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literary conjugations richard t. gray, series editor

Literary Conjugations investigates literary artifacts in their cultural and historical environments. Through comparative investigations and case studies across a wide array of national literatures, it highlights the interdisciplinary character of literary studies and explores how literary production extends into, influences, and refracts multiple domains of intellectual and cultural life. W. G. Sebald: A Critical Companion edited by J. J. Long and Anne Whitehead Speaking Havoc: Social Suffering and South Asian Narratives by Ramu Nagappan The Linguistics of Lying and Other Essays by Harald Weinrich, translated and introduced by Jane K. Brown and Marshall Brown Missing the Breast: Gender, Fantasy, and the Body in the German Enlightenment by Simon Richter The Work of Print: Authorship and the English Text Trades, 1660 – 1760 by Lisa Maruca Money Matters: Economics and the German Cultural Imagination, 1770 – 1850 by Richard T. Gray Febris Erotica: Lovesickness in the Russian Literary Imagination by Valeria Sobol Mind’s World: Imagination and Subjectivity from Descartes to Romanticism by Alexander M. Schlutz

Mind’s World
imagination and subjectivity from descartes to romanticism

Alexander M. Schlutz

university of washington press seattle and london

this book is dedicated to my parents, franz-dieter and adelheid schlutz, and to eugenia and filip

This publication is supported in part by the Donald R. Ellegood International Publications Endowment. © 2009 by the University of Washington Press Printed in the United States of America Design by Pamela Canell 14 12 11 10 09 5 4 3 2 1 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. University of Washington Press P.O. Box 50096, Seattle, WA 98145 U.S.A. www.washington.edu/uwpress Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Schlutz, Alexander M., 1970 – Mind’s world : imagination and subjectivity from Descartes to Romanticism / Alexander M. Schlutz. p. cm. — (Literary conjugations) Includes bibliographical references and index. isbn 978-0-295-98892-4 (hardback : alk. paper) isbn 978-0-295-98893-1 (pbk. : alk. paper) 1. Philosophy of mind. 2. Imagination. I. Title. bd418.3.s35 2009 128Ј.3 —dc22 2008045176 The paper used in this publication is acid-free and 90 percent recycled from at least 50 percent post-consumer waste. It meets the minimum requirements of American National Standard for Information Sciences— Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ansi z39.48-1984. ø

Einen Gliedermann kann man teilen, so daß man dann zwei, drei und mehrere Gliedermänner aus einem gewinnt. Einen leibhaftigen Menschen dagegen kann man nicht teilen, nicht weil ich ihn damit um die ewige Seligkeit brächte, sondern weil ich bei dieser Teilung die Einbildungskraft des Menschen verletzen würde, durch welche des Menschen Körper und Seele ganz bestimmt irgendwie zusammenhängen. A marionette can be divided, so that two, three and several marionettes may be derived from a single one. A real and embodied human being, however, cannot be divided, not because by doing so I would deprive him of his eternal salvation, but because in the process of such a division I would injure the human being’s imagination, through which the body and the soul of a human being are without a doubt somehow connected. — rudolf kassner , Ein Gespräch über die Einbildungskraft

and rhetoric: contexts of imagination 15 Aristotle. and the Problem of Epistemology 16 Plato. Phantasia. metaphysics.contents Acknowledgments ix Introduction 3 1 epistemology. the Neoplatonists. and the Vagaries of the Sublunar World 19 Phantasia and Ecstatic Knowledge 23 “A More Skillful Artist than Imitation” 28 vi .

Inspired Communication.2 dreams. and Darkness: The Reconciliation of Opposites 151 The Metaphysics of Oscillation and the Truth of Imagination 154 Reason’s Fixations: Arresting Imagination 159 vii . and Philosophical Genius 148 Light. and Pascal 52 Analogies and Enthusiasm 57 Excogitations: Fabulating the Cogito 68 3 the reasonable imagination: immanuel kant’s critical philosophy 80 Imagination in the Limits of Pure Reason 81 Dreamers and Madmen: Imagination in Anthropology 107 Natural Art and Sublime Madness: Imagination in the Critique of Judgment 119 4 the highest point of philosophy: fichte’s reimagining of the kantian system 140 The Logics of Positing: Intellectual Intuition and the Absolute Subject 143 Ecstasy. Dusk. and evil demons: descartes and imagination 36 Meditatio Prima: Certainty. Montaigne. and Imagination 37 Imagination in the Rules 43 Meditatio Secunda: The World of the Cogito 47 Descartes. doubts. the Cogito.

5 a system without foundations: poetic subjectivity in friedrich von hardenberg’s A System without Foundations 165 Fantasy and the Body 192 ORDO INVERSUS 162 6 divine law and abject subjectivity: coleridge and the double knowledge of imagination 214 Divine Imagination 216 The Abyss of the Empirical Self 230 Coda: Imagining Ideology 246 Conclusions 255 Notes 263 Bibliography 307 Index 315 viii .

I am particularly indebted to Maria Moog-Grünewald. Frank Madro prevented several nervous breakdowns with patient ix . and it is a better book—and one with a better title—thanks to his suggestions and acute observations. In Germany. the seminars and intellectual support of Raimonda Modiano were of equal importance. particularly in deepening my understanding of the Romantic period and of the work of Samuel Taylor Coleridge.acknowledgments I would like to express my gratitude to all those who helped make this book a reality. In the United States. Martin Klebes read drafts of most of this book’s chapters. where the project was conceived. who introduced me to the history of modern subjectivity and whose lectures and seminars provided the intellectual and interdisciplinary environment in which I developed the ideas at the heart of this book.

technical support over the many years it took to write the book.” pieces of advice without which the respective chapters of this book would have taken shape quite differently. I thank Corinne Bayerl and Jean-Pierre van Elslande for reading drafts of the Descartes chapter and Tim Fulford and Anya Taylor for their feedback on the Coleridge chapter. and marketing teams at the University of Washington Press who helped turn the manuscript into the book you now hold in your hands. and Leroy Searle pointed me to Coleridge’s “Essays on Method. and to everybody on the editorial. production. Thomas Wägenbaur first alerted me to the centrality of Hardenberg’s Fichte Studies. this book would not have gone to press. to Marilyn Trueblood for managing the book’s progress from manuscript to printed page. I am especially grateful to Nick Halmi and Thomas Pfau for their generous comments on the manuscript. x Acknowledgments . Without the trust of Richard Gray in my initial proposal and Jacqueline Ettinger’s enthusiasm for and careful shepherding of the manuscript. to Rachael Mann for her work to publicize the book. I am equally grateful to Ivan Kidoguchi for the copyediting. to Pamela Canell for the design. which allowed me to greatly improve the final text.

Mind’s World .

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strongly embattled. and oftentimes mutually exclusive assessments.” between the operations of the senses and the abstract processes of the 3 . the desires and fears attached to it over the course of Western intellectual history—reveals an astonishing array of vastly different.Introduction E ven a cursory glance at the definitions the word “imagination” has been given—the meanings that have been associated with it. imagination is situated on the precarious threshold between “mind” and “world. an explanatory framework that divides the human mind into various faculties or powers and that dominated discussions about the workings of the mind and brain from ancient Greece until well into the nineteenth century. in short. the abilities and functions of the human mind it has been taken to represent.1 In the discourse of faculty psychology.

Immanuel Kant describes imagination as a “blind. Excluded from the foundations of the philosophical edifice. convinced that the deceptive and misleading products of this image-producing faculty could play no part in the abstract certainty of self-reflexive thought.higher. as well as the philosophical desideratum of the mind’s freedom and autonomy from the vicissitudes of its physical embodiment. A close look at Descartes’ Rules for the Direction of the Mind reveals that he did in fact regard imagination as a powerful tool for scientific and philosophical problem solving. In essence a liminal. from its inception into philosophical discourse. how the mind makes its world. the image-producing faculty. Such Enlightenment fears leave their mark on the architectonics of the Kantian critiques. Yet. the Cartesian cogito is. following in the tradition of eighteenth-century anthropology. Imagination may be praised for its ability to represent absent impressions as if they were present. mediating faculty. René Descartes. but rather takes on the ineffable qualities of the very mysteries it is called upon to explain. delusion. And yet. forcefully excludes imagination from his conception of the cogito. but the unreliability of such operations. imagination’s ability to manipulate. Although the image-producing nature of the faculty is indispensable to theories attempting to explain how thought can have any content. render it deeply suspect in the eyes of many philosophers. defined against imagination. rational faculties of understanding and reason. or rather. “imagination” will not be contained and secured in a process of conceptual clarification. for example. not to speak of the visions the faculty produces in dreams and states of enthusiastic inspiration. in its guise as “fantasy. imagination’s connection to the body and the senses marks it as a constant threat to the rational faculties of understanding and reason. where imagination needs to be kept under tight control by the mental faculties of reason and under4 Introduction . and recombine images and mental representations plays a central role in the Cartesian method. and which is thus absolutely essential to the epistemological process and the unity of the human mind. for Kant. Hence. yet indispensable function of the human soul.” by means of which we apply concepts to intuitions. and mental derangement. imagination is nevertheless deemed essential to the philosophical method so influential in the development of modern science. enabling the work of memory just as much as that of artistic production. how the world appears to the mind.” is also a potential source of madness. combine. In a similar double gesture.

however. Due to this position. promises and threats. each studied closely in the chapters of this book. for whom imagination facilitates an aesthetic unity that can connect the finite mind to nature and ultimately to the divine. imagination plays a central role in any account of the production of selfconsciousness and the connection between self and other. self and world. for whom imagination was a “haughty power” and a formidable “enemy of reason. Friedrich von Hardenberg (Novalis) views imagination as a poetic principle that can guarantee the unity and freedom of the self. despaired when faced with the nightly onslaught of images created by the very same faculty in the frightening visions of his nightmares. like Kant. Oscillating between mind and body. the ideal and the real. on the self’s moral imperatives. depending on the discursive and philosophical framework within which they are made. Faced with such a variety of perspectives. Nor should one expect to uncover a teleological development that might unify such heterogenous assessments by relating them to the overarching logic of a historical plot. he is wary of the potentially debilitating influence of its dark twin. fantasy. As the mental faculty that allows us to create and manipulate images.2 From the beginning of its philosophical conceptualization. imagination is situated at— or rather constitutes itself as—the decisive interface between the “outer” and “inner” world. a discussion of imagination holds considerable promise if employed as a tool that can bring into focus the changing philosophical convictions and intellectual predispositions that lie behind and inform such conflicting assessments of this concept. the realm of objects and sense-perceptions on the one hand. although.” easily dominating man’s rational capacities with its ability to create flattering and ultimately irresistible illusions. vary considerably. the Introduction 5 . Imagination is an especially fruitful object for such a discussion because of the peculiarly liminal position it has received in the Western tradition. one cannot hope to establish a stable meaning for the concept of imagination through a study of its history. As even the short presentation in the previous paragraph indicates. and the realm of (self)consciousness and intellect on the other. imagination is the productive source of all reality and the fundamental mechanism on which the human mind is based. assessments of imagination’s values and merits. And Samuel Taylor Coleridge. on the other hand. mind and world. For Johann Gottlieb Fichte.standing—an endeavor that would have seemed futile to Blaise Pascal.

and it is the specific goal of this study to demonstrate that modern philosophical discourse about subjectivity is inextricably linked to the concomitant discourse about imagination. imagination is likewise situated at the heart of modern philosophical system-building from the seventeenth century onward. Decisive shifts in philosophical perspective. describing imagination as a power of divine inspiration. be they epistemological or otherwise. became. from Descartes’ Meditations to the aesthetic and philosophical systems of the Romantic period. The modern discourse about subjectivity thus intersects. composition. And the rhetorical tradition championed imagination as the rhetor’s power to memorize. And since the subject. This philosophical predicament is a matter of great trepidation for both Descartes and Kant. the cogito. The emergence of the modern notion of a rational and autonomous individual subject is without a doubt one such decisive perspectival shift.human and the divine. to think about the subject necessarily means to address the problem of imagination. for better or worse. At the same time. while also discussing the faculty’s role in the furthering and hindrance of the self’s spiritual development. the touchstone of philosophical certainty. so that the faculty and its creative potential became essential for rhetorical memory systems. defines itself against. and recombine words and images. Platonic and Neoplatonic sources provided another elaborate discursive tradition for Descartes. and is dependent upon much older discourses about imagination that have their own implications about the autonomy and ultimate rationality of the self. imagination formed a central if often ambiguous part of what came to be known as faculty psychology. The following chapters will demonstrate that. imagination is a highly ambiguous term with considerable discursive charge that consistently leads directly to the heart of an ongoing philosophical debate. and invention. and the radically new beginning Descartes claims for the cogito is embedded in multiple discursive layers of thinking about the human mind that reach at least as far back as the philosophy and rhetoric of ancient Greece. Ever since Aristotle’s first systematic efforts to explain human cognition. The texts of these two philosophers betray considerable ambiguity about a mental faculty both necessary and detrimental to the completion of their 6 Introduction . are always detectable in the discourse on imagination. The concept of imagination predates the Cartesian idea of the autonomous rational subject by roughly two thousand years. recall.

and the resulting ambivalence is one of the fundamental conditions of modern models of subjectivity. which emerges as a narrative product of the Cartesian text no matter how persistently Descartes attempts to divest it of any representational remnants. (rational) subjectivity is thus simultaneously dependent upon and constructed in opposition to imagination.3 Since the moment of autonomy that underpins and sustains Introduction 7 . Thus. Descartes and Kant both realize that the unity of subjectivity depends on the processes of representation made possible by imagination. Even as Kant is at pains to secure the validity of his transcendental system and to distinguish it from the ravings of the “systematic madman. This ambivalence is due in large part to the “onedimensionality” of Cartesian. the very centerpiece of Cartesian philosophy depends on the faculty of imagination that Descartes has so rigorously attempted to exclude from it. both Descartes and Kant are at great pains to either exclude imagination altogether from their philosophical speculations about the subject or to ensure that it is safely domesticated and controlled by the mind’s rational faculties. This struggle for the autonomy of reason. exposing an irrational moment at the foundation of the philosophical system that lies outside the subject’s control. A close reading of Descartes’ philosophical texts. and from which the critical system is unable to clearly separate itself. which ultimately jeopardizes the closure of the Kantian system. an unruly form of imagination that cannot be dismissed entirely from either Descartes’ or Kant’s accounts of subjectivity returns to haunt their philosophical systems. reveals that poetic inspiration and divine enthusiasm leave stronger traces in Descartes’ thought than one might expect. Yet. struggles with an unprincipled. Kant. is clearly visible in the Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View and forms the unacknowledged subtext of the critiques. a connection that must threaten a subject whose autonomy is defined exclusively by its capacity for reason. At the same time. In both the Cartesian and the Kantian texts. Kantian. undertaken in chapter 2. however. and also Idealist accounts of subjectivity.” he finds himself dependent on the very same faculty that embodies his greatest philosophical fears. disruptive imagination that threatens the rational subject with delirium and madness. on the other hand. Descartes cannot hide the representational and hence fictional nature of the cogito.philosophical projects. they also fear the unruly potential of a faculty connected to the body and the passions. Consequently. Despite such precautions.

Johann Gottlieb Fichte. are the necessary fate of human reason in its innate drive toward comprehensive knowledge. This shift in perspective is directly linked to a reconfiguration of the concept of subjectivity in the Romantic period and to a changing view of the nature of philosophy’s first principles.and the supra-rational kind. As it wards off imaginary threats of both the infra. While Kant attempts to strike an evenhanded balance between the empirical and the transcendental. nor his Early German Romantic contemporary Friedrich von Hardenberg. never ceases to threaten the very autonomy that is established by excluding the faculty from the self’s essence. had any reservations about making imagination one of the central principles for the unity of subjectivity. The more impregnable the walls are that the subject creates to protect itself. Neither Kant’s immediate philosophical heir. this time by way of its potential connection to the transcendent and the divine. the objective and the subjective poles of the epistemological equation. in its immediate connection to the body and the latter’s irrational urges and drives. while imagination. As the power of divine inspiration. imagination can promise what reason necessarily has to deny itself. the embodiment of the subject must of necessity be a constant source of philosophical concern. subject and object are then shown to flow. the German Idealists. and which equally undermines the autonomy of a subject that seeks to ground itself in its own thought and capacity for reason alone.the philosophical system is located exclusively in the thinking subject’s self-reflexive thought processes and its capacity for reason. Due to the nonempirical nature of both the cogito and Kant’s transcendental subject. as Kant himself points out. From this side too. in their self-described attempts to complete the Kantian project. unequivocally locate philosophy’s first principle in varying versions of absolute self-consciousness. and indeed for the creation of reality itself. the very exclusivity of the subject’s claims to autonomy thus underscores its always precarious and constantly embattled position. philosophical discourse is always dangerously close to a metaphysics that lies beyond the grasp of reason. imagination threatens the primacy of reason. the more vulnerable it ultimately becomes. philosophical systems. from which both mind and world. Transcendental illusions. better known as Novalis.4 By embracing the notion of an intellectual intuition—the subject’s abstract and constitutive “vision” of its own transcendental origin— which Kant explicitly excludes as an option from rational philosophical 8 Introduction .

” On the one hand.discourse. and perhaps more importantly. On the other. a reformulation of the concept of self-consciousness and subjectivity. Through this discursive reformulation of the search for philosophy’s first principles. however. Fichte still aimed to complete both the Kantian and the Cartesian philosophical project by establishing the absolute subject as the self-evident foundation of the transcendental philosophical system. could make the mediatory and representational power of imagination the indispensable precondition for the unity of self-consciousness and hence the unifying principle of “mind’s world. now seen as a purely intellectual principle and hence thoroughly domesticated for philosophical use. questions the very possibility of grounding either the self or philosophy on the basis of a first principle in the necessarily representational and semiotic realm of self-consciousness. Hardenberg. Fichte and Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling in particular. imagination. it could be embraced in Idealist philosophical discourse as the visionary power that allows the mind to “intuit” a supersensual origin that must of necessity remain inaccessible from within the rational parameters of the philosophical system. but also. resorts to the very same “faculty” to which both Kant and Descartes deny any foundational status. Hardenberg does not base the self on a static first Introduction 9 . like Friedrich Schlegel and Friedrich Hölderlin. in his very endeavor to secure the absolute primacy of the cogito. the German Idealists prepare the way for the openly aesthetic and poetic views of self-consciousness and philosophical systems proposed by the Early German Romantics. What changes fundamentally in the transition from Kant to Fichte and Hardenberg is not only the philosophical perspective on imagination. These chapters are primarily concerned with the double transformation of the relation between subjectivity and imagination that occurs as philosophical discourse shifts from Kantian transcendental philosophy to Fichtean transcendental idealism and ultimately to Hardenberg’s Romantic critique of Fichte’s Idealist system. loses its incriminating association with the body and the passions in the context of transcendental philosophy. As a particular example of this change in perspective. chapters 4 and 5 of this study discuss the role of imagination in Johann Gottlieb Fichte’s Science of Knowledge and Friedrich von Hardenberg’s poetic critique of the Fichtean position. even if the specific assessments of the relation between imagination and the subject within these two intellectual “movements” vary considerably. Whereas Fichte. the German Idealists.

in a quintessentially Early Romantic fashion that is clearly distinct from the Kantian or Idealist approach. but rather describes imagination as a dynamic force guaranteeing the unity of the self as an organic whole of interconnected elements without a stable organizing center. as Hardenberg shows. In the act of reflection. so that an act of thought. Imagination. The Early German Romantics’ insistence on the speculative nature of thought thus com10 Introduction . This reflective nature of thought entails an inescapable doubling within the realm of consciousness—the philosophical pun encapsulated in the word “reflection” leads to the German Romantics’ extensive use of the mirror as a metaphor for consciousness.principle at all. For Hardenberg. Rather. Kant. as Descartes. will never yield a self-evident first principle or a stable origin for self-consciousness. and Fichte had done. decentering power of imagination so feared by Kant. which creates self-consciousness in analogous fashion to the Early Romantic ideal of the work of art. the self and hence the system have to “systematize systemlessness. dooms to failure the Cartesian and by extension the Fichtean search for first principles. he understands it as the poetic principle of movement. is not to be controlled by the system. the subject is always divided into a reflecting subject and a subject of reflection. which.” Hardenberg thus integrates the unsystematic. as understood by Hardenberg. The aesthetic unity of subjectivity provided by imagination is directly related to the necessarily divided nature of a subject that can only grasp itself through an act of reflection. which would make it. which arises from the philosophical insight that no absolute certainty can be found within the representational distortions of self-consciousness. and still contained by Fichte in his hierarchical approach to philosophical systematicity. and change. contrary to Descartes’ convictions. into the very definition of the system itself. the domesticated handmaiden of reason. interconnectedness. the Early German Romantic understanding of imagination as actively creative of self-consciousness goes hand in hand with the Romantic concept of irony. but is rather part of the intricate interplay of chaos and control that presents—at least for the Early German Romantics—the only adequate view of a philosophical system. The critique of Fichte’s philosophical search for first principles leads Hardenberg to develop a performative model of subjectivity and philosophical systems in which imagination is no longer construed as a clearly delimited mental faculty defined by its perceived relation to reason and/ or the senses. Thus.

