Kant’s aesthetics and the beauty of bodies sexualized

Kant characterizes the aesthetic experience as “disinterested contemplation” and “no concept” . But the whole experience of beauty would necessarily be “disinterested”? And the beauty of sexualized bodies, in which we have engaged an interest in sexual satisfaction? And the perverse need to meet the culturally imposed standards and rules for obtaining a beautiful body? These are all questions that Kantian aesthetics has an answer.

Some theories base their aesthetic experience in some kind of biological tied to experiences of pleasure, pain avoidance and conservation. However, we must remember that there is a tradition that fuses the aesthetic experience without using any biological question. We must also remember that the generation that lived through Nazism has always sought to relieve as much ethics as aesthetics of explanations with content biologists. In fact, Nazism has always valued theories that made wide use of the concept of race based on biological. Darwin insisted, throughout his work, the separation between the theory of evolution and ethics. He clearly foresaw the dangers of an uncritical application of evolutionary theory to the field of ethics. Nature does not authorize such a logical way. Also, the end of life, Darwin complained that he was suffering from a certain aesthetic dullness due to the need to observe nature from a scientific point of view with its rigorous logical and endorsed interested.

Plato had already addressed the issue of sexualized bodies and beautiful in his Symposium. He will propose an ascesis a lift that goes from the desire of the bodies to the empirical abstraction of beauty. The force of Eros draws us to the beautiful bodies to satisfy a sexual need. But these natural beauties opposed to one another when the need to generate a larger and abstract beauty. So many beautiful bodies in their only singularities are fine for participating in this largest and abstract beauty. The very word “abstract” has the sense to separate. Thus, we can separate the concept of beauty as their empirical expressions. The process of ascesis would work as follow: first admire and desire a certain body that seems fine. I see that same beauty in other bodies that cause me the same desires. From this multiplicity, a reflection reach intellectual beauty, which is an abstraction. Thus, beauty is not in the bodies, but one concept that is embodied in the multiplicity of bodies.

The Kantian solution is different with Plato, although both proposals do not appeal to any kind of biology. In § 16 of the Critique of Judgment, Kant will distinguish two kinds of beauty: free beauty (pulchritudo vaga) and adherent beauty (pulchritude adhaerens) or, in other words, a pure beauty and a beauty dependent. For Malcolm Budd (1998) these two kinds of beauty are based on two different kinds of trial. A trial of beauty is a free trial natural (pure). Already, a trial is a trial dependent beauty complex consisting of a pure trial followed by an evaluation of the object to satisfy some need of the subject, or fit some sort of pattern. Thus, the pure beauty does not presuppose any concept, or standard, which imposes a “should be” the object. Since the dependent beauty presupposes a concept, or pattern, and the need to meet this standard subject to be considered beautiful. This second kind of beauty Kant calls the beauty of adhering exactly to the necessity of adhering to an object concept to become beautiful, becoming a beauty Guests. They are objects that are under the concept of a particular purpose.

Kant exemplifies with flowers, which he calls “natural beauties free. ” But a botanist, for example, can add to this beauty a free trial that compares the shape and color of a flower to a function, for example, reproduction. Currently we free to enjoy the beauty and pure, to compare the shape and color to a concept or a specific purpose. It is the excessive application of cognitive operation that Darwin responsible for their aesthetic dullness.

Kant gives other examples: birds (the parrot, the hummingbird, the bird of paradise), a portion of the sea crustaceans are examples of natural beauty pure beauty or for themselves. Kant also provides examples of pure cultural beauties: “designs à la grecque”, foliage for borders or on wallpaper, etc. in themselves mean nothing, are not bound to any standards of representation and are free beauties. Music can also be a pure beauty, they do not seek to represent or describe some event.

Thus, the distinction between free beauty (pure) and adherent beauty (conditioned) shows that by recognizing the first, gives it a “court of pure taste, ” and second, a “court of taste applied. ” Naturally, the pure aesthetic judgments has more value than aesthetic judgment-conditioning. It is this quest for purity, the fundamental aesthetics of Kant, who took much of modernity as a project.

Bodies, whose beauty attracts us sexually, are therefore conditioned beauties for two reasons. First by mating the pure beauty of a court order, which is the possible fulfillment of a desire, therefore an interest. Second, because beauties are conditioned to a certain pattern, in which case contemporary, it becomes a somewhat perverse beauty and oppressive by the need to fit this pattern. For the Kantian aesthetic, then, aesthetic judgments are entirely independent of the concept of perfection.

The beauty is still a conditional kind of beauty, but the second order, or lower, when compared to pure beauty. Furthermore, by adhering excessively to the beauty Guests may end dulling the possibility of achieving the purity of the mind likes disinterested and independent standards.


KANT, Immanuel. Crítica da faculdade do juízo. Tradução de Valerio  Rohden e António Marques. Rio de Janeiro: Forense Universitária, 2008.

BUDD, M. “Delight in the Natural World: Kant on the Aesthetic Appreciation of Natura: Part I: Natural Beaty”. In: British Journal of Aesthetics, 38 (1998), pp. 1-18.

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6 Replies to “Kant’s aesthetics and the beauty of bodies sexualized”

  1. Gosto muito da colocação kantiana. Acho muito contemporânea. Existe beleza em corpos sensualizados, porém é uma beleza de segunda ordem, por ser interessada pelo desejo. Já a beleza de primeira ordem, pura que é a experiência estética da beleza propriamente dita, exige uma relação não-instrumental com o contemplado. Trata-se de uma beleza com valor-em-si mesma, ao contrário da beleza sensualizada que é apenas meio (instrumento) para satisfazer o meu desejo.

  2. Interessante, é sempre bom aprender os mistérios da estética e do comportamento.
    Vi um documentário na tv Cultura sobre a estética do corpo, apareceu a Vera, modelo vivo da Pina, que acha que a beleza é outra coisa além de um corpo malhado…os bailarinos acham que a beleza de seus corpos é construida com o tempo de treino…e assim vai.

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