4 Sep 2022


The Notion of Beauty by Kant, Hume, and Schiller

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Beauty is a characteristic of living things, idea object or place which provides a perceptual experience of satisfaction or pleasure. Beauty can be studied as parts of culture, aesthetics, sociology and social psychology. “Ideal beauty” is an entity that is admired, it posses features widely accredited to beauty in a particular culture, for perfection. Beauty is cognitive since it appeals to the mind and senses. Moral always concerns with principles of wrong and right behavior and the badness and goodness of human character. Definition of Beauty has been elaborated by Kant, Hume and Schiller in the books they wrote. They have different definitions which has some elements which correlate. While writing their books they the authors considered the work of their predecessors, hence they have some elements which conquer with one another. Beauty is a general continuity that was addressed by the three authors.

Hume stated that beauty is no quality in things themselves: Beauty merely exists in the mind that contemplates them; each mind perceives beauty in different perspective. A person can even perceive deformity, whereas another is sensible of beauty; every individual ought to acquiesce in his own sentiment, without pretending when regulating those of others. (Hume 1757, 136).

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Schiller stated that the pre-rational concept of beauty, if such thing is adduced, might be drawn from no actual case- rather, it corrects its self and guide our judgment that pertains every actual case; it should therefore be sought along the path of abstraction, it can be inferred simply from the likelihood of a nature that is rational and sensuous; in summary, beauty must be exhibited as a compulsory condition of humanity. Beauty always makes a man a whole, complete in himself. (Schiller 1795)

Kant, state that, the claim that something is beautiful has further content than that it gives me pleasure. Something or someone can please me depending on my own reason that is entirely eccentric to me: I might enjoy a bitter sweet experience before a portrait of my grandmother, i.e., the architecture of a house might be a reminder of the place I grew up. “No one cares about that”. (Kant 1790, section 7).

Kant’s and Hume’s share the same notion on beauty; something may be accorded beautiful or pleasing to the eye depending on their perception and understanding of beauty. What one person may consider as beauty may not be the case in another. Unlike Schiller’s argument on beauty which states that beauty must be exhibited as a compulsory condition of humanity which is not the case that is exhibited by Kant and Hume theory on beauty. Beauty, in people or object is not subjective, since they may have different kinds of beauty. Beauty does not make a man whole or complete as Schiller claims. Kant and Hume saw, for example, that controversies usually arise about the beauty of a particular thing, like literature and works of art. In such controversies, reason can be given and a times found convincing. They saw that beauty is completely relative to individual experiences, it then ceases to be paramount value and even recognizable as a value across society and persons.

Beauty is greatly connected to pleasure. When assessing beauty, it essentially requires intellectual and practical conception in the heart and mind. To express beauty, an individual must display positivism; this is often the attitude that is articulated by the beholder. Negativism will always give an object a bad taste because beauty is cognitive and sensual.

Work Cited 

Hume, David, 1757, “Of the Standard of Taste,” Essays Moral and Political , London: George Routledge and Sons, 1894.

Schiller, Friedrich, 1795, On the Aesthetic Education of Man , New York: Dover, 2004.

Kant, Immanuel, 1790, Critique of Judgement , J.H. Bernard, trans., New York: Macmillan, 1951.

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StudyBounty. (2023, September 16). The Notion of Beauty by Kant, Hume, and Schiller.


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