Critique or Paralipomena?

“Kant … could not simply have put these two topics together casually. That Kant might act in a manner undeliberate in anything should strike those familiar with him as a man or thinker as suspect from the outset. All the more so in one of his major enterprises. Some effort to grasp the work as a whole is therefore essential.”

John Zamito-Genesis of Kant’s Critique of Judgment

The Critique of Judgment holds an unfortunate place in the contemporary view of the history of philosophy. Most readers of Kant today appreciate the important influence of the first part, The Critique of Aesthetical Judgment, and ignore the rest of the book. They refer to the Critique of Judgment as merely Kant’s theory of aesthetics. Others, looking at the whole, are confused or bored by the Critique of Teleological Judgment and assume that Kant was collecting together some ideas that he couldn’t find a place for anywhere else, calling it a patchwork.

But it should be clear from what we have read so far that Kant isn’t a patchwork kind of thinker. He was meticulous and systematic. Clearly Kant thought there was something important here as he called the work a Critique, the name he reserved for his most meticulous and systematic writings (and not, for example Parerga and Paralipomena, which is a wonderful Kant-inspired work, but an altogether different kind of construction).

We could easily spend all our time thinking about Kant’s aesthetic ideas, but as we are reading all three critiques we have the unique opportunity to think about Kant the way he would have wanted us to — viewing all three critiques as part of one systematic philosophy, with the Critique of Judgment as the final and ultimate expression of that system.

What to read:

To get the full effect of the Critique of Judgment in all its strangeness it is best to read the entire thing. More realistically we can limit ourselves to the selections found in the Modern Library Classics’ Basic Writings of Kant.

If you don’t have that edition the selections include:

Introduction (Sections I, III, IV, V, VI, IX)
First Part: Critique of Aesthetic Judgment (Sections 1-7, 10-12, 23, 55-57)
Second Part: Critique of Teleological Judgment (Sections 61, 64-67, 69-71, 64-67, 69-71, 74, 80-84, 91)

Recommended translations:

Critique of Judgment, trans. Werner Pluhar, Indianapolis: Hackett, 1987.

Critique of the Power of Judgment (The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Immanuel Kant), ed. Paul Guyer, trans. Paul Guyer and Eric Matthews, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

Free online translations:
J. H. Bernard translation (1914)

James Creed Meredith translation (1911)

Auf Deutsch:
Akademieausgabe Text:

Projekt Gutenberug-DE:

Other related works by Kant

While Kant’s most systematic and mature discussion of teleology is in the Critique of Judgment, there is also extensive discussion of the topic in the Only Possible Argument for the Existence of God (1763), included in Theoretical Philosophy 1755–1770 (The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Immanuel Kant), translated and edited by David Walford and Ralf Meerbote (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992). Kant also discusses teleology in two essays about race, “Determination of the Concept of a Human Race” (1785) and “On the Use of Teleological Principles in Philosophy” (1788); both are included in Anthropology, History, and Education (The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Immanuel Kant), edited by Gunter Zöller and Robert B. Louden.

Secondary works

Frederick C. Beiser –The Fate of Reason:German Philosophy from Kant to Fichte, Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 1993.

Paul Guyer, P., (ed.) Kant’s Critique of the Power of Judgment: critical essays, Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield. 2003

Paul Guyer, P., “Kant’s Principles of Reflecting Judgment,” in Guyer, Kant’s Critique of the Power of Judgment: critical essays(2003).

Jonathan I. Isreal, Democratic Enlightenment: Philosophy, Religion, and Human Rights 1750-1790, Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2013.

John H. Zammito, The Genesis of Kant’s Critique of Judgment, Chicago: Chicago University Press. 1992.

Kant’s Technical Terms

Howard Caygill-A Kant Dictionary

Andrew N.-Kant Glossary

Stephen Palmquist-A Glossary of Kant’s Technical Terms

Internet Resources:


~ by severalfourmany on February 24, 2016.

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