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Artistic Proofs: A Kantian Approach to Aesthetics in Mathematics

Author:

Weijia Wang

School of Philosophy, Fudan University, West Guanghua Building, 220 Handan Road 200433, Shanghai, CN
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Abstract

This paper explores the nature of mathematical beauty from a Kantian perspective. According to Kant’s Critique of the Power of Judgment, satisfaction in beauty is subjective and non-conceptual, yet a proof can be beautiful even though it relies on concepts. I propose that, much like art creation, the formulation and study of a complex demonstration involves multiple and progressive interactions between the freely original imagination and taste (that is, the aesthetic power of judgement). Such a proof is artistic insofar as it is guided by beauty, namely, the mere feeling about the imagination’s free lawfulness. The beauty in a proof’s process and the perfection in its completion together facilitate a transition from subjective to objective purposiveness, a transition that Kant himself does not address in the third Critique.
How to Cite: Wang, Weijia. “Artistic Proofs: A Kantian Approach to Aesthetics in Mathematics”. Estetika: The European Journal of Aesthetics 56, no. 2 (2019): 223–43. DOI: http://doi.org/10.33134/eeja.190
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Published on 01 Sep 2019.
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