Our seminar was reading Derrida’s “Economimesis” at the same time that Judith Butler and Avital Ronell were exploring Arendt’s optimistic reading of Kant’s Critique of the Judgment of Taste. Arendt believed that Kant’s analogy between judgments of beauty and moral judgments provided a point of departure for a democratic political or public sphere. A grammatological context clarifies the relationship of this possibility to apparatus formation.
Each mode of reason whose limits Kant sought to define is institutionalized as a practice and state of mind relative to one of the three apparatuses.
Pure Reason Practical Reason Aesthetic Reason
Understanding Reason Imagination
Thinking Willing Judging
Empirical Rational Hermeneutic
Inductive Deductive Abductive
True/False Right/Wrong Pleasure/Pain
Necessity Freedom Beauty
Literacy Orality Electracy
Science Religion Entertainment
The important point in our context is, first, that Kant proposed Aesthetic judgment as a bridge bringing into relationship the other two modes of knowing. His project, at the beginning of electracy, was to promote sensory experience, measured on an axis between the extremes of pleasure and pain, to equal status with empirical understanding and moral freedom. He anticipated precisely the mode of intelligence directly exploited by the institutionalization of electracy within Entertainment.
Part of Kant’s insight was that the new epoch would overwhelm the Judgment of Taste with sublime experience. Derrida’s updating of Kant’s taste is an ontology based not on the distancing sense of hearing and sight, but the contact senses of touch, taste, and smell. The poststructural revision is to entertain a fourth dimension or critique that (following the subsequent evolution of philosophy from Hegel through Freud) temporalizes the other three critiques. The Fourth Critique is of Historical Reason, and may be unfolded according to the above table: