Edinburgh Kant Reading Group – first session 23rd of January

As part of our Semester 2 Research Seminars, this week we’ll read paragraphs 61-63 of Kant’s Critique of the Power of Judgment (first paragraphs of the Critique of Teleological Judgment)

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2 Responses to Edinburgh Kant Reading Group – first session 23rd of January

  1. hennyblomme says:

    Some comments on the concept of purposiveness…

    1. Subjective purposiveness: purposiveness involving the subject or its faculties.

    On subjective material (real) purposiveness: The purposiveness of nature with respect to our faculty of knowledge. In the Critique of pure Reason, Kant explains how our understanding and nature are matched for each other. He argues that the principles of the understanding (which are derived from the categories) must be considered as the most general laws of nature in general (that is: nature as the totality of all appearances – thus not only “outer” or “physical” nature, but also “inner” nature) and that all particular laws of nature can be seen as empirically informed specifications of those general laws. (See B162-165) Therefore, as Kant states at the beginning of §61, we have (according to transcendental principles) good grounds to assume that the way in which the specific laws of nature are actually formulated is explained in part by the purpose of being apt to be recognised by us.

    Subjective formal purposiveness : Purposiveness of the forms of objects with respect to our faculties. In the first part of the CJ, Kant explains that the judgment of beauty reveals a purposiveness without purpose. What is meant is that the object of which we judge that it is beautiful appeals to us because we consider it as being purposive. But Kant’s analysis of the concept of beauty reveals that we cannot call a thing beautiful because of this thing embodying some particular purpose (utility of the beautiful object, conception of the maker of the beautiful object etc.). Thus, if we want to understand the nature of a judgment of beauty through the vocabulary of purposiveness, we have to say that “being beautiful” has to do with an impression of purposiveness without there being any actual particular (definite) purpose that can explain this purposiveness: the purpose for the beauty of the beautiful cannot be known. Kant’s analysis of beauty will show that, when we have an experience of beauty, our judgment of beauty brings sensibility and understanding to a mutually reinforcing harmony. And it is such harmony between the faculties of cognition that is purposive without having a definite purpose. Beautiful forms are forms that trigger our judgment to bring harmony between sensibility and understanding – that’s why we consider them purposive, but the purpose is not in the beautiful object; rather it is (as undefined purpose) in the subject enjoying the harmony between its faculties. That’s what Kant is referring to in the second part of the first text-paragraph of §61.

    2. Objective purposiveness: purposiveness of an object of nature or of nature itself.

    Objective formal purposiveness: Kant’s example is a geometrical figure (See §62)
    Objective material purposiveness: In general: the concept of a purpose of nature itself. Kant will specify this concept further in relative objective material purposiveness (of which he says then that cannot be called a purpose of nature in the proper sense) and in inner or real objective material purposiveness (of things that are at the same time cause and effect of themselves). This real objective material purposiveness is to be found in living beings as organisms. (See §63-66)

  2. Jeremy says:

    Hi Henny, thanks for your comments. I found them very useful. I have a question for you which emerged from our discussion last week. In Guyer’s paper ‘Kant’s Principles of Reflecting Judgment’ he states that there are five different types of reflecting judgment, the fifth of which is ‘the judgment that nature as a whole constitutes a single system with a determinate end’ (2003: 2). What exactly do you think the relationship is between this kind of reflecting judgement and Kant’s claim in the first Critique that ‘[t]he speculative interest of reason makes it necessary to regard all order in the world as if it had originated in the purpose [Absicht] of a supreme reason. Such a principle opens out to our reason, as applied to the field of experience, altogether new views as to how the things of the world may be connected according to teleological laws, and so enables it to arrive at their greatest systematic unity. The assumption of a supreme intelligence, as the one and only cause of the universe, though in the idea alone, can therefore always benefit reason and can never injure it’ (B714-15)? Thanks!

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