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Book One of Kant's Critique of Judgement (the `Analytic of the Beautiful') is an investigation of the judgement of taste about beauty--or, as Kant usually calls it, simply the judgement of taste. Since it seems obvious that there are affirmative and negative judgements alike, one would expect to find discussion of both sorts of judgement in Book One. Furthermore, the remarks with which Kant frames the book, its first and last sentences, both mention affirmative and negative judgements.
In order to distinguish whether anything is beautiful OR NOT we refer the representation, not by the understanding to the object for cognition, but by the imagination (perhaps in conjunction with the understanding) to the subject and its feeling of pleasure OR PAIN. (p. 37, emphasis added)(1) Taste is the faculty of judging an object or a method of representing it by an entirely disinterested satisfaction OR DISSATISFACTION. The object of such satisfaction is called beautiful. (p.45, emphasis in capitals added)
Oddly enough, in the interval between these framing remarks Kant confines his attention entirely to affirmative judgements. Although no philosopher exceeds Kant in attention to detail, we find him introducing both affirmative and negative judgements of taste and then thoroughly neglecting the latter. Why is Kant so un-Kantian here?
The quoted remarks suggest perhaps that he regards the negative judgement as simply parallel to the affirmative, differing only with respect to whether the subject feels pleasure or pain, satisfaction or dissatisfaction. And, since the beautiful seems to fascinate most people more than the ugly, then perhaps Kant finds it most effective to investigate the affirmative judgement and allow the reader to draw the parallel conclusions about the negative judgement.
But such a strategy (if indeed it is Kant's strategy) is mistaken, since there is a serious problem with Kant's theory that only emerges when the nature of negative judgements is considered. It is my contention that within Kant's aesthetics, there cannot be any negative judgements of taste.(2) This conclusion will be seen to follow directly from two conditions which Kant must hold as necessary for all judgements of taste about beauty (whether affirmative or negative), along with a bit of Kant's philosophy of mind. Those two conditions restricting all judgements of taste are (i) that such judgements must be made independently of determinate concepts and (ii) that such judgements must have universal subjective validity.
That all judgements of taste, whether affirmative or negative, must be undetermined by concepts is of a piece with Kant's conception of judgements of taste as aesthetical judgements. For Kant, to say that a judgement is aesthetical is to say that it is a purely subjective judgement about feelings of pleasure or pain. In the aesthetical judgement we do not judge whether the object falls under a given concept, but …