The Impact of Critical Thinking: Reassessing the Kantian Legacy

Projekter: ProjektForskning



Project team

Guido Kreis (Aarhus University), Principal Investigator, 2016-2021

Jacob Lautrup Kristensen (University of Oslo), Postdoc researcher, September 2017 - August 2019 (now Research Assistant, University of Aalborg)

Lars Lodberg (Aarhus University), PhD student, 2017-2021

Andrew Stephenson (Oxford/Humboldt University Berlin), Postdoc researcher, February - August 2017 (now Lecturer in Philosophy, University of Southampton)

The research project is generously funded by an AUFF grant.

The impact of critical thinking

Kant intended to provide a comprehensive account of human reason meeting the demands of modern civilisation. But in order to achieve this, Kant famously insisted, human thinking has to be critical thinking. It is essential that we, as rational human beings, critically reflect upon the principles of everyday talk, science, morality, and aesthetic discourse. In doing so, philosophy becomes transcendental philosophy. One of its basic tools is the semantic analysis of theoretical, practical, and aesthetic judgements. Transcendental analysis in turn leads to the problem of the validity of our different kinds of judgements and their transcendental conditions. By reconstructing our modes of reasoning out of their transcendental conditions, Kant argues, we critically reflect upon the scope, the achievements, and the limits of human rationality.

The project aims at a reassessment of the Kantian model: Can Kant’s account of transcendental analysis still be defended in the context of contemporary philosophy? What is the impact which critical thinking could have today? Would it be irrational to be too critical? Are there any limits of rationality? At issue is a reconstruction, as well as a revision, of the main features of our self-conception as rational agents and critical thinkers in a rationally organized world.

Focus I: Kant’s principles of theoretical reasoning

How does Kant analyse basic semantic concepts like truth, reference, and meaning, and how are they connected to the normative dimension of judgements? How can Kant’s transcendental approach contribute to an understanding of the rational foundations of the sciences? Are there really things we can’t know anything about? What, if any, are the metaphysical implications of transcendental analysis? How does transcendental analysis relate to analytic philosophy? How does Kant’s account of the paradoxes of the infinite relate to modern philosophy of mathematics and science (Cantor, Goedel, Priest)? What is the significance of critical thinking for everyday reasoning?

Focus II: Kant’s principles of practical reasoning

What is the logic of moral judgements? On which meta-ethical convictions does Kant’s moral philosophy rest? To what extent do Kant’s principles of morality derive or depart from traditional accounts? How do they relate to current accounts of social and political justice? Can Kant’s concept of critical thinking still serve as a model for contemporary civil societies?

Focus III: the third Critique – Kant’s alternative approach to human rationality

Kant on the art of reflection and the reflection of art: What is the logic and semantics of aesthetic discourse? What are the conditions, the referents, and the normative scope of aesthetic judgements? How do sense and sensibility, concepts and intuitions interact in aesthetic experience? How do aesthetic judgements relate to truth oriented judgements, and how does aesthetic rationality relate to theoretical rationality? Is Kant’s account of art helpful for understanding modern and contemporary art at all? How could a critical theory of art and aesthetic experience be modelled on Kantian lines?

Reconstructing Kantian Insights

The main focus of the research project will be on the rational reconstruction of Kant’s original account of principles of rationality, his transcendental philosophy, and its historical background. The project will also discuss the reception and criticism of Kant’s philosophy in 20th century and contemporary philosophy, including the analytic tradition. One main objective of the project is a transformation of Kant’s original insights into a present day model of critical thinking and rationality: a model that can be defended in accordance with present scientific standards, yet still remains an innovative and provoking challenge for current accounts of rationality.

Events organised by the project

Aarhus Kant Week 2019: Rachel Zuckert
13-16 May 2019, Aarhus University, Conference Center, Studenterhus
Public Lecture: Attempting to Exit the Human Perspective
Master Class: Kant on Reflective JudgmentInternational
Graduate Workshop: Reflection and Reflective Judgment in Kant
For more information, see:

Aarhus Kant Week 2018: Jens Timmermann
4-8 May 2018, Aarhus University, Søauditorierne & Nobelparken
Master Class: Kant's Theory of Sympathy
Public Lecture: Kant and the Supposed Right to Lie
International Workshop: Kant, Value, and Freedom
For more information, see:

Aarhus Kant Week 2017: James Conant
8-12 May 2017, Aarhus University, Søauditorierne
Master Class: Why Kant Is Not A Kantian
Public Lecture: Kant's Critique of the Layer-Cake Conception of the Mind
International Workshop: Transcendental Idealism and Scepticism – New Perspectives
For more information, see:

All events of the Kant Weeks have been generously funded by AUFF.
Effektiv start/slut dato01/09/201631/12/2021


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