Thursday, 1 July 2010

Report on 3rd Critique Workshop in Amsterdam

I've recently returned from Amsterdam where I was speaking at two-day event on the Critique of Judgment that was launched to commemorate the first Dutch translation of the work. It was an interesting event if also one whose basis was somewhat surprising. The majority of responses to the Critique of Judgment are concentrated on the first half of the work, the Critique of Aesthetic Judgment. However, this conference focused more on the generic nature of reflective judgment on the one hand and teleology on the other.

My own paper was focused on the relationship between the regulative principles discussed in the Appendix to the Transcendental Dialectic of the Critique of Pure Reason and the specific principle of reflective judgment as described in the two introductions Kant wrote for the Critique of Judgment. There has been some attention to this question in recent years, particularly in a debate between Reinhard Brandt and Rolf-Peter Horstmann. Whereas Horstmann argues that there is a serious disconnect between the two works, Brandt, by contrast, suggests a certain development occurs between them that has to be traced and after which more can be said in favour of the principle of reflective judgment. However, by contrast to both, I spent sometime in this paper laying out the different levels of discussion at work in the Appendix to the Transcendental Dialectic, bringing out that the notion of hypothetical judgment has to be distinguished there from reflective principles on the one hand and reflective ideas on the other. The overall point of the paper was to present a more sustained and differentiated view of Kant's treatments of systematicity.

The second paper was given by one of the organisers of the event, Dennis Schulting. This paper was mainly a reply to the work of Beatrice Longuenesse who, in her book, Kant and the Capacity to Judge concentrated on presenting a view of judgment largely derived from Kant's lectures on logic. The argument in question argues for an understanding of concept formation through the processes of reflection, abstraction and comparison. In reply Schulting presented a case for viewing concentration on this as leading to a type of Lockean notion of concepts that neglects the transcendental role of the categories. The link to the Critique of Judgment concerns the way the distinction between reflective and determinative judgment is viewed by Longuenesse.

The next paper was the only sustained engagement with questions derived from the specific treatment of aesthetic judgment. This was by Bart Vandenabeele who discussed the idea of the artistic sublime. The connection between the analysis of art and the idea of the sublime is rare in responses to this work and in elucidating it Vandenabeele certainly added to understanding of it. His analysis presented the view that there are two ways in which the mathematical sublime cannot be connected to art, in terms of what he termed a "matterist" in contrast to a "mannerist" sublime. There was no corresponding analysis of the dynamical sublime from which he prescinded due to the greater connection of this aspect of the sublime to Kant's moral theory.

Ido Geiger next presented a careful reading of the argument of the analytic of teleological judgment and some of the bases of Kant's identification of a special problem with organisms. The exclusive concentration on the argument of the analytic was very unusual given the general tendency to rush towards the dialectic where there certainly is more "action" but Geiger's analysis was certainly welcome.

Jacco Verburgt concentrated on the argument of the methodology of teleological judgment where Kant revises his response to the moral argument for the existence of God from the position presented in the Critique of Practical Reason. Whereas the second critique thinks of the discussion of theology entirely through the connection to the component elements of the summum bonum the discussion in the third critique, by contrast, is based on the distinction between two types of teleology, ethical teleology and physical teleology. Verburgt presented an argument for thinking that the argument of the third critique is itself one that needs further supplementation in terms of a revised summum bonum as is provided in Kant's subsequent work on religion.

Ernst-Otto Onnasch, by contrast to others speaking, focused on the relationship between the Critique of Judgment and the Opus Postumum arguing that the former stays at the level only of a possible organism whilst the latter develops the sense of actual organisms. Further, the argument suggested that the sense of purposiveness in cognition identified in the third critique was one Kant came to see was necessary even to comprehend natural science in general. This contribution, whilst controversial, served to further open the question of the kind of systematic status the Critique of Judgment has.

The conference ended with a round-table session at which three speakers identified questions concerned with the contemporary standing of the Critique of Judgment. All told the event certainly justified the specific focus on the third critique, not least in relation to the central problems of purposive cognition and its connection to systematic questions of Kantian philosophy.

No comments: