Front Page Titles (by Subject) § 58.: Of the Idealism of the purposiveness of both Nature and Art as the unique principle of the aesthetical Judgement. - The Critique of Judgement
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§ 58.: Of the Idealism of the purposiveness of both Nature and Art as the unique principle of the aesthetical Judgement. - Immanuel Kant, The Critique of Judgement 
Kant’s Critique of Judgement, translated with Introduction and Notes by J.H. Bernard (2nd ed. revised) (London: Macmillan, 1914).
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Of the Idealism of the purposiveness of both Nature and Art as the unique principle of the aesthetical Judgement.
To begin with, we can either place the principle of taste in the fact that it always judges in accordance with grounds which are empirical and therefore are only given a posteriori by sense, or concede that it judges on a priori grounds. The former would be the empiricism of the Critique of Taste; the latter its rationalism. According to the former the Object of our satisfaction would not differ from the pleasant; according to the latter, if the judgement rests on definite concepts, it would not differ from the good. Thus all beauty would be banished from the world, and only a particular name, expressing perhaps a certain mingling of the two above-named kinds of satisfaction, would remain in its place. But we have shown that there are also a priori grounds of satisfaction which can subsist along with the principle of rationalism, although they cannot be comprehended in definite concepts.
On the other hand, the rationalism of the principle of taste is either that of the realism of the purposiveness, or of its idealism. Because a judgement of taste is not a cognitive judgement, and beauty is not a characteristic of the Object, considered in itself, the rationalism of the principle of taste can never be placed in the fact that the purposiveness in this judgement is thought as objective, i.e. that the judgement theoretically, and therefore also logically (although only in a confused way), refers to the perfection of the Object. It only refers aesthetically to the agreement of the representation of the Object in the Imagination with the essential principles of Judgement in general in the subject. Consequently, even according to the principle of rationalism, the judgement of taste and the distinction between its realism and idealism can only be settled thus. Either in the first case, this subjective purposiveness is assumed as an actual (designed) purpose of nature (or art) harmonising with our Judgement; or, in the second case, as a purposive harmony with the needs of Judgement, in respect of nature and its forms produced according to particular laws, which shows itself, without purpose, spontaneously, and contingently.
The beautiful formations in the kingdom of organised nature speak loudly for the realism of the aesthetical purposiveness of nature; since we might assume that behind the production of the beautiful there is an Idea of the beautiful in the producing cause, viz. a purpose in respect of our Imagination. Flowers, blossoms, even the shapes of entire plants; the elegance of animal formations of all kinds, unneeded for their proper use, but, as it were, selected for our taste; especially the charming variety so satisfying to the eye and the harmonious arrangement of colours (in the pheasant, in shell-fish, in insects, even in the commonest flowers), which, as it only concerns the surface and not the figure of these creations (though perhaps requisite in regard of their internal purposes), seems to be entirely designed for external inspection; these things give great weight to that mode of explanation which assumes actual purposes of nature for our aesthetical Judgement.
On the other hand, not only is Reason opposed to this assumption in its maxims, which bid us always avoid as far as possible unnecessary multiplication of principles; but nature everywhere shows in its free formations much mechanical tendency to the productions of forms which seem, as it were, to be made for the aesthetical exercise of our Judgement, without affording the least ground for the supposition that there is need of anything more than its mechanism, merely as nature, according to which, without any Idea lying at their root, they can be purposive for our judgement. But I understand by free formations of nature those whereby from a fluid at rest, through the volatilisation or separation of a portion of its constituents (sometimes merely of caloric), the remainder in becoming solid assumes a definite shape or tissue (figure or texture), which is different according to the specific difference of the material, but in the same material is constant. Here it is always presupposed that we are speaking of a perfect fluid, i.e. that the material in it is completely dissolved, and that it is not a mere medley of solid particles in a state of suspension.
Formation, then, takes place by a shooting together, i.e. by a sudden solidification, not by a gradual transition from the fluid to the solid state, but all at once by a saltus; which transition is also called crystallisation. The commonest example of this kind of formation is the freezing of water, where first icicles are produced, which combine at angles of 60°, while others attach themselves to each vertex, until it all becomes ice; and so that, while this is going on, the water does not gradually become viscous, but is as perfectly fluid as if its temperature were far higher, although it is absolutely ice-cold. The matter that disengages itself, which is dissipated suddenly at the moment of solidification, is a considerable quantum of caloric, the disappearance of which, as it was only required for preserving fluidity, leaves the new ice not in the least colder than the water which shortly before was fluid.
