The normativity of nature: empirical concepts, teleology, and aesthetics in Kant's Critique of Judgment


ACLS Fellowship Program




Philosophers since the seventeenth century have recognized a distinction between the natural and the normative, that is between what does happen, and what ought to happen. This raises a deep question about how to understand the workings of the human mind: should we understand human mental activity as a natural phenomenon or as governed by normative laws? My project is to examine Kant's answer to this question and to offer a new interpretation of how he sees the relation between the natural and the normative. I argue that Kant's view, so interpreted, is both interesting and plausible, and I show how it addresses contemporary issues in the theory of knowledge and the philosophy of mind.