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It is in all consciousness the same—hence undeterminable by any accident of consciousness; in it the Ego is only determined through itself, and is thus absolutely determined. It is also clear here, that Kant could not have understood this pure apperception to mean the consciousness of our individuality, nor could he have taken the latter for the former; for the consciousness of my individuality, as an I , is necessarily conditioned by, and only possible through, the consciousness of another individuality, a Thou.

Again, in what relation does Kant, in the above passage, place this pure Ego to all consciousness? As conditioning the same. Hence, according to Kant, the possibility of all consciousness is conditioned by the possibility of the pure Ego, or by pure self-consciousness, just as the Science of Knowledge holds. In thinking, the conditioning is made the prior of the conditioned—for this is the significance of that relation; and thus it appears that, according to Kant, a systematic deduction of all consciousness, or, which is the same, a System of Philosophy, must proceed from the pure Ego, just as the Science of Knowledge proceeds; and Kant himself has thus suggested the idea of such a Science.

But some one might wish to weaken this argument by the following distinction: It is one thing to condition , and another to determine. According to Kant, all consciousness is only conditioned by self-consciousness; i. But, according to the Science of Knowledge, all consciousness is determined through self-consciousness; i. Now, to meet this argument, I must show that in the present case the determinateness follows immediately from the conditionedness , and that, therefore, the distinction drawn between both is not valid in this instance.

He deduces what is required from the asserted principle, and only what he thus has deduced as consciousness is for him consciousness, and everything else is and remains nothing. Now I know very well that Kant has by no means built up such a system; for if he had, the author of the Science of Knowledge would not have undertaken that work, but would have chosen another branch of human knowledge for his field.

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I know that he has by no means proven his categories to be conditions of self-consciousness; I know that he has simply asserted them so to be; that he has still less deduced time and space, and that which in original consciousness is inseparable from them—the matter which fills time and space—as such conditions; since of these he has not even expressly stated, as he has done in the case of the categories, that they are such conditions.

But I believe I know quite as well that Kant has thought such a system; that all his writings and utterances are fragments and results of this system, and that his assertions get meaning and intention only through this presupposition. Whether he did not himself think this system with sufficient clearness and definiteness to enable him to utter it for others; or whether he did, indeed, think it thus clearly and merely did not want so to utter it, as some remarks would seem to indicate, might, it seems to me, be left undecided; at least somebody else must investigate this matter, for I have never asserted anything on this point.

This is the spirit and the inmost soul of all his philosophy, and this also is the spirit and soul of the Science of Knowledge. Now, a scientific form of philosophy was not possible so long as that something, which is not Ego, was looked for outside of the Ego as ground of the objective reality of the transcendental content of the Ego.

Thus Reinhold. I have not convinced my readers, or demonstrated my proof, until I have met this objection. The purely historical question is this: Has Kant really placed the ground of experience in its empirical content in a something different from the Ego? I know very well that all the Kantians, except Mr.

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Beck, whose work appeared after the publication of the Science of Knowledge, have really understood Kant to say this. Schulz, whom Kant himself has endorsed, thus interprets him. How often does Mr. We have just seen how Reinhold also interprets Kant. There are other reasons why it is not very presumptuous to contradict the whole number of Kantians, but I will not mention them here.

But what is most curious in this matter is this—the discovery that Kant did not intend to speak of a something different from the Ego, is by no means a new one. I do not like to do again what has once been done, and cannot be done better; and I refer my readers with the more pleasure to those works, as they, like all philosophical writings of Jacobi, may be even yet of advantage to them. A few questions, however, I propose to address to those interpreters of Kant. Tell me, how far does the applicability of the categories extend, according to Kant, particularly of the category of causality?

Clearly only to the field of appearances, and hence only to that which is already in us and for us. But in what manner do we then come to accept a something different from the Ego, as the ground of the empirical content of Knowledge? I answer: only by drawing a conclusion from the grounded to the ground; hence by applying the category of causality. But his interpreters make him forget for the present instance the validity of categories generally, and make him arrive, by a bold leap, from the world of appearances to the thing per se outside of us.

Now, how do these interpreters justify this inconsequence? Kant evidently speaks of a thing per se. But what is this thing to him?

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A noumenon , as we can find in many passages of his writings. Reinhold and Schulz also hold it to be a noumenon. Now, what is a noumenon? According to Kant, to Reinhold, and Schulz, a something, which our thinking —by laws to be shown up, and which Kant has shown up— adds to the appearance, and which must so be added in thought; [3] which, therefore, is produced only through our thinking; not, however, through our free , but through a necessary thinking, which is only for our thinking —for us thinking beings.

But what do those interpreters make of this noumenon or thing in itself? The thought of this thing in itself is grounded in sensation, and sensation they again assert to be grounded in the thing in itself.

