Friday, February 19, 2010


“Kant said, ‘Something is beautiful if it gives pleasure without interest.’ Without interest! Compare this definition with another made by a genuine ‘spectator’ and artist – Stendhal, who once called the beautiful une promesse du bonheur. Here, at any rate, the thing that Kant alone emphasizes in aesthetic matters is rejected and stricken out – le disinteressement. Who is right, Kant or Stendhal?”

“However, as our aestheticians never tire of weighing in on Kant’s side, saying that under the charm of beauty, even naked female statues can be looked at ‘without interest,’ I think we are entitled to laugh a little at their expense – the experiences of artists are ‘more interesting’ with regard to this tricky point, and Pygmalion, at all events, was not necessarily an ‘unaesthetic man’.”

Friedrich Nietzsche, Zur Genealogie der Moral: Ein Streitschrift, 1887

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