Hegel’s Lectures on the History of Philosophy

Section Three: Recent German Philosophy
B. Kant.
Critique of the Faculty of Judgment

3. There is still left for us to consider the third side in Kant’s philosophy, the Critique of the Faculty of Judgment, in which the demand for the concrete comes in, the demand that the Idea of unity spoken of before should be established not as a Beyond, but as present; and this side is of special importance. Kant says that the understanding no doubt regulates in the theoretic sphere and produces categories; but these remain mere general determinations, beyond which lies the particular (the other element which belongs to every item of knowledge). The two are distinguished from one another for the understanding; for its distinctions remain in universality. In the practical sphere Reason is certainly the implicit, but its free independence, its law-giving freedom in higher form, is opposed to Nature in its freedom or to Nature’s own laws. “In the theoretic sphere Reason can draw conclusions from given laws through syllogisms, only by means of the understanding, and these conclusions never got beyond Nature; it is only in the practical sphere that Reason itself gives laws. Understanding and” (practical) “Reason have two different regulative systems on one and the same ground of experience, without the one being detrimental to the other. For if the Notion of Nature has but little influence on the giving of laws by the Notion of Freedom, just as little does the latter interfere with the legislation of Nature. The possibility of the existence side by side of the two regulative systems and of the powers belonging to them was proved in the Critique of pure Reason.” (!?) “Now if a unity is not constituted by these two different spheres, which certainly do not put a limit on each other in their regulative action, but do so incessantly in their operations in the sensuous world” (i.e. where they encounter each other), “the reason is this, that the Notion of Nature represents its objects in perception, not as things in themselves, but as mere phenomena, while the Notion of Freedom, on the other hand, represents in its object a thing in itself, no doubt, but not in perception. Consequently neither of them can attain to a theoretic knowledge of its object (and even of the thinking subject) as a thing-in-itself, which last would be the supersensuous, an unlimited and inaccessible realm for our whole faculty of knowledge. Now truly there is fixed a gulf over which the eye cannot reach, between the realm of the Notion of Nature, as the sensuous, and the realm of the Notion of Freedom, as the supersensuous, so that it is not possible to pass from the one to the other, since it is just as if there were two different worlds, the first of which could have no influence on the second. Nevertheless the latter is conceived as having an influence on the former, or, in other words, freedom is conceived as having for its mission the realization in the sensuous world of the end indicated by the laws of freedom. Consequently Nature must be so conceived that, while in form it realizes its own laws, there may yet be a possibility of ends being realized in it according to the laws of freedom. Therefore there must surely be some ground for the unity of the supersensuous which lies at the foundation of Nature with that which the Notion of Freedom practically contains, the Notion of which ground of unity, although it attains neither theoretically nor practically to a knowledge of the same, and consequently has no peculiar province, yet makes possible the transition from the mode of thought in accordance with the principles of the one, to the mode of thought in accordance with the principles of the other. Between Understanding and Reason there now comes the Faculty of Judgment, as between the powers of knowledge and desire there come pleasure and its opposite; in this faculty must therefore lie the transition from the province of the Notions of Nature to the province of the Notion of Freedom.”(36)

Adaptation to ends has its place here, i.e. a particular reality, which is determined only through the universal, the end. The understanding is the ground of this unity of the manifold; the sensuous is therefore here determined by means of the supersensuous. This idea of a universal which implicitly contains the particular is according to Kant the precise object of the faculty of judgment, which he divides as follows: — "If the universal (the rule, principle, law) is given, the faculty of judgment which subsumes the particular under that universal, is determinative," — the immediate faculty of judgment. But here there is also a particular which is not determined by species. “If, however, only the particular is given, for which the faculty of judgment has to find the universal, it is reflective.” The reflective judgment has as its principle the unity of particularity and the abstract universal of the understanding, the idea of a legal necessity which is at the same time free, or of a freedom which is directly one with its content. “This principle can be no other but the fact that since universal laws of Nature have their foundation in our understanding, which prescribes them to nature, although only according to their general conception, the particular, empirical laws, in so far as they are undetermined by universal laws, must be viewed as containing that unity which they would contain if they had been given by some intelligence — other, it may be, than our own — with express reference to our cognitive faculties, in order to render possible a system of experience according to particular natural laws. It is not as if such an intelligence must be assumed (for it is only the reflective faculty of judgment to which this idea serves as principle): this faculty gives a law only to itself, not to Nature in addition. Now the conception of an object (if it at the same time contains the ground of the reality of this object), the end, and the harmony of a thing with that quality of things which is only possible in conformity with ends, are termed the adaptation to purpose of the form; therefore the principle of the faculty of judgment in respect to the form of the things of Nature under empirical laws in general is the adaptability to purpose of Nature in its multiplicity. That is to say, Nature is represented by this Notion as if an intelligence contained the ground of the unity in multiplicity of Nature’s empirical laws.”(37)

