An excerpt from Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Judgment (1790) from Section 59: “Of beauty as the symbol of morality.”
(1) The beautiful pleases immediately (but only in reflective intuition, not like morality, in its concept). (2) It pleases apart from any interest (the morally good is indeed necessarily bound up with any interest, though not with one which precedes the judgment upon the satisfaction, but with one which is first produced by it). (3) The freedom of the imagination (and therefore the sensibility of our faculty) is represented in judging the beautiful as harmonious with the conformity to law of the understanding (in the moral judgment the freedom of the will is thought as the harmony of the latter with itself, according to universal laws of reason). (4) The subjective principle in judging the beautiful is represented as universal, i.e., as valid for every man, though not cognizable through any universal concept. (The objective principle of morality is also expounded as universal, i.e., for every subject and for every action of the same subject, and thus as cognizable by means of a universal concept). Hence the moral judgment is not susceptible of definite constitutive principles, but is possible only by grounding its maxims on these in their universality.
A reference to this analogy is usual even with the common understanding [of men], and we often describe beautiful objects of nature or art by names that seem to put a moral appreciation at their basis. We call buildings or trees majestic and magnificent, landscapes laughing and gay; even colors are called innocent, modest, tender, because they excite sensations which have something analogous to the consciousness of the state of mind brought about by moral judgments.
In this excerpt, we see beauty and morality bound up together. How can, does, or has this link affected our perception of anomalous bodies? Are those that are “ugly” immoral? It is important to flesh out this link between appearance and inherent good. Isn’t there a reason for the saying “You can’t judge a book by its cover”? It seems now that this now often used phrase, which apparently appeared in the 1940s, carries with it profound claims about beauty and morality. This phrase seems to work against Kant, or so it would appear.
So, what of us with anomalous bodies? How are we to be judged? Aesthetically? Morally? Conceptually?