10.24.2011

Lagrange's First Critique of Idealism

How can philosophy begin with being if the only object available to us is being-as-known? How can we assure ourselves that being-as-known corresponds to being-as-itself?

Being-as-itself is opposed to being-as-known, and it is impossible that we should be able to transcend being-as-known and arrive at being-as-itself since all being available to us is necessarily being-as-known. Idealism, therefore, is inescapable.

In order to answer such an argument we must first make a distinction. Ideas or representations, what constitutes being-as-known, are that by which we know things and not the proper objects of knowledge. The idea is, of itself, an intentional and relational being which is necessarily related to that of which it is an idea. It is only when we misconceive of the idea as an object that can be considered apart from the object to which it relates that the Idealist objection appears reasonable. The idea, then, becomes a material object that is just as much of a primary substance as what we would normally call a primary substance.

As an essentially relative thing, the idea is, against the Idealists, simply unintelligible without its expressive function.

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