In the last section of the Critique of Aesthetic Judgement entitled 'SS 59. Beauty as the symbol of morality,' Kant proceeds to articulate his perception that beauty is, in fact, the symbol of morality. Despite the common usage of the term "symbol" by his contemporaries, Kant claims that a symbol is an analogy that presents a rational idea in an intuition. Kant goes on to list four essential similar elements of beauty and morality that establish how beauty is the symbol of morality. First, beauty and morality please one immediately - beauty through reflective intuition and morality through its concept. Secondly, both beauty and morality are disinterested. Third, both beauty and morality demonstrate a free conformity to law. Where beauty has a free conformity of the imagination - morality has a free conformity of the will. Finally, both beauty and morality seem universal but neither is cognizable by the means of a universal concept. Earlier in this Critique, Kant had taken up this analogy between beauty and morality when he philosophizes on the intellectual interest in beauty. Kant supposes that those who appreciate the arts are especially moral, but even he admits that this is wishful thinking. One only has to look at the intellectual "Enlightenment" activities of the Marquis de Sade to see where this wishful thinking leads to. Kant finally comes to the conclusion in his appendix to the Critique of Aesthetic Judgement that "taste is, in the ultimate analysis, a critical faculty that judges of the rendering of moral ideas."


Thomas Cummins art philosophy