What are the differences between a judgment of cognition and a judgement of taste? How does Kant differentiate between good, pleasant, and beautiful?

Immanuel Kant’s idea of cognition links to how people understand supposedly universal laws and designs. Kant’s judgement of taste has less to do with a person’s understanding and more to do with a person’s specific pleasure or feeling when judging something. When a person judges something “beautiful,” Kant says they’re disinterested in the object. What’s of interest is the person’s own feelings and opinions, not the object itself.

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First off, Immanuel Kant doesn’t really use the term “judgment of cognition.” Cognition, for Kant, isn’t like taste. You don’t issue a judgment of cognition like you do for taste since cognition doesn’t really produce a judgement.

In Kant’s philosophy, cognition is more of a way to understand things than...

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First off, Immanuel Kant doesn’t really use the term “judgment of cognition.” Cognition, for Kant, isn’t like taste. You don’t issue a judgment of cognition like you do for taste since cognition doesn’t really produce a judgement.

In Kant’s philosophy, cognition is more of a way to understand things than to judge them. When a person develops their, as Kant says, “cognition of things,” they advance their understanding and knowledge of “universal laws” and designs. A human’s cognition acquaints them with the processes and operations of things. It helps them apprehend the purpose and aim of general laws, designs, behaviors, and so on.

As for a judgement of taste, that, in a way, puts understanding and knowledge on the back burner. In Kant’s world, a judgement of taste is specifically located in how something makes a person feel. It’s connected to pleasure and pain.

Now let’s review pleasant, beautiful, and good.

For Kant “that which GRATIFIES a man is called pleasant.” The "pleasant" is quite interested in the object. The object is very relevant. If a person eats a chocolate chip cookie, the person is not disinterested in the chocolate chip cookie. They’re not detached from the cookie. The cookie is not irrelevant. The cookie—the object—is paramount. It’s what delivers gratification.

With beauty, it’s a different story. The object itself is not of much interest. As Kant might say, the person is “disinterested” in the object. If a person calls a painting “beautiful,” what matters is the person’s own feelings, pleasures, and taste. It’s the person, not the object, that’s of central interest or that matters the most.

When it comes to “good,” Kant notes that people tend to confuse “good” and “pleasant.” If something brings a person gratification, they might called it good. Yet Kant seems to argue that “good” has a deeper meaning than “pleasant.” For Kant, “good” has less to do with immediate satisfaction and enjoyment and more to with overall worth and purpose.

To help illuminate this rather subtle yet significant distinction, Kant uses the example of health. It’s “pleasant” or enjoyable to possess health and to not be sick or in pain. Yet what makes health “good” is the more long-term, fundamental “purposes” that it serves. According to Kant, health is “good” since it “makes us fit for all our business.” Again, “good” is not so much about achieving a momentarily satisfaction or gratification: it’s about taking into account longterm, fundamental aims and goals.

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