"The development I have in mind is the idea of the exemplary. This is a notion that appears more than once in passing in some of Ricoeur’s most recent work. However, to the best of my knowledge, it is developed at some length in only one place, and that is an unusual one in the sense that the essay in question on the face of it has little to do with either this idea nor the philosophy of history. I am referring to the brief essay in The Just entitled 'Aesthetic Judgment and Political Judgment According to Hannah Arendt.'18 The title suggests that this essay is about Arendt's work. Its opening paragraph announces the goal of examining Arendt's thesis 'that it would be possible to extract from the Kantian corpus, under the heading of the philosophy of history, a theory of political judgment that would satisfy the criteria applied to aesthetic judgment in the third Critique, the Critique of Judgment' (94). So it turns out that the text is more about Kant than it is about Arendt. In fact, Ricoeur wants to propose an alternate reading of Kant’s political philosophy than that suggested by Arendt, 'one that will remain under the aegis of reflective judgment but not exclusively in terms of its aesthetic use' (94-95). The reading of Kant on judgment that follows is a fascinating one. It confirms again Ricoeurvs strength not just in interpreting the history of philosophy, but also in applying it in new ways. He points out, for example, that Kant introduced an innovation in how the tradition thought of judgment, substituting the idea of subsumption for that of attribution or predication, and then went on in the third Critique to introduce a split into this idea of subsumption. Whereas the first Critique had spoken of a determinative judgment that confers the truth value of objectivity on experience, the third Critique inverts this, presenting at least the hypothesis of cases where one 'seeks' an appropriate rule under which to place a singular experience. In this case, the judgment does not determine any universal objectivity, it only 'takes into account the procedures the mind follows in the operation of subsumption' (95) in what is now called a reflective judgment. This judgment which relates to what pleases us stands in relation to a teleological judgment in that the natural order is thought of in terms of some finality. It is this idea of finality that gives order to the experience in question, for 'order affects us in that it pleases us' (95). Hence this teleological judgment calls for an aesthetic judgment as the first component of reflective judgment. What is important here, as Ricoeur emphasizes, is making sense of the connection between the pleasure we take in order and its teleological structure. Without this connection, we would fall either on the one side back into psychologism, or on the other into naturalism.
The next step is to see how for Kant this judgment calls for communication. This is what assures 'universality' in a sense still to be determined. Ricoeur doesn't pursue this point, but if I can suggest an analogy from his hermeneutical theory that may be applicable here, we might say that just as a text is given to anyone who can read, so too a reflective judgment is meant to be communicated to anyone who can appropriate it through an act of interpretation. As suggested earlier, this is a kind of knowledge without certainty since, if we continue to follow Kant here, we are dealing with something that can 'please without a concept, that is, without any objectifying intention and without any claim to truth' (97). I would question the latter claim in that it depends on a tacit limiting of the possibility of truth to objective knowledge, narrowly defined. However if the point about the communicability of reflective judgment is correct, it does suggest the possibility of transposing this discussion beyond the aesthetic context in which Kant presented it. This is what Ricoeur sees Arendt attempting in her Lectures on Kant’s Political Philosophy.19 This project is complicated with reference to Kant because he also speaks of an idea of finality with no end in characterizing the kind of pleasure that is at stake in the example of pleasure he is working from. This is a finality that characterizes living beings, particularly in the case of their action. Yet as we have seen it also somehow claims universality, if only because it is communicable. As such it must be universalizable in a different way than are what Kant sees as objective representations or the practical maxims of the will. It does not apply in the latter case because it is a finality that is neither sought nor intended. Hence it is a universality, Ricoeur suggests, that depends on a 'communicability that does not result from some antecedent universality' (98). Communicability, to put it another way, in this case institutes universality. And it does so through the presence of the exemplary; in Kant's case, the exemplarity of the beautiful" (Pellauer 2003:18-19).
Pellauer, D. (2003). Hermeneutics and philosophy of history: Ricoeur at ninety. Philosophy Today, 47, 12. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/205354392?accountid=28180
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