. 6
( 10)


all suggest that the experience of beauty somehow involves our faculty of
concepts without involving any particular concepts at all.
My second textual point is that none of Kant™s examples of beautiful
objects and our experience of them suggests that any indeterminate mul-
titude of concepts or conceptual possibilities is necessarily involved in
such experience. Kant™s paradigmatic examples of free beauties of both
nature and art, such things as hummingbirds and crustacea, designs a la `
grecque and musical fantasias, “do not represent anything, no object under
a determinate concept” (CPJ, §16, 5:229);35 instead, of course, Kant insists
that the proper object of taste is pure spatial or temporal form, “shape or
play,” for example design in a work of visual art or composition in a piece
of music (CPJ, §14, 5:225). These examples do not sit well with the sug-
gestion that the object of the experience of beauty is really a play of con-
cepts or conceptual possibilities. And even when Kant ¬rst introduces a kind
of beauty that clearly does involve a concept, namely, adherent beauty,
such beauty involves only one concept, the concept of the intended end
of the object with such beauty, with which the form of the adherently
beautiful object must somehow be compatible. There is no suggestion
that adherent beauty any more than free beauty involves a play among

34 I should note here that Kant eventually argues that the resolution of the “antinomy of
judgments of taste” does require the assumption that in some sense judgments of taste
rest on an “indeterminate and also indeterminable concept,” namely, the idea of the
supersensible substratum of humanity and of appearances generally (CPJ, §57, 5:339“
40). It is questionable whether he needs such a claim to resolve the antinomy (see Guyer
1997, chapter 10), and in any case, it is not part of this claim that any indeterminate
concept or multitude of concepts is part of the experience of beauty itself, rather than
an underlying ground for the universal subjective validity of this experience.
35 For a subtle discussion of the ambiguities of Kant™s use of the term ˜represent™ here, see
Schaper (1979).
The Harmony of the Faculties Revisited 177

any indeterminate multitude of concepts.36 Likewise, when Kant ¬nally
presents his theory of ¬ne art, he suggests that a work of art typically has
a content, an “aesthetic idea,” which connotes a “rational idea,” on the
one hand, through a wealth of “attributes” or images, on the other, but
he does not suggest that in the experience of a work of ¬ne art the mind
plays among a multitude of possible conceptualizations of the work of art
itself (CPJ, §49, 5:314).
Textual evidence aside, the philosophical problem with the multicog-
nitive approach is that it is not clear why an experience of ¬‚itting back
and forth among an indeterminate multitude of concepts for a single
object should be pleasing. To be sure, one can well imagine that some
such experiences are pleasing, as reveries or daydreams sometimes are;
but then again, the experience of ranging over an indeterminate multi-
tude of possible concepts for an object without being able to settle on a
determinate one for the object at hand is sometimes frustrating, indeed
a nightmare “ just imagine, or remember, going back and forth among
several answers to an exam question, each of which seems plausible with-
out one seeming conclusively correct. When Rush, for example, writes
that “any beautiful thing will permit a seamless, effortless, and potentially
endless series of unconscious ˜re-imaginings,™”37 that sounds as if it might
sometimes be pleasant “ the words ˜seamless™ and ˜effortless™ (reminis-
cent of Kant™s term ˜erleichtert™) are obviously meant to sound that way “
but it is not clear why an endless series of “re-imaginings” might not also
be frustrating, unless, that is, it satis¬es some independent criterion for
aesthetic satisfaction.
Now Rush™s characterization of the free play of the faculties here does
bring out one point that is not always clear in interpretations of Kant™s
idea, namely, that the contemplation of the beautiful should be under-
stood as a state of mind that is sometimes protracted rather than instan-
taneous. This is indeed suggested by Kant when he maintains that the
pleasure in the beautiful “has a causality in itself, namely that of maintain-
ing the state of the representation of the mind and the occupation of the
cognitive powers without a further aim,” and thus that “We linger over the
consideration of the beautiful because this consideration strengthens and

36 Robert Wicks (1997) argues that we experience an object with dependent beauty as if
it satis¬ed its end in an indeterminate multitude of ways, but he does not, like Rush
or Allison, equate these with an indeterminate multitude of concepts or conceptual
possibilities. So his approach is not a pure case of what I have called the multicognitive
37 Rush (2001), 58.
Paul Guyer

reproduces itself” (CPJ, §12, 5:222). In fact, he needs to say this, because
the only entirely general characterization of pleasure, whether pleasure
in mere sensation, in re¬‚ection, or in the determination of the will, that
he thinks can be given is that “Pleasure is a state of the mind in which
a representation is in agreement with itself, as a ground, either merely
for preserving itself (for the state of the powers of the mind reciprocally
promoting each other in a representation preserves itself), or for pro-
ducing its object” (FI, VIII, 20:230“1). Pleasure is a state that we would
rather prolong than end “ in a way, this is the only possible de¬nition of
pleasure. But the very generality of this characteristic means that we can
hardly infer from it anything particular about the pleasure in beauty, for
example that it must be a temporally extended play among “conceptual
possibilities.” Rather, Kant seems to assume that states of pleasure are plea-
surable from the outset, and do not depend upon their temporal duration
or prolongation to become pleasurable, although precisely because they
are pleasurable we are naturally disposed to prolong them.38 This sug-
gests that he does not understand the pleasure in beauty as something
that could emerge only from a temporally extended play with conceptual
possibilities, but rather as a state that is at least sometimes more instan-
taneously pleasurable “ as the contemplation of a graphic design (but
perhaps not a musical composition) might be “ and that we would then
like to prolong.
6. But the deeper philosophical problem for both precognitive and
multicognitive approaches to the harmony of the faculties is that the
very idea of a state of our cognitive powers that does not involve any
determinate concepts is dubious. In fact, this idea is inconsistent both
with an ordinary assumption about judgments of taste and with the most
fundamental claims of Kant™s theory of knowledge.
The ordinary assumption about judgments of taste, which Kant clearly
shares with the rest of us, is that the objects of such judgments must be
identi¬ed by means of particular empirical concepts and that we must be
cognizant of the application of such concepts to them in order to make
such judgments, just as is the case with any other kinds of judgments
about objects, in spite of whatever features are distinctive of aesthetic

38 Here one should no doubt add “other things being equal.” Some pleasures are, of course,
too intense for us really to want to prolong them very long or else accompanied with
such negative consequences that we cannot on re¬‚ection want to prolong them very
The Harmony of the Faculties Revisited 179

judgments. An aesthetic judgment does not have the form “This is beau-
tiful” but rather “This F is beautiful”: this hummingbird, this sunset, this
painting, this symphony, this part of the garden (but not the other),
this fa¸ ade of the building (but not its other elevations), or the public
spaces of this hotel (but not its guest rooms). And these objects or parts of
objects cannot be individuated without concepts “ as Wittgenstein taught
us, pointing by itself won™t do.39 But we didn™t have to wait for Wittgen-
stein to realize this: It was always evident in our practices of judgment
(as Wittgenstein would have said, he was just assembling reminders). It
is certainly evident in Kant™s examples of aesthetic judgments: In spite
of his insistence that these judgments are in some sense independent of
determinate concepts, he always supposes that they are about particu-
lar objects, which can only be individuated by means of such concepts “
for example, this hummingbird, this foliage border (but not the rest of
the wall), this fantasia (but not another piece in the concert) (CPJ, §16,
5:229), this design or pattern in the painting (but not its colors), and,
for that matter, this painting (but not its frame) (CPJ, §14, 5:225“6). And
presumably he did not think, any more than we would, that such con-
cepts, or more precisely terms for them, are just used to tell others to
what objects we are responding, to which they should also respond. For
Kant, a particular concept, whether a concept such as ˜triangle™ that is to
be applied to objects in pure intuition or one such as ˜plate™ or ˜dog™ that
is to be applied to objects in empirical intuition, is a rule for constructing
(in the case of pure intuition) or recognizing (in the case of empirical
intuition) an instance of the kind of object the concept names.40 So we
could not know what object we are responding to with a pleasurable feel-
ing of beauty, or which object we should attend to in order to con¬rm for
ourselves another™s judgment of beauty (see CPJ, §32, 5:282), except by
using a determinate concept to delimit some portion of our total visual or
other experiential ¬eld, at or during some particular time, as the object
of our attention, response, and aesthetic judgment. Thus, while Kant may
well have thought that we can abstract from some concepts that we would
ordinarily apply to possible objects of taste, in particular concepts of their
intended use or end (CPJ, §15, 5:226“7; §16, 5:229“31), his own examples
of paradigmatic judgments of taste suggest that he could not very well

39 Wittegenstein, Philosophical Investigations (1963), Part I, §§33“45.
40 See Critique of Pure Reason, On the Schematism of the Pure Concepts of the Understand-
ing, A137“42/B176“81.
Paul Guyer

have thought that we could assess our aesthetic responses to objects or
even respond to them at all without individuating them by means of ordi-
nary concepts such as ˜triangle™ or ˜plate™, ˜hummingbird™ or ˜painting.™
But we do not have to rely solely on Kant™s examples for this conclusion.
It is also implied by the most fundamental aspects of his theory of knowl-
edge. This is hardly the place for a detailed discussion of the Critique of Pure
Reason, but a brief outline of the central argument of the Transcendental
Analytic should do for our present purposes. The ¬rst Critique argues that
it is possible for me to attach the “I think” to any representation that I
have, or to include any representation in the transcendental unity of my
apperception (A116; §16, B131“2); that including any representation in
the transcendental unity of my apperception requires the application of
one or more of the categories or pure concepts of the understanding to
it (A119; §20, B143); but that the pure concepts of the understanding
are in fact nothing but the forms of determinate empirical concepts, just
as the pure forms of intuition are nothing but the forms of empirical
intuitions (A111, 119, 125; §13, B128“9; §22, B146“7), so that the appli-
cation of the categories to all the objects of my representation also requires
the application of determinate empirical concepts to all of them (for exam-
ple, the category of substance can only be applied to empirical intuition
through the empirical concept of matter, and the concept of causation
through the empirical concept of a rule-governed change in motion).41
But these premises entail that we can never be conscious of a represen-
tation at all, a fortiori of a representation of an object, a fortiori of an
object of actual or potential aesthetic response and judgment, without the
application of some determinate empirical concept to it. Further, we may
also consider the application of a concept to a manifold that is required
for the transcendental unity of apperception as bringing the faculty of
understanding into a certain kind of correspondence with a manifold of
sensibility reproduced by the imagination, namely, that of the synthetic
unity of the manifold required and/or constituted by the application of
that concept to it (A104; §17, B137). This means not only that we can-
not be conscious of an object at all without applying some determinate
concept to it, but also that we cannot be conscious of it at all without the
existence of some form of correspondence between understanding and
imagination in the experience of that object.
This brief account of the argument of the ¬rst Critique should be
enough to show that Kant cannot have thought that beautiful objects are

