Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation



First Advisor

Martin Donougho


I argue that critique is an epistemologically significant Kantian metaphor for transcendental self-consciousness. This claim is complex, involving two antecedent propositions: (1) there is a Kantian theory of metaphor; (2) critique is such a metaphor.

In Chapter 1, I argue that theorizing about metaphor is too diverse to allow for anything but the arbitrary adoption of a single theory that can be applied to critique. Were I to make such a move, I could then arguably misrepresent Kant. So, in Chapter 2, I turn directly to Kant's third Critique, specifically §49, and argue that Kant's theory of aesthetic ideas is a plausible theory of metaphor -- more plausible than is his theory of symbolically exhibited ideas, which I take to be analogies. The two central features of a Kantian metaphor are that it allows one to adopt a variety of standpoints from which to contemplate or think rational ideas, and that built into the capacity to adopt standpoints for this purpose is the ability to think from both particular and universal points of view -- e.g., to make subjective claims that have universal validity.

Chapter 3 involves the argument that critique is a Kantian metaphor. This argument relies on the success of the main argument in Chapter 2, along with the etymological and socio-historical analyses of critique as adopting standpoints. This argument leads to the claim that critique is a metaphor for transcendental self-consciousness. Since critique as a Kantian metaphor reflects the capacity not only to adopt a variety of standpoints for contemplating the nature and scope of knowledge, but also for attempting to press past epistemological boundaries, we have to find a feature of the mind that is the source of that capacity. On the interpretation of transcendental self-consciousness as the only such feature of the mind, I conclude it to be the source of critique as a Kantian metaphor. From this it follows that critique as a Kantian metaphor has epistemological significance. That is because transcendental self-consciousness must be presupposed in all judgments.