Arguments for Non-conceptualism in Kant’s Third Critique

Di Dietmar H. Heidemann

In: Aspects of Kantian Non-Conceptualism XLVIII , No. 1 ( 2019 )

Sezione Sezione tematica/ Thematic Section


I argue that in his aesthetics, Kant puts forward arguments that help to answer the question whether he is a conceptualist or a non-conceptualist. The current debate on Kantian conceptualism and non-conceptualism has completely overlooked the importance of Kant’s aesthetics. There are two candidates for non-conceptuality in Kant’s aesthetics. First, non-conceptual content plays a crucial role in aesthetic evaluation. Second, non-conceptual content has a systematic explanatory function in the theory of aesthetic creation of the genius of art. Accordingly, my argument proceeds in two steps: I first analyse the role of non-conceptual content in aesthetic evaluation, i.e., Kant’s claim that aesthetic experience is cognition of a special kind that does not bear on conceptual activities. I then look at the role of non-conceptual content in the genius’s creation of artwork. I argue that art production does not imply conceptual activity and therefore seems to count as a second systematic instance of Kantian non-conceptualism. If my argument is correct, then Kant’s aesthetics implies non-conceptualism with respect to aesthetic evaluation but does not in any objective sense with respect to aesthetic creation.