Tanabe Hajime’s Zange 懺悔: The Power Of Tariki

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Tanabe Hajime’s Zange 懺悔: The Power Of Tariki •

‘Although Socratic ethical intellectualism did not develop as far as the
self-reflective (für sich) stage of metanoetics mediated by salvation of
Other-power, metanoesis is already implicit in its ironical dialectics.[ Tanabe Hajime, Philosophy as Metanoetics (1986), University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, California, Pp.17.]’

The above quote is in the section explaining the meaning of a translation of Tanabe Hajime’s major work, Philosophy as Metanoetics. What one wants to explore with this short reflective piece is Hajime’s concept of Tariki 他力(Other-power), and briefly understand what it is and the power it contains? In the beginning quotation we gain an insight into how this idea is active in the mediation of the self reflective part of Metanoetics. So one can observe that this Other-power mediates via a salvation or by being saved. Tariki is best explained in its superiority over Jiriki (Self-power) which Hajime abandoned, in his own words: ‘Yet insofar as this entails an act of self-denial, it points to a paradox: even though it is my own act. It has been prompted by a Power outside of myself. This Other-power brings about a conversion in me that heads me in a direction along a path hitherto unknown to me.[ Ibid, Tanabe Hajime, preface, pp.li ]’ So, the concept of Tariki 他力 is that which the process of a regeneration in life starts from through practice and faith found in Zange 懺悔(confession/repentance – conversion). This term is so powerful because it appears as an innate concept to philosophy of both the West and East. If in need of further explanation one should consider two things: 1) we may discover the Truth, but not anticipate its effects. 2)Being wrong, or incorrect is a state unavoidable in existence – Hajime and his support of Japanese Nationalism is a way to understand Other-power. Moreover, the Japanese social concept of omoiyari 思いやり[ Kazuya Hara, The Concept of Omoiyari (Altruistic Sensitivity) in Japanese Relational Communication, Intercultural Communication Studies XV: 1 (2006). ], sometimes translated as: ‘always considering the other [person]’ is also useful to understanding this concept, so meta-ethically important.[ Tariki, allows, and enables for thinkers to think about the “ethics of ethics” because Other-power maintains there is something in the world that causes a certain reflective reaction on an individuals behaviour and the qualities of one’s being. ] Are there any western thinkers that come close to expressing a kinship with Hajime’s concept? Tentatively put, a western thinker close to this idea is Emmanuel Levinas who’s notion of the “other” and “being is two” in his writings could be read comparatively. However the two concepts of “Other” differ in that for Levinas the “Other” is an unreachable distance readable in his concept of Illeity in his later writing.

[ (Emmanuel Levinas, Enigma and Phenomenon, (1965)
&, Darren Ambrose, Levinas, Illeity and the Persistence of Skepticism, IAPL Conference
Chiasmatic Encounters, Helsinki, (2005) ) For Hajime it would not necessarily have such an emphasis on separation it would be more positioned towards external events in relation to an individual’s consciousness of their actions and the following mediation of the two.]
Finally, the force of Other-power in this process of repentance one has personally experienced. After living in Japan, and desiring cultural assimilation one eventually confessed that Tokyo was not a suitable home. Its Capitalism uncreative, unkind, and enslaving for me.

  • Paul Harrison, November (2017)


—Hajime, T. Philosophy as Metanoetics, (University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, California 1986).
—Hara, K. The Concept of Omoiyari (Altruistic Sensitivity) in Japanese Relational Communication, Intercultural Communication Studies XV: 1 (2006).
—Levinas, E. En découvrant l’existence avec Husserl et Heidegger, (2e éd. Paris: Vrin, 1967).
—Darren Ambrose, Levinas, Illeity and the Persistence of Skepticism, IAPL Conference Chiasmatic Encounters, Helsinki, (2005).

Sublime Shanghai: A Review of Jacob Dreyer’s ‘The Nocturnal Wanderer’


A fabulous account of an American’s experience of living in Chinese cities, particularly Shanghai. The novel sways from personal recollections of the changes throughout the author’s life to a rich exploration of the subjective pursuit of meaning as a westerner living in Asia. Reading the book one immediately connected to the nocturnal element of the writing. The twilight hours with which so many people who have nurtured creative ambitions will admit to frequently experiencing. Those moments when you can not sleep, just stay awake, and do something to entertain your mind – this and much more can be encountered in Dreyer’s loving text. His passion for Shanghai is shown to be so strong as to be an alibi for his very existence. In the book this Chinese super city is found to be in opposition to his birth place of America and its open spaces. Shanghai’s critical mass of humanity is revealed to contain much more than the Hu dialect potentially seeks to keep secret. When reviewing a book such as this it would be nice to be able to offer you a classical literary review. This however is not possible because this book has a dark hold over me. It has lured me into it’s labyrinth strewn covers and now I fear I will be forever lost in its pages. Just as the title suggests as soon as you start to read, darkness prevails, and all that is left is to wander. Where to begin? What topic in this Nocturnal adventure nullifies any doubts you could harbour for abandoning this novel in favour of a more daylight based narrative?

Could it be love that holds this collection of musings, explorations, and confessions together? Love: unavoidable, moreish, insatiable, inescapable, invigorating, and implicit in the affairs of man. Is represented here by letters, of which two seem the most important: Q and A. I choose to believe that Dreyer is true to his word, due to the confession-like nature of his recollections, which is why these two letters represent actual females not some fortuitous gambit on the essence of relationships being one of “seeker” and “keeper”, or worse “withholder”. Yet, perhaps such a thing is not so dafter notion. Indeed, perhaps it was on Dreyer’s mind to offer up a subliminal reminder that the actions of seeking and keeping are innate, unisex, and internal to human relations of the most complex forms. There are potentially no forms more complex than that going by the name love; here one wishes to draw attention to the fact that infatuation and love are not one and the same, but often merge into one. Furthering the notion that humans are irrational animals. Often to be found loving things over people? This is just a small section of the narrative this novel offers its readers – a foray into literature wrote with an Asian time.