Introduction 11 . is still bound to the antagonistic Neoplatonic discourse that views the body as the mind’s prison. must appear as a threat to the self. can only be produced through an imaginary and poetic process.” with its dreams of a mind truly productive of its physical reality. “Fantasy. and the dangers it represents for the reasonable and particularly for the moral subject. particularly in dreams. If the subject can only perceive itself as whole because it creates itself in analogy to the work of art. In what seems itself an ironic twist in the history of philosophy. to assume that the philosophical shift in perspective from Kant via Fichte to Hardenberg’s Early Romantic models of subjectivity and consciousness and the concomitant reevaluation of transcendental imagination should have brought about the complete disappearance of the negative discourse about imagination. he. It would be a mistake. an aesthetic construct fueled by imagination. much like Fichte. shares with Kant a concern for the integrity of the moral self when it comes to the potentially immoral creations of imagination. Fichte’s attempt to complete the Cartesian and the Kantian philosophical projects leads to their complete reversal in the discourse of Early German Romanticism. no matter how highly praised at an abstract.pletely changes the relation of truth and illusion on which previous assessments of imagination as a representational power had been based. The unity of subjectivity. then the cogito can only be seen as unified precisely because it is a fiction. a mind that could change its body at will. a position that drastically redefines the parameters of the problem set forth by Descartes. And while Hardenberg aims to develop a model of subjectivity that comprehends mind and nature as two integral and equally valid halves. are by no means absent from Hardenberg’s texts. a freedom that continues to translate into a tight control over the subject’s own body. The double-sided discourse about imagination that marks the thought of Descartes and Kant is continued in the texts of Friedrich von Hardenberg. Hardenberg. transcendental level. not because it is a self-evident truth.” the transcendental faculty’s dark twin. a vantage point from which imagination. remains committed to ensuring the subject’s absolute freedom. Such is the radical assertion of the Early German Romantics about the relation between subjectivity and imagination. who was familiar with both Kant’s Anthropology and the eighteenth-century discourse of anthropology. however. Hardenberg concludes. Hardenberg’s “magical idealism.

he explores the dark abyss of his empirical consciousness in excruciatingly minute detail. While the German Idealists. But if Coleridge seeks to support his religious position in philosophical terms. has been more aware of the “double knowledge” that imagination provides the subject than him. as the driving force in human acts of poetic creation and thus the echo of God’s initial act of creation. Imagination—called upon to secure the self’s connection to the divine in Coleridge’s philosophical texts—also creates the demonic images that assail his helpless consciousness during sleep. but rather in order to secure the necessary beliefs that could provide him with philosophical and religious protection against his agonizing selfdoubt and the dark fear of being cut off from any hope for divine grace. and no one. and include his famous definition of imagination in the Biographia Literaria. Like a nineteenth-century Thomas Aquinas. specifically German transcendental philosophy. a loss of moral will and determination. and a loss of self-control that finds expression in terrifying nightmares. the mind’s connection to the transcendent realm of divine law and reason.” For Coleridge. Coleridge is firmly convinced of the physiological origin of his nightly torments. separating their various notions of the Absolute from religious notions of the divine. and forms the crucial link between individual consciousness and God’s “eternal I AM. while also serving as the philosophical support for the Christian faith in a living. personal God. imagination is the touchstone that guarantees the unity of subjectivity and consequently of the philosophical system. he does so not from the perspective of a righteous believer. perhaps. Particularly as the effects of his opium addiction intensify.The final chapter of this book is devoted to a reading of the texts of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. where imagination emerges as the key to the unity of mind and world. while it secures. as his notebooks attest. Coleridge devoted his life work to the reconciliation of Christian doctrine and contemporary. for both philosophical and political reasons. Coleridge aspired to develop his own summa. the magnum opus that would present the philosophical framework from which all other systems could be seen as united. While Coleridge would never publish his oft-promised system. Such doubts and fears were constants in Coleridge’s life. Coleridge is tormented by feelings of inadequacy. and it is thus the body itself—the 12 Introduction . refrained from developing the specific religious implications of their transcendental systems. his efforts survive in fragmentary form. There.

imagination is also closely linked to the ethical and interpersonal dimension of subjectivity. its connection to the body. but thanks to the candid observations in his private notes. This aspect of the self. the discourses on subjectivity and imagination must necessarily coincide. In the most poignant expression of the dual discourse on imagination that is the topic of this book. the blood. Despite philosophiIntroduction 13 . both sustained in equal measure by the power of imagination. and a potential opening toward the divine. which are in this context mainly concerned with the autonomy of the individual subject and hence its freedom to follow a moral law that regulates its relations to others.nerves. as the physical body and its uncontrollable effects on the mind—made “real” by imagination—undercut the very unquestionable principles which should be at the basis of the unified transcendental subject. and its relation to a transcendent realm beyond its rational grasp. for from its inception. acquires a power that threatens the primacy of mind and ultimately the subject’s connection to divine reason. The dark abyss of the self is in fact the inevitable flip side of the philosophical glorification of the subject’s powers of imagination. and desires of another person. There could be no greater challenge to the view of the subject Coleridge seeks to institute in the Biographia. In this liminal sense. a mind. the faculty is thus responsible for both the self’s salvation and its potential damnation. he comes closest in delineating not just the abstract parameters of a transcendental subject. with the help of imagination. but the fissures and vicissitudes of an embodied self that emerges at the liminal threshold between a body. Coleridge could not find a way to integrate the conflicting aspects at the heart of subjectivity. is not directly addressed by the texts under discussion here. As the vehicle for sympathy and the ability to imagine the thoughts.” that presents unwanted images to the mind in a process beyond the self’s rational control. however. the material body. the stomach—with imagination as its “interpreter. the discourse on imagination addresses precisely the mysteries and questions that the positing of an autonomous rational subject inevitably opens up: the subject’s unity and continuity in time. In Coleridge’s accounts of his dreams and nightmares. not with the abilty of the self to refrain from inflicting harm through an act of sympathetic identification. and Coleridge’s fears presage Nietzsche’s attack on Western metaphysics. feelings. and it can only find expression in the privacy of Coleridge’s notebooks.

share a common history that inextricably links them to one another.cal attempts since Descartes’ Meditations to clearly separate the subject from imagination. both concepts. In order to lay the conceptual groundwork for this shared history. it is first necessary to investigate the discussion of imagination in the texts of Aristotle. the Neoplatonists. 14 Introduction . Plato. which develops and can only be properly understood within the conceptual framework of faculty psychology. and the rhetorical tradition. as the following pages will show.

but if this too proves to be a form of imagination or to be impossible without imagination. Thinking seems to be the most probable exception. the four interrelated sections of this chapter should be understood as templates that provide points of entry from which to engage the modern discussion about imagination.A further problem presented by the affections of the soul is this: are they all affections of the complex of body and soul. Aristotle. and sensation generally. In analyzing the contributions of Plato. appetite. e. its approach and goal are not strictly historical. anger. If we consider the majority of them. courage. and the rhetorical tradition to the discourse about imagination. or is there any one among them peculiar to the soul itself? To determine this is indispensable but difficult. Metaphysics. they provide both the indispensable background and the leading questions that will guide my account in the following chapters. One important caveat is required for any presentation of classical dis15 . and Rhetoric contexts of imagination W hile this chapter focuses on classical discourses about imagination. As contexts for the varying subsequent conceptualizations of the term.g. — aristotle De Anima 1 Epistemology. it is not my aim to uncover origins or to suggest inevitable historical progressions.. it too requires a body as a condition of its existence. Rather. there seems to be no case in which the soul can act or be acted upon without involving the body.

does not carry the connotations a contemporary reader might attach to the word “imagination. and the problem of epistemology The noun phantasia. phantasia does not receive an independent and clearly differentiated status in these texts.2 Aristotle was thus the first to attempt a systematic philosophical assessment of phantasia as an independent capacity in the epistemolog16 Epistemology. It is one of the goals of this study to show that modern conceptualizations of imagination are intimately tied to the problem of the autonomous individual subject.1 However. the term phantasia is not synonymous with the later term’s semantic field. and the Sophist. the Theaetetus. Metaphysics. where it is described as a “judgment based on sensation” and hence as a hybrid mixture of two other faculties. classical assessments of phantasia would be taken up again within the changed parameters of the modern discussion of subjectivity and imagination. aristotle. P H A N TA S I A . and the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century. However. the notion of imagination as a creative capacity involved in the artistic endeavor of producing alternative aesthetic realities and autonomous works of art has no precedent in classical thought and should not be connected with phantasia. Beginning with an analysis of classical texts about phantasia thus serves a double purpose: to map the discursive fields that continue to inform discussions of imagination until the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. aisthesis (sense-perception) and doxa (opinion or judgment). a problem that simply could not arise for Plato or Aristotle.courses about imagination: Phantasia. While classical discourse informs modern understandings of imagination. and to show how the conflicting and ambiguous philosophical positions with regard to imagination that mark Cartesian and post-Cartesian discourse stem from specific recombinations of the classical perspectives outlined in this chapter. and Rhetoric . neither having conceived their philosophical arguments in view of the subject-object split. a discussion which of necessity engages philosophical problems at least as old as the Athenian academy. who employed it in the Republic. derived from the verb phainestai (to appear) seems to have been introduced into the Greek language by Plato. the Cartesian “discovery” of the cogito. the term employed in the Greek texts.” Specifically.

“[T]he soul never thinks without an image. as will be shown in the following two sections of this chapter.ical process. nor with doxa. that he finds it necessary for explanatory purposes to distinguish between various mental powers. however. and while Aristotle makes it clear that thoughts themselves are not images. It is clear.”6 Given this intimate connection between the various functions of the mind. truly establish the term as a philosophical concept and hence set the parameters for subsequent systematic accounts of phantasia as a mental faculty. he does say that “they necessarily involve them.4 For Aristotle. then. then. only the images produced by phantasia on the basis of sense-perceptions allow the world to enter the mind.” he claims. although themselves requiring interpretation and commentary.5 “When the mind is actively aware of anything. it is responsible for transforming the data of aisthesis and to make them available in the form of representations (phantasmata) to dianoia for further processing. Aristotelian phantasia is not exclusively tied to immediately present sense-perceptions. for images are like sensuous contents except in that they contain no matter. since without it our thought processes would be cut off from any outside sensory input. phantasia is the particular capacity that allows for a mediation between aisthesis (sense-perception) and dianoia (discursive thought). In fact.” and the later chapters of De Anima’s book 3 are particularly critical of excessive subdivisions in philosophical accounts of the soul. Since phantasia could neither be seen as identical with aisthesis. “it is necessarily aware of it along with an image. and Rhetoric 17 . only Aristotle’s definitions. While the impact of Platonic philosophy on the conceptual history of imagination was extremely significant. Aristotle argues.” Hence. whose definition was insufficient for Aristotle’s analytical mind.7 In addition. can be seen as the precondition of human thought and consciousness. and what came to be known as Aristotelian “faculty psychology” would remain influential for subsequent systematic accounts of human cognition. The mental activity of phantasia. it could also not simply be a combination of both and should hence be regarded as a separate mental activity. It can also recall them as eikones in the Epistemology. As the ability to produce mental images.” Aristotle famously asserts. Aristotle is somewhat ambivalent about the advisability and feasibility of dividing the soul into separate “faculties. Aristotle’s discussion of phantasia in book 3 of De Anima3 is to a large extent a pointed critique of Plato. Metaphysics.

There can be no doubt. according to Aristotle. Discursive thought (dianoia) would be impossible without it. Ultimately. without presupposing a bridge where both realms actually overlap. which is. supposing we determine to posit separate parts in the soul. one indeed makes the move to assume distinct and separate parts of the soul—but identified with neither. while it is very hard to say with which of the others it is the same or not the same. found in both humans and certain animals.8 Situated between aisthesis and doxa — if. without which it could not operate. i. logical and discursive functions of the soul. It is a truly liminal activity and Aristotle himself is hard-pressed to precisely define its position: further the imaginative [part. or produce them as dream-images (eidola. In these cases. “stored” in itself. phantasia cannot be placed definitively in either the realm of the senses or the realm of the intellect. It supplies the discursive faculties of the human mind with representations of sense-data and is hence indispensable to the processes of cognition. phantasia]. such as nous and 18 Epistemology. while at the same time being able to perform some of the activities of the higher. phantasmata) during sleep. Phantasia is hence intimately tied to the input of the senses. but phantasia itself is not among the cognitive abilities.e. different from all. in its being.process of memory. Metaphysics. the least developed of the rational functions of the soul. The ambiguous potential of the faculty in epistemological discussion can be traced back to the liminal dilemma that Aristotle already had to face.. as it were. phantasia is able to recall images which it produced earlier and which it finds. that for Aristotle the hierarchical status of phantasia within the process of epistemology remains unambiguously located below doxa. since it is able to differentiate various pieces of sensory data and reassemble them in the form of mental images. It can thus also become a factor in the construction of the past and the alternate realm of dreams. where the processes of phantasia are not dependent on present objects of perception. as Aristotle cautions. While the latter is an exclusively human faculty. and Rhetoric . however. phantasia is introduced by Aristotle in order to allow for their connection. phantasia serves no such distinguishing function and is. Oscillating between both of them. phantasia has a solely subsidiary function in Aristotle’s philosophical framework. Yet phantasia is defined as a separate faculty and is not clearly identified with either realm.

providing an interface between mind and senses and. Such a question. by extension. the neoplatonists. and Rhetoric 19 .dianoia. to guarantee the unity of human knowledge and to provide an answer to one of the most fundamental philosophical questions: How is it possible for us to pretend to have knowledge of an “outside” world that is by definition other and that cannot become part of the world of our consciousness except by means of representation? plato. From the outset. when Aristotle introduces the distinction between the sensitive and the deliberative imagination. rational functions of the human mind. Aristotle introduces the “deliberative” aspect of phantasia because choice. as well as its inferiority to the higher. imagination as phantasia has a specific epistemological function that is still very much part of the contemporary debate. necessary to support the more advanced cognitive processes. mind and world. does not truly present Epistemology. for his metaphysics provided the crucial philosophical framework that would guide future judgments of the faculty as either detrimental or beneficial for the pursuit of knowledge.9 Aristotle’s epistemological model would remain influential for later systematic philosophical approaches. are all positions that can be found in various attempts of subsequent philosophers to create a systematic account of human knowledge. While the epithet “deliberative” might suggest that phantasia is here given a property of discursive thought. its role in the explanation of memory and the creation of dream images. Metaphysics. Phantasia must have the ability to create a unity out of a manifold of images for the intellect to work with. solely the prerogative of the intellect. It has been invoked thus. The moment of “deliberation” is an intermediary step. and the vagaries of the sublunar world While Aristotle’s definitions of phantasia as an integral part of the epistemological process would prove extremely influential for subsequent systematic accounts of human cognition. This is made clear in chapter 11 of book 3. in connection to phantasia. The liminal position of phantasia in the epistemological process. that set man apart as an animal rationale. in various guises. depends in his view on single entities (“standards”) from which to choose. it was nevertheless Plato who had the most significant impact on the history of the concept. its operations remain clearly subsidiary to those of the intellect.

sets the metaphysical stage for just such a conclusion. From an Aristotelian point of view.itself for Aristotle. hence there is no philosophical necessity to presuppose the existence of ideal forms in a nonsensual and disembodied state in order to provide the human mind with objects of true knowledge. the substances or essences of the empirical world. it is in the ousia. For Aristotle. it could not be devalued simply because of its connection to the body and the senses. and Rhetoric . the knowledge derived from the senses by means of phantasia has indisputable validity for a meticulous observer of the natural world. is unquestionably true. provided by aisthesis prior to human judgment and the possible errors of doxa. who never doubts the reality of the world of our everyday experience. however. The phantasmata presented to the mind by phantasia must be discarded in order to enable the philosophically inclined to tear themselves away from the chains of the sensual world and gain access to the only true knowledge. that of the eternal reality of the ideal forms. Metaphysics.” as Aristotle insists repeatedly throughout De Anima. Even though for Aristotle phantasia is an inferior type of mental activity unable to provide the kind of knowledge procured by the higher faculties of nous and dianoia. Phantasmata might provide a ladder for the philosophical souls to recollect their divine origin. “is always free from error. Put in the terms of Plato’s most famous allegory. “[P]erception of the special objects of sense. between a changing and ultimately deceptive world of the senses and an unchanging intellectual world of ideal forms from which alone true knowledge could be derived.” the basic “atomic elements” of sense-perception before their potential recombination into more complex entities. 20 Epistemology. that the Platonic forms are actualized. The Platonic distinction. Aristotle never doubts that sense-data proper. and only in them. but the information they provide holds no intrinsic value for the lover of true knowledge. no longer has any explanatory power.10 Consequently. the realm of the ideal forms and the realm of their sensual images. in contrast to Plato. phantasia is largely responsible for the illusion that leads us to give the shadows flickering on the wall of the cave in which we are epistemological prisoners a higher ontological status than they deserve. it is in this world that things have their true being. and Plato’s philosophical assumption of two distinctly separate realms. while phantasia might introduce falsity into the cognitive process in its particular transformation of sense-perceptions that already entails selections and recombinations.

phantasia is directly implied in the description of the changing world of the senses. the body. even though the word is not actually used: That which is apprehended by intelligence and reason is always in the same state. is always in a process of becoming and perishing and never really is. passions. and desire. and Rhetoric 21 .When Timaeus. the passions. This position is most influential within the Christian Neoplatonic tradition. who only discusses the faculty when the interrogative framework has already been reduced to our knowledge of the inferior realm of the senses. then. The consequences of the Platonic devaluation of the sensible world for assessments of phantasia are in fact more readily visible in the writings of the Neoplatonists. which actually gains much broader significance in Plato’s text than it would later have for Aristotle. triggering the pursuit or avoidance of specific objects and goals. which can only be reached through contemplation and the intellect. Aristotle considers appetite and thought as the only two sources of movement. does not present it in an overtly negative light. If Truth depends on the mind’s knowledge of the ideal forms. as Gerard Watson puts it. where the temptations of phantasia are regarded as enticements to sinful acts and hence as obstacles on the path to salvation.11 Since phantasia is for Plato a combination of aisthesis and doxa. The insubstantial world of becoming falls completely under the sway of phantasia. even though Plato himself. But Plato’s low opinion of the sensible world ultimately leads to a negative view of phantasia. Metaphysics. but that which is conceived by opinion with the help of sensation and without reason. “phantasia acts as a veil between the soul and reality. at the beginning of a speech presented for Socrates’ entertainment. who are more outspoken in their specific condemnation of the faculty and by whom phantasia is predominantly perceived as misleading and dangerous because of its connection to the senses. In chapter 10 of book 3. a form of earthly clothing which should be cast off” (131). In human Epistemology. this passage indicates that the faculty comprises nothing less than the whole realm of knowledge accessible to us through the senses. bases his cosmological speculations on the dichotomy of two distinctly separate worlds.12 The basic connection between phantasia and bodily “appetites”—desires. wishes—is indeed already established in Aristotle’s De Anima.

” he does so almost in passing. While phantasia in its lower form allows the mind to recall through memory what it had received by means of senseperception. situated at the threshold of both realms. While it is the lower form of phantasia that threatens to imprison us in the realm of the senses. to pass moral judgment on the faculty’s potential influence on human action. This mental image triggers the thought and/or the bodily processes necessary to obtain the object of desire. appetite emerges as the only force to produce a goal-oriented motion. phantasia. including the human animal. then one would also have to assume a twofold existence of phantasia.” for only imagination can produce the mental image that will serve as the object of appetite. a higher and a lower one.15 Yet there is an inherent paradox in Platonic and Neoplatonic philosophy. which remains. however.e. can also serve as a bridge from the realm of the senses to the world of pure intellect. the latter conversely also depends on the former if it is to produce movement. This paradox finds its most striking formulation in Plotinus’s assertion that since we possess two souls. while for nonhuman animals.14 It would take the Neoplatonic and Christian religious and philosophical frameworks to produce such a judgment. it necessarily involves appetite. the higher form of the faculty can provide. the object of appetite becomes the stimulans for practical thought. who are seen as incapable of thought. While appetite is hence seen as inconceivable without imagination. which simultaneously also allows for a positive assessment of phantasia. in analogical fashion. thought that calculates means to an end. in somewhat Aristotelian fashion. And no animal. of which it is merely an image. noting a simple fact of life rather than a cause for great moral concern. is “capable of appetite without possessing imagination. it still is an image of that world and can hence also serve as a means to gain access to it. From this perspective. as Aristotle claims: “when imagination originates movement. a Platonic mnemosyne of the soul’s true affinity to the higher world of the forms. its higher version can nevertheless serve as a means of becoming aware of the higher souls’ true locus even while this perception is clouded through our contamination by the 22 Epistemology.. so that we are in fact caught between the two different realms. Aristotle asserts.beings. both of which exert their influence over our actions. When he points out at the beginning of chapter 10 that “many men follow their imaginations contrary to knowledge. i. Metaphysics. and Rhetoric .”13 Aristotle sees no need. For while the sensible world is clearly inferior to the ideal world of the forms.

as has been said. As he is himself unable to create anything less perfect than the Gods. entrusts the latter with the task of creating the other mortal beings. but when they are together. .sensual world. then. For both have come together into one and the better soul is on top of the other. sees everything. there will be two image-making powers. . as it provides yet another strand in the complex philosophical assessment of phantasia. with the higher soul’s superior memories serving as the guiding principle. as if a shadow followed the other and as if a little light slipped in under the great one. the most widely read of Plato’s texts in classical antiquity. Metaphysics. This peculiar doubleness of imagination and the moral questions it implies in the struggle between reason and the senses and physical desires would remain very much active in the discourse of the Enlightenment and the Romantic period.16 The danger of phantasia’s lower incarnation taking undue influence is always given. having brought into being the living universe and the Gods. . the image becomes one. then. This other soul. and the faculty remains mainly a source of concern in the pursuit of true knowledge. Yet this is not the whole story that needs to be told with respect to the connection between phantasia and (Neo)Platonic metaphysics. how are there two powers. we remember little of the inferior ones but more of the better sort. Now when one soul is in tune with the other. and in which of them does memory reside? . when the souls are separate we can grant that each of them will have an imaging power. and takes some things with it which belong to the other when it goes out [of the body] but rejects others. But if memory belongs to the image-making power [phantasia]. I would now like to return to the Timaeus. as when we keep company with inferior people and then change to other companions. and Rhetoric 23 . the divine creator. . and their image-making powers are not separate. P H A N TA S I A and ecstatic knowledge In the creation myth related in Plato’s Timaeus. and that of the better soul is dominant. in our earthly life. . and each of the two souls remembers. The ultimate goal in this life is to bring both phantasiai into agreement. Well. and to a close analysis of one particular passage. it is up to them to Epistemology.

perfect the kosmos by furnishing it with human beings.17 And since the images that the manteis receive are referred to as phantasmata. in creating human beings. which is equally mortal and responsible for all specifically human feelings. and Rhetoric . Gerard Watson has traced the positive Neoplatonic assessment of phantasia. the Gods then provide it with the liver. which it translates into an outflux of its bitter substance. But the liver not only reflects the admonishing input from the higher. produces nobler feelings such as pride and courage. who thus allow for a rational understanding of the revelations that the manteis receive. fashion not only a mortal body for the immortal soul at their disposal. As a remedy for the lower part of the mortal soul. is responsible for base desires such as the lust for food and drink. which emanates from the brain and the immortal soul located there. in imitation of the first act of creation of which they themselves are the product. which would be cut off from any reasonable influence. but also provide this body with a second and lesser type of soul. with the heart at its center. and plants. in order to keep the lower. and for the power of vision itself Plato employs the rare word phantasis. animals. from anguish to love. enabling even this part of the mortal soul to have access to truth. These visions are received by seers. the Gods. appetitive part of the human soul in check. Yet what interests me in this pas24 Epistemology. While the lower part of the mortal soul. which are separated by the diaphragm. was subsequently expanded upon very effectively by the Neoplatonists. immortal soul. its higher part. These visions are then decoded and transmitted by the interpreters (prophetai). and is more susceptible to the influence of reason (nous). Metaphysics. which Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon lists as a synonym of phantasia. To fulfill this task. reflecting phantasmata from the world of the forms. which serves as a mirror for the rational thoughts proceeding from the brain. and he is certainly correct in pointing out that Plato’s description of phantasia or phantasis as a mirroring power. outlined in the preceding section. to this passage in the Timaeus. which produce the human passions. it also receives “sweet” visions (phantasmata) from it at night and hence becomes the seat of divination. closer to the bowels. This mortal soul is once again divided into two parts. the manteis. They are given the immortal principle of soul (psyche) and commanded to create mortals with its help. the connection to the image-producing faculty of phantasia lies close at hand in any event.

and anatomical theorizing. and it might seem slightly far-fetched to consult the Timaeus for this difference. are possessed by the Gods and hence relinquish their rational control over the experience. are inscribed into the history of Western philosophy. The ability to distinguish the knowledge achieved by those two means hinges.18 For in both Socratic philosophy as related by Plato and the contemporaneous Dionysiac and Corybantic rites. and Rhetoric 25 . and cosmological. but also from the host of new religious orientations that sprang up in fourth-century Athens in the time of Plato’s youth. the question is answered in favor of the philosopher: While the Corybantes. To negotiate the sensitive difference between philosophy and religion is one of Plato’s main endeavors. it is the philosopher who achieves this approximation to the divine by means of philosophical inspiration. in the latter through ecstatic ritual. mythmaking.sage is that it is one among many in Plato’s dialogues that provide a connection to a closely related and yet quite different type of knowledge— not the rational knoweldge of philosophical discourse. What Plato enacts in relating the visions received by the manteis to the metaphysical framework that subtends the Timaeus is the transformation of a knowledge originally rooted in ritualistic and religious practice into a rational and philosophical form. that provides—almost despite itself—probably the most important model through which theories of imagination. without which true knowledge cannot be achieved. as he tries to ensure that for the readers of the dialogues Socrates’ philosophical teachings remain differentiated not only from those of the Sophists and the work of the poets. here phantasia. on the question of control: Is it the humans or the Gods who are bridging the gap? For Plato. like the poets in Plato’s description. as Michael Morgan rightfully points out. the Platonic method necessitates a moment of ecstatic recognition. The main sources for Plato’s elaboration of the superiority of the philosophical form of divine madness are of course the Phaedrus and the Ion. physiological. but the irrational and ecstatic knowledge of ritual. the gap between the human and the divine is bridged—in the former by means of rational inquiry. But it is the Timaeus. Even if the soul can be prepared by rational inquiry to reach the point where this moment becomes possible through a conEpistemology. which allows him to remain in control throughout the process. For regardless of its dialectical and dialogical approach. Metaphysics. in its combination of Platonic metaphysics.

religion. either his intelligence is enthralled in sleep. and Rhetoric . that “only 26 Epistemology. a gift of God “to the foolishness of man.” and only those who are for one reason or another unable to exercise their power of understanding are able to receive them: No man. attains prophetic truth and inspiration. For the present discussion. when in his wits.19 Hence the common problem with all prophecies: They are incomprehensible in their “raw” state and need to be interpreted in a second step to have any impact on decisions or actions. is not the job of the manteis themselves. it is also one of the first models to conceptualize the struggle between these two types of knowledge as taking place within philosophical discourse. can only be received when the rational part of the cognitive apparatus is inactive. this struggle between the rational and the irrational is inscribed into philosophical attempts at knowledge formation. The visions of the manteis. Only they will have the rational means at their disposal to make the utterances of the manteis part of the communicable logos: But. the paradoxical predicament being that philosophical inquiry finds itself ultimately dependent on an inspirational type of knowledge that is incompatible with the rational approach necessary to ground philosophical discourse and to differentiate it from poetry. the Timaeus is thus central for two important reasons: it is probably the oldest source that can be pointed out as associating this type of inspirational knowledge with phantasia. and sophistry. or interpreters. or he is demented by some distemper or possession. Ever since Plato’s dialogues. The key to this discussion is the relationship of the manteis and the prophetai. he cannot judge of the visions which he sees or the words which he utters. Plato makes clear. as Timaeus puts it. however. the prophetai. These particular phantasmata are. but that of a second group of people.trolled path of reasoning. the transformational and still profoundly religious moment remains necessarily irrational. This interpretation. the ancient saying is very true. and. Plato thus allows us to elaborate a systematic relation between reason and imagination that would guide almost all subsequent discussions of the faculties in the Western tradition. the faculty that would eventually be transformed into imagination. but when he receives the inspired word. Metaphysics. while he continues demented. as I will now show.

