Edinburgh Kant Reading Group—fifth session 27th February

As part of our Semester 2 Research Seminars, this week we’ll resume our discussion of §66-68 of Kant’s Critique of the Power of Judgment.

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One Response to Edinburgh Kant Reading Group—fifth session 27th February

  1. mmassimi says:

    This was the last week of our Edinburgh Kant Reading Group, as the discussion from this week moves onto new lands, namely Kant’s influence on the German Naturphilosophie and on Schelling in particular (given the specific research interests of our vibrant interdisciplinary research group at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities — follows us on Facebook for more details). We finished Sections 66-68 of the third Critique, which was certainly an ambitious project (anticipating somehow the focus of year-3 of this “Kant and Laws” project, which will all be dedicated to laws in the life sciences). My personal highlight of these sections is 5:379 where Kant defines the principle for judging the internal purposiveness in organised beings as a principle for the reflective power of judgment, i.e. as a regulative rather than constitutive principle for “considering things in nature…in accordance with a new, lawful order, and for extending natural science in accordance with another principle, namely that of final causes, yet without harm to the mechanism of nature”. Yet Kant seems to concede in 5: 383 that teleology does not usually constitute a proper part of theoretical natural science “but is instead drawn into theology….in order to keep the study of the mechanism of nature restricted to what we can subject to our observation and experiments”. Thus, teleology seems to go beyond the remit of theoretical natural science, as Kant seems to understand it (having perhaps physics as a model here), and yet, be necessary for the investigation of organised beings, in a way that neither arithmetic nor physics can ever hope to explain (5:382). Kant is also adamant in detaching the purposiveness here discussed from any theological consideration though, and in warning us not to ‘mix-up’ natural science and theology (see 5:381). I guess, this leaves us with a big task ahead: that of clarifying the distinctive role of the teleological way of judging in our knowledge of the living world as a “lawful order”. Luckily, we still have two years and half of this project to answer this question!
    The Edinburgh Kant Reading group stops here for this term. We resume activities after the Easter break with a joint reading list with the Cambridge Reading Group on our year-1 theme: “Kant and the lawfulness of nature”. Please stay tuned!

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