November 29, 2007

Quote of the Day: Schopenhauer on The History of Idealism

Now as, notwithstanding the transitory, isolated nature of our representations with respect to their immediate presence in our consciousness, the Subject nevertheless retains the representation of an all-comprehensive complex of reality, as described above, by means of the function of the Understanding; representations have, on the strength of this antithesis, been viewed, as something quite different when belonging to that complex than when considered with reference to their immediate presence in our consciousness ... This view of matter, which is the ordinary one, is known under the name Realism. On the appearance of modern philosophy, Idealism opposed itself to this Realism and has since been steadily gaining ground. Malebranche [Kenny's note: Malebranche was a Platonist, not an Idealist] and Berkeley were its earliest representatives, and Kant enhanced it to the power of Transcendental Idealism, by which the co-existence of the Empirical Reality of things with their Transcendental Ideality becomes conceivable ... But Realism quite overlooks the fact, that the so-called existence of these real things is absolutely nothing but their being represented (ein Vorgestellt-werden) ... The realist forgets that the Object ceases to be Object apart from its reference to the Subject, and that if we take away that reference, or think it away, we at once do away with all objective existence. Leibnitz [sic], while he clearly felt the Subject to be the necessary condition for the Object, was nevertheless unable to get rid of the thought that objects exist by themselves and independently of all reference whatsoever to the Subject, i.e. independently of being represented. He therefore assumed in the first place a world of objects exactly like the world of representations and running parallel with it, having no direct, but only an outward connection with it by means of a harmonia proestabilitia; - obviously the most superfluous thing possible ... When, however, he wanted to determine more closely the essence of these things existing objectively in themselves, he found himself obliged to declare the Objects in themselves to be Subjects (monades), and by doing so he furnished the most striking proof of the inability of our consciousness, in as far as it is merely cognitive, to find within the limits of the intellect - i.e. of the apparatus by means of which we represent the world - anything beyond Subject and Object; the representer and the represented.

    - Arthur Schopenhauer, On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason, tr. Karl Hillebrand, sect. 19

Posted by Kenny at November 29, 2007 9:19 AM
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