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Aesthetics, Teleology, and Kant,
This review is from: Critique of Judgment (Paperback)
This book, the 'Critique of Judgement', is the third volume in Immanuel Kant's Critique project, which began with 'Critique of Pure Reason' and continued in 'Critique of Practical Reason'. Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) is considered one of the giants of philosophy, of his age or any other. It is largely this book that provides the foundation of this assessment. Whether one loves Kant or hates him (philosophically, that is), one cannot really ignore him; even when one isn't directly dealing with Kantian ideas, chances are great that Kant is made an impact.
Kant was a professor of philosophy in the German city of Konigsberg, where he spent his entire life and career. Kant had a very organised and clockwork life - his habits were so regular that it was considered that the people of Konigsberg could set their clocks by his walks. The same regularity was part of his publication history, until 1770, when Kant had a ten-year hiatus in publishing. This was largely because he was working on this book, the 'Critique of Pure Reason'.
Kant as a professor of philosophy was familiar with the Rationalists, such as Descartes, who founded the Enlightenment and in many ways started the phenomenon of modern philosophy. He was also familiar with the Empiricist school (John Locke and David Hume are perhaps the best known names in this), which challenged the rationalist framework. Between Leibniz' monads and Hume's development of Empiricism to its logical (and self-destructive) conclusion, coupled with the Romantic ideals typified by Rousseau, the philosophical edifice of the Enlightenment seemed about to topple.
This book is divided into two major sections, the Critique of Aesthetic Judgement, and the Critique of Teleological Judgement. In the part on Aesthetics, Kant sets up for possible judgements - agreeable, good, sublime and beautiful. This relates back to the 'Critique of Pure Reason' (and scholar J.H. Bernard indicates that this framework is sometimes a bit of a shackle placed on Kant). Those things that are agreeable are wholly sensory in character, whereas those things that are good are ethical in nature. Kant argues that those things that are beautiful and sublime fall between the two poles of 'agreeable' and 'good'. Beauty is involved in purpose (teleology), whereas sublimity is that which goes beyond comprehension (and can be an object of fear). This also involves an idea of mind that allows for genius and creative activity.
In the section on teleology, this is a way of looking at things based on their ends (telos), and links to aesthetics in terms of beauty (which has a sense of finality of form) as well as links to scientific purposes - Kant particularly is concerned to explore biology and the telos of the natural world. This also involves physics and logical principles, bringing Kant full circle back to some of the ideas from the 'Critique of Pure Reason'.
This is one of Kant's master works, and while there is much that modern philosophers disagree with, there is also the sense in which no subsequent philosophy can ignore the developments and implications of Kant's Critique project.