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Chapter 4 argues that the sensus communis forms the keystone of Kant’s critical system. Kant develops his idea of the sensus communis as a response to the quid juris of the judgment of taste – by what right may I claim that this is beautiful? As a judgment made out in the territory, without a law, a judgment of taste is always in question. Kant’s development of the sensus communis is shown to rely on two senses of its historical usage, epistemological and social. Both of these uses of the term are developed in response to skepticism. Kant’s own use of the term, which refers to a sense that we can communicate with all other human beings, discloses to us that all human beings share a way of having the world, and, too, that we share a world in common. It thus grounds the universal character of both cognition and moral life.
This chapter is centered upon the section of the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment” that Kant calls the “key” to the critique of taste and in which he elaborates the judgment of taste in terms that are striking yet scant, familiar yet elusive: a “state of mind” of “free play” of the cognitive powers, in which they are in “harmony” or “attunement” and are mutually “animated,” and in which their “subjective relation” corresponds to a “subjective condition” of cognition. I propose that a key to Kant’s thought is to be found in the notion of “universal communicability,” which this section introduces. The sense of “communication” on which it depends is, I argue, to be understood robustly, as having to do with the imparting of something to someone. I then argue that the judgment of taste turns on an experience of wanting to render communicable, or explore and articulate, one’s encounter with the extra-factual aesthetic character of the object. My interpretation reorients the role and significance of pleasure, and of feeling more generally, in the judgment of taste. The pleasure of the judgment of taste is in the object and in one’s state of mind, which the object is felt to awaken.
Disturbances in the verbal communication patterns of manic and schizophrenic patients have been identified as two tools borrowed from quantitative linguistics: the Cloze Procedure and the Type Token Ratio (TTR). The Cloze Procedure, which measures the communicability of a message, consists of suppressing systematically every “nth” word of a text and in asking raters to try and guess the missing words. The Cloze Score of each text is then evaluated. The TTR measures the index of repetitiveness of a text or, in other words, its verbal richness. The degree of communicability, or overall comprehension, and the index of verbal richness are obtained through the analysis of a corpus of oral texts which have been recorded and transcribed. The patients are all paired with suitable controls. It was shown that low Cloze Scores (CS) and low TTR identify schizophrenic patients, whereas low CS and high TTR indicate a manic state. Control subjects show both high CS and high TTR. These results suggest that the Cloze Procedure linked with TTR can provide substantial aid to the differential diagnosis of mania and schizophrenia.
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