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Aesthetics and Cognition in Kant™s Critical Philosophy

This volume explores the relationship between Kant™s aesthetic the-
ory and his critical epistemology as articulated in the Critique of Pure
Reason and the Critique of the Power of Judgment. The essays, written
for this volume, revise our understanding of core elements of Kant™s
epistemology, such as his notions of discursive understanding, experi-
ence, and objective judgment. They also demonstrate a rich grasp of
Kant™s critical epistemology that enables a deeper understanding of
his aesthetics. Collectively, the essays reveal that Kant™s critical project,
and the dialectics of aesthetics and cognition within it, are still rele-
vant to contemporary debates in epistemology, philosophy of mind,
and the nature of experience and objectivity. The book also yields
important lessons about the ineliminable yet problematic place of
imagination, sensibility, and aesthetic experience in perception and

Rebecca Kukla is an associate professor of philosophy at Carleton
University in Ottawa and has been a visiting professor at Georgetown
University, The Johns Hopkins University, and the University of
Victoria. The author of Mass Hysteria: Medicine, Culture, and Moth-
ers™ Bodies, she has published articles on epistemology, aesthetics,
eighteenth-century philosophy, philosophy of medicine, and bio-
ethics, in Philosophical Studies, Journal of Aesthetics & Art Criticism,
Inquiry, The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, and Hypatia,
among other journals.
Aesthetics and Cognition in Kant™s
Critical Philosophy

Edited by
Carleton University
Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town, Singapore, São Paulo

Cambridge University Press
The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge CB2 8RU, UK
Published in the United States of America by Cambridge University Press, New York
Information on this title: www.cambridge.org/9780521862011

© Cambridge University Press 2006

This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provision of
relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place
without the written permission of Cambridge University Press.
First published in print format 2006

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For Andr´ Kukla, Philosopher-King

Notes on Contributors page ix

1 Introduction: Placing the Aesthetic in Kant™s Critical
Epistemology 1
Rebecca Kukla

part i: sensible particulars and discursive judgment
2 Thinking the Particular as Contained under the Universal 35
Hannah Ginsborg
3 The Necessity of Receptivity: Exploring a Uni¬ed Account
of Kantian Sensibility and Understanding 61
Richard N. Manning
4 Acquaintance and Cognition 85
Mark Okrent

part ii: the cognitive structure of aesthetic judgment
5 Dialogue: Paul Guyer and Henry Allison on Allison™s
Kant™s Theory of Taste 111
Paul Guyer and Henry E. Allison
6 Intensive Magnitudes and the Normativity of Taste 138
Melissa Zinkin
7 The Harmony of the Faculties Revisited 162
Paul Guyer
8 Kant™s Leading Thread in the Analytic of the Beautiful 194
B´atrice Longuenesse


part iii: creativity, community, and re¬‚ective
9 Re¬‚ection, Re¬‚ective Judgment, and Aesthetic
Exemplarity 223
Rudolf A. Makkreel
10 Understanding Aestheticized 245
Kirk Pillow
11 Unearthing the Wonder: A “Post-Kantian” Paradigm in
Kant™s Critique of Judgment 266
John McCumber

Bibliography 291
Index 297
Notes on Contributors

Henry E. Allison is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Califor-
nia, Davis, and Professor Emeritus at the University of California, San
Diego, and Boston University. His books include Kant™s Transcendental
Idealism: An Interpretation and Defense (Yale University Press 1983, revised
and expanded 2004), Kant™s Theory of Freedom (Cambridge University
Press 1990), and Kant™s Theory of Taste: A Reading of the Critique of Aesthetic
Judgment (Cambridge University Press 2001), as well as other works on
the history of philosophy.
Hannah Ginsborg is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of
California, Berkeley. She is the author of The Role of Taste in Kant™s Theory
of Cognition (Garland 1990), and she has written various articles on Kant
and on issues in contemporary epistemology and philosophy of mind.
Paul Guyer is Florence R. C. Murray Professor in the Humanities at the
University of Pennsylvania. His books published by Cambridge Univer-
sity Press include Kant and the Claims of Taste (1979, rev. 1997); Kant and
the Claims of Knowledge (1987); Kant and the Experience of Freedom (1993);
Kant on Freedom, Law, and Happiness (2000); and Values of Beauty: Historical
Essays in Aesthetics (2005). He is also the author of Kant™s System of Nature
and Beauty (Oxford University Press 2005). He has edited the Cambridge
Companion to Kant (1992), the Cambridge Companion to Kant and Modern
Philosophy (2006), and other anthologies. He has also cotranslated Kant™s
Critique of Pure Reason, Critique of the Power of Judgment, and Notes and Frag-
ments for the Cambridge Edition of the Works of Immanuel Kant, of
which he is General Coeditor. His Kant, a survey of Kant™s thought, will
be published by Routledge in 2006.
Notes on Contributors

Rebecca Kukla is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Carleton Univer-
sity in Ottawa, Ontario. She is the author of Mass Hysteria: Medicine,
Culture, and Mothers™ Bodies (Rowman and Little¬eld 2005). Her arti-
cles on eighteenth-century philosophy, epistemology, and aesthetics have
appeared in journals such as Inquiry and Journal of the British Society for Phe-
nomenology. She is currently completing a book manuscript coauthored
with Mark Lance entitled ˜Yo!™ vs. ˜Lo!™: Explorations in Pragmatism and
B´ atrice Longuenesse is Professor of Philosophy at New York Univer-
sity. Her books include Hegel et la Critique de la M´taphysique (Librairie
Philosophique J. Vrin 1981, expanded English version, Hegel™s Critique of
Metaphysics, in preparation with Cambridge University Press), Kant and
the Capacity to Judge (Princeton University Press 1998), and Kant on the
Human Standpoint (Cambridge University Press 2005). She has coedited
Hegel: Notes et Fragments, Jena 1801“1804 (Aubier-Montaigne 1991) and is
coediting, with Dan Garber, a volume entitled Kant and the Early Moderns
to be published by Princeton University Press.
Rudolf A. Makkreel is Charles Howard Candler Professor of Philoso-
phy at Emory University. He is the author of Dilthey, Philosopher of the
Human Studies (Princeton University Press 1975/1992) and Imagination
and Interpretation in Kant: The Hermeneutical Import of the Critique of Judgment
(Chicago University Press 1990) and coeditor of The Ethics of History
(Northwestern University Press 2004) and several volumes of Dilthey™s
Selected Works (Princeton University Press 1989“2002). From 1983 to 1998
he was the editor of the Journal of the History of Philosophy.
Richard N. Manning is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Carleton Uni-
versity in Ottawa, Ontario. His articles on early modern rationalism, epis-
temology, and aesthetics have appeared in books and journals including
A Companion to Rationalism (Blackwell 2005), the Journal of Aesthetics and
Art Criticism, and Spinoza: Metaphysical Themes (Oxford University Press
2002). He is completing a book manuscript entitled The Ontology of Inter-
John McCumber is Professor of Germanic Languages at UCLA. He
received his Ph.D. in Philosophy and Greek from the University of
Toronto. His books include Poetic Interaction: Language Freedom Reason
(University of Chicago Press 1989); The Company of Words: Hegel, Lan-
guage and Systematic Philosophy (Northwestern University Press 1993), Meta-
physics and Oppression (Indiana University Press 1999); Time in the Ditch:
Notes on Contributors xi

American Philosophy and the McCarthy Era (Northwestern University Press
2000); and Reshaping Reason: Toward a New Philosophy (Indiana University
Press 2005).
Mark Okrent is Professor of Philosophy at Bates College. He is the author
of Heidegger™s Pragmatism: Understanding, Being, and the Critique of Meta-
physics (Cornell University Press 1988), as well as articles on transcenden-
tal philosophy, pragmatism, and intentionality.
Kirk Pillow is Associate Dean of the Faculty and Associate Professor of
Philosophy at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York. He is the author
of Sublime Understanding: Aesthetic Re¬‚ection in Kant and Hegel (MIT Press
Melissa Zinkin is Associate Professor of Philosophy at SUNY Binghamton
and codirector of the program in Philosophy, Literature, and Criticism.
She is the author of articles on Kant, aesthetics, and critical theory, which
have appeared in such journals as the European Journal of the History of
Philosophy and the Archiv f¨ r Geschichte der Philosophie. She recently ¬nished
a book manuscript entitled Degree, Intensity and Force: Kant™s Ontology of

This book took several years and the kind and intelligent help of many
people in order to come to fruition. My ¬rst debt is to the late Terence
Moore, former philosophy editor at Cambridge University Press, who
accepted my book proposal and helped shape the manuscript. His
untimely death is a great loss for the scholarly world. And three cheers for
Beatrice Rehl for ably taking up the project in his place. I offer my deep
thanks to the contributing authors for letting me publish their wonderful
work and for their patience with the project “ and especially to Richard
Manning, who helped with every stage of the project, and did so with his
usual immense philosophical insight and generosity. I owe an enormous
dept to Timothy Brownlee for his tireless and exceptionally able work on
the index and on manuscript corrections. Many thanks also to the stu-
dents in my 2000 Kant seminar at Carleton University, especially Jamie
Kelly, as well as to Amy Lund, John Reuscher, Timothy Rosenkoetter,
Suma Rajiva, and Sergio Tenenbaum, for generous help and invaluable
conversation and guidance.


