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Heidegger’s History of Metaphysics, Part Eleven:
Kant & Will-to-Power


Wolfgang Lettl, Die Verwandlung, 1977.

5,630 words

All essays in this series available here [2]

1. Introduction: The Identity of Representation and Will

Everyone with a basic knowledge of the history of philosophy has heard that Kant is the philosopher of moral duty above all else, who proclaimed the “good will” to be the only thing in the world that is unconditionally good. Could it be true that this noble teaching sets the stage for Nietzsche’s rapacious will-to-power, and for the nihilism of modern technological civilization? This is the striking claim made by Heidegger.

In brief, Heidegger argues that the entire history of Western philosophy since the early Greeks exhibits a hidden will to distort our understanding of the Being of beings by accommodating it to the human desire that beings should be (1) permanently present to us, hiding nothing, and (2) available for our manipulation. Heideggerians call this hidden will the “metaphysics of presence.” It reaches a climax with Nietzsche, who gives this metaphysics its most radical and explicit expression.

In my last essay [3], I argued that, for Heidegger, Kant’s philosophy exhibits the first aspect of the metaphysics of presence stated above, for Kant understands to be as merely “to be present to a subject,” and subjectivity as the ultimate condition for the possibility of the Being of beings. But what about the second aspect, the construal of to be as “to be available for human manipulation”? The present essay, the final one I will devote to Kant, will be devoted to answering just this question.

To make a beginning, let us look once more to Heidegger’s Nietzsche lectures, where he says the following about Kant:

Only as absolute self-legislation is representation — that is to say, reason in the sovereign and wholly developed fullness of its essence — the Being of all beings. Self-legislation, however, characterizes the “will,” insofar as its essence is determined on the horizon of pure reason. Reason, as striving representation, is at the same time will. The absolute subjectivity of reason is willful self-knowledge. This means that reason is absolute spirit. As such, reason is the absolute reality of the real, the Being of beings. [1] [4]

These lines occur in the midst of a kind of sweeping survey of modern metaphysics, in which Heidegger paints with a very broad brush. The lines about Kant succeed remarks on Leibniz and are followed by remarks on Hegel (note Heidegger’s reference to “absolute spirit,” discussion of which I must defer to a future essay). In the Leibniz installment [5] of this series, I discussed Heidegger’s claim that the great rationalist identifies perceptio and appetitus (perception and appetite). For Leibniz, Being or substance just is the mind in its act of perceiving. But this perceiving is inherently appetitive; it is a drive for power. Thus, for Leibniz, Being is the unity of perception/representation and will.

In the above quotation, when Heidegger writes that Kantian reason “as striving representation, is at the same time will,” he is asserting that this same basic position is to be found in Kant. As I have already discussed at length in previous installments, Kant poses a serious challenge to the representationalist theory of knowledge, but he also accepts some of its fundamental assumptions. Representationalism sees objects as standing in opposition to the subject, and thus as, in effect, challenging the subject. The object challenges us to represent it and to manipulate it. As I put it in my last essay, knowing becomes a form of striving: we strive “outward” to seize the object in our representation, and we aim to know it so thoroughly that we can manipulate and transform it in order to maximize our own power and control. (Heidegger writes that representation “is in itself, not extrinsically, a striving.” [2] [6]) As we have seen, Kant wholly accepts the representationalist “oppositional” understanding of the object, and thus for Kant too knowing or representing becomes striving. In other words, for Kant, just as for Leibniz, representing and willing are identified.

Now, this will seem a strange claim to any of my readers who may already have some familiarity with Kant’s philosophy. They know that Kant does indeed speak of the will, but he does so in the context of his moral philosophy, not in his theory of knowledge. And parts of the above quotation from Heidegger will doubtless seem very strange to those same readers: why does Heidegger identify Kantian representation with “absolute self-legislation”? Again, the idea of self-legislation is a feature of Kant’s moral philosophy and does not seem to figure at all in his account of the transcendental conditions of knowledge as such. Has Heidegger simply misunderstood Kant’s concept of the will? Has he imagined it is present in Kant’s philosophy where it really does not appear at all? Seeing how this is not the case takes us into the deep end of the Kantian philosophy, and prepares the way for our coming confrontation with J. G. Fichte.


