The Critique of Judgement, by Immanuel Kant



Of the Division of Philosophy

We proceed quite correctly if, as usual, we divide Philosophy, as containing the principles of the rational cognition of things by means of concepts (not merely, as logic does, principles of the form of thought in general without distinction of Objects), into theoretical and practical. But then the concepts, which furnish their Object to the principles of this rational cognition, must be specifically distinct; otherwise they would not justify a division, which always presupposes a contrast between the principles of the rational cognition belonging to the different parts of a science.

Now there are only two kinds of concepts, and these admit as many distinct principles of the possibility of their objects, viz. natural concepts and the concept of freedom. The former render possible theoretical cognition according to principles a priori; the latter in respect of this theoretical cognition only supplies in itself a negative principle (that of mere contrast), but on the other hand it furnishes fundamental propositions which extend the sphere of the determination of the will and are therefore called practical. Thus Philosophy is correctly divided into two parts, quite distinct in their principles; the theoretical part or Natural Philosophy, and the practical part or Moral Philosophy (for that is the name given to the practical legislation of Reason in accordance with the concept of freedom). But up to the present a gross misuse of these expressions has prevailed, both in the division of the different principles and consequently also of Philosophy itself. For what is practical according to natural concepts has been identified with the practical according to the concept of freedom; and so with the like titles, ‘theoretical’ and ‘practical’ Philosophy, a division has been made, by which in fact nothing has been divided (for both parts might in such case have principles of the same kind).

The will, regarded as the faculty of desire, is (in this view) one of the many natural causes in the world, viz. that cause which acts in accordance with concepts. All that is represented as possible (or necessary) by means of a will is called practically possible (or necessary); as distinguished from the physical possibility or necessity of an effect, whose cause is not determined to causality by concepts (but in lifeless matter by mechanism and in animals by instinct). Here, in respect of the practical, it is left undetermined whether the concept which gives the rule to the causality of the will, is a natural concept or a concept of freedom.

But the last distinction is essential. For if the concept which determines the causality is a natural concept, then the principles are technically practical; whereas, if it is a concept of freedom they are morally practical. And as the division of a rational science depends on the distinction between objects whose cognition needs distinct principles, the former will belong to theoretical Philosophy (doctrine of Nature), but the latter alone will constitute the second part, viz. practical Philosophy (doctrine of Morals).

All technically practical rules (i.e. the rules of art and skill generally, or of prudence regarded as skill in exercising an influence over men and their wills), so far as their principles rest on concepts, must be reckoned only as corollaries to theoretical Philosophy. For they concern only the possibility of things according to natural concepts, to which belong not only the means which are to be met with in nature, but also the will itself (as a faculty of desire and consequently a natural faculty), so far as it can be determined conformably to these rules by natural motives. However, practical rules of this kind are not called laws (like physical laws), but only precepts; because the will does not stand merely under the natural concept, but also under the concept of freedom, in relation to which its principles are called laws. These with their consequences alone constitute the second or practical part of Philosophy.

The solution of the problems of pure geometry does not belong to a particular part of the science; mensuration does not deserve the name of practical, in contrast to pure, geometry, as a second part of geometry in general; and just as little ought the mechanical or chemical art of experiment or observation to be reckoned as a practical part of the doctrine of Nature. Just as little, in fine, ought housekeeping, farming, statesmanship, the art of conversation, the prescribing of diet, the universal doctrine of happiness itself, or the curbing of the inclinations and checking of the affections for the sake of happiness, to be reckoned as practical Philosophy, or taken to constitute the second part of Philosophy in general. For all these contain only rules of skill (and are consequently only technically practical) for bringing about an effect that is possible according to the natural concepts of causes and effects, which, since they belong to theoretical Philosophy, are subject to those precepts as mere corollaries from it (viz. natural science), and can therefore claim no place in a special Philosophy called practical. On the other hand, the morally practical precepts, which are altogether based on the concept of freedom to the complete exclusion of the natural determining grounds of the will, constitute a quite special class. These, like the rules which nature obeys, are called simply laws, but they do not, like them, rest on sensuous conditions but on a supersensible principle; and accordingly they require for themselves a quite different part of Philosophy, called practical, corresponding to its theoretical part.

We hence see that a complex of practical precepts given by Philosophy does not constitute a distinct part of Philosophy, as opposed to the theoretical part, because these precepts are practical; for they might be that, even if their principles were derived altogether from the theoretical cognition of nature (as technically practical rules). [A distinct branch of Philosophy is constituted only] if their principle, as it is not borrowed from the natural concept, which is always sensuously conditioned, rests on the supersensible, which alone makes the concept of freedom cognisable by formal laws. These precepts are then morally practical, i.e. not merely precepts or rules in this or that aspect, but, without any preceding reference to purposes and designs, are laws.


Of the Realm of Philosophy in General

So far as our concepts have a priori application, so far extends the use of our cognitive faculty according to principles, and with it Philosophy.

But the complex of all objects, to which those concepts are referred, in order to bring about a knowledge of them where it is possible, may be subdivided according to the adequacy or inadequacy of our [cognitive] faculty to this design.

Concepts, so far as they are referred to objects, independently of the possibility or impossibility of the cognition of these objects, have their field which is determined merely according to the relation that their Object has to our cognitive faculty in general. The part of this field in which knowledge is possible for us is a ground or territory (territorium) for these concepts and the requisite cognitive faculty. The part of this territory, where they are legislative, is the realm (ditio) of these concepts and of the corresponding cognitive faculties. Empirical concepts have, therefore, their territory in nature, as the complex of all objects of sense, but no realm, only a dwelling-place (domicilium); for though they are produced in conformity to law they are not legislative, but the rules based on them are empirical and consequently contingent.

