Kantian Journal

2016 Issue №2(56)

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Kant’s aesthetic theory in the light of H. G. Gadamer’s hermeneutic project



This article considers H.-G. Gadamer’s hermeneutics in the context of Kant’s aesthetic theory laid down in the Critique of Judgement. Kant facilitated the development of aesthetics as an independent science, for the first time addressing the problem of the cognising and perceiving subject. Gadamer, a prominent 20th century philosopher, builds his aesthetic concept based on Kant’s theory. However, their theories differ in some aspects. This article is an attempt to establish the connection between the two systems. Special attention is paid to the fundamental differences between the theories and their common principles. Unlike Gadamer, Kant focuses on general aesthetic categories and aesthetic perception rather than artistic phenomena. Kant’s thesis about ‘disinterested liking’ and the correlation between Kant’s definitions of art and cognition are considered. Kant distinguishes between aesthetic judgment and cognition, whereas Gadamer defines art as a method of cognition, an event that can become genuine under the condition of maximum of understanding. The author analyses the key categories of aesthetics — taste, play, and the beautiful. It is concluded that Kant understands the category of play from the perspective of the subject, whereas Gadamer interprets it as an instance of movement, independent from the observer. The correlation between Kant’s aesthetic theory and the ensuing romantic concepts of is established. In the conclusion, the authors stresses the influence of Kant’s theory on the development of hermeneutics, which has been aimed at avoiding pseudo-understanding since German Romanticism.


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