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Reflective Judgment and Taste Author(s): Hannah Ginsborg Source: Nos, Vol. 24, No.

1, On the Bicentenary of Immanuel Kant's Critique of Judgement (Mar., 1990), pp. 63-78 Published by: Blackwell Publishing Stable URL: . Accessed: 27/05/2011 14:41
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Reflective Judgmentand Taste


The notion of reflective judgment is introduced by Kant in response to a problem concerning the empirical heterogeneity of natural phenomena. In the light of this problem, reflective judgment appears to consist primarily in the capacity for engaging in systematic natural science. But Kant also takes reflective judgment to be exercised in judgments of taste: "aesthetic judgment, as a special faculty, must be regarded as comprising under it no other faculty than reflective judgment" (XX, 248-9)1. Consequently, he takes the possibility of taste to rest on the same a priori principle which he takes to underlie empirical scientific enquiry: namely, the principle that nature is systematically organized in a way that conforms to, or in Kant's terms, is purposive for, our cognitive faculties. "[Aesthetic judgment] . . . contains a principle which judgment lays completely a priori at the basis of its reflection on nature, namely that of a formal purposiveness of nature in its empirical laws for our faculty of cognition" (XX, 193). The connection that Kant draws between reflective judgment and taste is important in understanding the role of Kant's theory of taste in the Critiqueof Judgment as a whole. But Kant's account of the connection has been criticized by several commentators as contrived or misleading (Marc-Wogau 1938, 34-40; Kulenkampff 1978, 32-56; Guyer 1979, 33-67). Specifically, Kant's view that aesthetic judgment is based on the principle of the systematicity of nature has been rejected as a distortion of his theory of taste (Guyer 1979, 33-67). And more generally, the difficulties surrounding the connection have cast doubt on whether Kant's theory of taste stands in any more than a superficial relation to the rest of the Critique of Judgment (Beck 1969, 496-498).
NOUS 24 (1990) 63-78 ? 1990 by Nods Publications 63



In this paper, I shall try to sketch an interpretation of reflective judgment which shows the connection between taste and reflective judgment in a new and more favourable light. To begin with, in part I, I shall suggest that the standard conception of reflective judgment as primarily concerned with systematic natural science, is too narrow, proposing instead that reflective judgment be interpreted more generally as serving to bring particular objects under empirical concepts. On this basis, I shall introduce in part II a still broader conception of reflective judgment as the capacity to take one's perceptual states to be universally valid in relation to particular objects. Thus conceived, as I shall argue in part III, reflective judgment plays a central role in Kant's account of taste. And as I shall suggest in part IV, this conception of reflective judgment helps us to see why aesthetic judgment relies, for Kant, on the principle of nature's systematicity.

In section IV of the First Introduction to the Critique of Judgment, Kant introduces the problem which his discussion of reflective judgment is intended to address. "We saw in the Critiqueof Pure Reason," he says, "that the totality of nature, as the sum of all objects of experience, constitutes a system in accordance with transcendental laws" (XX, 208). But, he goes on, ". . . it does not follow from this that nature is a system comprehensible the human cognitive by capacity through empirical laws also" (XX, 209). This is because the transcendental laws of the understanding leave open the possibility that "the manifoldness and diversity of [empirical laws] and similarly of the natural forms corresponding to them" might be infinitely large, presenting us "with a crude chaotic aggregate without the slightest trace of a system" (ibid.). However, Kant continues, this possibility is ruled out by what he calls a "subjectively necessary transcendental presupposition," namely, "that this dismaying unlimited diversity of empirical laws and heterogeneity of natural forms does not belong in nature, but that, rather, nature is fitted through the affinity of particular laws under general ones to experience as an empirical system" (ibid.). This presupposition that nature is systematically organized is the transcendental principle of judgment, specifically of judgment in what Kant later characterizes as its "reflective" aspect. It is not the understanding but reflective judgment which, in so far as it is required "to bring particular laws . . .under higher but nonetheless empirical laws . . . must lay this principle at the basis of its procedure" (XX, 210).



