J is for Judgment

| April 1, 2014

Kant articulated a theory of aesthetics in Critique of Judgment that founded modern aesthetics. In it he makes the claim that beauty is a symbol of the morally good. Beauty serves as the “symbol” of morality, in that a judgment of beauty “legislates for itself” rather than being “subjected to a heteronomy of laws of experience” and  feelings of pleasure in the beautiful are analogous to moral consciousness.

Kant believed that when we judge something to be beautiful we do it in the belief that everyone ought to see it as beautiful as well, and that ought is the mark of moral judgment, of the moral law. The resemblance lies in the law-like form of judgments.

The imaginary plane/ hand exercises we’ve done in class, for example, provide an opportunity to rethink bodily motion aesthetically. We could even say, it is a kind of aesthetic experiment in motion. Could we, I ponder, borrow Kant’s insight on the analogous relation of the aesthetic to the ethical (or moral), leave aside the legalistic form that this relation takes in Kant and replace it by the experimental, and entertain the possibility of exercises in ethical experimentation? Could we conceive of exercises that help us perceive the basic phenomenological form of our movements, not bodily, but, analogously, mental, when it comes to moral judgments? What would such exercises look like?