Epistemological Sources of Kant's Aesthetic Theory

Dissertation, University of California, Davis (1984)

Abstract
Immanuel Kant's pre-Critical aesthetic theory denied the possibility of a transcendental deduction for claims of taste. However, his mature aesthetic theory, expressed in the Critique of Judgment, demanded such a deduction, and his mature theory was more complex than his pre-Critical theory in many other ways. Furthermore, these changes seem to many commentators to be at odds with Kant's views in the Critique of Pure Reason. For instance, pure aesthetic judgments seem to demand synthesis of a manifold in the absence of recognition in a concept, whereas the first Critique seems to deny the possibility of synthesis apart from use of the categories. Kant's reasons for changing his views and for advocating a theory so problematic for his own philosophy are usually attributed to the need to bridge the gap between practical and theoretical reason. This explanation does not provide an adequate account of Kant's actual claims in the third Critique. This dissertation aims at clarifying Kant's assertions that pure aesthetic judgments are basic to cognition of an objective world, and to the formation of empirical concepts through which the actual world is cognized. ;The dissertation has five chapters. Chapter One introduces the problem and surveys the existing literature. Chapter Two argues that empirical knowledge was an important concern for Kant, and that the third Critique was in part intended to address the topic of empirical concept formation. The remaining chapters deal with problems for this interpretation while arguing that it allows the first and third Critiques to be read as presenting a single coherent theory about cognition as requiring the use of empirical concepts
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