4. both of which nevertheless make up philosophical discourse: as participating in reason and logos. while neither can truly claim priority. The philosopher can now be seen as having two distinct manifestations.a man who has his wits can act or judge about himself and his own affairs. and are not to be called prophets at all. As we will see in chapters 3. Some persons call them prophets. linguistic and otherwise. this dichotomy assumes a special significance. they are quite unaware that they are only the expositors of dark sayings and visions. a gap that nevertheless demands an attempt at interpretation.” And for this reason it is customary to appoint interpreters to be judges of the true inspirations. and 5. the only form in which we will ever be conscious of this knowledge is one that has been processed by the filters of our cognitive mechanisms in an inevitable act of interpretation. The ultimately unbridgeable gap between the manteis and the prophetai. Metaphysics. depending on one’s perspective—within the subject itself. since they mutually depend on each other. the philosopher is able to communicate and make accessible in rational form a knowledge that is at the same time not accessible by rational means. this gap informs the Kantian disEpistemology. it has to become part of the logos and hence cannot escape the latter’s formal restrictions. Hence one might say that the prophetai in Plato’s text are an externalized version of the cognitive restraints of our consciousness. It is ultimately impossible to establish a clear hierarchy between these two types of knowledge. this discourse would ultimately remain mere sophistry if it could not rely on the authority of its inspirational counterpart. We could not even know that we had just been inspired if that inspiration had never been translated by the conscious processes of our cognitive apparatus. which always mediate our access to anything that might lie beyond their limits.20 Against the backdrop of the Phaedrus and Socrates’ definition of the philosophical eros as a specific type of madness. This problem can and eventually would be formulated in systematic terms: if there is indeed a way for us to access a kind of knowledge that is by its very nature inaccessible to our cognitive faculties. For inspirational knowledge to become understandable and communicable. reappears in Kantian and post-Kantian philosophy as a split—an abyss or an opening. but only interpreters of prophecy. and Rhetoric 27 . While rational philosophical discourse makes the inspirational visions communicable and hence contains them within the sphere of the logos.

Metaphysics. in both the Platonic and the Aristotelian philosophical framework. this paradox entails an uneasy cohabitation of the rational and the irrational. and as philosophical legitimacy comes to rely more and more on rational argument. the artist is condemned to be twice removed from any true insight and is 28 Epistemology. “a more skillful artist than imitation” Neither Plato nor Aristotle. is the driving force behind artistic production. discuss phantasia in the context of art and artistic creation. not phantasia. however. Phantasia. Even though phantasis or phantasia is linked to divine inspiration in the Timaeus and could thus also be applied to the manifestations of divine madness described in the Phaedrus.cussion of the sublime just as much as the Idealist and Early German Romantic conception of an intellectual intuition. The poet. who can reap the true benefits of this ecstatic moment. As philosophical discourse attempts to establish itself. not the poet. phantasia is not part of the artist’s techne. who in Plato’s description is unable to predispose himself to this transcendent experience by means of rational inquiry. For both of them. can have no elevating effect on the state of his soul. the irrational and inspirational components of philosophical knowledge are either suppressed or emphatically resurrected in various attempts to challenge what is perceived as the dominating discourse of reason. a struggle that moves to the forefront of the philosophical and literary stage particularly in the Idealist and Early German Romantic discussion of imagination. is already at the heart of this struggle. He is a purely passive recipient of his gift of inspiration. poetic inspiration being one of these manifestations. as it bears no relation to his techne. the only truly worthwhile aim for any human activity. it is still only the philosopher. which. his specific set of skills that allow him to produce a human artifact. and Rhetoric . Mimesis. which are themselves already mere copies of the Ideas. as the example of the Timaeus shows. Book 10 of the Republic is of course even more explicit in this dismissal of artistic production due to the artist’s dependence on the processes of mimesis: since all he can truly produce are copies of physical objects. due to his skill of proper reasoning. hence can make no active use of it.

The products of the artist’s techne. they have a detractive and subversive effect on the educational regime of Plato’s utopian state. at worst. in the Poetics. e. which it can either imitate in its objective form or complete in the teleological drive of its force: “and generally art [techne] in some cases completes what nature [physis] cannot bring to a finish and in others imitates nature. on the other hand. they are useless. since all human objects comply with the principles that nature would have used had the object in question already existed.” Human techne is for Aristotle intimately related to nature (physis). (Aristotle. The artisan. as Aristotle explains in a most striking example in the Physics —had nature decided to grow houses. would guide thought about art and aesthetics for almost two thousand years under the formula “ars imitatur naturam. Metaphysics. and natura naturans. while the historian can only present them in the deficiency of Epistemology. as well as matter. techne and physis. and if things made by nature were made also by art. nature has to take on all the aspects. are interchangeable. however. illusory as they might be. The Aristotelian conception of mimesis. Since Aristotle rejects the Platonic conception of two distinct worlds. nature in its visible form as existing objects. The processes of art and nature. that Plato could account for separately in the sensual world and the realm of Ideas.199a) Even when. it would have been made in the same way as it is now by art. II. The expedient banishment of unreliable artists from the polis is the logical consequence.8. had been a thing made by nature. Ideas. can at least claim a practical use for his objects. nature as productive force (entelecheia). at best. The human artificer is thus bound to imitate nature even if he creates something that is as of yet not part of the physical world. and demiurgic creation.thus of no use in Plato’s ideal polis. whose techne equally relies on a mimetic act of copying. Aristotle grants the poet superiority over the historian because the former presents human actions as they ideally should be. Forms. these would have looked no different from those that are now created by human means: Thus if a house. have no such redemptive qualities. they would come to be in the same way as by nature.g.”21 The dichotomy that Aristotle introduces here is due to the twofold appearance of nature as natura naturata.. and Rhetoric 29 .

though here the term describes a positive asset of the poet rather than Plato’s negative assessment in the Republic.22 “Things as they ought to be.their actuality. The poet being an imitator just like the painter or other maker of likenesses. either as they were or are. are not to be thought of as genuine creations of the poet if they appear in his art. one must shift the focus of investigation from philosophy to rhetoric. However.” even though they do not exist in a state of physical reality. Rather. supposedly or in actuality. or as they are said or thought to be or to have been. To find these. it may seem difficult to establish continuity between classical ideas about phantasia and modern conceptions of imagination as a creative power and a central concept in the artistic process. and especially Gerard Watson and Dan Flory have done. Since discussions of phantasia in classical thought focus mostly on the theories of Plato and Aristotle. as it is mimesis that firmly guides their respective discussions of the artistic process. as Murray Wright Bundy. either in actuality or in unrealized but predictable potentiality. there is no room in either Aristotle’s or Plato’s theories of artistic creation for the modern conception of art as generative of an autonomous realm that adds something intrinsically new to existing reality. had the teleological drive of its productive powers already been brought to their ideal fruition. It should not come as a surprise then that there is no discussion in either Plato’s or Aristotle’s texts of phantasia in the modern sense of a creative imagination. phantasia turns out to be not at all alien to questions of art and aesthetics. or as they ought to be. and Rhetoric . he must necessarily in all instances represent things in one or other of three aspects. but what nature would have intended to exist. Plato’s ideas and Aristotle’s physis already contain everything that is or can come into existence. they too are products of the poet’s mimetic faculty. Metaphysics. but emerges as a not uncom30 Epistemology. imitating not what exists or has existed. and so do not allow for a conception of genuine artistic creation in the modern sense. The artist can only imitate what is already there. if one investigates the rhetorical discourse of both the Greek and the Roman tradition. Thus. Yet there are precedents in the classical tradition for a discussion of phantasia as a properly artistic capacity that can be contrasted to mimesis. however. the poet remains bound to mimesis.

Ultimately. Metaphysics. both verbal and visual. however.. but takes on the technical aspects of the orator’s craft that in Aristotle remain restricted to the processes of mimesis. Imitation will create what it knows. but which can nevertheless be acquired. In chapter 19 of book 6.23 Especially notable in Quintilian’s De Institutio Oratoria. who charges that they would have needed to ascend to the heavens to take direct copies of the forms of the gods in order to produce their art. Epistemology. To procure the Platonic forms of the Gods. is achieved by other means than those of mimesis: in order to create representations of the Gods.D. can create valid and acceptable representations of the Gods. and is thus intimately involved in the age-old struggle between the verbal and the visual arts. a capacity that one may have a natural talent for. nor of access to heaven.” phantasia: “Imagination [phantasia] created these objects.25 Both of these topics are at stake in Philostratus’s Life of Apollonius of Tyana.” replied Apollonius. “a more skilful artist than Imitation [mimesis]. This.24 Phantasia is no longer a purely epistemological term. and perfected. or the irrational event of divine inspiration described in Plato’s Timaeus. Apollonius’s reply makes clear that the canonical mold of Platonic strictures assumed by his opponent has actually been broken so that the work of the artist is no longer limited to the creation of copies of copies. probably published around 217 A.mon term in rhetorical discussion that describes the orator’s ability to visualize specific images and present them so vividly to his audience as to convince them that they and the orator are actually seeing the same “real” thing. the orator’s ability to vividly present images in words. the earliest and oft-cited source for a discussion of phantasia in direct opposition to mimesis. and Rhetoric 31 . phantasia is clearly seen as part of the orator’s techne. phantasia has become linked to the rhetorical practice of ekphrasis. while also figuring prominently in the debate over how artists. but allows indeed for a direct access to the nonphysical world. an artist like Phidias has no need for a visible original to copy from. trained. he can find the necessary ideas in his own mind by means of “something supremely philosophical. The text has thus gained much attention as a locus of the transformation of phantasia into a concept more akin to a modern understanding of imagination. Apollonius defends the Greek artists Phidias and Praxiteles against the ridicule of an Egyptian gymnosophist.

and Rhetoric . artistic creation is still a mimetic process that is prone to fall short of the true perfection found in the mental realm of Ideas.but Imagination will also create what it does not know. 6. which attempt to repudiate the Platonic condemnation of artistic production. the argument is rather close to those employed in Renaissance defenses of poetry. artists like Phidias and Praxiteles can thus create statues of the Gods that are singular products of an ideal conceived of in their minds. Metaphysics. To praise the artist for the creative power and vision of his phantasia is certainly unplatonic. where he renders tou ontos as “the perfect reality.19).”27 Phantasia thus surpasses mimesis by being independent of a visible original in the process of copying. In particular. This is quite apparent when Apollonius suggests to his opponent at the end of the discussion that to provide no representations of the Gods at all would be better than to display inappropriate ones. Shock often frustrates Imitation. the artist can introduce something entirely new into physical reality. Through the act of artistic creation and by means of the power of phantasia. artistic power undoubtedly adds a new perspective to those discussed earlier. while they identify the philosophy of the Stoa in 32 Epistemology. as Gerard Watson makes clear in his translation of the passage. while doing so within Platonic parameters. but what is at stake here is more a claim for the artist’s share of the philosopher’s superiority than an actual challenge to the Platonic system as such. the framework within which Philostratus operates is still clearly Platonic. such as the Egyptians display at the moment: “The mind portrays and imagines an object better than creation does. conceiving it with reference to the real. as it goes imperturbably towards its own appointed purpose. but nothing will frustrate Imagination. Without relying on external objects as the foil for a mimetic process. Both Gerard Watson and Dan Flory point to Cicero’s Orator as the earliest source that can be adduced for Philostratus’ specific discussion of artistic creation. phantasia can produce what the senses have never experienced and what only the mind has conceived. In fact. yet you have prevented the gods both from seeming and being imagined as beautiful” (159. a conception which opens the way for a different kind of aesthetic theory that allows the artist to create without reference to an external reality. even though this view of phantasia as a creative. Obviously.”26 “The real” here refers to the perfect reality of the Ideas and not to empirical reality. Yet.

Hence. and Watson’s and Flory’s argument for a syncretism of Stoic. Metaphysics. in fact. They argue convincingly that a strong Stoic influence on the rhetorical tradition is responsible for this transformation. It positions human creation in Aristotelian Epistemology. including those attributed to reason and understanding. It thus provides a link to a modern understanding of imagination as an aesthetic concept that is difficult to see if the discussion is limited to Platonic and Aristotelian accounts. The Stoics were certainly not Kantians. It must be stressed.29 For the Stoics.28 For phantasia does. art and oratory were also products of only these mental activities. Consequently. a work of art which can constitute its own autonomous reality. with its close connection to the realm of the senses. A case in point is the account of the Stoic’s convictions about the nature of the kosmos and its relation to human creativity. that what this tradition provides is a precedent for the discussion of imagination in the context of artistic creation. knowledge derived through the senses is decidedly not an inferior type of knowledge. Platonic. however.30 The Stoic and rhetorical tradition of phantasia provides a classical conception of the faculty as creative and at work in the artistic process. however. follow its own internal laws. in which there is no place for immaterial faculties such as nous or dianoia. and their view of art and artistic creation is still firmly rooted in an epistemological framework that does not coincide with post-Kantian aesthetics. It is not. and rhetorical discourses as the source for the conception of phantasia that comes to light in Philostratus’s Apollonius vita is thus quite convincing. given in Diogenes Laertius’s Lives of the Eminent Philosophers. remained to perform all the mental operations necessary for the transformation of sense-data. in a passage quoted by both Watson and Flory. but is rather the only kind of knowledge available to the human mind. a prefiguration of modern aesthetic theories about the work of art as the product of a creative faculty. stipulating that a “Stoicizing Platonist” would have been the first to use the term phantasia in the way it is employed by Philostratus. and Rhetoric 33 .order to account for the fact that the term phantasia takes on qualities that would formerly have been reserved for the Platonic nous. and which is not bound by mimetic ties to a world which it alone can represent. only phantasia. so that phantasia has not only to fulfill all the rational functions of the human mind. but is also responsible for the human capacity of language. play a dominant role in the materialist philosophy of the Stoa.

fashion not in contrast to natural processes but as an extension and reflection of nature’s creative energeia: Zeno says that the whole world and the heavens is the substance of God. And all systematic approaches in the Romantic period to understand the work34 Epistemology. a unity equally to be reflected in the work of art.31 There can be no doubt that aesthetic theories were developed. in peculiar doubleness and complexity. producing and preserving in being its offspring in accordance with seminal principles within definite periods and effecting results homogenous with their sources. especially throughout the Romantic period. it is precisely the crux of any modern aesthetic theory that such a position must be reconciled with the modern concept of the autonomous individual subject and a post-Kantian conception of the work of art. and Rhetoric . For in the wake of Kant art constitutes the locus and proof of human freedom and autonomy and can no longer be presented as an imitation or a completion of the teleological forces of nature in an Aristotelian sense. But in clear contrast to any previous classical conceptions. There is hence no direct way from the concept of phantasia in Philostratus. Longinus. as both a safeguard of the autonomy of the subject and of that same subject’s unity with nature. It aims at what is useful and at pleasure. imagination would also continue to serve as a conduit of inspiration in the Platonic and Neoplatonic sense. . or Quintilian to Romantic views of the imagination. as is clear from the creative activity [demiourgia] of man. and likewise Chrysippus in Book One of On the Gods and Posidonius in his first book of On the Gods . In this context. . while retaining the dangerous aura it had received in that tradition due to its connection to the body and the senses. thus serving to bridge the gap between mind and nature that figured so prominently in Cartesian and Enlightenment philosophy. would again be employed as a central aesthetic tenet. They say that nature is both that which holds the world together and that which causes things to grow. which were intended to reconnect the work of the artist to the creative force of the natura naturans. the analogy that is presupposed in Diogenes Laertius’s rendering of the Stoic’s view. Nature is a force moving of itself.32 It is only under these preconditions that the concept of imagination could take on the specific function it would serve in the Romantic period. Metaphysics. At the same time. between the artist’s creative activity and that of nature.

Epistemology. it is necessary to discuss the role of imagination in the two philosophical systems that have been most informative for modern conceptions of subjectivity. those of René Descartes and Immanuel Kant.ings of the human mind would remain indebted to the basic epistemological framework outlined by Aristotle. and Rhetoric 35 . Metaphysics. In order to provide a better understanding of the way all of these conceptions are active in the Romantic discourse about imagination.

the current chapter opens up and brings into focus the peculiar connection between imagination and the modern concept of the autonomous subject that is the specific concern of this study. Doubts. In order to provide a point of certainty upon which a stable philosophical system might be built. —michel de montaigne Essais 2 Dreams. c’est en nous. René Descartes’ Meditations and Discourse on Method are loci classici in the institution of modern subjectivity that also enable us to see how the cogito emerges in direct relation to the Cartesian concept of imagination. and Evil Demons descartes and imagination W hile chapter 1 provides the discursive entryways to the discussion of imagination that remain pertinent to the philosophical and literary positions that will interest us in the following chapters. the essence of the cogito is defined by Descartes in direct opposition to imagination.La pire place que nous puissions prendre. On the one hand. the 36 . The worst place we could take is within ourselves.

On the other hand. without which knowledge of objects seemingly exterior to the human mind would not be possible. the COGITO. distinct. and what Descartes describes as the novelty of his philosophical approach. and to distance oneself critically from the philosophical tradition. and Evil Demons 37 . This complete rejection of one’s old beliefs can be achieved most efficiently. as well as the firm ground on which to build a coherent and complete system of the human sciences. by attacking their unreliable common foundation. and to keep its premises within verifiable limits. it would be necessary to reject as possibly erroneous everything that had so far been accepted as true.cogito necessarily excludes imagination from its definition. The aspired for clarity of the new demands a forceful erasure of the old. in ways unacknowledged by Descartes. Only by freeing oneself from the contradictory and unfounded assumptions of one’s acquired opinions could one hope to give philosophy the precision of geometry and arithmetic by developing clear. M E D I TAT I O P R I M A : certainty. on the other hand.1 In order to establish a philosophy that would provide reliable principles to organize one’s thought. The senses. remains dependent on imagination in the subject’s seemingly autonomous institution of the philosophical text. Descartes asserts. and imagination René Descartes begins the first of his Meditations on First Philosophy by recalling the decision he had reached four years earlier in the Discourse on Method. lies precisely in his insistence on the predominance of mental categories in the epistemological process. which the Descartes of the Meditations believes to rely on innate ideas. My discussion of Descartes brings to light this peculiar double relationship with regard to imagination as an essential condition of modern subjectivity. a close reading of the Cartesian text reveals that the cogito. Their modernity. and Descartes’ radical gesture institutes a central rhetorical topos of modernity: the precondition for progress presented as an unconditional break with tradition that ultimately renders the past and the present irreconcilable. the senses. Descartes’ Meditations are first and foremost an attack against empiricist approaches to epistemology. but prove to be treacherous. simple. and certain principles to guide scientific thought. are not only dependent on the mind. Dreams. Even though their topic is seemingly metaphysics. Doubts.

Descartes’ understanding of the term proves indeed to be an Aristotelian one. certainly not within the Aristotelian framework of faculty psychology outlined in chapter 1. IX.” receives knowledge of. not much is to be expected of their mental spokesperson. Descartes’ imagination is hence the inner sense responsible for all mental representation by way of images and figures. while inferior to the conceptual mental faculties of nous and dianoia. and generally unfit to provide the foundation for one’s philosophical convictions. it is by means of images or figures that the Cartesian imagination allows the mind to “apply” itself to the exterior world. 19) (AT VII.” 38 Dreams. and which therefore exists. at least in the representation of “special objects of sense. their understanding of the relation between the images/ phantasmata the faculty provides and the actual objects they represent is radically different. Like Aristotelian phantasia. “considers. upon which any consideration and even awareness of the possibility of objects exterior to the mind itself and of the images of these objects in the mind is dependent. If the senses cannot be trusted.” or “applies” itself to the outside world and to the body. as is exemplified by the most extensive definition given by Descartes in the sixth meditation:2 The conclusion that material things exist is also suggested by the faculty of imagination.unreliable. Philosophical Writings 2. and Evil Demons . and produces images of the exterior world that are. Just as Aristotelian phantasia provided nous and dianoia with phantasmata of exterior objects. But while both Descartes and Aristotle ascribe a similar role to imagination/phantasia. Such an assessment of the senses does not bode well for imagination. which I am aware of using when I turn my mind to material things. 28. “the faculty of knowing. For Aristotle. as is explained in the second meditation: “for imagining is simply contemplating the shape or image of a corporeal thing” (Descartes. It is only through the medium of imagination that the existence of the corporeal and material world can suggest itself to the mind. plays an important role in the connection of mind and world. Doubts. phantasia.3 Imagination is thus also for Descartes the means through which thinking proper. imagination. Throughout the Meditations. 22). For when I give more attentive consideration to what imagination is. it seems to be nothing else but an application of the cognitive faculty to a body which is intimately present to it.

while dreaming. am I convinced of just such familiar events—that I am here in my dressing-gown. seated. Dreams become the most forceful reason for this doubt. however. The result is that I begin to feel dazed. while incorrect doxa and the resulting inaccurate judgments about the knowledge derived from the senses are frequent sources of error. and Evil Demons 39 . or the phantasmata presented by phantasia are not in and of themselves the origin of mistakes in perceptual judgments. and Aristotle saw no reason to doubt the adequacy of the representational relationship between the actual objects of the physical world and the images presented to the mind by phantasia.5 The images we receive in our waking life might be just as illusory as the ones we receive while dreaming. Descartes muses. the link between the actual objects exterior to the mind and the representations which the mind receives by means of imagination loses its certainty. and I know what I am doing. for example. All this would not happen with such distinctness to someone asleep. Descartes’ radical doubt in the Meditations. I shake my head and it is not asleep.4 As the distinction between dream and waking breaks down. but the senses as such. to be awake. due to the impossibility of assuming a position from which a difference between the two could be ascertained. since the images we receive while we dream do not coincide at all with the reality exterior to our minds—while I might believe. Phantasia might produce incorrect representations in the combination of images for more complex sense-perceptions. sitting by the fire—when in fact I am lying undressed in bed! Yet at the moment my eyes are certainly wide awake when I look at this piece of paper. asleep at night. calls precisely this conviction into question. I actually lie in bed and am sleeping—how are we to determine that the same does not hold true while we consider ourselves awake in “real life”? How often. Doubts. and this very feeling only reinforces the notion that I may be asleep. While Aristotle did not entertain the thought of a complete fallacy Dreams.the atomic building blocks of sense-perception. as I stretch out and feel my hand I do so deliberately. undoubtedly correct. Indeed! As if I did not remember other occasions when I have been tricked by exactly similar thoughts while asleep. and writing at my desk. His central concern in the first meditation is to determine whether one can be certain that one’s mental representations of the exterior world do in fact coincide with the actual objects of that world.

can only be found in the philosophical method that Descartes had already outlined prior to 1629 in his unfinished Rules for the Direction of the Mind. Such certainty is not derived from a representational relation (a triangle is a purely geometrical construct that does not exist in the “outside world”) but rather from the fact that one cannot but believe such things to be true. or one with more than three. In the first meditation. all images. Descartes strikingly gets his clue from an artistic form of representation: painting. He does not attempt to solve his problem by searching for a clear distinction between the real and the imagined. Examples of such “simple natures” are statements of arithmetic and geometrical simplicity that are necessarily true under any and all circumstances. Descartes’ radical doubt arises precisely from that suspicion and creates a gulf between the mind and the world that can no longer be bridged.6 There is thus no true certainty to be found by attempting to secure the representational relation of mental images to the world to which they refer. Salvation. but such representations. Doubts. by breaking down any problem into its smallest components. Painters. it seems. as there is no means to separate truth from illusion. 40 Dreams.” principles that can no longer be subdivided and are hence thought’s most universal building-blocks. There are no discernible means for the self to ascertain the accuracy of its own mental representations. since the activity of mental representation itself is based on them. regardless of any particular reference. but never with the things supposedly represented. It is impossible—at least in the world of Euclidian geometry—to imagine a triangle with only two sides. but rather looks for principles that are necessarily true. and Evil Demons .of representation at the level of the senses and phantasia. Descartes maintains. an act which proves impossible. According to Descartes. Descartes had maintained in the Rules. such as the assertion that a triangle always has three sides. whether real or imagined. might create imaginary beings like sirens or satyrs. which does not depend on a notion of correct representation in order to determine philosophical certainty. are constructed by means of such universal “simple natures. One arrives at absolute certainity. And such simple truths apply in the dreaming as well as the waking world. since it can only compare them with other representations of the same kind. the “simple natures.” Descartes follows the same argumentative strategy in the Meditations.

are of course not “facts” at all. in what we believe to be our waking state.8 Hence Descartes’ preference for arithmetic and geometry over the other sciences. Only Dreams. Truth and certainty thus turn out to be not representational. real or imaginary. as in the Rules. astronomy. we can be certain of: any mental image we construct. space. colors are the simple natures that are unquestionably certain and on which any painterly representation depends. aesthetic problems.while without precedent in nature. and medicine are still subject to doubt.7 This much then. independent of representational vicissitudes. The methods according to which our mind organizes them. Doubts. or in the imaginary realm of art. but formal. but rather mental categories. ultimately. All of our mental images. are not. even the experience of our own bodies. however. be it in dreams. quantity. and as such uncertain. form. Descartes lists time. which irrevocably locates it in the realm of the real. The “truth” of painting is to be located not in the adequacy of its representations. hopes Descartes. which are of the mind alone. Here. by asking a quite different question: the relation between mental representations and the world they represent is no longer part of the problem of truth and certainty at all. And in the extravagant case that the painters would actually discard all representation whatsoever to create something completely new for us. and illusory. In the case of painting.” which so thoroughly inform our thought that they would apply in any world. As examples. but in its use of color. whereas arithmetic and geometry deal exclusively with general principles and abstract rules of thought. Disciplines like physics. is necessarily constructed out of those simple facts and fundamental truths without which our mind could not even conceptualize the world. For the “simple facts. Rather. and Evil Demons 41 . are nevertheless recombinations of parts of animals that are already known to us. potentially deceptive. Descartes thus provides a solution by effectively changing the framework of the problem and. since they continue to be concerned with a possibly illusory exterior world. are products of imagination. certainty is to be found in the ordered processes of thought itself and in the way it organizes the images at its disposal. matter. quite independent of these images’ representational qualities. their creations would still have to be made up of the colors known to the human eye. and hence from a Cartesian perspective literally everything we experience of the outside world. and extension.

the self must perform the extremely laborious task of denying the existence of what it perceives to be its own body. a product of imagination.”9 Where no reasonable philosophical doubt seems possible. ultimately the most insidious trick of the “genius malignus”: I will suppose therefore that not God. Anthony in the desert. the res cogitans in the second meditation. he truly “goes all the way. “Je. no shape. in order to ensure its autonomy in this state of constant paranoia. is considered as possibly illusory and deceitful. Doubts. a pure mode of reflection that sees itself as constantly bombarded by deceiving imagery and which can only define itself as the mode of resistance against these images. in the Meditations. Descartes decides to doubt even his most deeply held philosophical convictions. by treating literally everything that can be known as possibly illusory in order to keep one’s judgment in suspense.” “moi-même. the only means to guarantee an autonomous identity that is not possibly the product of an evil deceiver. no place. is to make doubt the constant mode of thought. while at the same time ensuring that all these things appear to me to exist just as they do now?10 At the end of the first meditation. no extended thing. Yet. the self is caught in a constant heroic struggle against temptation.” the self that will become the cogito.these disciplines could provide the secure basis for a philosophical system no longer troubled by the vexing problem of the difference between the real and the imaginary. a hyperbolical doubt can suspect even the ordered categories of thought to be merely imaginary and the deceitful machinations of a malevolent God: How do I know that he has not brought it about that there is no earth. Descartes asserts. no size. Its only remaining defense. even the most fundamental one. and Evil Demons . can one at least prevent oneself from being tricked into accepting a nontruth. the infamous “genius malignus” who manipulates the mind. no sky. but rather some malicious demon of the utmost power and cunning 42 Dreams. What remains is the self alone. Particularly. any kind of mental representation. Only by constantly holding the products of imagination at bay.11 Like St. stripped of any connection to the physical world.” as Derrida notes admiringly in “Cogito et Histoire de la Folie. the correctness of which the self cannot ascertain. defines itself in opposition to its own physical sense of being embodied. who is supremely good and the source of truth.

has employed all his energies in order to deceive me. I shall think that the sky, the earth, colours, shapes, sounds and all external things are merely the delusions of dreams which he has devised to ensnare my judgment. I shall consider myself as not having hands or eyes, or flesh, or blood or senses, but as falsely believing that I have all these things. I shall stubbornly and firmly persist in this meditation; and, even if it is not in my power to know any truth, I shall at least do what is in my power, that is, resolutely guard against assenting to any falsehoods, so that the deceiver, however powerful and cunning he may be, will be unable to impose on me in the slightest degree.12

What is thus created is a striking imbalance: on the one hand, literally everything that the mind receives from the “outside” is a product of imagination, and the faculty retains a central position in Descartes’ discussion of the epistemological process. It is imagination that quite literally makes the world for the mind. On the other hand, none of the input the mind receives by means of this faculty has any validity within the parameters of Descartes’ philosophical quest for truth and certainty, and the products of imagination need to be completely discarded when one has this objective in mind. Only the cogito, as a formal mental device without any direct relation to the physical world, retains any credibility under the preconditions of the metaphysical search for certainty that Descartes has established for himself.

imagination in the

RU L E S

The road to this discrepancy has already been paved in Descartes’ Rules for the Direction of the Mind. Written about twenty years earlier than the Meditations, these unfinished guidelines for the most beneficial training of the human ingenium, our inborn and individually embodied cognitive capacities, present Descartes’ early attempt at a mathesis universalis, a universal problem-solving strategy, based on the fundamental principles of order and measure.13 In order to bring any problem or question into an ordered form and to subsequently solve it by what one might call a figural algorithm, the ingenium makes use of three basic operations: intuitus, the clear and distinct intellectual grasping of the simple natures, the irreducible and self-evident core elements of any problem; deductio, the establishment of the connections that necessarily follow once the simple natures have been recognized; and enumeraDreams, Doubts, and Evil Demons 43

tio or inductio, the correct ordering of the various elements of a problem in a continuous series. By bringing to light and explaining the indispensable principles and operations of solving scientific problems, the Rules should allow anyone to drastically improve the efficiency of their thought processes and the acuity of their ingenium. Intuitus is the most important of these three mental activities that create order and measure, since it alone can furnish the mind with elements of knowledge that are not subject to doubt, and which can then become the building blocks of the order to be developed. Both deductio and enumeratio depend on the prior activity of intuitus, which, as Descartes states unequivocally, should neither be associated with the senses, nor imagination, but needs to be seen as solely an activity of the pure intellect:
By ‘intuition’ I do not mean the fluctuating testimony of the senses or the deceptive judgment of the imagination as it botches things together, but the conception of a clear and attentive mind, which is so easy and distinct that there can be no room for doubt about what we are understanding.14

Like the cogito in the Meditations, intuitus, the activity on which the whole edifice of the Rules ultimately rests, is thus securely in the domain of the pure intellect and clearly divided from the processes and products of imagination, which are, together with sense-perception, discarded as “deceptive” from the basis of knowledge-formation.15 This hierarchy is reinforced in Rule XII , where the Rules’ physicopsychological framework of the inner senses is made explicit. Imagination here appears in two forms: on the one hand, under either its Greek name phantasia, or the Latin imaginatio, Descartes presents it as an actual organ of the human brain. As such, phantasia is the physical storing place for images that are imprinted in it by the sensus communis, the “common sense,” which collects and combines the information that it receives from the external senses. In as much as it can retain these images for a certain time before they disappear to provide space for the impression of new ones, phantasia as an organ of the brain is seen as more or less identical with memory. On the other hand, the actual cognitive functions are executed by the vis cognoscens, the cognitive force, a synonym for the ingenium, which, Descartes explains, is alternatively called sense perception, memory, imagination, or pure intellect, depend44 Dreams, Doubts, and Evil Demons

ing on whether it applies itself to the common sense, to existing images in phantasia, to the creation of new images from those already imprinted in phantasia, or whether it simply acts on its own. The actual activity of imagination, the formation of new mental images is hence an activity of the vis cognoscens or ingenium, which applies itself to the physical part of the brain called phantasia or imaginatio.16 As Descartes makes clear, the privileged form of these four incarnations of the ingenium is the intellectus purus. Imagination, together with memory and sense perception, is located beneath it in the hierarchy of cognitive powers, and can only support or hinder it in the pursuit of a true science, of which the intellect alone is capable. As Descartes states in Rule VIII :
Within ourselves we are aware that, while it is the intellect alone that is capable of knowledge, it can be helped or hindered by three other faculties, viz. imagination, sense-perception, and memory. We must therefore look at these faculties in turn, to see in what respect each of them could be a hindrance, so that we may be on our guard, and in what respect an asset, so that we may make full use of their resources.17

And again, in an argument that prefigures that of the Meditations, while the use of imagination is deemed essential in the treatment of any question that necessitates figural representation, these resources need to be discarded when questions of a non-corporeal nature are concerned:
So we can conclude with certainty that when the intellect is concerned with matters in which there is nothing corporeal or similar to the corporeal, it cannot receive any help from those faculties, on the contrary, if it is not to be hampered by them, the senses must be kept back and the imagination must, as far as possible, be divested of every distinct impression. If, however, the intellect proposes to examine something which can be referred to the body, the idea of that thing must be formed, as distinctly as possible in the imagination.18

There is, starting with the Rules, a quite outspoken iconoclasm in Descartes’ thought when it comes to mental processes that are not in some way related to the corporeal world. Higher truths are imageless, and the slate of imagination in its form as the physical repository of menDreams, Doubts, and Evil Demons 45

tal images needs to be wiped clean if the ingenium is to have any success in the contemplation of such matters. This is true despite the fact that Descartes makes imagination the central faculty for the problem-solving strategy that the Rules ultimately outline. For the Rules do not address the non-corporeal problems that Descartes has here limited to the realm of the intellect; they provide a method for dealing with those kinds of questions that can and indeed should be transposed into the realm of extended bodies, where they can then be solved most efficiently with the help of imagination. The abstract of Rule XIV makes this clear:
The problem should be re-expressed in terms of the real extension of bodies and should be pictured in our imagination entirely by means of bare figures. Thus it will be perceived much more distinctly by our intellect.19

The process that is outlined in Rule XIV and the following rules, in which imagination indeed plays a central role, hence picks up the second part of the quote from Rule xii, and addresses any kind of problem that can be translated into the corporeal realm of extension. Descartes takes great pains throughout Rule XIV in the definition of his terminology to ensure that the reader is clear on this point. “Extension” (étendue), Descartes insists, is not to be understood here as an abstract term, because as such it could not have a corresponding figure, or idea in imagination, since abstraction is limited to the non-imaginary processes of the pure intellect. And since Rule XIV will treat the solution of problems with the help of imagination, terms like extension, number, surface, line, point, and unity in their abstract, non-corporeal sense are not addressed in Descartes’ discussion, because they cannot be subject to imagination:
All these and similar propositions should be removed completely from the imagination if they are to be true. That is why we shall not be concerned with them in what follows.20

Regardless of the centrality of imagination for the problem-solving process that Descartes outlines subsequently, the limitations of imagination expressed in the Meditations are well-anticipated in the Rules. The latter are concerned with the way thought is most effectively applied
46 Dreams, Doubts, and Evil Demons

to the material world, and in this realm of natural philosophy, imagination is indeed indispensable. In the realm of pure intellect, and certainly in the realm of metaphysics, which the Meditations addresses, imagination can be of no import within the Cartesian framework already outlined in the Rules.

M E D I TAT I O S E C U N DA :

the world of the

COGITO

It is in the Meditations, where Descartes turns to those metaphysical problems with which the Rules are not concerned, that imagination becomes problematic in a way unprecedented in the mathesis univeralis Descartes had begun to develop in 1625. In the metaphysical shift from ingenium to cogito, imagination loses its place among the fundamental mental operations of the self. In the second of Descartes’ meditations, the cogito is instituted as the only vestige that allows the self to defy the machinations of the “genius malignus.” As Descartes turns the beleaguered position of the self vis-àvis a chimerical world into its most powerful asset, the seeming privation of the self, its division from the world and the body, is now shown to constitute its true essence. For it is precisely through its separation from the body and the physical world, from which it is found to be independent—through what Charles Taylor has termed the “disengagement” of the Cartesian position—that the self in Cartesian terms can now come to understand and define itself as that which it truly is: a mode of thought.21 The conviction that the self indeed exists when it thinks itself as exisiting, famously expressed in the proposition “cogito, ergo sum,” provides the point of certainty from which the self can finally secure its identity. Even if the content of thought might prove delusional, the act of thinking itself and hence the existence of the res cogitans in turn cannot be doubted, claims Descartes, since the latter is the very precondition for the possibility of doubt and deceit. Thought is thus the only property that makes up the self in its essence, which cannot conceivably be detached from the self, and which defines it without any possible substitutes: “I find here that thought is an attribute which belongs to me: it alone cannot be detached from me.”22 Not only is the act of thinking not subject to doubt on the part of the self, the act of thinking is the self. Anything material, on the other hand, and hence everything that is accessible to the mind by means of imagiDreams, Doubts, and Evil Demons 47

nation, can not only be doubted as potentially illusory, but can also be detached from the self without altering its essence. The cogito, if it is to provide a point of certainty from which one can build a stable philosophical system, thus necessarily excludes imagination from its selfdescription:
I thus realize that none of the things that the imagination enables me to grasp is at all relevant to this knowledge of myself which I possess, and that the mind must therefore be most carefully diverted from such things if it is to perceive its own nature as distinctly as possible.23

The argument of the first meditation is thus completed in a reaffirmation of the fundamental opposition between the self as pure disembodied thought and any knowledge derived by way of imagination. The single certainty of the cogito having been established, Descartes can now set out to remake the universe. Whereas the first meditation severed the self from the physical world, ultimately presenting it as abandoned in an overwhelming sea of doubt, the second meditation begins with the assertion of the absolute certainty of this self’s existence. Where the first meditation began with a self searching for certainty in the physical world, stripping it step by step of everything material in the process, the second meditation now sets out with the isolated mental phenomenon of the cogito and proceeds to reincorporate the world into it. Now that the undoubtable position of the self as a pure mode of thought has been assured, all the other, nonessential aspects of the self regain their validity simply by virtue of being possible contents of the mental activity of the cogito. The basic Cartesian assumption underlying the Rules, that not only intellectual abstractions, but sense-perception, imagining, and the processes of memory are all modes of thought, is equally present in the Meditations, and the cogito comprises them just as much as the ingenium had.
But what then am I? A thing that thinks. What is that? A thing that doubts, understands, affirms, denies, is willing, is unwilling, and also imagines and has sensory perceptions.24

All these mental activities are now acceptable attributes of the self, because, as specific modes of thought, they are validated by their exis48 Dreams, Doubts, and Evil Demons

and not from the representations of the corporeal world. to follow Derrida.tence within the reflective framework of the cogito. remains unchanged. Particularly. of which no doubt is possible. Doubts. Regardless of this retroactive inclusion. and Evil Demons 49 . But it still appears—and I cannot stop thinking this—that the corporeal things of which images are formed in my thought. It cannot be doubted. And yet it is surely surprising that I should have a more distinct grasp of things which I realize are doubtful. who finds it difficult to believe that the greatest certainty available to the human mind should be derived from an abstract entity that is impossible to grasp by means of mental representation. as I have supposed. that it seems to me that I sense and feel particular things. Descartes maintains. but they are nevertheless part of the self because the cogito thinks itself as having these qualities. the power of imagination is something which really exists and is part of my thinking. feelings and sense-perceptions are nothing but particular modes of thought. none of the objects of imagination are real. its existence as a mode of thought of the cogito is nevertheless unquestionable.’ which cannot be pictured in the imagination. Thus. because it is ultimately the cogito that senses and feels. Strictly speaking. Their products might be erroneous.25 The self’s various capacities for interacting with the world are hence repatterned as qualities of the cogito. and which the senses investigate. Descartes brings this into sharp focus when. unknown and foreign to me. his meditating narrator impersonates. the doubtful voice of an uninitiated apprentice. While its products are not to be trusted. But it is also the case that the ‘I’ who imagines is the same ‘I’. the cogito. are known with much more distinctness than this puzzling ‘I. in a rhetorical strategy already employed in the first meditation. regardless of their possibly illusory quality. however. than I have of that which is true and known— my own self. The hierarchy between the cogito and its various qualities. Even sense-perceptions and feelings are now returned to a state of certainty. as the essence and foundation of the self. it remains defined in contradistinction to the products of imagination. remains a thing apart. For even if. of which the mind receives such vivid images.26 Dreams. imagination also makes a redeemed return onto the philosophical scene.

its color. and Evil Demons . it quickly changes its outward appearance: its shape becomes fluid.. What baffles the impersonated novice. and the existence of which is not subject to doubt. its consistency. its smell dissipates. If these attributes are not grasped by the senses.” As center and circumference of the self. Thus.The cogito is here defined as precisely that which cannot be imagined. While everything mental is potentially implicated in processes that involve imagination. could they then be known by means of imagination? Descartes comes to the 50 Dreams. as the rhetorical device of the “genius malignus” had suggested. any kind of mental content. however. indirectly invoking the philosophical tradition since Plato’s Theaetetus. Doubts.e. the elusive entity that “does” the thinking. and the sound it makes when struck. its empirical qualities prove unstable: if the same piece of wax is exposed to heat. At first sight. Ultimately. is the inevitable consequence of Descartes’ search for certainty. if it could be represented. is subject to doubt. and imagination. All of the mind’s mental content —in the forms of figures. If the cogito could be imagined. Even the categories that organize this content and allow the mind to work with it can be suspected of falling into this class. images. proceeds to consider the example of a piece of wax. which can only notice their varying forms. Descartes. What is essential about the piece of wax thus cannot reside in the qualities we come to know about it by means of the senses. its flexibility and the fact that it can be molded into different shapes. the cogito remains absent from that which it enables to be. cannot be represented mentally. anything that can be imagined. what seems most certain about the piece of wax from the empirical perspective Descartes seeks to undermine is the information we receive about it by means of the senses: its shape and form. still unaccustomed to thinking in Cartesian terms. the senses. This is the reason why the self cannot picture its own “nature. and it no longer renders a sound upon contact with a hard surface. it could also be doubted. it is hot to the touch. and representations— is a product of imagination. i. The only essential and hence certain attributes of the wax seem to be its extension. Conversely. To convince the incredulous empiricist reader of the priority of thought and judgment over the body. and it is in this passage that one encounters the central opposition between the cogito and imagination. the essence of the self pointedly is not. it cannot become an object of thought. its smell. in the traditional definition of that term.

conclusion that this is equally not the case: the forms the wax could potentially take on are infinite. Descartes’ argument in the following four meditaions will reconcile the mind with the physical world and refute the hyperbolical doubt that had led to the predominant position of the cogito in the first place. or imagination. is always the imprint of its own mind. as associated with the body. which may equally receive an infinity of possible variants. which remains doubtful. It is possible that what I see is not really the wax.28 Because the absolute priority of the mind has been established. namely that I exist. I ask. Imagination. a perspective from which the products of imagination ultimately lose philosophical significance. It is only by means of the intellect that the essence of the piece of wax is ultimately known. but rather the existence of the perceiving self. remains a faculty that is inessential to the self: Dreams. which has only finite capacities of representation. It is the mind that truly perceives the wax. the same result follows. Descartes can take his conclusion even a step further. it is simply not possible that I who am now thinking am not something. and infinity could never be pictured by imagination. What the self encounters. the seeming perception of an object exterior to the self ultimately proves not so much the existence of the object. Doubts. it is possible that I do not even have eyes with which to see anything. but also much more distinct and evident. it is only the cogito that can provide any form of philosophical certainty. not the senses. or think I see (I am not here distinguishing the two). clearly this same fact entails much more evidently that I myself also exist. is this ‘I’ which seems to perceive the wax so distinctly? Surely my awareness of my own self is not merely much truer and more certain than my awareness of the wax. What. What seemed like a sense-perception is actually a mental act of judgment. But when I see. By the same token. but the hierarchies that the first two meditations have established are never rejected. For if I judge that the wax exists from the fact that I see it. if I judge that the wax exists from the fact that I touch it. Since the only certainty about the piece of wax turns out to be a mental act of judgment.27 The same holds true for the wax’s extension. Hence. and Evil Demons 51 . by means of an analysis of its perceptions.29 The self can thus remain secure in the assertion of its dominance over the empirical world.

and Evil Demons . in which he consecutively demonstrates the impossibility of reaching any kind of certainty with regard to the various subjects of human knowledge. are not unique to the Cartesian position. I consider that this power of imagining. I should undoubtedly remain the same individual as I now am[. is thus effectively discarded from the metaphysical center and foundation of Descartes’ philosophical system. the specificity of the Cartesian shift from a representational to a coherence theory of truth and the effect of that shift on the role of the senses and imagination comes into clearer view. the development of his philosophical ideas needs to be read in relation to the intellectual climate of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. the denigration of the senses and radical doubt concerning the validity of the information they are able to provide. Montaigne finishes an exhaustive sceptical exercise. whose essays are probably the single most important intertext for the Discourse on Method and also for the Meditations. theologians. and to which parts of the Discourse are direct responses. with a devastating assessment of the capacities of the human senses. In his Apology for Raymond Sebond. 52 Dreams.Besides this. When Descartes’ texts are read in conjunction with Montaigne’s essays. that is. And those parts of the Apology that demonstrate the hopeless and irreconcilable confusion among philosophers. the product of a type of thought that is as autonomous as it is new. The main reasons for their exclusion. and pascal Of course. is not a necessary constituent of my own essence. montaigne. which is in me. essential as it is for the self’s relation to the empirical world. For if I lacked it. differing as it does from the power of understanding. Most of the examples and arguments Montaigne uses in order to prove the unreliability of knowledge derived from the senses are the same ones that Descartes will provide about half a century later in the Discourse and the Meditations. descartes. and particularly as a response to the work of Michel de Montaigne. Doubts. Descartes’ decisive exclusion of the products of imagination and the senses from his search for philosophical certainty did not develop in an intellectual vacuum.]30 Imagination. the book-within-a-book that is lodged in the middle of the Essays. of the essence of my mind. Although Descartes presents his philosophical system as an isolated phenomenon.