A Criticism of Philosophical Systems

Their globe rests on the great elephant, and the great elephant—rests on the globe. Their thing in itself, which is a mere thought, they say affects the Ego. Have they then forgotten their first speech, and is the thing, per se , which a moment ago was but a mere thought, now turned into something more? Or do they seriously mean to apply to a mere thought, the exclusive predicate of reality, i. It is but too well known to me that the Kantianism of the Kantians is precisely the just described system—is really this monstrous composition of the most vulgar dogmatism, which allows things per se to make impressions upon us, and of the most decided idealism, which allows all being to be generated only through the thinking of the intelligence, and which knows nothing of any other sort of being.

From what I am yet going to say on this subject, I except two men—Reinhold, because with a power of mind and a love of truth which do credit to his heart and head, he has abandoned this system, which, however, he still holds to be the Kantian system, and I only disagree with him on this purely historical question, and Schulz, because he has of late been silent on philosophical questions, which leaves it fair to assume that he has begun to doubt his former system. But concerning the others, it must be acknowledged by all who have still their inner sense sufficiently under control to be able to distinguish between being and thinking and not to mix both together, that a system which thus mixes being and thinking receives but too much honor if it is spoken of seriously.

To be sure, very few men may be properly required to overcome the natural tendency towards dogmatism sufficiently to lift themselves up to the free flight of Speculation. What was impossible for a man of overwhelming mental activity like Jacobi, how can it be expected of certain other men, whom I would rather not name? Now, if we admit the absurdity, as unfortunately we must, why, then, might not Kant have said these absurdities, just as well as we others, amongst whom there are some, of whom you yourself confess the merits, and to whom you doubtless will not deny all sound understanding?

I reply: to be the inventor of a system is one thing, and to be his commentators and successors, another. What, in case of the latter, would not testify to an absolute want of sound sense, might certainly evince it in the former. The ground is this: the latter are not yet possessed of the idea of the whole—for if they were so possessed, there would be no necessity for them to study the system; they are merely to construct it out of the parts which the inventor hands over to them; and all these parts are, in their minds, not fully determined, rounded off, and made smooth, until they are united into a natural whole.

The discoverer of the idea of the whole, on the contrary, proceeds from this idea, in which all parts are united, and these parts he separately places before his readers, because only thus can he communicate the whole. The work of the former is a synthetizing of that which they do not yet possess, but are to obtain through the synthesis; the work of the latter is an analyzing of that which he already possesses. It is very possible that the former may not be aware of the contradiction in which the several parts stand to the whole which is to be composed of them, for they may not have got so far yet as to compare them.

But it is quite certain that the latter, who proceeded from the composite, must have thought, or believed that he thought, the contradiction which is in the parts of his representation—for he certainly at one time held all the parts together. It is not absurd to think dogmatism now, and in another moment transcendental idealism; for this we all do, and must do, if we wish to philosophize about both systems; but it is absurd to think both systems as one.

Now, I, at least, am utterly incapable of believing such an absurdity on the part of any one who has his senses; how, then, can I believe Kant to have been guilty of it? Unless Kant, therefore, declares expressly in so many words, that he deduces sensation from an impression of the thing , per se , or, to use his own terminology, that sensation must be explained in philosophy, from a transcendental object which exists outside of us , I shall not believe what these interpreters tell us of Kant.

But if he does make this declaration, I shall consider the Critique of Pure Reason rather as the result of the most marvellous accident than as the product of a mind. But cannot these seemingly opposite statements be united?

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Kant speaks in these passages of objects. What this word is to signify, we clearly must learn from Kant himself.


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But this X is not the transcendental object i. What, then, is this object? That which the understanding adds to the appearance, a mere thought. Now, the object affects—i. What does this mean? If I have but a spark of logic, it means simply: it affects in so far as it is; hence it is only thought as affecting. Or: if you posit an object with the thought that it has affected you, you think yourself in this case affected; and if you think that this occurs in respect to all the objects of your perception, you think yourself as liable to be affected generally —or, in other words, you ascribe to yourself, through this your thinking , receptivity or sensuousness.

But do we not thus assume, after all, affection to explain knowledge? Let me state the difference in one word: it is true, all our knowledge proceeds from an affection , but not an affection through an object. As Mr. Beck has overlooked this important point, and as Reinhold does not call sufficient attention to that which makes the positing of a non-Ego possible, I consider it proper to explain the matter in a few words. When I posit myself, I posit myself as a limited; in consequence of the contemplation of my self-positing, I am finite.

This, my limitedness—since it is the condition which makes my self-positing possible—is an original limitedness. Somebody might wish to explain this still further, and either deduce the limitedness of myself as the reflected, from my necessary limitedness as the reflecting; which would result in the statement: I am finite to myself, because I can think only the finite;—or he might explain the limitedness of the reflecting from that of the reflected, which would result in the statement: I can think only the finite, because I am finite.