Kantian Journal

2023 Vol. 42. №4

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The Role of the Kantian “Power of Judgment” in the “Nonmodern” Study of Conscious Experience



One of the major problems in contemporary philosophy of mind is the dualism of first-person and third-person perspectives — the question of whether conscious experience is public and epistemically accessible or private and qualitative. Recognising the relevance of the arguments of both sides, naturalists and anti-naturalists, I attempt to resolve this dichotomy using Bruno Latour’s methodology on the theories of Immanuel Kant and Moritz Schlick. To do so, I propose not to reduce the theory of consciousness to one interpretation, but to consider conscious experience as a “boundary object” between the spheres of the private and the public, the accessible and the qualitative, the unique and the reproducible. Through the “practice of translation” I demonstrate the failure of ontologies of conscious experience proposed by both naturalism and anti-naturalism, and propose an “intersectional theory” as an alternative theory of conscious experience that affirms, on the one hand, the uniqueness of the individual’s epistemic position and, on the other hand, its reproducibility and communicability. I introduce the term “intersectional locality” to denote the ontological status of conscious experience. In the next step, I return to the necessary (according to Latour) “practice of purification” of those epistemic zones whose fusion was outlined earlier, which allows me to recognise the intuition behind the dichotomy of the two perspectives as legitimate and requiring conceptualisation. The mediation of Schlick’s positivist theory and Kant’s transcendentalist theory allows us to present first-person and third-person perspectives as two epistemic registers, subordinated to the position of a historically specific conscious subject. I treat the first-person perspective as a reflective power of judgment, and the third-person perspective as a determinative power of judgment; doing so, I establish the connection between the qualitative interpretation of phenomenal experience and the aesthetic principle of the reflective power of judgment. I conclude that conscious experience as a subject matter of research is a hybrid object, and only the project of “nonmodern” science will make it possible to create a relevant theory of consciousness that does not resort to reduction.


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