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A Kantian Theory of Art Criticism Open Access


Other title
Immanuel Kant
Art Criticism
Judgments of Perfection
Informed pure judgments of taste
Informed impure judgments of taste
Noel Carroll
German Rationalist Aesthetics
Christian Wolff
Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten
Moses Mendelssohn
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Tuna, Emine Hande
Supervisor and department
Rueger, Alexander (Philosophy)
Examining committee member and department
Zuckert, Rachel (Philosophy)
Schmitter, Amy (Philosophy)
Welchman, Jennifer (Philosophy)
Nye, Howard (Philosophy)
Department of Philosophy

Date accepted
Graduation date
2016-06:Fall 2016
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
My dissertation explores the role of art criticism within Immanuel Kant’s aesthetic theory and its relevance for the particularism-generalism debate in contemporary aesthetics. In doing so, it provides a Kantian answer to the meta-critical question that generated the particularism-generalism divide in the first place, namely whether or not our aesthetic appraisals of artworks are based on natural facts concerning the non-aesthetic properties of those artworks. This is an examination of a neglected area in Kant scholarship since it is standardly assumed that a theory of criticism flies in the face of some of Kant’s most central aesthetic tenets, such as his rejection of aesthetic testimony and general objective principles of taste. If art criticism is an enterprise of providing evaluations of artworks supported by reasons, then it is hard to see what the Kantian art critic can do for us. It does not seem to matter whether the critic provides evaluations since we cannot defer to them. Likewise, any reasons the critic provides by referring to the non-aesthetic properties of artworks would seem completely arbitrary in the absence of general principles governing the relation between aesthetic evaluations and non-aesthetic properties. Nevertheless, the assumption that these Kantian tenets preclude the possibility of art criticism is mistaken and it is my aim to show how this can be. The project has two phases. In the first phase I develop a new interpretation of Kant’s theory of artistic beauty. In the second phase I make use of this interpretation to put forward a Kantian account of art criticism, an essentially particularist account which integrates generalist elements. Central to my interpretation is the notion that judgments of perfection, which are non-aesthetic evaluations of artworks’ success in meeting or exceeding our expectations regarding works of that kind, inform our aesthetic assessments. It is precisely this underappreciated role of judgments of perception that I exploit in making room for Kantian art criticism. Critics’ reasons are not arbitrary because these reasons, listing non-aesthetic properties of the work, support non-aesthetic evaluations of success value which in turn contribute to the determination of aesthetic value of artworks. In short, I propose that Kant’s aesthetic theory yields a fruitful theory of art criticism and that this theory presents an alternative to both existing theories of his time and to contemporary theories.
This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for the purpose of private, scholarly or scientific research. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
Citation for previous publication
Tuna, Emine Hande. “A Kantian Hybrid Theory of Art Criticism: A Particularist Appeal to the Generalists.” The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism (forthcoming).Tuna, Emine Hande. “Why didn’t Kant Think Highly of Music?,” in Natur und Freiheit: Akten des XII. Internationalen Kant-Kongresses 2015. Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter, forthcoming.

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