Aristotle already regarded Nature as in itself showing this adaptation to end, and as having in itself, intelligence, the Universal, so that in undivided unity one element is moment of another (v. Vol. II. pp. 156-162). Purpose is the Notion, and immanent; not external form and abstraction as distinguished from a fundamental material, but penetrating, so that all that is particular is determined by this universal itself. According to Kant this is Understanding: no doubt the laws of the Understanding, which it implicitly has in knowledge, leave the objective still undetermined; but because this manifold itself must have a connection in itself, which is yet contingent for human intelligence, “the faculty of judgment must assume as a principle for its own use that what is contingent for us contains a unity which for us indeed is not knowable but yet thinkable in the connection of the manifold with an implicitly possible experience.”(38) This principle hereby at once falls back again into the subjectivity of a thought, and is only a maxim of our reflection, by which nothing is to be expressed regarding the objective nature of the object,(39) because Being-in-itself is once for all fixed outside of self-consciousness, and the Understanding is conceived only in the form of the self-conscious, not in its becoming another.

Now this principle of the reflective faculty of judgment is in itself a twofold adaptation to end, the formal and the material; the faculty of judgment is thus either æsthetic or teleological: of these the former has to do with subjective, the latter with objective, logical adaptation to end. There are thus two objects of the faculty of judgment — the beautiful in works of art and the natural products of organic life — which make known to us the unity of the Notion, of Nature and the Notion of Freedom.(40) The consideration of these works involves the fact, that we see a unity of the Understanding and the particular. But as this consideration is only a subjective manner of representing such products, and does not contain the truth of the same, such things are regarded only according to this unity, and they are not in themselves of this nature; what they are in themselves lies beyond.

a. The Beautiful of the æsthetic faculty of judgment consists in the following: “Pleasure and displeasure are something subjective, which can in no way become a part of knowledge. The object has adaptation to end only to the extent that its conception is directly bound up with the feeling of pleasure; and this is an æsthetic conception. The taking up of forms into the imaginative faculty can never occur without the reflecting faculty of judgment at least comparing them, even unintentionally, by means of its power of relating perceptions to Notions. Now if in this comparison the imaginative faculty (as a faculty of perceptions a priori?) "is, by means of a conception given" — something beautiful, — "unintentionally placed in agreement with the Understanding, as the faculty of Notions, and thereby a feeling of pleasure is awakened, the object must then be looked on as in conformity with end for the reflecting faculty of judgment. Such a judgment regarding the adaptability to end of the object, a judgment which is grounded on no previous Notion of the object, and furnishes no Notion of it, is an æsthetic judgment. An object whose form (not the material of its conception as sensation) is judged to be a cause of the pleasure which springs from the conception of such an object, is beautiful," — the first reasonable thing said about beauty. The sensuous is one moment of the Beautiful, but it must also express the spiritual, a Notion. “The Beautiful is what is conceived without” subjective “interest,” but similarly, also “without Notions” (i.e. determinations of reflection, laws) “as object of a universal pleasure. It is related to no inclination, therefore the subject feels itself quite free therein. It is not beautiful for me. The end is the object of a Notion, so far as the latter is looked on as the cause of the former” (the object); “and the causality of a Notion in respect to its object is adaptation to end.” To the ideal belongs the Idea of reason, which makes the aims of humanity, as far as they cannot be sensuously conceived, the principle of judgment of a form through which these aims reveal themselves as their effect in the phenomenon. The ideal we may expect to find revealed only in human form.”

The sublime is the effort to give sensuous expression to an Idea in which the inconceivability of the Idea, and the impossibility of finding an adequate expression of it by means of the sensuous, are clearly evidenced.(41) Here in the æsthetic faculty of judgment we see the immediate unity of the universal and the particular; for the Beautiful is this very unity, without Notion and immediate. Because Kant, however, places it in the subject, it is limited, and as æsthetic it also ranks lower, inasmuch as it is not the unity as Notion.

