In Diane Williamson & Kelly Sorensen (eds.), Kant and the Faculty of Feeling. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 9-24 (2018)

Alix Cohen
University of Edinburgh
While it is well known that Kant’s transcendental idealism forbids the transcendent use of reason and its ideas, what had been underexplored until the last decade or so is his account of the positive use of reason’s ideas as it is expounded in the “Appendix” of the Critique of Pure Reason. The main difficulty faced by his account is that while there is no doubt that for Kant we need to rely on the ideas of reason in order to gain knowledge of the empirical world, the justificatory grounds for our use remain unclear. Commentators have suggested various ways of addressing this worry. Some emphasize that reason’s demand for systematicity is purely methodological; others that the assumption that nature itself is systematically unified is transcendentally necessary. Some simply deem Kant’s account “extremely self-contradictory.” What is clear is that if neither the presupposition of nature’s systematic unity nor the command to seek this unity have any justification, reason’s regulative function, which plays a crucial role in Kant’s account of cognition, also lacks justification. This would be a disastrous result, for it would threaten the very possibility of cognition and its progress. This chapter proposes to tackle this problem from a new angle by exploring the role of reason’s feelings in Kant’s account. While the relationship between practical reason and feeling has been explored at length in the literature, the relationship between theoretical reason and feeling has not, and my aim is to suggest that doing so can shed new light on reason’s cognitive activity. For focusing on the fact that theoretical reason’s need manifests itself as a feeling will enable me to reassess how this need is met through reason’s regulative use of its ideas.
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