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explained. I say more about this disconcerting point shortly.

The consciousness of the causality of a representation for maintaining the
subject in its state, can here designate in general what is called pleasure;
in contrast to which displeasure is that representation that contains the
ground [den Grund] for determining the state of the representations to
pass into its opposite (by repelling or eliminating those representations).
(v, 220)

This is the first of the two kinds of pleasure described in the First
Introduction: a pleasure which does not relate to a faculty of desire
directed toward obtaining its object, but instead is the mere conscious-
ness of the effort of the mind to conserve its present state.7
But then what remains of the idea that pleasure is the ˜˜consciousness
of the relationship of the representation to the subjective conditions of
life™™? And what about pleasure as a ˜˜feeling of life™™? One proposal might
be that in the case of aesthetic pleasure, the ˜˜life™™ in question is different
from the biological life whose subjective conditions are, for non-rational
creatures just as much as for rational creatures, the conditions under
which the faculty of desire becomes active in striving to produce and
obtain its object. The ˜˜life™™ whose consciousness is aesthetic pleasure
might be the life of what Hegel will later call ˜˜spirit™™: the life of the
universal community of human minds.8
Here two objections may readily present themselves. First, one might
object that I am extending Kant™s notion of life beyond recognition by
trying to suggest a move from the biological life to which interested
pleasure (the pleasure of sensation) is clearly connected, to a hypothe-
tical ˜˜life of the spirit™™ to which disinterested pleasure (the pleasure of
taste) might be connected. Does this second notion of life have more than
metaphorical meaning? Second, one might object that I am moving even
further from any recognizable Kantian doctrine when I suggest a com-
parison between this ˜˜life of the spirit™™ of dubious Kantian pedigree, and
Hegel™s notion of spirit.

Note that Kant™s conception of pleasure is strikingly active. Both kinds of pleasure are
characterized by a specific effort or striving: either an effort to produce (or reproduce) the
object whose representation is accompanied by the feeling of pleasure; or the effort to
remain in the state in which the mind affects itself, through its own activity, with a feeling of
For this notion of spirit, see for instance G. W. F. Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit, p. 110 (˜˜ ˜I™
that is ˜We™ and ˜We™ that is ˜I™™™). Of course the grounds on which this ˜˜We™™ is established in
the Phenomenology of Spirit are very different from those I am exploring here in connection
with Kant™s Analytic of the Beautiful.

In response I shall first note that Kant does grant that all pleasure or
displeasure is the feeling of a living entity in the biological sense: a
conscious corporeal being.9 Nevertheless, he adds, if all pleasure were
a pleasure grounded on attraction or emotion, then there would be no
justification for demanding of others an agreement with our own
pleasure. So there has to be an a priori ground to the peculiar kind of
pleasure that is the aesthetic pleasure of reflection. This a priori ground,
as we shall see shortly, is a peculiar feature of the very functioning of our
mind, or representational capacities. So far, all we know is that by virtue
of this pleasure, the mind tends to nothing more, nothing less, than to
maintain itself in its own state. Now, being the cause and effect of oneself
is precisely Kant™s characterization of life, as a capacity of corporeal
things.10 It thus seems quite apt to say: in aesthetic pleasure, the mind
is cause and effect of nothing but itself, and so aesthetic pleasure is
Lebensgefuhl in this restricted sense: feeling of the life of the mind (of
the representational capacities). Nevertheless, the term ˜˜life™™ has at the
same time its most usual sense (the capacity of a corporeal being to be
cause and effect of its own activity), since there would be no feeling of
pleasure unless the representational capacities were those of a living
thing, in the ordinary sense of the term.
I added that this life of the mind is also ˜˜life of the spirit,™™ i.e. the life of
a universal community of judging subjects. With this suggestion I in fact
anticipated a point that finds its initial expression only in the second
moment of Kant™s analytic of the judgment of taste: what it is about the
state of the mind that elicits the peculiar kind of pleasure that is aesthetic
pleasure is the very fact that it is universally communicable, or makes a
claim to the possibility of being shared by all human beings. I thus
suggest that the aesthetic pleasure, according to Kant, is a Lebensgefuhl ¨
in the additional sense that it is a feeling of the life (the capacity to be the
cause and effect of itself) of an a priori grounded community of judg-
ing subjects (a community grounded in the a priori representational
capacities shared by all judging subjects, considered simply as such).
To recapitulate: in the first moment of his Analytic of the Beautiful,
Kant asks: what is affirmed of the logical subject of the judgment, in the
simple case of an affirmative judgment of taste such as ˜˜this X is beauti-
ful™™? His answer: what is affirmed is a feeling of disinterested pleasure
elicited in us when we apprehend the object. I have suggested that this

