The Ontological Motif in Kant's Account of Reflective Judgment

Dissertation, The Pennsylvania State University (1996)

This dissertation argues the position that the Critique of Judgment is the realization of Kant's intent throughout the critical project to provide a transcendental justification of the metaphysics of Leibniz. With this objective in view the dissertation examines Kant's writing in the Eberhard Controversy and The Prize Essay in order to bring into relief Kant's own avowed commitment to Leibniz, and to show how this faithfulness to the tenets of Leibniz' metaphysics formed Kant's arguments in the Critique of Judgment. The dissertation argues that philosophic achievement of the Critique of Judgment is Kant's effectiveness in providing a transcendental appropriation of Leibniz' metaphysics. ;In concert with this interpretation of the Critique of Judgment the dissertation maintains that the contemporary sensual realists had an enormous influence on Kant's thinking in the third Critique. The argument is advanced that sensuous experience is taken up by Kant in the Critique of Judgment as having primordial ontological significance. This is viewed as being a basic development in Kant's critical philosophy that is not evident in the earlier Critiques. It is argued that this realization of the ontological empowerment of the sensuous is expressed in the experience of the beautiful and the sublime. It is what moves Kant toward a realization of a transcendental ontology. This provides the context for examining Kant's contention that certain feelings of pleasure and pain take on the status of yielding judgments that make synthetic a-priori claims. ;Kant's examination of the subject matter of reflective judgment reveals a wealth of transcendental thinking that brings about deep insights into the meaning of nature, freedom, morality and the supersensible. The argument of the dissertation claims that for Kant, these are converging thoughts finding their ultimate intelligibility in the fact of their being co-expressive. This is the thematic unity to which the Critique of Judgment gives expression. All experience points toward judgment and its power to reflect this unity. Be they judgments of nature, of the beautiful, or of the sublime, judgment is shown to reflect a unity and to be empowered by such a unity
Keywords Kant, Immanuel
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