chapter  4
26 Pages

Kant: Causing all to disappear

It is possible to suggest that each of Kant’s three critiques embodies a particular disappearance. The first Critique endeavours to ‘say’ something about ‘truth’; in so doing the world must be reduced to the status of mere appearance. This reduction enables Kant to speak, in that he is no longer plagued by the scepticisms of the empiricists. Kantian philosophical discourse is, then, predicated on the disappearance of the world. The second Critique, which concerns practical reason, attempts to tackle the issue of moral practice, the good as such. But here again it is possible to suggest that Kant is only able to have his morality, that is to ‘do’ good acts, if nature is usurped to some degree by a noumenal realm that allows for freedom from the hegemony of mechanistic laws. In the third Critique, Kant discusses beauty and the sublime. This involves the possibility of sight, a ‘seeing’ of the beautiful. But again this is only possible if beauty is merely subjective (yet universal), not involving the existence or perfection of any object. Furthermore, beauty does not involve knowledge. This aesthetic involves, contra Aquinas, no cognition in any manner.1 So in the first Critique the world becomes mere appearance, and upon this rests our ability to ‘say’. In the second Critique we lose nature, and upon this rests our ability to ‘do’. In the third Critique we lose the visible object and upon this rests our ability to ‘see’. These disappearing acts will be carried out in a privileged manner by ‘man’, the subject. Like Spinoza’s epistemically informed philosopher (and, as we shall see, Hegel’s universal thinker and Heidegger’s Dasein), we have the Kantian subject, with its Copernican revolution, who will be the site of this triple vanishing.