See Kant™s discussion of Burke™s views at the end of the Analytic of the Sublime (v, 277“8).
On this point, see n. 6 above.

pleasure does meet Kant™s generic definition of pleasure (pleasure is a
˜˜feeling of life™™) if one accepts that in this particular case ˜˜the feeling of
life™™ is dissociated from the ˜˜subjective condition of life™™ which is the
faculty of desire, and instead is the feeling elicited by the life of the spirit.
Here I anticipated the second moment of the Analytic in suggesting to
understand ˜˜spirit™™ as the a priori community of judging subjects,
grounded in the universal a priori forms of their mental activity.
Let me now submit this last point to scrutiny by turning to the second
moment, that of ˜˜quantity™™ in Kant™s Analytic of the Beautiful.

The ˜˜subjective universality™™ of judgments of taste
Judgments of taste, as judgments about an object, are always singular. Of
course, ˜˜beautiful™™ can also be the predicate of particular judgments
(˜˜some human beings are beautiful™™) or even universal judgments (˜˜all
roses in bloom are beautiful™™). But in such cases, Kant maintains, the
judgment is no longer ˜˜aesthetic,™™ but ˜˜logical™™: it is a combination of
concepts, expressing an inductive generalization from experience, not a
present feeling in connection with a singular object of intuition. The
predicate ˜˜beautiful,™™ in such ˜˜logical™™ judgments, is a general concept
expressing a property common to the objects referred to by the logical
subject of the judgment. This common property was explained in the
first moment: the objects said to be beautiful have in common that
apprehending them is the occasion of a disinterested pleasure for the
apprehending subject. But the predicate of an aesthetic judgment (e.g.
the judgment ˜˜this rose is beautiful™™) expresses a pleasure that is felt at
this moment upon apprehending this object. So the aesthetic judgment
can only be singular (v, 215).
Now Kant claims that because the pleasure is disinterested, the judg-
ment is determined as to its quantity in another respect: the satisfaction
felt in this particular case by me ought to be felt by all other judging
subjects who might find themselves apprehending the same object. If, as
a judgment about the object, the judgment is singular, its predicate
contains an implicit universal judgment, one that says of ˜˜the whole
sphere of those who judge™™ (v, 215) that they ought to agree with my
judgment, namely also attribute the predicate ˜˜beautiful™™ to the object of
my judgment. Thus one might perhaps develop the judgment ˜˜this
object is beautiful™™ in the following way: ˜˜This object is such that appre-
hending it elicits in me a pleasure such that all judging subjects, in

apprehending this same object, ought to experience the same pleasure
and agree with my judgment.™™
Kant does not explicitly articulate this development of the predicate of
aesthetic judgments. I suggest that it is nonetheless justified by what he
does say. He writes:
The aesthetic universality that is ascribed to a judgment must also be of a
special kind; for although it does not connect the predicate of beauty
with the concept of the object, considered in its whole logical sphere, yet it
extends that predicate over the whole sphere of those who judge [uber die
ganze Spha der Urteilenden]. (v, 215, translation modified)

This ˜˜extension (of the predicate ˜beautiful™) over the whole sphere of
those who judge™™ is expressed in the developed version of the judgment
proposed above:
˜˜all judging subjects, in apprehending this same object, ought to feel the
same pleasure and agree with my judgment.™™

