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ABSTRACT. The paper argues that modern hermeneutics has failed to recognize Kant’s reflective-teleological reasoning as a highly advanced form of interpretation as presented in Part II of the Critique of Judgment. If we liberate the principles of reflective-teleological judgment from his examples of biological nature, the paper claims, we arrive at nothing less than Kant’s general proto-hermeneutics. Such a distillation of hermeneutic principles is then justified on three grounds, that (1) Kant views nature broadly as the “sum of phenomena”; (2) his arguments about the purposiveness of nature are derived by analogy from cognitive judgments about art; and (3) in Kant, human culture is an advanced appearance of nature. A summary statement of Kant’s proto-hermeneutics is followed by a sketch of significant moments throughout the history of modern hermeneutics, from Ast, Schleiermacher and Dilthey to Heidegger and Gadamer, and from Habermas and Ricoeur to Caputo and Vattimo, when many Kantian hermeneutic themes are broached without acknowledgment of their sources in the Critiques. Crucially, what modern hermeneutics fails to see is that Kant’s reflective-teleological judgment amounts to an advanced procedure of indeterministic, hermeneutic subsumption beyond induction.

Keywords: proto-hermeneutics; reflective-teleological reasoning; indeterminacy; projection; hermeneutic helix; sensus communis

How to cite: Ruthrof, H. (2021). “Reflective-Teleological Judgment as Indeterministic Subsumption: Kant and Modern Hermeneutics,” Analysis and Metaphysics 20: 31–49. doi: 10.22381/am2020212.

Received 19 February 2021 • Received in revised form 22 April 2021
Accepted 24 April 2021 • Available online 10 May 2021

Horst Ruthrof
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Murdoch University, Perth, Australia

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