The Critique of Judgment—the third and final work in Kant’s critical system—laid the groundwork of modern aesthetics when it appeared in 1790. Eli Friedlander’s reappraisal of this seminal accomplishment reformulates and elucidates Kant’s thought in order to reveal the inner unity of the Third Critique.
Expressions of Judgment emphasizes the internal connection of judgment and meaning in Kant’s aesthetics, showing how the pleasure in judging is intimately related to our capacity to draw meaning from our encounter with beauty. Although the meaningfulness of aesthetic judgment is most evident in the response to art, the appreciation of nature’s beauty has an equal share in the significant experience of our world. Friedlander’s attention to fundamental dualities underlying the Third Critique—such as that of art and nature—underscores how its themes are subordinated systematically to the central task Kant sets himself: that of devising a philosophical blueprint for the mediation between the realms of nature and freedom.
This understanding of the mediating function of judgment guides Friedlander in articulating the dimensions of the field of the aesthetic that opens between art and nature, the subject and the object, knowledge and the will, as well as between the individual and the communal. Expressions of Judgment illuminates the distinctness as well as the continuity of this important late phase in Kant’s critical enterprise, providing insights for experienced scholars as well as new students of philosophy.
In this elegant and pellucid essay, Eli Friedlander offers the most compelling defense to date of the classic, Goethean thesis that aesthetic reflective judgment does the great work of mediating and reconciling—of bringing into meaningful conversation with one another—the dualisms that score Kant’s critical philosophy, above all the wrenching dualism between nature and culture, that we are free and self-determining creatures inhabiting living bodies within a living and mechanical universe. Bracing.
Friedlander’s Expressions of Judgment is the most illuminating single work on Kant’s Third Critique that I have read. The book achieves a rare combination of overall perspicuity and clarity at the level of the individual sentence that repeatedly builds towards moments of penetrating insight, and thereby brings out aspects of Kant’s thought and worldview from which the most experienced scholar is as likely to derive insight as is the new student.
- 144 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
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