Kant And Leibniz: The ‘Highest Principle’

 

Immanuel Kant [1724-1804] Bucknell University Gallery

The idea of Consciousness, its centrality in the minds of the most influential modern thinkers, has never been fully appreciated. Nor their short-stops.

So come with me now to Königsberg, Prussia, circa 1750 CE.

Immanuel Kant from his ‘Critique of Pure Reason’, a volume that helped mark the domain of Academic Philosophy for several generations:

The ‘I Think’ must accompany all my representations..I call it pure apperception..because it is a Self-Consciousness..it is in all acts of Consciousness one and the same and unaccompanied by it no representation can exist for me.

The unity of this apperception I call the Transcendental Unity of Self- Consciousness..and this principle..is the highest principle in all human cognition.

So how does this ‘Unity’ catch itself?

[Kant, unlike most philosophers, was well aware of the Self-Loop. I’ll get to it in later Posts] 

Were not done yet. Step into my old Porche Convertible for a long drive south to Hanover, Germany, a 1,000 kilometers and a 100 years away. Let’s go meet Dr. Wilhelm Leibniz.


Gottfried_Wilhelm_LeibnizHere is Dr. Leibniz on his celebrated ‘Twin Truths’:

The immediate awareness of our existence and our thoughts furnishes us with the first a posteriori truths, or truths of Fact, the first experiences, while identical propositions embody the first a priori truths, or truths of Reason, the first illuminations.

Neither admits of proof and each may be called immediate.’

‘Transcendental Unity of Self-Consciousness’? ‘The immediate awareness of our existence and our thoughts’?

No. We are not in the Himalayas amidst a mystical mountain-sect. Nor the corner of Haight and Ashbury.

We are in Hanover, at the Study of Dr. Wilhelm von Leibniz, a founder of Modern Logic and the Mathematical Calculus. [If you want someone to blame for your shoddy grades in Math, here’s the man.]

So. Am I ‘immediately aware’ of my ‘Immediate Awareness’?


I’ve always had a problem with the stark divide maintained between Western Academic Philosophy and Eastern Religio-Philosophical Inquiry. It’s an artificial separation, each side simply unread and ignorant of the other. The questions pursued vary only because the point of the short-stop in the approach to Shūnyam is different in each Tradition.