Dreyer writes in a way which is open to hitch hikers, his sentences snake and coil their way around components and concepts. Just like Nietzsche’s snake imagery of the man eternally bound to wrestle with his own venom. An interesting moment in the book that Neitzsche regretted writing in German, yet Zarathrustra’s presence will forever serve as an example of what happens when we venture below where the air is not as heavy nor clean. I want to one day discuss with this writer the idea of masculine inferiority. Certain French thinkers have pointed out, or made this clear, that philosophy is feminine. Quentin Meillassoux for instance writing in After Finitude (2006) articulated this rather well using ‘she’ to refer to philosophy. This combines with a contemporary trend inside the academy of woman regaining, and occupying the top positions in the modern anglo-saxon/european universities. This I think is a very correct statement to make in light of the labours of Amy Ireland, Rosi Braidotti, Avital Ronnel, Judith Butler, Catherine Malabou, and Donna Haraway. This of course is one’s opinion but based upon thoughts that are true! Speaking of truth, it is true that there is this attitude that you hear sometimes adopted towards western men that go to Asia for the exotic erotic. Men that buy into the idea that there is an abundance of partners or prey in some cases. Speaking from experience, what is really sad is that there are some male numb nuts out there that go for the novelty of being an object for the female’s sexual gaze, and because they have such low standards for themselves and others commit themselves to a diseased sense of sexuality, a misguided notion of prowess, and full of disloyalty. Both, me and Dreyer, bearing in mind that we are male therefore stupid and more than capable of regressing to the behaviour of the latter description. After reflection we would likely agree that although it is delightful spending time with any woman it only has value if you genuinely care for the person rather then just seeing them as another object for one’s own mostly physical pleasure. In the book, nowhere is the deep feeling for an individual felt so strongly then at the beginning on page 8, ‘it felt as though we were floating, dreaming, twisting … There was nothing else in the world’. By page 81 and 82, raw feelings are expressed through weeping.

“Did my mind digest love and finally “grow out of it?” An oceanic feeling is impossible to grow out of, and love is an ocean, but a warm one; an amniotic ocean… in moments of love we forget Money (that is to say, death). The cold clinking and stacking of life; of the precise quantity of weights we can and cannot lift; of the precise quantity of objects we are able to purchase; of our precise value; these are antithetical to love, whose softness blurs borders.[ Jacob Dreyer, The Nocturnal Wanderer, Eros Press, London, MMXV (2015), p. 81.]”

Blurry borders are to be found at every corner, edge, and lattice of The Nocturnal Wanderer. One confesses that it is this aesthetic of blurriness evoked by both the title and book cover that made me acquire it. It would be nice to know the story behind such a delightful maze. It certainly hints at what to expect when you turn its pages. The philosophical references contained inside reach a crescendo as Dreyer on page 64 especially, but before that you read him articulating Hegel’s CEO-ish status (thought in the boardroom of the mind), then taking the big H and along with Baudelaire and Benjamin claims that they are not to be found on today’s highways because the urban unlike the city nullifies individual spirit – evidently the role of the individual is transcended, or re-affirmed by the never-ending Nietzsche, ‘who believed in a place unencumbered by the masses, a utopia that could be visited alone, built alone, inhabited alone.’ being untimely? The reference to Nietzsche opens the text up to another major seed that it plants in subtle ways. Directions that are quite anthropocentric in the sense that the noun ‘Anthropocene’ connotates: an epoch where humans have a much more central impact and role on the earth’s health – its when humanity has achieved a truly geological stature. What was then planted in my mind, and how I interpreted this section is that due to this change: from the modern city to the concept of the urban if one is to protect individuality one has to bow to the power of a nomadic existence. The conclusion of the book backs this up. Dreyer is done with the perversity of domesticated slavery. Yet, does this not indicate a strong belief in freedom? To be free of something one can appreciate, however freedom for oneself is much harder to fathom? The former implies an abandoning of something you may have objectively possessed, but the latter deals with subjectivity and sensibility. Freedom for oneself is already in a conversation with your sense of self and its limitations. All of which are most likely fully artificial constructs: your self-hood, sense of a thing, community, and civilisation. Dreyer’s writing navigates this very real disjunction between “belonging and becoming” on the line from “start to finish”, that is human life thought as literally linear.

This novel never delineates in this way its realism is anchored in a tacit acknowledgement that the microbe called homo and the macrobe known as humanity are both predetermined to be in an active process of negotiation. Finding a method best suited for dealing with the fact that belonging is always becoming. This cryptic utterance is present in Dreyer’s script as a meditation on the bourgeois white male’s privilege of choice, and this is heavily worked into the books deep well of narrative by means of a somewhat silent discourse on just how often ideology manifests clearly in architecture. To clarify Dreyer comments on the changes that have happened throughout history, but are now happening again in China with renewed ferocity. China currently has over one hundred cities that now house over one million people. So, through this literature we as a reader are invited to join in the journey from the wide open expanse of America all liberally imperialist dogmatically coded by it’s capital dependency to the wild east of China’s newly formed metropolises. Being born into western culture makes you lazy and a little hazy because we know that our privileges do not appear by miracles. But, by the exploitation of cheap labour both its outsourcing and intelligence recruiting, or talent scouting. However, China’s self belief is something that has the wider world listening (even if we do our best to hide it) … I want to ask Dreyer what his thoughts are regarding the following: China’s monetary power (especially the interesting thought that it has enough capital to weaponise it), how extreme is Xi Jinping’s People’s Republic of China’s law enforcement? Paying necessary respect to a great country to what extent does Confucianism influence the Chinese world view; just how together are their societies, and society built from the bricks of a nuclei called family? Finally, if we had the opportunity to sit down with this author. One imagines being able to have a great conversation quickly progressing from a comparison of our shared but separate experiences in living in the two main Asian countries: China and Japan. Then, on to the interconnected and extremely different (at least to western perceptions) of the ‘innate’.

Now, some individuals may suggest that just through the English word ‘innate’ they can grasp the cultural difference between the west and the east. Nevertheless, there is much to discuss here because it is different there is a level of acceptance of some phenomena in the east that is absent in the west. Let us relay this back to Language: the Chinese have the Confucian concept of 仁 ren, and the Japanese have a phrase 思いやりomoiyari. Both terms have different yet relevant meanings. Ren, is often translated as ‘the altruistic nature of being human’ maybe best expressed as an innate genuine quality of your kindness and intentionality. Omoiyari, is traditionally used in Japan to reference a state of an alignment between thought and action – an unwavering togetherness. To bring the inclusion of these examples of Asian language back to the book. The reason I reference them is to stress the importance of Mr. Dreyer’s admission of his own privilege and his unashamed recollecting on that which is public and private. In doing so his book offers a doorway into Asia, that was not here before…at least that’s how it was for me reading the book as I returned back to the west in a state of confusion, somewhat sad, and over thinking one’s relation to society or community. During the darkness of that flight this book helped me split reality into two. Two parts that are perhaps never one and the same?

