22 Mar 2022


Comparison between Schiller and Kant

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Academic level: High School

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Comparison between Schiller’s definition and the kind of definition of beauty Kant gave us in his Analytic of the beautiful?

In both of their definitions, Schiller and Kant place a great emphasis on the freedom of aesthetic experience. Kant says that when considering beauty “the feeling of the subject, and not a concept of the Object, is its determining ground.” This solidifies his idea that beauty can only be contemplated without regarding the purpose of the object, its rules and external ends (Kant, 1914). He asserts that if these are regarded, then different concepts will come into play. Schiller too upholds some of the concepts introduced by Kant. Schiller asserts that the concept in the contemplation of beauty should be eliminated as an object should have its freedom and autonomy when it is under consideration (Schiller, 1965). The beauty of the object should be appreciated irrespective of anything external it holds. He argues, just like Kant, that when considering beauty, we should consider the aesthetic nature of beauty “insofar as the object is candid and self-dependent” (Schiller, 1965).

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What is the continuity between the two?

The two uphold the abolishment of the concept in the contemplation of beauty where rather, the aesthetic nature is considered. Additionally, they two agree that beauty is an inherent quality of an object under consideration. As such, any external features of the object should not be considered.

What seems to be the main difference?

The understanding of the two differs when it comes to the understanding of aesthetic autonomy. Kant held the notion that there were necessary differences that kept aesthetics and moral judgements distinct (Kant, 1914). Schiller, on the other hand affirmed that unity exists between beauty and morality (Schiller, 1965). Schiller views Kant’s aesthetic judgement as being too abstract and theoretical. He differs with Kant’s insistence on the need of a self-consciousness in the judging process. Schiller feels that in the judging process, we are not acutely conscious but rather, are in a realm of aesthetic (Schiller, 1965).

What do you think are the consequences of this difference for schiller’s own aesthetic project?

I think that one consequence of this difference is that Schiller get to introduce a new understanding of beauty which can then be deliberated on. Additionally, this difference calls for more interest into his aesthetic project in bid to get a better understanding.


Kant, I. (1914). Kant's Critique of Judgement. London: Macmillan Publishers.

Schiller, F. (1965). On the aesthetic education of man : in a series of letters. New York: Ungar Pub. Co.

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