b. The other manner of bringing harmony to pass is the teleological way of regarding Nature, which is found in the objective and material adaptation to end. Here the immediate unity of the Notion and reality is looked upon as objective in the organic products of Nature — this being the purpose of Nature, containing in its universality the particular, in its particularity the species. But such a mode of consideration must be practised not externally, but in conformity with internal teleology. In external adaptation to end one thing has its end in another: “Snow protects the sown crops in cold lands from frost, and facilitates the intercourse of men by permitting of sleighing.”(42) Internal adaptation to end signifies, on the contrary, that a thing is in itself end and means, its end is not therefore beyond itself. In the contemplation of the living creature we do not remain at the point of having something sensuous before us, which according to the categories of the Understanding is only brought into relation to something other than itself; for we regard it as cause of itself, as producing itself. This is the self-preservation of the living creature; as an individual it is no doubt perishable, but in living it produces itself, although for that purpose certain conditions are requisite. The end or purpose of Nature is therefore to be sought for in matter, to the extent that matter is an inwardly organized product of nature, “in which all is end, and all in turn is means;”(43) because all the members of the organism are at the same time means and end, it is an end in itself. That is the Aristotelian Notion--the infinite that returns into itself, the Idea.

Kant at this point calls to mind the following: “We should find no difference between natural mechanism and the technique of Nature, i.e. the connection of ends in the same, were our Understanding not of such a kind that it must pass from the universal to the particular, and the faculty of judgment can therefore pronounce no determining sentences, without having a universal law under which it may subsume the particular. Now the particular as such contains a contingent element in regard to the universal, but nevertheless Reason also demands unity in the connection of particular laws of Nature, and consequently a regulative character, which character when found in the contingent is termed adaptation to end: and the derivation of particular laws from universal is, in regard to the element of contingency which those particular laws contain, a priori impossible through the determination of the Notion of the object; the Notion of the adaptation to end of Nature in its products becomes thus a Notion necessary for the human faculty of judgment, but not affecting the determination of the objects themselves, and therefore a subjective principle.”(44) An organic Being is therefore, according to Kant (Kritik der Urtheilskraft, p. 354) one in which natural mechanism and end are identical. We regard it as if there dwelt in the sensuous a Notion which brings the particular into conformity with itself. In the organic products of Nature we perceive this immediate unity of the Notion and reality; for in a living creature there is perceived in one unity the soul, or the universal, and existence or particularity, which is not the case with inorganic Nature. Thus there enters into the Kantian philosophy the conception of the concrete, as that the universal Notion determines the particular. But Kant took these Ideas again in a subjective sense only, as guiding thoughts for the faculty of judgment, by which no Being-in-itself can be expressed; and thus, although he expresses the unity of the Notion and reality, he yet lays fresh emphasis on the side of the Notion. He will not therefore throw off his limitations in the moment in which he assumes them as limitations. This is the perpetual contradiction in Kant’s philosophy: Kant exhibited the extremes of opposition in their one-sidedness, and expressed also the reconciliation of the contradiction; Reason postulates unity, and this we have also in the faculty of judgment. Kant however, says (Kritik der Urtheilskraft, pp. 355-363): This is only a mode of our reflecting faculty of judgment, life itself is not so; we are merely accustomed so to regard it. In art it is thus certainly the sensuous mode which gives us the conception of the Idea; reality and ideality are here directly in one. But at this point also Kant says that we must remain at what is one-sided, at the very moment when he is passing out beyond it. The wealth of thought therefore still unfolds itself with Kant in subjective form alone; all fulness, all content, concentrates in conceiving, thinking, postulating. The objective, according to Kant, is only what is in itself; and we know not what Things-in-themselves are. But Being-in-itself is only the caput mortuum, the dead abstraction of the “other,” the empty, undetermined Beyond.

The reason why that true Idea should not be the truth is therefore that the empty abstractions of an understanding which keeps itself in the abstract universal, and of a sensuous material of individuality standing in opposition to the same, are presupposed as the truth. Kant no doubt expressly advances to the conception of an intuitive or perceiving understanding, which, while it gives universal laws, at the same time determines the particular; and the determination thus given is deep; it is the true concrete, reality determined by the indwelling Notion, or, as Spinoza says, the adequate Idea. For “to knowledge there also belongs intuitive perception, and the possession of a perfect spontaneity of intuition would be a faculty of knowledge” specifically “distinct from the sensuous, and quite independent thereof, and therefore it would be understanding in the most universal sense. Consequently it is possible to think of an intuitive understanding which does not pass from the universal to the particular, and thus proceed through conceptions to the individual — an understanding in which we do not meet with the contingency of the harmony of Nature in her products, according to particular laws, with the understanding, a contingency which makes it so hard for our understanding to bring” together “into the unity of knowledge the manifold of Nature.” But that this “intellectus archetypus” is the true Idea of the understanding, is a thought which does not strike Kant. Strange to say, he certainly has this idea of the intuitive; and he does not know why it should have no truth — except because our understanding is otherwise constituted, namely such “that it proceeds from the analytic universal to the particular.”(45) But absolute Reason and Understanding in itself, as we have already seen (pp. 432, 461), are, in Kant’s view, of such a nature that they have no reality in themselves: the Understanding requires material to work upon, theoretic Reason spins cobwebs of the brain, practical Reason has to allow its reality to come to an end with its postulates. In spite of their directly and definitely expressed non-absoluteness, they are yet looked on as true knowledge; and intuitive Understanding, which holds Notion and sensuous perception in one unity, is looked on as a mere thought which we make for ourselves.

