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Rachel Zuckert

Professor

My research focuses on Kant and his philosophical context, broadly understood: both his eighteenth-century contemporaries, and post-Kantian, nineteenth-century philosophy. I am interested in practically every aspect of Kant’s philosophy, but my research has concentrated most on the Critique of Judgment, including work on Kant’s aesthetics, philosophy of biology, and questions concerning the possibility of empirical knowledge. Recently, I have been working on essays, which may ultimately form a book, concerning the aspirational character of reason on Kant’s view: on the ideas of reason as presenting goals for scientific explanation, orienting the agent to moral life as a never-to-be-completed task, or felt as precarious self-transcendence in the aesthetic experience of the sublime.  I have also recently completed a book on Johann Gottfried Herder’s aesthetic theory and at present am working on a collection of essays treating various topics in eighteenth-century Scottish aesthetics. 

I have offered upper-level undergraduate courses on Kant, nineteenth-century philosophy, philosophy of the Enlightenment, philosophy of history, aesthetics (many different topics), and feminist philosophy, and graduate seminars on Kant, eighteenth- and nineteenth-century aesthetics, eighteenth-century philosophy of history, and Kierkegaard. Future courses might focus on in addition on other figures in eighteenth-century philosophy (Locke, Hume, Rousseau, Adam Smith), as well as further topics in aesthetics such as imitation or the aesthetics of critical theory.

Selected work

  • Kant on Beauty and Biology:  An Interpretation of the Critique of Judgment, Cambridge University Press, 2007.
  • “Kant on Practical Fanaticism” in Benjamin Lipscomb and James Krueger, eds., Kant’s Moral Metaphysics (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2010), pp. 291-318.
  • “Kantian Ideas of Reason and Empirical Scientific Investigation” in Michela Massimi and Angela Breitenbach, eds., Kant and the Laws of Nature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017), pp. 89-107.
  • “Hidden Antinomies of Practical Reason, and Kant’s Religion of Hope,” Kant Yearbook 10 2018, 199-217.
  • Herder’s Naturalist Aesthetics, Cambridge University Press, 2019.
  • “Sculpture and Touch: Herder’s Aesthetics of Sculpture” Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 67:3 Summer 2009, 285-299.
  • “Adaptive Naturalism in Herder’s Aesthetics: An Interpretation of the “Shakespeare” essay ”Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 36:2, 2015, 269-93.
  • “Kames’ Naturalist Aesthetics, and the Case of Tragedy,” Journal of Scottish Philosophy September 2009 7:2, 147-162.
  • “Reid’s Expressivist Aesthetics,” in Rebecca Copenhaver and Todd Buras, eds., Mind, Knowledge, and Action:  Essays in Honor of Thomas Reid’s Tercentenary (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), pp. 139-60.
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