The issue that Kant is raising here is usually understood to be that of the possibility of systematic empirical science. Accordingly, reflective judgment is viewed as the capacity to engage in scientific enquiry by organizing particular empirical concepts and laws into a unified theory of natural phenomena. The adoption of this conception, however, has led to justified suspicion of Kant's view that reflective judgment is also exercised in taste. The only immediately obvious link between Kant's account of empirical scientific enquiry and his account of taste is provided by the concept of purposiveness. With regard to scientific enquiry, Kant makes clear that the presupposition of nature's systematicity is equivalent to the presupposition that nature is purposive for our cognitive faculties. With regard to taste, he claims that the feeling of pleasure in a judgment of taste involves the recognition of the beautiful object as purposive for our cognitive faculties. But these two kinds of purposiveness are clearly quite different. Most importantly, while aesthetic purposiveness bears on the forms of individual objects, the purposiveness of nature has to do, not with individual objects, but with their relations to one another. At the most, it seems, the concept of purposiveness suggests an analogical connection between taste and reflective judgment. We might say, for example, that aesthetic appreciation involves the discernment of order and unity in the form of the object perceived, in a way that is parallel to the scientist's recognition of coherence and systematicity in nature as a whole. But this kind of parallel does not go deep enough to support Kant's view that the exercise of taste "contains" the very same principle which underlies reflective judgment in its application to nature. However, a number of Kant's remarks, especially in section V of the First Introduction, suggest an alternative conception of reflective judgment, one on which the role of reflective judgment in scientific enquiry is secondary to its role in empirical cognition2 generally. According to this conception, reflective judgment is not in the first instance a capacity for, the higher-level systematization of empirical concepts and laws, but rather a faculty which makes it possible to bring objects under empirical concepts in the first place. Correspondingly, the question of the "comprehensibility of nature through empirical laws" reflects the concern that natural phenomena might be so heterogeneous that it would be impossible to regard them as possessing shared empirical properties. Nature might thus present a "crude chaotic aggregate" in the sense that human beings would find in it no similarities or continuities that could yield the material for empirical concepts.



This alternative conception of reflective judgment is indicated initially by Kant's definition of it as a "capacity for reflecting on a given representation . . . to produce a possible concept" (XX, 211). In addition, Kant describes the principle underlying this reflection as "the principle that, for all things in nature, empirically determined concepts can be found," and he goes on to describe reflective judgment as "working with given appearances so as to bring them under empirical concepts of determinate natural things" (XX, 213). Most importantly, this conception of reflective judgment is implicit in Kant's suggestion that the principle of reflective judgment is required primarily for the bringing of objects under empirical concepts, and only secondarily for the bringing of empirical concepts into higher-level organization. "Judgment which, as reflective, . . . seeks concepts for empirical representations as such, must . . . assume for this purpose that nature, in its infinite manifoldness, has struck upon a division into genera and species which makes it possible for our judgment to meet with harmony in the comparison of natural forms, and to arrive at empirical concepts and their interconnection by ascending to universal but still empirical concepts" (XX, 21 In., my emphasis). Reflective judgment does indeed require the assumption that nature is such as to allow that empirical concepts can be organized into a hierarchical system. But this assumption is in turn required in order to find empirical concepts for our representations in the first place. Why does empirical conceptualization require this assumption? The point of the assumption, Kant suggests, is to guarantee that nature is divided into recognizable classes or kinds from which empirical concepts can be abstracted. The principle that "for all things in nature, empirical concepts can be found" might appear, he says, to be tautologous: "for [it is] logic [which] teaches how we can compare a given representation with others, and how, by extracting what they have in common as a mark for universal use, we can form a concept" (XX, 21 In.). But., Kant goes on, "[logic] teaches us nothing about whether, for each object, nature can show us many more as objects of comparison which, as regards form, have much in common with it" (ibid.). If we do not assume in advance that objects in nature belong to natural classes in virtue of similarities which we are capable of comprehending, then we cannot intelligibly compare objects to one another with the aim of determining what they might have in common: "all comparison of natural things . . . presupposes that nature, . . . in regard to its empirical laws, has observed a certain economy proportional to our judgment and a similarity of forms which is comprehensible to us: and this presup-



