The Crisis of Judgment in Kant's Three "Critiques", the Aesthetic Factor and Kant's Architectonic Solution

Dissertation, The American University (1991)
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Abstract

This dissertation will explore a unique problem in Kant's critical philosophy, thus far not dealt with in the larger perspective it deserves, namely the possibility of judgment, particularly aesthetic judgment in the shadow of reason and understanding. Kant tells us in the Critique of Pure Reason that in the course of human conduct the power of judgment is more important than knowledge and reason , but how this is so he only comes to fully articulate in his culminating critical work, the Critique of Judgment. That judgment is a crucial focus in all three Critiques is indicated by the three guiding questions--how are a priori synthetic judgments possible?, how are moral judgments a priori possible? and how are aesthetic judgments a priori possible? The factor common to all is the demand for a priori status, i.e. what constitutes legitimate philosophical judgment in the three areas of human culture--science, morality and art. Assessing judgment in these areas turns up a peculiar, albeit recalcitrant, connection to the aesthetic component in human consciousness. Kant first confronts the link of judgment to feeling formally and critically in the Transcendental Aesthetic of the first Critique, then again in the second Critique concerning the relationship of "moral feeling" to the moral law. It is only in the third Critique that the aesthetic element in consciousness is fully integrated in Kant's critical system. ;My dissertation reconstructs Kant's attempt to link feeling and cognition and do so on a priori principles; it explores the crisis this represents for judgment in philosophical discourse. This study asks whether in the course of his Critiques Kant can be said to have solved the "crises of judgment" within the totality of his own system, and beyond that, to have found the answers of the aporiae of judgment in the human soul. Further one must ask: does Kant find a rational, that is philosophical solution to the problem of the irrational posed in mid-eighteenth century thought, which is essentially a problem of aesthetics, i.e. of individual taste which becomes that of critique and judgment? ;My claim is that Kant's answer lies in his unique but often obscured vision of reason's "architectonic" nature which finds in the Critique of Judgment its final solution. The architectonic vision assigns judgment-power, a "secret power" no longer, the task to reconcile simultaneous contradictory truths, for example to bring together in one consciousness the sensible and the supersensible, the conditioned and the unconditioned, and to generally "untie the knot of knowledge" by means of a theory of judgment.

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Irmgard Scherer
Loyola University Maryland

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