This short prologue deplores the widespread ignorance of the modern European tradition of philosophical aesthetics and the current hegemony of ideology-critique and culturalism. It stakes a claim for the importance and value of beauty and the aesthetic, and of free judgement. It also sets out the structure of the book. First, Kant’s principal claims and their value for thinking about the aesthetic today are investigated. Second, a detailed response is given to two major objections to aesthetic judgements, namely that they necessarily entail formalism and that they are really occluded judgements of other kinds (social, political, economic). Finally, these obstacles are confronted and with a turn from the past to the future, the possible forms that aesthetic criticism might take are investigated.
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