You can buy Collin Cleary’s What is a Rune? here [8]

2. Moral Will and Transcendental Subjectivity

First of all, let us just try to get clear about what Kant means by will (Wille) in his moral philosophy. Quite simply, the will is our capacity to freely place ourselves under a law. Unlike other animals, we have the capacity to consider our drives and desires and to choose whether or not to act on them. At the most basic level, I have the ability simply to delay the gratification of my desires. I can delay gratification, for example, long enough to choose how to gratify a desire. Or I can choose between conflicting desires. Or I can choose not to act upon desires at all (as in the case of the celibate, or the ascetic who starves himself to death). All these actions presuppose that I am capable of creating a kind of “space” between myself and desire — a capacity other animals do not seem to have, since they seem wholly absorbed in seeking the more or less immediate gratification of desire.

For Kant, true freedom, however, consists in the ability of the human will not just to frustrate or to channel desire but to choose to act on something else entirely. This something else is our conception of law; our conception of what we “ought” to do, and it is the same thing as an awareness of the moral. For Kant, it is thus only in behaving morally that I am truly free. Kant calls this freedom of the will autonomy, which literally means “[giving] a law (nomos) to oneself (autos).” The opposite of autonomy is heteronomy, which means “a law from something other (heteros).” When I allow my actions to be determined by anything other than a freely chosen law or principle, I am controlled by heteronomy. It could be natural drives, emotions like fear, the desire for the approval of others, vanity, etc. — all of these would be examples of heteronomy for Kant. Really, it is incorrect to say that Kant believes “the will is autonomous,” since autonomy is not some characteristic of the will that it might or might not have. Rather, for Kant, the will is, for all intents and purposes, the same thing as autonomy. When I act autonomously, I act to shape myself and the world around me according to the moral law (again, a conception of what ought to be).

Now, there is a fascinating parallelism between the moral will and the transcendental unity of apperception. I explained this latter concept in some detail in the preceding essay. Very briefly, it is my awareness that I am aware; it is a self-awareness that says, in effect, “I think that X” (or “I am aware that X”). Now, Kant describes the transcendental unity of apperception’s self-awareness as “an act of spontaneity [Spontaneität]” (B 132). Something is “spontaneous,” in Kant’s philosophical vocabulary, when it is not determined by an external stimulus. The transcendental unity of apperception is spontaneous because when I become aware that I am aware this is not made to happen by an external cause acting upon me. Recall that if you tried the experiment I suggested to you in the last essay, and momentarily became aware of yourself being aware of an object, nothing forced you to do this, and you could simply have ignored my request. But this obviously means that the “spontaneity” of the transcendental unity of apperception is the same thing as its freedom. Transcendental subjectivity, at the most fundamental level, is free.

The parallel here to the moral will is actually very precise. By definition, the moral will also is not determined by an “external stimulus.” In other words, it is not determined by heteronomy. Of course, there does seem to be a significant disanalogy between the moral will and the transcendental unity of apperception. The moral will is autonomous in the sense of generating laws and freely choosing to determine itself according to those laws. Surely, we want to say, the transcendental unity of apperception does nothing like this. Transcendental subjectivity does not “generate” the rules according to which it structures experience and does not “choose” freely to apply those rules.

We would be quite wrong to think this, however, for once more the parallel between the moral will and the transcendental unity of apperception is exact. Kant argues that the transcendental unity of apperception is “the supreme principle of all employment of the understanding” (B 136). The understanding is the faculty that “applies” a priori concepts to sensibility in order to structure experience. Kant explicitly refers to the understanding as “the spontaneity of knowledge,” and defines it as “the mind’s power of producing representations from itself” (B 75, A 51). By this, he means that no cause external to the understanding acts upon it in order to make it apply concepts to the matter of sensibility. This is what he means by saying it produces representations “from itself.” (What subjectivity does not choose is sensibility, which is simply our receptivity, through the physical senses, to being stimulated by things in the world.)

