By Dieter Henrich

A suite of 4 essays on aesthetic, moral, and political matters by way of Dieter Henrich, the preeminent Kant pupil in Germany this day.

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By now he found himself in the position to justify this claim. This doesn't amount to saying that Kant's earlier aesthetics remained entirely unc11anged. Yet the change consisted less in additions to the theorems and innovations within the terminology than in a greater precision in their employment. Previousl)', Kant's reference to a harmonious play of our cognitive faculties had been somewhat vague and flexible. The paradigmatic case of an object that occasions this heightened and harmonious activity had been for Kant the work of art, which indeed engages perception, imagination, judgment, and thoughtful reflection at the same time.

The situation has begun to look very much like a dilemma. One of its horns prevents any recourse to the relationship between imagination and a priori concepts (the categories). The other horn exposes us to the threat that any recourse to the only alternative, the formation of empirical concepts, is also condemned to failure. But although a model that projects the play of the powers upon the employment of the categories has been definitely excluded, we might still find a solution by using in a more sophisticated way a Kantian view of the formation of empirical concepts.

In a lecture transcript from the winter of 1794/95, one finds a fairly detailed description. Kant attributes here to the power of understanding the function of curbing the imagina- Explanation of Aesthetic Judgment 53 tion in a certain sense. In its free pIa)', imagination tends to become extravagant. If that happens, understanding calls it to order. Only 'thus is the harmonious play secured. I suggest that we take this as a somewhat misguided description of the play itself. It confuses a quite imaginable secondary component of the play with its overall constitution.

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