“A POMPOUS ORATION. Consciousness discovers itself, with some vague past and a sense of agony, surrounded by a brutal state of nature. To escape this pain and achieve mastery over his environment, he does not merely wander through his creation (again, unlike an animal) but re-configures it. This reconfiguration takes the form of industry – of the city. Within this grey replica of the green wilderness, consciousness finds its station, a consciousness enforced by necessity. Consciousness as a particularity, is merely a tool of reason, and just as there can be no two options about a logical axiom, there can, in a truly rationalised world, be no space for individuality. The social, the aesthetic, or the political – different potential names for Spirit are merely vehicles for the ultimate triumph of reason. One reason has become dominant in material terms, individuality and subjectivity will also melt against its totality.[ Ibid p. 62.]”

So there are these two lives carved into reality by Dreyer the first is the one made by love, a love of questioning, a continuum anchored around asking: what makes this person so addictive? So… essential to my very existence. Then the second line this book has drawn consists of the unavoidable phenomenon of human dependence on Topos; for are we all not to be found waiting for the place named city to reveal existential insights into what “we” are? Alas, surely not as in the above quote where reason is accused of triumphalism, and westerners have their well ingrained notions of the individual and the subject totally liquidated. In such a way that the monster known as Mr. One may gulp them down with absolute relish. If you find this chilling then you need not fear. There is still a manner in measuring, providing a ratio where your well rooted western sense of separation can continue – that is why the above quote is pompous. It seeks to suggest that we have already arrived or reached totality with one reason being dominant. One here would like to offer up an alternative for the sake of furthering the conversations this literature may continue to invite. Reason as powerful as it is often creates a reasonless void – I am thinking of the Nanjin Massacre (1937), Zedong’s Cultural Revolution (1966), and many other examples as evidence of this nasty habit of the power of reason and those that offer rationalisations for even the most nefarious of acts. Therefore today in a country in which to a large degree the future of humanity will be shaped. One has to fully apprehend the power of the Chinese夜(night) after being so brilliantly led to Dreyer’s Sublime Shanghai one chooses to believe for every western person lucky enough to live in Asia. There is an Asian counterpart that is making the opposite journey and struggling to adjust to western weirdness. This suggestion is more than a little driven by one of the thinkers that Dreyer says is not to be found on the highways of China. Walter Benjamin, or at least his ghost, is I assure you present, when a young Chinese man from a less wealthy background makes the journey from rural to the urban, and finds himself digested into industrial mechanics of growth. During his long arduous hours the necessity to create and document his struggle manifests. Kanji is entered into the mobile phone, and through this technopoetic aesthetic the Angelus Novus appears, history remains hysterically hypnotic, and we are compelled to keep wondering through many marvellous nights.


Week 9: Kierkegaard




In the first extract from Either / Or in the reader (‘An Ecstatic Lecture’), Kierkegaard describes the position of the aesthete. This position boils down to the view that every choice is necessarily one-sided and relative, and that no choice has more merit than another. Thus, the aesthete does not represent an attitude towards life that consists in the search for beauty; it is rather characterized by irony and lack of commitment. The aesthete is everywhere and nowhere, and – seen from the perspective of the ethicist – is constantly fleeing from himself. The second, much longer, extract (‘The balance…’) consists in a letter from the ethicist to his younger friend the aesthete in which the ethicist puts forward a different conception of the ‘either/or.’ The positions of the aesthete and ethicist that Kierkegaard describes can be understood as two contradictory but essential tendencies of human existence. The conflict between the aesthetic and ethical tendency of human life also played an important role in Kierkegaard’s own life.


The ethicist repeatedly refers to a philosophy that adheres to a ‘mediation of oppositions’: this is a reference to Hegel’s dialectic. As we have seen, Hegel considers developments in a culture to come about through internal contradictions (an example of such a contradiction is the irrational situation that the freedom of some people in a society is based on the enslavement of others). Kierkegaard’s own, particular interpretation stresses ‘mediation’ as this process of development: it is worth noting that this arguably does not do full justice to the nature of Hegel’s method, in which opposites are not merely mediated but ‘sublated’.


Reading Questions


  1. How would you describe Kierkegaard’s project, based on the first two short extracts – the fragment from his journals and his ‘main thought’ (p.59 of reader)?


I would describe Kierkegaard’s project as one in which there is a reaction against the dominant Hegelianism but more generally a very personal reaction against the shortcomings of philosophy to provide a truth which is true for him. What this means is up for interpretation but I think it is an accurate suggestion to say that Keirkegaard is expressing the culmination of that radical birth of subjectivity first revealed by Kant and then developed by Hegel. At the same time we should consider that this thinker is known as the father of Existentialism and this thought deals with the question of being and freedom directly. For Kierkegaard, ‘My main thought was that in our time, due to the quantity of knowledge, one has forgotten what it is to exist and what inwardness means.’ Might we characterise his project as precisely as a journey to understand what this inwardness might mean?


  1. What is the essence of philosophy, according to the ‘Ecstatic lecture’?


According to the Ecstatic lecture at first glance we might read as being a penultimate pessimism that construes the essence of philosophy as an either/or that centres around a suicidal gambit. Either you do or you do not but ultimately you will be disappointed with both decisions. Is this then a call for contentment? That, philosophy has become a practice of negotiating, even appreciating contradiction, rather than resolving them?


  1. Kierkegaard’s ethicist states that there is a certain resemblance between the aesthete’s attitude to life and the attitude to life of the common, that is, Hegelian philosophy (170-172). Neither can incite ‘a human being to act’ (175), that is, confront people with the possibility to choose (for) him/herself. What is the ethicist’s understanding of the similarity and the difference between the aesthete’s views and Hegelian philosophy?


The ethicist’s understanding of this connection centres around the relation between thinking and practice. Keirkegaard says that a person who only makes an aesthetic decision they miss the a higher potentiality and resign to weak aspiration, a Spiritus Lenis. This Existentialist King goes on to describe a difficulty in separating the aesthete and the ethical choices and that one is situated in the area of action, and philosophy in the area of contemplation. Similarities exist in the claims to touch upon the infinite, ‘In choosing the personality declares itself in its inner infinity and in turn the personality is thereby consolidated.’ The difference, for me is harder to fully confirm but in the text there is a certain critical flavour towards the Hegelianism in that it requires generation after generation to exist of contemplation because it has brought about the end of history […]  


  1. At 170, the ethicist states that philosophy is directed toward the past, whereas he himself is directed toward the future. What does he mean by that? Do you think that it is possible for philosophy to pose, and answer, the question concerning the future? Or does this question merely concern the individual person qua individual person?


