Aesthetics and Cognition in Kant's Critical Philosophy by Rebecca Kukla

By Rebecca Kukla

This 2006 quantity explores the connection among Kant's aesthetic conception and his serious epistemology as articulated within the Critique of natural cause and the Critique of the ability of Judgment.

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The deep point here is that Kant has now apparently ceded crucial responsibility for successful, objectively valid experience away from the understanding, and into only contingently trustworthy hands. In doing so, it seems we should worry that the hard-won mastery of the understanding over its proper domain has been seriously undermined. Understanding now appears to be at the mercy of the contingencies of nature and sensibility in just the way it was not supposed to be. Our pleasure in the suitability of sensuous nature for comprehension can be read as a symptom of the decentering of the understanding’s mastery of its domain.

Plenty of commentators remain untroubled by the role played by imagination in Kant’s account of cognition, and plenty of those who do find it troubling do not think that it seriously challenges the driving goals of critical epistemology. However, I hope that I have given enough evidence to support a double claim: First, at the very least, it takes some substantial interpretive work to see how we ought to place the aesthetic within Kant’s larger account of cognition and critical epistemology. Second, if some of Kant’s most interesting arguments are to be taken seriously, then the activity of the sensuous imagination is a precondition for the possibility of any empirical cognition or experience whatsoever, and hence this interpretive task is an indispensable one.

John McDowell is a paradigmatic example of someone adopting this strategy. , 452, my emphasis). 17 3. One can read the critical corpus biographically, arguing that Kant’s views indeed changed and developed over time as he became committed to a larger and more active role for the aesthetic in cognition. On this view, Kant’s final position is more compelling and more satisfying than his initial dualistic picture and its impoverished conception of aesthetic sensibility. Makkreel (1990) and F¨orster (2000) have defended such readings.

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