chapter  8
Kant on beauty and cognition 1
ByAlix Cohen
Pages 15

This chapter argues that Kant's view of the relationship between cognition and beauty is not as straightforward as it may seem, and that both of these claims are in fact false. It shows that for Kant, cognition can be beautiful, and the feeling of beauty is cognitively valuable. The chapter examines the main challenge to the idea of an epistemic contribution of beauty to cognition. Famously for Kant, the feeling of aesthetic pleasure that defines judgments of beauty involves what he calls the harmonious free play of imagination and understanding. A number of commentators have suggested that cognitive and aesthetic judgments are mutually reinforcing precisely because they involve the same kind of reflective free play between imagination and understanding. Since the rational model of cognition entails that aesthetic pleasure cannot have any cognitive function, it seems that Kant's account simply rules out the idea of an epistemic contribution of beauty.