Placing the Aesthetic in Kant™s Critical Epistemology

Rebecca Kukla

The primary thesis of this book, taken as a whole, is that we cannot prop-
erly understand Kant™s critical epistemological program or his account
of empirical cognition without also understanding his account of aes-
thetic judgment, imagination, and sensibility (articulated primarily in his
Critique of the Power of Judgment but showing up in bits and pieces in the
Critique of Pure Reason).1 And yet, the book also demonstrates that placing
the aesthetic within Kant™s cognitive theory is a dif¬cult task that often
risks challenging that theory from within. Between them, the eleven orig-
inal essays in this volume show that on the one hand, careful attention
to Kant™s aesthetics revises and illuminates our entrenched understand-
ings of core elements of Kant™s critical epistemology, such as his notions
of discursive understanding, experience, and determinative judgment,
while on the other hand, a rich grasp of Kant™s whole critical project is
necessary for making sense of his aesthetic theory.
For most of the twentieth century, Kant™s aesthetic theory was marginal-
ized by analytic philosophers, who systematically privileged epistemology
and (to a lesser extent) ethics as the core philosophical subdisciplines,
and who did not see aesthetics as substantially relevant to these subdis-
ciplines. Kant™s third Critique received vastly less scholarly attention than
the ¬rst two, and the little commentary that it did receive was insulated
from the rest of the corpus of Kant scholarship. The Critique of the Power of

1 Kant discusses aesthetics in other places, particularly his precritical essay Observations on
the Feeling of the Beautiful and the Sublime (2004), but the focus of this volume is speci¬cally
on Kant™s critical philosophy and the place of the aesthetic within it.

Rebecca Kukla

Judgment was assumed by the majority of Anglo-American philosophers to
be a lesser work, a dated romantic treatise on art that was easily separable
from the ¬rst two critiques. Those who did turn their attention to the work
were mostly dedicated philosophers of art, who also did not read the book
as integral to Kant™s critical epistemology, but rather as a self-contained
account of beauty, artistic genius, the standards of good art, or (at most)
the connection between aesthetic taste and moral character.2 Meanwhile,
continental philosophers and literary theorists such as Paul de Man and
Jean-Fran¸ oise Lyotard took the third Critique very seriously indeed, but
mostly without much interest in engaging the epistemological concerns
of Anglo-American philosophy.3
This sequestering of the third Critique was especially surprising and
unpromising, in retrospect, given Kant™s own scrupulous and extensive
efforts to tie his three Critiques tightly together into a single architec-
tonic whole. All three critiques share a great deal of analytical structure
and conceptual machinery. Each is organized into an ˜analytic™ and a
˜dialectic™, each analyzes the form of judgments according to the same
moments (quantity, quality, relation, modality), derived from the table
of judgments introduced in the ¬rst Critique, each contains a transcen-
dental deduction of the validity of the form of judgment that it takes
as its topic, and so forth. Furthermore, Kant repeatedly insists that the
three critiques are meant to form a comprehensive whole, with each book
explicating how its distinctive form of judgment can function legitimately
within the transcendental idealist metaphysics and critical epistemology
that he lays out in the Preface and the Introduction to the Critique of Pure
Reason. Under the circumstances, it seems that the burden of proof would
lie ¬rmly on Kant™s commentators to show that the third Critique was a
separable or ignorable document and not an integral part of the critical
project. But it remains the case that until fairly recently, only two philoso-
phers really took the purported fundamental unity of the critical project
absolutely seriously, namely, Martin Heidegger and Gilles Deleuze,4 and
neither of them came from this side of the Atlantic. Only, it seems, a
bias against aesthetics as a serious philosophical topic can explain why so
many scholars were willing to assume this separability in advance of any
serious attention to the text.

2 For example, see the contents of Cohen and Guyer™s classic collection of essays on Kant™s
aesthetics (1982).
3 See, for instance, de Man (1990) and Lyotard (1994), and also Bernstein (1992).
4 See Heidegger (1990) and Deleuze (1990).
Introduction 3

But scholarship on the third Critique and on Kant™s theory of judgment
in general, understood to include aesthetic judgment, has undergone a
renaissance over the past few decades, and over the past ¬fteen years in
particular. The prominence of the third Critique in the Anglo-American
world, as well as interest in its signi¬cance beyond philosophy of art,
began an important upswing in the 1970s with the publication of a few
in¬‚uential works such as Donald Crawford™s Kant™s Aesthetic Theory (1974),
Theodore Uehling™s The Notion of Form in Kant™s Critique of Aesthetic Judg-
ment (1971), Eva Schaper™s Studies in Kant™s Aesthetics (1979), and the
¬rst edition of Paul Guyer™s Kant and the Claims of Taste (1979, second
revised edition 1997). The year 1990 saw the publication of Hannah
Ginsborg™s doctoral dissertation, The Role of Taste in Kant™s Theory of Cog-
nition, and Rudolf Makkreel™s Imagination and Interpretation in Kant: The
Hermeneutical Import of Kant™s Critique of Judgment. Both works were specif-
ically designed to show the systematic connections between Kant™s aes-
thetic theory and his epistemology and theory of cognition, and both
chipped away at the counterproductive impasse between continental and
analytic philosophy, availing themselves of the insights and texts of each.
From 1990 on, philosophical attention turned quickly and vigorously to
this set of systematic connections, and Kant™s aesthetic theory became a
topic of direct interest to many epistemologists. There quickly followed a
blossoming of philosophical interest in the third Critique, with an eye to
its epistemological and cognitive dimensions and its contribution to the
critical project as a whole, as well as a fresh rereading of the ¬rst Critique,
with an eye to the place it assigns to the aesthetic functions of sensibility
and imagination in empirical cognition. Several classic contributions to
this exploration have already emerged, such as Henry E. Allison™s Kant™s
Theory of Taste (2001)5 and B´ atrice Longuenesse™s Kant and the Capacity
to Judge (1998).
In a complementary development, several philosophers, prominently
including John McDowell, have recently followed Wilfrid Sellars in look-
ing to Kant™s account of sensibility and its relationship to the discursive
understanding as a rich source for illuminating contemporary episte-
mological debates. According to McDowell, the Kantian critical appara-
tus is the source of a set of dualisms (between concepts and intuitions,

5 This book completed Allison™s trio of works on the three branches of the critical philos-
ophy, interpreted as a systematic whole, the ¬rst two being Kant™s Transcendental Idealism
(1983) and Kant™s Theory of Freedom (1990).
6 Longuenesse™s book was released ¬rst in French in 1993 as Kant et le Pouvoir de Juger.
Rebecca Kukla

receptivity and spontaneity, sensibility and understanding) out of which
spring some of the deepest problems in contemporary epistemology,
such as how the preconceptualized deliverances of sensibility could
ground conceptual judgment and inference. At the same time, Sellars
and McDowell argue, careful attention to Kantian sensibility and imagina-
tion also provides resources for overcoming these dualisms and dissolving
these problems.7
In light of the dazzling reinvigoration of our engagement with both
the Critique of Pure Reason and the Critique of the Power of Judgment, it is
high time that the voices of the major participants in this renaissance
be collected in one volume; this is what I have aimed to do here. I have
included essays by a couple of the most prominent and established living
Kant scholars, both of whom have long been dedicated to treating the crit-
ical philosophy as a whole (Paul Guyer and Henry Allison), scholars who
initiated and gave form to the renaissance in Kant scholarship I have just
described (Rudolf Makkreel, Hannah Ginsborg, B´ atrice Longuenesse);
emerging Kant scholars who were trained in a new climate in which the
third Critique was taken to be a key philosophical text, the critical phi-
losophy was treated as a uni¬ed endeavor, and the distinction between
analytic and continental philosophy had begun to break down (Melissa
Zinkin, Kirk Pillow); and philosophers with established reputations in
epistemology, phenomenology, and the history of philosophy who are
¬nding new reasons to turn to Kant in light of recent work on Kantian
sensibility and aesthetic theory (Mark Okrent, Richard Manning, John

1. critical philosophy and the copernican turn:
an overview
Kant™s critical epistemological project, writ large, was to overcome the
twin threats of humiliating skepticism and hubristic dogmatism. He
wished to ¬nd a secure ground for our judgments, which would guar-
antee that they were both accountable to an empirical world and able to
grasp and make sense of that world. In order to establish such security,
Kant insisted on relinquishing the dream of total epistemic mastery in
order to gain genuine mastery over a carefully limited and circumscribed

7 See Sellars (1992), McDowell (1994), and especially McDowell (1998). See also Norris
(2000), MacBeth (2000), and in particular Manning, this volume.
Introduction 5

domain. Speci¬cally, he argued that we had to give up the dream of under-
standing things as they are in themselves, unconditioned by our own
epistemic activities (˜noumena™) so as to gain the right kind of secure
grasp of things as they are conditioned by our encounter with them
Kant sought to bring the domain of phenomena “ the empirical objects
of possible experience “ under the mastery of the understanding by way
of his famous “Copernican turn,” wherein we begin from the assumption
that our understanding plays a constitutive role in producing and regu-
lating the empirical order. Whereas “up to now it ha[d] been assumed
that all our cognition must conform to the objects,” he hoped to

get farther with the problems of metaphysics by assuming that the objects
must conform to our cognition. . . . This would be just like the ¬rst thoughts of
Copernicus, who, when he did not make good progress in the explanation of the
celestial motions if he assumed that the entire celestial host revolves around the
observer, tried to see if he might not have greater success if he made the observer
revolve and left the stars at rest.8