Descartes subsequently denies the exclusiveness and formative role that Montaigne had given to the senses in the epistemological process. . which is in turn completely dependent on the irremediably distorted input of the senses: For. does not constitute an elevation of the imaginaDreams. Rather. For the Montaigne of the Apology. The senses are the beginning and the end of human knowledge. for nothing comes to us that is not falsified and altered by our senses. For Montaigne. The Meditations begin.32 Convinced by Montaigne’s sceptical charge. Doubts. while for Descartes it opens up the possibility of countering Montaigne’s scepticism and asserting the priority of the mind’s ideas over any kind of empirical input. For Montaigne. travels. since our condition accomodates things to itself and transforms them in its own manner. . and there is nothing it could produce in terms of knowledge that would not be fundamentally tainted by the deficiencies of sensory input. as we have seen. we no longer know what things truly are. since the only way we have access to it—excepting the possibility of divine grace—is by means of our conceptual apparatus. . are easily read as a detailed explanation for the desperation which Descartes himself describes in the Discourse as the outcome of his own studies. and Evil Demons 53 .33 This shift. and education. In the case of Montaigne. the negative assessment of the senses is the final blow that can be dealt to the aspirations of human knowledge. Descartes does not attempt a defense of the epistemological validity of sensory knowledge. with a rejection of all knowledge based on the senses. For all knowledge comes to us by way of the senses: they are our masters. in the philosophical position that he advertises as the novelty of his approach. the empirical limits of which it can hence never exceed. however. the latter is inescapably based on and informed by the input it derives from the senses. such a gesture would have meant the rejection of human knowledge tout court.31 The human mind is thus necessarily dependent upon the senses. we are irrevocably cut off from whatever truth the reality exterior to our minds might actually constitute.and the world’s various cultures about practically any issue imaginable.

the seventeenth-century philosopher and scientist. It can accept it as true. the innovation that Descartes effects.” as Pascal describes imagination—pun fully intended—. perceptions. By weakening its ties to the passions and desire. and judgment. and Evil Demons .tive faculty. and do not reach the level of certainty and security reserved for the cogito alone. and Descartes thus considers it as already dominated and delimited by reason. and desires. Imagination has become a rational tool. which “uses” the material at its disposal. In the fragment of the Pensées that is dedicated to the “maîtresse du monde. Essentially. cannot be fully trusted. and it is precisely this process of domestication and control that constitutes the “redemption” of the faculty. imagination can no longer threaten the former’s autonomy through a deceptive outside input that the mind cannot but accept. The contents and the representations it provides remain doubtful. and recombine it in appropriate fashion. is already a man of the Enlightenment. Ultimately. The body. and his views stand in stark contrast to some of his most prominent contemporaries. For whereas reason can only preach restraint and a turning 54 Dreams. is a defusing of the danger imagination presented in the Neoplatonic tradition discussed in chapter 1. Descartes’ imagination has become fully disciplined and domesticated. Descartes can cast it not as an enemy but as a handmaiden of the mind’s rational faculties. concomitant with the shift in his epistemological position. The rational Cartesian self. then. to be inspected by a distanced and autonomous act of judgment. Doubts. Blaise Pascal. the senses. always has full discretion over its application. he leaves no doubt that reason is involved in a hopeless battle when it comes to the seductive mastery of imagination over man’s actions. In this conviction. will. and imagination as their most immediate conduit to the mind no longer exert a most powerful influence over the self: they are safely under control of the rational faculties of the mind. the passions. Since it is the mind itself that is in the final analysis at the basis of the world it experiences or imagines. the only reason why Descartes is able to “redeem” imagination is the fact that he places it firmly under the control of the mental faculties of understanding. Descartes. reject it as erroneous. the exceptional position of his belief in an ultimately unchallenged dominance of will and judgment over imagination comes much clearer into view when compared to the assessment of his contemporary. While Descartes develops his position in an attempt to master the challenge posed by Montaigne’s scepticism.

it makes them feel. one covering them with glory. would write three hundred years later. it suspends the operation of the senses. but it can make them happy and it competes with reason. and it thus offers her followers what reason cannot provide: happiness. can offer nothing in return but an insight into the misery of the human condition. and nothing exasperates us more than to see that it brings its clients a satisfaction which is fuller and more complete than anything reason can offer them. Imagination is everywhere supreme. Reason. where even the “genius malignus” appears as less influential because he works against the self’s amour-propre rather than with it.away from the amenities of the world. People gifted with a lively imagination are far more pleased with themselves than prudent men can reasonably be . a deception that cannot be achieved without the consent of imagination. Imagination cannot turn fools into wise men. in turn. knows Dreams. it has its fools and its wise men. even if it manages to make us realize the machinations of imagination. justice and happiness. our pleasures and desires are meaningless and nothing to us. a second nature that is much more livable than the first. unable to promise immediate rewards in return. the twentiethcentury heir to the moralists. Imagination has its happy men and its unhappy men. . . . has established in man a second nature. and Evil Demons 55 . the enemy of reason. its healthy men and its sick men. the other with shame. as Pascal puts it. . . one is tempted to say. which it likes to control and dominate in order to show what it can accomplish in every sphere. . it makes people believe in. Doubts. thus builds a golden cage of flattering illusion. it is the source of beauty.34 Imagination. Happiness on earth is a product of deception. Such more or less are the effects of the deceitful faculty which seems to have been bestowed on us on purpose to foster necessary error. which can only make its friends wretched. doubt. . . . imagination irresistibly flatters that most powerful force driving people’s actions in the view of most seventeenth-century French thinkers. . How inadequate [are] all the riches of the earth without its co-operation! . their amour-propre or self-interest. which is everything in the world. deny reason.35 This “mistress of the world” holds little power in Descartes’ descriptions of the faculty. unless they have been given life and concrete shape by our imagination. its rich men and its poor men. Pascal’s personified imagination. A hopeless battle indeed: This haughty power. As Marcel Proust.

As long as one has internalized the truth about the distinctions between body and mind. from sense-perceptions to the traditional passions like love. the self’s will and judgment. but it is never portrayed as a guiding power for human actions. are guaranteed to have ultimate control over the representations they receive by means of imagination. to change the movements of the brain in animals devoid of reason.37 Pascal would hardly have consented. etc. hate. with a little effort. as well as the mechanistic causes of the passions one experiences. (The gendered discourse that marks both Pascal’s 56 Dreams. To be sure. Pascal’s omnipotent antagonist of reason. but what interests me most in the present context are not so much the religious.—are represented to the mind. and Evil Demons . too. philosophical. the guidebook for self-mastery he wrote in the last years of his life. To bring out the contrast most clearly. but rather the element of force and constraint that informs Descartes’ view of the controllability of the human psyche. free of external influence. this should be easily accomplished by even the weakest among rational creatures like human beings: For since we are able. a type of combat for which reason appears singularly unequipped. but its weapons are seduction. even animals are routinely trained to act against their natural instincts. It retains its role as the means by which the passions—and for Descartes this term covers everything that the mind. or anthropological differences between Pascal’s and Descartes’ positions. and always able to use imagination to produce precisely those mental representations that will lead to the desired course of action.36 In the final analysis.more about human nature then Descartes’ fictional evil deceiver. fear. plays little part in it. passively receives. and the fulfillment of desire. and since. or the soul. it is evident that we can do so still more effectively in the case of men. as Descartes remarks. Doubts. Descartes’ treatise is a rigorous application of his scientific method to matters of human psychology and morals. Imagination. given that the right method is applied to guide them. this is simply a matter of retraining one’s mental habits. the human will is completely autonomous. a battle is waged in Pascal’s fragment. illusion. Even those who have the weakest souls could acquire absolute mastery over all their passions if we employed sufficient ingenuity in training and guiding them. For Descartes. it is illuminating to consider Descartes’ The Passions of the Soul.

and Descartes’ texts is unmistakeable. and develop the knowledge to raise our minds to lofty heights.) Descartes. such a possibility can be at least opened up. on the other hand. Lyons is correct in stating that the domestication of imagination that Descartes’ texts perform is the precondition for the acceptability of the faculty as a concept in modern philosophy.38 If John D. none of which have survived in the original. and Evil Demons 57 . Descartes kept several notebooks from the early period of his writing. so. such as wind and light. analogies and enthusiasm Until his death in Stockholm in 1650. For anyone familiar with Descartes’ philosophical thought in the Discourse on Method and the Meditations. and this passage from The Passions of the Soul already describes the techniques of internalizing violence that would create the self-disciplined bourgeois citizens of the eighteenth century. quotes from them extensively in his Vie de Monsieur Descartes from 1691. Descartes’ first biographer. There can be no talk of a reconciliation of reason and imagination. the intellect makes use of certain bodies which are perceived through the senses. it is quite surprising. The thesis of Foucault’s Discipline and Punish is contained in nuce in the argument between Pascal and Descartes. to discover the following entry among the notes entitled Olympica. and the passions is complete. Adrien Baillet. Doubts. he fails to mention the price at which this disciplinatory goal is achieved. The effects of that repression are all too visible from a contemporary perspective. the senses.39 Just as the imagination employs figures in order to conceive of bodies. responds with grim determination to assert reason’s authority over the passions and imagination. It may seem surprising to find weighty judgDreams. while the repression of the body. By this means we philosophize in a more exalted way. when examining Descartes’ early writings. but which have nevertheless been preserved by two different routes. In turning to Descartes’ earliest writings. in order to frame ideas of spiritual things. and it will be one of the main goals of the following discussion to investigate a possible reconciliation of the rational structures of the self and their suppressed imaginary counterparts. and most of Descartes’ notes were also copied by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz after Descartes’ death and are kept with Leibniz’ writings at the royal library in Hanover.

For what enables the intellect to reach the higher realms of knowledge is the underlying analogy between the spiritual and the corporeal that allows the intellect to proceed in analogical fashion to imagination. and analogies is made even more explicit in another note that presents the metaphorical key that allows for the catachrestic substitution of physical entities for spiritual ones: The things which are perceivable by the senses are helpful in enabling us to conceive of Olympian matters. We have within us the sparks of knowledge. In fact. but the way Descartes matter-of-factly states these metaphorical relationships shows how much he is still steeped at this point in an epistemological universe of resem58 Dreams. Just as the latter is able to represent corporeal entities to the mind by way of figures. movement with the passage of time signifies life. Wind is no more “like” spirit than light is “like” the understanding. but poets force them out through the sharp blow of the imagination. imagination and the intellect in Descartes’ short sketch stand in very close relation to Plotinus’ theory of the two-fold phantasia discussed in chapter 1. as in a flint: philosophers extract them through reason. heat signifies love. and Descartes’ assertions point to a considerable Neoplatonic influence. First of all. the intellect can use these corporeal entities themselves as representations of spiritual ones. light signifies knowledge. and instantaneous activity signifies creation.ments in the writings of the poets rather than the philosophers. so that they shine more brightly.42 The (admittedly quite conventional) metaphors that Descartes lists are able to create a likeness precisely because a universal harmony is thought to underlie the connections of all things. The wind signifies spirit. The reason is that the poets were driven to write by enthusiasm and the force of imagination. and knowledge of the Platonic ideas in its spiritual form.40 Several points are noteworthy in this short passage. the central epistemological tool that emerges in this note is analogy.41 The process of thinking in correspondences. it indicates that for the young Descartes analogy was still a fundamental principle of thought and epistemology. Doubts. which probably dates from late 1619 or early 1620. Thus. and Evil Demons . where phantasia provides knowledge of the world of the senses in its bodily. resemblances. Every corporeal form acts through harmony.

” accomplishes the task much more effectively and quickly. One would not expect such a statement from the Descartes of the Meditations. and one is thus more likely to encounter profound insights in the writings of the poets than in those of the philosophers. but the poet.” and the concomitant elevation of the poet over the philosopher. Descartes. while immediately containing this (incommunicable) inspirational moment within the (communicable) philosophical logos that is nevertheless dependent on it. The former thus retains a rhetorical edge over the latter. in different stages of his life. but rather one that needs to be traced back to the concept of phantasia as a prophetic and inspirational power derived from Plato’s Timaeus. and Evil Demons 59 . a concept that would have made its way to Descartes by means of the Neoplatonic poetics of the Renaissance. similitude.44 But it is the notion of enthusiasm and the “power of the imagination. What emerges here is a view of imagination that does not fall into the Aristotelian and scholastic tradition of faculty psychology underlying Descartes’ accounts of the faculty in the Rules and the Meditations. can be extracted through the stepby-step process of philosophical reasoning. with which he had found himself blessed for several days surrounding Dreams.” based on the principles of order and measure.” which lie dormant in us like the sparks of a flintstone.43 The epistemological rift that Michel Foucault has pointed to in The Order of Things between a Renaissance world view based on resemblance. The Spirit of Truth Descartes himself was indeed no stranger to the powers of enthusiasm. The “seeds of science.blances. however. poet and philosopher reach the same kind of knowledge. Doubts. that is even more striking in a Cartesian text. presents a different relationship between reason and imagination than Plato. For Descartes. a rift for which Foucault cites Descartes’ Rules as the prime textual witness. and analogy. in a characteristic “leap of imagination. Plato’s text ascribes to phantasia access to a type of knowledge unavailable to rational thought. is very much a man of both epistemological ages. and the taxonomical épistémè of the “âge classique. but imagination provides the poet with a much more effective means to reach it than reason does for the philosopher. Descartes. can thus be situated also in Descartes’ own career as a philosopher.

. 45 Already during the day. Doubts. Descartes decides to seek shelter in the church of a college he passes.” to which he attributes the superior insights of the poets in the note just discussed. Descartes finds himself considerably frightened in the streets of a city where he has great trouble walking because of an impetuous wind and considerable pain in his right side. Throughout the narrative. In the courtyard of the college he encounters a person who tells Descartes that Monsieur M.” most probably the starting point for the mathesis universalis he would ultimately set out to formulate in the Rules. A state of inspiration triggers the development of scientific method. when he discovered the foundations of this “admirable science.the night of 10 November 1619. and Evil Demons . could only have “come from on high” (“qu’il s’imagina ne pouvoir être venus que d’en haut”). In the first dream. Descartes thus felt himself under the “reign of enthusiasm and the force of the imagination. as his biographer Baillet notes. . has something to give to him. admonitions he was convinced. Descartes considered the three consecutive dreams that he experienced during that night to be admonitions for the future course of his life. as well as the self’s autonomy and its reliance on a metaphysical validation. They were to him powerful inspirational confirmations from the “Spirit of Truth” (“l’Esprit de Vérité”) of his belief to have discovered the foundations of an “admirable science” during his intellectual exertions of the preceding day: On November 10. and awakes upon the disconcerting recognition that all the other people in his dream seem to be unencumbered by the wind that still makes it difficult for him to even stand upright. Descartes imagines that to be a melon. inspiration and reason.46 Descartes sees the validity of this discovery verified by the dreams he experienced the following night. the physiological reception of the dream images is related in the terms of faculty psychology. 1619. Barely able to sustain himself on his feet. when I was full of enthusiasm and when I discovered the foundations of an admirable science . another indication that Baillet probably stays close to Descartes’ own account: Descartes’ 60 Dreams. The sequence of the dreams and Descartes’ subsequent interpretation provide a striking interplay between dream and waking. dreams in which his state of enthusiasm continues.

and Evil Demons 61 . but also immediately begins to interpret his dream.” The stranger asks Descartes to do so. a stranger enters and presents Descartes with another poem. at the other end of the table. Upon waking up. the books and the stranger disappear— efface themselves from Descartes’ imagination—without. Doubts. According to Baillet. Descartes now asks himself. Descartes acutely observes his own mental processes. who gathers sufficient calm in examining the properties of the fiery specimens presented to him to be able to fall asleep for a third time. He decides that the “dictionary” represented “all the sciences gathered together” (“toutes les Sciences ramassées ensemble”). and the dream scenes are consistently described as “imaginations. Descartes tells the stranger that he could present him with another one. beginning with “Est et Non. which he hopes will be extremely useful for him. The dictionary meanwhile has vanished.imagination feels the representations of the dream phantoms “strike” it. waking him up. Descartes finds a “dictionary” on his desk. Descartes has a second dream. and that it can be found in the book right in front of him. according to Baillet. this was a common experience for Descartes.” one of the idylls of Ausonius. a collection with which he was familiar from the time of his Jesuit education at La Flèche. beginning with “Quod vitæ sectabor iter. whether he had just experienced a dream or a vision. but reappears. he discovers a series of small engravings. however. while the Corpus poetarum signified the combination of philosophy and wisdom (“la Philosophie et la Sagesse Dreams. and which immediately awakens him. He now finds his room filled with glimmering sparks of fire. in which he hears a loud and exploding noise that he takes for a thunder-clap. Still sleeping.” Descartes responds that he is familiar with the poem. Descartes now effectively feels a pain in his left side and fears that it is due to the influence of an evil spirit. Unable to find the poem. and he spends the next two hours praying for forgiveness for his sins and meditating about good and evil in the world. Descartes then not only decides in his sleep that he was indeed dreaming. Next to it he discovers a collection of poems entitled Corpus poetarum.” Even while dreaming. After falling asleep again. In the third dream. also by Ausonius. and while Descartes searches for the poem again. At this point. although incomplete. a “genius malignus. As Descartes begins to read a poem beginning with the verse “Quod vitæ sectabor iter.” attempting to seduce him.

like the sparks of fire in the flint) with much more ease and even much more brilliance than Reason can for the philosophers.” with which we are familiar from the short passage on enthusiasm and the relation between imagination and the intellect I discussed earlier. stood for truth and falsity in human knowledge and the secular sciences. Upon this strand of reasoning. even those who lack profundity.” Descartes now completes his interpretation in a waking but still enthusiastic state.48 All these interpretations working so perfectly to his advantage. can access with much more facility and brilliance than the philosophers can with the aid of reason: He attributed this miracle to the divine nature of enthusiasm and the force of imagination. the one beginning with “Quod vitae sectabor iter?” stood for the good counsel of a wise person. while the poem beginning with “Est et Non. one often finds more perspicacious and better expressed sentences than in the writings of the philosophical tradition.jointes ensemble”). thus finds itself connected at its inception to a form of poetic wisdom that is best accessed by means of imagination. In the explanantion for this interpretation. Descartes situates these dreams at a crossroads in his life. as “seeds of wisdom. which brings out the seeds of wisdom [les semences de la sagesse] (which can be found in the mind [l’ésprit] of all men. thanks to enthusiasm and imagination. and Evil Demons . Descartes once again asserts his conviction that in the work of the poets.” which the poets. a doubt that awakens him “without emotion. Doubts. The various poets brought together in the Corpus poetarum signify to him the revelation and the enthusiasm with which he sees himself favored. Descartes feels encouraged enough to convince himself that the Spirit of Truth himself had wanted to offer him the treasures of all the sciences in this dream. According to Baillet. Descartes begins to doubt whether he is in fact dreaming or meditating. Descartes concludes.” this being the Yes and No of Pythagoras. Descartes’ lifelong aspiration. Of the two Ausonius poems that appear in the dream. in a sentence that survives in Descartes’ original Latin and which is hence undoubtedly authentic. or even of moral theology.47 The unified method for combining all the sciences. while he saw the first two as a divine commentary about the shortcomings of his past. now reappear. he took the third dream to predict his future. The “seeds of science. The 62 Dreams.

and set his path for the future. On the one hand. be it by demons or the “Spirit of Truth. On the other hand. and Evil Demons 63 .” was a serious consideration at least for the early Descartes. away from the seductive influence of the “malin génie” that appeared in the form of the impetuous wind in the first dream. Descartes was led by means of enthusiasm to the discovery of his “admirable science” and decided that his dreams had indeed been a case of divine possession. For now.49 What is remarkable first of all is the interplay between enthusiastic possession and rational interpretation that Baillet’s account exhibits. for whom the boundaries between dreaming and waking could apparently be astonishingly blurry. come to possess him and to lead him in the right direction. Doubts. so that wine would have flown freely). particularly in the context of his argument in the Meditations. Particularly. which hence become almost indistinguishable from one another. while still sleeping. institute him as somebody endowed with divine credentials. since Baillet sees it as an indication that Descartes surely must have been drinking too much the previous evening (which was after all St. as his dreams and their interpretation show. Dreams. a suspicion that Descartes.thunder he heard in the second dream signaled to him the descent of the Spirit of Truth. is the ease with which Descartes can be seen to switch between various states of consciousness such as dream and waking. The dreams reinforce the importance of his discovery. Martin’s Eve. repeatedly contests in his own narrative. I do not plan to embark here on an extensive discussion of the content of Descartes’ dreams. the process of interpretation enables Descartes to assert his own autonomous position. The belief in divine possession is almost certainly Descartes’ original conviction. even though it asserts itself in its interpretative autonomy. The predicament presented in the first meditation seems to have been a very real one for Descartes. While Baillet comments on it as quite remarkable. but want only to highlight several points that are of particular interest for the present discussion. Possession. according to Baillet. Equally interesting. it does not seem unusal for Descartes to interpret his dreams and hence to reason consciously. the Cartesian subject still finds itself dependent on divine inspiration. Descartes’ dreams throw a different light on the Meditations in this respect: the meditator’s fears of being entirely controlled by a “genius malignus” are not a mere thought experiment. he never quite loses control of his dreams. which he observes lucidly and is able to interpret even while sleeping.

One solution to the problem, which has been advocated by Jean-Luc Marion, is to point out that Descartes’ interpretative process anticipates his position in the Rules: if the process of cogitatio makes use of fundamental “simple natures” that apply in the waking as well as in the dreaming world, the distinction between these two mental states is ultimately irrelevant and the structures of rational thought could be seen to apply in any mode of consciousness, even the “irrational” one of dreaming. This approach neglects the problem, however, that the lack of distinction between the two states of consciousness also complicates the relation between imagination and the intellect, a problem that is neither addressed by Descartes nor by Baillet: if all the dream-images are “imaginations,” imprinted in the organ of the phantasia, as the narrative asserts, and as they would have to be according to Descartes’ faculty psychology still evident in the Rules, then the operations of the intellect, interpreting these dream images as part of sleep, would also have to be imaginary representations, and imagination would hence perform an operation that exceeds its abilities. The status of a sleeping but conscious self is an unsolved problem for any philosophical approach, and it is one for which Descartes’ model of the mind does not really provide a place. The greatest challenge to the concept of imagination that one encounters in the Meditations and the Rules, however, is the model of divine enthusiasm with which imagination is connected both in the account of Descartes’ dreams and in the notes from the Olympica. Imagination, akin to the Platonic model in the Timaeus, is here the power that allows for inspiration and hence new scientific discoveries, a role that is difficult to reconcile with the concept of the faculty that quite explicitly locates it beneath the intellect in the hierarchy of mental faculties. It is thus of specific interest at this point to see if any traces of this inspirational model of imagination survive in the Rules and their mathesis universalis, which owes its inception quite possibly to the enthusiasm Descartes experienced on 10 November 1619.

