Kiesewetter, Kant, and the Problem of Poetic Beauty

In Violetta L. Waibel, Margit Ruffing & David Wagner (eds.), Natur und Freiheit: Akten des XII. Internationalen Kant-Kongresses. Berlin, Germany: pp. 2979–2986 (2018)
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My observations here are meant to address a current lacuna in discussions of Kant's aesthetics, namely the beauty of poetry. There are, I admit, numerous treatments of poetry considered in the light of Kant's aesthetic theory, but what may not be noticed is that in discussions of poetry and Kant's aesthetics, the topic of poetic beauty only rarely comes up. This virtual silence on the beauty of poetry is surprising, given that the beautiful is obviously one of the two foundational aesthetic categories in Kant's aesthetics. This silence stands out all the more given that Kant himself explicitly mentions that poems can be beautiful and furthermore declares poetry to be the highest form of fine art. Why, then, is the beauty of poetry almost never discussed in relation to Kant's aesthetics? Ultimately, I will be arguing that this silence on the beauty of poetry is a motivated one, albeit an unintentionally motivated one, namely because Kant's conception of free beauty militates against its being applied to poetry. In other words, this lacuna in discussions of Kant's aesthetics rests on a lacuna in the field of products of fine art to which the Kantian conception of free beauty can be applied. It seems that this lacuna has been overlooked in the literature principally because Kant himself overlooks it; in addition, interpreters of Kant may well independently overlook it for the same reasons that Kant apparently did. Johann Gottfried Karl Christian Kiesewetter's book, Immanuel Kant's Critik der Urtheilskraft für Uneingeweihte (1804), serves to bring the discussion into higher focus.
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