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Knowledge, Being and the Human

Some of the Major Issues in Philosophy


Jan Hartman

This book, in the form of a classical philosophical treatise, presents a large-scale theoretical project: It uses a metaphilosophical perspective to present the framework for postmetaphysical thinking, situating it in the domain of the metaphysics of morality. It offers an innovative defence of scepticism based on a critical and radical analysis of the concepts of knowledge and truth. Metaphysical and transcendental traditions are deconstructed, mainly in relation to the paradoxes of so-called realism and idealism, which are the consequence of dependence on an archaic substance theory. Moreover, the book proposes a certain form of philosophising in spite of everything, i.e. within a sceptical approach. The critique of ethics leads to an a-ethical concept of the will and the values of life.


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Part I KNOWLEDGE. A REVIEW OF THE ISSUE OF SCEPTICISM 1. The importance of the questions of scepticism and dogmatism in the history of philosophy Scepticism has accompanied philosophy almost from the very start. At times the matter has been brought to a head, such as Plato’s dispute with the Sophists, as well as, in a curious way, the famous medieval dispute of the “dialectists” (i.e. philosophers) with the “antidialectists” (i.e. enemies of philosophers). Yet only in modern philosophy, in the search for metaphysical truth in the self-knowledge of understanding, has the problem become a fundamental one for philosophy – which does not mean that it has been treated in an impartial fashion, in accordance with the demands we place on the rationality of the philosopher. All too often, analysis has been replaced by tirades. Indeed, practically the whole of modern philosophy, up until the mid-20th century, was consumed by a fear of scepticism and dogmatism. How, then, to sail between the Scylla of scepticism and the Charybdis of dogmatism? This was a question that tormented Descartes, Kant, Husserl and many others besides. The answer that usually emerged was thus: trust what in your reason is its essential and own form of organisation, its a priori essence, and in this trust allow yourself to be led through the clear, unbiased experiencing of the thing itself, i.e. that which is clearly presented and cannot be different from how it is. The necessity emerging from apparently accidental experiences charmed us and made us...

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