The Copernican turn is supposed to take the humiliating sting out of our
epistemic ¬nitude by carving out a safe and delineable domain within
which the world can be counted upon to be intrinsically comprehensible,
since the principles and conditions of our cognitive faculties are the
constitutive conditions governing the objects we seek to understand.
Our cognitive faculties can remain secure in their hegemony only
when they remain cloistered within their carefully controlled and charted
territory. The “land of the understanding”

is an island, and enclosed in unalterable boundaries by nature itself. It is the land
of truth (a charming name), surrounded by a broad and stormy ocean, the true
seat of illusion, where many a fog bank and rapidly melting iceberg pretend to
be new lands and, ceaselessly deceiving with empty hopes the voyager looking
around for new discoveries, entwine him in adventures from which he can never
escape and yet also never bring to an end. (B294“5)

Rather than venture off our island, we must be “satis¬ed with what it
contains out of necessity” (ibid.). By carefully containing our inquiries
within this domain, we could, in a limited way, become masters rather than

8 Critique of Pure Reason Bxvi. Henceforth in this volume, references to the Critique of Pure
Reason shall be given simply by their pagination in the A and B editions. Unless otherwise
noted, all translations are from the Guyer and Wood edition (1997).
Rebecca Kukla

subjects in our epistemic partnership with the empirical world.9 Kant™s
language of the encounter between human cognition and the objective
world is thoroughly in¬‚ected with legislative rhetoric. His guiding episte-
mological concern is that the understanding remain legitimately vested
with the power to lay down laws that nature must follow while not over-
stepping the boundaries of its authority. He describes the three Critiques
themselves as playing a ˜policing™ role (CPR Bxxv); they enable our cogni-
tive faculties to master their epistemic domain by guarding and enforcing
its boundaries. Human cognition purportedly enjoys safe haven on the
island of truth because here, objects are under our rule. Instead of being
“instructed by nature like a pupil,” dependent on our teacher™s contin-
gent gifts of knowledge, our relation to nature on the island would be that
of “an appointed judge, who compels witnesses to answer the questions
he puts to them” (Bxiii). Human cognition does not create empirical
nature in its particularity, but it does give it the law. “Reason has insight
only into that which it produces after a plan of its own. . . . It must not
allow itself to be kept, as it were, in nature™s lead strings, but must itself
show the way” (ibid).
The project of critical epistemology, then, is the twofold task of delin-
eating the boundaries of the domain of proper inquiry and determining
the principles of proper judgment with respect to the phenomena within
this domain. Kant™s three critical works are intended to carry out this
project with respect to pure theoretical judgment, practical judgment,
and aesthetic and teleological judgment,10 respectively. Furthermore,
the very title of the Critique of the Power of Judgment gives it a presump-
tive primacy over the other two: While the Critique of Pure Reason intro-
duces the critical project, the Critique of the Power of Judgment purports to
complete it.
Although our cognitive faculties will always help constitute the order
they encounter, Kant insisted upon the rati¬cation of an empirical realist
epistemology and metaphysics in which, as Richard Manning puts it in this
volume, our judgments “amount to commitments directed toward objects
in a world that is not of our making, . . . answerable for their correctness
to the way that those objects are.” The Copernican turn, successfully exe-
cuted, would guarantee that our cognitive faculties are suited to the task

9 For an exploration of this dream of epistemic mastery contained within the boundaries
of a circumscribed ˜island™ and its place in the eighteenth century imaginary, see Kukla
10 Both aesthetic judgment and teleological judgment are species of re¬‚ective judgment, of
which more later.
Introduction 7

of grasping and making sense of empirical objects, but in turning we risk
losing the answerability of cognition to these objects. For once we begin,
as the critical method asks us to do, with the subjective conditions of cognition
and the constitutive in¬‚uence of our cognitive faculties, we must imme-
diately ask why we should believe that these subjective conditions re¬‚ect
the real character of empirical objects, as opposed to merely our rep-
resentations of these objects. How, if we constitutively contribute to the
objects we experience, do we avoid descending into empirical idealism
and concluding that our inquiries merely hold up a mirror that fails to
be accountable to an independent world? Or, as Kant puts the problem,
how is it that “subjective conditions of thinking should have objective validity”
(A89/B122)? Having foreclosed the problem of successful access to the
objects of inquiry through the Copernican turn, this problem of objective
validity then becomes the driving question of the critical epistemology
as a whole, and of the Transcendental Deduction of the ¬rst Critique in

2. discursivity and sensibility
Kant™s model of cognitive judgment, as he introduces it in the ¬rst Cri-
tique, is quite simple, and he uses this initial model to help narrow and
focus the problem of objective validity that it will purportedly be the
task of the Transcendental Deduction to solve. According to this familiar
model, our central cognitive tool for grasping the world in judgment is
the understanding. The understanding is discursive, which is to say that it
consists of a faculty of general concepts that function as rules for catego-
rizing particulars. Judgment involves subsuming particulars under such
general concepts, and hence every judgment has the form of a propo-
sition, with the table of judgments giving the possible logical forms of
such propositions (A70/B95). The understanding can determine particu-
lars using concepts it already possesses, or it can re¬‚ect upon particulars,
and their similarities and differences, in order to form a new concept.
The faculty of understanding has no goals or guiding principles of its
own, according to Kant; rather, it is the tool used by reason, which seeks a
systematic, nomological grasp of the empirical world. Reason builds such
a systematic grasp (though never completes it) through determinative judg-
ment, which subsumes particulars under concepts, and through re¬‚ective
judgment, which creatively goes beyond the mere processing of experi-
ence in order to form hypotheses, ¬nd new connections, and otherwise
tie experience together systematically.
Rebecca Kukla

The understanding is a spontaneous faculty: It does not collect infor-
mation about the world but rather operates, through re¬‚ection and
determination, on what is delivered to it. The Kantian aesthetic, properly
speaking, is just that which we receive through our sensuous encounter
with the world, which can then (normally) be delivered to the under-
standing for processing in discursive judgment. Our aesthetic encounter
with the world is that provided by our faculty of sensibility, which, unlike
the understanding, is a receptive faculty. Without such a receptive faculty
and its deliverances, our understanding would make no contact with the
world and would have nothing to operate upon “ as Kant notoriously
puts it, without the content provided by sensibility, concepts are “empty”
(A51/B75). As presented at the beginning of the ¬rst Critique, the faculty
of sensibility is a quite neat and simple dualistic complement to the fac-
ulty of concepts: Where the latter is spontaneous, the faculty of sensibility
is purely receptive, and what it receives are intuitions, which are (equally
notoriously) “blind” without concepts (ibid.). It is only through empirical
judgment, which applies concepts to intuition, that we have experience “
which has discursive structure, can ground inference, and so forth “ at
all. Hence the aesthetic dimension of experience, on this view, is just that
which belongs to receptive sensibility. True to this initial stark division of
labor, the only explicit discussion of the aesthetic in the ¬rst Critique is the
Transcendental Aesthetic, which argues for the transcendental, a priori
status of space and time as the forms of intuition “ that is, the aesthetic
form in which sensibility is received by our cognitive faculties. That intu-
ition has such a priori forms makes it clear that even the deliverances
of sensibility are conditioned by our cognitive faculties, but the faculty of
sensibility does not (here) actively form intuition “ it just receives intuition
in a certain form.
The task of the Transcendental Deduction, in the Critique of Pure Reason,
is to discharge the initial assumption of the possibility of the Copernican
turn. The Deduction “ whose job is nothing less than the rati¬cation of
the objectivity of our cognition “ purports to show that our judgments suc-
ceed in being accountable to the empirical world, in virtue of this world in
turn being transcendentally required to conform to the principles of our
discursive understanding. The Deduction has a double thrust. It needs
to show that the sensuous deliverances of intuition will not outrun the
ability of the understanding to order these deliverances by bringing them
under general concepts, and it needs to show that our properly formed
discursive judgments neither distort nor misrepresent the phenomena
they seek to grasp. According to Kant, intuitions “ including space and
Introduction 9

time as the pure aesthetic forms of intuition “ need no deduction. Rather,
they “necessarily relate to objects” because of their receptive character.
Furthermore, he claims, our use of empirical concepts does not need an a
priori deduction, since these concepts are derived from the deliverances
of sensibility. Hence, he concludes, what is needed is only a transcen-
dental deduction of the legitimacy of the pure, a priori categories of the
understanding, which “do not represent to us the conditions under which
objects are given in intuition” (A89/B122).

