EPLab • International Conference

Kant’s Aesthetics: Life and Animation

20-21 March 2023
NOVA University Lisbon, Campus de Campolide
Colégio Almada Negreiros, Room 209

Keynote speaker

Alix Cohen (University of Edinburgh)


The feeling of life (das Lebensgefühl) is a central concept in Kant’s aesthetic theory. Indeed, Kant begins the Analytic of the Beautiful by indicating that in the judgment of taste “the representation is related entirely to the subject, indeed to its feeling of life, under the name of the feeling of pleasure or displeasure” (KU, 5: 204, §1). In the Analytic of the Sublime, he adds that the beautiful “directly brings with it a feeling of the promotion of life”, whereas the feeling of the sublime “is a pleasure that arises only indirectly, being generated, namely, by the feeling of a momentary inhibition of the vital powers and the immediately following and all the more powerful outpouring of them” (KU, 5: 244-245, §23).

​Similarly, the closely related notions of animation (Belebung) and animating (beleben) are central to Kant’s account. He repeatedly speaks of the animation of the mind or the cognitive faculties, and in one section of the Critique of the Aesthetic Power of Judgment, namely §49, he writes of the spirit as the “animating principle in the mind”, as well as of the “animation” of the soul, works of art, and ideas of reason (cf. KU: 5, 313-317, §49).

In comparison with other topics that occupy recent secondary literature on Kant’s aesthetics, studies of the feeling of life and the related notions of animation and animating are of a relatively small number. Among the few studies which focus on (or make interesting mention of) these notions, influential accounts include Choi & Cohen (2021), Fugate (2018), and Makkai (2021), as well as Caygill (2000), Makkreel (1990), and Zammito (1992).

​It is the main aim of this conference to consider the roles that the feeling of life, as well as the related notions of animation and animating, play in Kant’s aesthetic theory.


João Lemos (​NOVA University Lisbon)

Rachel Siow Robertson (​University of Cambridge / The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion)

More information at kantaesthetics.weebly.com.

All times are in Western European Time (Lisbon/London)
13:30 – 14:00
João Lemos & Rachel Siow Robertson
Opening remarks
14:00 – 14:45
Keynote speaker: Alix Cohen
Kant on the feeling of life in aesthetics and beyond
14:45 – 15:15
Chair: João Lemos
15:15 – 15:30
Panel 1
Chair: Francisco Maia
15:30 – 16:00
Anna Enström
The sensibility of Gemüt in aesthetic judgment. On the feeling of life between Geist and the Body
16:00 – 16:15
16:15 – 16:45
Giulia Milli
Lebensgefühl and Geistesgefühl in Kant’s Aesthetics
16:45 – 17:00
17:00 – 17:30
Ilaria Ferrara
Lebensgefühl and Lebenskraft: the vital feeling and the vital force between aesthetic consideration and evaluative meaning
17:30 – 17:45
Panel 2
Chair: João Lemos
09:30 – 10:00
Luigi Filieri
The Counter-Feeling of Freedom. Kant on Passivity, Humiliation and the Power of Pure Practical Reason
10:00 – 10:30
Till Hoeppner
Judging of an Object as a Feeling Subject. On the Relation of Cognitive to Aesthetic Judgment in Kant
10:30 – 11:00
11:00 – 11:15
Panel 3
Chair: Francisco Lisboa
11:15 – 11:45
Moran Godess-Riccitelli
Linger in Beauty: Disinterestedness and Aesthetic Feeling of Life
11:45 – 12:15
Gerth Hyrkäs
Creativity in Kant
12:15 – 12:45
12:45 – 14:15
Lunch break
Panel 4
Chair: João Lemos
14:15 – 14:45
David-Benjamin Berger
The Supersensible Substrate as a Clue to Understanding the Necessity of Spirit as the Animating Principle in the Mind
14:45 – 15:15
Larissa Wallner
The feeling of life as a reflection of transcendental subjectivity
15:15 – 15:45
15:45 – 16:00
Panel 5
Chair: Francisco Lisboa
16:00 – 16:30
Saniye Vatansever
The Stoic Influence on Kant’s Conception of the Feeling of Life
16:30 – 17:00
Elena Romano
Kant’s pleasure in the beautiful: from feeling of life to common sense
17:00 – 17:30