Nietzsche 1. Any student who is not already studying Kant for some other paper, therefore, is recommended to read at least one introductory book about Kant. Although knowledge of German is helpful enabling one to read the central texts in the original, and to draw on an extended range of secondary literature , it is not by any means necessary: all the central texts are available in English, along with the recommended secondary literature. In the exam, students are asked to answer three questions, on at least two of the authors. As there is quite a wide range of questions asked, it is sufficient for examination purposes to prepare just two authors, studying their views on a range of topics, and the arguments for and against them, in some depth. A broad knowledge of all the philosophers on the paper is important, however, for a full understanding of those you choose to study in detail.
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Today, in the 21st century, the world of philosophy continues to grapple with the many issues the book raised. One particular issue has to do with the way objects are understood, or not understood, with particular reference to the thing in itself.
A thing, an object, is cognized as appearance, while the thing in itself of that object remains inaccessible to human understanding and experience. This paper will attempt to examine the vexing philosophical issue of the thing in itself, as it was commented on by Martin Heidegger, Charles Taylor, Terry Pinkard, Henry Allison and others. Heidegger poses this as a basic question of metaphysics. Therefore, in this everyday sense, the philosopher is thought to be foolish and laughable.
Although it starts in the everyday world, philosophy cannot get too distracted with the everyday conception of things. It must have the ability to take itself seriously apart from this, to go beyond the everyday and the scientific when asking fundamental questions such as what is a thing?
In the opening pages of What is a Thing? God is brought up as a good example to show the impenetrability of completely understanding the thing in itself as it was conceived of by Kant. In short, God is that thing in itself of which we will never truly know much about, and the empirical fact that a concept of God, or a God, is not entirely available to us.
The tendency to do this looks more like the metaphysics offered by the speculative philosophies of Gottfried Leibniz and Christian Wolff. But the thing-in-itself, i. As complicated as Heidegger can be at times, in this case with Kant, he is remarkably clear and concise. Heidegger helps to introduce the primary nature of the dualism Kant set up between the thing of appearance and the thing in itself.
Hegel was strongly influenced by Kant. Things are made conscious not only for us, but in the greater sense of how humans collectively become conscious of things. Where Kant abhorred contradiction, Hegel valorized contradiction. Then, in this movement of dynamic consciousness a more complete conception of the thing can be said to become better known by the whole of humanity, not just by us as individuals.
Our individual Geist provides only a single part of the absolute knowledge of things. Geist, in its manifestation as the whole of humanity, provides the most complete notion of how we collectively become conscious of things for Hegel.
Hegel does not retain such abstract limitations on what can be made conscious of and identified. Before a person sets out to be conscious something there has to be an acknowledgement of a particular thing that is unknown, and it is not yet differentiated from other things. Before that particular thing can become identified, its identity is empty and undifferentiated for that person.
Once the thing is cognized and identified it is for us. An example is given of a child who is not yet a man, who is said to be in the abstract, and in an in itself state, or a seed is likewise in the in itself state. The in itself, for Hegel, is basically something that has no yet been realized, it has not been put into its fullest actuality. It is what the thing is. Determination, i. Since the idea is, that reality is constituted by the structure of our minds, instead of the other way around.
One might think that in order to know about how we understand the world, we have to empirically dig deep into the way things are. For Kant, we provide the experience of the phenomena that is made evident by the noumena, and it is the way that our minds structure that information, via the categories of understanding etc. In order to stake a claim for the validity of his arguments—to show that the categories of the understanding made cognition possible on the basis of the intuitions of space and time, reproductively synthesized by the imagination and brought together by the transcendental unity of apperception, in a rationally structured way—there had to be things that are outside of our a priori transcendence: the things in themselves.
Freedom had to be one of those things, for Kant, which cannot be known in the fullest sense of the word. Freedom too, was noumenal, it is a thing in itself. As Taylor identifies it, this is the first dualism that Hegel wishes resolve, i. And it is something that Kant clearly leaves as an opposition when he comes to the phenomena and noumena. But, Kant never took this to the conclusions that Hegel did, since Kant maintained that there was a difference between the phenomenal and the noumenal way that we cognize the world with our concepts etc.
Protecting Kant The respected scholar Henry E. Allison in his book Transcendental Idealism devotes many pages to the thing in itself. The typical way of prioritizing the locution favors the short version, Ding an sich thing in itself. Allison is clear that Prauss, by no means, solves the problem. This is different than asking about how things are in the ontological sense of the word. Kant, in the good graces of Allison and Prauss, is concerned with what we know, rather than what things are before we know them in contrast to Hegel.
It, the thing in itself, then is somehow a transcendental object. Allison shows that for Kant the concept of the noumenon is not arbitrary or fictitious, but it does contain a negative limitation on the sensible appearances that which is available to the senses , i. So, now there is a clearer sense of the question as to how the thing in itself is a transcendental object, which must mean that one can think of what it means to have an aspect of the object transcendentally cognized.
Still, if it is a transcendental pointer as Allison posits, it corresponds to sensibility, it is singular, it is an intelligible cause, and it is a cause of an appearance. As for the relation to the thing in itself, we could, after what was just gathered, that if the thing in itself is the empirical correlate to appearance, then the transcendental object is the transcendental correlate of the object for the understanding and cognition.
Only a few of the issues and complications have been brought to bear in such a way so as to consider them with the scholarly respect they deserve. If, while asking about the thing in itself, this is the well we have fallen into, we have not fallen far. The bottom has not been reached.
And, two of the most salient points to be made have already been recounted: Where Kant opposes contradiction, Hegel valorizes contradiction, and, where Kant is epistemological, Hegel is ontological. Surely, Kant had in mind the limitations of human cognition, and Hegel envisioned the possibility toward the infinite. The mistake is to think one was right where the other was wrong. Both philosophers were simply trying to get to the truth about things, and the basic way we think about those things.
the thing in itself
A Hegel Dictionary