CFP: Special Issue on “Kant’s Aesthetic Theory”, Con-Textos Kantianos. International Journal of Philosophy (2020)

We are glad to give notice that a call for papers of Con-Textos Kantianos. International Journal of Philosophy on the topic Kant’s Astethic Theory, to be published in December 2020, is now open.

The deadline for submissions is 31 August 2020.

You can find the text of the call below.


Editor: João Lemos (Nova Institute of Philosophy, Nova University of Lisbon)

Keynote-authors: David E. W. Fenner (University of North Florida), Hannah Ginsborg (University of California, Berkeley), Ido Geiger (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev), Serena Feloj (University of Pavia), and Virginia Figueiredo (Federal University of Minas Gerais)

It is generally acknowledged that Kant’s aesthetic theory played a central role in the emergence of aesthetics as a discipline. However, Kant seems to have lost any relevance during the last two centuries with respect to the most popular debates within aesthetics and philosophy of art.

Among the many reasons for this is the alleged inadequacy of Kant’s account, which tended to be represented as a form of aesthetic formalism – a theory that fell out of favour in the 20th Century, due to an increasing emphasis on moral engagement in artistic practices.

From the 1970s to the beginning of the new millennium, works by commentators such as Guyer 1979 and Allison 2001, among others, have led to a renewed interest in Kant’s aesthetics. However, such works have had a stronger effect within Kantian studies than in the general sphere of aesthetics and philosophy of art, where Kant’s theory is mentioned merely as a moment in a tradition of thought that has long since moved on.

And yet, many of Kant’s questions remain to be answered, including the nature of aesthetic normativity and the place of ethical and political issues within aesthetic appreciation.

With respect to the former, it would be worth rethinking Kant’s proposal that a subjective judgment grounded in a feeling of pleasure can be universally valid and demand everyone’s assent – see, besides the above-mentioned Guyer 1979 and Allison 2001, more recently, Chignell 2007, Ginsborg 2015, Feloj 2018 or Zangwill 2019, among many others. There remains important work to do in analysing related notions such as subjective universality, exemplary necessity, common sense, or universal voice.

As for the place of ethical and political issues within aesthetic appreciation, it would be valuable to return to Kant’s notion of a kind of appreciation that, while being aesthetic, welcomes contemplation of ethical and political issues – see, in this context, the discussions of adherent beauty in Schaper 1979, Stecker 1987, or, more recently, Mallaband 2002 or Zuckert 2007.

The answers to both questions shed light on the links drawn by Kant between beauty and morality, the beautiful and the morally good, aesthetics and ethics. With regards to aesthetic normativity, these links have been discussed by Elliott 1968, Crawford 1974, Rogerson 1982 and Savile 1987. With respect to the place of ethical and political issues within aesthetic appreciation, see Scarre 1981 or Kalar 2006, among others.

There are many further ways in which Kant’s theory is relevant to current debates about aesthetics and philosophy of art. In particular, Kant’s account of calm contemplation and disinterested pleasure is a rich resource for evaluating and expanding upon the more recent responses to Dickie 1964’s attack on theories of the aesthetic attitude, such as the response given by Fenner 1996. Furthermore, we have much to learn from the broad scope of Kant’s theory, which addresses issues that at first glance look external to the ambits of aesthetics and philosophy of art. At a very general level, Kant raises important questions about the relation between judgments of taste and cognition. In this context, Ginsborg 1990, Longuenesse 1998 or Geiger 2010, among others, should be considered.

To sum up, this special issue will address problems raised by Kant which are still to be solved, and contribute to current debates in aesthetics and philosophy of art to which Kant’s theory is relevant.

The editor invites authors to submit papers on Kant’s aesthetic theory to the following email address: Papers should be prepared for blind-review and should not exceed 12.000 words. Guidelines can be found at this link. A separate cover letter (including name, institutional affiliation, and contact information) must be sent to the same email address.

The deadline for submissions is 31 August 2020.


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