3. the evolving autonomy of the aesthetic
Notice that if we take this dualistic model seriously, then strictly speaking
there can be no such thing as either ˜pure aesthetic experience™ or ˜pure
aesthetic judgment,™ since the aesthetic is that which is passively received
in intuition and not yet synthesized by the understanding, as Kant says it
must be in order to constitute experience. The story of how and why the
Kantian aesthetic becomes so much more than it initially appears to be
is the story that frames this book.
The role of the aesthetic in cognition and judgment starts to become
more complex almost immediately after Kant dismisses it as a problem
at the beginning of the Deduction. Quite unexpectedly, given Kant™s
reiteration of his two-faculty approach at the start of this section, in it Kant
abruptly introduces what seems to be a whole new cognitive faculty; the
imagination, which is capable of a whole new kind of synthesis, which Kant
calls the ¬gurative synthesis of the manifold of intuition. Until this point in
the text, Kant™s discussion of synthetic activity concerned the synthesis of
intuition in understanding. However, ¬gurative synthesis is prediscursive,
and its job is to display order and unity at the level of the sensible particular
in preparation for its subsumption under discursive concepts. Although
Kant claims that the imagination “belongs to sensibility,” he also portrays
it as a kind of activity and hence not merely receptive:

This synthesis of the manifold of sensible intuition, which is possible and nec-
essary a priori, may be entitled ¬gurative synthesis, to distinguish it from the
synthesis which is . . . entitled synthesis of the understanding. . . . The ¬gurative
synthesis . . . must, in order to be distinguished from the merely intellectual com-
bination, be called the transcendental synthesis of the imagination. (B151)

The introduction of imagination and its ¬gurative synthesis is already a
suspicious departure from the neat dualism of active understanding and
passive sensibility, but in the B version of the Deduction, Kant tries to keep
Rebecca Kukla

this new faculty from posing any real challenge to the mastery and regu-
latory power of the understanding by claiming that though imagination
“belongs to sensibility,” and though ¬gurative synthesis is prediscursive, it
is “an action of the understanding on sensibility” (B152). Thus it appears
here that the imagination operates as a servant of the understanding,
readying intuition for understanding™s rule according to the latter™s own,
discursive principles.
Hence it is a surprise when, right after the Deduction is complete
and the objective validity of our concepts is supposedly secure, we ¬nd
out that the job of making perspicuous which conceptual rules apply to
objects cannot possibly be governed by discursive general rules without
introducing a hopeless regress:
General logic contains no precepts at all for the power of judgment, and moreover
cannot contain them. . . . If it wanted to show generally how one ought to subsume
under [formal] rules, . . . this could not happen except once again through a rule.
But just because this is a rule, it would demand another instruction for the power
of judgment, and so it becomes clear that although the understanding is certainly
capable of being instructed and equipped through rules, the power of judgment
is a special talent that cannot be taught but only practiced. (A133/B172)

This ˜rules regress,™ which foreshadows Wittgenstein™s formulation of it in
the Philosophical Investigations, indicates that our general capacity to ˜see™
which concepts apply to a particular cannot itself be governed by concep-
tual rules. Judgment requires that the imagination guide the understand-
ing by making perspicuous, through ¬gurative synthesis, a type of order
that the understanding can articulate. This in turn requires a ˜peculiar tal-
ent™ for grasping the particular at the aesthetic level of sensibility. The call
for this special guiding function of the imagination initiates Kant™s chap-
ter on the “Schematism of the Pure Concepts of the Understanding” (or
just the Schematism), whose brief eleven pages Heidegger claims “con-
stitute the central core of the whole [critical project].”11 Schematization
is the process by which the imagination gathers intuition and produces
schemata that somehow show the understanding, from within sensibility, how
the presentations of sensibility can be categorized and comprehended
under general concepts. And again, schematization cannot be governed
by discursive rules, for its function is precisely to enable the application
of such rules. In other words, however schematization is governed, this
activity is aesthetic rather than discursive “ a fact marked not only by Kant™s
explicit argument here about the limits of the understanding, but also

11 Heidegger (1990), 60.
Introduction 11

by his description of schematization as an “art” (A141/B180“1). Hence
at this stage, there is already much more activity going on at the level of
aesthetic sensibility than his initial model indicated. Likewise imagina-
tion, while still here functioning in the service of the understanding and
hence directed by its goals, has gained more autonomy than it had in the
Deduction, where ¬gurative synthesis was still described as an “action of
the understanding.”12 Figurative synthesis must now somehow work in
harmony with the understanding, but not directly governed by its rules.
Kant immediately drops the issue of how such harmony might work in the
¬rst Critique, but it reemerges as a central theme (though in the context
of his analysis of aesthetic rather than determinative judgment) in the
third Critique.
At least two initial features of the third Critique make it clear that
the function Kant assigns to sensibility in our cognitive apparatus has
expanded and strengthened considerably over the course of the critical
First, Kant has by now all but dropped the language of intuition, with
its original association with mere receptivity; instead, in this work he
routinely contrasts the understanding with the much more active imagi-
nation, and it is imagination rather than intuition that serves as the focal
contribution of the faculty of sensibility. By the time we reach the third
Critique, there is no longer any question that imagination is no mere
function of the understanding. Rather, imagination is capable not only
of synthesis, but also of play, including, crucially, play that is free from the
rule of the understanding. Furthermore, the faculty of imagination now

12 A crucial and hotly debated issue, which I cannot take up in the con¬nes of an intro-
duction, is whether schematization is required for the application of all concepts or only
for the pure categories (see, for instance, Pippin 1976). Kant asserts the latter, and his
actual discussion of the schemata concerns all and only the schemata of the categories.
Allison (1983) has vigorously defended this limitation and has read the Schematism not
as introducing a substantive role for nondiscursive synthesis but, much more harmlessly,
as simply giving rules for how to come up with intuitive correlates to pure concepts. But
Kant introduces the Analytic of Principles (and thereby the Schematism) with the prob-
lem of how to bridge the distance between general concepts and the sensible intuition to
which they must be applied, and it is hard to see why this problem and his rules regress
should apply only to pure concepts. His opening example of an unproblematic case of
subsumption is of the concept ˜plate™ under the concept ˜circle™ (A137/B176), which of
course sidesteps the problem of whether the subsumption of a particular plate under
the concept ˜circle™ (or ˜plate™) requires schematization. On either reading, however,
Kant is clear that schematization is an art that does not itself consist of conceptual rule
application, and hence on either reading this section accords new autonomy and activity
to the imagination.
Rebecca Kukla

substantially aids reason in the creative extension of knowledge through
re¬‚ective judgment.
Second, in the Introduction we learn that in fact “ contrary to the
explicit motivation and conclusion of the Transcendental Deduction “
the conformity of the empirical world with the principles of our under-
standing is not suf¬cient to guarantee our capacity to grasp it in expe-
rience and knowledge. Rather, this capacity is also dependent upon the
ability of the imagination to present the sensuous as ordered in the right
way to make it suited to our ¬nite discursive abilities, and this ˜¬t™ between
the sensible world and our cognitive capacities is always contingent. While
it is transcendentally necessary that we approach the world by assuming
the possibility of this ¬t “ this is the much-discussed principle of the purpo-
siveness of nature “ its actuality is never guaranteed:

This correspondence of nature in the multiplicity of its particular laws with our
need to ¬nd universality of principles for it must be judged, as far as our insight
goes, as contingent but nevertheless indispensable for the needs of our under-
standing. . . . That the order of nature in its particular laws, although its multiplic-
ity and diversity at least possibly surpass all our power of comprehension, is yet
¬tted to [the understanding] is, as far as we can see, contingent.13

It is through re¬‚ective judgment that we ¬nd order in the sensuous man-
ifold that is suited to our discursive understanding, and the principles
of such judgment belong in the ¬rst instance to the imagination. Unless
the imagination can ¬nd order at the level of sensuous particularity “
and its success in doing so is never guaranteed “ the understanding will
be presented with an unparsable, chaotic mess that cannot be synthe-
sized into coherent experience (CPJ 5:182). Such ˜empirical chaos™, as
Allison puts it (2001, 37“8), is the complement, at the level of the imag-
ination, to the threat of ˜transcendental chaos™ that is supposed to have
been allayed by the Transcendental Deduction in the ¬rst Critique. Hence
here, unlike in the ¬rst Critique, the ¬gurative synthesis of the imagination
does more than implement the discursive principles of the understand-
ing in determinative judgment. Although it still serves the goals of the
understanding, the imagination has creative responsibility for directing
re¬‚ective judgment.

13 Critique of the Power of Judgment 5:186. Hereafter in this introduction, references to this
work will be given in the text as CPJ followed by Akademie edition pagination. All trans-
lations of this work in this volume are from the Guyer and Matthews edition (Kant 2000)
unless otherwise noted.
Introduction 13

But once the Introduction has ended and Kant has launched into the
Critique of the Aesthetic Power of Judgment, imagination is cut even further
free from its servitude to the understanding, and the faculty of sensibility
once more earns new autonomy and new capacities for activity. In pure
aesthetic judgment, the synthetic activity of the imagination at the level
of sensible form does not result in determination under concepts and is
not governed by the principles of the understanding. Rather, the imagi-
nation has the luxury of engaging in ˜free play™ with the understanding,
unbound by any determinate concept that would restrict its activity in
accordance with a particular discursive rule (CPJ 5:217). Even here, the
imagination and its principles of activity are not completely independent
of the discursive understanding. Kant, rather mysteriously, says that in
aesthetic judgments of beauty, the sensible presentations of the imag-
ination are brought under the “faculty of concepts in general” rather
than any particular concepts; whatever this means, it is clear that in some
sense, harmony between the activity of the imagination and the goals of
discursive understanding is essential to aesthetic judgments of beauty.
Furthermore, when we judge an object to be beautiful, it is not as though
we cease to be able to also judge it to have various determinate properties
by subsuming it under concepts.14 All the same, in aesthetic judgment
the imagination is liberated from the rule of the understanding “ and
hence has enough independent spontaneity to be capable of liberation.
The ¬nal major expansion of the autonomy and active power of the
faculty of sensibility comes with Kant™s argument, beginning in §20 of
the third Critique, for the necessary presumption of a shared human com-
mon sense as a condition for the possibility of aesthetic judgments of taste.
Such a sensus communis, “which is essentially different from the common
understanding that is sometimes also called common sense,” judges by
˜feeling™ rather than concepts (CPJ 5:238). Kant argues that we must pre-
sume that as sensuous beings with discursive understandings, we share a
pure aesthetic sense grounded in this shared cognitive character. Indeed,
each judgment of taste necessarily demands agreement from all such
sensuous, discursive beings (though of course in practice it will rarely,
if ever, receive such universal agreement), holding itself up as univer-
sally valid.15 Whereas regular empirical judgments are accountable to an

