Why read Kant’s Critique of Judgment today? Does this classic of aesthetic theory still possess the vitality to prompt those of us engaged with art and criticism to think more deeply about issues that move us, issues such as the force of aesthetic experience, the essence of art, and the relationship of beauty and meaning? It does, if we find the right way into it.
Michel Chaouli shows us one such way. He unwraps the gray packing paper of Kant’s prose to reveal the fresh and fierce ideas that dwell in this masterpiece—not just the philosopher’s theory of beauty but also his ruminations on organisms and life. Each chapter in Thinking with Kant’s Critique of Judgment unfolds the complexity of a key concept, to disclose its role in Kant’s thought and to highlight the significance it holds for our own thinking.
Chaouli invites all who are interested in art and interpretation—novice and expert alike—to set out on the path of thinking with the Critique of Judgment. The rewards are handsome: we see just how profoundly Kant’s book can shape our own ideas about aesthetic experience and meaning. By thinking with Kant, we learn to surpass the horizon of his thought and find ourselves pushed to the very edge of what can be grasped firmly. That is where Kant’s book is at its most thrilling.
Chaouli’s book is an original and important contribution to the literature on Kant’s Critique of Judgment. It will appeal to scholars of literature and art as well as philosophers, and it is written in such a way that it could benefit both advanced readers and students at various levels.
This is an incisive, distinctive, and adventurous set of reflections on and with what is arguably the most important and influential work in aesthetic theory. As unpretentious as it is learned, Chaouli’s study worries and wonders along with the text, engaging and enlightening readers at every turn.
Thinking with Kant’s Critique of Judgment should become a standard companion to first-time and second-time readings of Kant’s third Critique. It is a rarity in Kant scholarship: an enthusiastic guidebook. In this inspired commentary, Kant’s book becomes a set of affective provocations that call for equally charged responses from today’s students and artists. Through a motivated psychological language portraying the work as layered in ever more ‘profound’ and ‘volatile’ strata, it uncovers in this influential text new objects of desire and zeal.
- 336 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
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