Edinburgh Kant Reading Group—fourth session 13th of February

As part of our Semester 2 Research Seminars, this week we’ll resume our discussion with §65 of Kant’s Critique of the Power of Judgment.

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3 Responses to Edinburgh Kant Reading Group—fourth session 13th of February

  1. mmassimi says:

    This week, our discussion centred around Section 65 of the Critique of Judgment, i.e. “Things, as natural ends, are organised beings”. We discussed the specific account of causality at stake in the idea of organized beings as natural ends, and how the concept of a thing as a natural end is a regulative concept of the reflective power of judgment. I was intrigued by Kant’s contrast between an organized being and a machine, where the latter is said to have only a “motive power”, i.e. the ability to communicate motion to other matter (as per mechanics), while the former is said to have a “formative power”, i.e. the capacity to organise matter, something that cannot be explained through the capacity for movement alone (5:374). Given the role that the ability to communicate motion to other parts of matter plays in Kant’s Metaphysical Foundations of Mechanics, where matter is indeed defined as “the moveable insofar as it, as such a thing, has moving force”, I wonder whether the distinction between “motive power” and “formative power” may provide us with a key to understanding the distinctions between laws in physics and laws in the life sciences for Kant. Any suggestion, as always, is very welcome!

  2. Eric Watkins says:

    Peter McLaughlin and Hannah Ginsborg have staked out views on some of these issues that contrast in interesting ways. If you haven’t look at their respective accounts, that might be worthwhile. (Mark Fisher and Ina Goy provide some very useful background on the issue, which goes into the various scientific views.)

  3. mmassimi says:

    Thank you very much, Eric! I definitely need to read more on Kant and the laws in the life sciences.

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