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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 III THE HUMAN BEING. TOWARDS A MORAL METAPHYSICS 1. A lesson from Kant and Schopenhauer We will start by telling ourselves something that Ludwig Wittgenstein expressed in these words: “if a man could write a book on Ethics which really was a book on Ethics, this book would, with an explosion, destroy all the other books in the world. Our words used as we use them in science, are vessels capable only of containing and conveying meaning and sense, natural meaning and sense. Ethics, if it is anything, is supernatural and our words will only express facts; as a teacup will only hold a teacup full of water [even] if I were to pour out a gallon over it.”1 Wittgenstein is right, along with many others who in spite of everything have devoted themselves seriously to the pursuit of ethics; this is an undertaking on a par with metaphysics, and metaphysics, if it were to succeed, would ipso facto have to take a principal place in the realm of the important statements of mankind. Ethics, when treated seriously, must be a metaphysics of morality, an explanation to humanity of what it is and what it can become. A metaphysics that is different from the human and different from the internal, and so a metaphysics of the world and substance, is not possible, as has been demonstrated more than once, and demonstrated once again on the pages of this book. Yet few and far between are the philosophers who...

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