Now, if we ask where the understanding’s concepts come from, Kant cannot (by the logic of his own position) appeal to any source, let alone “cause” of the concepts aside from subjectivity itself — for the understanding, recall, is spontaneous. Thus, Kant’s position seems to require that in some sense or other the “I think” (or transcendental subjectivity) freely “specifies itself” into the concepts of the understanding, and the other a priori rules that structure experience. Like the moral will, the transcendental unity of apperception would therefore seem to generate its laws (its “rules,” since Kant understands the concepts as rules), and to freely apply them. Just as, through the moral will, I shape myself (my actions, my character), so Kant states that the “‘I think’ expresses the act of determining my existence” or “the spontaneity of my thought [i.e., the understanding]” (B 158n). Again, this conclusion seems strange, but if transcendental subjectivity is spontaneous — again, not caused to do what it does by anything outside itself — the conclusion seems inescapable.

Now, earlier I said that through the moral will I act to shape myself and the world around me. But surely here we have found the disanalogy: surely even if we concede that transcendental subjectivity “determines itself” (determines me, at the deepest, subconscious level) it does not shape the world. Again, however, we would be quite wrong to think this. For “the world” is not given to us in sensibility, according to Kant. Indeed, nothing is “given” in sensibility. The objects given to us — i.e., the objects of which we are consciously aware — are the products of the synthetic activity of transcendental subjectivity that in-forms the matter of sensibility. What we call “the world” is thus precisely the result of the “shaping” activity of transcendental subjectivity. This is the entire point of Kant’s transcendental idealism.

3. The Opus postumum and the Autonomy of Subjectivity

What has emerged from our discussion is that transcendental subjectivity is indeed something “willful” — it can be said to shape, transform, or to manipulate the data of sense, with the result that it makes a world for us. And, over the course of time, Kant himself seems to have realized the implications of his ideas sketched above. This is apparent from reading the Opus postumum (“Posthumous Work”), a collection of philosophical notes written during the last years of Kant’s life and published after his death. In these notes, Kant is struggling to unify the entire transcendental philosophy of the three Critiques and his other post-critical writings. (He had already sought this unity in the 1790 Critique of Judgment but had not been entirely satisfied with the result.)

Of course, according to Kant’s own principles, to unify any manifold, even a manifold of philosophical ideas, requires placing it under a higher rule or law. In the Opus postumum, this rule appears to be “self-positing” (Selbstsetzung). Kant argues that the transcendental subject “posits” itself in the formation of all the various “faculties of the mind.” [3] [9] We have, of course, already encountered this idea of “positing” in Kant’s claim that Being is “position” or what is “posited” (see the preceding essay). Kant uses “posit” (setzen) in the Opus postumum to mean something like “to constitute” or “to objectify.” [4] [10] Thus, what Kant argues in the Opus postumum is that the transcendental subject objectifies itself through the creation of its different faculties. But to “objectify myself” literally means to put myself in front of myself, which would mean to confront myself — or, quite simply, to be self-conscious. This is exactly Kant’s position in the Opus postumum: he argues that the subject posits itself so as to achieve self-confrontation or self-consciousness. [5] [11]

Frederick Beiser explains Kant’s position in the Opus postumum in striking terms: “The fundamental idea behind this doctrine is that the subject creates the world that it knows, or that what it knows is its creation, and indeed a function of its self-consciousness or self-objectification.” [6] [12] Beiser also correctly states that Kant’s position in the Opus postumum is a development of ideas present in germinal form in his earlier works. For example, in the preface to the second edition of the first Critique, Kant writes that “we can know a priori of things only what we put into them” (B xviii). This seems to refer exclusively to what Kant calls “synthetic a priori knowledge,” but in the Opus postumum we find Kant insisting much more broadly that, in Beiser’s words, “we get out of experience only what we have put into it, and that we can know something only insofar as we create it.” [7] [13]

