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date: 17 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This article begins by setting out Kant's views on the dialectic of reason and the related concept of reflective judgment. It then shows how two main strands of German philosophy in the nineteenth century develop those doctrines in different directions. On the one hand, German Idealism develops dialectic in a way that minimizes the necessity for the kind of rational presupposition that is indicative of Kantian reflective judgment. Idealism does this in the service of constructing more and more ‘scientific’ philosophical systems that ground objectivity of claims and theories in terms of necessity. On the other hand, German Romanticism embraces the idea of reflective judgment and the idea of an ‘Absolute’ that is beyond human comprehension, arguing that objectivity cannot be grounded in the idea of a total, all-encompassing system of thought. It then treats two major twentieth-century representatives of these approaches: Adorno and Habermas.

Keywords: reflective judgment, German Idealism, philosophical systems, Adorno, Habermas

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