In this philosophically sophisticated and historically significant work, John H. Zammito reconstructs Kant’s composition of The Critique of Judgment and reveals that it underwent three major transformations before publication. He shows that Kant not only made his "cognitive" turn, expanding the project from a "Critique of Taste" to a Critique of Judgment but he also made an "ethical" turn. This "ethical" turn was provoked by controversies in German philosophical and religious culture, in particular the writings of Johann Herder and the Sturm und Drang movement in art and science, as well as the related pantheism controversy. Such topicality made the Third Critique pivotal in creating a "Kantian" movement in the 1790s, leading directly to German Idealism and Romanticism.
The austerity and grandeur of Kant’s philosophical writings sometimes make it hard to recognize them as the products of a historical individual situated in the particular constellation of his time and society. Here Kant emerges as a concrete historical figure struggling to preserve the achievements of cosmopolitan Aufkl-rung against challenges in natural science, religion, and politics in the late 1780s. More specifically Zammito suggests that Kant’s Third Critique was animated throughout by a fierce personal rivalry with Herder and by a strong commitment to traditional Christian ideas of God and human moral freedom.