Kant offers two arguments in support of the thesis that the predicate
˜˜beautiful™™ ˜˜extends over the whole sphere of those who judge.™™ The
first is put forward in x6: since the feeling occasioned by the object
judged to be beautiful is disinterested (this was established by the first
moment), it does not depend on the particular physiological or psycho-
logical characteristics of this or that judging subject (as would be the case
for the feeling expressed by the predicate ˜˜pleasant™™). It ought therefore
to be shared by any judging subject, simply by virtue of the fact of being a
judging subject, namely of having a judging subject™s representational
This is a bad argument: after all, even while being disinterested in the
sense Kant gives to the term, the satisfaction drawn from the apprehen-
sion of the object might depend on mental characteristics peculiar to
some, not all subjects. Is this not what happens in playful activities, where
individuals may differ greatly as to the kinds of games they may derive
pleasure from (playing chess, backgammon, charades, or what have
you)? This being so, the disinterested character of the pleasure (the
fact that it is elicited by the mental activity of the subject rather than by
the existence of this or that object) does not by itself seem to be a
sufficient argument for maintaining that it is universally communicable.
Of course, the aesthetic pleasure is of a different nature, since it is
supposed to be a pleasure we take in our mental activity in apprehend-
ing an object, whereas in the cases I mentioned, we take pleasure in our

own mental activity without the mediation of any contemplation at all.
Moreover, a game is bound by rules, whereas aesthetic experience
transcends all rules. So I am not saying the two cases are exactly the
same. The only point I want to make here is that the fact that the
pleasure is elicited by the mental activity itself and is, in this sense,
disinterested, is not a sufficient ground for making it universalizable.
Another objection to the counterexample I am proposing might be
that the playful activities I cite are not disinterested at all: a major part of
the pleasure we derive from engaging in such activities is the pleasure of
winning (or the pleasure of striving to win), where we strive to cause a
state of affairs in the world (asserting our superiority over our opponent,
obtaining authority over her, and so on). But supposing this is true (and
it is not true in all cases: what about charades, or a game of solitaire?) all it
shows is that the pleasure we take in playing is not purely disinterested:
other pleasures are mixed with the pleasure of exercising our mental
capacities. But this is also true of the aesthetic pleasure of reflection Kant
is concerned with. To admit that the disinterested pleasure we take in
the play of our own mental capacities be mixed with interested pleasures
does not by itself amount to a denial that there is a measure of disinter-
ested pleasure in the game, nor does it amount to a refutation of the fact
that such disinterested pleasure can be occasioned by different mental
activities in different individuals.
I conclude, then, that Kant™s attempt to derive the subjective univer-
sality of the pleasure from its disinterested character is unsuccessful.11
But as I said above, this is not the only argument Kant offers in support
of the thesis that the predicate ˜˜beautiful™™ ˜˜extends over the whole
sphere of those who judge.™™ One can find another line of thought in a

On this point I agree with Paul Guyer and disagree with Henry Allison. See Paul Guyer,
Kant and the Claims of Taste (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997) (henceforth
KCT), p. 117; Henry Allison, Kant™s Theory of Taste: a Reading of the Critique of Aesthetic
Judgment (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001) (henceforth KTT), p. 99“100.
See also my discussion of Henry Allison in ˜˜On KTT,™™ p. 152, and Allison™s response in the
same issue of Inquiry, pp. 186“7. Allison maintains (p. 183) that in refusing to grant Kant™s
claim that the subjective universality of taste can be derived from the disinterested char-
acter of the relevant pleasure, I deny the systematic nature of Kant™s exposition of the four
moments in the Analytic of the Beautiful. But I do not think this is true. In a standard
analysis of a judgment as to its form, none of the four titles derives from any of the others:
they are just four inseparable aspects according to which a judgment can be analyzed
(quantity, quality, relation, modality). The fact that here what I have called the ˜˜checklist™™
of the four titles serves to bring to light a content does not alter the fact that each title
defines in its own right a particular aspect of the judgment, as to its form and thus as to the
content thought according to this form.

passage that has elicited a great deal of controversy among commenta-
tors. This is the beginning of x9 in the Analytic of the Beautiful, where
Kant seems to claim that the universal communicability, or capacity to be
shared (Mitteilbarkeit), of the mental state in apprehending the object is
precisely what elicits the pleasure that is proper to the judgment of taste.
If this is so, there is no need any more to ground the subjective univer-
sality of the judgment in the disinterestedness of the pleasure. Rather,
the fact that the pleasure is a pleasure we take in the universal commu-
nicability of our state of mind in judging the object is a primitive fact and
is itself a reason for defining the aesthetic pleasure as disinterested.
The passage is worth quoting at some length:
x9“Investigation of the question: whether in the judgment of taste the feeling of
pleasure precedes the judging of the object or the latter precedes the former.
The solution of this problem is the key to the critique of taste, and
hence worthy of full attention.
If the pleasure in the given object came first, and only its universal
communicability were to be attributed in the judgment of taste to the
representation of the object, then such a procedure would be self-
contradictory. For such a pleasure would be none other than mere
agreeableness of a sensation [die bloße Annehmlichkeit in der
Sinnesempfindung], and hence by its nature could have only private
validity, since it would immediately depend on the representation
through which the object is given.
Thus it is the universal communicability of the state of mind in the given
representation [my emphasis] which, as a subjective condition of the judg-
ment of taste, must serve as its ground and have the pleasure in the
object as a consequence. (v, 217)