41 These examples are drawn from Kant™s 1786 Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science.
The Harmony of the Faculties Revisited 181

those to which we apply the categories without applying any determinate
concepts to them, since he clearly thought that the categories are only
the forms of determinate concepts and can be applied to intuitions only
through determinate concepts.42 So how are we to understand the free
yet harmonious play of imagination and understanding that is distinctive
of the experience of beauty if we cannot understand it as involving the
simple absence of ordinary determinate concepts of objects? The sim-
plest answer to this would be to follow the lead of Kant™s argument in
§§15“16 and say that the kind of harmony of the faculties distinctive of
the experience of beauty requires only the absence of any concept of the
determinate intended end or use of the object of that experience. How-
ever, there are a number of dif¬culties with such a proposal. First, it is
merely negative “ it tells us nothing positive about the harmony of the
faculties by means of which we might recognize the occurrence of that
state. Second, it provides too inclusive a criterion of the beautiful: Surely
there are many objects of our experience, if not indeed the majority of
them, that either have no intended use or from whose intended use we
can abstract without ¬nding them in the least beautiful. I can ¬nd some
stones beautiful and others not, but I do not have to abstract from any
intended use or purpose to ¬nd the former beautiful, nor is the absence
of any intended use or purpose suf¬cient to make me ¬nd the latter
Most importantly, however, although Kant surely does say repeatedly
that the free play of the faculties has nothing to do with the satisfaction
of any end, this statement is actually too broad for his own purposes.
For in the Introduction to the third Critique, Kant suggests that plea-
sure is typically connected with the attainment of an aim (Erreichung jeder
Absicht),43 although such pleasure is most noticeable (merklich) when the
aim is attained in an unexpected way (CPJ, VI, 5:187); and in the dis-
cussion of the “primacy of practical reason” Kant also suggests that every
power of the mind has a characteristic aim, and thus a characteristic

42 Earlier, I attributed this view to Rudolf Makkreel, although with the quali¬cation
expressed in footnote 16; Malcolm Budd may also suppose that the categories can be
applied to objects independently of any determinate concepts at Budd (2001), 247“8.
43 Strictly speaking, Kant says that the attainment of every end is connected with pleasure,
not that every pleasure is connected with the attainment of some end. But since he never
offers any other general explanation of pleasure “ his only other general statement about
pleasure, as we have already seen (FI, VIII, 20:230“1 and CPJ, §12, 5:222), is about the
consequence of pleasure, namely, that pleasure is a state that produces a desire for its own
continuation “ it seems reasonable to take him as making both assumptions.
Paul Guyer

interest “ “To every faculty of the mind one can attribute an interest, that
is, a principle that contains the condition under which alone its exercise
is promoted” “ on the way to making his argument that the interest of
practical reason (or our interest in the practical use of reason) requires
us to believe in propositions that can be neither proved nor disproved
by or for theoretical reasons but that are required for the rationality of
moral conduct.44 This means that the free play of the cognitive powers
cannot be understood as a condition in which no ends or interests of any
kind are involved at all, nor can it be understood simply as a condition
in which no determinate interest other than that of one or more pow-
ers of the mind itself is involved, for that brings us back to a merely
negative characterization of this state of mind. Instead, it must be under-
stood as a condition in which some fundamental end or interest of the
mind itself is satis¬ed, although in an unusual and therefore unexpected
way that is still to be explained. Finally, to hold that a genuine aesthetic
response cannot involve any end at all would wreak havoc with Kant™s
recognition of the special cases of adherent beauty and artistic beauty,
for the former is a kind of beauty that is somehow connected with the
proper end of its object (CPJ, §16, 5:229“30), and the latter is clearly
the product of intentional human action (CPJ, §43, 5:303“4), and must
thus somehow involve an end. Since Kant does not assert that adher-
ent beauty and artistic beauty are simply misnamed, and thus spurious
kinds of beauty, it would seem that any satisfactory interpretation of the
free play of imagination and understanding in the case of free beauty
should be able to be extended to those kinds of beauty as well without
7. So if the free play of imagination and understanding cannot be
understood either as a state of mind that involves no determinate con-
cepts at all or even as a state of mind that involves merely no concept of
an end or interest, we still face the question, how is it to be understood?
My proposal is that the only way we can understand Kant™s account of
the free play of the cognitive powers consistently with our own and his
assumptions about the determinacy of the objects of aesthetic judgment,
as well as with his assumption about the judgmental and therefore object-
referring structure of consciousness itself, is by replacing the precognitive
and multicognitive approaches with what I will now call a ˜metacognitive™
approach. On such an approach, the free and harmonious play of imag-
ination and understanding should be understood as a state of mind in

44 Critique of Practical Reason, 5:119“21.
The Harmony of the Faculties Revisited 183

which the manifold of intuition induced by the perception of an object
and presented by the imagination to the understanding is recognized
to satisfy the rules for the organization of that manifold dictated by the
determinate concept or concepts on which our recognition and iden-
ti¬cation of the object of this experience depends. It is also a state of
mind in which it is felt that “ or as if “ the understanding™s underlying
objective or interest in unity is being satis¬ed in a way that goes beyond
anything required for or dictated by satisfaction of the determinate con-
cept or concepts on which mere identi¬cation of the object depends.
A beautiful object can always be recognized as an object of some deter-
minate kind, but our experience of it always has even more unity and
coherence than is required for it to be a member of that kind, or has a
kind of unity and coherence that is not merely a necessary condition for
our classi¬cation of it. On such an approach, the free play of imagination
and understanding is not a condition that must precede any ordinary
cognition, nor must we forget or abstract away from our ordinary cogni-
tion of the object to take pleasure in its beauty; nor must the experience
of beauty consist in a play among alternative cognitions or conceptual-
izations of the object. We can, indeed we must be able to have ordinary
cognition of the object, but we experience it as beautiful precisely because
we experience it as inducing a degree or type of harmony between imag-
ination and understanding “ between the manifold it presents and our
desire for unity “ that goes beyond whatever is necessary for ordinary
cognition. And this explains why we can ordinarily judge not only that
“This F is beautiful” “ for example, “This Haydn sonata is beautiful” or
“This Pollock is beautiful” “ but also judge that “This F is beautiful but
that one is not” “ for example, “This Haydn sonata is beautiful but that
one is not” or “This Pollock is beautiful but that one is not.” We could
not make such judgments, although we surely do, unless our aesthetic
judgments were compatible with our ordinary classi¬catory judgments,
and gave expression to the way in which some objects but not others
occasion a free play of imagination and understanding that goes beyond
the relation between them that is required for ordinary cognition.
Now I cannot claim that there are any passages in Kant that unequivo-
cally imply the metacognitive rather than precognitive and multicognitive
approaches; if there were, then presumably the latter approaches would
not have enjoyed such a good run for their money. But there are certainly
passages that are compatible with the metacognitive approach, and some
that at least suggest it. Both kinds of passages may be found in Section VIII
of the First Introduction, Kant™s central discussion of aesthetic judgment
Paul Guyer

in that text.45 When Kant writes that “An aesthetic judgment in general
can therefore be explicated as that judgment whose predicate can never
be cognition (concept of an object) (although it may contain the sub-
jective conditions for a cognition in general). In such a judgment the
determining ground is sensation” (FI, VIII, 20:224), he does not actually
say that an aesthetic judgment is incompatible with ordinary cognition
of its object: The predicate of the judgment that can never be cognition or
a concept of the object is, after all, the predicate ˜beautiful,™ and it is the
application of this predicate that can have only sensation as its determin-
ing ground; and this at least leaves open that the subject of the aesthetic
judgment can be identi¬ed only by means of an ordinary determinate
concept. If that is so, then the occurrence of the sensation of pleasure
that is the basis of the application of the predicate ˜beautiful™ would have
to be compatible with the recognition of the satisfaction of the determi-
nate conditions necessary for the application of the subject concept of
the judgment, such as, painting or sonata in three movments, and the feeling
of pleasure would thus naturally be understood as the feeling of a degree
or type of harmony between the cognitive faculties that goes beyond
whatever is necessary to satisfy the concept. We could say the same about
Kant™s subsequent statement that “since a merely subjective condition of
a judgment does not permit a determinate concept of that judgment™s
determining ground, this can only be given in the feeling of pleasure, so
that the aesthetic judgment is always a judgment of re¬‚ection” (FI, VIII,
20:225): This can be taken to say only that the determining ground for
the predicate of the aesthetic judgment, namely ˜beautiful,™ cannot be a
determinate concept.
Perhaps one could also ¬nd more positive evidence for the metacog-
nitive approach in this passage from the preceding page in the First
By the designation “an aesthetic judgment about an object” it is therefore imme-
diately indicated that a given representation is certainly related to an object but
that what is understood in the judgment is not the determination of the object
but of the subject and its feeling. For in the power of judgment understand-
ing and imagination are considered in relation to each other, and this can, to
be sure, ¬rst be considered objectively, as belonging to cognition (as happened
in the transcendental schematism of the power of judgment); but one can also

