The Synthetic Unity of Reason and Nature in the Third Critique

International Journal of Philosophical Studies 31 (5):1-32 (2024)
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Abstract

In this paper, I advance a new interpretation of the argumentative structure of the third Critique, which in turn clarifies the connection between its two apparently unrelated parts. I propose to read the third Critique as a response to Kant’s question of hope, which concerns the satisfaction of reason’s practical and theoretical interests. On this proposal, while the first part on aesthetics describes what we—as possessors of theoretical reason – may hope for, the second part, on teleology, describes what we – as possessors of practical reason – may hope for. The main question of the third Critique is, ‘What may we hope if we act as we should, i.e. act rationally?’ Kant’s implicit answer is, ‘to attain the ideals of reason, which leads to happiness as a consequence of it.’ This novel reconstruction of the argumentative structure of the third Critique contributes to the literature by (i) explaining how the two parts of the third Critique on aesthetics and teleology are connected, (ii) clarifying how the ideals of reason are connected to hope and happiness, and (iii) showing how the spheres of nature and freedom can be synthetically unified through the faculty of judgment.

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