14 Guyer defends this point in detail in “The Harmony of the Faculties Revisited” in this
15 A great deal of interpretive work has gone into ¬guring out how to ¬t this demand for
universal agreement into the judgment of taste itself. (See, for instance, several of the
Rebecca Kukla

objective shared world, aesthetic judgments cannot have the same kind of
accountability because they make no objective claims “ they do not apply
concepts to objects. But if they are to be anything more than arbitrary
subjective pleasures, they need some other tribunal of accountability, and
the common aesthetic sense of the human community, presupposed by
each judgment of taste, serves as this tribunal. Pure aesthetic judgments
are not objectively valid, but they strive for subjective universal validity. For
the purposes of my current narrative, this is signi¬cant because by now,
the aesthetic has not only broken free of the regulative clutches of the
understanding, but has, as it were, established its own governing court of
law “ or at least every judgment of taste imputes the possibility of such a
tribunal to the community of sensuous, discursive agents.
At least on the face of things, then, the powers, importance, activity,
and autonomy of the aesthetic faculty of sensibility spread and strengthen
substantially over the course of the critical works. Early in the ¬rst Critique,
Kant insists that intuitions are ˜blind™ and asserts glibly that “appearances
can certainly be given in intuition without functions of the understanding”
(A90/B122, my emphasis), but we have seen that by the middle of the
third Critique, intuition has all but disappeared from the critical apparatus,
and sensibility has become a hotbed of activity, elaborately infused and
intertwined with the spontaneous operations of faculty of concepts. There
are four basic interpretive responses to this shift:
1. One can simply ignore it, maintaining Kant™s original dualism
of receptive intuition and spontaneous understanding, dismissing the
Schematism as a bizarre and relatively dispensable interlude in the ¬rst

essays in this volume, including the exchange between Paul Guyer and Henry Allison, as
well as the essays by B´ atrice Longuenesse and Rudolf Makkreel, among others.) One
question is whether the judgment of universal communicability is somehow part of, or
instead comes after, the free, harmonious play of the faculties; Guyer has tenaciously
defended the second view, and others, including Hannah Ginsborg, have defended
versions of the ¬rst. Another question concerns the normative status of this demand “ is
it more like an expectation of agreement or a prescriptive request for agreement? I think
that considerable confusion has arisen because commentators have tried to somehow ¬t
the demand for universality, whatever its normative voice, into the content of the judgment
of taste. I suggest that it is more helpful to think of this demand as a feature of the
performative force of the judgment: The judgment is the harmonious play of the faculties,
but the pragmatic function of this judgment is not to assert anything, including anything
about universal agreement, but rather to call for such agreement. The judgment of taste,
on this reading, is not quasi-declaratival in its form, but rather has a different pragmatic
structure altogether. Unfortunately, this introduction is not the place for me to develop
and defend such a substantive thesis. For a related discussion, see Kukla and Lance
Introduction 15

Critique, and denying that the third Critique forms an integral part of
the critical philosophy. A major premise of this book, of course, is that
this ¬rst option is not attractive. However, mainstream analytic works on
Kant™s critical epistemology used to take this approach routinely.16
2. One can acknowledge that the role of the aesthetic in judgment is
important, and that sensibility must be more than mere nonconceptual
receptivity, while insisting that Kant, when read carefully and charita-
bly, can be seen to have had a consistent account of this sort all along,
and likewise denying that Kant ever championed a merely receptive fac-
ulty of sensibility. John McDowell is a paradigmatic example of someone
adopting this strategy. In “Having the World in View: Kant, Sellars and
Intentionality,” McDowell argues in detail that Kantian intuitions them-
selves are always “shapings of sensory consciousness by the understand-
ing” (1998, 462) and that “the idea that perception involves a ¬‚ow of
conceptual representations guided by manifolds of ˜sheer receptivity™ is
not Kantian at all ” (ibid., 452, my emphasis). B´ atrice Longuenesse is
another example of a scholar who has worked to read aesthetic activ-
ity back into Kant™s original account of determinative judgment while
maintaining the consistency of his overall account.17
3. One can read the critical corpus biographically, arguing that Kant™s
views indeed changed and developed over time as he became committed
to a larger and more active role for the aesthetic in cognition. On this
view, Kant™s ¬nal position is more compelling and more satisfying than
his initial dualistic picture and its impoverished conception of aesthetic
sensibility. Makkreel (1990) and F¨ rster (2000) have defended such
4. Finally, one can argue that as the role and the activity of the faculty
of sensibility slowly expand over the course of the critical corpus, the
aesthetic comes to pose a serious challenge to the overall critical project,
either demanding its serious retroactive revision or importantly under-
mining some of its key goals and tenets. Heidegger, for example, insisted
that the imagination shows up in the Critique of Pure Reason as an inas-
similable ˜rogue faculty™ that challenges Kant™s initially clean dichotomy
between spontaneous understanding and receptive intuition, and he
claims that if Kant had followed his own line of argument, he would have
been required to rethink the critical project at its very core, scrapping
some of its central tenets such as the a priori necessity and security of the

16 See, for instance, Strawson (1966) and Bennett (1966).
17 See especially Longuenese (1998).
Rebecca Kukla

categories. Several of the essays in this volume argue that the emergence
of the aesthetic and its increasing autonomy and spontaneity pose such
pressures “ in particular the essays by Kirk Pillow, who argues that we need
to retroactively reinterpret Kant™s original model of the discursive under-
standing; Richard Manning, who argues that McDowell cannot get away
with introducing conceptual activity into the heart of sensible intuition
while still allowing Kant to be true to his original critical aspirations; and
John McCumber, who argues that the account of aesthetic judgment in
the third Critique actually reveals the need to deconstruct and transcend
the very core of the critical project.

4. contingency, mastery, suppression
Regardless of whether we decide, upon careful reading and re¬‚ection, to
settle on some version of interpretive option 2, 3 or 4 above, it is worth
seeing why the picture of the aesthetic that emerges slowly over the course
of the critical writings should pose at least a prima facie challenge for the
project of critical epistemology, as Kant laid it out at the start of the ¬rst
Recall that in a crucial sense, the mastery of the understanding over its
proper, circumscribed domain was the driving goal of the critical epis-
temology. We saw Kant employ several techniques with which to ensure
this mastery. One was the restriction of our domain of inquiry to the
˜island of truth™ “ that is, the realm of phenomena, or objects of pos-
sible experience. Kant takes himself, by the end of the Transcendental
Analytic, to have “carefully inspected each part of [this island, and] also
surveyed and determined the place for each thing in it” (B294). Another
was the completion of the Transcendental Deduction, designed to show
that our cognitive faculties were guaranteed to be adequate for secure
mastery of this restricted domain. The Deduction, we saw, was supposed
to show both that sensible presentations would not outstrip the capacity
of the understanding to grasp and order them and, furthermore, that
the constitutive work of the understanding would lead to representations
with objective validity, thereby ratifying empirical realism as opposed to
empirical idealism, and discharging the worry that after the Copernican
turn, our representations would no longer be accountable to a real world
of empirical objects. But remember also that Kant provided a deduction
only of the pure concepts of the understanding, on the grounds that it was
only there that we needed to worry about objective validity and empir-
ical adequacy. This, in turn, was because the deliverances of receptive
Introduction 17

sensibility were supposed to immediately refer to objects without having
been produced according to the principles of spontaneous cognition.
Thus, in light of what happens to the aesthetic over the course of Kant™s
writing, we seem to have a couple of large, interrelated problems on our
hands. Once we ¬nd out that the activity of schematization is both neces-
sary for the application of concepts, and also an ˜art™ whose principles can-
not be reduced to those of the discursive understanding, we immediately
seem to have undermined the results of the just-¬nished Deduction. Kant
tried to portray his introduction of ¬gurative synthesis into the account
of judgment as ˜safe™, during the course of the Deduction, by claiming
that it is really nothing but an action of the understanding. But by his
own argument in the Schematism, this containment technique appears
not to work. The rules regress indicates that the imagination must ¬nd
order within sensibility without being governed by discursive rules. But
now it seems that we should need a transcendental deduction of the legit-
imacy of the principles of schematization, whatever those are, as well. If
we are to be certain both that the imagination is up to the task of ¬nd-
ing order in sensuous presentations and that its principles for doing so
have objective validity, presumably we need a transcendental deduction
of its principles, just as we had for the categories of the understanding.
Without this, we seem to lose all the security we just gained. However,
not only does Kant not offer such a deduction, but he remains deter-
minedly mute with respect to the question of what these principles are in
the ¬rst place. Notoriously, he claims that judgment is a “peculiar talent”
that “cannot be taught” (A133/B172) and that “This schematism of our
understanding with regard to appearances and their mere form is a hid-
den art in the depths of the human soul, whose true operations we can
divine from nature and lay unveiled before our eyes only with dif¬culty”
(A141/B180“1). In the third Critique he points out that since the princi-
ples of imaginative synthesis are by de¬nition not discursive, they cannot
be articulated,18 not to mention having their validity transcendentally
deduced. But this is no small problem, to say the least.
First, if intuition is formed by aesthetic activity by the time it even makes
it to the understanding, and if we have no argument for the objective
validity of the principles by which it does this, then it™s not clear why we
should think that this forming is proceeding in a way that is truly account-
able to the sensible world, rather than based on merely subjective stan-
dards. This problem reemerges in the context of the third Critique, in

