We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE
"The Beautiful Is the Symbol of the Morally-Good": Kant's Philosophical Basis of Proof for the Idea of the Morally-Good
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

"The Beautiful Is the Symbol of the Morally-Good": Kant's Philosophical Basis of Proof for the Idea of the Morally-Good G. FELICITAS MUNZEL RECENT DEVELOPMENTS IN Anglo-American Kant scholarship, such as the serious attention being given to the Critique ofJudgment and the recognition of the primacy of practical reason in Kant's philosophy, are giving rise to reconsideration of long-standing issues? One of these is the connection between aesthetics and morality. ~Kant's own much-debated statement in this regard, "Now I say: the beautiful is the symbol of the morally-good" (w Critique of Judgment), immediately follows a logically technical discussion of the kinds of intuitive representation and analogy whereby we may establish the reality of our concepts . My purpose in this essay is to reexamine Kant's statement by exploring (from the perspective of a holistic reading of the Kantian corpus) what explanatory power Kant's highly unique, critical sense of qualitative analogy has for his conclusion that beauty symbolizes morality. ' Four such recent works focusing on the Critique o]'Judgraent, or the primacy of practical reason, or on both, are: Paul Guyer's Kant and the Experienceof Freedom:Essayson Aestheticsand Morality (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993); Rudolf A. Makkreel's lmag/nat/onand Interpretation in Kant: The HermencuticalImport of the "CritiqueofJudgment" (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 199o); Richard L. Velkley'sFreedomand theEnd ofReason: On theMoral Foundatiom of Kant's CriticalPhilosophy(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989);John H. Zammito's The GenesisofKant's "CritiqueofJudgment" (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992). 9Paul Guyer's most recent work interprets this connection as a relation in which aesthetic theory serves the purpose of satisfying the "need for accessto the ideas of pure practical reason through natural human feeling" (19, 4~, 18, 20. [3ol] 302 JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY 33:2 APRIL i995 None of the elements of Kant's discussion in w is new. Reason's striving to give reality to its ideas, reason's appeal to the symbol, the use of analogy, the need for intuition (Anschauung), and the association drawn between beauty and morality, especially virtue (alternately described by Kant as sublime and as beautiful), are found in the corpus from the earliest pre-critical works forward . The discussion of the first half of w in the third Critique,including the specific references to symbolic cognition of God and the problem of anthropomorphism , recalls in particular the elements of Kant's account of the revised sense of rational cognition (Vernunfterkenntnifl) by analogy, the philosophical cognition of the purely intelligible, in the Critique of Pure Reason and the Prolegomena. The question to be asked is how w of the CritiqueofJudgment advances and/or changes Kant's previous account. What philosophical cognition is gained by reason now availing itself of this particular symbol, the beautiful, as a means of exhibiting the reality of its idea of the morally-good?3 My inquiry is divided into three sections. The first part explicates the formulation and purpose of Kant's qualitative analogy. The second part begins by pointing out difficulties in ascertaining precisely to what the respective terms of the analogy in question--the beautiful (da~ Sch6ne)and the morallygood (dasSittlich-Gute)--refer. On the basis of the analysis of the critical sense of analogy and the distinctions between Sittlichkeitand Moralitiit, "the morallygood " is interpreted as the object of our will (not its formal ground of determination ). A parallel analysis of the beautiful concludes that beautiful artworks fit the subject term of the analogy best. The final section reviews Kant's treatment of the symbol--its employment as the only way of gaining practical cognition of the supersensible--and the limits he ultimately places on its use. 1. To understand Kant's unique sense of analogy, it is helpful to understand the issues underlying the shift from its pre-critical sense (which coincides with our own usual sense of analogy) to the fully developed third Critique sense of analogy as a "basis of proof" second only to logically rigorous syllogistic inferences (CJ 463; also L a33-34).4 Like the ordinary sense of analogy, Kant's sThus the starting point for this inquiry coincideswith the conclusionwhichZammito...