45 It should be recalled that the two locutions in the ¬rst Introduction in support of the
multicognitive approach come in the preceding section (FI, VII, 20:220“1), prior to the
main discussion.
The Harmony of the Faculties Revisited 185

consider this relation of two faculties of cognition merely subjectively, insofar
as one helps or hinders the other in the very same representation and thereby
affects the state of mind, and [is] therefore a relation which is sensitive (which is
not the case in the separate [abgesonderten] use of any other faculty of cognition).
(FI, VIII, 20:223)

The ¬rst sentence of this passage clearly implies that an aesthetic judg-
ment is made about a particular object, and must therefore be compatible
with the recognition that the object satis¬es the conditions for member-
ship in some determinate kind, but that the predicate of the aesthetic
judgment “ “what is understood in the judgment” “ cannot be based
on this determinate concept, and must instead be based on a relation
between the cognitive powers that in some way goes beyond it. In the
second sentence, Kant says that the relation between imagination and
understanding can ¬rst be considered “objectively” and then also consid-
ered subjectively, “insofar as one helps or hinders the other in the very
same representation” (emphasis added): Perhaps this is intended to indi-
cate that in an aesthetic judgment we are conscious of both the object™s
satisfaction of the ordinary conditions for cognition and also of some way
in which our experience of it goes beyond those conditions. And in the
¬nal clause I have quoted, Kant does not say that the aesthetic use of
judgment is a use separate from every other faculty of cognition, but only
that the sensitive relation that is the basis of the aesthetic judgment is not
found in the separate use of any other faculty of cognition, that is, in any
other kind of judgment. Thus he might be taken to say that the aesthetic
response to the beauty of an object is not completely separate from the
ordinary cognition of it but rather in some sense additional to it.
Kant™s initial description of the basis for aesthetic judgment in the
published Introduction (VII, 5:189“90), as earlier shown, provides some
of the best evidence for the precognitive approach to the harmony of
the faculties. But even here Kant does follow his statement that the plea-
sure in the experience of beauty “is connected with the mere apprehen-
sion (apprehensio) of the form of an object of intuition without a relation
of this to a concept for a determinate cognition” with the gloss that “Such
a judgment is an aesthetic judgment on the purposiveness of the object,
which is not grounded on any available concept of the object and does
not furnish one” (5:190), and this at least suggests that there are concepts
available for the object and that the experience of its beauty must be com-
patible with the availability of those concepts. Perhaps a more conclusive
textual basis for the metacognitive approach could be found, however,
Paul Guyer

in this passage from Kant™s concluding comment on the Analytic of the
Beautiful rather than anywhere in the introduction to the Analytic:

But if in the judgment of taste the imagination must be considered in its freedom,
then it is in the ¬rst instance taken not as reproductive, as subjected to the laws of
association, but as productive and self-active (as the authoress of voluntary forms
of possible intuitions); and although in the apprehension of a given object of the
senses it is of course bound to a determinate form of this object and to this extent
has no free play (as in invention), nevertheless it is still quite conceivable that
the object can provide it with a form that contains precisely such a composition
of the manifold as the imagination would design in harmony with the lawfulness
of the understanding in general if it were left free by itself. (CPJ, General Remark
following §22, 5:241)

Here Kant suggests that in the perception of a beautiful object, at
least one that is already extant as opposed to ¬rst being invented, the
imagination is bound to a determinate form for that object, presumably
that required by the concept used to identify and classify it, but that at the
same time the imagination feels as if it has had the freedom to invent forms
going beyond this determinate form, but forms that at the same time still
satisfy in some way the general requirement of lawfulness stemming from
the understanding. A natural way to comprehend all this is precisely to
understand a beautiful object as inducing a play among the cognitive
powers that feels as if it satis¬es the understanding™s general requirement
for unity and coherence in a way that goes beyond what is required to
satisfy the conditions for the application of a determinate concept to the
Still, I think it must be conceded that the best argument for the
metacognitive approach is not that some passage in Kant™s text unequiv-
ocally and conclusively implies it, but that it is the only way to make sense
of all of Kant™s assumptions. Like anyone, Kant assumes that the object of
an aesthetic judgment is always identi¬ed by means of a determinate con-
cept; and furthermore, his own theory of apperception requires that the
object of any sort of judgment be picked out by a determinate concept.
Kant also assumes that pleasure must be connected with the satisfaction
of some underlying objective, and further, that if judgments of taste are to
be universally valid, the pleasure that they express must be connected to
the intersubjectively valid powers of cognition. So the pleasure expressed
by a judgment of taste must be connected to the satisfaction of our under-
lying objective in cognition, namely, the uni¬cation of our manifolds of
intuition. But if the pleasure in beauty is to be noticeable and the imagina-
tion is to be free, this satisfaction of the underlying objective of cognition
The Harmony of the Faculties Revisited 187

must be in some way unexpected and not determined by any rule. The
only way to put all these assumptions together is to suppose that in the
experience of beauty in an object, we recognize that the ordinary condi-
tions for cognition of such an object are satis¬ed but also feel46 that our
experience of the manifold presented by the object satis¬es our demand
for unity in a way that goes beyond whatever is necessary for the satisfac-
tion of those ordinary conditions.
8. Once we have accepted this conclusion, however, we can see that
the precognitive and multicognitive approaches to the harmony of the
faculties can in the end be taken to characterize speci¬c ways in which
our experiences of unity and coherence in the manifold presented to us
by particular objects can go beyond the conditions necessary for ordinary
cognition “ although it should be implied precisely by the fact that the
harmony of the faculties must be a free play that there can be no single,
concrete description of this state, so that these approaches cannot be
more than abstract descriptions of some ways in which objects might
yield a metacognitive harmony. The grain of truth in the precognitive
approach is simply that the most general way to describe the manner
in which our experience of a beautiful object goes beyond the necessary
conditions for ordinary cognition is by saying that in addition to satisfying
those conditions, which consist in a manifold™s display of the properties
required by the predicates in a determinate concept (such as displaying
three intersecting straight lines, as required by the concept triangle; or
being a slightly concave, more or less circular piece of fairly rigid and
fairly nonabsorbent material, as required by the concept plate; or being an
intentionally designed and colored array of pigment on a wood panel or
canvas, as required by the concept painting), the experience also seems to
satisfy the understanding™s general requirement of unity and coherence
in some further way, which is not speci¬ed by such determinate concepts
and is not manifest in the experience of every object that does satisfy
such concepts. A beautiful plate satis¬es the necessary conditions for the
application of the concept plate in the same way that an indifferent or

46 I say “feel” here both because it is Kant™s theory that we recognize the existence of the
harmony of the faculties precisely through the feeling of pleasure this state causes (see
CPJ, §9, 5:219) and also because one presumably does not have to be aware of Kant™s
theoretical explanation of that pleasure to feel it or even to judge the object to be
beautiful. But presumably one does have to recognize in at least some rough-and-ready
way that the object satis¬es the conditions for its subsumption under the determinate
concept by means of which it is individuated and referred to “ one does not just feel that
a certain object is a hummingbird or a sonata.
Paul Guyer

downright ugly plate does, but the relations among the precise features
of its shape, material, decoration, and so on provide a further grati¬cation
for the understanding™s interest in coherence that is not speci¬ed by any
further determinate concept and cannot be captured by one. Ordinary or
ugly plates do not provide this further grati¬cation for the understanding
apart from their satisfaction of the determinate concept plate. Mutatis
mutandis, the same goes for beautiful and ordinary paintings.
The multicognitive interpretation, by contrast, can be seen as describ-
ing a particular way in which some beautiful objects go beyond satisfying
the necessary conditions for subsumption under the determinate con-
cepts by means of which they are individuated and recognized, namely,
by prompting a free yet harmonious play among images and thoughts
they may suggest, a free play that itself seems to satisfy the understand-
ing™s demand for coherence but that is not dictated by any determinate
concepts of the objects and cannot generate any such determinate con-
cept. For example, a successful novel may suggest a host of thoughts
about character, virtues, vices, choice and chance, and so on, that are
not required simply for the work to count as a novel, and that are not
dictated by any further particular rule, such as for novels of a particular
period or genre, yet that nevertheless seem to stimulate the imagination
in their variety and yet satisfy the understanding in their coherence. We
enjoy freedom in a play of concepts that goes beyond the minimum orga-
nization required for classi¬cation of our object, and, we enjoy such play
only when it does not degenerate into chaos; so we can describe what we
enjoy as a play of concepts that nevertheless satis¬es the understanding™s
general requirement of unity.
It is important to note here, however, that there is no need, arising
either from Kant™s theory of the harmony of the faculties or from our own
experience, to suppose that every beautiful object must satisfy the require-
ment of an indeterminate but coherent play of imagination through an
indeterminate but coherent play of concepts or “conceptual possibili-
ties.” Some types of art, such as various forms of literature, some repre-
sentational painting and sculpture, some music with words, and so on,
surely suggest a variety of ideas and thoughts to us, and what we enjoy in
them will no doubt be an indeterminate yet coherent play among such
thoughts. In other cases, however “ for example, some forms of architec-
ture, nonrepresentational painting and sculpture, some music without
words, and so on “ it would seem most plausible to say that what we enjoy
is a free yet coherent play not among concepts but among perceptual
forms, between shape and color, between light and shade, among tones,
The Harmony of the Faculties Revisited 189