c. The highest form in which the conception of the concrete comes into Kant’s philosophy is this, that the end is grasped in its entire universality; and thus it is the Good. This Good is an Idea; it is my thought; but there exists the absolute demand. that it should be realized also in the world, that the necessity of Nature should correspond with the laws of freedom, not as the necessity of an external Nature, but through what is right and moral in human life, through life in the State, — or in other words that the world in general should be good. This identity of the Good and reality is the demand of practical Reason; but subjective Reason cannot realize this. In every good action a man no doubt accomplishes something good, but this is only limited; universal Good, as the final object of the world, can be attained to only through a third. And this power over the world, which has as its final object the Good in the world, is God.(46) Thus the Critique of the Faculty of Judgment also ends with the postulate of God. Now, although the particular laws of Nature, as independent individual relations, have no relation to the Good, Reason consists in having and desiring unity as the essential or substantial in itself. The opposition of these two, the Good and the world, is contrary to that identity; Reason must therefore demand that this contradiction should be abrogated, that there should be a power which is good on its own account, and is a Power over Nature. This is the position which God assumes in Kant’s philosophy: no proof is possible, he says, of God’s existence, but the demand is there. The deficiency here is the impossibility of proving God’s existence, and it consists in this, that if we admit Kant’s dualism, it cannot be shown how the Good as abstract Idea in itself is the abrogating of its Idea as abstract; and how the world in itself is the abrogating of itself in its externality, and in its diversity from the Good — this being done in order that both may reveal themselves to be their truth, which in respect to them appears as the Third, but is at the same time determined as the First. Thus, therefore, according to Kant (Kritik der Urtheilskraft, pp. 460, 461), God can only be believed in. We associate the faith of Jacobi with this; for in this point Kant agrees with Jacobi.(47)

If now, in accordance with this standpoint of Kant and Jacobi, God is believed in, and we admit this standpoint for an instant, there is certainly a return to the Absolute. But the question remains: What is God? To define Him as supersensuous is not much, nor is it more to say He is universal, abstract, absolute. What then is His determination? Were we here, however, to pass over to determinations of the Absolute, the evil result would follow, as far as this standpoint is concerned, that we should pass over to knowledge; for this signifies knowledge of an object which is in itself concrete, i.e. determined. But here the farthest point reached is the general statement that God exists with the determination of being infinite, universal, indeterminate. God cannot be known in this way; for in order to be known He must as concrete possess at least two determinations. In this way mediation would be established, for a knowledge of the concrete is at once a mediate knowledge. But this standpoint lacks mediation, and thus remains at the immediate. Paul, in speaking to the Athenians, appeals to the altar which they had dedicated to the Unknown God, and declares to them what God is; but the standpoint indicated here takes us back to the Unknown God. All the life of Nature, as of Spirit, is mediation in itself; and to this mediation the philosophy of Schelling now passed on.

If we sum up the Kantian philosophy, we find on all hands the Idea of Thought, which is in itself the absolute Notion, and has in itself difference, reality. In the theoretic and practical Reason it has only abstract difference, but in the Faculty of Judgment, as the unity of the two, Kant goes so far as to establish the difference as actual, establishing not only particularity, but also individuality. But, to be sure, this Philistine conception proceeds from our human faculty of knowledge, which is valid for him in its empirical form, notwithstanding his statement that it does not know the truth, and his further description of the true idea of the same as being merely a thought which we possess. Therefore actuality counts as something sensuous, empirical, for the comprehension of which Kant takes the categories of the Understanding, giving them the same validity as they have in everyday life. This is a complete philosophy of the Understanding, which renounces Reason: the reason why it became so popular was the negative one, that men were once for all free from the old metaphysic. According to Kant something sensuous is produced, having thought-determinations, which, however, is not the thing, for if a man, for instance, feels something hard, Kant says: “I feel hardness, but I do not feel Something.” Kant’s philosophy thus ends with a dualism, with the relation which is a plainly essential “ought,” with the unreconciled contradiction. It is otherwise with Jacobi’s faith; he finds the conception of God as immediate existence, and all mediation is untrue for him. With Kant, therefore, the result is: “We know only phenomena;” with Jacobi, on the other hand, it is: “We know only the finite and conditioned.” Over these two results there has been unmingled joy among men, because the sloth of Reason (Heaven be praised!) considered itself liberated from every call to reflect, and now, being saved the trouble of penetrating to its own inward meaning and exploring the depths of Nature and Spirit, it could very well leave itself alone. The further result attending this is the autocracy of the subjective Reason, which, seeing that it is abstract and without knowledge, has only subjective certainty and not objective truth. The second cause of rejoicing was the concession to freedom of a perfect right, which I can neither understand nor justify, and need not do so; my subjective liberty of conviction and certainty holds good all round. The third cause of joy was added by Jacobi, who said that it amounted even to a crime to seek to know the truth, because the infinite was thereby only rendered finite. Truth is in a bad way, when all metaphysic is done away with, and the only philosophy acknowledged is not a philosophy at all!

