Kant against the cult of genius: epistemic and moral considerations

In Camilla Serck-Hanssen & Beatrix Himmelmann (eds.), Proceedings of the 13th International Kant Congress: The Court of Reason. Berlin: De Gruyter. pp. 919-926 (2021)
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In the Critique of Judgment, Kant claims that genius is a talent for art, but not for science. Despite his restriction of genius to the domain of fine art, several recent interpreters have suggested that genius has a role to play in Kant’s account of cognition in general and scientific practice in particular. In this paper, I explore Kant’s reasons for excluding genius from science as well as the reasons that one might nevertheless be tempted to think that his account allows room for the scientific genius. I then argue that Kant’s concerns are not only epistemic, but also moral, and together, they give us good reason for resisting the veneration of genius

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Jessica Williams
University of South Florida


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