Our whole cognitive faculty has two realms, that of natural concepts and that of the concept of freedom; for through both it is legislative a priori. In accordance with this, Philosophy is divided into theoretical and practical. But the territory to which its realm extends and in which its legislation is exercised, is always only the complex of objects of all possible experience, so long as they are taken for nothing more than mere phenomena; for otherwise no legislation of the Understanding in respect of them is conceivable.

Legislation through natural concepts is carried on by means of the Understanding and is theoretical. Legislation through the concept of freedom is carried on by the Reason and is merely practical. It is only in the practical [sphere] that the Reason can be legislative; in respect of theoretical cognition (of nature) it can merely (as acquainted with law by the Understanding) deduce from given laws consequences which always remain within [the limits of] nature. But on the other hand, Reason is not always therefore legislative, where there are practical rules, for they may be only technically practical.

Understanding and Reason exercise, therefore, two distinct legislations in regard to one and the same territory of experience, without prejudice to each other. The concept of freedom as little disturbs the legislation of nature, as the natural concept influences the legislation through the former. — The possibility of at least thinking without contradiction the co-existence of both legislations, and of the corresponding faculties in the same subject, has been shown in the Critique of pure Reason; for it annulled the objections on the other side by exposing the dialectical illusion which they contain.

These two different realms then do not limit each other in their legislation, though they perpetually do so in the world of sense. That they do not constitute one realm, arises from this, that the natural concept represents its objects in intuition, not as things in themselves, but as mere phenomena; the concept of freedom, on the other hand, represents in its Object a thing in itself, but not in intuition. Hence, neither of them can furnish a theoretical knowledge of its Object (or even of the thinking subject) as a thing in itself; this would be the supersensible, the Idea of which we must indeed make the basis of the possibility of all these objects of experience, but which we can never extend or elevate into a cognition.

There is, then, an unbounded but also inaccessible field for our whole cognitive faculty — the field of the supersensible — wherein we find no territory, and, therefore, can have in it, for theoretical cognition, no realm either for concepts of Understanding or Reason. This field we must indeed occupy with Ideas on behalf of the theoretical as well as the practical use of Reason, but we can supply to them in reference to the laws [arising] from the concept of freedom no other than practical reality, by which our theoretical cognition is not extended in the slightest degree towards the supersensible.

Now even if an immeasurable gulf is fixed between the sensible realm of the concept of nature and the supersensible realm of the concept of freedom, so that no transition is possible from the first to the second (by means of the theoretical use of Reason), just as if they were two different worlds of which the first could have no influence upon the second, yet the second is meant to have an influence upon the first. The concept of freedom is meant to actualise in the world of sense the purpose proposed by its laws, and consequently nature must be so thought that the conformity to law of its form, at least harmonises with the possibility of the purposes to be effected in it according to laws of freedom. — There must, therefore, be a ground of the unity of the supersensible, which lies at the basis of nature, with that which the concept of freedom practically contains; and the concept of this ground, although it does not attain either theoretically or practically to a knowledge of the same, and hence has no peculiar realm, nevertheless makes possible the transition from the mode of thought according to the principles of the one to that according to the principles of the other.


Of the Critique of Judgement as a Means of Combining the Two Parts of Philosophy into a Whole.

The Critique of the cognitive faculties, as regards what they can furnish a priori, has properly speaking no realm in respect of Objects, because it is not a doctrine, but only has to investigate whether and how, in accordance with the state of these faculties, a doctrine is possible by their means. Its field extends to all their pretensions, in order to confine them within their legitimate bounds. But what cannot enter into the division of Philosophy may yet enter, as a chief part, into the Critique of the pure faculty of cognition in general, viz. if it contains principles which are available neither for theoretical nor for practical use.

The natural concepts, which contain the ground of all theoretical knowledge a priori, rest on the legislation of the Understanding. — The concept of freedom, which contains the ground of all sensuously-unconditioned practical precepts a priori, rests on the legislation of the Reason. Both faculties, therefore, besides being capable of application as regards their logical form to principles of whatever origin, have also as regards their content, their special legislations above which there is no other (a priori); and hence the division of Philosophy into theoretical and practical is justified.

But in the family of the higher cognitive faculties there is a middle term between the Understanding and the Reason. This is the Judgement, of which we have cause for supposing according to analogy that it may contain in itself, if not a special legislation, yet a special principle of its own to be sought according to laws, though merely subjective a priori. This principle, even if it have no field of objects as its realm, yet may have somewhere a territory with a certain character, for which no other principle can be valid.

But besides (to judge by analogy) there is a new ground for bringing the Judgement into connexion with another arrangement of our representative faculties, which seems to be of even greater importance than that of its relationship with the family of the cognitive faculties. For all faculties or capacities of the soul can be reduced to three, which cannot be any further derived from one common ground: the faculty of knowledge, the feeling of pleasure and pain, and the faculty of desire.1 For the faculty of knowledge the Understanding is alone legislative, if (as must happen when it is considered by itself without confusion with the faculty of desire) this faculty is referred to nature as the faculty of theoretical knowledge; for in respect of nature (as phenomenon) it is alone possible for us to give laws by means of natural concepts a priori, i.e. by pure concepts of Understanding. — For the faculty of desire, as a higher faculty according to the concept of freedom, the Reason (in which alone this concept has a place) is alone a priori legislative. — Now between the faculties of knowledge and desire there is the feeling of pleasure, just as the Judgement is intermediate between the Understanding and the Reason. We may therefore suppose provisionally that the Judgement likewise contains in itself an a priori principle. And as pleasure or pain is necessarily combined with the faculty of desire (either preceding this principle as in the lower desires, or following it as in the higher, when the desire is determined by the moral law), we may also suppose that the Judgement will bring about a transition from the pure faculty of knowledge, the realm of natural concepts, to the realm of the concept of freedom, just as in its logical use it makes possible the transition from Understanding to Reason.