Kant™s view here seems to be the following. If the pleasure we take in
the object were the ground of our aesthetic judgment (the judgment that
the object is beautiful), then the very claim that the judgment is univer-
salizable (ought to be shared by all) would be self-contradictory. For a
pleasure elicited by the object is a subjective feeling depending on the
particular constitution of particular subjects, namely the different ways
in which they can be causally affected by the object. Such a feeling can
thus only give rise to judgments such as ˜˜this is agreeable,™™ where the
implicit restriction is: ˜˜agreeable for me.™™ This being so, the only remain-
ing option is to reverse the relation between pleasure and universal
communicability or capacity to be shared, and to say that rather than
the pleasure being the source of the universal communicability of the
judgment, it is the universal communicability of the state of mind in

judging the object that is, itself, the source of the pleasure. Here we
bypass altogether the problem that was raised by the attempt to ground
the universal communicability of the judgment on the disinterested
character of the pleasure: the universal communicability is itself the
source of a pleasure of a special kind, which grounds the judgment
˜˜this is beautiful.™™
Here one may object that aesthetic judgments are not the only kind of
judgments about an empirically given object that can make a claim to the
universal agreement of all judging subjects. Judgments of empirical
cognition, insofar as they are true and known to be true, must be
known to be true independently of the particular empirical state of the
judging subject. In a much discussed passage from the Prolegomena, Kant
tries to show what makes possible, in the case of empirical judgments, the
transition from a ˜˜judgment of perception,™™ which is true only ˜˜for me,
and in the present state of my perception,™™ to a ˜˜judgment of experi-
ence™™ which is true ˜˜for everyone, always.™™ He argues that such a transi-
tion is made possible by the a priori conditions grounding the possibility
of all empirical knowledge. These conditions can be called subjective
because they belong to the cognitive capacities of the conscious subject.
But they are transcendental and thus universally shared conditions,
which alone make possible knowledge of any empirical object whatso-
ever.12 So if judgments of taste make a claim to the agreement of all
judging subjects, they are certainly not the only judgments about
empirical objects to make such a claim. Why then are all empirical
judgments not accompanied by the same pleasure, and why are all
objects of empirical knowledge not judged to be beautiful?
The first part of the answer we can suppose Kant would give to this
question is that the comparison between aesthetic judgments of reflec-
tion and empirical judgments with respect to their universal commu-
nicability, or capacity to be shared, is indeed quite relevant. For aesthetic
judgments, just as empirical judgments of cognition, start with acts of
apprehending and reflecting on the object (looking for concepts under
which the particular object might fall). And the outcome of both acts of
judging (judgments such as ˜˜this rose is beautiful™™ in the case of aesthetic
judgments, judgments such as ˜˜this is a rose,™™ ˜˜this rose is in bloom™™ in
the case of empirical judgments of cognition) depend on the same
representational capacities, imagination and understanding, and their

See Prolegomena, xx18“22, AAiv, pp. 297“304.

