Date of Award

May 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

William Bristow

Committee Members

Julius Sensat, Luca Ferrero


Art, Genius, Kant, Mcdowell, Second Nature


One of the central claims of John McDowell's Mind and World is that, in reconciling an apparent opposition between the normative and the natural, philosophers should look to a notion of second nature: the idea that nature includes a species of animals (namely, human beings) who, through their socialization, transform themselves into rational beings capable of thinking about and acting in the world in response to reasons. McDowell argues that Kant lacks a notion of second nature and thereby fails to overcome the relevant problem of reconciliation. My aim in this paper is to show that (pace McDowell) Kant does possess and employ a notion of second nature in his theory of artistic creativity. More precisely, I try to show that Kant's conception of genius as the expression of aesthetic ideas employs a notion of second nature that is similar to, albeit importantly distinct from, the one to which McDowell appeals.

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