It is possible to hastily utter that this describes philosophy as a dead practice because of its unbreakable anchor to the past. Yet, there is more to it – when the ethicist engages in a philosophical discussion he claims to have never identified himself as a philosopher, he instead chooses to appear as a married man – both a most meaningful occupation and an act of teasing. This then moves forwards and the ethicist wishes to warn his interlocutor not to sacrifice his life to deceptions. Offering a conclusive attack that singing a joyful praise over existence is conductive to the then philosophy’s notion that the principle of non contradiction had been cancelled. The question is a very inspiring one. My answer will be both, philosophy and art have to do both pose a question regarding the future, and articulate and position individuals adjacent to other individuals.



  1. The ethicist maintains that he defends freedom (p. 176). The same can be said, in my view, of Kierkegaard. Such a position entails that Kierkegaard cannot prescribe people how to live their lives. Nevertheless, he reproaches philosophy for keeping at bay the question of existential choices of the individual. Do you think that Kierkegaard is able to make his readers conscious of these possible choices without taking away their freedom?


Yes he succeeds in this even though his capacity to offer a definitive suggestion of how to live your life. But, nevertheless Kiekegaard’s sentences combine to culminate in a brutally honest yet pseudonymous exploration of the differing but connected relation between philosophy, life, and freedom. He asks, states, that he wants to know which life is higher; the philosopher’s or the free man’s? The philosopher fully engaged in philosophy misses an important thing, ‘he gains the whole world, but he loses himself.’ Here Kierkegaard fully reveals his claim to philosophical genius, to rival that of any other thinker.


‘In my previous letter, I noted that to have loved gives a person’s being harmony that is never entirely lost. Now I will say that to choose gives a person’s being a solemnity, a quiet dignity, that is never entirely lost.’


Now, I say this because Keirkegaard is one of the most creative of thinkers his manner of communication is both direct addressing you the reader and through his use of many characters shrouding meaning in a web of ambiguity. This is for me a very successful methodology to really hit home with his aim of heightening consciousness to be aware of the absolute either/or. I also want to make one more point regarding the last question it is my humble opinion that philosophy like art is natural and I would suggest that we humans are all artists throughout our lives and then when the end comes… death turns even those unused, and unwilling to think philosophically, into philosophers – you will philosophise when you approach the end this is as natural as breathing.


Week 8: Marx


This week we have three texts: one by Engels, and two short ones by Marx. The Engels text, although written later, appears first in your reader because it provides a helpful account of Marx’s relation to Hegel. Marx’s letter to Ruge (1843) and ‘Theses on Feuerbach’ (1845) were written early in his career. Marx and Engels published the ‘Communist Manifesto’ in 1848 and Marx published Capital in 1867.

In the seminar this week we will focus on analysing the ‘Theses on Feuerbach’, so read these a little more closely beforehand.

Reading Questions

Engels, ‘Ludwig Feuerbach and the end of classical German philosophy’

1.(1-2) How does Engels characterize the revolutionary and conservative elements of Hegel’s philosophy? Do you think it is possible to distinguish between both elements, as Engels does?

I think it is possible to distinguish between the revolutionary and conservative sides of Hegel’s philosophy precisely because Engel’s text demonstrates this possibility rather clearly. The conservative side of Hegel’s thought is described as traditionally systematic philosophy in that it has to provide an account of an absolute truth. This is seen as dogmatic, enforcing a necessity of nobility, and smothering the revolutionary side of Hegel that is his dialectical method. A method that shows philosophical systems to be perishable and that the human mind contains an imperishable desire to overcome contradictions but if these contradictions are overcome we arrive at a so-called absolute truth which in turn is a contradiction because it implies the end of history, yet in fact history has to continue.

2.(3) What does Engels take to be the task of philosophy after Hegel?

Engels confidently asserts this task as, ‘the task that a singular philosopher should accomplish that which can only be accomplished by the entire human race in its progressive development’. Here Here Engels!

Marx, Letter to Ruge

3.(207) ‘Hitherto philosophers have left the keys to all riddles lying in their desks, and the stupid, uninitiated world had only to wait around for the roasted pigeons of absolute science to fly into its open mouth’. What is Marx’s criticism of Hegelian philosophy in this paragraph?

Marx is not being so kind to his former teacher and in other words I think he is basically saying that Hegelian philosophy is too idealistically ideal, and that it makes a claim that it has the potential answer to all riddles which Marx does not fully agree with.

4.(209) What is a ‘reform of consciousness’? What effects should it have? How does Marx intend his journalism to bring about this reform?

A reform of consciousness would be in Marx’s wording,

‘The reform of consciousness consists entirely in making the world aware of its
own consciousness, in arousing it from its dream of itself, in explaining its own
actions to it. Like Feuerbach’s critique of religion, our whole aim can only be
to translate religious and political problems into their self-conscious human form.[ Marx. 1845. Theses on Feuerbach.]’

This reform then should show the world that it has long since dreamed of something that it could possess in reality if it was more concious of it (freedom?). Marx then suggests that through the publishing of the political journal Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher wishes to complete past thought (enlightenment?) and the completion of its own work. Marx sums up these aims, ‘the self-clarification (critical philosophy) of the struggles and wishes of the age.’

Marx, Theses on Feuerbach

  1. (Theses 4-7) What does Marx agree with in Feuerbach’s philosophy? In what ways does Feuerbach not go far enough?

Marx agrees with Feuerbach on certain points: a) the desire for sensuous objects Objekte to be differentiated from thought-objects. b) Feuerbach’s start with self-estrangement Selbstentfremdung, ‘of the duplication of the world into a religious, imaginary world, and a secular one.’ c) the lack of satisfaction with abstract thinking, in favour of sensuous contemplation Anschauung. Marx believes that Feuerbach did not conceive of human activity itself as objective gegenständliche, furthermore this means he saw the theoretical attitude as the only genuine human attitude. This is evident in his limiting of practice to a form of Jewish appearance Erscheinungsform. Marx at the end of paragraph 4 really describes what he would have wanted Feuerbach to resolve and that is the contradiction inherent in the transformation from the religious world into a secular basis which also seems to flea from itself into the clouds. This involves the removal of the contradiction implicit between the religious and the secular is the revolutionary act. Correcting his peer, Marx sees the change of the essence of religion into the human essence as being dumbed down by Feuerbach and isolates the individual, thus missing that the religious sentiment is also a social product.