agreement (imagination synthesizing in conformity to some concepts of
the understanding in the case of cognitive judgments; imagination being
in agreement with understanding without falling under the rule of any
particular concept in the case of aesthetic judgment). Indeed if we return
to the question Kant asks at the beginning of x9 (whether ˜˜in the judg-
ment of taste the feeling of pleasure precedes the judging of the object or
the latter precedes the former™™), the ˜˜judging™™ which turns out to pre-
cede the feeling of pleasure should be understood as the act of reflecting
upon the object, which puts into play imagination and understanding
and elicits their mutual agreement.
But if this were the whole answer, we would be left with the question
stated above: why, then, are all empirical judgments of cognition not
accompanied with the same pleasure as that expressed in judgments of
the beautiful? Here comes the second part of the answer. In a judgment
of empirical cognition, the outcome of the agreement of the imagination
and the understanding is a concept that directs us to the object recog-
nized under the concept. Thus for example the agreement of the imagin-
ation (which provides the rule of synthesis by which I generate for myself
the image of a dog) with the understanding (which provides me with the
empirical concept of a dog) leads me to recognize, in the animal I have in
front of me, a dog. In aesthetic judgments, by contrast, the agreement of
imagination and understanding does not stop at a specific concept
(recognizing this as a dog, as a house, as a sunset). Although of course
the object judged to be beautiful can be recognized under concepts (e.g.
˜˜this rose is yellow,™™ ˜˜this rose is in bloom,™™ and so on), expressing an
aesthetic judgment (˜˜this rose is beautiful™™) is expressing something
different: the fact that in the mutually enhancing play of imagination
(apprehending the object) and understanding (thinking it under con-
cepts) no concept can possibly account for the peculiarity of my experi-
ence in apprehending the object. What remains in play to account for
this experience is only the mutually enhancing or enlivening agreement
of imagination and understanding itself, and its universal commu-
nicability (its capacity to be shared). This universal communicability
itself, or if you like, this feeling of communion with ˜˜the universal sphere
of those who judge™™ that transcends all determinable concepts is the
source of the peculiar kind of pleasure that leads us to describe the object
as ˜˜beautiful.™™
One may then want to make the reverse objection: how can the
comparison with empirical judgments of cognition be helpful at all? In
their case, the universal communicability (capacity to be shared,

Mitteilbarkeit) of the agreement of imagination and understanding is the
communicability of the outcome, the subsumption of the object under a
concept, or concepts, and the possible agreement about that outcome.
Absent such an outcome, how can such agreement occur, or if it occurs at
all, how can it be manifest? Here the answer is that indeed the compar-
ison with the case of empirical judgments of cognition is not sufficient to
ground the assertion that aesthetic judgments do rest on an agreement
between imagination and understanding, or that the agreement in ques-
tion is universally communicable. All it shows is how those judgments
might rest on such an agreement or ˜˜free play™™ (unbound by concept).
I shall return to this point when discussing the fourth moment of
the Analytic of the Beautiful, where Kant addresses more explicitly
the relation between aesthetic judgments and empirical judgments of
cognition. For now let me just note that already in the context of the
second moment, Kant maintains that the universal communicability of
the state of mind in the judgment of taste is ˜˜postulated™™ as a ˜˜universal
voice™™ rather than expressed in a concept, as is the case for cognitive
My suggestion, then, is the following: according to Kant, the pleasure
we experience in apprehending the object we judge to be beautiful is
twofold. It is a first-order pleasure we take in the mutual enlivening of
imagination and understanding in an act of apprehension and reflection
that is not bound by the rule of any universal or particular concept. That
is what Kant calls the ˜˜free play™™ of imagination and understanding. But
that pleasure on its own would not yet be sufficient to constitute our
experience of what we call aesthetic pleasure of reflection, pleasure in
the beautiful. Another constitutive feature of that aesthetic pleasure is
the sense that the mutual enlivening of imagination and understanding
in apprehending the object, and the first-order pleasure it elicits, could
and ought to be shared by all. This sense of a universal communicability
(capacity to be shared) of a pleasurable state of mutual enhancement of
imagination and understanding is the source of the second-order pleas-
ure that results in the aesthetic judgment: ˜˜this is beautiful.™™ This is why
the pleasure includes the peculiar kind of longing (the demand we make
upon others, to share in the pleasure we experience and to agree with
the judgment we ground on that pleasure, ˜˜this is beautiful!™™) that is
characteristic of the aesthetic experience.
In claiming that for Kant, consciousness of the universal commu-
nicability of the state of mind in apprehending the object is itself a source
of pleasure, I am in agreement with the view defended by Hannah

Ginsborg, pace other prominent interpreters of Kant.13 But my view
differs from hers in that for her the aesthetic pleasure is nothing but a
self-referential act of judging, where the whole content of the act is the
assertion of the universalizability of that very act of judging.14 In my
reading, according to Kant we take pleasure in the universal sharability
of the state of mind that is elicited in apprehending the object: the
˜˜free play™™ (the mutually enhancing agreement, without the rule of
a determinate concept) of our cognitive capacities, which is itself a

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