Reflective Judgment and the Unity of Kant's "Critique of Judgment"

Dissertation, University of Pennsylvania (1997)

Contrary to what commentators have usually claimed, Kant's Critique of Judgment is a unified work. In particular, its investigations of problems of induction and empirical concept formation, judgments of beauty, and teleological judgments about organisms are all motivated by a concern with a single underlying cognitive ability or capacity: namely, reflective judgment. This concern structures the work in the following way. The two Introductions to the Critique of Judgment argue that, in order for the application of concepts to intuitions, or the discovery or formation of concepts for intuitions, to be possible, we require a reflective faculty of judgment that must be capable of establishing appropriate relations between intuitions and concepts in accordance with rules that are neither abstractable from what is given in sensation, nor embodied in established systems of concepts and laws. Following this, the Critique of Aesthetic Judgment examines judgments of beauty, in which one finds the purest exercise of reflective judgment, or the exercise in which reflective judgment shows itself to be capable of formulating universally valid judgments in the absence of any conceptual determination of its objects. Finally, the Critique of Teleological Judgment considers teleological judgments about organisms, which involve an application of reflective judgment that is of less general significance than its aesthetic application, but that must be carefully distinguished from the latter application for the reason that the two are apt to be confused with one another. The picture of reflective judgment that emerges out of all of this is that of a cognitive ability which, although its employment is irremediably practical, subjective, and context-bound, nevertheless possesses its own rule-governedness or lawfulness which cannot be seen as a function of either the apprehension of sensory content or the application of universal concepts or laws
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