position, as an a Priori principle of judgment, must precede all comparison" (XX, 213). Putting the point somewhat differently: without the background assumption that nature is divided into classes to which our putative concepts can purport to correspond, the idea of an empirical concept's agreeing, or for that matter, failing to agree with nature, would be devoid of content. Correspondingly, since no one concept would be more appropriate for a given object than any other, the supposed activity of bringing objects under empirical concepts would be arbitrary and meaningless.3 In Kant's words, "all reflection would be carried on merely at random and blindly, and hence without legitimate [gegriindete] expectation of its agreement with nature" (XX, 212).4 If this alternative conception of reflective judgment is adopted, then the connection between reflective judgment and taste begins to look less tenuous. According to Kant's account of taste, the pleasure felt in a beautiful object consists in the fulfilment of a condition that is in some sense required for all empirical cognition. While not itself a cognitive state, it arises when the cognitive faculties engage in an activity which "belongs to a cognition in general" (V, 219), or, more specifically, "through which a given representation is referred to cognition in general" (V, 217). This activity is characterized by Kant as one of "blosse Reflexion", that is, "mere" or "bare" reflection: "to find beauty in an object, nothing is required but the mere reflection (without any concept) on a given representation" (XX, 229). But Kant's descriptions of the activity suggest, not that it has nothing to do with conceptualization at all, but that it consists in the highly general or indeterminate exercise of the capacity for bringing particular objects under empirical concepts. Thus he speaks in section VII of the First Introduction of "merely reflecting on a given object . . . in order to bring [the empirical intuition of it] under some concept or other (undetermined which)" (XX, 220), and he makes clear in ?4 of the CritiqueofJudgment that it is this act of reflection that accounts for the pleasure in taste: "delight in the beautiful must depend on the reflection on an object which leads to some concept or other (undetermined which)" (V, 207). This account of pleasure in the beautiful as due to an exercise of empirical conceptualization would seem to provide the most plausible link between taste and reflective judgment. And this suggestion is confirmed at section XII of the First Introduction, where Kant expands on his statement that "aesthetic judgment . . . must necessarily Kant goes on, "must be regarded as comprising under it no

other faculty but reflective judgment" (XX, 248-9). Pleasure in taste,

be regarded as depending on . . . nothing



but reflection and its form (the act proper to judgment) whereby judgment strives to advance [strebt] from empirical intuitions to concepts in general" (XX, 249)5. II But this account, as it stands, is unsatisfactory. For the remarks just quoted leave mysterious what our capacity for empirical conceptualization is, and how it can be exercised in a way which does not lead to an object's actually being brought under a determinate concept. In the absence of any further specification, it is tempting to think of this capacity as some psychological skill, say for recognizing similarities among different objects by detecting their relevant observational features. And we might think of such a capacity as being exercised "indeterminately" in taste, by supposing that it is used to recognize, not a specific observational feature of the object, but an overall unity and coherence in the object which somehow correspond to its general suitability for being brought under empirical concepts. However, aside from the difficulty of spelling out this conception in sufficiently precise and non-metaphorical terms, the understanding of reflective judgment as an empirical psychological capacity conflicts with Kant's view of it as a transcendental faculty of the mind. The notion of reflective judgment, that is, is not intended to yield a natural psychological explanation of how we come to bring objects under concepts or to regard them as beautiful. It bears, rather, on a question of right as opposed to fact: whether we are entitled to bring objects under concepts or to regard them as beautiful, not of whether we in fact have the psychological skills that are contingently required to do so. If the capacity for bringing objects under empirical concepts is not a natural psychological capacity, then what is it? The best clue to an answer, I suggest, is not to be found in the Critique of Judgment itself, but in some passages from the Prolegomenaand the Nachlass in which Kant discusses the distinction between "judgments of perception" and "judgments of experience". The relevance of this distinction to our question is clear from R3145, a reflection written in or after 1790 and subsequently incorporated into the J}sche Logic: I who perceive a tower, perceive the red colour on it. But I cannot say: it is red, for that would not merely be an empirical judgment, but also a judgment of experience, i.e. an empiricaljudgment through which I receive a concept of the object. E.g. "In touching the stone, I feel warmth" is the first, but "the stone is warm" is the second. It belongs to the latter, that I do not ascribe to the object that which



is merely in my subject; for a judgment of experience is the perception from which a concept of the object arises. (XVI, 678-9; quotation marks added) In the first of each pair of examples, where I am making what Kant goes on in R3146 to call a "judgment of perception", I report a sensation or feeling which is occasioned by my interaction with a particular object. But I do so without ascribing any corresponding empirical property to the object. It is only making the second judgment of each pair, which Kant calls a "judgment of experience", that I regard the object, not merely as occasioning in me a certain mental state, but as falling under a corresponding empirical concept. And this implication of the examples is made explicit by Kant's definitions of a judgment of experience as a judgment "through which I receive a concept of the object" and as a perception "from which a concept of the object arises." What, then, differentiates these two kinds of judgment? Kant characterizes the distinction briefly at R3146 by describing a judgment of perception as "merely subjective," whereas a judgment of experience is "an objective judgment from perceptions" (XVI, 679). This contrast is spelled out further at ??18-19 of the Prolegomena, where Kant gives more content to the notions of subjectivity and