‘once the earthly family is discovered to be the secret of the holy family, the
former must itself be annihilated theoretically and practically.’

Week 7: Hegel – World History




The parts of the text that are not italicized are based on notes of Hegel’s students. These parts of the text, then, are not as reliable as Hegel’s own writings.


‘Spirit’ > ‘Geist’. By ‘spirit’ Hegel means: the principle of rationality that concretely unfolds itself as self-reflection (‘It is in the nature of spirit to have itself as its object’). In this context, Hegel distinguishes between the way in which the principle of rationality unfolds itself in an individual human being (= subjective spirit, cf. 48, below) and in the societies that have developed throughout the history of mankind (= objective spirit, cf. 51, second paragraph). What hegel calls ‘objective spirit’ comes close to what we would call ‘culture’. Because Hegel considers the consecutive societies to be part of a single encompassing development, he terms the principle of rationality that has developed throughout world history ‘world spirit’ (German: ‘Weltgeist’) or absolute spirit. This absolute principle is traditionally conceived of as God. Despite the fact that Hegel refers to this theological conception, Hegel’s position should not be identified with the latter.


Theodicy: the attempt to philosophically explain how evil in the world can be reconciled with God’s power and wisdom.


Substance: the essential principle of a thing; that which remains the same throughout a process.

Reading Questions


  1. What is, according to Hegel, the difference between matter and spirit?


Hegel suggests matter to possess gravity as it is impelled to move towards a central point and has no unity therefore striving towards ideality because it wishes to overcome itself (Forces, physical reality). Spirit does also strive towards its centre but always finds its substance within itself compared to matter whose substance is external. In this way Hegel sees spirit as both freedom and consciousness (a self-awareness).


  1. (49, lines 2-5). Of which philosopher, discussed during this course, does this passage remind you?


The lines 2-5 of 49:


“He then tries to distinguish himself between himself and this determinate quality, and sets about creating an internal division within himself. Thus, my feelings are split up into an external and an internal world. My determinate nature thereby enters a new phase, in that I have a feeling a deficiency or negativity; I encounter a contradiction within myself which threatens to destroy me. But, I nevertheless exist; this much I know, and I balance this knowledge against my feeling of negation or deficiency. I survive and seek to overcome the deficiency, so that I am at the same time an impulse.”


  • These lines remind me of Fichte’s process resulting in an absolute-I, but also of Immanuel Kant.


  1. (50). Hegel here states that human beings actualize themselves – that is, become rational and free – by means of upbringing/education and discipline, which implies that others determine what is good for them. Is his position contradictory?


No I do not think Hegel is contradictory because he states clearly that it is up to the individual to decide what end to follow, so even though we have impulses and then a subsequent demand to satisfy them, a human unlike an animal can restrain this movement and thereby master his behaviour. I think its possible to read this as a contradiction however this does not fully appreciate the capacity for a person to know themselves to the point of changing such things as education and upbringing.


  1. (52). Hegel notes here that individuals – by means of their insight into the inner contradiction that is contained within a specific culture – can contribute to great historical changes, but can never stop a necessary development. What does Hegel mean? And can you give an example?


One reads Hegel as suggesting there are people who have successfully translated the will of the national spirit into reality. But, note this is not a common occurrence because prior to this we are told that, ‘the universal substance is not of a worldly nature and no worldly agency can successfully oppose it.’ Here we encounter the notorious ambiguity of Hegel what exactly does he 100 % intend to say. One feels that Hegel is suggesting that yes history is composed of one unstoppable force and that individuals can not choose its direction. There will always be powerful individuals but these individuals are not fully conscious of the part they play in the world spirit. Napoleon the French leader is an example of such a representation or manifestation of spirit (as a matter of fact Hegel actually travelled just to catch a glimpse of this historical figure). Other examples could be Alexander the Great, and the French Revolution that paved the way for Enlightenment. Hegel would see these as evidence for the world spirit revealing itself through human consciousness.


  1. (151). Hegel claims that his philosophy of world history not only bears on the totality of historical events, but also on that which exists eternally (that is, that which is not subject to change). In what respect is Hegel’s approach to history distinct from other forms of historiography?


Putting it very simply other forms of historiography are heavily inclined towards the past as you would expect. Hegel’s revolutionary approach is that no matter what the strength or seeming relevance of past and future events they are always to be dealt with, encountered, and thought here in the present.


‘Spirit has all the stages of the past still adhering to it, and the life of spirit in history consists of a cycle of different stages, of which some belong to the present and others have appeared in forms of the past. Since we are concerned with the idea of spirit and look upon everything in world history merely as a manifestation of it, we are invariably occupied with the present whenever we  review the past, no matter how considerable that past may be. For philosophy is concerned with what is present and real.’

Week 6: Hegel – Concept of Philosophy




  1. By der Begriff, or ‘the concept’, Hegel here means that philosophy is not just a specific form of culture, but rather a form of culture in which that culture explicitly understands itself (i.e. becomes conscious of itself). The notion of ‘spirit’ in this respect correlates to what Hegel calls ‘objective spirit’ elsewhere and refers to referring to something like ‘culture’. Any society is characterized by a specific culture, and Hegel sometimes refers to the historical sequence of cultures as ‘world-spirit’ (see below).


  1. ‘But their initial subject-matter’: i.e. the subject of the sciences (as opposed to philosophy).


  1. ‘Absolute Idea’ (no capitalization necessary in fact). Hegel elsewhere states that reality as a whole – insofar as it can become an object of knowledge – is the expression of an absolute principle. Hegel generally calls such a principle der Begriff(‘the concept’), but sometimes he refers to it by the term Vernunft(reason). In any case, the absolute principle refers to the capacity of plants, animals, human beings, and societies to determine themselves, that is, to sublate the opposition between their essence/principle and the form in which they actually appear. In the case of human beings and societies, the absolute principle appears as freedom and rationality. The notion ‘concept’ always refers to the unity of oppositions. This ‘concept’, then, can be recognized in all the aspects of natural and historical reality. According to Hegel, the various forms of spirit/culture (to wit, art, religion and philosophy) are various ways in which the absolute principle is explicitly represented or understood. Thus, religions such as Christianity conceive the whole of reality as the result of divine creation. From this perspective, the opposition between nature and spirit has been abolished. In the forms of culture in which the ‘concept’ is explicitly understood, there is, furthermore, no distinction between that which understands and the content that is being understood. Hegel refers to the unity between that which understands and is understood by the notion of ‘absolute idea.’ He understands philosophy as a form of culture that acquires the highest possible insight into the absolute principle of thought. Within philosophy, then, the ‘absolute idea’ can be realized in the most perfect way.


