Macquarie University

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"The world we've expounded": Kant, beauty, and the 'as if' unity of nature and freedom

posted on 2023-01-11, 02:06 authored by John Hundley

This thesis will examine the problem of modern philosophical disenchantment and the possibility of meaning in Kant’s Critical project. The problem of disenchantment, I argue, refers to the division and disembodiment of human experience in the first two Critiques. The possibility of meaning can be illustrated through Kant’s attempt to unify the experience of the subject through their corporeal embodiment in the third Critique. While this attempt is not theoretically successful as Kant fails to constitutively unify the worlds of nature and freedom, I contend that the ‘as if’ unity of the two realms through judgements of taste and beauty provides a model for potentially restoring human meaning in the disenchanted condition of modernity. Moreover, I suggest in the conclusion that the ‘as if’ unity of nature and freedom through the experience of beauty provides a practical ethico-aesthetic model through which we might reorient our relationship with the natural world towards greater ecological conservation and protection of our shared environment.


Table of Contents

Chapter one: abstraction and embodiment -- Chapter two: autonomy and unity -- Chapter three: disenchantment and meaning -- Conclusion -- Bibliography

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


Thesis (MRes), Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Philosophy, 2020

Department, Centre or School

Department of Philosophy

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Robert Sinnerbrink


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58 pages

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