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Semantic and Stylistic Features of Kant’s Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and the Sublime: The Art of    Seeing and Describing an Object

DOI
10.5922/0207-6918-2022-2-3
Pages
68-95

Abstract

Immanuel Kant’s Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and the Sublime is examined in the context of the emergence of the epistemological practice of scientific observation. By focusing on the genre-stylistic and semantic-structural features of the text the authors demonstrate the mechanisms of observation as well as the methods of describing the results characteristic of mid-eighteenth century science. The authors consider Kant’s treatise to be a hybrid text: on the one hand, it attests to the importance of the natural science paradigm and the degree of its influence on the humanities in the modern period; and, on the other hand, it bears witness to the multi-genre character of philosophical treatises, combining as they do the considered and serious wisdom of philosophy, the precision of scientific terminology and the figurativeness of a work of fiction. Kant is perceived not only as a researcher and philosopher capable of bringing out the essence of the particular and changeable captured in observation, but as a writer with a consummate command of the apparatus for keeping the reader’s attention through linguistic devices and practices of image-creating. The authors demonstrate how the categories of the “beautiful” and “sublime” become a general framework for the description of the moral and mental properties of human nature. The authors show that Kant’s use of “aesthetic” wording in the title of his treatise does not announce that his aim is analysis of artistic perception and practices, but mainly refers to the form of his anthropological study and conceptualisation of scientific knowledge. Kant has transferred the technique of visualisation from natural sciences to the objects of philosophical inquiry, thus contributing to the development in the humanities of representative practices, the scientific method of observation as well as the corresponding epistemic and literary genre.

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