Intellectual Interest in Natural Beauty

"The fact that nature has produced a vast multitude of objects that we find beautiful, as if they were made for us, makes us think that we somehow fit. It seems to us as if this were a gift or blessing given to us by nature or by God. From the perspective of human autonomy, we might also say that it is not that nature does us a favor, but the other way around: we do nature a favor by finding it beautiful. But in any case, Kant suggests that this makes us think that ideas and higher purposes of our inner nature, like freedom and morality, may be realized in outer nature and society where human beings live together under moral laws. Reason thus takes an interest in any sign or trace in nature that might indicate a bridge between freedom and nature.” (Wenzel 115)

“But since it also interests reason that the ideas (for which it produces an immediate interest in the moral feeling) also have objective reality, i.e., that nature should at least show some trace or give a sign that it contains in itself some sort of ground for assuming a lawful correspondence of its products with our satisfaction that is independent of all interest… reason must take an interest in every manifestation in nature of a correspondence similar to this; consequently the mind cannot reflect on the beauty of nature without finding itself at the same time to be interested in it. Because of this affinity, however, this interest is moral…” (5: 300-1)

"Taste can serve moral autonomy only if morality can also recognize aesthetic autonomy" - Guyer, Kant and the Experience of Freedom, p. 19.

"Without a God and without a world invisible to us now but hoped for, the glorious ideas of morality are indeed objects of approval and admiration, but not springs of purpose and action." (A813/B841)

"Hence an immense gulf is fixed between the domain of the concept of nature, the sensible, and the domain of the concept of freedom, the supersensible, so that no transition from the sensible to the supersensible is possible (and hence by means of the theoretical use of reason), just as if they were two different worlds, the first of which cannot have any influence on the second" (KU 5:175-6)

"Expressed in terms of the geopolitical metaphors, the initial complicating factor is that, on the one hand, these two legislations [Gebiete] are over a single territory [Boden], namely, the sum total of objects of possible experience, while, on the other hand, neither of these legislations is supposed to interfere with the other. Thus, the laws of nature stemming from the understanding determine what is the case, and the laws of freedom derived from reason dictate what ought to be; and these two orders must be viewed as being compatible without one being reducible to the other, that is, without forming a single domain. This irreducibility is essential because the idea of a "reduction" of what is to what ought to be (of nature to freedom) would be nonsensical for Kant, whereas the more familiar reduction in the other direction yields a naturalistic form of compatibilism that would undermine genuine freedom, and therefore morality." Allison, p. 202