All our judgments are at first mere judgments of perception: they are valid only for us, i.e. for our subject, and only afterwards do we give them a new relation, that is, to an object, and insist [wollen] that it should be valid for us at all times and equally so for everyone. . . the objective validity of the judgment of experience means nothing other than its necessary universal validity. (IV, 298) In a judgment of perception, Kant goes to say, "I in no way demand that I or anyone else should always find [the object] just as I do: [the judgment] expresses only a relation of sensations to the same subject, i.e. myself, and also only in my present state of perception" (IV, 299). But, he continues, "judgments of experience are altogether different. What experience teaches me under certain circumstances, it must always teach me and everybody, and its validity is not confined to the subject or its state at that particular time" (ibid.). The distinguishing feature of a judgment of experience, then, is that it involves a claim to universal validity, whereby I "insist" or "demand" that others find the object as I do. In such a judgment, I do not merely register the effect of the object on my own perceptual state. Rather, I take my perception of the object to be universally valid: that is, to be one which everyone who perceives the object (myself included) ought to share.6



This suggests an answer to the question of what the capacity for empirical conceptualization consists in.7 To be capable of bringing objects under empirical concepts is to be capable of claiming that one's perceptions are universally valid with respect to the particular objects that occasion them. Thus conceived, this capacity is not a psychological skill: it is not some natural ability which is contingently responsible for our success in recognizing similarities and differences among objects. Rather, our being capable of empirical conceptualization is a matter of right as opposed to fact: it is a non-empirical matter of our being entitled (under appropriate circumstances) to take our own perceptual states to hold good for others and hence to demand their agreement for our perceptual judgments. Accordingly, this account of empirical conceptualization serves to explain what Kant means by "reflection" in a way that respects the transcendental role that he ascribes to the faculty of judgment in its reflective aspect. The act through which "judgment reflects on an object. . . in order to bring it under some concept or other" is the act of taking one's perception of the object to be universally valid. And what it is for us to possess the capacity of reflective judgment, is for acts of this kind to be, in principle, legitimate.

This characterization of reflective judgment in terms of universal validity, provides a link between reflective judgment and Kant's theory of taste. For the notion of universal validity plays a conspicuous role in Kant's account of judgments on the beautiful.8 When I judge that an object is beautiful, on Kant's account, I do not ascribe to it any objective property. My judgment, rather, is based on what Kant calls a merely "subjective" response to the object, namely a feeling of pleasure which is unconnected with any concept.9 But despite the subjective and non-conceptual character of the feeling of pleasure, I take it to be one which all other perceivers of the object ought to share: and it is in' this claim to universal validity that the judgment of beauty consists. "Through the judgment of taste (on the beautiful) one imputes [ansinnen] the delight in an object to everyone" (V, 213-4); "the pleasure [felt in the determination of an object as beautiful] is at the same time declared through the judgment of taste to be valid for everyone" (V, 221). According to the suggestion of the previous section, to make this claim to universal validity is precisely to engage in an act of reflection. And this is borne out by Kant's use of the term "reflection" in contrasting judgments of the beautiful with judgments of



