Title: “Mendelssohn, Kant, and the Aims of Art”

11 October 2018

16:00-18:00 in Senate House Room 246


“Moses Mendelssohn’s aesthetic theory can look like an instance of the ‘perfectionism’ that Immanuel Kant attacks and replaces with his own aesthetics of “free play.”  But the accounts of aesthetic experience offered by the two philosophers are less different than they first seem, for each, although in his own terminology, makes the enjoyment of our own mental activity the basis of aesthetic pleasure.  The difference between the two philosophers lies rather in the importance they assign to the activation of our emotional capacities in aesthetic experience, Mendelssohn placing it at the center of his approach but Kant claiming that aesthetic experience that relies upon emotion is “barbaric.”  On this point the lesser philosopher appears to have a better account of the importance that the experience of art and even of nature can have for us.”