Thursday, May 28, 2009

Intersection of Judgment and freedom in Kant's intro to Critique of Judgment

According to Kant, Judgment can provide the bridge between the pure will and pure sense of freedom, on the one hand, and the world of nature on the other. It can do this because the Judgment connects our rules of thumb about the world to both experiences received from the world, and experiences we desire to create in the world.

I can either act through just wanting to act, or I can act based on a more philosophical understanding of life. I can act, or I can reflectively think about what I'm trying to do on a more basic level, how it fits into the picture, what the picture is. All of this constitutes the application of the faculty of Judgment to issues of free action.

I'm thinking of how to navigate through my life, what my big goals are. In thinking about them I rely on the sort of rules of thumb or collected wisdom about the world that I've received or generated myself, and my thought goes two ways: first, how my action fits into the big picture, and secondly, how the big picture could manifest in particular ways. I make a judgment about my desire, I also make a judgment about an external situation and how the structure of it is set up.

The judgment connects the particular with the perceived universal. I say perceived because it likely isn't a true universal, but rather our rule of thumb. In the case of the self, the particular is the particular desire, decision, or will. In the case of the external world, the particular is the particular situation or fact that we're examining.

So, in other words, using your faculty of judgment, integrating your thinking about yourself with more general philosophical thinking about the world, can indeed increase your potential freedom, because applied philosophical thinking gives you more tools to direct your life with than you would otherwise have.

*on edit: Kant seems to be establishing several layers of action, that are reminiscent of Kierkegaard's thought on the subject. First, the basic moral sense derived from practical experience about what happens if I do something to you or if you do something to me, Second, the moral sense derived from philosophical judgment, which considers morality and the exercise of free will in a much broader context.

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