the agreeable, which are also based on a feeling of pleasure, but which make no claim to universal validity. The first of these [judgment on the agreeable] I may call the taste of the senses, and the second [judgment on the beautiful] the taste of reflection, in so far as the first lays down judgments that are merely private, but the second lays down judgments that are ostensibly of general validity (public). (V, 214) Moreover the reflection here may be seen as having the indeterminate character to which Kant alludes in describing its role in taste. For a judgment that an object is beautiful, because it is unconnected with any concept, does not "determine" it as having any one particular empirical property rather than any other. But this account appears to diverge from Kant's own view of the role of reflection in taste. For as indicated at the end of part I, Kant takes the reflection in taste to be responsible for the feeling of pleasure; whereas I have described it as responsible, not for the pleasure itself, but for the claim that the pleasure is universally valid. However, as I shall now argue, a closer look at the structure of the judgment of taste shows the divergence to be illusory. For, paradoxical though this may seem, we shall see that it is one and the same act of judgment which is responsible, both for the pleasure itself, and for the claim that the feeling of pleasure is universally valid. This conclusion emerges from ?9 of the CritiqueofJudgment, a section which Kant describes as containing the "key to the critique of taste," and hence as being "worthy of all attention." Here Kant addresses the question: "whether in the judgment of taste [Geschmacksurteil] the feeling of pleasure precedes the judging [Beurteilung], or whether the latter precedes the former" (V, 216). And he concludes in favour of the second alternative: "the merely subjective (aesthetic) judging of the object or of the representation through which it is given precedes the pleasure in it and is the ground of this pleasure" (V, 218). Now in recent discussions of this passage, it has been denied that the "judging" which Kant here describes as preceding the pleasure, is the same act of judgment through which the pleasure is taken to be universally valid. In order to save Kant from circularity, it has been argued, we have to interpret the exercise of taste as requiring two distinct acts of judging: one which gives rise to an initial feeling of pleasure, and one which, through claiming the universal validity of this pleasure, issues in the judgment of taste proper (Crawford 1974, 69-74; Guyer 1979, 110-116, 151-60). But Kant explicitly rules this interpretation out by claiming that, not



just the judgment of taste, but the feeling of pleasure itself, is grounded in the universal validity or universal communicability'0 of one's mental state in the object. "[It] is the universal communicability [Mitteilungsfahigkeit] of the mental state in the given representation which, as subjective condition of the judgment of taste, must serve as its ground, and must have the pleasure in the objectas its consequence"(V, 217, my emphasis). Because the "mental state in the given representation" is, as Kant makes clear in the last paragraph of ?9, nothing other than the feeling of pleasure, Kant is in effect claiming that the pleasure in the object is consequent on the universal communicability or universal validity of the pleasure itself. And it follows from this that the act of judgment which precedes the pleasure is, on Kant's view, identical with the act through which the pleasure is judged to be universally valid. If we are to treat ?9 with the attention that Kant claims it deserves, this conclusion has to be taken seriously. And to take it seriously, we need to read it in such a way that its circularity is not vicious. This can be done if we interpret the judgment of taste as a formal and self-referential judgment that claims, not the universal validity of an antecedently given feeling of pleasure, but rather its own universal validity with respect to the object. To judge that an object is beautiful, on this interpretation, is to take one's mental state in perceiving the object to be one which all cther perceivers of the object should share. But the mental state to which one is referring in this judgment is that of making the judgment of beauty itself: which is to say, that of taking one's mental state to be universally valid with respect to the object. In other words, when I judge that an object is beautiful, I implicitly demand that all others who perceive the object, agree with my judgment. But this demand for agreement is not reducible to the demand that they have this or that specific response to it, or that they perceive it as having this or that property. Rather, it is the completely indeterminate demand that they judge the object just as I do: that, like me, they make a formal and self-referential judgment as to the universal validity of their mental state with respect to the object. Now this abstract and formal act of judgment may seem to have little to do with finding an object to be beautiful. But on Kant's view, to make a judgment of this kind about an object is, phenomenologically, to experience a feeling of pleasure in the object, and specifically, the kind of pleasure which is characteristic of taste. This emerges when we consider some of Kant's general remarks about pleasure. At 10 of the Critique of Judgment, Kant defines pleasure as "the consciousness of the causality of a representation in respect of the state of the subject, to maintain it in the



same state" (V, 220). To feel pleasure, that is, is to be aware of being impelled by one's representation of an object to continue in one's present mental state. Now in cases of pleasure connected with the good or with the agreeable, Kant takes the "causality" of the pleasure to be mediated by the faculty of desire (section III of the First Introduction, XX, 206). When I experience pleasure in an object's being agreeable or good, my representation of it influences my will so as to impel me to act in order to keep the object present to me, and thus tends to maintain me in the same state, namely that of entertaining the representation in question. But the pleasure in taste, on the other hand, is "independent of the determination of the faculty of desire" (XX, 207). In this kind of pleasure, my representations do not stand in that "objective relation, whereby they are at the same time regarded as the cause of the reality of the object," but instead are related "merely to the subject, in that they serve as their own grounds for maintaining their own existence in the subject" (XX, 206). It is because a representation serves as ground for its own continued existence in me that I am aware of its "causality to maintain [me] in the same state," and hence experience a feeling of pleasure. The idea that the pleasure in taste is due to the self-grounding character of one's mental state in representing an object, explains why the judgment of taste, as I have characterized it, is manifest to consciousness through a feeling of pleasure. When, in perceiving an object, I make the purely formal and self-referential judgment that all perceivers of the object should share my present mental state, the demand that I am making applies just as much to myself as to anyone else. As long as I perceive the object, that is, I demand of myself that I remain in the same mental state as that in which I presently find myself. Correspondingly, my mental state at each moment consists in the awareness that I ought to be in that very mental state. But it follows from this that my mental state in representing the object is a ground or reason for its own continuation in me. In other words, it serves as "[its] own ground for maintaining [its] own existence in the subject," thus matching Kant's description of the pleasure that is characteristic of taste.1 From this account, we can see why the act of judgment which precedes the feeling of pleasure is the same act of judgment through which the pleasure is claimed to be universally valid. The formal and self-referential judgment that one's present state of mind is universally valid, precedes the feeling of pleasure in the sense of explaining or accounting for it: I feel pleasure in the object in virtue of explaining or accounting for it: I feel pleasure in the object in virtue of making the judgment, rather than vice versa. But the judg-



