The first form of criticism that refuses to judge
MetadataShow full item record
My dissertation, The First Form of Criticism that Refuses to Judge , takes its title from a fragment by Walter Benjamin, one that poses a challenge: can criticism refuse to judge? What sort of form could such a criticism take? I begin my consideration of this question with a reading of Kant's Critique of Judgment . I pay particular attention to the sensus communis, poetry's status as the highest of the arts, and the transition of taste. The transition of taste is of crucial importance to the critical system, as it provides a mediating term between the domains of the sensible and the supersensible. In the second chapter, I look at Nietzsche's critique of Kant's aesthetics, and argue that Nietzsche reverses the transition of taste, creating an aesthetic critique of morality that brings us back to the sensible as such. I also consider Nietzsche's writings on Homer and Heraclitus as counter-examples that allow him a model other than the thought of judgment. Nietzsche proposes a criticism that operates according to immanent criteria, rather than transcendent ones. For him, art is evidence of a people to come. In the third and final chapter, I look at two different kinds of immanent critique, those of Walter Benjamin and Gilles Deleuze. Where Nietzsche presents himself as a destroyer of ideals, Benjamin suffers a more tragic fate as a witness to, and casualty of, destruction. For Benjamin, all critical criteria have been devalued, and a new criticism must be developed to address this death of taste. The notion of the life of the work replaces taste as the ground of criticism, and links the task of the critic to that of the translator. However, this also means that Benjamin cannot have done with the transcendent criteria to the same extent that Deleuze can. I compare and contrast Benjamin and Deleuze's readings of Kafka as a way of illustrating Deleuze's more radical embrace of immanence. For Deleuze immanence is immanent to nothing but itself, and it is for this reason that Deleuze insists philosophy must engage in a vital critical combat against the thought of judgment.