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Philosophy Speakers Program: Alex Rueger (Alberta), "Kant's Aesthetics and the Development of His Moral Philosophy"

Date & Time:
March 21, 2014 | 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Social Sciences Building, Room 1253

The Philosophy Speakers Program presents

ALEX RUEGER - "Kant's Aesthetics and the Development of His Moral Philosophy" 


About the Talk

I present some--unavoidably speculative--suggestions about how the project of Kant's Critique of Judgment took shape from 1784 to 1790. The topic of the talk, therefore, is not so much the third Critique as the problems that gave rise to it.  I focus on two issues: (i) In the first Critique (1781), Kant had pronounced that a critique of taste is impossible because the pleasure of taste has no claim to universality. Three years later, however, he seemed to have changed his mind about this (though not in print).  Why?  (ii) In the third Critique, he claimed that this work is supposed to bridge the "incalculable gulf" between nature and freedom, between the faculties of understanding and of practical reason and thereby bring the "entire critical enterprise to an end".  Since it is not obvious that such a gulf had been recognized as a serious problem before by Kant, one should ask again: Why?

The period between 1784 and 1790 is also the time in which Kant's moral philosophy underwent two fundamental revisions.  I conjecture that question (i) can be answered by paying attention to the radically new doctrine of incentives to morality that Kant presented in the Groundwork (1785).  Soon after the publication of this work, however, he realized that the deduction of the moral law in the Groundwork was a failure (as he acknowledged in the Critique of Practical Reason (1787)),  The deduction crucially relied on a transition from understanding to practical reason.  When this transition was recognized as violating the basic constraints of the cricial philosophy, the "gulf" between understanding and practical reason became a serious issue and bridging the gulf seemed required to complete the "critical enterprise". 

About the Speaker

Alex Rueger (DPhil Konstanz) is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Alberta.  He specializes in History and Philosophy of Science (especially Physics), Kant, and History of Aesthetics.

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