In arriving at this extraordinary position, Kant is yet again making explicit, for the very first time, an element in modernity that was implicit in its earliest origins, in the development of the modern scientific method. In the third essay [14] in this series, I discussed Heidegger’s thesis that the modern scientific approach to nature rests upon what he calls τα μαθήματα (ta mathēmata). Heidegger explains this concept as follows: “Τα μαθήματα means . . . that which, in his observation of beings and interaction with things, man knows in advance.” [8] [15] Modern physics, the paradigm example here, achieves its results with an unparalleled exactness by means of projecting, in advance, a certain delimited understanding of “nature” onto nature, one that (conveniently) makes exactitude possible. Thus, physics can measure exactly only because it has chosen to see only some aspects of what is, and not others.

But this means that modern physics is, in effect, getting back from nature only what it has put into it. The great irony here is that the “objective” approach of modern physics, which insists that exact measurement is the key to objectivity, is actually deeply subjective. Kant is effectively recognizing this fact and embracing it. He is also radicalizing the idea, by declaring that to encounter the world — not just in physics but in human consciousness as such — is to encounter our own projections. This implication of Kant’s later thought is a beautiful illustration of one of the principal theses of Heidegger’s history of metaphysics: that philosophers do not “create” ideas but instead give expression to the Zeitgeist, often to elements in the Zeitgeist that have hitherto remained dormant or latent.

In any case, the doctrine of self-positing in the Opus postumum gives Kant a way to unify the different parts of his transcendental philosophy, because all the different faculties of subjectivity are now seen as expressions of self-consciousness, as “different ways in which the self posits or objectifies itself.” [9] [16] What Kant is asserting in the Opus postumum is, in effect, the primacy of the transcendental unity of apperception (again, the “I think that X,” the self-conscious awareness that I am aware). We noted earlier that given Kant’s description of the transcendental unity of apperception as “spontaneous,” he seems logically bound to claim that the “I” must “freely specify” itself into the different faculties of the mind. This is indeed the position he explicitly develops in the Opus postumum.

Kant also came to recognize another implication of his ideas, argued for earlier: that there is a close kinship between the transcendental unity of apperception and the moral will. In the Opus postumum these are united under the concept of the “autonomy of reason.” The moral will is an expression of the fundamental autonomy of the transcendental subject, and one in which it strives for self-consciousness. (Just exactly how the moral will is a striving for self-consciousness will be explained later.) Kant thereby achieves what he had always sought: the unity of theoretical and practical reason. This development was also foreshadowed in Kant’s earlier writings. In The Critique of Practical Reason, Kant wrote that the concept of freedom is the “keystone to the whole architecture of pure reason.” [10] [17]

Beiser writes of the Opus postumum that “Kant now makes the concept of autonomy into the fundamental principle of transcendental philosophy.” Kant even goes so far as to describe transcendental philosophy simply as a “system of autonomy.” [11] [18] In other words, all aspects of what we take to be our world are to be attributed to the wholly free self-specification of transcendental subjectivity. In the Opus postumum, even sensibility is now taken to be a form in which the subject posits itself. In the first Critique, by contrast, Kant had maintained that sensibility is the pre-given “matter” of consciousness, and that the role of transcendental subjectivity was to give form to this matter. In other words, the earlier Kant held that sensibility falls entirely outside transcendental subjectivity. The step taken by the later Kant is indeed quite radical, for now transcendental subjectivity absorbs sensibility as well. While the Kant of the first Critique had held that sensibility was our capacity to be “affected” by things outside us, the Kant of the Opus postumum now holds, in Beiser’s words, that sensibility is “nothing more than the self-affection of the transcendental subject, so that the perception of external objects is nothing more than the transcendental subject’s awareness of its own creations.” [12] [19]