between melody and harmony, and so on “ or also between forms and
concepts. It would be forced and misleading to identify all those with con-
cepts or conceptual possibilities. After all, Kant is thinking of a free play of
the imagination that nevertheless satis¬es the understanding™s demand
for lawfulness, and the Latinate word ˜imagination™ as well as the German
˜Einbildungskraft™ connotes above all a play with images or Bilder “ in
Kantian terms, with intuitions rather than with concepts. It would seem
to be a reasonable accommodation between Kant™s theory and our expe-
rience to say that sometimes it is with more conceptual thoughts or ideas
that the imagination plays, but an entirely unreasonable interpretation
of Kant™s theory as well as of our own aesthetic experience to insist that
the imagination always plays with concepts rather than intuitions.
9. Finally, I would argue that only the metacognitive interpretation of
the harmony of the faculties can make sense without paradox of Kant™s
recognition of adherent beauty and artistic beauty. Kant describes “free
beauty” as that which is judged “according to mere form” and without a
“concept of any end for which the manifold should serve the given object,”
while “adherent beauty,” such as “the beauty of a human being (and in
this species that of a man, a woman, or a child), the beauty of a horse,
of a building (such as a church, a palace, an arsenal, or a garden-house)
presuppose[s] a concept of the end that determines what the thing should
be, hence a concept of its perfection” (CPJ, §16, 229“30). Yet he does not
deny that adherent beauty is a kind of beauty at all, as he should say if all
experience of beauty had to be independent of concepts altogether, nor
does he say that we must ignore an object™s actual or intended purpose in
order to respond to its adherent beauty. We would have to abstract from
an object™s purpose, if we can, to judge it as a free beauty, but this is not
to say that we have to abstract from its purpose to judge it as having any
sort of beauty at all (5:231). But how can a response that presupposes a
concept of the purpose that an object is supposed to serve, and therefore
the conditions that it needs to satisfy in order to serve that purpose, be
a response to beauty at all? On the metacognitive approach, this is not
a puzzle: An object that we experience as having adherent beauty would
be one that we experience as satisfying the conditions required by the
determinate concept of its purpose, just as we recognize any beautiful
object as satisfying some determinate concept, though not necessarily a
concept of a purpose, but also as having a degree or kind of unity that
goes beyond anything required by that concept of purpose, and thus as
inducing a free play of imagination and understanding in addition to the
satisfaction of the former conditions.
Paul Guyer

There are in fact several ways in which this could be the case, each
of which is suggested by particular turns of phrase in Kant™s discussion
of adherent beauty. In some cases, the object™s intended purpose may
simply restrict permissible forms for it, and we may not take any especially
noticeable pleasure in its suitability for this purpose, instead taking our
pleasure primarily in ways in which it goes beyond what is necessary for
that suitability, although were the object unsuitable for its purpose, our
displeasure at that might block the possibility of any pleasure in it at all;
in such cases, as Kant says, the imagination “would merely be restricted”
by the purpose of the object, so that, for example, “One would be able to
add much to a building that would be pleasing in the intuition of it if only
it were not supposed to be a church.” In other cases, we might take as it
were independent pleasures in the object™s suitability for its purpose and
in the free play it nevertheless affords our cognitive powers, so that our
complete response to it is as it were a sum of two pleasures. In such cases
we would enjoy “the combination of the good . . . with beauty,” and “the
entire faculty of the powers of representation” would gain “if both states
of mind are in agreement” (230“1). In yet other cases, we might enjoy
what we take to be an unusual degree of coherence between the purpose
of the object and aspects of its appearance not directly dictated by its
purpose.47 But in each of these cases, we would clearly be enjoying some
free play of imagination and understanding that goes beyond the object™s
satisfaction of the determinate conditions imposed by the concept of its
purpose, whether that play is simply one that takes place within the bounds
set by the purpose of the object or is a play between the purpose and the
form of the object.
Kant also makes beauty in ¬ne art seem paradoxical when he states that
“In a product of art one must be aware that it is art, and not nature; yet the
purposiveness of its form must still seem to be as free from all constraint
by arbitrary rules as if it were a mere product of nature . . . art can only
be called beautiful if we are aware that it is art and yet it looks to us like
nature” (CPJ, §45, 5:306). The chief difference between art and nature,
as Kant has just maintained, is that art is “production through freedom,
i.e., through a capacity for choice that grounds its actions in reason” (CPJ,
§43, 5:303), thus something produced intentionally and with a purpose
in mind. Kant then seems to be saying that we must recognize a work of

47 I have discussed these possibilities and the textual basis for them more fully in Guyer
The Harmony of the Faculties Revisited 191

art as a product of intention and yet be able to ignore or abstract the
intended purpose of its production “ to see it as if were mere nature “ in
order to respond to its beauty. But there is no need for him to require us
to perform any such mental gymnastics, for as he goes on to argue, a truly
successful work of art is a product of genius, and genius is nothing but
the “talent” or “natural gift” that allows the artist to go beyond the “rules
which ¬rst lay the foundation by means of which a product that is to be
called artistic is ¬rst represented as possible” (CPJ, §46, 5:307). In other
words, a work of art is always produced with a variety of ends and rules in
mind “ the speci¬c point the artist may have in producing that work, the
rules that follow from the medium and genre within which she intends to
work, perhaps the constraints that follow from the larger economic and
political objectives she may have, and so on “ but those rules are never
suf¬cient to determine the character of a truly successful work, because
its success depends precisely on our experience, prompted by the genius
of the artist, of a free play of our cognitive cognitive powers, which must
be compatible but also go beyond the satisfaction of all such rules and
constraints. Thus, while “if the object is given as a product of art, and is
as such supposed to be declared to be beautiful, then, since art always
presupposes an end in the cause (and its causality), a concept must ¬rst
be the ground of what the thing is supposed to be” (CPJ, §48, 5:311;
emphasis added), yet if it is in fact to be beautiful, then “the unsought
and unintentional subjective purposiveness of the free correspondence
of the imagination to the lawfulness of the understanding presupposes a
proportion and disposition of this faculty that cannot be produced by any
following of rules . . . but that only the nature of the subject can produce”
(CPJ, §49, 5:317“18). The metacognitive approach to the harmony of the
faculties allows us to reconcile these two requirements without dif¬culty:
A beautiful work of art must ¬rst satisfy the conditions imposed by the
various intentions embodied in it, but must also produce a free play of
imagination and understanding going beyond the mere satisfaction of
all those constraints.
Now Kant also proposes that artistic genius is always manifested in
the “presentation of aesthetic ideas,” where an “aesthetic idea is a rep-
resentation of the imagination that occasions much thinking thought
without it being possible for any determinate thought, i.e., concept, to be
adequate to it” (CPJ, §49, 5:314). An aesthetic idea seems to be a cen-
tral conception for a work of art that connotes a “rational idea,” that
is, a central intellectual and in fact typically moral content, on the one
Paul Guyer

hand, through an indeterminate wealth of “thoughts” or attributes, on
the other.48 The conception of aesthetic ideas could easily suggest the
multicognitive approach to the harmony of the faculties. But two points
should be clear. First, while Kant™s conception no doubt captures some-
thing that is central to our experience of many works of art, he gives no
reason to suppose that every work of art has a theme, let alone a moral
theme, that is realized through a free play of further thoughts; his own
earlier examples of art in the Analytic of the Beautiful clearly implied that
in at least some cases of genuinely beautiful art we respond to form alone.
(And he certainly gives no argument for his claim two sections later that
all beauty, the beauty of nature as well as of art, involves the expression
of aesthetic ideas [CPJ, §51, 5:320]). But second, and more important for
my argument here, it should be clear that even where a work of art does
give us the experience of beauty through an aesthetic idea, the analysis
of art and genius that has preceded Kant™s introduction of the concept
of aesthetic ideas clearly entails that we must experience such a work of
art as both satisfying a variety of determinate rules, necessary for it to be
a product of intentional activity and to be the kind of object that it is, and
also as generating a free play of imagination and understanding, in this
case a play between the theme of the work and the variety of images and
thoughts by which it is realized, that goes beyond anything dictated by
all those rules. In other words, Kant™s theory of aesthetic ideas, whether
we take it, as he intended, as an account of all works of artistic genius or
rather, as seems more reasonable, as an account of some, requires the
metacognitive rather than the multicognitive approach to the harmony
of the faculties.
10. In conclusion, then, I have argued that although there is certainly
textual evidence for both the precognitive and multicognitive approaches
to the interpretation of the harmony of the faculties, and indeed little
unequivocal textual evidence for what I have called the metacognitive
approach, only the latter approach is consistent with Kant™s epistemol-
ogy, with his and our assumptions about the grammatical form of aesthetic
judgments, and with his own recognition of adherent beauty and artistic
beauty as genuine and ultimately paradigmatic forms of beauty; moreover,
the germs of truth in the precognitive and multicognitive approaches
can be incorporated into the metacognitive interpretation as characteri-
zations of some of the ways in which the play of imagination in aesthetic

48 For a fuller account, see my 1994, reprinted as chapter 12 in the second revised edition
of Kant and the Claims of Taste (Guyer 1997a).
The Harmony of the Faculties Revisited 193

experience can go beyond the satisfaction of the requirements of ordinary
concepts, and thus of the ordinary conditions of cognition “ but since
the very concept of the harmony of the faculties as the explanation of
our pleasure in beauty requires that our experience of beauty not be con-
strained by any determinate rules, such characterizations can never offer
anything more than some examples of the ways in which our experience
of beauty can go beyond the determinate requirements of cognition.

