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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 422

Since its publication, The Critique of Judgment has been of highest importance to the philosophy of art and of religion. It met opposition as radically skeptical and destructive of theology; indeed, Immanuel Kant intended to set limits on religious thinking. It opened promising new pathways in aesthetics, still found highly worthy of exploration.

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The work is based wholly on the psychology of faculties and the logic Kant adopted in Kritik der reinen Vernunft (1781; The Critique of Pure Reason, 1838) and Kritik der praktischen Vernunft (1788; The Critique of Practical Reason, 1873). The former treats the faculty of understanding, which, presupposing natural law, brings people their knowledge of nature. The latter treats reason (“practical” reason, will, or desire), which presupposes freedom and legislates for people in accordance with moral law. While writing the first two critiques, Kant believed that the faculty of pleasure and pain could have no critique, being passive only. However, he came to regard this faculty to be the same as judgment, which subsumes representations under concepts, always accompanied by a feeling-response. He declared finally that judgment could have a regulative critique of its own, showing its functions and limitations, even though the faculty brings us no objective knowledge. Indeed, The Critique of Judgment would show the ground of union between understanding and reason, although their presuppositions had seemingly forced them irrevocably apart.

The desire or will, when realized, is actually a natural cause, specifically that cause which acts in accordance with concepts. Concepts are of two kinds, natural concepts and concepts of freedom. The understanding carries on a theoretical legislation through natural concepts resulting in knowledge; the practical reason carries on a moral legislation through precepts resulting in choices of actions. Understanding and reason legislate over the very same territory of experience, yet without conflicting. However, the practical reason presupposes a supersensible substratum, which cannot be experienced but which is necessary as a condition of freedom of choice. The understanding can give knowledge only through intuition, which can never reach the thing-in-itself; the concept of freedom, on the other hand, represents its object as a thing-in-itself but cannot give it intuition. The region of the thing-in-itself is supersensible, but while we cannot know it, we can impute reality to it. This must be a practical reality founded on our necessity of acting, not on any source of substantive knowledge concerning it. To postulate such a substratum enables us to transfer our thought between the realm of nature and the realm of freedom and think according to the principles of each in turn.

The Principle of Judgment

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 562

The deduction of the principle of judgment is crucial to the book. “Judgment in general,” says Kant, “is the faculty of thinking the particular as contained under the universal.” Either the universal or the particular might be given. If the universal is given, then the judgment that brings the particular under it is determinant; the judgment brings knowledge according to a priori law and with finality. However, if the particular is given, then the judgment must find for itself a law to judge by, in the absence of a concept. Hence it is reflective, and if the judgments delivered are to be regarded as laws, this must be on the assumption of some underlying unifying principle. The principle must be this: As universal laws of nature have their ground in our understanding (as shown in The Critique of Judgment ), particular empirical laws must be considered in accordance with such a unity as they would have if an...

(The entire section contains 3421 words.)

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