"Judgment" and the genesis of what we lack: "Schema," "poetry," and the "monogram of the imagination" in Kant

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While "the power of judgment" is the specific object of Kant's final Third Critique, Kant first equates it with the actual origin of the "Age of Critique" itself. In the Preface to the first edition of the First Critique Kant names that origin the "phenomenon" of "indifference," an appearance of mere disinterest in then contemporary philosophy that, as widespread as it seems only negative in effect, in fact indicates, according to Kant, a positive critical power to remain unpersuaded by falsifying accounts of the mind, those that would deny both the real limits and capabilities of the intellect. Just as "the power of judgment" is not a form of "reason," but rather the "bridge" or "transition" between the impure (or "heterogeneous") cognitions of "pure reason" and the pure (or "free") actions of "practical reason," so the "schema" is hypothesized by Kant in the First Critique to mediate between sensory perception and the a priori formal mechanism of the intellect. Enigmatically dubbed "a monogram of pure imagination," the "schema" reappears in the Third Critique in Kant's discussion of "poetry," the "verbal form of expression" whose ability to "set imagination free" through its knowing inability to represent its object "adequately" makes it "first" among all the arts. That object is "the supersensible," and the use "poetry" makes of "nature" as a "schema" for the "supersensible" even while itself "appear[ing]" an act of "mere play" links the "schema," the "monogram of pure imagination," to the "power of judgment" that pure as well as practical reason are inadequate to express. "Judgment," the "power" to express that inadequacy, not only mediates but necessitates and produces the possibility of Critique in that it indicates the occurrence, neither strictly rational or irrational, of its own supersensible, the "freedom" "to think."

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)317-340
Number of pages24
JournalEighteenth Century
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • General Arts and Humanities


  • Freedom
  • Hannah Arendt
  • Imagination
  • Immanuel Kant
  • Judgment
  • Language
  • Monogram
  • Nature
  • Poetry
  • Representation
  • Schema
  • Subreption


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