Kantian Normal Idea vs Santayana’s ‘Psychology’ of Defining Characters as Aesthetic Forms

Author: Krzysztof Wawrzonkowski
Year of publication: 2016
Source: Show
Pages: 63-77
DOI Address: https://doi.org/10.15804/kie.2016.04.04
PDF: kie/114/kie11404.pdf

The objective of the presented article consists in the juxtaposition of two depictions of mechanisms of imagination which we use to create averaged images of all sensual experiences. The first of them is Kantian normal idea conducive to the construction of adherent beauty, whereas the second - Santayana’s concept of formation of a generic idea, aesthetic type or an ideal. It is my conviction that both these proposals are convergent, as they refer to the same method of functioning of the imagination, however they differ in certain details, as they are inscribed in nearly entirely opposite aesthetic concepts. However, Santayana’s theory of character creation goes further than Kant’s concept, as it exceeds the averaged image of the normal idea, and, while not being equivalent to Kantian aesthetic idea constituting a certain product of genius, it heads towards the idealisation of representations available to all people. The purpose behind Santayana’s concept proves to be more practical as compared to the solution proposed by Kant. In this depiction, we should recognise a universal mechanism of the imagination in the formation of characters as aesthetic forms, enabling a person to define his/her place and gain knowledge on the human world of attitudes, customs and ordinary behaviours.


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Santayana Kant imagination normal idea adherent beauty literary character

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