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aesthetic judgment

First formulated in detail by Kant in the eighteenth century, aesthetic judgment is a feeling-based judgment in which an object is found beautiful, and that we are entitled to make such a judgment despite being unable to verify it. In his conviction that these judgments are essentially subjective (that is, derived from or based on the subject’s feeling), Kant is in line with an earlier tradition.

The most notable exponent of this tradition was Hume, though it remains unsettled just how much, if any, of Hume’s writings on this topic were known to Kant. Yet Kant probably did know the earlier work of Francis Hutcheson, work in the spirit of Hume even if less compelling philosophically. In later developments of the idea of an aesthetic judgment, however, this feeling-based subjectivity has been less important than Kant’s description of how an aesthetic judge attends to the object of his judgment.

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