“In order to find something good, I must always know what sort of thing the object is supposed to be, i.e., I must have a concept of it”
--Kant, CJ, §4.
“Here the representation is altogether referred to the subject and to its feeling of life, under the name of the feeling of pleasure or pain”
--Kant, CJ, §1.
“Interest” is a satisfaction taken in an object and representation of its existence (i.e., in contrast to how aesthetical judgments concern the feeling in a subject, “interest” concerns something in the object itself, specifically, that the thing exists. To attribute existence to something implies that we seek use from it or gratification by it). Interest is partial; in contrast, a pure judgment of taste has no interest, but only mere satisfaction.
Thus, when we judge something to be beautiful, we cannot be concerned with determining or presuming its existence. If I am looking at a picture of a waterfall, to judge it aesthetically as beautiful, I cannot consider whether or not the waterfall exists in reality, where it exists, whether I could raft over it in a wooden barrel. Further, I cannot say that Goya’s oil on plaster, “Saturn Devouring his Son” (1820-23) is not art (i.e., not beautiful) because Saturn does not exist, nor did he ever devour his son; to do so, I would be judging his painting with interest.
Kant’s claim seems to be a gross generalization … surely, it is true that some examples may prove otherwise, e.g., some flowers have evolved a certain color to attract pollinators, etc., but it is not wholly wrong: think about the lines wind forms in sand dunes (as seen here in a photograph entitled “Oceano,” by Edward Weston (1936)) ... so far as our science can tell, there is no purpose for this (even if there is a scientific explanation, it is not important—the key is that it seems like there is one, but we do not know it).
... taste at least, if not the feeling of the sublime, offers the paradox of a judgment that appears, problematically, to be doomed to particularity and contingency. However, the analytic of taste restores to judgment a universality, a finality, and a necessity—all of which are, indeed, subjective—merely by evincing its status as reflective judgment. This status is then applied to teleological judgment in order, precisely, to legitimate its use. In this way, the validation of subjective pleasure serves to introduce a validation of natural teleology
--Lyotard, Lessons on the Analytic of the Sublime, 1.
“I would argue that an importance of an entirely different order may be accorded the ‘Analytic of Aesthetic Judgment,’ that of being a propaedeutic that is itself, perhaps, all of philosophy (for ‘we can at most only learn how to philosophize …,’ but we cannot learn philosophy (krv, 657, t.m.’ 752) . ... Aesthetic judgment conceals, I would suggest, a secret more important than that of doctrine, the secret of the ‘manner’ (rather than the method) in which critical thought proceeds in general”
--Lyotard, Lessons on the Analytic of the Sublime, 6.
Sublimity is in the mind, not in an object, properly. The sublime ...
“This concerns only Ideas of the Reason, which, although no adequate presentation is possible for them, by this inadequacy that admits of sensible presentation, are aroused and summoned into the mind. Thus the wide ocean, agitated by the storm, cannot be called sublime. Its aspect is horrible; and the mind must be already filled with manifold Ideas if it is to be determined by such an intuition to a feeling itself sublime, as it is incited to abandon sensibility and to busy itself with Ideas that involve higher purposiveness”
--Kant, §23, p.62.
“That is, they bring about a feeling that we possess pure self-subsistent Reason, or a faculty for the estimation of magnitude, whose pre-eminence can be made intuitively evident only by the inadequacy of that faculty [Imagination] which is itself unbounded in the presentation of magnitudes (of sensible objects)”
--Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgment, trans. John H. Bernard (New York: Cosimo Classics, 2007), §27, p.72-3.