Now, it is important to note that Kant is not saying what the reader probably now thinks he is saying: he is not saying that everything that exists is the creation of human subjectivity. Kant never abandoned his belief in the existence of things in themselves, even in the Opus postumum. However, the doctrine undergoes something of a transformation in these late notes. Kant affirms in the Opus postumum that there is what might be described as a “material dimension” to experience, one that is purely contingent. For example, given all the foregoing we might want to challenge Kant with questions such as these: “Is the whiteness of the coffee cup a creation of subjectivity, a way in which the subject ‘posits itself’?” Or: “Is the taste of the coffee, its sweetness and faint acidity, a mere ‘projection’ of subjectivity?” Kant’s answer to both these questions would be no. What some philosophers might call the “raw feel” of things is not the creation of the subject. This “material dimension” to experience, which is ultimately irrational and ineffable, seems to take over, in the Opus postumum, the role played by the thing in itself in Kant’s earlier writings.

Purely as an aside, I will note that if we were to “de-subjectivize” the different transcendental structures of subjectivity identified by Kant and simply take them as “ideas” that are neither subjective nor thinglike (i.e., spatio-temporal) it is hard to resist the conclusion that the later Kant has reinvented the metaphysics of the later Plato. [13] [20] In dialogues such as the SophistStatesman, and Parmenides, Plato seems to be mapping a vast, eidetic system of forms which “constitute” reality. But there is a dualism to Plato’s vision: this system of forms stands opposed to a “material dimension” which resists in-formation, and all of our efforts to make it intelligible. (This material dimension is referred to in the so-called “unwritten doctrines” of Plato as the “indefinite dyad,” aoristos duas.) For Heidegger, however, the Kantian “subjective” doctrine is actually incipient in the Platonic, for eidos (form) actually means the “look” of something. Since there can be no look without a looker, we realize that already in the supposed “objective idealism” of Plato, the Being of things is defined in reference to subjectivity. (For more information on the “subjectivism” of the Platonic doctrine, and its foundational role in the history of metaphysics, see the first essay [21] in this series.) To state the obvious, we now see the end of Western metaphysics returning to the beginning. It will be left to Schelling and Hegel to “de-subjective” transcendental idealism, by Platonizing Kant’s transcendental structures in a new form of “absolute idealism.” (And when this idealism too is kicked away, by Nietzsche, we will be left staring into the abyss.)

But to return to Kant, we must ask just exactly how he squares his affirmation of a “material dimension” to experience with his claim that sensibility is now to be understood as an expression of the subject’s self-positing. For the “material dimension” just seems like it ought to be identified with the “stimuli” or sense data provided by sensibility itself. This is a difficult question to answer, given the obscurity of much of the Opus postumum, and one to which we really cannot do justice here. Suffice it to say that Kant wants to greatly expand his earlier, bare-bones treatment of sensibility, by identifying the a priori, constitutive principles operative in this “faculty.” This seems to involve Kant in arguing that his system of the “moving forces of nature,” elaborated in the Opus postumum, is “a constitutive principle of the possibility of experience, [explaining] all perceptions, even colors, tastes, and sounds, as the product of the relations between forces.” [14] [22] In affirming the “material dimension,” however, Kant made it clear that which color, taste, or sound appears to us, and what its “raw feel” might be (its intensity, for example), was not a matter that could be determined a priori. In any event, understanding these murky ideas is not essential for our purposes here.

Despite Kant’s affirmation of an irreducibly material dimension to experience, he has now expanded the reach of the subject’s “constitutive” powers so that it now has dominion over almost the entirety of experience. But this is just another way of saying that the world (in the sense of “world” used earlier) comes almost entirely under the dominion of the subject, for whom it exists merely as a freely created expression of its will to self-consciousness. As already noted, one expression of this will to self-consciousness is the moral will. In other words, moral action is a form in which subjectivity strives for self-consciousness. But how can this be? How are we “striving for self-consciousness” when we tell the truth (even when it hurts), condemn wrongdoers, protect the innocent, or help little old ladies across the street?


You can buy Collin Cleary’s Summoning the Gods here [24].