Although, then, Philosophy can be divided only into two main parts, the theoretical and the practical, and although all that we may be able to say of the special principles of Judgement must be counted as belonging in it to the theoretical part, i.e. to rational cognition in accordance with natural concepts; yet the Critique of pure Reason, which must decide all this, as regards the possibility of the system before undertaking it, consists of three parts; the Critique of pure Understanding, of pure Judgement, and of pure Reason, which faculties are called pure because they are legislative a priori.

1 If we have cause for supposing that concepts which we use as empirical principles stand in relationship with the pure cognitive faculty a priori, it is profitable, because of this reference, to seek for them a transcendental definition; i.e. a definition through pure categories, so far as these by themselves adequately furnish the distinction of the concept in question from others. We here follow the example of the mathematician who leaves undetermined the empirical data of his problem, and only brings their relation in their pure synthesis under the concepts of pure Arithmetic, and thus generalises the solution. Objection has been brought against a similar procedure of mine (cf. the Preface to the Critique of Practical Reason, Abbott’s Translation, p. 94), and my definition of the faculty of desire has been found fault with, viz. that it is [the being’s] faculty of becoming by means of its representations the cause of the actuality of the objects of these representations; for the desires might be mere cravings, and by means of these alone every one is convinced the Object cannot be produced. — But this proves nothing more than that there are desires in man, by which he is in contradiction with himself. For here he strives for the production of the Object by means of the representation alone, from which he can expect no result, because he is conscious that his mechanical powers (if I may so call those which are not psychological) which must be determined by that representation to bring about the Object (mediately) are either not competent, or even tend towards what is impossible; e.g. to reverse the past (O mihi praeteritos . . . etc.), or to annihilate in the impatience of expectation the interval before the wished for moment. — Although in such fantastic desires we are conscious of the inadequacy (or even the unsuitability) of our representations for being causes of their objects, yet their reference as causes, and consequently the representation of their causality, is contained in every wish; and this is specially evident if the wish is an affection or longing. For these [longings] by their dilatation and contraction of the heart and consequent exhaustion of its powers, prove that these powers are continually kept on the stretch by representations, but that they perpetually let the mind, having regard to the impossibility [of the desire], fall back in exhaustion. Even prayers for the aversion of great and (as far as one can see) unavoidable evils, and many superstitious means for attaining in a natural way impossible purposes, point to the causal reference of representations to their Objects; a reference which cannot at all the checked by the consciousness of the inadequacy of the effort to produce the effect. — As to why there should be in our nature this propensity to desires which are consciously vain, that is an anthropologico-teleological problem. It seems that if we were not determined to the application of our powers before we were assured of the adequacy of our faculties to produce an Object, these powers would remain in great part unused. For we commonly learn to know our powers only by first making trial of them. This deception in the case of vain wishes is then only the consequence of a benevolent ordinance in our nature. [This note was added by Kant in the Second Edition.]


Of Judgement as a Faculty Legislating A Priori

Judgement in general is the faculty of thinking the particular as contained under the Universal. If the universal (the rule, the principle, the law) be given, the Judgement which subsumes the particular under it (even if, as transcendental Judgement, it furnishes a priori, the conditions in conformity with which subsumption under that universal is alone possible) is determinant. But if only the particular be given for which the universal has to be found, the Judgement is merely reflective.

The determinant Judgement only subsumes under universal transcendental laws given by the Understanding; the law is marked out for it, a priori, and it has therefore no need to seek a law for itself in order to be able to subordinate the particular in nature to the universal. — But the forms of nature are so manifold, and there are so many modifications of the universal transcendental natural concepts left undetermined by the laws given, a priori, by the pure Understanding — because these only concern the possibility of a nature in general (as an object of sense) — that there must be laws for these [forms] also. These, as empirical, may be contingent from the point of view of our Understanding, and yet, if they are to be called laws (as the concept of a nature requires), they must be regarded as necessary in virtue of a principle of the unity of the manifold, though it be unknown to us. — The reflective Judgement, which is obliged to ascend from the particular in nature to the universal, requires on that account a principle that it cannot borrow from experience, because its function is to establish the unity of all empirical principles under higher ones, and hence to establish the possibility of their systematic subordination. Such a transcendental principle, then, the reflective Judgement can only give as a law from and to itself. It cannot derive it from outside (because then it would be the determinant Judgement); nor can it prescribe it to nature, because reflection upon the laws of nature adjusts itself by nature, and not nature by the conditions according to which we attempt to arrive at a concept of it which is quite contingent in respect of these.

This principle can be no other than the following: As universal laws of nature have their ground in our Understanding, which prescribes them to nature (although only according to the universal concept of it as nature); so particular empirical laws, in respect of what is in them left undetermined by these universal laws, must be considered in accordance with such a unity as they would have if an Understanding (although not our Understanding) had furnished them to our cognitive faculties, so as to make possible a system of experience according to particular laws of nature. Not as if, in this way, such an Understanding must be assumed as actual (for it is only our reflective Judgement to which this Idea serves as a principle — for reflecting, not for determining); but this faculty thus gives a law only to itself and not to nature.

Now the concept of an Object, so far as it contains the ground of the actuality of this Object, is the purpose; and the agreement of a thing with that constitution of things, which is only possible according to purposes, is called the purposiveness of its form. Thus the principle of Judgement, in respect of the form of things of nature under empirical laws generally, is the purposiveness of nature in its manifoldness. That is, nature is represented by means of this concept, as if an Understanding contained the ground of the unity of the manifold of its empirical laws.

