Knowledge, education and aesthetics

Mark Jackson
Vol 38, Number 1, p.45
The philosophy of Immanuel Kant has been important in education theory, especially in the historical context of the Enlightenment and its legacies on contemporary understandings of global education. Particular reference is given to Kant’s writing on Enlightenment thinking and especially to his 1803 Über Pädagogik/Lectures on pedagogy whose groundwork tends to be thought from an empirical anthropology. This paper aims to question education, though from the perspective of a Kantian understanding of aesthetic experience, a perspective developed initially from my reading of Denis J. Schmidt’s Lyrical and Ethical Subjects (2005). In the Critique ofJudgement (1986), Kant develops an ‘Analytic of the Beautiful’ that offers transcendental grounds for the possibility of aesthetic experience. In doing so, he discusses, somewhat briefly, training in the fine arts and even more briefly offers, somewhat indirectly, a far-reaching transcendental ground for pedagogy. It is these two brief accounts that form the substance of this paper, requiring a somewhat extended introduction to Kant’s Critique of Aesthetic Judgement in order to develop its analysis. From this analysis,two key questions arise: if fine art cannot be learned, and if imitation would ultimately aim at producing an objectively determinable rule— via a determinable concept—for the production of art works, how does one proceed with education in the fine arts? And, secondly, as a corollary, if genius is reserved for precisely what cannot be learned but yet can be conceived and communicated, what possible purpose is served by aesthetic ideas with respect to cognition itself?