Many a times we are faced with situations in which we need to give our own opinions. These opinions usually reflect on our degree of satisfaction of a given subject. Furthermore, these opinions play a key role in rating certain arts, movies, music and literature. These opinions form the basis of what is known as aesthetic judgment which makes it possible for different people to make decisions and concur on many non-verbal social and cultural issues. This essay seeks to examine why aesthetic judgment is considered to be reflective and then provide an analysis of beauty as a judgment. Hopefully, it will provide us with a better understanding of aesthetic judgment and its value to literature or even life in general.
While judging something aesthetically, one begins with the particulars before proceeding to the universal details. Particularly, he/she develops an appeal towards both the understanding and reason using them to establish a framework which in the end, is used in interpreting and giving meaning to particulars. Moreover, the aesthetic judgment collects information, views and opinions from different quarters, analyses them and combines them to come up with a common judgment; it is like a co-coordinator which coordinates or rather links up different thoughts to come with a single judgment. While looking at Kant’s work, we find that he defines reflection as the ability to compare an illustration, image or symbol with other different or same versions or even with what goes on in our minds (Kant 1790). Basically he means collecting different views to come up with a common judgment. Hence, aesthetic judgment is considered reflective.
In aesthetic judgment, we deal with the outlook or even beauty of a given art, movie and script. We describe whether it is good, bad, appealing or satisfactory. Besides, aesthetic judgment makes it possible for the apprehending person to contextualize certain things while discriminating against his or her own issues. As a result, we are able to get a reflection of its quality and type. This makes the judgment reflective. Kant distinguished reflective judgment as a subject matter of the Critique of the Power of Judgment. In his submissions, Kant identified that judging reflectively as written in the third Critique did not involve any determining concepts rather, it distinguished mental acts as different and unique in their own way. Thus in reflective judgment, one needed to make a decision based on collective thoughts; a concept adopted by aesthetic judgment. Hence, aesthetic judgment is considered as being reflective. Another thing about aesthetic judgment that makes it reflective is its tendency to be irrelevant especially to the conceptualization efforts because its basis depends purely on definitive types of pleasure instead of cognition which relies on what the mind thinks about. Moreover, it has been demonstrated that reflection plays a very important role in the formation of various concepts empirically in our acts of judging things aesthetically (Beatrice 1998). It has been argued that the reflection concept detailed in the first Critique provides the empirical concept generation with guidance through logical form application of aesthetic judgment to particulars explaining the reason why aesthetic judgment is considered reflective.
In reflective judgment, the universal must be identified at relatively the same time when we give an attribute of a particular to it. Basically, just as mentioned earlier, the particulars are prioritized first over the universal; things build up slowly to a crescendo where the final judgment is deliberated. Likewise, the aesthetic judgment sets the cognitive powers into a final swing or rather into an act that is self sustaining and that readies and reinforces the powers for any forthcoming activity (Critique of Judgment pp 175). Moreover, it stimulates a continuous act in all the faculties of our minds and provides instances of overwhelming language by deliberation. As Kant put it; aesthetic judgments represents the imagination in our minds which are attached to any given concept whereby any free utilization of imagination leads to the binding up of any multiple partial representations (Critique of Judgment pp 179). This emphasizes the fact that aesthetic judgment simply reflects what we think about in our minds and usually begins with simplicity (particulars) proceeding towards complexity (universality). Looking at reflective judgments on the other hand, we find that it largely depends on our imaginative faculties and perceptions which are both exercised within non-coercive conditions. In this way, it gives an accurate description of artistic consumption in the process. All these attributes are very much similar to those given to aesthetic judgments. Hence, considering aesthetic judgment to be reflective is an acceptable fact.
Aesthetic judgments can reach agreement on contentious issues not only by using verbal arguments or the pragmatic estimation of alternatives but also by using perceptive syntheses which do not present themselves during verbal explication or any illustration of empirical superiority hence like reflective judgments, it needs to rely more on the imaginative faculties of the mind that is why it is considered reflective. Aesthetic judgments are imperfect just like a reflection; they depend so much on the never ending empirical feedback with outcomes and are normally subject to continual adjustments and re-evaluation. If one group shares an irrational emotional character like a feeling of supremacy or weakness towards a different group, then the judgment of that particular group is more likely to contain some degree of alteration in some given areas. This can be indirectly challenged by a different group. Hence, any given aesthetic judgment must reflect on the ideas of the majority and not simply be unique in its own way. This is why it is considered reflective. Besides in aesthetic judgment, people reach a particular understanding without any sort of verbal debate or via a precise substantiation of reasons rather agreements and understanding are arrived at barely by an appreciable alignment of collective reactions adopted by a group of viewers sharing a given set of social codes and communal spaces. This then represents or rather reflects what an entire society takes of the subject in discussion.
Analysis of Beauty
The judgment of beauty is considered to be among the four reflective judgments that is; agreeable, beautiful, sublime and good and Kant relates them in the Critique of Pure Reason. Beautiful as a judgment is sandwiched between the good, agreeable and the sublime. Although, sublime as a judgment is almost similar if not related to beautiful. These two judgments usually at times go hand in hand. They are defined by Kant as the subjective universal type of judgments. Particularly, beauty as a judgment is considered subjective in practice and is not generally linked to any absolute and conclusive concept rather, it is made with the conviction that most people will be obliged to agree with it even though it is of common knowledge that many people will oppose the judgment. The force that obligates people to agree with the judgment is derived from sensus communis or what is considered by many as the community of taste. Beauty as a judgment lays claim to the form of finality possessed by anything being judged as being beautiful that is; it seems to have been created for a given purpose even though it does not possesses any apparent realistic function. Beauty as a judgment appears to submit to some certain degree of peripheral noumenon order and hence, to the likelihood of noumenal self that has some free will to some extent. Kant outlines different concepts about pleasure in beauty. In his submissions Kant noted that beauty is just not mere sensuous satisfaction as depicted in the sensation pleasure rather, it is occasioned by an insightful representation of something. Besides, judging something as being beautiful means it is exquisite and desire free that is; it is neither founded on mere desire nor does it generate desire by itself
All in all, this essay has examined aesthetic judgment and justified why it is considered to be reflective. Moreover, it has provided a critical analysis of beauty as a judgment from Kant’s perspective and explored the reasons why it is considered subjective in nature.