But besides the general idea of synthetic judgments a priori, a universal which has difference in itself, Kant’s instinct carried this out in accordance with the scheme of triplicity, unspiritual though that was, in the whole system into which for him the entire universe was divided. This he not only practised in the three critiques, but he also followed it out in most of the sub-divisions under the categories, the ideas of Reason, &c. Kant has therefore set forth as a universal scheme the rhythm of knowledge, of scientific movement; and has exhibited on all sides thesis, antithesis and synthesis, modes of the mind by means of which it is mind, as thus consciously distinguishing itself. The first is existence, but in the form of Other-Being for consciousness; for what is only existence is object. The second is Being-for-self, genuine actuality; here the reverse relation enters in, for self-consciousness, as the negative of Being-in-itself, is itself reality. The third is the unity of the two; the absolute, self-conscious actuality is the sum of true actuality, into which are re-absorbed both the objective and the independently existent subjective.

Kant has thus made an historical statement of the moments of the whole, and has correctly determined and distinguished them: it is a good introduction to Philosophy. The defect of Kant’s philosophy consists in the falling asunder of the moments of the absolute form; or, regarded from the other side, our understanding, our knowledge, forms an antithesis to Being-in-itself: there is lacking the negative, the abrogation of the “ought,” which is not laid hold of. But thought and thinking had become once for all an absolute requisite that could no longer be set aside. It was consequently in the first place demanded by consistency that particular thoughts should appear as if produced of necessity from the original unity of the ego, and in that way justified. But, in the second place, thought had spread itself over the world, had attached itself to everything, investigated everything, introduced its forms into everything, and systematized everything, so that on every hand thought-determinations had to be followed, instead of any mere feeling or routine or practical common-sense, or what is evidenced in the extraordinary lack of understanding on the part of so-called practical men. And therefore in theology, in governments and their legislation, in the object aimed at by the state, in trades and in mechanics, it is said that men ought to act according to universal determinations, i.e. rationally: and men even talk of a rational brewery, a rational brick-kiln, etc. This is the requisite of concrete thought; while in the Kantian result, which is that of phenomenon, an empty thought was alone present. It is verily also the essence of revealed religion to know what God is. There was, therefore, to be found a yearning desire for content, for truth, since man could not possibly return to the condition of a brute, nor yet sink to the form of sensation, so that this yearning was for him the only thing that held good with regard to the higher life. The first requirement — consistency — Fichte sought to satisfy; the other — content — Schelling strove to fulfil.

Critique of Pure Reason - Critique of Practical Reason - Critique of Practical Judgment - Contents

36. Kant: Kritik der Urtheilskraft (third edition, Berlin, 1799), Einleitung, pp. xvii-xx. xxiv., xxv.
37. Kant: Kritik der Urtheilskraft, Introduction, pp. xxv-xxviii.
38. Kant: Kritik der Urtheilskraft, Einleitung, pp. xxvi-xxxiii.
39. Ibidem, p. xxxiv.
40. Ibidem, pp. xlviii.-lii.
41. Kant: Kritik der Urtheilskraft, pp. xliii.-xlv., 16-19, 32, 56, 59, 77.
42. Ibidem, pp. 279-283.
43. Kant: Kritik der Urtheilskraft, pp. 286-288, 292-296.
44. Ibidem, pp. 343, 344.
45. Kant: Kritik der Urtheilskraft. pp. 347, 348 (351).
46. Kant: Kritik der Urtheilskraft, pp. 423, 424.
47. What falls under this heading in Jacobi’s philosophy is inserted here in the lectures of 1825-1826.

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