The purposiveness of nature is therefore a particular concept, a priori, which has its origin solely in the reflective Judgement. For we cannot ascribe to natural products anything like a reference of nature in them to purposes; we can only use this concept to reflect upon such products in respect of the connexion of phenomena which is given in nature according to empirical laws. This concept is also quite different from practical purposiveness (in human art or in morals), though it is certainly thought according to the analogy of these last.


The Principle of the Formal Purposiveness of Nature is a Transcendental Principle of Judgement.

A transcendental principle is one by means of which is represented, a priori, the universal condition under which alone things can be in general Objects of our cognition. On the other hand, a principle is called metaphysical if it represents the a priori condition under which alone Objects, whose concept must be empirically given, can be further determined a priori. Thus the principle of the cognition of bodies as substances, and as changeable substances, is transcendental, if thereby it is asserted that their changes must have a cause; it is metaphysical if it asserts that their changes must have an external cause. For in the former case bodies need only be thought by means of ontological predicates (pure concepts of Understanding), e.g. substance, in order to cognise the proposition a priori; but in the latter case the empirical concept of a body (as a movable thing in space) must lie at the basis of the proposition, although once this basis has been laid down, it may be seen completely a priori that this latter predicate (motion only by external causes) belongs to body. — Thus, as I shall presently show, the principle of the purposiveness of nature (in the manifoldness of its empirical laws) is a transcendental principle. For the concept of Objects, so far as they are thought as standing under this principle, is only the pure concept of objects of possible empirical cognition in general and contains nothing empirical. On the other hand, the principle of practical purposiveness, which must be thought in the Idea of the determination of a free will, is a metaphysical principle; because the concept of a faculty of desire as a will must be given empirically (i.e. does not belong to transcendental predicates). Both principles are, however, not empirical, but a priori; because for the combination of the predicate with the empirical concept of the subject of their judgements no further experience is needed, but it can be apprehended completely a priori.

That the concept of a purposiveness of nature belongs to transcendental principles can be sufficiently seen from the maxims of the Judgement, which lie at the basis of the investigation of nature a priori, and yet do not go further than the possibility of experience, and consequently of the cognition of nature — not indeed nature in general, but nature as determined through a variety of particular laws. These maxims present themselves in the course of this science often enough, though in a scattered way, as sentences of metaphysical wisdom, whose necessity we cannot demonstrate from concepts. “Nature takes the shortest way (lex parsimoniae); at the same time it makes no leaps, either in the course of its changes or in the juxtaposition of specifically different forms (lex continui in natura); its great variety in empirical laws is yet unity under a few principles (principia praeter necessitatem non sunt multiplicanda),” etc.

If we propose to set forth the origin of these fundamental propositions and try to do so by the psychological method, we violate their sense. For they do not tell us what happens, i.e. by what rule our cognitive powers actually operate, and how we judge, but how we ought to judge; and this logical objective necessity does not emerge if the principles are merely empirical. Hence that purposiveness of nature for our cognitive faculties and their use, which is plainly apparent from them, is a transcendental principle of judgements, and needs therefore also a Transcendental Deduction, by means of which the ground for so judging must be sought in the sources of cognition a priori.

We find in the grounds of the possibility of an experience in the very first place something necessary, viz. the universal laws without which nature in general (as an object of sense) cannot be thought; and these rest upon the Categories, applied to the formal conditions of all intuition possible for us, so far as it is also given a priori. Now under these laws the Judgement is determinant, for it has nothing to do but to subsume under given laws. For example, the Understanding says that every change has its cause (universal law of nature); the transcendental Judgement has nothing further to do than to supply a priori the condition of subsumption under the concept of the Understanding placed before it, i.e. the succession [in time] of the determinations of one and the same thing. For nature in general (as an object of possible experience) that law is cognised as absolutely necessary. — But now the objects of empirical cognition are determined in many other ways than by that formal time-condition, or, at least as far as we can judge a priori, are determinable. Hence specifically different natures can be causes in an infinite variety of ways, as well as in virtue of what they have in common as belonging to nature in general; and each of these modes must (in accordance with the concept of a cause in general) have its rule, which is a law and therefore brings necessity with it, although we do not at all comprehend this necessity, in virtue of the constitution and the limitations of our cognitive faculties. We must therefore think in nature, in respect of its merely empirical laws, a possibility of infinitely various empirical laws, which are, as far as our insight goes, contingent (cannot be cognised a priori), and in respect of which we judge nature, according to empirical laws and the possibility of the unity of experience (as a system according to empirical laws), to be contingent. But such a unity must be necessarily presupposed and assumed, for otherwise there would be no thoroughgoing connexion of empirical cognitions in a whole of experience. The universal laws of nature no doubt furnish such a connexion of things according to their kind as things of nature in general, but not specifically, as such particular beings of nature. Hence the Judgement must assume for its special use this principle a priori, that what in the particular (empirical) laws of nature is from the human point of view contingent, yet contains a unity of law in the combination of its manifold into an experience possible in itself — a unity not indeed to be fathomed by us, but yet thinkable. Consequently as the unity of law in a combination, which we cognise as contingent in itself, although in conformity with a necessary design (a need) of Understanding, is represented as the purposiveness of Objects (here of nature); so must the Judgement, which in respect of things under possible (not yet discovered) empirical laws is merely reflection, think of nature in respect of the latter according to a principle of purposiveness for our cognitive faculty, which then is expressed in the above maxims of the Judgement. This transcendental concept of a purposiveness of nature is neither a natural concept nor a concept of freedom, because it ascribes nothing to the Object (of nature), but only represents the peculiar way in which we must proceed in reflection upon the objects of nature in reference to a thoroughly connected experience, and is consequently a subjective principle (maxim) of the Judgement. Hence, as if it were a lucky chance favouring our design, we are rejoiced (properly speaking, relieved of a want), if we meet with such systematic unity under merely empirical laws; although we must necessarily assume that there is such a unity without our comprehending it or being able to prove it.

