Category: Metaphysics

Levinas: Ethics as First Philosophy (1984)

This essay was published for the first time in “Justifications de l’Ethique” (Bruxelles: Editions de l’Universite de Bruxelles), 1984, pp. 41 – 51. I am quoting here from the English translation in “[easyazon_link identifier=”0631164472″ locale=”US” tag=”mainacademicsite-20″]The Levinas Reader[/easyazon_link],” edited by Sean Hand, 1989, p. 76. Ethics as First Philosophy’ is a clear and powerful summary of Levinas’s methodical and yet radical move away from Husserl’s transcendental idealism and Heidegger’s hermeneutics towards the ethical question of the meaning of being, as we encounter it in the face-to-face relation. Beginning with the phenomenological legacy which reveals knowledge as built on an intentionality...

Friedrich Schelling: System of Transcendental Philosophy. 1800

About Schelling “Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling (1775–1854) is, along with Fichte and Hegel, one of the three most influential thinkers in the tradition of ‘German Idealism’. Since he changed his conception of philosophy often, it is hard to attribute a  clear philosophical conception to him. Schelling was a rigorous logical thinker, but in the era during which he was writing, there was so much change in philosophy that a stable, fixed point of view was impossible. Schelling’s continuing importance today is based on three aspects of his work. Schelling’s Naturphilosophie. His empirical claims are largely indefensible, but his approach...

Heidegger: Brief über den Humanismus. 1947

[5] Wir bedenken das Wesen des Handelns noch lange nicht entschieden genug. Man kennt das Handeln nur als das Bewirken einer Wirkung. Deren Wirklichkeit wird geschätzt nach ihrem Nutzen. Aber das Wesen des Handelns ist das Vollbringen. Vollbringen heißt: etwas in die Fülle seines Wesens entfalten, in diese hervorgeleiten, producere. Vollbringbar ist deshalb eigentlich nur das, was schon ist. Was jedoch vor allem «ist», ist das Sein. Das Denken vollbringt den Bezug des Seins zum Wesen des Menschen. Es macht und bewirkt diesen Bezug nicht. Das Denken bringt ihn nur als das, was ihm selbst vom Sein übergeben ist, dem...

Gottfried Leibniz: Monadology (1714).

1. The monad, of which we will speak here, is nothing else than a simple substance, which goes to make up compounds; by simple, we mean without parts. 2. There must be simple substances because there are compound substances; for the compound is nothing else than a collection or aggregatum of simple substances. 3. Now, where there are no constituent parts there is possible neither extension, nor form, nor divisibility. These monads are the true atoms of nature, and, in a word, the elements of things. 4. Their dissolution, therefore, is not to be feared and there is no way...

Descartes: Selections from Meditations. 1641

Descartes’ Life René Descartes (1596 – 1650) was born near Tours, in France, and was educated for nine years at a Jesuit college. After graduating with a law degree from Poitiers at the age of twenty-two, he traveled in Europe, and developed a passion for mathematics and philosophy. He spent most of his life after 1628 in Holland, and published in philosophy, physics, mathematics, and other sciences. In mathematics, he invented analytic geometry and the coordinate system that bears his name (“Cartesian”). He also prepared some significant works in physics, which he withdrew from publication upon discovering that his contemporary, Galileo,...

Aristotle – Metaphysics

This text is a foundational text of Western philosophy; it was written in 350 B.C.E. In it, Aristotle defines the nature of philosophy in relation to scientific knowledge. He starts with human curiosity – the desire to know does not need any further explanation.His approach differs from Plato: knowledge starts with the senses, but the senses do not tell us the “why” of anything. Wisdom is not just experience or knowledge about things in the world, it is knowledge about the principles and causes of things. Here is the beginning of Metaphysics: Book I: Part 1 “ALL men by nature...

Deleuze on Kant

Gilles Deleuze wrote in a Letter to Michele Cressole” My book on Kant is different, I like it very much, I wrote it as a book on an enemy, in it I was trying to show how he works, what his mechanisms are…’ The following transcript of a lecture on Kant was given by Deleuze on 14/03/1978 in Vincennes. The title of the seminar was” Synthesis and Time.” The text can be found at Webdeleuze.com Introduction “We are returning to Kant. May this be an occasion for you to skim, read or re-read The Critique of Pure Reason. There is...

Gilles Deleuze: Immanence – A Life

Deleuze was very sick in his final years. The last essay he published is very short; it is an extraordinary text. “Immanence: A Life” was published in 1995, and he took his own life on November 4, 1995.  The concept of a “plane of immanence” is borrowed from Spinoza, who used it to describe the world as an attribute to the one substance, God. I like the concept of a transcendental field which is prior to consciousness, and consciousness “becomes a fact only when a subject is produced at the same time as its object, both being outside the field...

Plato: Parmenides Dialog

Translated by Benjamin Jowett, from Project Gutenberg. Here are some links that will help to understand the text better:  Plato’s Parmenides (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy) Parmenides (dialogue) – Wikipedia The symbolic structure of Plato’s Parmenides   PARMENIDES PERSONS OF THE DIALOGUE: Cephalus, Adeimantus, Glaucon, Antiphon, Pythodorus, Socrates, Zeno, Parmenides, Aristoteles. Cephalus rehearses a dialogue which is supposed to have been narrated in his presence by Antiphon, the half-brother of Adeimantus and Glaucon, to certain Clazomenians. We had come from our home at Clazomenae to Athens, and met Adeimantus and Glaucon in the Agora. Welcome, Cephalus, said Adeimantus, taking me by...

Heidegger: Existence and Being

The text was written in 1949, and addresses the question of metaphysics. Towards the end, he asks: Why is there any being at all and not rather Nothing? “Descartes, writing to Picot, who translated the Principia Philosophiae into French, observed: “Thus the whole of philosophy is like a tree: the roots are metaphysics, the trunk is physics, and the branches that issue from the trunk are all the other sciences . . .” Sticking to this image, we ask: In what soil do the roots of the tree of philosophy have their hold? Out of what ground do the roots-and...

Hegel: Absolute Knowledge

Chapter VIII of the Phenomenology of the Spirit. (1) 788. THE Spirit manifested in revealed religion has not as yet surmounted its attitude of consciousness as such; or, what is the same thing, its actual self-consciousness is not at this stage the object it is aware of. Spirit as a whole and the moments distinguished in it fall within the sphere of figurative thinking, and within the form of objectivity. The content of this figurative thought is Absolute Spirit. All that remains to be done now is to cancel and transcend this bare form; or better, because the form appertains to consciousness...

Preface to the Phenomenology of the Spirit

The Phenomenology of the Spirit (German: Phänomenologie des Geistes) was published in 1807, and it is one of G.W.F. Hegel‘s most important philosophical works, and a very influential book in the philosophical tradition. You can also find the German text on this website. PREFACE: ON SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE 1. In the case of a philosophical work it seems not only superfluous, but, in view of the nature of philosophy, even inappropriate and misleading to begin, as writers usually do in a preface, by explaining the end the author had in mind, the circumstances which gave rise to the work, and the relation in...

Thinking and Being: Lacan versus Parmenides

When Lacan describes his epistemology, he occasionally alludes to Parmenides, whose philosophy marks the beginning of the reflection on being in Western thinking. ’There’s no such thing as a metalanguage.’ When I say that, it apparently means — no language of being. But is there being? As I pointed out last time, what I say is what there isn’t. Being is, as they say, and nonbeing is not. There is or there isn’t. Being is merely pre­sumed in certain words — “individual,” for instance, and “substance.” In my view, it is but a fact of what is said (un fait de dit). The word “subject” that...