Kant™s Leading Thread in the Analytic of the Beautiful

B´ atrice Longuenesse

Kant conducts his Analytic of the Beautiful, in the Critique of the Power of
Judgment, according to the “leading thread” that also guided the table of
the categories in the ¬rst Critique: the four titles of the logical functions
of judgement. This leading thread, which has not met with much favor
on the part of Kant™s readers where the ¬rst Critique is concerned, is even
less popular in the case of the third Critique. In this essay, I will argue that
this ill repute is unmerited. In fact, Kant™s use of the leading thread of the
logical functions of judgment to analyze judgments of taste merits close
attention. In particular, it brings to light a striking feature of judgments
of taste as analyzed by Kant. We would expect the main headings in the
table of logical functions (quantity, quality, relation, modality) to guide
the analysis of aesthetic judgments as judgments about an object (“this
rose is beautiful,” “this painting is beautiful”). Now they certainly do
serve this purpose. But in addition, it turns out that they also serve to
analyze another judgment, one that remains implicitly contained within
the predicate (˜beautiful™) of the judgments of taste. This second judgment,
embedded, as it were, in the ¬rst (or in the predicate of the ¬rst), and
that only the critique of taste brings to discursive clarity, is a judgment no
longer about the object, but about the judging subjects, namely, the subjects
that pass the judgment: “this rose is beautiful,” “this painting is beautiful,”
and so on.
In this essay, I will be concerned with the striking shift of direc-
tion in Kant™s analysis of judgments of taste, from an analysis of the
explicit judgement about an object to an analysis of the implicit judg-
ment about the judging subjects. I propose, moreover, to show that when
we reach the fourth moment of the Analytic of judgments of taste “ that of
Kant™s Leading Thread 195

modality “ the systematic investigation of these judgments according to
the “leading thread” of the logical functions laid out in the ¬rst Critique
uniquely illuminates the relationship between the normative and the
descriptive aspects of aesthetic judgments. As always with Kant, architec-
tonic considerations thus play an essential role in the unfolding of the
substantive argument.
I now start with the ¬rst title or “moment,” that of quality.

1. the predicate of the judgment of taste: the
expression of a disinterested pleasure
I must ¬rst forestall a possible objection to the method just propounded.
Given the differences Kant emphasizes between aesthetic judgments and
the cognitive judgments of the ¬rst Critique, how can the leading thread of
the logical forms of judgment at work in the ¬rst Critique be the slightest
bit enlightening for our understanding of Kant™s Analytic of the Beau-
tiful? In the Critique of Pure Reason, the table of the logical functions of
judgment was presented as the systematic inventory of the functions of
thought necessarily at work in any analysis of what is given to our sen-
sibility, insofar as that analysis is geared toward subsuming individual
representations (intuitions) under general representations (concepts).
Because the logical forms of judgments were forms in accordance with
which we analyze the sensible given into concepts, it was also supposed to
be a key to those forms of synthesis of sensible manifolds that make pos-
sible their analysis into concepts. As such, the table of logical functions
of judgment was also the leading thread for the establishment of a table
of universal concepts of synthesis prior to analysis: the categories.1 But Kant
is adamant that judgments of taste are not cognitive judgments, and that
as aesthetic judgments, they do not rest on categories. This being so, in
what way might the argument of the ¬rst Critique, to the effect that the
table of logical forms of judgment can function as a leading thread for a
table of categories, have any consequence whatsoever for understanding
the nature of judgments of taste?
One preliminary answer is that following once again the leading thread
of the elementary logical functions serves at least to establish a checklist
of questions concerning the nature of the acts of judging at work in

1 Cf. Critique of Pure Reason, A70/B85“A85/B109. References to the Critique of Pure Reason
will be given, as is usual, in the pagination of the original editions of the ¬rst (1781) and
second (1787) editions, indicated by A and B.
B´atrice Longuenesse

aesthetic judgments: Investigating the manifest form of judgments of
taste according to the four headings established in the ¬rst Critique is
investigating the function of judging, Funktion zu urteilen, manifest in this
form. Just as in the ¬rst Critique, all we have here is indeed a mere leading
thread: Investigating the logical form of an aesthetic judgment should give
us an invaluable tool for understanding a content that cannot, of course,
be reduced to that logical form. In aesthetic judgments, however, the
content thus illuminated is not the content of the categories. Rather, the
content brought to light by the Analytic conducted in accordance with
the logical functions of judgment is that of the predicate of the judgment
of taste: the predicate ˜beautiful™. In other words, to analyze, using the
leading thread of logical functions of judgment, the act of judging the
beautiful is also to elucidate the meaning of the predicate ˜beautiful™ in
the propositions resulting from that act.
This is precisely why the ¬rst moment in the Analytic of the Beautiful
is that of quality. As all commentators have noted, the order of exposition
here differs from that of the table of judgments in the ¬rst Critique, where
Kant started with quantity. This is because, in a way, the whole analysis of
aesthetic judgment boils down to the question: what is the meaning of
the predicate of the judgment of taste (the predicate ˜beautiful™), that is,
what, if anything, is asserted of the object (the logical subject of the judgment
“this X is beautiful”) in an aesthetic judgment? Consequently, when we
consider aesthetic judgments under the title of quality, we are not merely
considering their form. As to quality, the form of the aesthetic judgments
Kant is most directly concerned with (e.g., “this rose is beautiful”) is af¬r-
mative, and there is no particular dif¬culty about that.2 But the interest-
ing question is: What is thus being af¬rmed? What is the content of the
predicate ˜beautiful™ that is asserted of an object in aesthetic judgments?
Kant™s answer: The predicate ˜beautiful™ does not express a reality “
namely, the positive determination of a thing, known through our senses.3

2 This is not to say that there cannot be negative judgments of taste (“this X is not beauti-
ful”) or even, more interestingly, judgments of taste whose predicate is the opposite of
˜beautiful™ (e.g., ˜ugly™). All I mean to say here is that whatever the form of the judgment
is as to its quality, Kant™s main concern in the ¬rst moment of the Analytic of the Beauti-
ful is to take this form only as a starting point to investigate the content of the predicate
asserted (or, as the case may be, negated) in the judgment of taste. The most typical case of
aesthetic judgment of taste, and that on which Kant focuses his attention, is that where
the judgment is af¬rmative and asserts of an object that it is beautiful. For a possible
interpretation of the predicate ˜ugly™, see Longuenesse (2003).
3 Cf. the explanation of ˜reality™, the ¬rst of the three categories of quality, corresponding
to the form of af¬rmative judgment, in the ¬rst Critique: A80/B106, A183/B182.
Kant™s Leading Thread 197

Rather, it expresses a feeling of pleasure brought about in the judging sub-
ject by his own mental activity in apprehending the object. This pleasure,
albeit occasioned by the object, is elicited more directly by the receptivity
of the judging subject to her own activity. This is why Kant describes the
aesthetic pleasure as “disinterested.” An “interest,” he says, is a satisfaction
that attaches to the representation of the existence of an object.4 To say
that aesthetic pleasure is disinterested is not to say that the object doesn™t
need to exist for the pleasure to be elicited. Rather, it is to say that the
object™s existence is not what causes our pleasure; nor does our faculty
of desire strive to cause the existence of the object. Instead, the object™s
existence is only the occasion for the pleasure, which is elicited by what
Kant calls the “free play of the imagination and the understanding” in
apprehending the object.
The pleasure we are talking about here is therefore of a peculiar
nature. In §1 of the Critique of the Power of Judgment, Kant characterizes
pleasure “ and displeasure “ as a “feeling of life” (Lebensgef¨ hl) of the
subject (§1, 204). Similarly, in the Critique of Practical Reason he writes:

Pleasure is the representation of the agreement of the object or the action with the
subjective conditions of life, i.e. with the faculty of the causality of a representation
with respect to the actual existence (Wirklichkeit) of its object (or with respect to
the determination of the powers of the subject to action in order to produce the

Now, to relate the feeling of pleasure to the “causality of a represen-
tation with respect to the actual existence of its object” is to relate it
to the faculty of desire. For the latter is de¬ned, in the same footnote
of the Critique of Practical Reason, as “a being™s faculty to be by means
of his representations the cause of the actual existence of the object of
these representations.” What Kant calls the “subjective conditions of life”
are thus none other than the conditions under which the faculty of desire
becomes active in striving to generate its objects. And the pleasure we take

4 Critique the Power of Judgment (henceforth CPJ ), §2, AA V 205. References to the Critique of
the Power of Judgment are given in the pagination of volume V of the Akademie edition of
Kant™s collected works, indicated here by AA. Henceforth those references will be given
directly in the main text, with indications of section (e.g., §6) and page. For citations
in English I have used the Guyer and Matthews translation (2000). The pages of the
Akademie Ausgabe appear on the margins of the English text. I have occasionally altered
the translation.
5 Critique of Practical Reason, AA V, 9n., my emphasis. These page references from the
Akademie Ausgabe can be found in the margins of Mary Gregor™s translation of the
Critique of Practical Reason (1997b). I have slightly modi¬ed Gregor™s translation.
B´atrice Longuenesse

in an object is the representation of the agreement of that object with
the faculty of desire.6
De¬ned in this way, pleasure is certainly not “disinterested” since it
is linked, by its very de¬nition, to the faculty of desire. However, in the
First Introduction to the Critique of the Power of Judgment, Kant extends
his de¬nition of pleasure. He includes under the concept of pleasure a
feeling that is not directly linked to the “causality of the representation
with respect to the actual existence of its object.” His de¬nition of pleasure
is now the following:

Pleasure is a state of the mind in which a representation is in agreement with
itself, as a ground, either merely for preserving this state itself (for the state of
the powers of the mind reciprocally promoting each other in a representation
preserves itself) or for producing its object.7

The second kind of pleasure mentioned in this text (“Pleasure is a state
of the mind in which a representation is in agreement with itself, as the
ground . . . for producing its object”) is the same as the kind described in
the Critique of Practical Reason quoted earlier. But the ¬rst kind is different:
It is the consciousness of a state that tends to nothing more than to
preserve itself. This is the disinterested pleasure proper to the judgment
of taste.
We ¬nd it described again in §10, where the de¬nition of pleasure
includes no reference at all to the interested pleasure that was the focus of
the Critique of Practical Reason. Kant now writes:

The consciousness of the causality of a representation for maintaining the subject
in its state, can here designate in general what is called pleasure; in contrast to