  1. ‘Pictorial thinking’ > (German) ‘Vorstellen’ and ‘Vorstellung’ > ‘representation’.


Reading Questions


  1. (38-39). According to Hegel, there is no causal relation between the political history (of a certain people) and the type of philosophy that occurs within that specific historical period. But he also asserts that philosophy often only starts to develop within a specific society when it is declining (as regards the political level). But doesn’t that suggest that Hegel admits to a causal relation between politics and philosophy after all?


Hegel does seem to suggest a causal relation between politics and philosophy but it is worth having in mind Hegel’s notion of der Begriff (the concept, which implies that philosophy is a form of culture where culture can become conscious of itself)… he suggests that it is one people that a specific philosophy raises its head… but then also states, ‘the relation of political history to philosophy is therefore not that of being a cause of philosophy’. Nevertheless, it is hard not to see in his tripartite conception of geist (spirit) not a religious flavour and of course at first we are used to seeing politics and religion as separate however religions are some of the most political institutions that operates next to the government as main influences over the lives of a population. He also clearly describes a specific philosophy and a subsequent character… in Hegel’s wording, ‘permeates every other aspect of the people’s life’.



  1. (41-42). What are the similarities and differences between Hegel’s account of our categories and knowledge, and Kant’s?


Similarities exist between these two great Germans in that they both suggest ultimate principles to be presupposed, that science is systematic with more general principles and laws. They differ that in Hegel the source of these can be found in experience whereas Kant was more critical of this saying that experience itself is a product of the categories delineated in the Critique of Pure Reason. Another difference is the way in which Hegel turns the forms of thought (ideas, and principles) into a common element of the culture and people. In Kant there is more of a focus on the individual subject’s capacity to know evident by the use of the enlightenment dictum sapere aude! sometimes translated as ‘dare to know’, or use ‘your understanding.’ In Hegel there is a marked difference in that these categories seem to be more external, active, and social. From the professor’s own tongue, ‘We possess these ideas, make them our ultimate determinates, run to them as our guiding threads in life, but we do not know them; we do not make them the object and interest of our consideration.’


  1. (42). What is Hegel’s view of metaphysics in this passage?


In this passage before mentioning metaphysics he describes being as a wholly abstract category. Then continues lumping all our ideas and knowledge into metaphysics as a governing body; a kind of net that gathers all the material which humans are engaging with. But, according to Hegel such a net we are not conscious of, it is buried beneath layers of everyday stuff, ‘comprising our known interests and the objects that are before our minds, while the universal threads of the net remain out of sight and are not explicitly made the subject of our reflection.’ So, can we say that for Hegel metaphysics is a form of epistemology that is as a default hidden? Also, I read Hegel’s distrust of immediacy and familiarity here in this quotation.


  1. (53). What is Hegel’s critique of the view that religion (deliberately) expresses truth in a veiled manner?


For Hegel to view religions as intentionally concealing the truth behind a veil would be an indifferent position to adopt as before he references this Hegel describes religion as often been misused because it is in the grip of an external connection. Hegel removes the potential for religion to be intentionally capricious and instead suggests that it is, ‘what holds firm against finite ends and their complications and constitutes itself a sublime region above them. This region of the spirit is rather the sanctuary of truth itself,’ and his confirms his support of religion as it in a proven historical sense has always shown truth to be revealed first in images. Then describing how the ground for the higher element of thinking had not yet been worked out, and this is not characteristic of religions to have this element as the ground for its doctrines.


  1. (132). ‘So the essential thing is, first, to know what the principles of the philosophical systems have been and, second, to realize that each principle must be recognized as necessary’. Based on this quote, how would you characterize the difference between Fichte and Hegel?


I would characterize the difference between Fichte and Hegel as being one in which the way ‘negation’ functions. For Fichte this is represented by the non-I which forces the I to self-posit and creates an absolute-I, but for Hegel there is a unique double negation as the spirit moves through history in a third stage of this necessary movement (the second negation -Skepticism) opposes a prior opposition that of the universal (principles of Stoicism) and the singular/particular (principles of Epicureanism). This then creates an amalgamation which is a principle of a later deeper/higher philosophy. With Hegel this is a continuous process and for Fichte I believe that the Doctrine of Science… was viewed as a predestination for philosophy to evolve into – Fichte is often credited with the creation of the notion of: thesis-antithesis-synthesis. But, in Hegelianism the double negation is unique in that it retains what has been negated in a new form.

Week 5: Fichte


Fichte considers the systematicity and soundness of every science to stem from the fact that it has one completely certain proposition: a ‘first principle’.  By ‘science of science as such’ (§ 1) or ‘doctrine of science’ (Wissenschaftslehre) Fichte refers to the mode of philosophy that establishes the general certainty of the first principles of all the sciences, and which guarantees that all sciences can base their certainty on a first principle.  The doctrine of science should itself rest on an indubitable foundation.


(38-41). What are the key characteristics of a science on Fichte’s account? Why is a systematic natural history of ethereal spirits not a science?


A systematic form, all its propositions joined together in a first principle, that serves as a unified whole; these are key characteristics of a science. Fichte also uses a metaphor of a building with a sound foundation to describe science and also, ‘in science merit is based not on the luck of discovery, but rather on the integrity of the search – which is something in regard to which everyone can only judge and reward himself. […]’ A natural history of ethereal spirits is not a science because for Fichte a proposition such as in the air there exist ‘creatures with human desires, passions, and concepts, but with ethereal bodies’ is groundless and indemonstrable and so could not possibly be a science.


(40-41). How does a ‘first principle’ provide certainty for a science?


A first principle provides certainty for science because science demands that all its propositions unite into a whole, therefore for the science to contain certainty, validity, and truth it has to have at least one proposition, a first principle which contains these qualities and can be demonstrated as being so…

‘This undoubtedly occurs because the individual propositions were not scientific propositions by themselves, but only became scientific in the context of the whole -through their position within and relation to the whole. But merely by connecting parts we can never produce anything which is not already present in one of the parts of the whole. So if among the propositions which were bound together there had not been one which was certai, then the whole which was produced by binding these propositions together would not be certain either. ‘


(47-48). Why is it not possible for the doctrine of science to prove its first principle?