In order to convince ourselves of the correctness of this Deduction of the concept before us, and the necessity of assuming it as a transcendental principle of cognition, just consider the magnitude of the problem. The problem, which lies a priori in our Understanding, is to make a connected experience out of given perceptions of a nature containing at all events an infinite variety of empirical laws. The Understanding is, no doubt, in possession a priori of universal laws of nature, without which nature could not be an object of experience; but it needs in addition a certain order of nature in its particular rules, which can only be empirically known and which are, as regards the Understanding, contingent. These rules, without which we could not proceed from the universal analogy of a possible experience in general to the particular, must be thought by it as laws (i.e. as necessary), for otherwise they would not constitute an order of nature; although their necessity can never be cognised or comprehended by it. Although, therefore, the Understanding can determine nothing a priori in respect of Objects, it must, in order to trace out these empirical so-called laws, place at the basis of all reflection upon Objects an a priori principle, viz. that a cognisable order of nature is possible in accordance with these laws. The following propositions express some such principle. There is in nature a subordination of genera and species comprehensible by us. Each one approximates to some other according to a common principle, so that a transition from one to another and so on to a higher genus may be possible. Though it seems at the outset unavoidable for our Understanding to assume different kinds of causality for the specific differences of natural operations, yet these different kinds may stand under a small number of principles, with the investigation of which we have to busy ourselves. This harmony of nature with our cognitive faculty is presupposed a priori by the Judgement, on behalf of its reflection upon nature in accordance with its empirical laws; whilst the Understanding at the same time cognises it objectively as contingent, and it is only the Judgement that ascribes it to nature as a trancendental purposiveness (in relation to the cognitive faculty of the subject). For without this presupposition we should have no order of nature in accordance with empirical laws, and consequently no guiding thread for an experience ordered by these in all their variety, or for an investigation of them.

For it might easily be thought that, in spite of all the uniformity of natural things according to the universal laws, without which we should not have the form of an empirical cognition in general, the specific variety of the empirical laws of nature including their effects might yet be so great, that it would be impossible for our Understanding, to detect in nature a comprehensible order; to divide its products into genera and species, so as to use the principles which explain and make intelligible one for the explanation and comprehension of another; or out of such confused material (strictly we should say, so infinitely various and not to be measured by our faculty of comprehension) to make a connected experience.

The Judgement has therefore also in itself a principle a priori of the possibility of nature, but only in a subjective aspect; by which it prescribes, not to nature (autonomy), but to itself (heautonomy) a law for its reflection upon nature. This we might call the law of the specification of nature in respect of its empirical laws. The Judgement does not cognise this a priori in nature, but assumes it on behalf of a natural order cognisable by our Understanding in the division which it makes of the universal laws of nature when it wishes to subordinate to these the variety of particular laws. If then we say that nature specifies its universal laws according to the principles of purposiveness for our cognitive faculty, i.e. in accordance with the necessary business of the human Understanding of finding the universal for the particular which perception offers it, and again of finding connexion for the diverse (which however is a universal for each species) in the unity of a principle — we thus neither prescribe to nature a law, nor do we learn one from it by observation (although such a principle may be confirmed by this means). For it is not a principle of the determinant but merely of the reflective Judgement. We only require that, be nature disposed as it may as regards its universal laws, investigation into its empirical laws may be carried on in accordance with that principle and the maxims founded thereon, because it is only so far as that holds that we can make any progress with the use of our Understanding in experience, or gain knowledge.


Of the Combination of the Feeling of Pleasure with the Concept of the Purposiveness of Nature.

The thought harmony of nature in the variety of its particular laws with our need of finding universality of principles for it, must be judged as contingent in respect of our insight, but yet at the same time as indispensable for the needs of our Understanding, and consequently as a purposiveness by which nature is harmonised with our design, which, however, has only knowledge for its aim. The universal laws of the Understanding, which are at the same time laws of nature, are just as necessary (although arising from spontaneity) as the material laws of motion. Their production presupposes no design on the part of our cognitive faculty, because it is only by means of them that we, in the first place, attain a concept of what the cognition of things (of nature) is, and attribute them necessarily to nature as Object of our cognition in general. But, so far as we can see, it is contingent that the order of nature according to its particular laws, in all its variety and heterogeneity possibly at least transcending our comprehension, should be actually conformable to these [laws]. The discovery of this [order] is the business of the Understanding which is designedly borne towards a necessary purpose, viz. the bringing of unity of principles into nature, which purpose then the Judgement must ascribe to nature, because the Understanding cannot here prescribe any law to it.

The attainment of that design is bound up with the feeling of pleasure, and since the condition of this attainment is a representation a priori, — as here a principle for the reflective Judgement in general — therefore the feeling of pleasure is determined by a ground a priori and valid for every man, and that merely by the reference of the Object to the cognitive faculty, the concept of purposiveness here not having the least reference to the faculty of desire. It is thus quite distinguished from all practical purposiveness of nature.

In fact, although from the agreement of perceptions with laws in accordance with universal natural concepts (the categories), we do not and cannot find in ourselves the slightest effect upon the feeling of pleasure, because the Understanding necessarily proceeds according to its nature without any design; yet, on the other hand, the discovery that two or more empirical heterogeneous laws of nature may be combined under one principle comprehending them both, is the ground of a very marked pleasure, often even of an admiration, which does not cease, though we may be already quite familiar with the objects of it. We no longer find, it is true, any marked pleasure in the comprehensibility of nature and in the unity of its divisions into genera and species, whereby are possible all empirical concepts, through which we cognise it according to its particular laws. But this pleasure has certainly been present at one time, and it is only because the commonest experience would be impossible without it that it is gradually confounded with mere cognition and no longer arrests particular attention. There is then something in our judgements upon nature which makes us attentive to its purposiveness for our Understanding — an endeavour to bring, where possible, its dissimilar laws under higher ones, though still always empirical — and thus, if successful, makes us feel pleasure in that harmony of these with our cognitive faculty, which harmony we regard as merely contingent. On the other hand, a representation of nature would altogether displease, by which it should be foretold to us that in the smallest investigation beyond the commonest experience we should meet with a heterogeneity of its laws, which would make the union of its particular laws under universal empirical laws impossible for our Understanding. For this would contradict the principle of the subjectively-purposive specification of nature in its genera, and also of our reflective Judgement in respect of such principle.

