XI KANT KONGRESS, XI Congresso Kantiano Internazionale

Teleology and Its Risks for Reason: A Closer Look at the Antinomy of Teleological Judgment

Dilek Huseyinzadegan

Edificio: Palazzo dei Congressi
Sala: sala B
Data: 24 maggio 2010 - 14:30
Ultima modifica: 13 aprile 2010


The question of how to interpret the Antinomy of Teleological Judgment in the Critique of Judgment as an antinomy has been a point of debate among scholars. Many commentators assume that there really is not an antinomy here, since teleological judgment is reflective and heteronymous; not having its own laws a priori, it cannot have a conflict of laws or principles. While this is in some obvious sense true, as the reader knows that teleological judgment is reflective even prior to the antinomy, this interpretation does not help us to understand why Kant claims in the First Introduction that teleological judgment requires critique more than aesthetic judgment. In order to explain this claim, I closely examine the resolution to this antinomy and argue that there is a serious risk involved in teleological judging. For if the antinomy of teleological judgment is easily resolved in §71, the remaining sections of the Dialectic of Teleological Judgment where Kant references an intuitive intellect in opposition to the finite intellect seems out of place.

In this paper, I locate the real risk involved in teleological judgment in the tendency of our reason to posit the existence of God and make it the necessary ground of all purposiveness. Once we take God as a necessarily existing being, I argue, that we lose the very distinction on which critical inquiry depends: the distinction between necessity and contingency. Organized beings, regarded both as contingent (according to physical-mechanical laws) and necessary (according to a concept of final ends), show us that our understanding makes a distinction between contingency and necessity and this is the reason why we need to use the rational concept of purposiveness as a subjective, regulative principle in inquiry, not as an objectively valid one. Because such a distinction exists for our understanding, and because we can conceive an understanding wholly different than ours, for which there is no contingency, we come to regard our understanding as a contingent one, which, due to its discursive nature, has to make use of regulative principles.

The questions I would like to pursue are the following: Is it because teleological judgments invite reason to infer the existence of a necessary being (thus claiming that the idea of God is constitutive) that they need to be critiqued, as Kant explains, more than aesthetic judgments which risk only being conflated with sensory pleasure? And is this the reason why, even though the antinomy of teleological judgment is described by Kant as a semblance of an antinomy, it requires a detailed discussion of the conflicts of reason involved? And finally, is the reason why it is not included in the list of antinomies in Remark II of §57 that this antinomy makes a claim in the end that seems to envelop all other antinomies, which continue to lead reason into illusions even after the critique?

It is hoped that my interpretation in the end will remind us of the importance of maintaining a distinction between necessity and contingency, and the importance of the regulative ideas and principles in Kant’s critical philosophy as a whole for our quest for the systematicity of knowledge.