4. From the Moral Will to the Will-to-Power

The matter is actually quite simple. Acting morally constitutes, in every instance, transforming what is according to laws or principles the subject has freely given to itself. In other words, it is a matter of transforming what is into what we think ought to be. Let’s take a simple example. What is: the little old lady is on one side of the street, but needs to get to the other, and cannot do it on her own. What ought to be: she ought to be on the other side of the street, so she ought to be helped. I help her, I do the right thing, and now she is on the other side. I have thereby transformed what is into what I recognized ought to be.

Let’s take another example. What is: the tech companies censor speech. But this ought not be. So (thinking optimistically) I pass a law that stops big tech censorship, and thereby I have once more transformed what is into what ought to be. All moral action is like this. But the process of transforming what is into what ought to be is just the same thing as transforming the world into an image, if you will, of my conception of what ought to be, an image of my own ideas. In other words: it is the same thing as transforming the world into a projection of my own subjectivity. In doing this, I am therefore confronted with myself. In the smiling face of the little old lady, now helped by me to the other side of the street, I am confronted with my own ideas made real. Moral action is thus a vehicle for self-consciousness.

We can now see that Kant’s theoretical philosophy (his “theory of knowledge”) and his moral philosophy converge, and that they move toward a genuinely radical new position. And this position is once more an explicit expression of a basic trend that had always been latent in modernity itself, a trend in the modern Zeitgeist: the conviction that what is is nothing more than material to be transformed according to the subject’s ideas and intentions. Further, this trend is now underwritten by Kant’s moral idealism: we have a duty to transform what is according to our vision of what ought to be.

In sum, we have established that both aspects of the metaphysics of presence spoken of earlier are amply represented in Kant: both the construal of what is merely as what is present to a subject, and as available for the subject’s manipulation. Given all the foregoing, if Kant were on trial for complicity in the metaphysics of presence, he would, at this point, be convicted and sent straight to jail. Though not “straight to the guillotine,” as a supportive friend of mine put it. The French Revolution was made possible, in fact, by the metaphysics of presence, which we will discuss when we turn to Fichte.

Speaking of Fichte, any readers who are even somewhat familiar with the history of post-Kantian idealism will have already made the observation that the Kant of the Opus postumum seems to be moving in a Fichtean direction. This observation has been made by many others. A great deal of this has to with the fact that the language of “self-positing” is most famously associated with Fichte, who frequently uses setzen, and its derivatives. Fichte had read Kant for the first time in 1790 and was completely converted to the “critical philosophy.” He then visited Kant in Königsberg in 1792 and discussed philosophy with him. While Fichte saw himself as Kant’s faithful follower he also felt, as many philosophical “followers” do, that the great man’s philosophy needed to be “completed.” For Fichte, this meant that it needed to be unified in terms of one fundamental idea — and this idea turns out to be more or less identical to the unifying principle of autonomy put forward in the Opus postumum.

In 1794, Fichte published the results of his “completion” of Kant in the Foundation of the Entire Doctrine of Science (Grundlage der gesammten Wissenschaftslehre; universally referred to, by both German and Anglophone scholars, simply as the Wissenschaftslehre). Central to the Wissenschaftslehre is the doctrine of the self-positing subject. Now, the notes collected in the Opus postumum were begun sometime in July 1797 and stop altogether in December 1800 (Kant died in 1804 and suffered from senility in the last few years of his life). Thus, the question always comes up of whether Fichte influenced Kant.

It appears that Kant had little direct acquaintance with Fichte’s work, probably because he was reluctant to spend his time plowing through the writings of a mere follower, writings which had the deserved reputation of being extremely obscure (even by Kant’s standards). However, we do know that he was familiar with Fichte’s ideas through published reviews, and that friends gave him some accounting of those ideas. It is indeed significant that Kant begins to frequently use “positing” in his notes (as well as other ways of expressing the same notion). [15] [25] This term is so closely associated with Fichte that it has long been the subject of jokes in philosophical circles (“Did he posit Mrs. Fichte? And what did she think about that?”). Fichte’s use of the term is indeed constant and borders on the obsessive. Prior to the Opus postumum, Kant’s use of “positing” is relatively infrequent.

