Post-Kantian European Philosophy Seminar (Tuesday - Week 4, HT23)

Post-Kantian European Philosophy Seminar

When I am in the midst of reading a story, I am at once wholly absorbed in what I am reading (while immersed in the story, I “forget myself” as it were) and aware of being engaged in reading it (if asked what I am doing, I can answer straightaway that I am reading). How can my activity of reading a story be entirely oriented towards its object and yet be aware of itself? Conversely, how can my awareness of reading the story not disrupt my absorption into what I am reading? Under the guise of the so-called ‘Transparency Principle’, a recent strand of analytic philosophy has rediscovered a variant of this problem and tried to address it. I will argue that a compelling solution is to be found in Sartre’s Being and Nothingness. Sartre first argues that the problem is intractable as long as we construe self-consciousness as an intentional relation. Expanding on this opening move, the First Part of Being and Nothingness is devoted to a lengthy argument to establish that non-positional consciousness (of) oneself (the structure of self-consciousness) and positional consciousness of the object (the structure of intentionality), far from standing in each other’s way, are rendered possible by each other. I will try to show that, and how, this argument turns on an original account of negation.

Post-Kantian European Philosophy Seminar Convenors: Joseph SchearManuel Dries, and Mark Wrathall