Kant's Aesthetic Epistemology

Kant's Aesthetic Epistemology: Form and World

Fiona Hughes
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    Kant's Aesthetic Epistemology
    Book Description:

    A uniquely systematic study arguing that Kant’s account of aesthetic judgement is a necessary extension of his epistemological argument.

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-2938-1
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vi-vii)
  4. References to Kant’s Works
    (pp. viii-viii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-7)

    In ‘Little Sparta’, a garden in the Pentland hills outside of Edinburgh, two planks stretch across a stream. On each is inscribed: ‘That which joins and that which divides is one and the same.’ The inscription on one faces that on the other. At first sight we see a bridge, but then we see two planks divided from one another; looking again we see the two planks as one structure, realising that each bears the same inscription. The inscription stretching the length of each plank takes time to read and there is no one perspective from which both can be...

  6. 1 The Centrality of the Problem of Formalism
    (pp. 8-48)

    What is the nature of Kant’s epistemological formalism, as his critics see it? I will argue that there are several versions, but that in all cases the criticism of formalism amounts to the charge that the outcomes of Kant’s method are ultimately subjective. Critics of Kant claim that his insistence that the form of experience arises from our minds, finally makes the empirical world of objects dependent on a form of subjectivity. If our minds introduce the form of experience, so the argument goes, then the objects we experience are only objects ‘for us’ and there is no access to...

  7. 2 Formalism and the Circle of Representation
    (pp. 49-85)

    The purpose of this chapter is to show how formalism is defended by some of Kant’s most important recent supporters. Gerd Buchdahl’s Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Science, first published in 1969, set the scene for the riposte to the dominant Strawsonian critique of Kant, published three years previously in 1966.¹ Henry Allison openly acknowledges his debt to Buchdahl, as does Pippin in his less sympathetic interpretation of Kant. Béatrice Longuenesse’s direct reference to Buchdahl is restricted to one critical note, but his influence can be indirectly traced through Allison.²

    While in the accounts offered by Buchdahl, Allison and Longuenesse...

  8. 3 Formal Idealism and the Aesthetic Condition of Experience
    (pp. 86-111)

    In the previous chapter I have identified a problem in the accounts given by some of Kant’s principal defenders of the relation between representations and objects. While Buchdahl, Allison and Longuenesse provide a robust defence of Kant’s formalism, each of their accounts fail to give an adequate account of the relation in which form stands to matter. I will now offer an alternative account of the relation between representation and material given.

    In the first section of this chapter, I discuss how Kant’s characterisation of his epistemological project as amounting to formal, as opposed to material, idealism reveals his commitment...

  9. 4 The Deep Structure of Synthesis
    (pp. 112-168)

    In the previous chapter I examined the receptive condition of knowledge and its source in sensibility. This faculty is able to take up the object given in experience because of its introduction of intuitive forms into the manifold or empirical matter. I have claimed that there are three conditions for knowledge. First, there must be something given to us; second, we must be receptive to that given; and third, we must be capable of unifying the given under a concept. In the last chapter I discussed the first and second of these conditions. I now turn to the third, the...

  10. 5 The Completion of the Subjective Deduction in the Deductions of the Critique of Judgement
    (pp. 169-206)

    In the previous chapter I suggested that aesthetic judgement reveals the synthesis in process necessary to all judgements. In this chapter I argue that synthesis in process is best understood as the subjective side of the deduction, often referred to as ‘the subjective deduction’.

    In the first section (pp. 170–6) I discuss Kant’s distinction between subjective and objective deductions and insist that these are two sides of the deduction, rather than two separate deductions. The subjective side of the deduction is the cooperation of the faculties, or synthesis, necessary for any judgement. However at this stage of his presentation,...

  11. 6 A Priori Knowledge as the Anticipation of a Material Given and the Need for a Spatial Schematism
    (pp. 207-247)

    In this chapter I return to the objective side of Kant’s epistemological project. In Chapter 4 I discussed the ‘Transcendental Deduction’, which, it is often thought, provides the whole of the objective deduction. My aim is to show that the legitimation of the categories requires not only the whole of the ‘Analytic’, but also recognition of the aesthetic dimension of his epistemological argument. It is unavoidable that in our investigation of the relation between Kant’s accounts of cognitive and aesthetic judgement, we are forced to proceed in a zigzag. The reciprocal relation between cognition and aesthetic I am in the...

  12. 7 Empirical Systematicity and its Relation to Aesthetic Judgement
    (pp. 248-276)

    We have found that the ‘Deduction’ of aesthetic judgement reveals that the latter is based on the subjective conditions of cognition.¹ In Chapter 5 I argued that the principle of taste or common sense is aesthetic in status, insofar as it counts as the principle of the faculty of judgement as such. Kant makes no mention of any other principle of judgement other than taste, so I disagreed with Allison’s suggestion that taste is grounded on a further principle, namely, the principle of judgement in its subjective employment. In my view, the principle of taste is the only principle that...

  13. 8 Aesthetic Judgement’s Exemplary Exhibition of Cognition
    (pp. 277-310)

    While the argument of this book is restricted to showing the way in which cognitive judgement is dependent on a process of cooperation that is only explicitly expressed in aesthetic judgement, I believe the picture of aesthetics that has emerged has a much wider significance. Reason in general is a plural not a unitary process, for we need to think with and against our own thought, in addition to recognising the limitations of thinking. Any logic that views itself as self-contained, as not open to another position that could introduce a new and necessary perspective, risks falling into dogmatism. Thinking...

  14. Afterword
    (pp. 311-315)

    I would like to add a few further comments on the character of harmony in aesthetic and cognitive judgements. I will also tentatively suggest a way in which judgements of the sublime have a significance not only for judgements of beauty, but also for Kant’s epistemological project.

    It is easy to conclude that Kant’s account of aesthetic judgement underestimates the extent to which the disharmonious plays a role in our experience. In twentieth century and contemporary art it would be fair to say that the disharmonious holds priority over the harmonious. This raises questions about the continuing relevance not only...

  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 316-320)
  16. Author/subject index
    (pp. 321-328)