However, the major reason for thinking there had been some influence of the younger man on the older is not merely terminological: the idea of self-positing and many of the other ideas of the Opus postumum are strikingly like those of Fichte. Beiser tries to downplay the similarity by pointing out differences (and there are real and significant differences), but I am not convinced. Nor do I find Kant’s 1799 public repudiation of Fichte’s philosophy very convincing either. There is no possibility, incidentally, of any influence of the Opus postumum on Fichte. Not only were these notes begun in 1797 (three years after Fichte published the first version of the Wissenschaftslehre), there is also no evidence that Kant shared the notes with anyone. Further, they were not published in a German edition until 1936–1938. Thus, the Opus postumum was not available to Heidegger when he was writing some of his most important commentaries on Kant. (As I result, I should note that the use of the Opus postumum in this essay to support Heidegger’s critique of Kant has been largely a product of my own reflection.) It is, of course, always possible that Kant arrived at his position in the Opus postumum entirely on his own. Arguably, the similarity with Fichte could be due to the fact that the younger man was largely correct: the position of the Wissenschaftslehre might really be a logical outgrowth of the Kantian philosophy.

In any case, it is to Fichte that we will turn in our next adventures in the history of metaphysics. When we do so, we turn not to a mere follower of Kant, but to a major philosopher in his own right, and one who has been unjustly neglected. Fichte’s philosophy is at once seductive, uplifting, and horrifying. Inspired by his enthusiasm for the French Revolution, Fichte’s system is such a perfect expression of the modern will to remake all of existence that it is difficult to understand why Heidegger did not declare that the metaphysics of presence had reached its completion already with Fichte, rather than Nietzsche. Mysteriously, Heidegger has little to say about Fichte.

*  *  *

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[1] [26] Martin Heidegger, Nietzsche, Vol. 3, ed. David Farrell Krell, trans. Joan Stambaugh et al. (New York: Harper and Row, 1987), 222.

[2] [27] Nietzsche, Vol. 3, 221. 

[3] [28] Kant is rather loose in his usage of “mind” (Gemüt), never really explaining what the term means (and implicitly treating it as “thinglike”). In my third essay on Kant [29], we discussed how Kant seems to presuppose a problematic “mechanical” model of mind, and the language of “faculties” is arguably a reflection of this.

[4] [30] When Kant refers to Being as position he uses the noun Position, which is obviously cognate with English “posit” and “position.” But Kant also uses setzen (v) and Setzung (n) instead of Position

[5] [31] Unless otherwise noted, “subject” will always refer here to the transcendental subject — as opposed to what Kant would call the empirical subject, which is the “self” we are speaking of when we refer to all that is personal, such as my own personal memories, thoughts, feelings, etc. 

[6] [32] Frederick Beiser, German Idealism: The Struggle Against Subjectivism 1781-1801 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2002), 194. 

[7] [33] Beiser, 197.

[8] [34] Martin Heidegger, Off the Beaten Track, trans. Julian Young and Kenneth Haynes (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 59. 

[9] [35] Beiser, 195. 

[10] [36] Quoted in Beiser, 196. 

[11] [37] Beiser, 196.

[12] [38] Beiser, 197. Italics in original.

[13] [39] The justification for a “de-subjectivization” of transcendental subjectivity is discussed in the previous essay. Briefly: if we give a faithful phenomenological description of the features of transcendental subjectivity, they do not show up as anything personal, self-like, or subjective. It is not my transcendental subjectivity, it is (or I take it to be) universal. Further, transcendental subjectivity has no location: it does not show up as “in here” any more than it shows up “out there” (as a thing occupying space). Transcendental “subjectivity” is neither subjective nor objective, neither mindlike nor thinglike. Thus, transcendental subjectivity has been misnamed; it is not subjective.

[14] [40] Beiser, 197.

[15] [41] Beiser summarizes Kant’s different variations on setzen, and his other ways of expressing the same idea, on p. 194.