Kant's CJ: Genius (46-50)


Comments and Questions to: John Protevi
LSU French & Italian
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Classroom use only. Do not cite w/o permission.

Course given at University of Warwick Fall 1995

46: Fine Art is Art of Genius

K: genius is natural gift that gives rule to art. [thus genius is only a conduit of nature, a way nature self-reflects, gives itself back to itself]

K: arts are rule-bound [bcs. it is intentional], but JBFA cannot be conceptual, so FA cannot give rules; therefore nature must give the rule.

K: four consequences for our concept of genius:

1. originality; not ability to follow rules

2. exemplarity; products can be followed, not "original" nonsense

3. naturality; cannot self-explain

4. artisticality; not science

NB: the natural gift for exemplary artistic originality is not under the Gewat of the artist, bcs. Gewalt is the power of conceptual determination, as we see in the theoretical ordering of the manifold or the practical ordering of the embodied will. but nature/genius escapes conceptual determination: we can't understand natural self-formation by which deviation and model co-exist [#65]

47: Elucidation and Confirmation

K: genius cannot be "spirit of imitation"

yet of course it takes dictation from nature

K: one can learn what Newton has taught [bcs. he can show his steps], but not how to write inspired poetry [Homer cannot show origin and course of his ideas]

K: yet this difference does not decide importance; scientist are far superior to poets in increasing knowledge, providing benefits, and teaching others

K: if artist cannot transmit a rule, yet genius gives the rule to art, how is the rule accessible? Non-conceptually, but by abstraction from exemplary products, which are to be imitated but not copied. This difficult to explain process happens when artist's ideas [by abstraction from observation of exemplary products: thus works, not descriptions, are the carriers of the artistic ideas] arouse similar ideas in apprentice if he has received from nature a similar proportion of mental powers.

K: [he now admits what we surmised above]: mechanical arts are the essential condition of fine arts, since art in general is intentional, not due to chance.

K: "shallow minds" [like the "progressive pedagogues" of #46] believe they should renounce all constraint; but genius only provides rich material for art, while a trained talent is needed to give it form

48: Genius -- Taste

K: judging requires taste, but production requires genius; to explore this, we have to consider NB vs AB; NB requires only taste for judging [its production is a gift to us]; AB requires genius for production;

K: NB = beautiful thing; AB = beautiful presentation of a thing

K: NB is experienced by judging purposivenss w/o purpose of form; AB presents a purpose, a concept of what the thing was meant to be [i.e., a beautiful piece of art], so we judge its perfection. [we do not use perfection in JNB {free, independent B}, though sometimes we juge natural objects as to their beauty on basis of an objective purposiveness {dependent beauty; their perfection as human being or horse}]

1. cf 15-17 on perfection, ind vs dependent B, ideal of B

2. anthropocentrism must be involved in judging objective purpose of a horse; cf. 83, nature as a whole judged from perspective of human culture

K: in these cases of dependent beauty [nature seen as superhuman art] a TJ underlies our [impure] AJ; example of the beautiful woman judged by the natural purposes of the female build [weiblichen Baue]

in #17, ideal of beauty was human rational self-determination as the expression of the moral; thus man is only thing in world having purpose in itself; woman's build however has a natural purpose: to attract men, no doubt

K: fine art can describe beautifully what in nature we would dislike; yet disgusting ugliness cannot be represented w/o obliterating aesthetic pleasure/beauty, bcs. it insists on our enjoying it even though we resist it [with Gewalt] and this insistence collapses representation w/ nature of object [thus removing the representative distance, the idealization, productive of pleasure in other cases of representing ugliness]

1. cf. Poetics 1448b

2. "Economimesis": in the Anthropology, K names the disgusting [as "vomit"], thereby turning a profit for man. what defeats the economimetic system, what cannot be idealized for moral - spiritual profit, is the "possibility of the vicariousness of vomit," the replacement of vomit by the absolutely, unnameably other

K: fine art = beautiful presentation of an object = form of a concept's exhibition = form allowing universal communication of a concept;

K: artistic production = finding form adequate to taste that allows exhibition of concept w/o interfering in play of mental power

K: but mere conforming to taste is not enough; [fine art = genius and taste]

49: Powers of Mind in Genius

K: some would-be fine art is tasteful, but w/o spirit; spirit is the "animating principle" in mind; it is the ability to exhibit aesthetic ideas [=thought-provoking intuition for which any concept is inadequate]; vs. rational ideas: concepts to which no intuition is adequate [e.g., the sublime moral law or the whole of nature or God or freedom].

K: nature lends us material via law of association of empirical imagination; genius can process this material into what surpasses nature; this is the creation of a second nature by productive imagination, which follows analogical rules and principles of reason

K: we call these imaginative presentations ideas because: 1. they try to go beyond experience [hence imagination here emulates reason is striving for supersensible maximum], to approach an exhibition of rational concepts, giving them a semblance of objective reality; 2. they are inner intuitions to which no concept is adequate

K: in aesthetic ideas, imagination sets reason in motion

K: some imaginative forms do not exhibit the concept, but are only attributes of an object whose concept is a rational idea; these supplementary forms yield an aesthetic idea, which substitutes for the logical exhibition of the rational idea, and instead enlivens the mind by opening it up to "immense realm of kindred presentations"

K: example of the sun/king/poetic genius orienting all economimesis

K: definition of aesthetic idea: presentation that adds the ineffable [non-conceptually governable range of partial presentations] to a concept

K: mental powers of genius are thus imagination and understanding; but here I is free, vs. its servitude to U in cognition; genius then = relation of I and U that enables us to: 1. discover [aesthetic] ideas [range of partial presentations] for a given concept; 2. [by spirit] express these ideas so that mental attunement [which is conceptually ungovernable or "ineffable"] is communicable

K: spirit: expresses attunement caused by the ideas discovered by genius by: 1. apprehending play of imagination; 2. uniting the apprehended play in a non-rule-constrained yet communicable concept [such a concept is: a) original; b) exemplary]

K: [summary of presuppositions for genius]:

1. talent for art, not science

2. needs certain relation of imagination and understanding: a) as artistic talent, it is conceptually directed, hence needs understanding; b) as producing an aesthetic intuition that will exhibit the concept, it needs imagination

3. free purposiveness of imagination's presentation

4. naturality: free purposiveness of imagination's free harmony w/ understanding's lawfulness could not have been [explicable as] rule-bound, but could only have been natural

K: definition of genius: exemplary originality of naturality of free use of cognitive powers [I/U]; this means other geniuses only follow the exemplary products, rather than imitate them; rarity of genius means shools and rules [these rules thus given by nature through genius to art]

K: school imitation prompted by genius cannot be mere copying, since this would extend even to the deformities and deviations for which only the genius has the right [school virtue is obediance to rule]

K: mannerism = mere copying of mere peculiarity or originality as such

50: Taste & Genius in Products of Fine Art

K: fine art requires both genius [imagination] and taste [judgment], bcs. imagination must be at least commensurate with lawfulness of the understanding [even if not w/ a determinate law or concept], since imagination in lawless freedom produces nonsense [lawless freedom = state of nature]

K: taste disciplines, trains, clips the wings, civilizes, polishes, guides genius; it introduces clarity and order, makes ideas durable, fit for approval that is lasting and universal [universally communicable], and hence fit for culture and tradition

taste as institution of civil society: rendering durable

K: in a conflict, genius should be sacrificed to taste; JFA says imagination should be impaired before understanding

K: hence fine art needs: imagination, understanding, spirit, taste; note adds that taste is unity of the first three; French taste, according to Hume [seconded by K in the Anthropology] is exemplary