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Reflecting on Reflection

Reflecting on Reflection

(p.199) 11 Reflecting on Reflection
Aesthetics at Large
Thierry de Duve
University of Chicago Press

The book’s last chapter reinterprets Kant’s distinction between a determining and a reflecting judgment in modern, cybernetic terms: a reflecting judgment is a feedback loop of the mind. It further argues that Kant’s perforce ignorance of the concept of feedback led him to place the “as if” of reflection in the human mind rather than in nature, the way modern scientists routinely do when they say, for example, that it is as if natural selection had chosen this or that biological solution to a species’s survival. More radically, this last chapter argues that the discovery of the concept of feedback has made the Critique of Teleological Judgment obsolete. The fact that living nature apparently orients itself according to goals has been explained, and explained away, by cybernetics and neo-Darwinism. But far from disqualifying the Critique of Aesthetic Judgment, this leaves the realm of art alone to bear the weight of having to answer Kant’s third fundamental question, “What are we allowed to hope?”

Keywords:   abduction, Critique of teleological judgment, cybernetics, determining judgment, feedback, neo-Darwinism, reflecting judgment, strange loop, Norbert Wiener, Douglas Hofstadter

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