Presentation Title

The Aesthetics of Finitude in Kant and Kierkegaard

Presenter Information

Peter JohnsonFollow

Faculty Mentor

Professor Bryan Klausmeyer

Start Date

18-11-2017 11:00 AM

End Date

18-11-2017 11:15 AM

Location

15-1828

Session

Humanities 2

Type of Presentation

Oral Talk

Subject Area

humanities_letters

Abstract

This paper argues for a reconsideration of the points of contact between the philosopher, theologian, and literary critic Søren Kierkegaard and philosopher Immanuel Kant. In it, I reappraise the role of aesthetics in Kierkegaard's work, in particular, his book Repetition, and show how Kierkegaard's foregrounding of temporality and human experience draw on and radicalize Kant's theory of reflective aesthetic judgment in the Critique of the Power of Judgment (1790). By comparing Kierkegaard's concept of repetition with Kant's concept of aesthetic ideas, specifically his account of beauty as a “symbol of morality” in §59, I argue that both Kant and Kierkegaard develop an aesthetics of finitude. This project will further argue that Kierkegaard radicalizes the Kantian project of reconciling moral freedom with the causality of nature in finite experience, bringing it to the forefront of his work not just conceptually as Kant did, but dynamically in his own authorship through his use of “indirect communication.” In sum, I show that the concept of repetition developed by Kierkegaard operates as a theory of representation, picking up the questions Kant raised in the third Critique and pushing them to the limits in order to understand finitude and its experience by way of the fundamental contradictions in representation.

Summary of research results to be presented

Kierkegaard’s continuation pushes the Kantian project to its limits, particularly in regards to his aesthetics, which emerges out of the utmost importance the notion of the self plays in both thinkers writings. This project has detailed a resonance in Kierkegaard’s conception of the aesthetic, particularly by way of his category of repetition found in the aptly titled Repetition: A Venture in Experimenting Psychology, with the notions of aesthetic ideas, and beauty as symbol in Kant’s Critique of the Power of Judgment. Repetition establishes a more psychological understanding of the self, which is one result of the inaugural project Kant set out to resolve in exploring the limits of reason and human knowledge a priori. Aesthetics is thus in no way an ancillary discipline for Kierkegaard and Kant: it is not a ‘sphere’ to be overcome for Kierkegaard nor is it an afterthought for Kant’s system. Instead, aesthetics offers an authentic understanding of the dynamic of finitude in thought and experience.

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Nov 18th, 11:00 AM Nov 18th, 11:15 AM

The Aesthetics of Finitude in Kant and Kierkegaard

15-1828

This paper argues for a reconsideration of the points of contact between the philosopher, theologian, and literary critic Søren Kierkegaard and philosopher Immanuel Kant. In it, I reappraise the role of aesthetics in Kierkegaard's work, in particular, his book Repetition, and show how Kierkegaard's foregrounding of temporality and human experience draw on and radicalize Kant's theory of reflective aesthetic judgment in the Critique of the Power of Judgment (1790). By comparing Kierkegaard's concept of repetition with Kant's concept of aesthetic ideas, specifically his account of beauty as a “symbol of morality” in §59, I argue that both Kant and Kierkegaard develop an aesthetics of finitude. This project will further argue that Kierkegaard radicalizes the Kantian project of reconciling moral freedom with the causality of nature in finite experience, bringing it to the forefront of his work not just conceptually as Kant did, but dynamically in his own authorship through his use of “indirect communication.” In sum, I show that the concept of repetition developed by Kierkegaard operates as a theory of representation, picking up the questions Kant raised in the third Critique and pushing them to the limits in order to understand finitude and its experience by way of the fundamental contradictions in representation.