Such a thing is not possible because as Fichte demonstrates by articulating that the proofs within systems presupposes the certainty of first principles and this is referred to as the inner content, then the way this is communicated to the other propositions is termed as the form of the science. Following this Fichte asks a question: how is science possible? He answers by stating, ‘It would take a science to answer these questions: The science of science as such. […]’. This science is precisely for Fichte what philosophy is, but we are told this has not happened yet (here we should be aware of the history of philosophy in that from Aristotle it in the form of metaphysics was thought of as the first science). Fichte’s explanation shows clearly this process of philosophy becoming a doctrine of science, in German Wissenschaftslehre.

 ‘It is immaterial whether or not people have always meant precisely this by the word “philosophy.” Afterward, this science (if philosophy ever becomes a science) will be justified in casting off a few names which it has previously assumed out of (a by no means exaggerated) modesty: the names “esoteric amusement,” “hobby,” and “dilettantism.” The nation which discovered this science would deserve to give it a name in its own language, in which case it could be called simply “science,” or “Theory of Scientific Knowledge” [that is, Doctrine of Science]. And accordingly, what has previously been called “philosophy” would be “the science of science as such”.

(End of 71). By the act that is not “included among those acts of the mind which are all necessary,” Fichte refers to the act of reflection that is carried out by the philosopher alone. This reflection on the essential elements of thought is itself a free act.


  • . ‘It is however… is not itself’. How does Fichte diverge from Descartes’ approach here?


Where Descartes offered God as an explanation for res cognitas as its often translated as a thinking thing where the intellect is seen as close to God. This contrasts with Fichte because God is absent and so is a reflection on the body. Moreover we can read a divergence when we appreciate that Fichte saw the “I” as self-positing but placed no importance of being conscious of this process, compared to Descartes extreme reductionism, ‘Nor is it necessary that we ever become clearly conscious of this act of self-positing, or that the intellect be capable of thinking simply “I am,” without at the same time thinking of something which is not itself.’


(70-72). Which aspects of Kant’s practical philosophy are you reminded of here?


Fichte discusses “the acts of the mind” existing independently of the science and providing a what in advance. Going on to say that acts happen in specific ways distinguishing them one from the other which shows the how of what is in the mind. He concludes by saying that ‘content and form are present in the mind prior to our knowledge.’ This is strongly reminiscent of Kant’s assertion that humans have an understandable autonomy of will, and following this our existence in the world of sense creates a synthetic a prioi “ought to”, a universal imperative. Therefore the content would be the will, and the form would be sense in Kant’s Practical Philosophy.


(§8). This section (‘Hypothetical Division…’) can be elucidated by referring to Kant’s idea that thinking itself (the I) brings about the conditions under which something can appear as an object of knowledge (not-I). For Kant, these conditions are space, time, and the twelve categories. Seen in this dynamic way, Kant is concerned not so much with an opposition between subject and object, but rather with the activity that is carried out by the subject and brings about the very opposition between the two. Fichte calls the I that is not part of that opposition, but rather brings it about, the ‘absolute I.’


Week 4: Kant – Groundwork

(387) Kant makes a strict distinction between the realm of nature, in which natural laws are deterministic, and the realm of freedom, in which humans have free will and can therefore act morally or immorally.  The realms of nature and freedom can be thought of as two perspectives on the same thing: considered from the theoretical perspective, humans are part of deterministic nature, but considered from the practical perspective, we are free. At 453-4, Kant call the realm of nature ‘the world of sense’ and the realm of freedom ‘the world of understanding’.


  1. (414, 416). What is the difference between a hypothetical and a categorical imperative?


The difference between a hypothetical and a categorical imperative is that the hypothetical represents a practical necessity of a possible action as a means to achieving something else that is possible for one to will. The imperative which is categorical is one in which the action is objectively necessary – without reference to another end or goal.


  1. (420). What are maxims and how are they related to the moral law?


Maxims are subjective principles of acting, so containing a practical rule determined by reason conformably with the conditions of the subject, and is that principle by which the subject acts. In relation to the moral law which is the objective principle applicable to every rational being – the principle (an imperative) by which he ought to act. […]


  1. (421). Kant writes that there is ‘only a single categorical imperative’, but gives two formulations here.  Do you see any significance to the differences between these formulations of the categorical imperative?


The formulations are as follows: 1) “act only in accordance with that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it become a universal law”, 2) “act as if  the maxim of your action were to become by your will a universal law of nature. […] There seems to be a small difference in that one of the definitions includes the word nature and I interpret these two formulations as the two distinct perspectives a person could adopt regarding morality. Being a moral individual and the morality one can live by in a society.



  1. (446-7). What is the difference between freedom and autonomy?


Kant defines freedom in both a negative and positive sense. Negatively, freedom is the property of causality that it can maintain a distance or separation from external “alien” causes that would determine it. Positively, because there are laws in the concept of causality meaning that although freedom is not a property of the will, but instead is not lawless but accords to immutable laws of a special kind. Autonomy is when the will is free and it has become a law to itself.


  1. (447-8). ‘It is not enough that we ascribe freedom to our will on whatever ground, if we do not have sufficient ground for attributing it also to all rational beings’.  Why do all rational beings need to be free, for the moral law to function successfully?


Firstly, Kant describes the a priori synthetic qualities of the third cognition which is positive freedom. Then morality is said to depend on our species rationality, and it has to be only derived from freedom which then has to be proven to also be a property of all rational beings. This then asserts that it is impossible to do this via human experiences. Kant wants to maintain and demonstrate to his readers that through reason the human subject is free and moral.


In the last two sections in the reader (‘How is a categorical imperative possible?’ and ‘On the extreme boundary of all practical philosophy’) , Kant uses the distinction between ‘the world of sense’ and ‘the world of understanding’ as a way to avoid a contradiction between human freedom (‘free will’) and deterministic nature (‘natural necessity’).  Ask yourself as you read these passages: how exactly does Kant claim to be able to avoid this contradiction, and do you find it convincing?