Seeds of Science
The idea of the divine seeds of science, lying dormant in the human mind like the potential for fire in the flintstone, can indeed still be found in the Rules. When Descartes places his method in a historical lineage in Rule IV he asserts that any kind of scientific study would more or less be futile
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if it were not done with something akin to his method in mind. The greatest thinkers before him must hence surely have employed something like it. This unacknowledged use of the Cartesian method avant la lettre was possible because Descartes’ true achievement lies first and foremost in spelling out in a systematic and teachable way a method that was always accessible before, yet only to those untainted by too much scientific artifice and still close enough to their true nature to be able to bring the divine seeds planted in their minds to blossom:
So useful is this method that without it the pursuit of learning would, I think, be more harmful than profitable. Hence I can readily believe that the great minds of the past were to some extent aware of it, guided to it even by nature alone. For the human mind has within it a sort of spark of the divine, in which the first seeds of useful ways of thinking are sown, seeds which, however neglected and stifled by studies, which impede them, often bear fruit of their own accord.50

The Cartesian method is thus a discovery in the truest sense of the word. It uncovers something that had been there all along, a truth that had only been stifled, suppressed, and forgotten, obscured by too many falsehoods and acquired habits of thought. If one manages to discard such misleading deviations, the principles of the method can be exposed again, since they are principles of nature, seeds planted in the human mind by the divine creator. The organic metaphors leave no doubt: the discovery of the truth of the Cartesian method is at the same time a return to nature. Once again, Descartes institutes one of the central topoi of modernity: the discovery of the seemingly new is in fact a return to a forgotten origin, and by locating the future in the distant past, modernity legitimizes its radical break with the traditions of the present. Descartes reinforces this same conclusion a little later in the text, when disussing the mathematical achievements of the Greeks:
But I am convinced that certain primary seeds of truth naturally implanted in human minds thrived vigorously in that unsophisticated and innocent age— seeds which have been stifled in us through our constant reading and hearing all sorts of errors. So the same light of the mind which enabled them to see (albeit without knowing why) that virtue is preferable to pleasure, the good preferable to the useful, also enabled them to grasp true ideas in philosophy Dreams, Doubts, and Evil Demons 65

and mathematics, although they were not yet able fully to master such sciences.51

But precisely how the human mind can access the divine seeds that trigger the discovery of the scientific method, precisely how the mind is able to perceive its true nature, even though it has been obscured by erroneous teachings, incorrect habits of thought, and the mistakes of tradition, is not discussed in the Rules. The Cartesian method cannot account for its inception and it can only be taught to those who already grasp its premises. The moment of insight that enables a different way of thinking, the blossoming of one of the seeds implanted in the mind, cannot be brought about by the method that depends on it. What the method of the Rules teaches is only the mechanical application of its principles; it does not teach the way that leads to the grasping of these principles in the first place. Again, Descartes is in a position similar to that of Plato in the Timaeus: the constitutive moment that allows the philosophical method to be cannot be expressed in the latter’s own terms. As its foundation, this moment lies outside of the methodological grasp. The rational framework of the Rules’ method no longer allows for an articulation of this paradox. Neither enthusiasm nor imagination are mentioned as the stand-ins for the rationally impossible inception of a rational method. What comes closest to the notion of enthusiastic inspiration, still present in Descartes’ preceeding texts, is the mental operation of intuitus, the principle acknowledged within the framework of the Rules to ensure the method’s validity. But, in a familiar gesture, Descartes presents it as an operation of the pure intellect, so that it remains safely contained within the rational parameters of the method, which cannot face the problem of its autopoetic inception.52 Descartes’ own language, however, cannot quite contain the problems that this assertion creates: Intuitus is
the indubitable conception of a clear and attentive mind which proceeds solely from the light of reason.53

What does it mean for this “conception,” this “grasped idea” (conceptus ϭ a taking, catching, grasping) of the pure intellect to be born solely of the light of reason? Could it be that this already highly metaphorical rendering of a supposedly imageless moment has simply omitted a
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metaphor that would evoke the wrong connotations? For a birth from the light of reason, a seed would seem necessary, which would bring intuitus dangerously close to that foundational grasping, which, as the note from the Olympica asserts, is much more easily achieved by means of enthusiasm and imagination than by means of reason. Divine enthusiasm and imagination only appear in one singular instance in the Rules, and are immediately discarded as irrelevant to further argument. In the second part of Rule XII , where Descartes outlines the criteria for the differentiation of simple and composite natures, he also discusses the means to avoid error in the process of knowledge formation. Error, Descartes contends here, is only possible if we ourselves have constructed or composed the things we take to be true. There are three means for such a construction: impulse, conjecture, and deduction. Other than by free will, the first of these, impulse, can be brought about either by a higher power, i.e., divine influence, or imagination (phantasia in the Latin original):
It is a case of composition through impulse when, in forming judgments about things, our mind leads us to believe something, not because good reasons convince us of it, but simply because we are caused to believe it, either by some superior power, or by our free will, or by a disposition of the corporeal imagination. The first cause is never a source of error, the second rarely, the third almost always; but the first of these is irrelevant in this context, since it does not come within the scope of method.54

Imagination has now already taken on its familiar role as the producer of insecure knowledge and there is no more hint of its connection to divine inspiration, which receives the same credentials as intuitus, as it is always true. This type of religious and nonrational knowledge, however certain it may be, has no more place in the Rules, as the last sentence of the quoted passage makes clear. The Rules provide a secure path of reasoning for the philosopher, from which the poet’s or the believer’s leaps of imagination must be excluded. Those simply do not fall under the jurisdiction of the method. Through this gesture of exclusion, the Cartesian method can preserve its own autonomy, an autonomy reasserted in the Discourse on Method and the Meditations through the discovery of the cogito. This particular discovery merits a closer look.
Dreams, Doubts, and Evil Demons 67

excogitations: fabulating the

COGITO

In the institution of the Cartesian cogito, one of the foundational moments of modern philosophy, imagination is doubly excluded. On the one hand, as the self-recognition of the pure intellect, the cogito can per definitionem bear no relation to the input of the senses or to any mental process of representation, for which it is the precondition. From the perspective of faculty psychology, within which Descartes is mainly working, the cogito cannot be subject to the faculty of imagination. On the other hand, the cogito must be maintained as the autonomous moment in which thought presents itself to itself without any exterior mediation if it is to function as the Archimedian point on which Descartes’ modern philosophical system is to be built. The intuition that is the cogito may thus also not be brought about by the inspirational force that has equally become known, via Plato and the Neoplatonists, as imagination. In the text of the Meditations and the Discourse on Method, Descartes carefully secures this autonomous position of the cogito, which, as is quite clear to him, must remain unimaginable, if it is to succeed as a foundational philosophical concept. The only definition of imagination that Descartes himself openly advances is the one derived from the Aristotelian tradition of faculty psychology. If one uses only Descartes’ own definitions to measure his texts, which is philologically and philosophically prudent as long as it is Descartes’ own position one is trying to understand, his demarcations of the cogito seem perfectly sound. But, as the preceding sections have shown, if one takes a closer look at earlier Cartesian texts, a quite different, inspirational understanding of imagination comes to light, suppressed in Descartes’ later writings, but closely connected to the concept of “intuition” that informs the cogito, and which thus needs to be taken into account when the role of imagination in Cartesian philosophy is at stake. Descartes’ own perspective is thus not all there is to find in his texts, and it warrants investigating whether imagination does not also figure in the Cartesian text in yet another guise. For the concept of imagination most familiar to a contemporary understanding has so far not even been addressed—that of imagination as the faculty enabling the creation of fictions. One may object that such an undertaking entails a retroactive pro-

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jection on the Cartesian text that fails to differentiate between contemporary understandings of imagination and the historical definitions on which Descartes bases his arguments. To see the “genius malignus” as a product of imagination, for example, would be misguided, since it is presented as a purely mental abstraction, to which Descartes attributes no sensory characteristics, those being the sole sphere of imagination. The spirit of such an objection, however, only legitimizes readings of Descartes’ texts that conform to the way we believe he would have liked them to be understood. We could neither read them against the grain, nor detect their blind spots, nor discover the meanings they produce against what we perceive as their author’s intention. The parameters for reading Descartes’ texts would thus be set in stone by Descartes himself. But one need not only point to the openness of texts to counter this argument. For his position can only be upheld by means of a distinction that is ultimately not born out by the Cartesian text.

Feigning Things Unseen
The concept of fictional creations that are not directly tied to sensory input is in fact by no means alien to Descartes. He just does not—at least not in most cases—employ the verb “imaginer” to describe such mental activities. The verb he employs in such cases is “feindre,” and while it is certainly helpful to clearly distinguish the two terms for an adequate discussion of Descartes’ epistemology, there can be no doubt that within the physico-psychological framework of Descartes’ thought, both activities can only be executed by the faculty of imagination and will take place within the physical part of the brain that the Rules call phantasia. The verb “feindre” itself suggests as much. The French “feindre,” just like the English “to feign,” is derived from the Latin “fingere,” which Descartes uses in his Latin texts, a verb that can denote the actual physical acts of building and creating (the ars fingendi is the art of sculpture), mental acts of representation, fictional or otherwise, as well as acts of deception, lying, and false representation. Within the theoretical framework of faculty psychology, these activities, which all involve acts of representation, can only have their place and origin from and in imagination. The same holds true for the related verb “effingere,” which can also be found in Descartes’ Latin. While “fictio,”

Dreams, Doubts, and Evil Demons 69

. which must have been fashioned in the likeness of things that are real. The place for such fictions and effigies. And the connection is equally present in Descartes’ remarks about our dreaming states.56 70 Dreams. is more direct in assigning the creation of the new to the faculty of imagination then the Latin original.55 [my emphasis] As this passage makes clear. figure. in which Descartes considers purely fictional paintings that bear no representational relation to physical reality. For even when painters try to create sirens and satyrs with the most extraordinary bodies. reshuffled. Or if perhaps they manage to think up something so new that nothing remotely similar has ever been seen before—something which is therefore completely fictitious and unreal—at least the colours used in the compositions must be real. and recombined. . they cannot give them natures which are new in all respects. Doubts. he presents these paintings as the products of the painters’ imagination: Or if perhaps their imagination is extravagant enough to invent something so new that nothing similar has ever been seen before. . the mental faculty and organ where images are produced. certainly at least the colors used in the composition must be real. for which the fictional paintings serve as an analogy: Suppose then that I am dreaming . for in the French version of the passage in the first meditation discussed earlier.fiction. as readers of the Meditations well know. yet also Descartes’ Latin clearly establishes the connection between the process of “fingere” and imagination. is imagination. representation.” “effingere” shares its root with the noun “effigies. so that their work presents to us something purely fictional and absolutely false [purement feinte et absolument fausse]. which was approved by Descartes. it must surely be admitted that the visions which come in sleep are like paintings. the French translation of the Meditations by the Duc de Luynes. dream-image. Nonetheless. they simply jumble up the limbs of different animals. temporarily stored. Nor is this pure etymological speculation. it is imagination. and hence that at least these general kinds of things . and Evil Demons . are things which are not imaginary but are real and exist. is the noun that is coupled with the verb “fingere.” image. . To be precise. where such “purely fictional and absolutely false” images are created.

But even while the main argument is epistemological. and other unseen things. just as much as the dreamer. It is thus through a recombination of the elements present in their imagination that the painters can create (literally “think up. One can assume that this ambiguity is no accident. In the Latin text.” products of imagination. how much is passive reception?—which is of equally central importance for the autonomy of the cogito. the treatise in which Descartes presents the general principles of his Dreams. almost 400 years later. ut nihil omnino ei simile fuerit visum”). . while the painters only reproduce these newly found representations on canvas. the passage also gives us insight into Descartes’ view of the creative process. however. is brought into view when the different modalities of the French and the Latin text are compared. It is.” “excogitare”) the new. while Descartes gives us little clue as to which mental faculty is responsible for the act of creative recombination. satyrs. a question which. even though Descartes intends to find an anchor for them in the real. in a shared common reality. is to still be able to root our dream images. The central question about the process—how much of it is active creation. not the only instance in Descartes’ work where imagination assumes a central position in its capacity to produce fictional representations. They are “res imaginarias. that which has never before been perceived (“maxime inusitatis fingere student . it seems as if imagination itself is responsible for the creation of the new (“or if perhaps their imagination is extravagant enough to invent something so new”). recombine the elements of the known in order to create the unseen and unknown. just as much as paintings of sirens. In The World. at least as far as it concerns the visual arts. however. It is clear. and Evil Demons 71 . . however. but rather points to the fact that Descartes himself is unclear about the precise workings of the creative process.The aim of the analogy. albeit negligible aside that has no true import on his philosophy as a whole. the painters actively produce the new (excogitare/fingere) out of the “raw material” available by means of imagination. as I commented earlier in this chapter. that it must be imagination where these “fictions” take shape. The painters. Doubts. In the French text. remains very much unanswered. Fictional Worlds Descartes’ description of the creative process and the painterly creation of the new might be seen as an interesting.

it is certain that even if there were nothing of this sort in the old world.physics and.. but it is with the aid of this fiction that the natural laws in the real world. since everything I propose here can be imagined distinctly.” the “fable” that Descartes now presents is not a superfluous poetical flourish. the “Description of a new world. will become observable. something “made” in the sense of the original Latin. in the course of which I hope the truth will not fail to manifest itself sufficiently clearly. and that this will be no less pleasing to you than if I were to set it forth wholly naked. for God is surely able to create anything the human imagination can clearly conceive. as Descartes envisions them. is more than the fictional coating on a scientific pill that would be just as effective without it. the “new world” that Descartes creates. Doubts. in particular. is indeed a fiction. The model itself. if its representation can be clearly and distinctly produced without logical contradiction with the help of the faculty of imagination. I want to wrap up part of it in the guise of a fable. his theory of the nature of light. If this fictional and alternative world can be imagined. and for which he asks for the reader’s momentary suspension of disbelief.” as the following section of the treatise is entitled. and Evil Demons . God can nev- 72 Dreams.57 But Descartes’ rhetorical justification for his fictional approach is itself a rhetorical move—although it remains debatable whether it is a conscious one—for what follows is by no means simply the narrative embellishment of a truth that might as well have been presented straighforwardly. Descartes’ reasoning goes. as well as the mechanistic principles that govern their metamorphoses and interactions. Having introduced the various elements that make up the singular matter out of which the world is composed. he continues by means of a fable: But so as to make this long discourse less boring for you.e. To prevent his audience from becoming bored with the formal presentation of his lengthy discourse. and of the qualities of the matter of which it is composed. For the “invention. i. it must be possible. Descartes innocently proposes to do the reader a favor by further explaining the principles of his physics in a more amusing fashion. Instead. but rather a scientific model. imagination plays a central role in the development of his mechanistic science.

which demand no further divine intervention. which Descartes had himself acknowledged two decades earlier in his Olympica. but all the other things as well. Doubts. created with the help of imagination. the laws of nature are sufficient to cause the parts of this chaos to disentangle themselves in such a good order that they will have the form of a most perfect world. and Evil Demons 73 . His attribution of the origin of the laws of nature to a divine creator but thinly veils the fact that this (fictional) world is entirely the philosopher’s creation. pause again for a minute to consider this chaos. which the reader can now see at work. For Descartes has taken the position of God in writing The World. both general and particular. but rather constitutes the philosopher’s underhanded retribution for the poets’ seeming superiority in matters of creation. suffice to create an orderly world out of even the greatest chaos of the primal matter they act upon: For God has established these laws in such a marvellous way that even if we suppose that He creates nothing more than what I have said. it might also be an accurate description of the real one. As Descartes’ text slips seamlessly into the first person in the next sentence. All God needs to have created to comply with Descartes’ theoretical/fictional model are the natural laws. Their self-determined mechanisms. Descartes’ reasoning implicitly continues. that appear in the actual world.58 And if this new world. and even if He does not impose any order or proportion on it but makes it the most confused and muddled chaos that any of the poets could describe. for it is certain that He can create everything we imagine.ertheless create it in a new one. a world in which one will be able to see not only light. Poets might excel in imagining the chaos that reigned before creation. that is able to outline the laws that will produce order out of that chaos. one cannot but hear the voice of a proud creator showing off his work with the conviction of its absolutely convincing ingeniousness: But before I explain this at greater length.59 Mention of poets in this crucial passage is probably not coincidental. and note that it contains nothing which you do not know so Dreams. could have been created by God. but it is the imagination of the scientist-philosopher.

For the qualities that I have placed in it are only such as you could imagine.e. important for the solving of problems within the realm of physics. which is perhaps most pointedly expressed in the following passage from the Discourse on Method: But many are convinced that there is some difficulty in knowing God.perfectly that you could not even pretend to be ignorant of it. For imagination. untainted by the ambiguities of knowledge derived from and about the world of the senses. and Evil Demons . The idea of that matter is such a part of all the ideas that our imagination can form that you must necessarily conceive of it. is no less than the condition of possibility of its truthfulness and hence of its adequacy as a description of the real. The reason for this is that they never raise 74 Dreams. after all. there is nothing simpler or more easily grasped in inanimate creatures.e. and even in knowing what their soul is. But this is a return with a significant twist. i. for imagination now not only enables the effective solving of mathematical problems.60 Who would dare disagree? The authority of Descartes’ writing is such that it rules out as unimaginable the possibility of its not being understood and immediately comprehended.. it makes possible the creation and the communicability of heuristic fictions as explanations of the real. they are part and parcel of Descartes’ philosophical and scientific endeavor. Such “fables” are certainly more than mere embellishments. Is it not precisely the function of the cogito to provide a point of certainty within the realm of the intellect. the products of imagination must be discarded if philosophical reasoning about the cogito and metaphysical speculations about a foundational realm of pure thought are to make any sense? Descartes himself is of course unequivocal about the necessity of such a division of responsibilities. which could thus serve as the philosophical foundation for the modern scientific endeavor that Descartes had found lacking? Is this not precisely the reason why. Doubts. in the Rules and The World is. i. as the Rules and the Meditations clearly spell out.. And as far as the matter from which I have composed it is concerned. And thus imagination returns in the function that it had already been given in the Rules. the realm accessible to the senses. or you can never imagine anything at all. But perhaps none of this is relevant to the constitution of the cogito. as the main tool of the early modern theoretical physicist: the ability to clearly and distinctly imagine. mentally represent the scientific fiction just developed.

their existence could not be guaranteed. just as much as the mechanistic movements and laws of cause and effect that govern their interaction. Descartes still needs God to continually uphold them—otherwise. Descartes might keep imagination within clear boundaries by narrowly defining it within the Aristotelian/scholastic epistemological tradition.62 But from this perspective. can never be proven empirically.” can thus be of no help whatsoever in the discussion of anything not accessible to the senses. but that does not alter the fact that imagiDreams.” Such laws. part of an explanatory model. located in the “imaginary spaces” of scholasticism. For this reason. would have been impossible. that the sense of sight gives us no less assurance of the reality of its objects than do the senses of smell and of hearing. a potential creation that has its only reality in Descartes’ text. while neither our imagination nor our senses could ever assure us of anything without the intervention of our intellect. And the primary elements that make up its original matter. Just as much as the soul—even though it is closely intermingled with every part of the body. Imagination. there is a clear division in kind between the realm of the senses and the realm of the intellect. as “a particular way of thinking applied to material things. This is sufficiently obvious from the fact that even the scholastic philosophers take it as a maxim that there is nothing in the intellect which has not previously been in the senses. On the surface. are not observable either. and Evil Demons 75 . as Descartes explains in the sixth mediation—needs to be understood as separate from the body. Doubts. the “fable” that Descartes tells his readers in The World.61 Within the framework of Cartesian dualism. a necessary fiction. it is a mere possibility. they remain conjecture. and yet it is certain that the ideas of God and of the soul have never been in the senses. For the world it describes with the help of and for the benefit of its readers’ imagination is not material at all. even though Descartes asks his readers to imagine them “clearly and distinctly. there can be no hesitation about such divisions. It seems to me that trying to use imagination in order to understand these ideas is like trying to use one’s eyes in order to hear sounds or smell odours—though there is this difference. as Hume would argue a century later.their minds above things which can be perceived by the senses: they are so used to thinking of things only by imagining them (a way of thinking specially suited to material things) that whatever is unimaginable seems to them unintelligible. the scientific fiction.

. where. which he published in French in 1637. since the mechanical laws described by Descartes’ clearly relied on a heliocentric worldview and the premise of an earth in motion. is. Fingo Ergo Sum The World and the complementary Treatise on Man. which presents the mechanistic physiology that links the human microcosm to the macrocosm described in The World. presented by Descartes in the form of a heuristic fiction: “que comme une histoire. in which the cogito makes its first appearance. In that regard. Here the language of the Discourse is particularly interesting. could not be the God of Rome. the central methodological device through which he hopes to reach a point of absolute certainty. . and which was to provide the philosophical foundation for the physics and the physiology outlined in the suppressed texts. imagination also enters into the complex process that produces the Cartesian cogito. The fate of Galilei cautioned Descartes against provoking the Catholic Church with his treatise.64 Thus.nation has a much broader function within the Cartesian text. ou. si vous l’aimiez mieux. que comme une fable. its partially “fictional” character notwithstanding. And. reject as if absolutely false everything in which I could imagine the least doubt. imagination inadvertently presents itself as the precondition for the possibility of doubt itself: I thought it necessary to . The God of The World. To see how exactly this takes place. in a parallel that might now no longer seem surprising. like The World. in a shortened version of the process of philosophical reasoning described in the Meditations. However. the idea of the cogito first emerges. it is most instructive to turn to the passage in the fourth part of the Discourse. in order to see if I was left believing anything that was entirely indubitable. As Descartes describes the process of radical doubt. and Evil Demons . the cogito is no exception. the famous Discourse. Descartes did offer at least a summary of The World in the fifth part of the Discourse on Method. it had become clear. Doubts.65 [my emphasis] 76 Dreams. were never published during Descartes’ lifetime.”63 The same principle that guides The World also applies to the Discourse: Descartes’ autobiographical tale provides a model that will enable the reader to perceive the reality of the cogito.

thought. thus returns in satisfying symmetry as doubly central for the intellectual process that claims to only be possible without it.” and the radical sceptic is thus dependent on a vivid imagination. the Cartesian narrator affirms. In order to be able to doubt a given conviction. which also proves in retrospect that the “genius malignus. as Bernd Rathman has rightfully pointed out in his essay “L’imagination et le doute. one has to be able to imagine alternatives. it is also indispensable to the main methodological device that this philosophical fiction employs. and Evil Demons 77 . Despite all precautions.” openly fall into one. as Descartes “feigns” his way to the cogito. doubly excluded by Descartes from his philosophical search for certainty. This intimate connection between imagination and the central aspects of Cartesian philosophy becomes even more pronounced as the text continues by setting out to employ this radical doubt.68 The Discourse is here much more straightforward than the Meditations. as the self’s imagination suffices to accomplish the necessary task. Doubts. Imagination. belief. the ability to doubt the validity of what one had believed to be true is dependent on the prior ability to imagine that things might not be precisely what they seem.” whether Dreams. And observing that this truth ‘I am thinking. is a product of imagination. I decided that I could accept it without scruple as the first principle of the philosophy I was seeking.Doubt itself. who was thinking this. No mysterious outside influence is needed.66 Just as many of the natural laws of this world can be made visible by imagining an alternate universe—a model—operating under such laws. No deceitful evil demons or other rhetorical devices are necessary to make the capacity to feign that produces the effect of an all-encompassing doubt more impressive. imagination thus remains intricately inscribed in the cogito. [my emphasis] But immediately I noticed that while I was trying thus to think everything false. “imaginer” and “douter. it was necessary that I. The two verbs. Imagination not only enables the fiction that is the autobiographical narrative of the Discourse. was something. or senseimpression. therefore I exist’ was so firm and sure that all the most extravagant suppositions of the sceptics were incapable of shaking it.67 I resolved to pretend (feindre) that all the things that had ever entered my mind were no more true than the illusions of my dreams.

and which does not require any place.” “je pense donc je suis. which cannot be feigned. Descartes’ openly stated position that the cogito could not be imagined turns out to be inaccurate. I could not for all that pretend (feindre) that I did not exist . and Evil Demons .” which cannot be imagined. including space itself—the cogito has no need for a body. The cogito owes its position to a lack of imagination. there is no logical reason why the assumption should be deemed impossible that the 78 Dreams. or depend on any material thing. From this I knew I was a substance whose whole essence or nature is simply to think. . is a product of imagination. Doubts. Yet. who must assume that his readers cannot but agree with his assertion. becomes itself subject to doubt. .a fire-breathing creature with scales and horns or a disembodied mental abstraction. . in order to exist. and which is meant to strengthen its validity.70 The reason why the cogito is immune to the processes of doubt. nor for a place—is a purely illusory construct of imagination. fictional construction to its seeming extreme end point. is never given by Descartes. The truth of the cogito emerges at the limit of the process of feigning. I saw that while I could not pretend (feindre) that I had no body and that there was no world and no place for me to be in. it followed quite evidently and certainly that I existed. Only because Descartes’ autobiographical narrator cannot imagine that he who imagines might himself only be imaginary. does the cogito appear as the only secure and undoubtable truth that can form the first principle of Cartesian philosophy. turns out to be foundational. if the assumption is easily accepted as a possibility that everything material. It is rather the non-truth of the assertion “cogito ergo sum. As Georges Leyenberger fittingly puts it: “The first formula of truth is ultimately I feign. . presented as exclusionary in the surface narrative of Descartes’ text. as the faculty that could be of no import to the grasping of the cogito creates the preconditions for its discovery. .”69 But the true implications of this production of the cogito by means of imagination are even more unsettling for the foundation of Descartes’ philosophy than Leyenberger’s analysis admits. Next I examined attentively what I was. It is discovered by pushing a method of imaginary. or more precisely. Imagination’s limit. For if one accepts this complication of Descartes’ narrative. therefore I am. the passage that immediately follows upon the discovery of the cogito. why its non-evidence cannot even be imagined.

if one prefers. the intricate connection of rationality and imaginary construction in the making of the modern subject. There is no reason to assume that the Discourse and the Meditations are nothing but elaborate constructs that hide their author’s knowledge about their questionable foundation. as such an end obviously justified the means. Descartes was absolutely convinced that the discovery of the cogito had led him to an unquestionable truth.71 But intuitions. Descartes had all of Montaigne’s essays at his disposal to prove that the “I” of an autobiographical text can never claim itself as the stable origin of its writing. an intuition. This opens up a possibility that had simply no place in Descartes’ field of vision. might be equally imaginary. But that does not alter the fact that Descartes’ conviction is also his blind spot. an element of imagination thus remains indelibly inscribed into the foundational first principle of Descartes’ rational philosophy. This is not to say that Descartes did not truly believe he had found the counterargument against the disturbing infinite regress with which the modern subject sees itself confronted in Montaigne’s texts. It is. To do so by means of fiction would not have seemed problematic to him. Particularly not if this “I” that thinks is the product of a story. it is now necessary to closely examine the role of imagination in the pivotal texts of Immanuel Kant. The cogito is by no means a self-evident truth of which no doubt would be possible. Through both fiction and intuition. Descartes had no doubt read Montaigne’s famous assertion that his book had written him as much as he had written it.“I. as the organ through which higher powers communicate with the human mind. but rather has to admit that in the reciprocal and openended process of autobiographical writing. Certainly. In the final analysis. the certainty of the cogito is the effect of a leap of imagination. a failure to see. are equally products of imagination.” which believes itself to do the thinking. nor is it the logical conclusion of a sequence of well-founded argumentative steps. Doubts. In order to understand how such a shift in perspective could become possible. and here we return to the terminology of the Rules. Dreams. and Evil Demons 79 . It is precisely this connection that would be embraced in the Romantic discourse about subjectivity and imagination. in which the subject is its own object. or a failure to imagine. a fable. if one believes the (Neo)Platonic tradition that is still so present in the writings of the early Descartes. the subject matter of the writing produces the writing subject just as much as vice versa.