This presupposition of the Judgement is, however, at the same time so indeterminate as to how far that ideal purposiveness of nature for our cognitive faculty should be extended, that if we were told that a deeper or wider knowledge of nature derived from observation must lead at last to a variety of laws, which no human Understanding could reduce to a principle, we should at once acquiesce. But still we more gladly listen to one who offers hope that the more we know nature internally, and can compare it with external members now unknown to us, the more simple shall we find it in its principles, and that the further our experience reaches the more uniform shall we find it amid the apparent heterogeneity of its empirical laws. For it is a mandate of our Judgement to proceed according to the principle of the harmony of nature with our cognitive faculty so far as that reaches, without deciding (because it is not the determinant Judgement which gives us this rule) whether or not it is bounded anywhere. For although in respect of the rational use of our cognitive faculty we can determine such bounds, this is not possible in the empirical field.


Of the Aesthetical Representation of the Purposiveness of Nature.

That which in the representation of an Object is merely subjective, i.e. which decides its reference to the subject, not to the object, is its aesthetical character; but that which serves or can be used for the determination of the object (for cognition), is its logical validity. In the cognition of an object of sense both references present themselves. In the sense-representation of external things the quality of space wherein we intuite them is the merely subjective [element] of my representation (by which it remains undecided what they may be in themselves as Objects), on account of which reference the object is thought thereby merely as phenomenon. But space, notwithstanding its merely subjective quality, is at the same time an ingredient in the cognition of things as phenomena. Sensation, again (i.e. external sensation), expresses the merely subjective [element] of our representations of external things, but it is also the proper material (reale) of them (by which something existing is given), just as space is the mere form a priori of the possibility of their intuition. Nevertheless, however, sensation is also employed in the cognition of external Objects.

But the subjective [element] in a representation which cannot be an ingredient of cognition, is the pleasure or pain which is bound up with it; for through it I cognise nothing in the object of the representation, although it may be the effect of some cognition. Now the purposiveness of a thing, so far as it is represented in perception, is no characteristic of the Object itself (for such cannot be perceived), although it may be inferred from a cognition of things. The purposiveness, therefore, which precedes the cognition of an Object, and which, even without our wishing to use the representation of it for cognition, is, at the same time, immediately bound up with it, is that subjective [element] which cannot be an ingredient in cognition. Hence the object is only called purposive, when its representation is immediately combined with the feeling of pleasure; and this very representation is an aesthetical representation of purposiveness. — The only question is whether there is, in general, such a representation of purposiveness.

If pleasure is bound up with the mere apprehension (apprehensio) of the form of an object of intuition, without reference to a concept for a definite cognition, then the representation is thereby not referred to the Object, but simply to the subject; and the pleasure can express nothing else than its harmony with the cognitive faculties which come into play in the reflective Judgement, and so far as they are in play; and hence can only express a subjective formal purposiveness of the Object. For that apprehension of forms in the Imagination can never take place without the reflective Judgement, though undesignedly, at least comparing them with its faculty of referring intuitions to concepts. If now in this comparison the Imagination (as the faculty of a priori intuitions) is placed by means of a given representation undesignedly in agreement with the Understanding, as the faculty of concepts, and thus a feeling of pleasure is aroused, the object must then be regarded as purposive for the reflective Judgement. Such a judgement is an aesthetical judgement upon the purposiveness of the Object, which does not base itself upon any present concept of the object, nor does it furnish any such. In the case of an object whose form (not the matter of its representation, as sensation), in the mere reflection upon it (without reference to any concept to be obtained of it), is judged as the ground of a pleasure in the representation of such an Object, this pleasure is judged as bound up with the representation necessarily; and, consequently, not only for the subject which apprehends this form, but for every judging being in general. The object is then called beautiful; and the faculty of judging by means of such a pleasure (and, consequently, with universal validity) is called Taste. For since the ground of the pleasure is placed merely in the form of the object for reflection in general — and, consequently, in no sensation of the object, and also without reference to any concept which anywhere involves design — it is only the conformity to law in the empirical use of the Judgement in general (unity of the Imagination with the Understanding) in the subject, with which the representation of the Object in reflection, whose conditions are universally valid a priori, harmonises. And since this harmony of the object with the faculties of the subject is contingent, it brings about the representation of its purposiveness in respect of the cognitive faculties of the subject.

Here now is a pleasure, which, like all pleasure or pain that is not produced through the concept of freedom (i.e. through the preceding determination of the higher faculties of desire by pure Reason), can never be comprehended from concepts, as necessarily bound up with the representation of an object. It must always be cognised as combined with this only by means of reflective perception; and, consequently, like all empirical judgements, it can declare no objective necessity and lay claim to no a priori validity. But the judgement of taste also claims, as every other empirical judgement does, to be valid for every one; and in spite of its inner contingency this is always possible. The strange and irregular thing is that it is not an empirical concept, but a feeling of pleasure (consequently not a concept at all), which by the judgement of taste is attributed to every one — just as if it were a predicate bound up with the cognition of the Object — and which is connected with the representation thereof.

