This paper receives its impetus from Gadamer's account of effective history (Wirkungsgeschichte) and his corresponding challenge to the 'problem of purity' that he locates in Kant's critique of aesthetic judgment and that derives from the attempt to establish universal founding principles for thought and action. This is a deep and wide-ranging issue, and so I focus on a very specific aspect of it: the division between intuition and understanding, between history as a given flux and enlightenment as a unifying synthesis, that motivates Kant's search for pure reflective grounds to reconcile them, and on the challenge posed to this division by the version of history as prejudice that Gadamer describes. My aim is to make salient key markers in the 'history v purity' problem, through a dialogue between two themes (pré-jugé and avant-garde) that continue to pervade the problem and three figures (Kant, Gadamer and Lyotard) who partially see the problem but do not succeed in getting beyond it.

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