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  • Cited by 2
  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: March 2007

16 - Kant’s ambitions in the third Critique


Kant's ambitions in the Critique of the Power of Judgment are vast. The Introduction to the book, while setting the stage for the issues to be addressed in its two main parts, returns to an issue first broached in the Appendix to the “Transcendental Dialectic” of the Critique of Pure Reason, namely, the idea of a system of empirical laws of nature, but also suggests for the first time that their systematicity can ground the necessity of such laws, a clear addition to the theory of experience of the first Critique. The first main part of the book, the “Critique of the Aesthetic Power of Judgment,” takes up a wide range of the topics debated in eighteenth-century aesthetics - including the ontological status of beauty, the universal validity of judgments of taste and the possibility of aesthetic criticism, the contrast between the beautiful and the sublime, the nature of genius, and the moral significance of aesthetic experience - and uniquely attempts to show that our aesthetic judgments and practices have a rational foundation even though they cannot be grounded on determinate principles. The second main part of the work, the “Critique of the Teleological Power of Judgment,” takes up specific debates in contemporary biology, such as the controversy between epigenetic and preformationist theories of reproduction and the emerging debate over the possibility of speciation by evolution, while also tackling broader philosophical problems such as the possibility of comprehending organisms in general and the moral significance of nature as a whole.

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