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Journal of the History of Philosophy 39.4 (2001) 594-596

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Immanuel Kant. Critique of the Power of Judgment. Edited by Paul Guyer. Translated by Paul Guyer and Eric Matthews. The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Immanuel Kant. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000. Pp. lii + 423. Cloth, $64.95.

With the publication of this volume, a long dark age, or at least an age of frustrations, comes to an end for English-speaking students of Kant's third Critique. To be sure, translations of the Kritik der Urteilskraft into English have long been available, but hitherto none has been quite satisfactory. J.H. Bernard's (1892) contained numerous errors. James Creed Meredith's (1911-1928) was too free for scholarly purposes. Werner Pluhar's (1987), though systematic in its treatment of Kant's vocabulary, imposed so much restructuring and rewording on his sentences as to make the translator himself an intrusive presence throughout.

The new version by Paul Guyer and Eric Matthews surpasses its predecessors in almost every respect. (It equals Pluhar's in including the First Introduction.) In keeping with the principles of the Cambridge Edition of Kant's writings, the translators make literal accuracy a primary desideratum, and leave the work of interpretation, to the greatest extent possible, to the reader. The title itself reflects this policy. The consistent rendering of Urteilskraft as "power of judgment," rather than the familiar "judgment," makes it unambiguous when Kant is talking about judgments and when he is talking about the capacity to make them. It is to be hoped that this will discourage the misconstrual of Kant's distinction between (using Guyer and Matthews's terms) the [End Page 594] "reflecting" and the "determining" powers of judgment as a distinction between two varieties of judgments.

The translators' practice of preserving the grammatical complexity of Kant's sentences does sometimes make one wish for some help with his pronouns, since English does not preserve the information that gender carries in German. In most cases, though, one gains more than one loses in comprehension of Kant's reasoning by having his sentences rendered whole rather than in pieces.

There are occasions when what is presumably intended as literal accuracy seems more like a needlessly unbending attitude toward idiom. To take one example, at §19, Kant is translated as saying: "whoever declares something to be beautiful wishes [will] that everyone should [solle] approve the object in question and similarly declare it to be beautiful" (121). Of course, wollen is ordinarily to be translated as "want" or "will," and perhaps sometimes as "wish"; but it also can mean "claim" or "hold" in certain contexts, and this seems to me to be one of them, as all previous translators have taken it to be. (One can wish that others would do something, but one cannot intelligibly be said to wish that they should do something.)

Of course, no translation can please everyone. Those who were attached to the jingle of "purposiveness without a purpose" may be disappointed to find Zweckmäßigkeit ohne Zweck rendered here as "purposiveness without an end." But, given that there is no good alternative to "purposiveness" to render Zweckmäßigkeit, and that Zweck figures so prominently in Kant's ethical thought, where it is always, and rightly, rendered as "end," the need for consistency and accuracy surely justifies the sacrifice of consonance. Zweck der Natur and Naturzweck are distinguished as "end of nature" and "natural end," respectively (apart from a lapse over pages 34-35); Endzweck and letztes Zweck as "final end" and "ultimate end"; streiten and disputieren (in the "Resolution of the Antinomy of Taste," §57) as "argue" and "dispute." In this last pair it seems to me that Bernard's and Pluhar's "quarrel" would have been a better choice for the first term. The distinction between Streiten and Disputieren, as between "quarreling" and "disputing," is certainly delicate, but not groundless; a distinction between "arguing" and "disputing" seems completely artificial. However, in this as in all such difficult cases, the translators helpfully supply the German terms in...


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