18 See in particular CPJ §8.
Rebecca Kukla

the form of the question of what kind of validity or normative account-
ability our aesthetic judgments can claim. As we saw, such judgments are
not held to the tribunal of objective accountability. Instead, Kant holds
them to the standard of subjective universality, or universal communicability,
grounded in a common sense. But while such subjective universality may
be a perfectly good standard for pure aesthetic judgment, it doesn™t seem
to be an appropriate tribunal for cognitive judgments that are about and
accountable to the objective world.
Second, the suitability of the sensible world for being synthesized and
grasped by our cognitive faculties now becomes contingent rather than
transcendentally guaranteed. While we may have earned con¬dence that
our concepts will be suited to grasp the ¬gurative products of imagina-
tive synthesis, we have now lost our assurance that the empirical data
provided by the world will lend themselves to such ¬gurative synthesis
(whose principles remain hidden from us) in the ¬rst place. In other
words, while we may still be certain that no objects of possible experience
will fail to meet the discursive needs of the understanding, there seems
to be no guarantee that the sensuous will be graspable in experience as
an ordered world of objects at all.
Indeed, this contingency is an explicit theme in the third Critique, espe-
cially in the Introduction. According to Kant, remember, the fact “that
the order of nature in its particular laws, although its multiplicity and
diversity at least possibly surpass all our power of comprehension, is yet
¬tted to it, is, as far as we can see, contingent” (CPJ 5:187). And yet, as
has been clear since the start of the ¬rst Critique, such a ¬t between the
order of the sensible and our powers of comprehension is not merely a
nice perk, but is rather essential to the possibility of experience in the
¬rst place, since experience involves determining the sensuous through
our discursive concepts and comprehending nature as a system through
re¬‚ective judgment. The understanding must depend on the imagina-
tion to present it with sensuous order it can grasp, but it cannot prescribe
aesthetic laws to the sensuous in the way it can prescribe its own purely
discursive principles. We thus have to presuppose this ¬t in every empirical
encounter, but we cannot count on it. Allison explains, “our understand-
ing proceeds from universals . . . to the particulars that are to be subsumed
under them, and since these particulars, as sensibly given, are not them-
selves products of the act of understanding, it follows that there is an
unavoidable element of contingency in the ¬t between the universal and
the particular” (Allison 2001, 38“9).
In fact, the suitability of the sensible world for orderly mastery at the
hands of the understanding, whose guarantee seemed so essential in
Introduction 19

the ¬rst Critique, now appears to be a much-needed gift from nature,
which gives us pleasure precisely because it constitutes the contingent
satisfaction of a goal:

Hence we are also delighted (strictly speaking, relieved of a need) when we encounter
such a systematic unity among merely empirical laws, just as if it were a happy
accident which happened to favor our aim, even though we necessarily had to
assume that there is such a unity, yet without having been able to gain insight into
it and to prove it. . . .
To be sure, we no longer detect any noticeable pleasure in the comprehensi-
bility of nature and the unity of its division into genera and species, by means of
which alone empirical concepts are possible through which we cognize it in its
particular laws; but it must certainly have been there in its time, and only because
the most common experience would not be possible without it has it gradually
become mixed up with mere cognition and is no longer specially noticed. (CPJ

The attainment of an aim de¬nitionally involves pleasure, for Kant.19
Thus, when the imagination manages to grasp nature as purposive and
render sensibility harmonious with the needs of the understanding, we
feel pleasure necessarily, delighting in the contingent gift that enables
us to satisfy our necessary desire to ¬nd articulable order in nature. This
pleasure in the discovered suitability of nature for comprehension by the
discursive understanding “ or in other words, pleasure in the purposive-
ness of nature “ is at least closely related to the aesthetic pleasure we
take in the beautiful, which concerns the harmony between our sensible
presentations and the goals of the understanding in general. However,
insofar as this pleasure shows up in the context of empirical judgment,
it marks a contingency that would seem to be unacceptable by the stan-
dards of the ¬rst Critique and the goals of critical epistemology. According
to Allison, this contingency is “endemic to our discursive understanding”
(2001, 48). Remember, after all, that a driving motivation behind the
Copernican turn, and the critical project more generally, was to avoid
letting the possibility of discursive empirical cognition be a contingent
gift from the sensible world.
Kant himself raises a serious problem concerning what origin the prin-
ciples that guide the imagination in its activity could possibly have and
how these principles could be legitimate. The principles cannot be arbi-
trary or merely subjective, for if they were, then the ¬gurative orders they
deliver to the understanding would undermine the objective validity of

19 Although the question of the character of this involvement is a thorny one. Kant takes up
this question in §9 of the third Critique, which is one of the most dif¬cult and disputed
sections of the work.
Rebecca Kukla

the judgments they ground. Nor can they be learned from experience,
since their employment is supposed to make experience possible in the
¬rst place. Finally, they cannot be legislated a priori, for while the under-
standing has constitutive force with respect to the transcendental condi-
tions of the possibility of experience, the imagination can have no such
constitutive force with respect to the actual contingent nature of the sen-
sible world (CPJ 5:182) “ the imagination has no right to determine the
empirical structure of the phenomenal domain. We cannot know how
the imagination manages to bring the right kind of aesthetic order to the
sensuous manifold, and the understanding is in no position to legislate
that the imagination will succeed in this task.
The deep point here is that Kant has now apparently ceded crucial
responsibility for successful, objectively valid experience away from the
understanding, and into only contingently trustworthy hands. In doing
so, it seems we should worry that the hard-won mastery of the understand-
ing over its proper domain has been seriously undermined. Understand-
ing now appears to be at the mercy of the contingencies of nature and
sensibility in just the way it was not supposed to be. Our pleasure in the
suitability of sensuous nature for comprehension can be read as a symp-
tom of the decentering of the understanding™s mastery of its domain.
It arguably represents a serious challenge to Kant™s critical project, as it
marks a place where responsibility for successful objective judgment has
been displaced from the discursive to the aesthetic domain “ a domain
that by its very nature has an essentially receptive dimension that cannot
be brought under our discursive or legislative control.
How worried was Kant himself about the threat his own expanding aes-
thetic posed to his critical objectives? Several commentators have thought
that it worried him a great deal indeed, to the point where he found ways
of suppressing and de¬‚ecting the problem rather than addressing it head
on. Heidegger has argued that Kant suffered a serious crisis of con¬dence
in the wake of his own insights in the Schematism, and that he was “fright-
ened” away from acknowledging the importance and the autonomy of the
aesthetic imagination and its implications for his critical epistemology:
“Kant did not carry through with the more original interpretation of the
transcendental power of imagination; indeed, he did not even make the
attempt in spite of the clear, initial sketching out of such an analytic which
he himself recognized for the ¬rst time. On the contrary: Kant shrank
back from this unknown root” (1990, 115, 110). According to Heidegger,
Kant repeatedly tries and fails to bring the imagination back under the
rule of the understanding, even going so far as to rewrite the Critique
Introduction 21

of Pure Reason in an effort to suppress and regulate the imagination. For
example, he argues that Kant was made suf¬ciently uncomfortable by the
apparent autonomy of the imagination in the A version of the Transcen-
dental Deduction that he went back and rewrote it, with the express goal
of assimilating the imagination back into the two-faculty model; hence
in the B version of the Deduction, unlike its predecessor, Kant is careful
to claim that imagination “belongs to sensibility” and that its synthesis
is an “operation of the understanding” (although, as we have seen, this
attempt at assimilation is short-lived and dubious).20 Similarly, in this
volume McCumber claims that Kant “¬ghts” his own evolving picture of
the aesthetic at every step, “refuting or denigrating” his own main con-
clusions and “abruptly terminating” discussions that would ¬ll out and
clarify this picture.
And indeed, it does seem that despite Kant™s architectonic ambitions
and his clear desire for a systematic unity of the three Critiques, he is
remarkably reticent about directly discussing the substantive connec-
tions between empirical and aesthetic judgment or the role of ¬gura-
tive synthesis in cognition. Given his normal epistemological tenacity, it
is startling how quickly he concludes, in the Schematism, that the art
of schematization is an unteachable “blind but indispensable function
of the soul,” which (for reasons not directly articulated) “must remain
mostly unknown to us” (A74/B103). He shows a similarly surprising lack
of curiosity with respect to whether common sense exists a priori or must
be built, and “thus whether taste is an original and natural faculty, or
only the idea of one that is yet to be acquired and is arti¬cial,” raising
this question but immediately dismissing it as an issue that “we would
not and cannot yet investigate here” (CPJ 5:240). Meanwhile, in the
same breath in which Kant introduces and acknowledges the pleasure
that marks the contingent suitability of natural forms to our discursive
understanding, he also dismisses that pleasure as lost to us in the mists
of memory. Kant never spells out what connections this pleasure does
or doesn™t have to the pleasure of aesthetic beauty. Indeed, once Kant
acknowledges the existence of aesthetic judgment proper, and embarks
on his analysis of the active aesthetic imagination in that context, he never
returns to cognitive judgment in order to make explicit the relationship
between the two. Instead, he restricts his analysis to judgments that strive

