughly, the objection is that Kant’s account focuses too much on the pleasure in disinterested aesthetic contemplation and that it does not sufficiently recognize the social practices of art. I then argue that Kant’s account is able to neutralize the objection for three main reasons. 1) Kant to some extent acknowledges the social functions of art, including veneration and honoring. His notion of adherent beauty provides a way to account for the social functions of the work. 2) Kant’s theory can be expanded to account for social protest art, memorial art, reflexive art and conceptual art. 3) Another basis for recognizing the social functions of art can be derived from Kant’s view of the empirical interest in the beautiful, which is grounded on sociability. In short, Kant holds that aesthetic experiences are important for the cultivation of the social and moral aspects of human beings.
Key words: Kant / fine art / aesthetic contemplation / adherent beauty / Nicholas Wolterstorff / social practices
© The Authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2023
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