Kant on Aesthetic Attention

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In this paper, I examine the role of attention in Kant’s aesthetic theory in the Critique of the Power of Judgment. While broadly Kantian aestheticians have defended the claim that there is a distinct way that we attend to objects in aesthetic experience, Kant himself is not usually acknowledged as offering an account of aesthetic attention. On the basis of Kant’s more general account of attention in other texts and his remarks on attention in the Critique of the Power of Judgment, I reconstruct Kant’s account of aesthetic attention. On this account, aesthetic attention is simultaneously directed at the form of an object and at the judging subject’s own mental states as she attends to the object. In the experience of beauty, we specifically attend to the harmonious relation between the faculties of imagination and understanding.
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Archival date: 2021-09-08
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