ment does not precede the pleasure in time; for to feel the pleasure in the object is just what it is, phenomenologically, to make the judgment. The pleasure, as Kant puts it, is "consequent" on the universal validity of my mental state in the sense that it is the consciousness or awareness of my mental state as universally valid. Now it follows from this that the mental state of making the formal and self-referential judgment that my present mental state is universally communicable, is a feeling of pleasure. And this in turn entails that, when I make that judgment, I am in effect (as it were, de re) claiming universal validity for a feeling of pleasure. Yet this feeling of pleasure, rather than being given antecedently, is felt in virtue of the very act of judgment through which it is taken to be universally valid.'2 We can now move on from the provisional explanation given at the start of the previous section, to a fuller characterization of the role of reflective judgment in taste. According to the suggestion I made at the end of part II, to exercise reflective judgment is to take one's mental state in perceiving an object to be universally valid. Depending on the prior sensory content of one's mental state, this act of judgment brings the object under this or that empirical concept. But according to the interpretation sketched above, a judgment of taste claims the universal validity of a mental state which has no independent sensory content. Instead, the judgment consists in a purely formal claim to universal validity which is responsible for the associated "sensation" (the feeling of pleasure)'3 rather than presupposing it. In a judgment of taste, then, I engage in the same act of reflection which is performed for all empirical conceptualization, but I do in a completely indeterminate way, which consequently fails to bring the object under any specific concept. This explains Kant's statements, quoted above, that "to find beauty in an object, nothing is required but the mere reflection (without any concept) on a given representation" (XX, 209) and that "delight in the beautiful must depend on the reflection on an object which leads to some concept or other (undetermined which)" (V, 207). The indeterminate character of the reflection, as well as its being qualified as "mere" or "bare" reflection, is not simply a matter of the judgment's not ascribing any particular property to the object. Rather, it is bound up more deeply with the peculiarly formal and self-referential character of the judgment. As Kant puts it, the pleasure in taste "must be regarded as depending on . . . nothing but reflection and its form (the act proper to judgment) whereby judgment strives to advance streett] from empirical intuitions to concepts in general" (XX, 249). Judgment strives to advance from empirical intuitions to concepts in general through claiming that the empirical intuitions are universally valid with respect




to particular objects. But the "form" of this reflection is simply the act of claiming universal validity independent of any empirical content: and this is carried out in the purely formal claim to its own universal validity which constitutes the pleasure in taste.

On the interpretation that I have been presenting, reflective judgment in general is the capacity to take one's mental state in perceiving a particular object, to be universally valid with respect to that object. As such, this capacity can be employed in two different ways. In the first place, it can be employed for the purpose of cognition, in which case it serves to bring particular objects under empirical concepts. But in addition, it admits of a second kind of exercise which does not give rise to cognition. This is the purely formal employment of reflective judgment, through which objects are experienced as beautiful. Now as we saw in part I, the cognitive employment of reflective judgment rests on the principle of the systematicity of nature. Without this principle, as I suggested, we would not be able to regard our putative concepts as potentially corresponding to features in nature; and as a result, any supposed activity of empirical conceptualization would be "carried on at random and blindly." Conversely, however, it is our adoption of this principle which ensures that we are indeed capable of bringing objects under empirical concepts in a coherent and non-arbitrary way. In any individual case of bringing an object under an empirical concept, the corresponding empirical claim is justified by appeal to specific features of its natural constitution.14 But the general possibility of making determinate empirical claims that may or may not correspond to specific features of objects, is guaranteed by the principle that nature is organized in such a way as to display empirical features in the first place. The principle of nature's systematicity, in other words, confers legitimacy on reflective judgment in its cognitive employment. It is this principle which entitles us in general to make empirical claims about particular objects, and, by the same token, to take our specific perceptions of particular objects as holding good for all other human beings.15 But this has implications for reflective judgment in its formal employment also. For if a judgment of taste consists in the purely formal exercise of reflective judgment, then its legitimacy cannot plausibly be separated from that of reflective judgment in its substantive, that is, cognitive employment. In other words, my right to demand universal agreement with respect to an object in the for-



