is that which pleases
universally without concepts or that when one makes a judgment
only in accord with concepts every representation of beauty
disappears, can one maintain inversely that the ugly is that
which displeases universally without concepts? In other words,
how can there be established, according to you, an argued
discussion on art and the aesthetic, how can we conceive from
the point of view of the critique of the aesthetic judgment, the
paradoxical tension between the universal and the singular?
I believe that to clarify the question and direct the answer, we
must situate ourselves in the work of the Universal, because
here we have a Universal that Kant, at the beginning of the
third Critique, opposes
to the Universal of the determinative judgment.
This latter posits the rule, and experience is subsumed
under it; the case is therefore placed under the rule.
The inverse situation
is in this sense exceptional and incredibly disconcerting (deroutante).
It is the case of the aesthetic judgment; here all the judgments
are singular, but precisely singular, not by way of subsumption,
but by direct apprehension. The
hermeneutics of Gadamer allows us to give full force
in my view to this initial Kantian position of the singularity
of the aesthetic judgment: This rose is beautiful.
It is a singularity that includes the idea of a hold on
us by the beautiful thing. To a certain degree, the idea of a
hold marks a certain rupture with Kant as to the mode of
comprehension, of the apprehension of the singularity.
But what continues to effect the force of the Kantian
analysis is that there is nevertheless the universal.
With all his might Kant resists the idea that one cannot
discuss colors and tastes, which would isolate each of us in his
pleasure, in his mood. Now, how can there be a universal?
The great force of the Kantian solution is to have staked
everything on the idea of communicability.
Communicability is the modality of the universal without
concepts; it is a matter of a powder train, of contagion from
one case to another. And
what is thus communicated? It is not the rule, nor the case, but
the game between understanding and imagination.
Each of us relives this kind of debate, of conflict,
between a rule and the imagination, which, in the sublime is
found to be affected by overflowing, by the excess of the object
over the capacity to include it, whereas in the beautiful there
is an imagination of harmony.
It is this contamination, this powder trail, which
involves subjects in communion, in participation in the same
differently, do you reject the aesthetic relativism
or anthropological point of view, both in time and in space?
At first glance, one might say that sociology shows that Kant is
wrong, because there is a historicity which in no way shows up
in his analysis; in fact, in a first analysis, the history of
styles and tastes demonstrates that he is wrong.
In a second analysis, however, this latter proves him
right, because in the long view, as this would appear in
Malraux’s works, there is revealed a dimension of
this transhistoricity consists in sum in the permanence, or
better the perdurance, of works of art in escaping the history
of their constitution. What
is striking in the aesthetic experience is that, in
differentiation from economic and political phenomena where the
result is in some way proportionate to its production; the
result here is in excess of its production.
One could say that the work of art escapes the history of
its constitution, and
it is this temporality of a second degree which constitutes the
temporality of communicability.
This transhistorical communicability is the rational
equivalent of objectivity, as much in the beautiful as in the
continue in this direction would require analysing the specific
temporality of the work of art, which Kant has not done.
Heidegger has done . . .
Heidegger has done indeed; and with him the whole hermeneutic
tradition, because this has been confronted in a much more
menacing way than Kant was by historicism, by historical
relativism. Thus it
is that the reconquest of the transhistorical over the
historical constitutes the post-Kantian benefit of a return to
the Kantian aesthetic. We
can reflect on the curious status of the work of art, which has
perhaps an equivalent in the speculation over angels and their
temporality, which is not the immutable temporality of God, nor
the precariousness of human things.
The medievals had forged, to this effect, the concept of
the perennial, of the sempiternal.
Here there is more than an approximation but a kind of profound
kinship with the status of angels in the great medieval
tradition -- but one which is also multi-secular -- and the idea
of a species with one single individual.
And in short the work of art is a species with one single