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Idealistic Studies

Volume 48, Issue 1, Spring 2018

Andrew Cooper
Pages 25-46

Systematicity in Kant’s Third Critique

Kant’s Critique of the Power of Judgment is often interpreted in light of its initial reception. Conventionally, this reception is examined in the work of Fichte, Schelling and Hegel, who found in Kant’s third Critique a new task for philosophy: the construction of an absolute, self-grounding system. This paper identifies an alternative line of reception in the work of physiologists and medical practitioners during the 1790s and early 1800s, including Kielmeyer, Reil, Girtanner and Oken. It argues that these naturalists called on Kant’s third Critique to solidify an experimental natural history that classifies organic form within a system of laws. Kant held both kinds of system in tension, which is why the third Critique remains a singular and provocative text.

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