This chapter explores and analyses critical realism as formed and explained by Roy Bhaskar, and criticizes his conception of dialectics as being reduced to the achievement of scientific totality. Without opposing critical theory to critical realism, the epistemological prospects of dialectics is developed in the chapter as providing an open field of opposing or inter-negating arguments. The chapter elucidates that the eclipse of any normativity criterion, along with the concern for applicability of the sciences, signifies a pre-critical judgement on the part of Bhaskar's critical realism. The focus of epistemological and scientific critique in Bhaskar's critical realism remains on dialectics, for it appears to provide the exit from the methodological as well as the social monovalence. Bhaskar's conception of science is based on perceptual data. It identifies causal laws in science that involve noticing mechanisms and tendencies for their development, where such tendencies are internal to the scientific structure.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book focuses on some of the main accounts of the human subject and on the conceptions of art and language which emerge within the Kantian and post-Kantian history of aesthetics. It discusses the work of two of the founding figures of aesthetics: Alexander Baumgarten and J.G. Hamann. Baumgarten's Aesthetica and Hamann's Aesthetica in nuce, begin to suggest what is at stake in the emergence of aesthetics as an independent branch of philosophy. The book describes the story of modernity told by the proponents of the 'postmodern condition', like Jean-François Lyotard, has its roots in the work of Heidegger. It also describes the power of Heidegger's ideas is evident in the way they have influenced many contemporary theories of modernity.
The importance attributed to aesthetic questions in recent philosophy becomes easier to grasp if one considers the reasons for the emergence of modern aesthetic theory. Immanuel Kant's main work on aesthetics, the 'third Critique', the Critique of Judgement (CJ), forms part of his response to unresolved questions which emerge from his Critique of Pure Reason (CPR) and Critique of Practical Reason. Dieter Henrich regards the crux of Kant's epistemology as the justification of 'forms of cognition from the form and nature of self-consciousness'. Kant's attempts to come to terms with the 'supersensuous substrate' of the subject's relationship to the object threaten to invalidate the boundary between law-bound nature and the autonomy of rational beings which was essential to the CPR. Kant himself actually follows aspects of the Enlightenment tradition of understanding music and objects, by seeing music as a 'language of emotions'.