Reply to Alberto Siani


SERENA FELOJ | Estetica del disgusto. Mendelssohn, Kant e i limiti della rappresentazione | Carocci 2017


By Serena Feloj

First of all, I wish to thank Alberto Siani for his generous discussion of my book and his stimulating remarks. His commentary gives me the chance to spell out some theoretical elements accounting for the background of my book on disgust.    

My theoretical take on disgust emerges, in accordance with my methodological premises, from a historical reconstruction of the debate revolving around the topic of disgust and of the ensuing philosophical tools devoted to its understanding. I am especially interested in the idea, familiar to Kantian scholars, that the main task of philosophy is to challenge common sense by means of unusual sounding questions. This can be conspicuously applied to disgust. Usually understood as a very common reaction, which is typical of our everyday life, the family of words revolving around disgust is often abused by language, especially when expressed in English. It is then quite easy to fall into a simplistic reading of disgust in the field of aesthetics. Generally taken as an outright negative category, artists, critics and also philosophers apply it more and more often to the interpretation of works in contemporary art. Clear examples are provided in this respect by the Viennese Actionism’s very controversial performances, but many other cases could be mentioned here.

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Psychologism and Apperception—Response to Callanan and McLear


WAYNE WAXMAN | Kant’s Anatomy of the Intelligent Mind | Oxford UP 2014


By Wayne Waxman

Kant’s Anatomy of the Intelligent Mind (henceforth KAIM) is the focus of the outstanding, much appreciated discussion pieces authored by John Callanan and Colin McLear. KAIM is the second of two volumes—the first being Kant and the Empiricists: Understanding Understanding (Waxman 2005) (KEUU)—of a single work on self and understanding in Kant and British empiricism. It comprises a four-chapter general introduction relating Kant to the empiricists as successive stages in the development of psychologism; a five-chapter Locke part; a five-chapter Berkeley part; a six-chapter Hume part; and a full volume devoted to Kant’s psychologism. Although written as a single, integral whole, each segment is cast so as to be readable on its own. Only when readers take issue with something I say about a philosopher in a part of the work subsequent to my treatment of that philosopher’s views are they urged to acquaint themselves with the scholarly case I make, say, in the Berkeley part, that supports something I say about Berkeley in the Hume or Kant part.

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On Wayne Waxman’s “Kant’s Anatomy of the Intelligent Mind”


WAYNE WAXMAN | Kant’s Anatomy of the Intelligent Mind | Oxford UP 2014


By John Callanan

Wayne Waxman’s Kant’s Anatomy of the Intelligent Mind is a typically original—and in many ways compelling—account of Kant’s transcendental theory of the mind. I have been reading Waxman’s work since the beginning of my graduate studies and have been confident from that first encounter that his work is on the right track and that it constitutes required reading for Kant scholars. Despite that familiarity and enthusiasm however, for many reasons this is a difficult book to assess. For one thing, it is constituted of nearly 600 pages of interlocking exegesis of the first half of the First Critique. What’s more, the claims of this book really form part of a larger project that includes Kant’s Model of the Mind (1991) and Kant and the Empiricists: Understanding Understanding (2005). Together they make around 1500 pages of exploration of Kant’s transcendental theory of the mind. Finding an entry point for critical engagement is a daunting task.

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On Waxman on Intuition and Apperception


WAYNE WAXMAN | Kant’s Anatomy of the Intelligent Mind | Oxford UP 2014


By Colin McLear

Perhaps no distinction is more central to the Critical philosophy than that between sensibility and the ‘higher’ cognitive faculties of the intellect (e.g. understanding, judgement, reason) broadly construed.[1] Upon this distinction in faculties Kant founds a central epistemological insight, namely, that cognition “in its proper sense” (A78/B103) comes only with the combination or unity of representations made possible by their joint cooperation. The seemingly deep dichotomy between these two faculties, whose functions “cannot be exchanged” (A51/B75) seems to present a problem for Kant, and the post-Kantian Germanic tradition in philosophy quickly strove to overcome or undermine it, with Hegel famously reading Kant as saying that,

the original synthetic unity of apperception is recognized also as the principle of the figurative synthesis, i.e., of the forms of intuition; space and time are themselves conceived as synthetic unities, and spontaneity, the absolute synthetic activity of the productive imagination, is conceived as the principle of the very sensibility which was previously characterized only as receptivity. (Hegel 1977:69–70)[2]

While Hegel takes himself to merely be presenting Kant’s true view—a view he construes as somewhat misleadingly presented by Kant himself—the interpretative and philosophical issues surrounding Kant’s distinction have reverberated down to the present day. It is not at all obvious that Hegel is right, either about Kant, or about sensibility.

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