mal and self-referential way characteristic of taste, must be seen as deriving from a broader right to claim universal validity for my perceptual states in general: a right which -at the same time entitles me to make specific empirical claims about the objects that I perceive. This helps to explain why Kant describes aesthetic judgment as ''containing" the principle of the systematicity of nature; or more specifically, why he claims that it is from this principle "that the possibility of aesthetic judgments of reflection as such, which are grounded on a priori principles, becomes apparent" (XX, 233). If a judgment of taste is to be legitimate, then there must be some rule or principle in terms of which it can be justified. But because of its status as a purely formal act of reflective judgment, it cannot be justified, like any specific empirical judgment, on the basis of some feature of the object. Rather, it must derive its legitimacy from the general possibility of making empirical judgments about particular objects: that is, from the legitimacy of reflective judgment in its cognitive employment. Consequently, the principle which makes judgments of taste legitimate, must be the same principle which underlies, at the most general level, our capacity to bring objects under empirical concepts: and this is the principle of the systematicity of nature.16
NOTES 'All references to Kant's works are given by volume and page number of the Akademie edition (see References). to mean what Kant means by the term "Erkenntnis". 21 use the term "cognition" While this term is often translated as "knowledge", the term "cognition" is preferable, since it retains the implication that cognition may be false as well as true. 3While Kant's discussion is specifically concerned with objects in nature, I take it that this conclusion applies to artefacts as well. That is, if we lacked empirical concepts of natural objects, we would be unable to come up with concepts applying specifically to artefacts either. (E.g. to have the concept of a kennel, we need to have the concepts of a dog and of a human being.) 4This reconstruction of Kant's reasoning does not explain why the assumption that nature is divided into natural classes must take the form of an assumption that nature is organized into a systematic hierarchy of empirical concepts and laws (rather than consisting, say, in a collection of species that do not belong to higher genera). I discuss this issue, as part of a more detailed treatment of the principle of nature's systematicity, in Ginsborg 1989, 174-192. 5For accounts along these lines, see Crawford 1974, 22-23, and Horstmann 1989, 173-174. As the following will make clear, my complaint against these and similar accounts is not that they are mistaken about the connection between taste and reflective judgment, but that, in leaving the central element of the connection unexplained, they open the way to misunderstanding. 6The force of the "ought" here needs clarification. Firstly, it is not practical but cognitive: the normativity that it expresses is that implicit in the possibility of a judgment's being correct or incorrect, rather than that of an action's being the right or wrong thing to do. Secondly, it applies to all individuals, irrespective of any perceptual deficiencies they may have. Thus in judging that the tower is red, I take it that even a colour-blind person "ought" to share my perception, in that her failure to do so is understood by me as amounting to an incorrect