20 Heidegger writes, “The transcendental power of the imagination is the disquieting
unknown that becomes the incentive” for Kant™s overhaul of the ¬rst Critique “ and
especially of the Transcendental Deduction “ in the B edition (1990, 111).
Rebecca Kukla

only for subjective validity and hence need not be held accountable to a
tribunal of objective truth. Commentators have been left with the task
of piecing together a Kantian account of the relationship between aes-
thetic and cognitive judgment through hints and fragments in the third
Of course, one need not ¬nd this sort of biographical reading of Kant™s
rhetorical peculiarities compelling, and even if one accepts it as psycho-
logically revealing, one need not take it as having philosophical signif-
icance. Plenty of commentators remain untroubled by the role played
by imagination in Kant™s account of cognition, and plenty of those who
do ¬nd it troubling do not think that it seriously challenges the driv-
ing goals of critical epistemology. However, I hope that I have given
enough evidence to support a double claim: First, at the very least, it takes
some substantial interpretive work to see how we ought to place the aes-
thetic within Kant™s larger account of cognition and critical epistemology.
Second, if some of Kant™s most interesting arguments are to be taken seri-
ously, then the activity of the sensuous imagination is a precondition for
the possibility of any empirical cognition or experience whatsoever, and
hence this interpretive task is an indispensable one.

5. the structure and contents of this book
The essays in this book circulate around three interdependent but dis-
tinguishable issues. The essays in Part I concern a question with its seat
in the ¬rst Critique : How can we understand what goes on at the predis-
cursive level of intuition and imagination during empirical cognition?
In particular, can we understand the aesthetic deliverances of sensibility
as enabling the subsumption of particular sensible presentations under
general discursive concepts, while keeping empirical judgment account-
able to an independent objective world? The essays in Part II direct their
attention in the ¬rst instance to the third Critique. They try to discern
the cognitive structure of judgments of taste, and the source and char-
acter of the normativity that such judgments claim. Given that these
judgments do not involve determination under discursive concepts, and
hence have no objective validity, what are the standards and principles
that govern them, and how do they engage our faculties of imagination
and understanding? Finally, the essays in Part III directly concern the
place of the aesthetic in the critical epistemology as a whole. They seek to

21 Much of this interpretive work goes on in this volume, especially in Part III.
Introduction 23

understand the nature of creative, re¬‚ective judgment as Kant portrays
it in the third Critique, and such judgment is placed within and held to
standards that invoke a larger community of contingent, ¬nite, sensuous,
communicative human subjects. Such a project cannot help but call for
a retrospective rereading of the ¬rst Critique, which seems on the face
of it to make room for neither a re¬‚ective imagination that escapes the
servitude of the understanding nor the relevance of a community bound
by shared sensibility to the standards of valid judgment.
The essays in Part I, by Hannah Ginsborg, Richard Manning, and Mark
Okrent, all ask how we encounter particulars in sensibility prior to their
subsumption under discursive concepts. Manning points out that “a sheer
sensibility conceived as utterly indeterminate and unstructured cannot
play any explanatory role in accounting for objective cognition.” On his
reading, “Kant himself . . . realized this, and backed away from according
a signi¬cant role to sheer sensibility. But that backing away left a role
exclusively for the kind of intuition that is shot through and uni¬ed with
the spontaneous operations of the understanding.”22 Thus, as Hannah
Ginsborg puts it, “intuitions are structured or synthesized by the imagina-
tion in a way that allows for the representation of generality” (my empha-
sis). These essays ask what such activity of the imagination might consist
of, and how its results can achieve objective validity while avoiding circu-
larity (using discursive rules to structure intuition so as to make it suitable
for subsumption under discursive rules).
While Ginsborg shows how Kant™s version of this problem has deep
roots in eighteenth-century empiricism, Manning and Okrent show its
tight connections to a crucial set of debates in contemporary philosophy
of mind and epistemology, which ask how our receptive, sensuous contact
with the empirical world can play a properly authoritative role in enabling
objective judgment and concept application. Wilfrid Sellars and John
McDowell, among others, have fought to avoid casting the sensible as a
mute ˜given,™ which would be incapable of grounding concept application
and inference, and which would thus leave our conceptual apparatus
“spinning in the void,” as McDowell has put it. They have recognized
Kant as the most important forbearer of this problem: If intuitions are
really ˜blind,™ then concepts seem doomed to remain ˜empty.™ If, on the
other hand, sensible presentations can guide concept application, then it
seems that they must already be intentionally structured, in which case

22 This volume. All quotations in this section are from the essays in this volume unless
otherwise indicated.
Rebecca Kukla

we need to account for how they earn their structure without falling into
circularity or subjective idealism.
In asking how we can grasp an individual as falling under a universal
concept, Hannah Ginsborg focuses in particular on the process of re¬‚ec-
tive concept formation. She argues that the concepts we seek in re¬‚ection
are actually ˜universal™ in two senses: They are general rather than particu-
lar, and they are universally valid in that the judgments that employ them
make a claim on and demand agreement from everyone. She argues that
what might just look like a terminological ambiguity actually reveals a
connection that is crucial to Kant™s account of empirical judgment “ and
indeed, it is the second, normative and intersubjective sense of universal-
ity that makes possible the formation and employment of concepts with
universality in the ¬rst sense. According to Hume, we form general con-
cepts by forming natural associations between particulars. According to
Kant, on Ginsborg™s reading, such associations are a transcendental con-
dition for the possibility of perceptual experience rather than an effect
of it. Furthermore, in our act of associating a sensible presentation with
others (of this tree with other trees, for instance), we take it that this asso-
ciation is an instance of what everyone should do under the circumstances,
so that “the generality of my disposition is thus . . . incorporated into my
perception rather than remaining external to it, as on the Humean view.”
Both our dispositions to associate and our justi¬cation for imputing these
dispositions to others are grounded in our natural psychology, where that
natural psychology is amenable to normative negotiation and develop-
Richard Manning worries that Ginsborg™s account does not penetrate
deeply enough to solve the problem of how sensible presentations can
be structured so as to guide empirical judgment without giving up their
accountability to an independent, empirically real world. He points out
that her associative dispositions must operate on features of the par-
ticulars they associate. But this means that the sensuous presentations
of these particulars must already have enough structure to enable such
operations. But where did this structure come from? Manning organizes
his reading of Kant around a response to McDowell™s attempt to offer
a “uni¬ed account” in which discursive concepts are already engaged at
the level of intuition and the notion of sheer receptivity is deemed “not
Kantian at all.” Manning asks, is McDowell™s uni¬ed account Kantian,
and does it help with the problem? He answers “no” on both counts and
ends his essay aporetically. If we bring structure to sensibility through
the operations of our discursive understanding, then we have “removed
Introduction 25

the one element of cognition innocent of the operations of spontaneity,”
and we face the threat of idealism. If we insist that intuition is indeed is a
“mere given” or something like unschematized content, then it will not
be able to give guidance to empirical judgment. If we posit a separate
source of structuring principles, as Kant seems to do in the Schematism
and the Analytic of Principles, then we end up with a third man problem,
as it becomes unclear how these new principles could produce a struc-
tured presentation that is both suited to subsumption under concepts
and accountable to the objects encountered in intuition.
Mark Okrent takes on these same issues through an original route: He
uses the case of animal experience as a tool for interrogating Kant™s con-
ception of what cognitive work goes on at the prediscursive level of sensi-
bility. He opens with the guiding question, “What does my dog see when
he sees a bus?” Okrent™s goal is to give a Kantian account of how dogs man-
age to represent entities as independent objects (which he argues they
clearly do), given that they lack discursive concepts and self-re¬‚ection
(and hence cannot, for instance, see that something is a bus). Notice that
if he succeeds in this project, he solves Manning™s problem. For such rep-
resentations would have the right kind of structure to have intentional
content and accountability to the external world without being produced
through the synthetic operations of the understanding. As Okrent points
out, “the objects which we perceptually encounter . . . must have the same
structural character as the objects about which we form judgments.”
Okrent identi¬es an apparently inconsistent triad of Kantian com-
mitments: (1) Intuitions involve references to objects, (2) animals have
intuitions but lack the ability to apply concepts, and (3) cognition of ob-
jects requires the capacity for concept application, which in turn requires
a unitary consciousness of the act through which a manifold is combined
(the transcendental synthesis of apperception). Following Heidegger,
and in sharp contrast with someone like McDowell, Okrent proposes
resolving the inconsistency by discarding (3), thereby seriously demot-
ing the role played by the discursive understanding in empirical cognition
and objective reference. Okrent places more of our (and his dog™s) active
cognitive work at the level of prediscursive sensibility, and he thus opts
for a more autonomous faculty of sensibility than that suggested by the
traditional dualistic model of Kantian cognition.
The essays in Part II, by Paul Guyer, Henry Allison, Melissa Zinkin,
and B´ atrice Longuenesse, seek to understand the cognitive structure of
pure judgments of taste, which do not involve subsumption under deter-
minate concepts. They ask how such judgments are structurally related
Rebecca Kukla

