The finer feeling that we will now consider is preeminently of two kinds: the feeling of the sublime and of the beautiful. Being touched by either is agreeable, but in very different ways. The sight of a mountain whose snow-covered peaks arise above the clouds, the description of a raging storm, or the depiction of the kingdom of hell by Milton arouses satisfaction, but with dread; by contrast, the prospect of meadows strewn with flowers, of valleys with winding brooks, covered with grazing herds, the description of Elysium,s or Homer’s depiction of the girdle of Venus also occasion an agreeable sentiment, but one that is joyful and smiling. For the former to make its impression on us in its proper strength, we must have a feeling of the sublime,and in or- der properly to enjoy the latter we must have a feeling for the beautiful. Lofty oaks and lonely shadows in sacred groves are sublime, flower beds, low hedges, and trees trimmed into figures are beautiful. The night is sublime, the day is beautiful. Casts of mind that possess a feeling for the sublime are gradually drawn into lofty sentiments, of friendship, of contempt for the world, of eternity, by the quiet calm of a summer evening, when the flickering light of the stars breaks through the umber shadows of the night and the lonely moon rises into view. The brilliant day inspires busy fervor and a feeling of gaiety. The sublime touches, the beautiful charms.
But now comes judgement, which in the order of our cognitive faculties forms a middle term between understanding and reason. Has it also got independent a priori principles? If so, are they constitutive, or are they merely regulative, thus indicating no special realm? And do they give a rule a priori to the feeling of pleasure and displeasure, as the middle term between the faculties of cognition and desire, just as understanding prescribes laws a priori for the former and reason for the latter? This is the topic to which the present Critique is devoted.