A singular judgement of experience, e.g., when we perceive a moveable drop of water in an ice-crystal, may justly claim that every one else should find it the same; because we have formed this judgement, according to the universal conditions of the determinant faculty of Judgement, under the laws of a possible experience in general. Just in the same way he who feels pleasure in the mere reflection upon the form of an object without respect to any concept, although this judgement be empirical and singular, justly claims the agreement of every one; because the ground of this pleasure is found in the universal, although subjective, condition of reflective judgements, viz., the purposive harmony of an object (whether a product of nature or of art) with the mutual relations of the cognitive faculties (the Imagination and the Understanding), a harmony which is requisite for every empirical cognition. The pleasure, therefore, in the judgement of taste is dependent on an empirical representation, and cannot be bound up a priori with any concept (we cannot determine a priori what object is or is not according to taste; that we must find out by experiment). But the pleasure is the determining ground of this judgement only because we are conscious that it rests merely on reflection and on the universal though only subjective conditions of the harmony of that reflection with the cognition of Objects in general, for which the form of the Object is purposive.

Thus the reason why judgements of taste according to their possibility are subjected to a Critique is that they presuppose a principle a priori, although this principle is neither one of cognition for the Understanding nor of practice for the Will, and therefore is not in any way determinant a priori.

Susceptibility to pleasure from reflection upon the forms of things (of Nature as well as of Art), indicates not only a purposiveness of the Objects in relation to the reflective Judgement, conformably to the concept of nature in the subject; but also conversely a purposiveness of the subject in respect of the objects according to their form or even their formlessness, in virtue of the concept of freedom. Hence the aesthetical judgement is not only related as a judgement of taste to the beautiful, but also as springing from a spiritual feeling is related to the sublime; and thus the Critique of the aesthetical Judgement must be divided into two corresponding sections.


Of the Logical Representation of the Purposiveness of Nature

Purposiveness may be represented in an object given in experience on a merely subjective ground, as the harmony of its form — in the apprehension (apprehensio) of it prior to any concept — with the cognitive faculties, in order to unite the intuition with concepts for a cognition generally. Or it may be represented objectively as the harmony of the form of the object with the possibility of the thing itself, according to a concept of it which precedes and contains the ground of this form. We have seen that the representation of purposiveness of the first kind rests on the immediate pleasure in the form of the object in the mere reflection upon it. But the representation of purposiveness of the second kind, since it refers the form of the Object, not to the cognitive faculties of the subject in the apprehension of it, but to a definite cognition of the object under a given concept, has nothing to do with a feeling of pleasure in things, but only with the Understanding in its judgement upon them. If the concept of an object is given, the business of the Judgement in the use of the concept for cognition consists in presentation (exhibitio), i.e. in setting a corresponding intuition beside the concept. This may take place either through our own Imagination, as in Art when we realise a preconceived concept of an object which is a purpose of ours; or through Nature in its Technic (as in organised bodies) when we supply to it our concept of its purpose in order to judge of its products. In the latter case it is not merely the purposiveness of nature in the form of the thing that is represented, but this its product is represented as a natural purpose. — Although our concept of a subjective purposiveness of nature in its forms according to empirical laws is not a concept of the Object, but only a principle of the Judgement for furnishing itself with concepts amid the immense variety of nature (and thus being able to ascertain its own position), yet we thus ascribe to nature as it were a regard to our cognitive faculty according to the analogy of purpose. Thus we can regard natural beauty as the presentation of the concept of the formal (merely subjective) purposiveness, and natural purposes as the presentation of the concept of a real (objective) purposiveness. The former of these we judge of by Taste (aesthetically, by the medium of the feeling of pleasure), the latter by Understanding and Reason (logically, according to concepts).

On this is based the division of the Critique of Judgement into the Critique of aesthetical and of teleological Judgement. By the first we understand the faculty of judging of the formal purposiveness (otherwise called subjective) of Nature by means of the feeling of pleasure or pain; by the second the faculty of judging its real (objective) purposiveness by means of Understanding and Reason.

In a Critique of Judgement the part containing the aesthetical Judgement is essential, because this alone contains a principle which the Judgement places quite a priori at the basis of its reflection upon nature; viz., the principle of a formal purposiveness of nature, according to its particular (empirical) laws, for our cognitive faculty, without which the Understanding could not find itself in nature. On the other hand no reason a priori could be specified — and even the possibility of a reason would not be apparent from the concept of nature as an object of experience whether general or particular — why there should be objective purposes of nature, i.e. things which are only possible as natural purposes; but the Judgement, without containing such a principle a priori in itself, in given cases (of certain products), in order to make use of the concept of purposes on behalf of Reason, would only contain the rule according to which that transcendental principle has already prepared the Understanding to apply to nature the concept of a purpose (at least as regards its form).

But the transcendental principle which represents a purposiveness of nature (in subjective reference to our cognitive faculty) in the form of a thing as a principle by which we judge of nature, leaves it quite undetermined where and in what cases I have to judge of a product according to a principle of purposiveness, and not rather according to universal natural laws. It leaves it to the aesthetical Judgement to decide by taste the harmony of this product (of its form) with our cognitive faculty (so far as this decision rests not on any agreement with concepts but on feeling). On the other hand, the Judgement teleologically employed furnishes conditions determinately under which something (e.g. an organised body) is to be judged according to the Idea of a purpose of nature; but it can adduce no fundamental proposition from the concept of nature as an object of experience authorising it to ascribe to nature a priori a reference to purposes, or even indeterminately to assume this of such products in actual experience. The reason of this is that we must have many particular experiences, and consider them under the unity of their principle, in order to be able to cognise, even empirically, objective purposiveness in a certain object. — The aesthetical Judgement is therefore a special faculty for judging of things according to a rule, but not according to concepts. The teleological Judgement is not a special faculty, but only the reflective Judgement in general, so far as it proceeds, as it always does in theoretical cognition, according to concepts; but in respect of certain objects of nature according to special principles, viz., of a merely reflective Judgement, and not of a Judgement that determines Objects. Thus as regards its application it belongs to the theoretical part of Philosophy; and on account of its special principles which are not determinant, as they must be in Doctrine, it must constitute a special part of the Critique. On the other hand, the aesthetical Judgement contributes nothing towards the knowledge of its objects, and thus must be reckoned as belonging to the criticism of the judging subject and its cognitive faculties, only so far as they are susceptible of a priori principles, of whatever other use (theoretical or practical) they may be. This is the propaedeutic of all Philosophy.


