Kantian Journal

2017 Vol. 36. No. 3

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Kant’s family ethics and philosophy of love. Part 2. Critique of Judgement



This paper deals with the forms of satisfaction in the Critique of Judgement — disinterested affection for a beautiful form in a pure feeling, vital love for something sensorily pleasant, rational respect for unconditioned good, and non-self-regarding love for humanity. A synthetic union of the above gives the conceptual key to the critical philosophy of love, which was never fully articulated in Kant’s lectures or published works. Moral love and legal awareness prevent the encroachment of vital love, as the maxims of ‘barbarian taste’ are being overcome. Aesthetic love — which dwells in the element of sophisticated taste as a capacity to judge with pleasure in matters of beauty, free from any interest, and without the mediation of concepts — appears to be the paramount condition for the possibility of a relationship between the sexes that is ‘compatible with morality’. This is not a restricting, but rather a liberating and affirming kind of satisfaction. Only the capability to see one another in the element of humanly beautiful, the capability to rejoice in one another in the beauty which gives birth to the culture of all faculties of human beings, is, according to Kant, the condition for possibility of the only kind of relationship worthy of humanity and compatible with morality. This condition is discovered by Kant beyond the borders of ethics. Therefore, it is not discussed within those borders any more. The crucial significance of love based on aesthetic taste to Kantian anthropology evokes some superficial Kantian objections but proves to be justified by the philosophy of the culture of free personality as striving towards the integral self, as it was formulated later in German idealism.


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