6 When Kant, in the passage from the Critique of Practical Reason referenced in footnote 5,
describes the faculty of desire as the “subjective condition of life,” we need to remember
that for him, life is a capacity (Vermoegen) of a material thing to produce itself, or to be
cause and effect of itself. At least this is how our power of judgment, in its re¬‚ective
use, allows us to represent living things or organisms. See CPJ §65“6, AAV 372“7. In
living beings that are also conscious and self-moving (animals), the faculty of desire is a
“subjective condition of life” since the “capacity to be by one™s representation the cause
of the existence of the object of one™s representation” allows the living being to act with
a purpose in ensuring its own production and reproduction. We understand, then, how
pleasure can be described as a Lebensgef¨ hl when it is the feeling of the agreement of the
object with the subjective condition of life, or faculty of desire. However, in introducing
the distinctive kind of pleasure that is the aesthetic pleasure, where the pleasure has no
relation to the faculty of desire or is disinterested, Kant makes clear that pleasure as
the Lebensgef¨ hl is not necessarily connected with the faculty of desire de¬ned as the
˜subjective condition of life™ in the way just explained. I say more about this disconcerting
point shortly.
7 CPJ, First Introduction, AA XX 231. Emphases are Kant™s.
Kant™s Leading Thread 199

which displeasure is that representation that contains the ground (den Grund) for
determining the state of the representations to pass into its opposite (by repelling
or eliminating those representations). (§10, 120)

This is the ¬rst of the two kinds of pleasure described in the First
Introduction: a pleasure that does not relate to a faculty of desire directed
toward obtaining its object, but instead is the mere consciousness of the
effort of the mind to conserve its present state.8
But then, what remains of the idea that pleasure is the “consciousness
of the relationship of the representation to the subjective conditions of
life”? And what about pleasure as a “feeling of life”? One proposal might
be that in the case of aesthetic pleasure, the “life” in question is different
from the biological life whose subjective conditions are, for nonrational
creatures just as much as for rational creatures, the conditions under
which the faculty of desire becomes active in striving to produce and
obtain its object. The life whose consciousness is aesthetic pleasure might
be the life of what Hegel will later call “spirit”: the life of the universal
community of human minds.9
Here two objections may readily present themselves. First, one might
object that I am extending Kant™s notion of life beyond recognition by
trying to suggest a move from the biological life, to which interested
pleasure (the pleasure of sensation) is clearly connected, to a hypothet-
ical “life of the spirit” to which disinterested pleasure (the pleasure of
taste) might be connected. Does this second notion of life have more
than metaphorical meaning? Second, one might object that I am moving
even further from any recognizable Kantian doctrine when I suggest a
comparison between this ˜life of the spirit™ of dubious Kantian pedigree
and Hegel™s notion of spirit.
In response, I shall ¬rst note that Kant does grant that all pleasure
or displeasure is the feeling of a living entity in the biological sense: a
conscious corporeal being.10 Nevertheless, he adds, if all pleasure were

8 Note that Kant™s conception of pleasure is strikingly active. Both kinds of pleasure are
characterized by a speci¬c effort or striving: either an effort to produce (or reproduce)
the object whose representation is accompanied by the feeling of pleasure or the effort
to remain in the state in which the mind affects itself, through its own activity, with a
feeling of pleasure.
9 For this notion of spirit, see for instance Hegel (1977), 110 (“˜I™ that is ˜We™ and ˜We™
that is ˜I™”). Of course, the grounds on which this ˜We™ is established in the Phenomenology
of Spirit are very different from those I am exploring here in connection with Kant™s
Analytic of the Beautiful.
10 See Kant™s discussion of Burke™s views at the end of the Analytic of the Sublime, AAV
B´atrice Longuenesse

grounded on attraction or emotion, then there would be no justi¬ca-
tion for demanding of others an agreement with our own pleasure. So
there has to be an a priori ground to the peculiar kind of pleasure that is
the aesthetic pleasure of re¬‚ection. This a priori ground, as we shall see
shortly, is a peculiar feature of the very functioning of our mind, or repre-
sentational capacities. So far, all we know is that by virtue of this pleasure,
the mind tends to nothing more, and nothing less, than to maintain itself
in its own state. Now, being the cause and effect of oneself is precisely
Kant™s characterization of life as a capacity of corporeal things.11 It thus
seems quite apt to say that in aesthetic pleasure, the mind is cause and
effect of nothing but itself, and so aesthetic pleasure is Lebensgef¨ hl in this
restricted sense: feeling of the life of the mind (of the representational
capacities). Nevertheless, the term ˜life™ has at the same time its most usual
sense (the capacity of a corporeal being to be cause and effect of its own
activity), since there would be no feeling of pleasure unless the represen-
tational capacities were those of a living thing in the ordinary sense of
the term.
I added that this life of the mind is also the ˜life of the spirit™, that
is, the life of a universal community of judging subjects. With this sug-
gestion, I in fact anticipated a point that ¬nds its initial expression only
in the second moment of Kant™s analytic of the judgment of taste: What
it is about the state of the mind that elicits the peculiar kind of plea-
sure that is aesthetic pleasure is the very fact that it is universally com-
municable, or makes a claim to the possibility of being shared by all human
beings. I thus suggest that the aesthetic pleasure, according to Kant, is
a Lebensgef¨ hl in the additional sense that it is a feeling of the life (the
capacity to be the cause and effect of itself) of an a priori grounded com-
munity of judging subjects (a community grounded in the a priori repre-
sentational capacities shared by all judging subjects, considered simply
as such).
To recapitulate: In the ¬rst moment of his Analytic of the Beautiful,
Kant asks: what is af¬rmed of the logical subject of the judgment in the sim-
ple case of an af¬rmative judgment of taste such as “this X is beauti-
ful”? His answer: What is af¬rmed is a feeling of disinterested pleasure
elicited in us when we apprehend the object. I have suggested that this
pleasure does meet Kant™s generic de¬nition of pleasure (pleasure is
a “feeling of life”) if one accepts that in this particular case “the feel-
ing of life” is dissociated from the “subjective condition of life,” which

11 On this point, see footnote 6.
Kant™s Leading Thread 201

is the faculty of desire, and instead is the feeling elicited by the life of
the spirit. Here I anticipated the second moment of the Analytic in sug-
gesting that we understand ˜spirit™ as the a priori community of judg-
ing subjects, grounded in the universal a priori forms of their mental
Let me now submit this last point to scrutiny by turning to the second
moment, that of “quantity” in Kant™s Analytic of the Beautiful.

2. the “subjective universality” of judgments of taste
Judgments of taste, as judgments about an object, are always singular.
Of course, ˜beautiful™ can also be the predicate of particular judgments
(“some human beings are beautiful”) or even universal judgments (“all
roses in bloom are beautiful”). But in such cases, Kant maintains, the judg-
ment is no longer “aesthetic” but “logical”: It is a combination of concepts,
expressing an inductive generalization from experience, not a present
feeling in connection with a singular object of intuition. The predicate
˜beautiful™, in such “logical” judgments, is a general concept expressing
a property common to the objects referred to by the logical subject of
the judgment. This common property was explained in the ¬rst moment:
The objects said to be beautiful have in common that apprehending them
is the occasion of a disinterested pleasure for the apprehending subject.
But the predicate of an aesthetic judgment (e.g., the judgment “this rose
is beautiful”) expresses a pleasure that is felt at this moment upon appre-
hending this object. So the aesthetic judgment can only be singular (§8,
Now Kant claims that because the pleasure is disinterested, the judg-
ment is determined as to its quantity in another respect: The satisfaction
felt in this particular case by me ought to be felt by all other judging sub-
jects who might ¬nd themselves apprehending the same object. If, as a
judgment about the object, the judgment is singular, its predicate con-
tains an implicit universal judgment, one that says of “the whole sphere
of those who judge” (ibid.) that they ought to agree with my judgment,
that is, they ought to attribute the predicate beautiful to the object of my
judgment. Thus one might perhaps develop the judgment “this object is
beautiful” in the following way: “This object is such that apprehending it
elicits in me a pleasure such that all judging subjects, in apprehending
this same object, ought to experience the same pleasure and agree with
my judgment.”
B´atrice Longuenesse

Kant does not explicitly articulate this development of the predicate
of aesthetic judgments. I suggest that it is nonetheless justi¬ed by what
he does say. He writes:

[ . . . ] The aesthetic universality that is ascribed to a judgment must also be of a
special kind; for although it does not connect the predicate of beauty with the con-
cept of the object, considered in its whole logical sphere, yet it extends that pred-
icate over the whole sphere of those who judge [¨ ber die ganze Sph¨ re der Urteilenden;
u a
emphasis Kant™s]. (Ibid. translation modi¬ed)