As a consequence. remains highly unclear. the relation between reason. understanding. which a close reading of the Cartesian text brings to light. While imagination emerges in the Kantian Critiques as an indispensable conceptual tool to secure the unity of the transcendental system.Es ist nicht leicht. is even more pronounced in Immanuel Kant’s philosophical assessment of the faculty. — hartmut and gernot böhme Das Andere der Vernunft 3 The Reasonable Imagination immanuel kant’s critical philosophy T he ambivalence with regard to imagination as a power both essential to and excluded from the constitution of the cogito. Kant presents imagination at the same time as inherently deficient and secondary with regard to the “higher” intellectual faculties of understanding and reason. das transzendentale Subjekt zu sein. The intellectual faculties of reason and under- 80 . Kant’s reconceptualization of the Cartesian cogito. and imagination in the constitution of the transcendental apperception. It is not easy to be the transcendental subject.

It is. the Anthropology does indeed unlock the reasons behind the Kantian fears about imagination. a threat which ultimately reminds him that securing the rationality of his own systematic attempt to ground the subject and the philosophical endeavor on the noumenal principles of reason is fraught with considerable difficulties. is a product of the two fundamental sources of our mind. Imagination is inseparable for Kant from the threat of madness and the irrational. never by one of them alone. imagination in the limits of pure reason In the introduction to the Transcendental Logic of his Critique of Pure Reason. constitute their “spontaneous” and thus active counterpart. while concepts. make up the “receptive” and hence passive half of our cognitive apparatus. Why imagination could appear as so menacing. Kant maintains.standing appear as simultaneously dependent on and superior to transcendental imagination. All cognition (“Erkenntnis”). while it cannot be completed without the active mental capacity to apply a concept to these representations and to use them as a means to cogThe Reasonable Imagination 81 . Cognition thus depends on the ability of our mind to passively receive mental representations (“Vorstellungen. intuitions (“Anschauungen”) and concepts (“Begriffe”). Intuitions.1 Kant’s ambivalence with regard to imagination has been diagnosed by Martin Heidegger in Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics. to be the transcendental subject. however. the operating tools of the understanding (“Verstand”). a distinction that is paralleled by an underlying division of the cognitive process into a passive and an active component. The cognition of any object. can only be achieved by a combination of both of these processes. where Heidegger surmises that imagination posed a threat to the primacy of reason that proved unacceptable for Kant. not easy.” “Eindrücke”). indeed. is left unanswered. as we shall find in the following pages. which are ultimately tied to the senses. I shall argue here that Heidegger’s inability to provide such an answer is due to his dismissal of Kant’s Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View in the attempt to unravel the ambiguities of the critical system. explains Kant. This chapter will demonstrate to the contrary. when read together with the Kantian Critiques. Kant presents a seemingly unequivocal dualistic division of the cognitive faculties of the human mind. that.

from which Kant sharply distinguishes his own critical project. In their empirical form. To explain the possibility that certain representations (“Vorstellungen”). Consequently.”A transcendental cognition takes place on a meta-level where one cognizes the way a specific representation can be applied a priori. and Kant’s transcendental philosophy is thus the self-critical assessment of the possibility of thought in its pure. for which Kant uses the term “transcendental. regardless of its specific empirical content. intuitions without concepts are blind. the differentiation between intuitions and concepts is a double one that characterizes both the empirical and the pure realm of cognition. be they intuitions or concepts. He thus relegates the empirical forms of cognition and the a posteriori principles that can be derived from them on the basis of experience to the discipline of psychology. the processes of cognition pertain to a specific personal experience. devoid of any empirical content. while as pure representations they 82 The Reasonable Imagination . is the ultimate goal of Kant’s first critique. could be applicable entirely a priori. the Critique of Pure Reason needs to present the a priori conditions of any cognition. nonempirical form. Neither of these two fundamental sources of cognition has priority over the other in Kant’s rendering of the cognitive process.nize an object. and hence prior to and independent of any empirical experience. while we would have nothing to think about without the intuitions that constitute their raw material. As Kant famously ascertains: “Thoughts without contents are empty. which makes them necessarily subjective.”2 This basic division of the process of cognition intersects with the central conceptual duality that pertains to all components of cognition in the framework of Kantian philosophy. a particular sensation (“Empfindung”). intuitions and concepts contain a sensation that constitutes their content. their pure form. the distinction between the empirical and the pure. Since Kant aspires to establish the universal conditions for the possibility of experience and cognition as such. can the processes of cognition be universally applicable to any experience. Only in this. since we could not think about anything without the concepts of the understanding. Kant is not really concerned with the concrete empirical relation of cognitions to their objects—a question that will be of great interest in the Critique of Judgment —but is rather undertaking a critical analysis of the conditions of possibility of cognition as such. and hence for Kant ultimately arbitrary. In their empirical form. a self-reflexive process.

Cognition. just as much as for Aristotle and Descartes. however. The separation is essential because the process of philosophical clarification constitutes for Kant. not be understood as a mingling of the two separate functions. the unification of the two sides of the divide between receptivity and spontaneity. these two sciences thus contain the a priori rules of human cognition. which Kant nevertheless demands in the act of cognition. presents a serious problem. Kant insists. Quite the contrary. various scientific disciplines are then charged with the explanation of the different elements. cannot inutit anything. only provides the “form” that prestructures the process of intuition itself. which preclude any form of conceptual hybridity. while the philosophical system as a whole should guarantee and explain the possibility of their unity and collaboration. The understanding. for his primary intent. Kant admonishes. In their pure form. free of any connection to empirical objects. prior to any empirical experience. one has every reason to always keep them carefully separate. however. which are the epistemological desideratum. the possibility as well as necessity of which Kant aims to deduce in the first critique. Such a unification should. Within such methodological parameters. Kant argues. Pure intuition. synthetic judgments a priori. In an intricate division of labor. a process of meticulous division and differentiation. The division of Kant’s Transcendental Doctrine of Elements into a transcendental aesthetics and a transcendental logic stems from these two sources of cognition in their pure form: Kant defines aesthetics as the science of the rules guiding sensibility (“Sinnlichkeit”) in general. while the senses are unable to think. One can only understand cognition by determining and separating out its various elements. while logic constitutes the complementary science of the rules guiding the understanding in general. can thus only take place if the two capacities of our mind are united. which can then be more easily explained in isolation. For how could intuitions and concepts possibly be united without a mixing of their roles at least to some degree? Kant does not address this question in the introduction to the Transcendental Logic. Kant leaves no doubt in the introduction to the Transcendental Logic that he understands the separation of the two sources of cognition to be definitive and insurmountable. while a pure concept contains the form that enables us to apply concepts as such.provide the form for our processes of cognition. to create a clear dichotomy in the cognitive process that can then be The Reasonable Imagination 83 .

aesthetics and logic respectively. and at the very least inconvenient. Kant here suggests. which can be. he addresses the problematic relation between the two realms of cognition and delineates the process through which the elements of pure spontaneity can relate to the manifold of pure receptivity.” Synthesis. Here. which provide the pure form for the empirical judgments of the understanding. Kant needs to postulate a mental activity that is able to manipulate the passively received manifold of intuition.”3 The demand for this intermediary step problematizes the claim of the introduction to the Transcendental Logic. without which the categories would remain devoid of any cognitive content. Transcendental Syntheses The distinction between receptivity and spontaneity also operates in the nonempirical realm of a priori cognition. and modality. makes it more or less impossible. both empirical and pure. like intuitions and concepts. collects and combines the disparate elements of intuition in order to unify them 84 The Reasonable Imagination . the a priori judgments of quantity. taking up. the categories of the pure understanding. Kant calls this activity. and combined in a certain way in order for cognition to be made out of it. however. and since it is presented as the precondition for the operations of our concepts. needs to take recourse to a mediating faculty in order to explain the—now transcendental—unity of the cognitive process. and combining” could not be undertaken by the purely receptive intuition. Ultimately. Kant. “synthesis. quality. while it does not yet belong to the truly spontaneous concepts of the understanding.treated by two separate disciplines. in rather vague fashion. taken up. the a priori structures of space and time. just as much as his precursors Descartes and Aristotle. that the spontaneous part of our conceptual apparatus neccesitates the manifold of pure intuition to be already pre-structured “in a certain way”: “Only the spontaneity of our thought requires that this manifold first be gone through. relation. for it suggests that cognition is not solely produced by the application of concepts to intuitions: the process of “going through. which bridges the gap between concepts and intuitions and constitutes the precondition for any cognition. rely on the manifold presented to them by pure intuition. those could equally not be responsible for it. When Kant introduces the table of the categories in paragraph 10 of the Transcendental Logic. for which it only prepares the necessary content.

The Reasonable Imagination 85 . the mere effect of the imagination. the imagination is struck with “blindness.”6 The relationship between imagination and understanding with regard to the unity of cognition is thus a complex and precarious one in the cognitive hierarchy of the first critique. they still depend on the previous work of imagination. as we shall subsequently see. but attempts to reconcile the spontaneous activity of the cognizing subject with its necessary receptive reliance on outside sensory input—the legacy of a century of empiricist critique of the Cartesian position—imagination can regain the mediatory function it already fulfilled in Aristotle’s epistemological framework. thoroughly informs his transcendental argument throughout the Critique of Pure Reason. and Kant thus presents it as an essential function for the cognitive process. On the one hand. without which they could not operate and whose mediatory function consequently appears as more fundamental. this very connection to the realm of receptivity compromises the imagination and renders it unable to produce an actual cognition worthy of the name. “the first thing to which we have to attend if we wish to judge about the first origin of our cognition. unlike Descartes.5 Kant’s rhetoric here displays his fundamental ambivalence towards imagination. are situated on a higher level of the process of cognition. For while the pure concepts of understanding. where they employ imagination’s synthesized products in order to enable cognition proper. without which we could have no cognition at all. which. in an oft-cited passage. as “the mere effect of the imagination”: Synthesis in general is. however. but of which we are seldom even conscious. the categories.”4 At this critical point imagination makes its first appearance in the Critique of Pure Reason. since Kant. It is thus.” without which no cognition at all would be possible. Like the intuitions which it synthesizes. does not reject the validity of sense impressions. as Kant points out. imagination becomes an “indispensable function of the soul. In this capacity.” and it remains the privilege of understanding to complete the unconscious operations of imagination and to turn them into a “cognition in the proper sense. of a blind though indispensable function of the soul. for Kant now presents synthesis.in a first pre-conceptual content to which the categories are then applicable. On the other hand. as we shall see.

and secondary. “The a priori conditions of a possible expe- 86 The Reasonable Imagination . under which all experience must be subsumed. are the third thing necessary for cognition of an object that comes before us. but that they are moreover required for there to even be objects of our intuition at all.The Kantian text never quite resolves this ambiguity with regard to the hierarchy between the two faculties. that the categories are not only necessary in order for objects to be represented in our consciousness. and the ultimate unity of cognition. which imagination effects in the manifold of pure intuition. where Kant investigates the a priori structures of cognition in more detail and once again cannot avoid a close encounter with imagination. but it still does not yield cognition.e. The Transcendental Deduction and Productive Imagination It is Kant’s goal in the transcendental deduction to prove that the categories are not simply subjective conditions of our cognitive apparatus but that they have indeed objective validity. in which imagination is both essential.7 The two-fold distinction of the introduction has thus turned into a threestep process. The concepts that give this pure synthesis unity. i. While it provides the crucial connection between concepts and intuitions. Kant thus now presents the a priori structure of cognition as comprised of three necessary steps: The first thing that must be given to us a priori for the cognition of all objects is the manifold of pure intuition. more often then not its foundations can be seen to rely on imagination. the Transcendental Deduction of the Categories. the synthesis of this manifold by means of the imagination is the second thing. In his discussion of the categories. and they depend on the understanding. for even though understanding often seems priviledged on the surface level of the systematic edifice. and that consist solely in the representation of this necessary synthetic unity.. Kant negotiates this precarious relation between the two faculties by the differentiation between the synthesis. mediatory. whose production is the role of understanding. This ambiguous relationship between the two faculties equally informs the centerpiece of the Transcendental Logic. only the categories of pure understanding can secure the unity of the cognitive process and thus of consciousness.

All we can know and cognize. and herein lies the fundamental epistemological reversal entailed in the Kantian position. the unity that the object makes necessary can be nothing other than the formal unity of the consciousness in the synthesis of the manifold of the representations. there are at the same time no basic.rience in general. constitutes the “Copernican Revolution” of Kant’s transcendental philosophy. because it should be something distinct from all of our representations. If this is indeed the case. that the possibility of objects is identical with and thus dependent on the a priori conditions of our experience. is nothing for us. as a Thing-inItself (“Ding an sich”) independent of our consciousness. is for Kant ultimately the unity of our own consciousness. are objects as they appear to us in our consciousness. however.” Kant maintains in the A deduction. to which the appearances of our cognition ultimately correspond. which it demands. then the necessary unity that makes the manifold of our experience into objects for us can only be the unity that our mind itself produces: the unity of our consciousness. does indeed exist. it is a mere. the mind now truly makes its world. it must remain an empty and unknowable X. although necessary.9 The Reasonable Imagination 87 . It is clear. this object. Our mind cognizes and produces its objects by creating a unity within the manifold of experience as it appears in consciousness. While we need to presuppose that an object exterior to our consciousness. they must conform to the a priori concepts with which our consciousness operates. and the unity of sense-experience. that since we have to do only with the manifold of our representations. which would then be combined by our mind in a second cognitive step. like Locke’s elementary sensory ideas for example. The processes of our cognition are hence “always already” at work in all our encounters with external reality. and that X which corresponds to them (the object). pre-synthetic empirical elements. Within the limits of human cognition.”8 This radical claim. maintains Kant. and that objects must hence conform to the conditions of our conceptual apparatus. cannot become known to us. and Kant breaks with both the rationalist Cartesian and the empiricist tradition when he argues that while our cognition is necessarily grounded in experience. and as such. The object as a Thingin-Itself is literally “nothing” for us. presupposition. “are at the same time conditions of the possibility of the objects of experience.

the stages of which correspond to what now emerges as the three subjective sources of cognition: sense. and apperception. As “the faculty for representing an object even without its presence in intuition”—Kant’s definition of the faculty in the B deduction (B151)—imagination in its empirical form thus remains bound to the same laws that combine the sense-impressions in the manifold of experience when they are first received in intuition. and hence now also imagination. In this guise. our concepts of the objects of experience could not be united at all. All three syntheses. for through its transcendental mediation. and understanding. hence there would be no experience. which elevates imagination to an equally central role in the epistemological process. the latter being Kant’s term for the cogito as the “vehicle of all concepts” (A341. where its a priori synthesis predetermines the empirical laws of association.12 88 The Reasonable Imagination . Both extremes.10 In its empirical function. termed productive imagination. which provides the unity of our judgments in the transcendental apperception: We therefore have a pure imagination. and cause and effect determine the way it can combine the representations of sense impressions in consciousness. sensibility in the manifold of pure intuition. Kant has thus effectively reformulated the previous cognitive duality of concepts and intuitions. B399). which subtends the categories and their conceptual operations. must necessarily be connected by means of this transcendental function of the imagination. operate in the empirical as well as the a priori realm. namely sensibility and understanding. Kant asserts. contiguity. that grounds all cognition a priori. Kant thus refers to the faculty as reproductive. the synthesis of imagination is subject to the laws of association.11 Ultimately. as a fundamental faculty of the human soul. imagination. imagination establishes the necessary connection between the two extremes of cognition. and the principles of resemblance. since otherwise the former would to be sure yield apearances but no objects of an empirical cognition. Without this transcendental form of the faculty.In the A deduction Kant presents this formal unity of cognition as the product of a threefold synthesis. however. where they constitute the conditions of possibility of experience as such (A115). the faculty is of true interest for Kant’s argument only in its transcendental function. By its means we bring into combination the manifold of intuition on the one side and the condition of the necessary unity of apperception on the other.

it depends on understanding in the form of transcendental apperception in order to be elevated from the sensory to the intellectual realm. . Kant hence once again presents imagination as simultaneously essential and deficient with regard to understanding. 13 Since it remains unclear at this point how exactly the transcendental apperception can and will be “added” to the synthesis of pure imagination. Yet. although exercised a priori. No experience. and he thus presents imagination’s ability to provide the connection between the two otherwise irrevocably distinct realms of receptivity and spontaneity as equally essential for the process of cognition. For while the possibility of cognition depends on the synthesis of productive imagination. for it combines the manifold only as it appears in intuition . would be possible without it. productive imagination here achieves an even more central position in the Kantian account of the cognitive process.” it is now necessary to take a look at the Kantian version of the cogito in more detail. where the differentiation supports Kant’s philosophical argument against David Hume’s The Reasonable Imagination 89 .While the synthesis of imagination appeared as a necessary yet ultimately still insufficient intermediary step for cognition in the paragraph on the categories. For in itself the synthesis of the imagination. is nevertheless always sensible. . the tension between imagination and understanding that already characterized Kant’s earlier account continues to inform also the transcendental deduction. In order to elucidate how the unresolved codependence of the two terms continues to inform the transcendental “vehicle of all concepts. Kant also retains the hierarchical structure that clearly situates imagination on a lower level with regard to pure understanding. It is this apperception that must be added to the pure imagination in order to make its function intellectual. Saving the Cogito: The Transcendental Unity of Apperception The fundamental distinction between the empirical and the transcendental also applies to the Kantian concept of the self. remains associated with the sensory realm of pure intuition. Since imagination. even in its a priori transcendental function. asserts Kant. the ambiguous relationship of imagination and understanding ultimately affects Kant’s account of the “highest point of philosophy” itself.

is precisely that: a perspective. and if our consciousness was thus indeed completely reducible to the mechanical association of ideas in the organ of imagination. Hume. Since it demands so much cognitive attention and analytical precision to distinguish close resemblance and contiguity in the association of our ideas from the superficial impression of their seeming identity. Kant cannot concede that our most basic sense of possessing a stable personal identity that could be held responsible for its actions should be a mere illusion. indeed no stability or continuity to be found. and the cognition of a stable self that would remain continually the same throughout the empirical stream of consciousness thus remains forever elusive from an empirical point of view. Particularly for ethical reasons.14 But for Kant. he concedes in the transcendental deduction. In the temporal realm of our empirical self. it would be inconceivable for Hume’s critique of Descartes to actually have been formulated. as we encounter nothing but the constant flux of changing cognitions passing through consciousness. there is. Nothing identical could ever be thought in terms of these ephemeral sets of empirical data. we ultimately succumb to the comforting seduction of the latter position and formulate the notion of the self as a mere cover-up. Kant in fact completely agrees with Hume’s assessment of the self as a mere bundle of sense-impressions without any continuity or identity. thus dismissed the idea of the cogito as a mere fiction and ultimately as the effect of intellectual laziness. which Kant calls the empirical apperception or the inner sense. the empirical perspective on the concepts of self and identity. if Hume’s conclusions were indeed adequate. who could only accept factual empirical evidence as the basis for sound philosophical argument. as much as his empirical critique of the Cartesian concept of the self as identical substance might be justified: for how could we even conceive of the self as a mere bundle of perceptions if there was no position whatsoever in our cognitive apparatus from where to observe and judge it as such? To put it pointedly. as far as the self in its empirical form is concerned. But also from an epistemological point of view the Humean perspective has serious explanatory shortcomings.radical empiricist scepticism about the existence of a Cartesian cogito as the unifying center of consciousness. A self that was nothing but a bundle of perceptions could certainly not recognize itself 90 The Reasonable Imagination . which almost inevitably leads to the Humean conclusion. Hume claims.

Kant provides an exit from the empirical impasse by differentiating the concept of “self” and by giving it an empirical incarnation and a transcendental precondition. It is therefore absolutely necessary that in my cognition all consciousness belong to one consciousness (of myself). The Humean bundle of perceptions.15 Kant will be even more explicit in the B deduction. even the whole of logic and. and a form of consciousness able to differentiate itself from the associative process is thus ultimately necessary even if only to perceive the empirical self as a mere stream of associated impressions. a-temporal. after it. The synthetic proposition that every different empirical consciousness must be combined into a single self-consciousness is the absolutely first and synthetic principle of our thinking in general.16 The Reasonable Imagination 91 . Kant calls the nonempirical. . namely the consciousness of myself. where he equates the transcendental unity of self-consciousness with understanding itself. as original apperception. and the proposition that each different empirical form of the self must be united in this single transcendental form of consciousness. however. has a necessary relation to a transcendental consciousness (preceding all particular experience). the instable sets of data. transcendental philosophy. as the centerpoint of stability absent from the empirical realm. Just as all sensory intuitions must be relatable to an empirical consciousness in order to become intuitions for us. which cannot be understood without its transcendental counterpart. Once again. making it the “highest point” from which all transcendental philosophy needs to take its beginning: And thus the synthetic unity of apperception is the highest point to which one must affix all use of the understanding. which succeed each other in the flux of time. to which Descartes had ascribed ontological substance in the name of the cogito. constitutes for Kant only the empirical side of the self.as such. . and nonsubstantive container that enables this relation the transcendental unity of apperception. indeed this faculty is the understanding itself. must be relatable to an a priori and hence transcendental form of our self in order to become the transitory events that we judge to occur in our consciousness. argues Kant. . becomes for Kant the absolute first principle of the process of all thought and cognition: All empirical consciousness.

As the transcendental condition of self-consciousness it cannot itself become part of empirical consciousness. is that we must also exist in this transcendental capacity. since we cannot have an intuition of the self as a transcendental entity that necessarily precedes the fundamental cognitive division of concepts and intuitions: In the transcendental synthesis of the manifold of representations in general. as Kant famously puts it in the B deduction. in order to ward off any Humean criticism. Transcendental Illusions Yet in the Kantian framework. hence in the synthetic original unity of apperception. All we can become conscious of. as the first principle of our consciousness it is a necessary presupposition.17 The transcendental subject. is thus located on the boundary of our cognition. this “I think” cannot be a self-present certainty akin to the Cartesian cogito. and equally remains an empty X that cannot become known to us even as an appearance. but only that I am. We can think. is the vehicle for the categories. Kant’s transcendental version of the Cartesian cogito. while the cogito returns to its fundamental position in the philosophical system.” which. which cannot be given content in an intuition. however. “must be able to accompany all my representations” if there is to be any cognition at all for me as a cognizing subject. This representation is a thinking. It remains a mere form. and which already presuppose its existence: At the ground of this doctrine we can place nothing but the simple and in content for itself wholly empty representation I. let alone as such. nor as I am in myself.As such. on the contrary. the “I think. but not how we exist as transcendental subjects. the a priori unity of apperception. Hume’s sceptical account of the self can thus be accounted for. I am conscious of myself not as I appear to myself. Kant insists. of which one cannot even say 92 The Reasonable Imagination . From the transcendental perspective of Kantian philosophy. just as much as the transcendental object. not an intuiting. we can never grasp independently of the concepts that we use to cognize it. but never intuit it. in the circulus vitiosus of consciousness. which.

however. but has become an “opaque entity. and about which. however. For such a consciousness. Only a divine understanding whose thought could produce its own objects would be able to perceive itself in this fashion. An original perception of the transcendental subject as purely intellectual form and content would only be possible for a being capable of an “intuitus originarius” or of an “intellectual intuition.18 The cogito in its transcendental form is thus no longer self-evident as it was for Descartes. but rather a form of representation in general. which thinks.19 In the transcendental act of self-reflection. yet the transcendental self which provides the unity for this act of reflection cannot become present. and the empirical I can thus never represent the transcendental I which subtends it. They are only rules for an understanding whose The Reasonable Imagination 93 . which is recognized only through the thoughts that are its predicates. designed to explain human cognition. nothing further is represented than a transcendental subject of thoughts ϭ x. Kant insists. say. but through whose representations the objects would themselves at the same time be given. Since our concepts cannot intuit anything. then the categories would have no significance at all with regard to such a cognition. the whole explanatory framework of Kantian philosophy. or It (the thing). a divine understanding. This.” a type of cognition where concepts would produce their own content without any reliance on prior sensory data. the understanding relies on the senses to provide its content. which would not represent given objects. since we must always already avail ourselves of the representation of it at all times in order to judge anything about it. where spontaneity and receptivity always remain separate.” as Manfred Frank puts it. would be meaningless: For if I wanted to think of an understanding that itself intuited (as. is impossible for human cognition. or produced). but a mere consciousness that accompanies every concept. we cannot separate ourselves from this inconvenience. in abstraction. a content that cannot be given for the transcendental apperception. the self becomes its own object as it presents itself to itself in consciousness. He. Through this I. for of it alone can I say that through it I think anything. we can never have even the least concept. because the consciousness in itself is not even a representation distinguishing a particular object.that it is a concept. insofar as it is to be called a cognition. because of which we therefore turn in a constant circle.