Kant’s way to avoid the contradiction between free will and natural necessity by saying that part of my actions follow the autonomy of the pure will. Others conform to natural laws of desires and inclinations to the heteronomy of nature. The latter is of the world of sense and is dependent on happiness, the prior is of the world of understanding and rests upon the supreme principle of morality. His solution is then to show how the human being although simultaneously belonging to two worlds has always an “ought” because it has the idea of freedom making it participate in intelligibility and its actions accord to the autonomy of will. At the same time I intuit myself in the world of sense my actions ought to conform to happiness, and this “ought” is for Kant categorical and a synthetic a priori judgement, in Kant’s own words, ‘since to my will affected by sensible desires there is added the idea of the same will but belonging to the world of understanding  – a will pure and practical of itself, which contains the supreme condition, in accordance with reason, of the former will.’ Here Kant is describing how an individual has this imperative for oneself, one’s own desires and happiness, but this indeed correlates directly to the autonomy of the will which I read as being that which carries moral impetus within a given society. I find it convincing, if you take the position that Kant himself took in What is Enlightenment?, that there are two uses of reason: private and public. Considering this it is convincing the connection he makes, you could say that it is easy to see how my desires are secondary to their potential impact upon others, and nobody should do something good for personal gain – it should be done purely because the act is good in and by itself. Yet, this starts to fall apart if we place it within the reality of capitalism today… for example we have conscious capitalism, but here I would compel you to think just how conscious your actions are regarding monetary ideology. So, because of the persistence of this ideology, and its darker parts (weapons/war industry) Kant’s practical philosophy as it is found in the text is not able to be fully applied to modern societies; in my opinion.

Week 3: Kant – Prolegomena II (Potential Metaphysics)

Week 3: Kant – Prolegomena II


  1. (§ 15). Kant states that universal natural science contains a priori basic principles, including the principles ‘substance remains and persists’ and ‘everything that happens is always determined previously by a cause according to constant laws.’ What is the discipline that explicitly reflects on such principles?

The discipline that reflects on the continuation of substance and causes under laws is ‘Metaphysics’, which Kant saw as being almost synonymous with pure mathematics and so he sought to label it pure philosophical cognition. It was only after metaphysics had almost drawn to a halt that Kant set to work to understand its origins. Inspired by Hume the father of German Idealism reflected on the reflective centre of philosophical enquiry (a cognition that resides beyond experience: metaphysical) and unearthed a new understanding of the discipline.

  1. (§ 22). If ‘[t]o think … is to unite representations in a consciousness’, what is it in Kant’s account of cognition that entails that this unity is ‘necessary and universally valid’?

The unity of representations in a consciousness rests initially on his unique distinction: that all acts of thinking entail judgements, and these judgements Kant split into two analytical (explicative – adding nothing to the content of the cognition), and synthetic (ampliative – augmenting the given cognition, adding something in the predicate that was not in the subject’s concept). Moreover, this then leads Kant to apprehend how synthetic cognition and precisely how pure intuition contains not only mathematical certainty, an apodictic quality, but space and time are also a priori (existing outside of experience). Culminating in one more sharp distinction after stating that,

‘thinking is the same as judging or as relating representations to judgements in general. Judgements are therefore either merely subjective, if representations are related to one consciousness in one subject alone and are united in it, or they are objective, if they are united in a consciousness in general, i.e., are united necessarily therein… This unification in a consciousness is either
analytic, through identity, or synthetic, through combination and addition
of various representations with one another.’

(§§ 30, 33). With the notions ‘thing in itself,’ ‘noumenon’ and ‘thought-being’ Kant refers to objects thought independently of their spatial and temporal determinations, which cannot therefore be objects of experience.

  1. (313) How does the notion of a noumenon help Kant provide the ‘complete solution of the Humean problem’?

The noumenon, contrasted to the phenomenon is often described as a realm where things are as they are… or the thing in itself: in German   …. It provides a solution to the Humean problem of habitual causality by offering an account of the cause i,e, objects that we can perceive through our senses, but we may never know them for what they truly are because we only have access to a representation of them via an act of judging. In Kant’s own language he says in two key sections of his famous preparatory study:

1)‘…even the pure concepts of the understanding have no significance at all

if they depart from objects of experience and want to be referred to things in

themselves (noumena). They serve as it were only to spell out appearances,

so that they can be read as experience;’

  • ‘This complete solution of the Humean problem, though coming out contrary

to the surmise of the originator, thus restores to the pure concepts of the

understanding  their a priori origin, and to the universal laws of nature their validity

as laws of the understanding, but in such a way that it restricts their use to

experience only, because their possibility is founded solely in the relation of the

understanding to experience: not, however, in such a way that they are derived

from experience, but that experience is derived from them,’       

  1. ‘[M]etaphysics is further concerned with pure concepts of reason that are never given in any possible experience whatsoever’: here Kant has in mind what he usually calls ideasof reason such as the soul, the world as a whole, and God.  These ideas are ‘transcendent’ (328) as they exceed any possible experience.
  1. (328). “Since all illusion … use that is immanent”. Try to summarise this paragraph in your own words to explain what Kant means by ‘illusion’.

Although the ideas of reason are generally illusory, they can also be useful or even ‘quite necessary in another respect’ (331). Kant gives the example of the ‘absolute totality of experience’, which provides our cognition with a systematic unity (349-50).  This is an example of a ‘regulative’ idea.

  1. (350). What is the difference between ‘regulative’ and ‘constitutive’ ideas?


‘But if one looks upon this unity of mode of cognition as if it were inhering in the object of cognition, if one takes that which really is only regulative to be constitutive, and becomes convinced that by means of these ideas one’s knowledge can be extended far beyond all possible experience, hence can be expanded transcendentally, even though this unity serves only to bring experience in itself as near as possible to completeness (i.e., to have its advance constrained by nothing that cannot belong to experience), then this is a mere misunderstanding in judging the true vocation of our reason and its principles, and it is a dialectic, which partly confounds the use of reason in experience, and partly divides reason against itself. […]’

Here Kant summarises the distinction between ideas of pure concepts of reason (categories), and pure concepts of the understanding, as cognitions of completely different type. With the latter’s ideas and thinking can be given in experience and confirmed. The former, transcendent cognitions of reason oppose this so neither allow what relates to their ideas to be given in experience, nor their theses ever to be confirmed or refuted via experience. Therefore it is possible here to argue either/or (Kierkegaard would’ve been proud) as it seems like both aspects could contain ideas that are regulative or constitutive? However, for Kant it appears that concepts of the understanding contain regulative ideas because of the immanence with which experience can be given. Finally the ideas of pure reason are constitutive because they extend to completeness, ‘the collective unity of the whole of possible experience, and in that way exceed any given experience and become transcendent’.