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A Transcendental Chicken-and-Egg Dilemma

A Transcendental Chicken-and-Egg Dilemma

(p.179) 10 A Transcendental Chicken-and-Egg Dilemma
Aesthetics at Large
Thierry de Duve
University of Chicago Press

This chapter revisits section 9 for a close reading and an attempt to go through the unresolved issues it raises, which are all the more important that its opening sentence states, “the solution of [the] problem [of whether the pleasure precedes the judgment or the judgment is the pleasure] is the key to the critique of taste.” This transcendental “chicken-and-egg” dilemma undergoes several formulations—as the pleasure taken in the free play of imagination and understanding preceding the pleasure taken in the object, or as the “universality of the subjective conditions of the judging” preceding the “universal subjective validity of satisfaction”—but never yields the proper transcendental solution. Particular attention is given the “state of mind” (Gemütszustand), which Kant says accompanies all acts of intellection but is itself in the nature of a feeling rather than of cognition. The interpretive hypothesis that guides the close reading of section 9—or indeed the reading of the whole third Critique—is that the task of bridging nature and freedom is bestowed on a curious amphiboly of the concept of duty that subreptitiously calls on practical reason from within the free play of imagination and understanding. Remarks on the transcendental subject as supersensible substratum conclude the chapter.

Keywords:   analytic, dialectic, free play imagination/understanding, judgment, pleasure, sensus communis, state of mind (Gemütszustand), supersensible substratum, transcendental subject

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