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The Genesis of Kant′s Critique of Judgment


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John H. Zammito is the John Antony Weir Professor of History at Rice University. He is the author, most recently, of Kant, Herder, and the Birth of Anthropology and of The Genesis of Kant's Critique of Judgment, both published by the University of Chicago Press.


In the Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Macmillan, 1967), W.H. Walsh called Immanuel Kant's Critique of Judgment a ``collection of appendices or addenda.'' Zammito (history, Rice Univ.) overturns this verdict and presents Kant's book as a major source of insight into the crises and fragmentation of modern thought. Aesthetics was at loose ends when Kant began, and the path from the idea of beauty to a philosophical system proved difficult. Kant claims that the sense of beauty grows through free use of imagination combined with a search for intelligibility. When reason is combined with imagination, the idea of the sublime is reached, but it refers to ``a state of mind or, rather, its foundation in human nature.'' This foundation explains Kant's belief that universal principles exist through which art, religion, morality, and science can be reunited. Zammito traces Kant's struggle with enlightenment rationality and the romantic insistence on creativity and genius that paved the way for German idealism. More logical analysis would help, but the story is clear enough for the ordinary reader to follow.-- Leslie Armour, Univ. of Ottawa

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