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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 II BEING. THE IMPOSSIBILITY AND POSSIBILITY OF METAPHYSICS 1. The futility of transcendentalism We already know that the immanent character of objects of experience understood as-they-present-themselves – that is as noemata – is no significant obstacle to statements expressed objectively. And all manner of “idealists” and “realists” supposedly know this too, claiming either victory over the idealism- realism problem, or that it is no longer anything more than an ostensible issue – yet they always seem to see this trivial content as a special discovery, as “good news” almost. They even see this – and have invariably done so since the beginning of the 20th century – as proof of their own philosophical wisdom. Yet the realism-idealism opposition is neither an apparent one nor one that needs “scrapping”, but rather simply marginal, as it results from a certain artificially constructed heuristic figure in which the philosopher puts himself in the position of universal mentor of critical thinking, albeit invoking the sovereignty of “the people”, i.e. the natural users of the language as the only source of the linguistic, and consequently also theoretical norm.1 The role of the philosopher-king of criticism here is to sanction the right of the “natural users of the language” to express themselves “objectively” about the world. The philosopher stands in a wide-open field at dawn, raises his arms and calls “rise, sun!” And the sun rises. This is one of several tricks that philosophy has used in the last two centuries to defend its weakened authority.2 1 The archetype of...

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