XI KANT KONGRESS, XI Congresso Kantiano Internazionale

What is Orientation _Not_ in Thinking? Aesthetics, Epistemology, and the "Kantian Circle"

Joseph John Tinguely

Edificio: Palazzo dei Congressi
Sala: sala Verri
Data: 23 maggio 2010 - 14:30
Ultima modifica: 13 aprile 2010


In this presentation I take a close look at Kant’s notion of “orientation” as it arises in a minor essay of 1786 in order to show how this relatively obscure moment forces us to reconsider the central division between epistemology and aesthetics. What makes Kant’s notion orientation difficult to place in a critical system that separates conceptually grounded cognition from the affective nature of aesthetics is that orientations turn out to be claims to knowledge which can not be had without an irreducible aesthetic or “felt” discrimination. So what is philosophically at issue in examining Kant’s notion of orientation is the question of whether there are indeed some features of objects or states of affairs which are not properly recognized prior to or independently of feeling a certain way about them. In other words, are our feelings epistemologically relevant? The official Kantian answer is, of course, a resounding “no”. By reconstructing the logic of “orientation” as deployed in the 1786 essay I show where the attempt to separate cognition from feelings leads into a vicious “Kantian Circle”. This logical circularity anticipates similar problems in the third critique’s explanation of beauty and life. I end by returning to the notion of “orientation” in order to suggest a way out of this “Kantian Circle”.