Of the Connexion of the Legislation of Understanding with that of Reason by Means of the Judgement

The Understanding legislates a priori for nature as an Object of sense — for a theoretical knowledge of it in a possible experience. Reason legislates a priori for freedom and its peculiar casuality; as the supersensible in the subject, for an unconditioned practical knowledge. The realm of the natural concept under the one legislation and that of the concept of freedom under the other are entirely removed from all mutual influence which they might have on one another (each according to its fundamental laws) by the great gulf that separates the supersensible from phenomena. The concept of freedom determines nothing in respect of the theoretical cognition of nature; and the natural concept determines nothing in respect of the practical laws of freedom. So far then it is not possible to throw a bridge from the one realm to the other. But although the determining grounds of causality according to the concept of freedom (and the practical rules which it contains) are not resident in nature, and the sensible cannot determine the supersensible in the subject, yet this is possible conversely (not, to be sure, in respect of the cognition of nature, but as regards the effects of the supersensible upon the sensible). This in fact is involved in the concept of a causality through freedom, the effect of which is to take place in the world according to its formal laws. The word cause, of course, when used of the supersensible only signifies the ground which determines the causality of natural things to an effect in accordance with their proper natural laws, although harmoniously with the formal principle of the laws of Reason. Although the possibility of this cannot be comprehended, yet the objection of a contradiction alleged to be found in it can be sufficiently answered.1 — The effect in accordance with the concept of freedom is the final purpose which (or its phenomenon in the world of sense) ought to exist; and the condition of the possibility of this is presupposed in nature (in the nature of the subject as a sensible being, that is, as man). The Judgement presupposes this a priori and without reference to the practical; and thus furnishes the mediating concept between the concepts of nature and that of freedom. It makes possible the transition from the conformity to law in accordance with the former to the final purpose in accordance with the latter, and this by the concept of a purposiveness of nature. For thus is cognised the possibility of the final purpose which alone can be actualised in nature in harmony with its laws.

The Understanding by the possibility of its a priori laws for nature, gives a proof that nature is only cognised by us as phenomenon; and implies at the same time that it has a supersensible substrate, though it leaves this quite undetermined. The Judgement by its a priori principle for the judging of nature according to its possible particular laws, makes the supersensible substrate (both in us and without us) determinable by means of the intellectual faculty. But the Reason by its practical a priori law determines it; and thus the Judgement makes possible the transition from the realm of the concept of nature to that of the concept of freedom.

As regards the faculties of the soul in general, in their higher aspect, as containing an autonomy; the Understanding is that which contains the constitutive principles a priori for the cognitive faculty (the theoretical cognition of nature). For the feeling of pleasure and pain there is the Judgement, independently of concepts and sensations which relate to the determination of the faculty of desire and can thus be immediately practical. For the faculty of desire there is the Reason which is practical without the mediation of any pleasure whatever. It determines for the faculty of desire, as a superior faculty, the final purpose which carries with it the pure intellectual satisfaction in the Object. — The concept formed by Judgement of a purposiveness of nature belongs to natural concepts, but only as a regulative principle of the cognitive faculty; although the aesthetical judgement upon certain objects (of Nature of Art) which occasions it is, in respect of the feeling of pleasure or pain, a constitutive principle. The spontaneity in the play of the cognitive faculties, the harmony of which contains the ground of this pleasure, makes the above concept [of the purposiveness of nature] fit to be the mediating link between the realm of the natural concept and that of the concept of freedom in its effects; whilst at the same time it promotes the sensibility of the mind for moral feeling. — The following table may facilitate the review of all the higher faculties according to their systematic unity.1

All the faculties of the mind
Cognitive faculties. Faculties of desire.
Feeling of pleasure and pain.
Cognitive faculties
Understanding. Judgement. Reason.
A priori principles
Conformity to law. Purposiveness. Final purpose.
Application to
Nature. Art. Freedom.

1 One of the various pretended contradictions in this whole distinction of the causality of nature from that of freedom is this. It is objected that if I speak of obstacles which nature opposes to causality according to (moral) laws of freedom or of the assistance it affords, I am admitting an influence of the former upon the latter. But if we try to understand what has been said, this misinterpretation is very easy to avoid. The opposition or assistance is not between nature and freedom, but between the former as phenomenon and the effects of the latter as phenomena in the world of sense. The causality of freedom itself (of pure and practical Reason) is the causality of a natural cause subordinated to freedom (i.e. of the subject considered as man and therefore as phenomenon). The intelligible, which is thought under freedom, contains the ground of the determination of this [natural cause] in a way not explicable any further (just as that intelligible does which constitutes the supersensible substrate of nature).

1 It has been thought a doubtful point that my divisions in pure Philosophy should always be threefold. But that lies in the nature of the thing. If there is to be an a priori division it must be either analytical, according to the law of contradiction, which is always twofold (quodlibet ens est aut A aut non A); or it is synthetical. And if in this latter case it is to be derived from a priori concepts (not as in Mathematic from the intuition corresponding to the concept), the division must necessarily be trichotomy. For according to what is requisite for synthetical unity in general there must be (1) a condition, (2) a conditioned, and (3) the concept which arises from the union of the conditioned with its condition.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:56