This conclusion presents some closing thoughts on the concepts discussed in the preceding chapters of this book. This book examines dialectics in modern epistemology and compares it with critical theory, not 'in order to' but 'because' the latter can offer innovative means of dialectical theorizing. In this way, critical theory has the potential to advance twenty-first-century epistemology. The book attempts to present and ground the argument that a retreat to de-theorization for the sake of the partiality of empiricism, as well as the postmodern approach. In order to avoid social and scientific instrumentality and pre-modern positions, the construction of scientific politics has to be criticized under the perspective of a political epistemology. Such an epistemology negates the determinism of the arguments of social structures and scientific systems, and replaces the postmodern with a dialectics of modernity that reaches all strata of scientific progress.
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'.