perception of the tower, not just as one which happens to be different from mine. More generally, it is in virtue of the claim to universal validity carried by judgments of this kind, that we can make sense of the idea of perceptual deficiency, as opposed to mere variation from the most common mode of perceiving. 7At ?20 of the Prolegomena Kant goes on to invoke the categories as accounting for the possibility of judgments of experience. However, this further step is not relevant to our present concerns. The categories are conditions under which representations must be related to one another in order to constitute empirical cognition in general. Thus in appealing to the categories, Kant is indeed specifying a condition that must hold of our representations if the empirical conceptualization of objects is, in general, to be possible. But he is no longer addressing the question of what the empirical conceptualization of a given object consists in: what it is, in other words, given some particular object, to bring it under an empirical concept as opposed to responding to it in a non-conceptual way. And this is the question that the appeal to universal validity is supposed to address. (I discuss this point in more detail in Ginsborg 1989, 122-144.) 8In the following discussion of taste, I shall consider only those judgments of beauty which Kant describes as "pure judgments of taste". Like the view which it is intended to interpret, my account is not intended to apply to aesthetic judgments involving "properties" other than beauty (e.g. elegance or ugliness). 9The distinction made in the third Critique between objectivity and subjectivity differs, both from that presented in the Prolegomenaand from some contemporary conceptions of the distinction. As Kant's discussion of taste makes clear, his late view of objectivity allows that a judgment or mental state can be intersubjectively valid without being objective. '0Following Guyer, I take the expressions "universally communicable" and "universally valid" to be, at least in this context, synonymous. See Guyer 1979, 152 n.113, 154 n.l15, 282-283. "If this account is correct, why does all perceptual cognition not give rise to pleasure? In a perceptual cognitive judgment, as in a judgment of taste, I take my mental state in perceiving the object to be universally valid. But I claim universal validity for it qua state with this or that specific sensory content, not qua the very mental state of making the judgment. Correspondingly I take the ground of my being in that state to lie, not in my mental state itself, but in some empirical property of the object. Thus my mental state lacks the self-grounding feature characteristic of the pleasure in taste. '2This account of judgments of taste is developed in more detail in Ginsborg 1989, 1-41. "Kant describes the feeling of pleasure as a "so-called" sensation (XX, 224). '4This requires qualification for the case of concepts applying specifically to artefacts. But on the grounds suggested in note 3 above, I take the point made in the following sentence to hold for artefacts as well as for natural objects. '5This is not to say that the principle of nature's systematicity is intended to rebut a sceptical challenge to the legitimacy of reflective judgment. Kant assumes from the outset that reflective judgment is legitimate. In specifying its a priori principle, he is showing what makes it legitimate; but he is not defending its legitimacy from sceptical attack. (The case is analogous to that of the a priori principles of understanding and reason.) '6This paper owes a great deal to John Carriero's detailed comments on an earlier draft. I am also grateful to Stephen Engstrom and Daniel Warren for helpful discussions. REFERENCES Beck, Lewis White. 1967 Early German Philosophy (Cambridge, Crawford, Donald. 1974 Kant's Aesthetic Theory (Madison:


Harvard University of Wisconsin Press).



Ginsborg, Hannah. 1989 The Role of Taste in Kant's Theory of Cognition (Ph.D. dissertation, sity) (New York: Garland Publishing, forthcoming). Guyer, Paul. 1979 Kant and the Claims of Taste (Cambridge, Mass.:

Harvard Univer-

Harvard University




Horstmann, Rolf-Peter. 1989 "Why Must There Be a Transcendental Deduction in Kant's Critique ofJudgment?" in Kant's Transcendental Deductions, edited by Eckart Fdrster (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1989). Kant, Immanuel. 1902 Kant's gesammelte Schriften, Herausgegeben von der Kiniglich Preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter). Kulenkampff, Jens. 1978 Kants Logik des aesthetischen Urteils (Frankfurt am Main: Klostermann). Marc-Wogau, Konrad. 1938 Vier Studien zu Kants Kritik der Urteilskraft (Uppsala Universitets Arsskrift).

Philosophical- Quarterly of Israel Editor: Asa Kasher Vol. 19, No. 1
Some Reflections on Spinoza's Theory of Substance Freya Mathews Samuel Fleischacker A Fifth Antinomy The Need to Generate Happy People John Leslie Personal Identity: The Galton Details Keith Arnold Kant, the Local Sign Theorists, and Wilfrid Sellars' Doctrine of Gene Pendleton Analogical Predication Discussion Nozick and Skepticism: 1I Bredo C. Johnsen Critical Study: Greek Philosopy Fragments of Heraclitus [19871 and Gott und theoria bei John Glucker Arislotelcs, by John Dudley Book Reviews Graceful Reason: Essays in Ancient and Medieval Philosophy Lorenzo Pefia Presented to Joseph Owen, edited by Lloyd P. Gerson Logic for Artificial Intelligence, by Raymond Turner Gary Jason Books oll Philosophy and Religion: Reason and Religion, by Fiungeir Hiorth Anthony Kenny; The Mind of God and the Works of Man, by Edward Craig; Not by Design, by Victor.J. Stenger; and Forbidden Fruit: The Ethics of Humanism, by Paul Kurtz Religion, Philosophy and Judaism, by Aharon Shear-Yashuv Michael Mach PHILOSOPHIA, Department of Philosophy, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, 52100, Israel