Many salts, and also rocks, of a crystalline figure, are produced thus from a species of earth dissolved in water, we do not exactly know how. Thus are formed the glandular configurations of many minerals, the cubical sulphide of lead, the ruby silver ore, etc., in all probability in water and by the shooting together of particles, as they become forced by some cause to dispense with this vehicle and to unite in definite external shapes.
But also all kinds of matter, which have been kept in a fluid state by heat, and have become solid by cooling, show internally, when fractured, a definite texture. This makes us judge that if their own weight or the disturbance of the air had not prevented it, they would also have exhibited on the outer surface their specifically peculiar shapes. This has been observed in some metals on their inner surface, which have been hardened externally by fusion but are fluid in the interior, by the drawing off the internal fluid and the consequent undisturbed crystallisation of the remainder. Many of these mineral crystallisations, such as spars, hematite, arragonite, etc., often present beautiful shapes, the like of which art can only conceive; and the halo in the cavern of Antiparos1 is merely produced by water trickling down strata of gypsum.
The fluid state is, to all appearance, older than the solid state, and plants as well as animal bodies are fashioned out of fluid nutritive matter, so far as this forms itself in a state of rest. This last of course primarily combines and forms itself in freedom according to a certain original disposition directed towards purposes (which, as will be shown in Part II., must not be judged aesthetically but teleologically according to the principle of realism), but also perhaps in conformity with the universal law of the affinity of materials. Again, the watery fluids dissolved in an atmosphere that is a mixture of different gases, if they separate from the latter on account of cooling, produce snow figures, which in correspondence with the character of the special mixture of gases, often seem very artistic and are extremely beautiful. So, without detracting from the teleological principle by which we judge of organisation, we may well think that the beauty of flowers, of the plumage of birds, or of shell-fish, both in shape and colour, may be ascribed to nature and its faculty of producing forms in an aesthetically purposive way, in its freedom, without particular purposes adapted thereto, according to chemical laws by the arrangement of the material requisite for the organisation in question.
But what shows the principle of the Ideality of the purposiveness in the beauty of nature, as that which we always place at the basis of an aesthetical judgement, and which allows us to employ, as a ground of explanation for our representative faculty, no realism of purpose, is the fact that in judging beauty we invariably seek its gauge in ourselves a priori, and that our aesthetical Judgement is itself legislative in respect of the judgement whether anything is beautiful or not. This could not be, on the assumption of the Realism of the purposiveness of nature; because in that case we must have learned from nature what we ought to find beautiful, and the aesthetical judgement would be subjected to empirical principles. For in such an act of judging the important point is not, what nature is, or even, as a purpose, is in relation to us, but how we take it. There would be an objective purposiveness in nature if it had fashioned its forms for our satisfaction; and not a subjective purposiveness which depended upon the play of the Imagination in its freedom, where it is we who receive nature with favour, not nature which shows us favour. The property of nature that gives us occasion to perceive the inner purposiveness in the relation of our mental faculties in judging certain of its products—a purposiveness which is to be explained on supersensible grounds as necessary and universal—cannot be a natural purpose or be judged by us as such; for otherwise the judgement hereby determined would not be free, and would have at its basis heteronomy, and not, as beseems a judgement of taste, autonomy.
In beautiful Art the principle of the Idealism of purposiveness is still clearer. As in the case of the beautiful in Nature, an aesthetical Realism of this purposiveness cannot be perceived by sensations (for then the art would be only pleasant, not beautiful). But that the satisfaction produced by aesthetical Ideas must not depend on the attainment of definite purposes (as in mechanically designed art), and that consequently, in the very rationalism of the principle, the ideality of the purposes and not their reality must be fundamental, appears from the fact that beautiful Art, as such, must not be considered as a product of Understanding and Science, but of Genius, and therefore must get its rule through aesthetical Ideas, which are essentially different from rational Ideas of definite purposes.
Just as the ideality of the objects of sense as phenomena is the only way of explaining the possibility of their forms being susceptible of a priori determination, so the idealism of purposiveness, in judging the beautiful in nature and art, is the only hypothesis under which Criticism can explain the possibility of a judgement of taste which demands a priori validity for every one (without grounding on concepts the purposiveness that is represented in the Object).
[1 ][Antiparos is a small island in the Cyclades, remarkable for a splendid stalactite cavern near the southern coast.]