This “extension (of the predicate ˜beautiful™) over the whole sphere of
those who judge” is expressed in the developed version of the judgment
proposed earlier: “ . . . all judging subjects, in apprehending this same
object, ought to feel the same pleasure and agree with my judgment.”
Kant offers two arguments in support of the thesis that the predicate
˜beautiful™ extends over the whole sphere of those who judge. The ¬rst
is put forward in §6: Since the feeling occasioned by the object judged
to be beautiful is disinterested (this was established in the ¬rst moment),
it does not depend on the particular physiological or psychological char-
acteristics of this or that judging subject (as would be the case for the
feeling expressed by the predicate ˜pleasant™). It ought therefore to be
shared by any judging subject, simply by virtue of the fact of being a
judging subject, namely, of having a judging subject™s representational
This is a bad argument: After all, even while being disinterested in
Kant™s sense, the satisfaction drawn from the apprehension of the object
might depend on mental characteristics peculiar to some but not all
subjects. Isn™t this what happens in playful activities, where individuals
may differ greatly as to the kinds of games they may derive pleasure from
(chess, backgammon, charades, or what have you)? This being so, the
disinterested character of the pleasure (the fact that it is elicited by the
mental activity of the subject rather than by the existence of this or that
object) does not by itself seem to be a suf¬cient argument for maintaining
that it is universally communicable.
Of course, the aesthetic pleasure is of a different nature, since it is sup-
posed to be a pleasure we take in our mental activity in apprehending an
object, whereas in the cases I mentioned, we take pleasure in our own men-
tal activity without the mediation of any contemplation at all. Moreover,
a game is bound by rules, whereas aesthetic experience transcends all
rules. So I am not saying that the two cases are exactly the same. The only
point I want to make here is that the fact that the pleasure is elicited by
Kant™s Leading Thread 203

the mental activity itself and is, in this sense, disinterested is not a suf¬cient
ground for making it universalizable.
Another objection to the counterexample I am proposing might be
that the playful activities I cite are not disinterested at all: A major part
of the pleasure we derive from engaging in such activities is the pleasure
of winning (or the pleasure of striving to win), where we strive to cause a
state of affairs in the world (asserting our superiority over our opponent,
obtaining authority over her, and so on). But supposing that this is true
(and it is not true in all cases: what about charades, or a game of solitaire?),
all it shows is that the pleasure we take in playing is not purely disinterested:
Other pleasures are mixed with the pleasure of exercising our mental
capacities. But this is also true of the aesthetic pleasure of re¬‚ection Kant
is concerned with. To admit that the disinterested pleasure we take in the
play of our own mental capacities is mixed with interested pleasures does
not by itself amount to a denial that there is a measure of disinterested
pleasure in the game, nor does it amount to a refutation of the fact
that such disinterested pleasure can be occasioned by different mental
activities in different individuals.
I conclude, then, that Kant™s attempt to derive the subjective universality
of the pleasure from its disinterested character is unsuccessful.12 But as
I said earlier, this is not the only argument Kant offers in support of
the thesis that the predicate ˜beautiful™ extends over the whole sphere
of those who judge. One can ¬nd another line of thought in a passage
that has elicited a great deal of controversy among commentators. This
is the beginning of §9 in the Analytic of the Beautiful, where Kant seems
to claim that the universal communicability, or capacity to be shared
(Mitteilbarkeit), of the mental state in apprehending the object is precisely
what elicits the pleasure that is proper to the judgment of taste. If this is so, there

12 On this point I agree with Paul Guyer and disagree with Henry Allison. See Guyer
(1997a), 117 and Allison (2001), 99“100. See also my discussion with Henry Allison in
Longuenesse (2003), 152. See also Allison™s response in the same issue of Inquiry, 186“
7. Allison maintains (183) that in refusing Kant™s claim that the subjective universality
of taste can be derived from the disinterested character of the relevant pleasure, I deny
the systematic nature of Kant™s exposition of the four moments in the Analytic of the
Beautiful. But I do not think this is true. In a standard analysis of a judgment as to its form,
none of the four titles derives from any of the other: They are just four inseparable aspects
according to which a judgment can be analyzed (quantity, quality, relation, modality).
The fact that here what I have called the checklist of the four titles serves to bring to
light a content does not alter the fact that each title de¬nes in its own right a particular
aspect of the judgment, as to its form and as to the content thought according to this
B´atrice Longuenesse

is no need anymore to ground the subjective universality of the judgment
in the disinterestedness of the pleasure. Rather, the fact that the pleasure
is a pleasure we take in the universal communicability of our state of mind in
judging the object is a primitive fact and is itself a reason for de¬ning the
aesthetic pleasure as disinterested. The passage is worth quoting at some

§9 “ Investigation of the question: whether in the judgment of taste the feeling of pleasure
precedes the judging of the object or the latter precedes the former.
The solution of this problem is the key to the critique of taste, and hence
worthy of full attention.
If the pleasure in the given object came ¬rst, and only its universal communi-
cability were to be attributed in the judgment of taste to the representation of the
object, then such a procedure would be self-contradictory. For such a pleasure
would be none other than mere agreeableness of a sensation (die bloße Annehm-
lichkeit in der Sinnesemp¬ndung), and hence by its nature could have only private
validity, since it would immediately depend on the representation through which
the object is given.
Thus it is the universal communicability of the state of mind in the given representation,
which, as a subjective condition of the judgment of taste, must serve as its ground
and have the pleasure in the object as a consequence. (§9, 217, last emphases

Kant™s view here seems to be the following. If the pleasure we take
in the object were the ground of our aesthetic judgment (the judgment
that the object is beautiful), then the very claim that the judgment is
universalizable (ought to be shared by all) would be self-contradictory.
For a pleasure elicited by the object is a subjective feeling depending
on the particular constitution of particular subjects, namely, the differ-
ent ways in which they can be causally affected by the object. Such a
feeling can thus only give rise to judgments such as “this is agreeable,”
where the implicit restriction is: “agreeable for me.” This being so, the
only remaining option is to reverse the relation between pleasure and
universal communicability or the capacity to be shared, and to say that
rather than the pleasure being the source of the universal communica-
bility of the judgment, it is the universal communicability of the state
of mind in judging the object that is itself the source of the pleasure.
Here we bypass altogether the problem that was raised by the attempt to
ground the universal communicability of the judgment on the disinter-
ested character of the pleasure: The universal communicability is itself the
source of a pleasure of a special kind, which grounds the judgment “this is
Kant™s Leading Thread 205

Here one may object that aesthetic judgments are not the only kind
of judgments about an empirically given object that can make a claim to
the universal agreement of all judging subjects. Judgments of empirical
cognition, insofar as they are true and known to be true, must be known
to be true independently of the particular empirical state of the judging
subject. In a much discussed passage from the Prolegomena, Kant tried
to show what makes possible, in the case of empirical judgments, the
transition from a “judgment of perception,” which is true only “for me,
and in the present state of my perception” to a “judgment of experience,”
which is true “for everyone, always.” He argued that such a transition is
made possible by the a priori conditions grounding the possibility of all
empirical knowledge. These conditions can be called ˜subjective™ because
they belong to the cognitive capacities of the conscious subject. But they
are transcendental and thus universally shared conditions, which alone make
possible knowledge of any empirical object whatsoever.13 So if judgments
of taste make a claim to the agreement of all judging subjects, they are
certainly not the only judgments about empirical objects to make such a
claim. Why then aren™t all empirical judgments accompanied by the same
pleasure, and why aren™t all objects of empirical knowledge judged to be
The ¬rst part of the answer we can suppose Kant would give to this
question is that the comparison between aesthetic judgments of re¬‚ec-
tion and empirical judgments with respect to their universal communi-
cability, or capacity to be shared, is indeed quite relevant. For aesthetic
judgments, just like empirical judgments of cognition, start with acts of
apprehending and re¬‚ecting on the object (looking for concepts under
which the particular object might fall). And the outcome of both acts of
judging (judgments such as “this rose is beautiful” in the case of aesthetic
judgments, judgments such as “this is a rose” and “this rose is in bloom”
in the case of empirical judgments of cognition) depend on the same
representational capacities, imagination and understanding, and their
agreement (imagination synthesizing in conformity to some concepts of
the understanding in the case of cognitive judgments; imagination being
in agreement with understanding without falling under the rule of any par-
ticular concept in the case of aesthetic judgment). Indeed if we return to
the question Kant asks at the beginning of §9 (whether “in the judgment
of taste the feeling of pleasure precedes the judging of the object or

13 See Kant™s Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics, §§18“22, AAIV 297“304.
B´atrice Longuenesse

the latter precedes the former”), the “judging” that turns out to precede
the feeling of pleasure should be understood as the act of re¬‚ecting upon
the object, which puts into play imagination and understanding and elicits their
mutual agreement.
But if this were the whole answer, we would be left with the question
stated earlier: Why, then, aren™t all empirical judgments of cognition
accompanied with the same pleasure as that expressed in aesthetic judg-
ments of re¬‚ection, “this X is beautiful”? Here comes the second part of
the answer. In a judgment of empirical cognition, the outcome of the
agreement of the imagination and the understanding is a concept that
directs us to the object recognized under the concept. Thus, for example,
the agreement of the imagination (which provides the rule of synthesis
by which I generate for myself the image of a dog) with the understand-
ing (which provides me with the empirical concept of a dog) leads me
to recognize, in the animal I have in front of me, a dog. In aesthetic
judgments, by contrast, the agreement of imagination and understand-
ing does not stop at a speci¬c concept (recognizing this as a dog, as a
house, as a sunset . . . ). Although the object judged to be beautiful can,
of course, be recognized under concepts (e.g., “this rose is yellow,” “this
rose is in bloom,” and so on), expressing an aesthetic judgment (“this
rose is beautiful”) is expressing something different: The fact that in
the mutually enhancing play of imagination (apprehending the object)
and understanding (thinking it under concepts), no concept can possibly
account for the peculiarity of my experience in apprehending the object.
What remains in play to account for this experience is only the mutually
enhancing or enlivening agreement of imagination and understanding
itself and its universal communicability (its capacity to be shared). This
universal communicability itself or, if you like, this feeling of communion
with “the universal sphere of those who judge” that transcends all deter-
minable concepts, is the source of the peculiar kind of pleasure that leads
us to describe the object as beautiful.
One may then want to make the reverse objection: How can the
comparison with empirical judgments of cognition be helpful at all?
In their case, the universal communicability (capacity to be shared,
Mitteilbarkeit) of the agreement of imagination and understanding is the
communicability of the outcome, the subsumption of the object under a con-
cept, or concepts, and the possible agreement about that outcome. Absent
such an outcome, how can such agreement occur, or if it occurs at all,
how can it be manifest? Here the answer is that indeed the compari-
son with the case of empirical judgments of cognition is not suf¬cient
Kant™s Leading Thread 207