to and different from regular cognitive judgments; how they engage the
faculty of concepts and the synthetic activities of the imagination; and,
perhaps most importantly, how they manage to be governed by norma-
tive standards with universal validity, given their lack of objectivity and
their failure to be governed by discursive rules. In asking these ques-
tions, each essay engages with two of the most important and puzzling
sections of the Critique of the Power of Judgment: §9, in which Kant claims
that the judgment of taste is grounded in the free, harmonious play of
imagination and understanding, and examines the relationship between
aesthetic pleasure and the universal communicability of that pleasure,
and §§20“2, in which he explains the special kind of necessity that sup-
posedly attaches to judgments of taste, namely, the necessity that allows
no difference of opinion and demands universal assent on the grounds of
a presupposed common sense.
According to Longuenesse, the judgment of taste, far from being
marginal or tangential from the point of view of critical epistemology,

is the culminating point of the Copernican revolution that began with the ¬rst
Critique. For the ground of the assertion of the predicate in the judgment of taste
is the intuited form of the object precisely insofar as it is synthesized by the subject.
So in the object, what grounds the assertion of the predicate ˜beautiful™ are just
those features that depend on the synthesizing activity of the subject.

The Copernican revolution was a turn to the subjective conditions of cog-
nition, and the judgment of taste considers the object just insofar as it
relates to these subjective conditions. Since such judgments are not in the
business of determining objective properties, they need to be account-
able to some standard other than that of objective validity. This standard
must be subjective, and yet it must make a critique of taste possible and
cannot simply re¬‚ect an individual™s idiosyncratic, reactive pleasures and
displeasures. This is why the appeal to a common sense is so important.
But the mere descriptive fact of common agreement about judgments of
taste “ even if there were such a thing, which there isn™t “ wouldn™t partic-
ularly provide normative import to these judgments, and hence the nor-
mative function of common sense in aesthetic judgment must be subtler
than a mere measure of typicality. For Zinkin, the demand for universal
agreement is nothing less than the claim to participation in the human
community. She writes,

When I claim that something is beautiful, . . . it is not that I require others to line
up and vote the same way as I do. Rather, I demand that they share my feeling of
pleasure in the object. Indeed, I do not think that my judgment should count as
Introduction 27

a judgment of taste unless I believe everyone ought to agree with me. And if I do
make such a claim and others disagree with me, I don™t merely feel a difference
between us, but alienated from an important aspect of humanity, namely, a shared

Part II opens with a dialogue between Paul Guyer and Henry Allison
concerning Allison™s reading of the cognitive and normative structure
of judgments of taste in Kant™s Theory of Taste (2001). Allison and Guyer
are arguably the two most prominent and respected living Kant scholars,
and among those who have worked the hardest to treat the whole critical
corpus as a uni¬ed body of work. In this exchange, the authors debate
the nature of re¬‚ective judgment and the status and content of the prin-
ciple of purposiveness, the soundness of Kant™s deduction of the pure
judgments of taste, and the relationship between aesthetic and moral
Melissa Zinkin™s highly original essay proposes a theory of the nature
and ground of the imaginative synthesis that proceeds free from determi-
nation by concepts in judgments of taste. She uses Kant™s brief account
of intensive and extensive magnitudes in the Critique of Pure Reason to
build a reading of Kant™s account of judgments of taste in the Critique
of the Power of Judgment. Her thesis is that cognitive and aesthetic judg-
ments operate upon fundamentally different forms of sensible intu-
ition; whereas the intuitions we subsume under determinate concepts
have extensive magnitude, it is intensive magnitudes that stimulate judg-
ments of taste, and these cannot be captured by discursive concepts.
Where extensive magnitudes are summations of homogeneous units
apprehended successively (in accordance with the temporal form of
inner sense), intensive magnitudes measure qualitative intensities. The
intensive form of intuition in a judgment of taste, Zinkin argues, is
the judging subject™s qualitative, pleasurable or displeasurable sensa-
tion of her own mental state, and the sensus communis is the a priori
form of such sensibility, which is not determinable under discursive
In “The Harmony of the Faculties Revisited,” Paul Guyer, like Zinkin,
wants to give an account of the harmonious free play of imagination
and understanding in judgments of taste. He neatly divides the plausible
readings of the harmony of the faculties into three categories: ˜precog-
nitive,™ ˜multicognitive,™ and ˜metacognitive™ interpretations. According
to a precognitive interpretation, the functioning of the imagination in a
judgment of taste is just like that in regular empirical cognition minus
the application of a determinate concept. Precognitive interpretations
Rebecca Kukla

lend themselves to readings that bury a moment of aesthetic judgment
within every cognitive judgment, and they thereby suggest that every-
thing cognizable is in some sense beautiful. In contrast, a multicognitive
interpretation holds that a judgment of taste ¬nds beauty in an object in
virtue of its suggestion of an open-ended plethora of applicable concepts,
thereby “allowing the mind to ¬‚it back and forth playfully” between possi-
ble concept applications. Multicognitive interpretations have to confront
Kant™s repeated assertion that in aesthetic judgment we do not subsume
sensible forms under any determinate concept, but instead under the fac-
ulty of concepts as a whole. What™s more, especially in the case of natural
beauty, Kant insists that we make judgments of taste on the basis of pure
sensible form, not in virtue of potential meanings or cognitive associa-
tions. Guyer ¬nds the pan-aestheticism of the precognitive approach and
the textual implausibility of the multicognitive approach unacceptable.
In their place, he suggests a metacognitive interpretation of the harmony
of the faculties: When an object is judged beautiful, our sensuous presen-
tation enables the application of a determinate concept, but it also does
more than this, displaying a level of unity, form, and harmony with the
goals of the understanding that transcends what is needed for ordinary
cognition. Guyer argues that his metacognitive reading not only avoids
the pitfalls and accommodates the strengths of the other two readings,
but also remains true to crucial tenets of the ¬rst Critique, such as the
impossibility of experiencing something as an object without determining
it under concepts.
B´ atrice Longuenesse is perhaps more committed than any other
scholar to respecting Kant™s architectonic aspirations. The goal of her
essay is to display the philosophical importance of Kant™s organization
of the Analytic of the Beautiful, in the third Critique, in accordance
with the moments of judgment introduced in the Table of Judgments
in the ¬rst Critique (A70/B95). In contrast to other commentators, who
have tended to read Kant™s analysis of judgments of taste in terms of the
moments of quantity, quality, relation, and modality as a bit forced and
neurotic, Longuenesse claims that “as always with Kant, architectonic con-
siderations . . . play an essential role in the unfolding of the substantive
According to Longuenesse, the use Kant makes of his table of logical
forms in analyzing aesthetic judgments reveals these judgments to have a
complex structure in which an explicit judgment about the object (“this
X is beautiful”) is combined with an implicit judgment about the judging
subjects themselves (“all judging subjects, in apprehending this object,
Introduction 29

ought to experience the same pleasure I experience, and thus ought to
judge as I do”). Kant™s forms of judgment serve as a sort of “checklist” of
questions to ask, and thus help unfold the combination of descriptive and
normative features in aesthetic judgments. Concluding with the modality
of judgments of taste, Longuenesse argues that according to Kant, the
necessity attaching to judgments of taste has both the prescriptive force
that otherwise pertains to a moral imperative (“others ought to judge
like me”) and the descriptive force that otherwise pertains to a judgment
of cognition (the connection between the predicate ˜beautiful™ and the
object is a necessary connection of a peculiar kind). She concludes with an
analysis of the role Kant assigns to aesthetic judgment in the constitution
of a universal community of judging subjects.
Part III of this book consists of essays by Rudolf Makkreel, Kirk Pillow,
and John McCumber. These essays bring the ¬rst and third Critiques into
conversation with one another. Where Longuenesse seeks systematic con-
sistency between these works, these three essays try to demonstrate that
Kant™s own commitments in the third Critique compel him to revise, sup-
plement, or even deconstruct crucial tenets of the ¬rst Critique and its
conceptual apparatus. In the ¬rst Critique, as we saw, Kant distinguishes
between determinative and re¬‚ective judgment, where re¬‚ective judg-
ment involves the creative systemization of experience in accordance with
the goals of reason. Despite making this distinction, the Critique of Pure
Reason contains almost no substantive discussion of re¬‚ective judgment.
When Kant returns to the topic in the third Critique, he gives an account of
re¬‚ective judgment as involving aesthetic activity free from subservience
to the discursive rules of the understanding, as well as an essential ref-
erence to the contingent human community as a tribunal of success “
and both of these ¬t uneasily within the con¬nes of the ¬rst Critique.
The three essays are successively far-reaching in their claim that proper
deference to the third Critique requires us to rethink the ¬rst. Rudolf
Makkreel portrays Kant™s account of re¬‚ective judgment and creativity as
a substantial deviation from his picture of re¬‚ection and determination
in the ¬rst Critique. Kirk Pillow argues that these same parts of the third
Critique ought to have driven Kant to revise his account of the discursive

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