, Volume 43, Issue 3, pp 331-352
Date: 01 Aug 2010

An antinomy of political judgment: Kant, Arendt, and the role of purposiveness in reflective judgment

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Abstract

This article builds on Arendt’s development of a Kantian politics from out of the conception of reflective judgment in the Critique of Judgment. Arendt looks to Kant’s analysis of the beautiful to explain how political thought can be conceived. And yet Arendt describes such Kantian reflection as an empirical undertaking that justifies itself only in relation to the abstract principle of the moral law. The problem for such an account is that the autonomy of the moral law appears to be at odds with the social cohesion of Kantian political life. The ensuing contradiction can be deemed the antinomy of political judgment. Kant’s conception of reflective judgment offers such an inquiry considerably more to work with than Arendt uncovers. In particular, the regulative principle of the purposiveness of nature that is shown to direct all reflection can be seen to offer the solution to this antinomy.