to ground the assertion that aesthetic judgments do rest on an agree-
ment between imagination and understanding, or that the agreement
in question is universally communicable. All it shows is how those judg-
ments might rest on such an agreement or “free play” (unbound by con-
cept). I shall return to this point when discussing the fourth moment
of the Analytic of the Beautiful, where Kant addresses more explicitly
the relation between aesthetic judgments and empirical judgments of
cognition. For now, let me just note that already in the context of the
second moment, Kant maintains that the universal communicability of
the state of mind in the judgment of taste is “postulated” as a “universal
voice” rather than expressed in a concept, as is the case for cognitive
My suggestion, then, is the following: According to Kant, the pleasure
we experience in apprehending the object we judge to be beautiful is
twofold. It is a ¬rst-order pleasure we take in the mutual enlivening of
imagination and understanding in an act of apprehension and re¬‚ection
that is not bound by the rule of any universal or particular concept. That™s
what Kant calls the free play of imagination and understanding. But that
pleasure on its own would not yet be suf¬cient to constitute our experi-
ence of what we call aesthetic pleasure of re¬‚ection, pleasure in the beau-
tiful. Another constitutive feature of that aesthetic pleasure is the sense
that the mutual enlivening of imagination and understanding in appre-
hending the object, and the ¬rst-order pleasure it elicits, could and ought to
be shared by all. This sense of a universal communicability (capacity to be
shared) of a pleasurable state of mutual enhancement of imagination and
understanding is the source of the second order pleasure that results in
the aesthetic judgment “this is beautiful.” This is why the pleasure includes
the peculiar kind of longing (the demand we make upon others to share
in the pleasure we experience and to agree with the judgment we ground
on that pleasure, “this is beautiful!”) that is characteristic of the aesthetic
In claiming that for Kant, consciousness of the universal communica-
bility of the state of mind in apprehending the object is itself a source of
pleasure, I am in agreement with the view defended by Hannah Ginsborg,
pace other prominent interpreters of Kant.14 But my view differs from hers
in that for her the aesthetic pleasure is nothing but a self-referential act
of judging, where the whole content of the act is the assertion of the

14 See Guyer (1997a), 139“40, Allison (2001), 110“18.
B´atrice Longuenesse

universalizability of that very act of judging.15 In my reading, according to
Kant we take pleasure in the universal sharability of the state of mind that is
elicited in apprehending the object: the “free play” (the mutually enhancing
agreement, without the rule of a determinate concept) of our cognitive
capacities, which is itself a pleasurable state.
Thus, without having to be derived from the ¬rst moment, the second
moment of the Analytic of the Beautiful is consistent with its initial inspi-
ration. The agreement of imagination and understanding, unbound by
a determinate concept, is a free play where each enhances the activity
of the other. The consciousness of that agreement is a source of plea-
sure, and the consciousness of the universal communicability of the free
play and of the pleasure derived from it is itself a source of pleasure. The
pleasure we take in the universal communicability of a state of harmony,
namely, the combination of a second-order pleasure (the pleasure of com-
municability) and a ¬rst-order pleasure (the pleasure in the free play of
imagination and understanding in apprehending a particular object) is
what is expressed in the predicate of an aesthetic judgment of re¬‚ection,
“this is beautiful.”
Let me recapitulate. I have argued that the peculiarity of the judgments
of taste, as analyzed by Kant according to his leading thread, is that an
explicit judgment about the object supports an implicit judgment about
the judging subjects. We have seen what this thesis means in the case
of the ¬rst two moments. According to the ¬rst moment, the predicate
of the judgment of taste does not express a property that the judgment
asserts of the object; nor does it express a disposition of the object to
cause a state of pleasure in the subject. Rather, it expresses a pleasure
elicited in the judging subjects by their own act of apprehending the
object. According to the second moment, the pleasure thus elicited actu-
ally has two components: the ¬rst-order pleasure elicited by the free play

15 See Ginsborg (1991) and (1997). In the latter essay, Ginsborg seems to give more con-
tent to the aesthetic judgment than that of being a self-referential judgment that asserts
nothing beyond its own universal validity. For what now seems to be universally valid (or,
in her own words, what seems to be exemplary of a rule that has universal validity) is
the activity of imagination in apprehending a particular object. Nevertheless, it remains
that the aesthetic judgment, which is no other than the aesthetic pleasure itself, is the
judgment that asserts this exemplary validity of my act of apprehension or asserts that
my act of apprehension is “as it ought to be.” I agree with her insistence on the con-
sciousness of universal validity as a component in the feeling of pleasure, but I disagree
with her attempt to reduce the content of the judgment to this self-referential assertion
of universal validity. See also her discussion of Allison™s view on this point in Ginsborg
(2003), and my own discussion of Allison™s view in Longuenesse (2003), 152“5.
Kant™s Leading Thread 209

or mutually enhancing agreement of imagination and understanding,
and the pleasure taken in the universal communicability of the pleasure
thus elicited. Kant™s striking thesis is that the consciousness of the uni-
versal communicability of the state of mind in apprehending the object
is itself the source of the pleasure speci¬c to a judgment of the beautiful.
This is what is expressed by the clause I suggested we can ¬nd implicitly
contained in the predicate of the judgment of taste: “All judging subjects,
upon apprehending this object, ought to feel the same pleasure and to
agree with my judgment.”
This turning around, in Kant™s Analytic of the Beautiful, from the
manifest judgment about the object to the implicit judgment embedded
in its predicate, ¬nds its culminating point with the third title, “relation,”
which I will now consider.

3. relation in aesthetic judgment: the “purposiveness
without a purpose” of the apprehended object as the
ground of the “purposiveness without a purpose” of
the judging subject™s state of mind. and vice-versa
In order to understand the question Kant poses himself under the head-
ing of ˜relation™ in judgment, we must recall the signi¬cance of this head-
ing in the table of logical functions in the ¬rst Critique.
What Kant calls ˜relation™ in a judgment ˜S is P™ is the relation of the
assertion of the predicate P (or, more precisely, the assertion that an
object x belongs to the extension of the predicate P) to its ground or
reason (Grund). The ground or reason of a judgment is what, in the
subject S (in a categorical judgment) or in the condition added to the
subject S (in a hypothetical judgment), justi¬es attributing the predicate
of that judgment to all (or some, or one) object(s) x thought under S.
For example, the ground of the attribution of the predicate ˜mortal™ to
all objects x falling under the concept ˜man™ in the judgment “all men are
mortal” is that the subject-concept ˜man™ can be analyzed into ˜animal™
and ˜rational™. And ˜animal™, as containing ˜living,™ also contains ˜mortal.™
Similarly, in the judgment “Ca¨us is mortal,” the ground of the attribution
of the predicate ˜mortal™ to the individual named Ca¨us is the concept
˜man™ under which the singular object Ca¨us is thought.16
When Kant examines judgments of the beautiful under the title of
relation, the question he asks himself is: What grounds the assertion

16 On this example, see A321“2/B37.
B´atrice Longuenesse

of the predicate ˜beautiful™ in such judgments? Is it the subject S of the
judgment (for example, ˜this rose™ in “this rose is beautiful”), and if so,
what is it about this subject S that grounds the assertion of the predi-
cate P (˜beautiful™)? Is it a character contained in the subject-concept (in
which case the aesthetic judgment would be analytic) or is it something
about the experience or perhaps even the mere intuition falling under that
That the ground of predication is what is under examination in this
third moment is attested to by passages such as this:

§11 “ The judgment of taste has nothing but the form of the purposiveness of an
object (or of the way of representing it) as its ground (zum Grunde).
Every end, if it is regarded as a ground of satisfaction, always brings an inter-
est with it, as the determining ground of the judgment about the object of the
pleasure. Thus no subjective end can ground the judgment of taste. But further
no representation of an objective end, i.e. of the possibility of the object itself
in accordance with principles of purposive connection, hence no concept of the
good, can determine the judgment of taste, because it is an aesthetic judgment
and not a cognitive judgment. . . .
Thus nothing other than the subjective purposiveness in the representation
of an object without any end (objective or subjective) . . . can constitute . . . the
determining ground [der Bestimmungsgrund] of the judgment of taste. (§11, 221)

As we can see, what is at issue here is the Bestimmungsgrund of the aes-
thetic judgment, namely, the ground of the determination of the subject
with respect to the predicate, or the ground of the assertion that the
subject falls under the predicate. Since the judgment is categorical, the
ground of predication is to be found in the subject S of the judgment “S
is P.” Now, as we have seen under the title of quantity, the subject of an
aesthetic judgment is always singular (this rose). So the ground of the
assertion of the predicate is the intuition by way of which the singular
object is given. But according to the ¬rst moment (that of quality), the
pleasure expressed in the predicate is disinterested: It is not caused by
the existence of the object, nor does it depend on a moral interest we
might take in the existence of that object. Rather, it is a pleasure elicited
by our own mental activity in apprehending the object. In other words,
it is a pleasure we derive from the form of the object insofar as this form
lends itself, when we apprehend it, to the mutually enhancing agreement
of our imagination and our understanding.
Now this feature of the object, that its form is such that apprehend-
ing it or synthesizing it is bene¬cial to the mutual enhancement of our
imagination and understanding, is what Kant calls, in the text just quoted,
Kant™s Leading Thread 211

the “subjective purposiveness in the representation of an object, without
any purpose either subjective or objective.” The ground of the predica-
tion, then, in the judgment “this rose is beautiful” is the intuited form™s
disposition to elicit the mutually enhancing agreement of imagination
and understanding in their apprehension of this form. The form of the
object satis¬es a subjective purpose “ the agreement of the imagination
and the understanding, and the pleasure thus elicited. But this subjec-
tive purposiveness of the form does not in any way justify us in supposing
that an intention has actually presided over the creation of this form,
with a view to satisfying this purpose. So the object is formally purposeful
(its form satis¬es a purpose: the mutually enhancing play of imagination
and understanding), although we have no concept at all of how such a
purpose might actually have been at work in producing this object.
Moreover, the purposiveness of the object “ the fact that it satis¬es
an immanent purpose of the human mind, that of enhancing its own
pleasurable life “ is also a purposiveness of the mind itself. For again, what


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