. For a human understanding. which therefore cognizes nothing at all by itself. as Kant had argued earlier in the deduction of the categories. . does require. the transcendental apperception only serves as the necessary precondition of our consciousness. The relationship between the transcendental apperception and transcendental imagination is thus also inherently and irresolvably ambiguous in the Kantian text. such a synthesis. presupposes a synthesis. which must be given to it through the object. capable of an intellectual intuition. which. which is after all the subject of the first critique. As Kant presents the case at this point. and hence the work of productive imagination. But for the human understanding it is unavoidably the first principle . remains simultaneously dependent on the synthesis of imagination to enable human cognition: This synthetic unity. would not be in need of a special act of synthesis to provide it with content and to unify the manifold of sensory experience. an understanding through whose representation the objects of this representation would at the same time exist. constitutes “unavoidably the first principle”: That understanding through whose self-consciousness the manifold of intuition would at the same time be given. but only combines and orders the material for cognition. needs to be “added” to the transcendental synthesis of the manifold in order to elevate it to the status of a cognition. which the human understanding. [my emphasis]. or includes it. even though both the latter and the former should ultimately be grounded in the transcendental unity of apperception. however. Thus the transcendental unity of apperception is related to the pure synthe94 The Reasonable Imagination . . but does not intuit. . however. the intuition. i.21 In this passage. which merely thinks..e. . while situated at the highest point of the critical system.20 A divine understanding.entire capacity consists in thinking. in the action of bringing the synthesis of the manifold that is given to it in intuition from elsewhere to the unity of apperception. however. would not require a special act of synthesis of the manifold for the unity of consciousness. while it cannot provide the sole origin of our cognition. Kant thus presents the synthesis of productive imagination as the first principle of the human understanding. as the transcendental unity of apperception.

the Analytic of Principles.e. The hierarchy between understanding and imagination in the A version of the transcendental deduction thus proves to be constructed on rather unstable ground. “i. Kant explains in the opening paragraph of the chapter. no homogeneity whatsoever can exist between the pure concepts of understanding and the sensible intuitions to which they should apply. of determining whether something stands under a given rule (casus datae legis) or not. is in no way similar to the set of empirical intuitions that should be grouped under it as they are received by our sensory appaThe Reasonable Imagination 95 . Kant insists.”24 For categories and their sets of rules to structure the manifold of empirical intuition. in which Kant aims to provide a canon for the transcendental power of judgment. as Kant reminds his readers. the chapter on the schematism.sis of the imagination. the former would in some way have to be “like” the latter. however. the cognitive faculty reponsible for “subsuming” under rules. Since the abstract concept “tree. by the expression “an object is contained under a concept.” for example. an ambiguous instability that remains unresolved throughout the first critique and that will again become particularly palpable in another section of the Kantian text that has long attracted the—often baffled—attention of Kant’s readers. as finite and temporal beings. could not complete the act of cognition. This conception of cognition poses a considerable problem. Providing Images for Concepts: The Kantian Schema The chapter on the schematism opens the second book of the Transcendental Analytic. since. In order for any object (“Gegenstand”) to be subsumable under a concept. a similarity that is precisely what is meant. and it hence opens up the vexing question of how the a priori categories can actually structure our empirical sensibility. as an a priori condition of the possibility of all composition of the manifold in cognition. its representation must be homogeneous (“gleichartig”) with that of the concept.. in other words.22 Productive imagination can thus provide what the transcendental unity of apperception pointedly cannot: the essential connection between receptivity and spontaneity without which humans.”23 In the specific context of the Critique of Pure Reason this task implies the ability to apply the transcendental rules entailed in the concepts of understanding to empirical intuitions.

25 In equally familiar fashion. describes the procedure [“Verfahren”] through which understanding uses the schemata). similar to both concepts on the one hand and intuitions on the other.” conceived as simultaneously pure. Kant’s subsequent explication of the concrete workings of the schema evinces a highly ambiguous relation between understanding and imagination.” Kant states more explicitly at the end of the chapter. temporality being the only common property that pertains to both the manifold of the inner sense. The schema. intellectual.” so that imagination emerges in yet another role as the faculty essential to both the functioning and the unity of human cognition. and to any empirical representation of that manifold. as it were.”26 By proceeding in time. and touched is indeed a “tree” and not any of the other conceptual entities by means of which we segment.” Kant explains. a “mediating representation. divide. Kant is hence again in need of a third term. and sensible. heard.27 On the one hand. there would hence be no conceivable way within the logical framework of “subsumption” to connect one to the other and to determine that what is seen. order. which he calls the transcendental schema. and describe our real and imagined worlds. In this doubleness. understanding can thus “use” schemata to bring intuitions under concepts—to grasp and 96 The Reasonable Imagination . and it does so in both empirical and transcendental form. a priori. It should by now no longer come as a surprise that Kant informs his readers soon afterwards that the schema is “in itself at all times only a product of imagination. for only a “transcendental time-determination” (“transzendentale Zeitbestimmung”) could enable the application of categories to intuitions. Kant tells us at the outset. for which it is the formal. the formal boundaries of empirical reality. as the schema is simultaneously depicted as a tool employed by understanding and as the foundation on which concepts necessarily depend.ratus. condition. “are therefore nothing but a priori time-determinations in accordance with rules. and a pure condition of sensibility that restricts (“restringiert”) the way a concept of understanding can be used. the schema can mediate between concepts and intuitions. the schema is both a means employed by understanding to implement its conceptual rules (the term “schematism. and as such it limits the possible use of concepts. “The schemata. In its transcendental form. is first and foremost a temporal affair. a hybrid cognitive principle. To solve his predicament. which must again of necessity be temporal. smelled. the schema delineates.

they would remain “blind”: “Thus the schemata of the concepts of pure understanding are the true and sole conditions for providing them with a relation to objects. also present an authority to which the concepts of understanding remain bound: the preconceptual manifold of intuition cannot be turned into just anything by the unrestricted application of concepts. both on the empirical and the transcendental level. which objects they are to be connected to. Kant surmises. “a hidden art in the depths of the human soul. is not the decision of understanding but is rather determined by the schemata. Without the schematism. and what concepts mean. in a well-known formulation. or a human being—a process in which imagination as the productive source of the schemata is a merely instrumental faculty. Firstly. but also operate in (conceptual) space. will in all probability remain a mystery. a representation of “a general procedure of imagination for providing a concept with its image.concretize a nebulous “this” or “that” in intuition as a tree. when he calls the schematism. In this capacity. thus with significance (Bedeutung).” while in its transcendental incarnation it “signifies a rule of the synthesis of imagination with regard to pure shapes in space. the image that allows for the connection of concepts and intuitions is a direct The Reasonable Imagination 97 . But on the other hand. as Kant puts it.” while he deems it unlikely that “we will ever divine its true operations from nature and lay them unveiled in front of our eyes. Kant points out a few pages later. the condition of possibility of images as such. Kant insists. on the empirical level. the schema needs to be clearly distinguished from a (mental) image (“Bild”).29 In its empirical form it is. the concepts of pure understanding would lack all meaning and significance. and hence imagination. in its transcendental function. Operating on the same level in the cognitive process as the syntheses of reproductive and productive imagination. so that the tri-partite structure of cognition that had emerged in paragraph 10 of the transcendental analytics and the discussion of the categories themselves now returns— mutatis mutandis —in the chapter on the schematism. a house.”30 How exactly the schematism does its work. respectively.”28 The ambiguity of the relationship between concepts and schemata only increases when Kant discusses the way in which the schemata not only proceed in time.”31 What can be said about the schematism according to Kant is that it must operate at three different levels of cognition. the schema both produces images as it operates empirically and constitutes. the schemata.

Secondly. on the transcendental level. In his discussion of the distinction between schemata and images. In an essay from 1914. pure syntheses that determine the inner sense in general and that thus effect all representations. Martin Heidegger’s reading of the Kantian text. Kant even goes so far as to assert that the schemata “ground (‘zum Grunde liegen’) our pure sensible concepts. nominally subordinated in the hierarchy of mental faculties. to resolve the ambiguities and contradictions of the Kantian text.”33 On all these levels of the cognitive process. Ernst Robert Curtius “took offense” to such seemingly un-Kantian assertions and attempted. In order to better understand the reasons for this tension. the ambiguities the text presents with regard to the relationship between schemata and concepts and understanding and imagination are not so much the mere effect of argumentative sloppiness.”34 Yet while Curtius was certainly right in pointing out that Kant’s argument is often inconsistent.product of imagination in its reproductive capacity. it is now time to take a closer look at another exercise in hermeneutics. Curtius seeks to rectify the Kantian “letter” by eliminating what could only appear as logical mistakes and slips of the tongue. and imagination. but are rather symptomatic of a tension at the heart of the Kantian project that cannot be argued or explained away. since Heidegger was after all the first to lay his hermeneutical finger on the metaphys98 The Reasonable Imagination . from specific perceptual judgments to the transcendental unity of apperception. not quite visible for Curtius in 1914. Throughout his essay.32 And thirdly and most fundamentally. is once again also presented as the fundamental precondition for the meaningful functioning of our conceptual apparatus. transcendental imagination also produces the schemata of pure concepts of the understanding.” a formulation that explicitly makes the procedures of imagination more fundamental than those of understanding. from the empirical to the pure. “insofar as these are to be connected together a priori in one concept in accord with the unity of apperception. through a meticulous philosophical and philological analysis. “the schema of sensible concepts (such as figures in space) is a product and as it were a monogram of pure a priori imagination” and is thus reponsible for the conditions under which alone images can become possible. in order to make the text reflect more accurately the Kantian “spirit. the work of concepts is thus dependent on the procedures of schemata. and his use of his own vocabulary at times vexingly lax.

Kant’s first critique.ical problem of transcendental imagination for the Critique of Pure Reason. The Abyss of Imagination: Heidegger’s Reading of Kant For Martin Heidegger. Heidegger thus reformulates the Copernican turn enacted in Kant’s text as the recognition that to lay out a critical foundation of metaphysics can only mean to question “the intrinsic possibility of ontology.” and he “repeats” Kant’s distinction between the transcendent and the transcendental as the difference between the ontic and the ontological. Heidegger insists. Heidegger’s interpretation of Kant can thus very well be read as the first book of the abandoned second part of Being and Time. In a short paragraph. Heidegger has no qualms about admitting that such a reading necessarily involves a moment of interpretative violence: It is true that in order to wrest from what the words say that which they want to say. which could summarize several decades of heated debate between hermeneuts and deconstructionists.35 Heidegger explicitly conceives of Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics as a “Wiederholung” (repetition) of the Kantian project. every interpretation must necessarily use violence. namely to entrust oneself to The Reasonable Imagination 99 . transcendental philosophy “truly” means to problematize the possibility of ontology. but to bring to light what Kant truly meant to say (“was Kant hat sagen wollen”). the fundamental goal of Heidegger’s exegesis of Kant is not to restate what Kant explicitly presents in his text (“was Kant ausdrücklich gesagt hat”). a search for the guiding principle of the text—insufficiently articulated by the author himself—that constitutes for Heidegger the ultimate task of any act of philosophical hermeneutics (“Auslegung”).’” but must rather be treated as an ontology. For Heidegger.36 In the mode of repetition. The power of an illuminating idea has to animate and guide the exegesis. As Slavoj Z ˇ ek has rightfully remarked. which ˇ iz is designed to reveal the latter’s ontological essence. however. cannot be completely arbitrary. Only through the power of this idea can an interpretation dare what is always hubristic. Such violence. the temporal constitution of the human cognitive apparatus in its specific finitude (“Endlichkeit”) and its relation to Being as its metaphysical ground constitutes the true subject of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. “has nothing to do with a ‘theory of knowledge.

the inner passion of a work, and to be placed through it in the realm of the unspoken (‘das Ungesagte’) and to be forced to speak it. But this is a path in which, in its power of illumination, the guiding idea itself is brought to light. (3:202; translation mine.)

Kant’s text, in other words, does not turn all that easily into a vehicle for Heidegger’s philosophical convictions, yet ultimately cannot resist their interpretative force. The hermeneutical fusion of horizons, to use Gadamer’s term, which relies on Heidegger’s belief that author, text, and reader all work together to bring an unspoken underlying idea to ever clearer expression, is thus always a unidirectional assertion of power. The interpreter ultimately knows best what the author’s words were “really” designed to say, and it is he who can force the text to reveal a hidden “inner passion” that remains invisible on its rhetorical surface. My aside here is more, however, then a digression on the potential violence of hermeneutic readings, for the interpretative force that comes to light in this passage is directly connected to a violence inherent in the philosophical discussion about imagination as it dates back to Plato’s Timaeus. The inspiration afforded by imagination, it will be recalled, can only become known in the words of the interpreters, the prophetai, who must “translate,” and ultimately construct, what the ecstatic medium meant to communicate. Heidegger’s violent hermeneutical moment thus lies at the basis of the construction of meaning, where the rational and the irrational, the communicable and the incommunicable intersect, an intersection that will not coincidentally become of central importance for Kant’s third critique. Apart from these general implications, Heidegger’s distinction between the surface meaning and the “hidden passion” of a text also reveals the roots of his thought in the hermeneutical tradition of German Idealism and Early German Romanticism. No matter how strong Heidegger’s polemics against the “seinsvergessen” idealist readings of Kant might be, Fichte and his successors, as we shall see in the next chapter, were equally convinced that to read a text philosophically meant to distinguish between its letter (“Buchstabe”) and its spirit (“Geist”). This connection shows first and foremost that to discover the “inner passion” of the Kantian text is not as straightforward a process as Heidegger would lead us to believe. In his “repetition” of the Kantian project, Heidegger, much like Kant, excludes the possibility of a direct access to transcendent principles as
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the basis of metaphysics, and thus rules out the possibility of ontic knowledge—direct access to Being—for the finite human intellect, whose essence is always informed by its temporality. Being, while it cannot be directly experienced, can, however, “make itself known,” as it were, as the resistance (“das Dawider”) that our cognitive faculties encounter in the ontological horizon opened up by the transcendental trinity of pure intuition, pure imagination, and pure apperception. Heidegger, however, unlike Kant, is unequivocal about making transcendental imagination the “unifying and originally productive middle” (“einigende Mitte,” “ursprünglich bildende Mitte”) of this tripartite “horizon of Being” (“Seinshorizont”) and hence the “common root” (“gemeinsame Wurzel”) of pure receptivity and pure spontaneity. For Heidegger, the pure synthesis of imagination is precisely the middle ground that connects sensibility and understanding, and which alone can guarantee the unity of man’s transcendental nature.37 As such, transcendental imagination becomes the source or “root,” from which the horizon of Being ultimately originates. In Heidegger’s reading of Kant its synthesis produces the transcendental object—or the transcendental subject for that matter, since both complement each other in a nonhierarchical relationship in Kant’s account of cognition—the unknowable and necessarily empty X, which ultimately grounds our concepts and intuitions, even while it cannot become an object of consciousness. This liminal subject-object, for Heidegger a product of the imagination, constitutes the thematically “empty” horizon in which Being can make its “offer” (“Angebot”), and where the realm of the ontic becomes “audible” (“vernehmbar”). This passive onto-theological relation to Being, which can be revealed but never grasped, constitutes for Heidegger the defining core (“Wesen”) of human existence, which is hence fundamentally characterized by a receiving state (“Hinnehmen”) with regard to Being, which offers itself in a moment of grace (“Sichgebendes”). Even pure thought itself, technically pure spontaneity in its transcendental capacity of applying concepts to intuitions, is thus always marked by receptivity, and necessarily bears the characteristics of intuition with regard to Being.38 Pure understanding, or pure apperception, hence is pure intuition in relation to Being, and the “highest point of philosophy” thus needs to be described as a receptive spontaneity.39 For Heidegger there can hence be no doubt that the pure apperception has the “ground of its possibility” in transcendental imagination, the faculty
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of synthesis, which alone is always both receptive and spontaneous. As spontaneous receptivity, the transcendental apperception must originate in transcendental imagination. Transcendental imagination, as the receptive spontaneity that produces the ontological horizon of possibilities within which alone our intuitions and concepts can become real, and in which the self must think and act, hence opens up the essential relation between human existence and Being. Heidegger can thus claim that the whole architectonics of human reason, and hence the possibility of a philosophical system as such, both theoretical and practical, has its source in pure imagination. Kant, Heidegger asserts famously, must have discovered this originary ontological role of imagination as constitutive of the nature of man (“die Wesensverfassung des Menschen”) while working on the Critique of Pure Reason. Fundamentally unsettled by what he saw when coming face to face with this “unknown root” of cognition, Heidegger claims, Kant recoiled from his own discovery and consequently significantly reduced the role of imagination in the second edition of the Critique of Pure Reason, where the imagination functions no longer as an autonomous source of cognition but is presented as a mere mode of the understanding. Yet, what could have been so unsettling for Kant about this “discovery,” and what would have been at the origin of the fear Heidegger diagnoses in his repetition of the Kantian argument? What, one might ask, is so menacing about imagination? Ultimately, Heidegger claims, nothing less is at stake in the Kantian shift from the A to the B deduction than the primacy of reason itself. Once Kant realized where the implications of his analysis in the A deduction would lead him, Heidegger maintains, he decidedly opted for pure understanding and against pure imagination in the B deduction, since to admit to the foundational status of the latter would have severely threatened the position of pure reason as the highest faculty in the hierarchy of cognitive powers. Heidegger presents two reasons for Kant’s decision. On the one hand, he argues, Kant remained strongly influenced by the traditional accounts of imagination in the discourses of anthropology and psychology, which presented the faculty as one of the lower cognitive powers due to its intimate connection to the senses. The realization that this lowly faculty should be the true subject of the Critique of Pure Reason would have done nothing less than turn the existing philosophical hierarchies upside102 The Reasonable Imagination

down. It would have insinuated a primacy of the sensory over the rational faculties of the human mind, and would thus have called into question the whole tradition of Western metaphysics with its clear focus on the superiority of reason and the logos. Kant, in other words, even though his Copernican revolution in metaphysics brought him to the brink of this ontological abyss, was not daring enough to call for the radical reversal in philosophical thought that Heidegger himself felt he was accomplishing by drawing attention to the secondary status of human rationality in relation to Being. On the other hand, Heidegger stipulates that Kant was drawn to an even stronger preference for reason when he employed the transcendental framework he had developed in the Critique of Pure Reason in order to establish the a priori basis for moral philosophy in the second critique. For here reason in its practical form now emerged as the central and truly spontaneous capacity of free moral agents. In order to preserve the possibility of a pure morality, untainted by the actual empirical decisions of human beings, it was now, Heidegger claims, even less possible for Kant to acknowledge the foundational role of imagination, which would have meant to bring a faculty intrinsically connected to the empirical embodiment of human existence into more than dangerous proximity to the law-giving position of pure reason and the categorical imperative. Heidegger, however, has no doubts that even practical reason can only have its origin in transcendental imagination. This conclusion is inevitable in Heidegger’s reading of Kant’s account of practical philosophy, since the subject of the second critique is both spontaneous and receptive with regard to the moral law. While the subject is spontaneous in so far as it freely gives itself the law to which it agrees to adhere, the law itself cannot be written by the subject—as a noumenal rule, it can only be passively received. The act that constitutes the self as a moral persona, its respect (“Achtung”) with regard to the law, is thus an act in which the empirical self freely submits to a jurisdiction it receives in its intellectual form. The subject’s relation to the law is hence equally marked by a simultaneity of pure receptivity and pure spontaneity, both of which, if they are to be unified, can only originate from pure imagination, as the sole transcendental faculty capable of both receptivity and spontaneity. In Heidegger’s view, Kant, unable to allow for such a fundamental threat to the rule of reason, thus immediately recoiled from his glimpse at the true nature of the imagination as the origin of subjectivThe Reasonable Imagination 103

ity and tried to cover up his discovery in the revisions he made for the second edition of the Critique of Pure Reason. It is quite clear, however, that Kant could not have recoiled from the insight that the transcendental subject is marked by both spontaneity and receptivity, for Kant himself strongly insists, both in the first and the second critique, that the realm of the noumenal, while its existence needs to be presupposed in order to give a complete and noncontradictory account of human existence and the possibility of moral action, nevertheless and necessarily remains utterly inaccessible to a human subject confined to the transcendental limits of cognition. Freedom ultimately would not exist if the subject did have immediate access to the realm of the moral law, for it would have no choice but to act in accordance with a directly present noumenal jurisdiction. Kant makes very clear that freedom can only be defined negatively, as the capacity not to be determined by the laws of nature, our physical desires, and the empirical laws of cause and effect. The possibility to act against nature’s empirical laws is the only and merely indirect proof we can have of the existence of freedom and the moral law, ideas of reason, which can by definition never be demonstrated positively in the realm of the empirical. At the same time, freedom for Kant does explicitly not lie in our ability to opt for or against the moral law once we accept the possibility of its existence. The authority of practical reason and the categorical imperative is absolute, and they leave no room for a choice. To opt against them is for Kant not a capacity but rather an incapacity, and freedom thus only exists in the peculiar predicament of human existence, which enables us to choose to submit to a law that we can never verify and to reject another whose empirical effects are undeniably present. The human “Wesensverfassung,” from which Heidegger sees Kant recoil, is thus in the last consequence, the ontological framework aside, no different from the central predicament of Kant’s critical edifice, where the possibility of freedom, or transcendental spontaneity, can only be located within the abyssal moment of irresolvable uncertainty where receptivity and spontaneity are paradoxically united. Heidegger’s account draws close attention to a central question in the Kantian text, but it ultimately does not give a convincing explanantion for the anxiety provoked by the transcendental encounter with imagination.

104 The Reasonable Imagination

Radical Freedom
ˇ iz Heidegger is unable to do so, Slavoj Z ˇek suggests intriguingly in the first chapter of The Ticklish Subject, which presents his reading of Heidegger’s interpretation of Kant, because Heidegger, as much as Kant before him, recoils from the true abyss opened up by the imagination, the abyss of a radical freedom unconstrained by either the law of reason ˇ iz or the call of Being. The failure of Heidegger’s reading of Kant, Z ˇek contends, lies in his repetition of Kant’s account of transcendental imagination as a faculty of synthesis, which can be used to produce unity in the cognitive process and the philosophical system, be it transcendental or ontological. By following Kant in this fundamental decision, Heidegˇ iz ger, Z ˇek maintains, essentially blinds himself to a different conception of imagination, which could explain the philosophical fears connected ˇ iz to the faculty. This alternative account of imagination, which Z ˇek derives from an interpretation of selected passages from Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit and the Jenaer Realphilosophie, locates the essential quality of the faculty not in its unifying, but in its disruptive power, which enables the uncontrolled and ultimately uncontrollable separation and recombination of preexisting unities. Kant, for whom the work of cognition is a process of organizing and of producing unity within the ˇ iz given manifold of intuition, Z ˇek explains, fails to account for this destructive element in the cognitive process and thus “neglects . . . the fact that the primordial form of imagination is the exact opposite of this synthetic activity: imagination enables us to tear the texture of reality apart, to treat as effectively existing something that is merely a component of a living Whole.”40 In this explosive capacity of separation, diametrically opposed to the ˇ iz unifying power ascribed to it, imagination, Z ˇek contends, reveals the potential for a radical and violent freedom that informs the core of the self, but which neither Kant nor Heidegger are willing or able to accept as part of their account of subjectivity. The true threat, accordˇ iz ing to Z ˇek, for both Kant’s and Heidegger’s philosophical account of the self, thus lies in the encounter with a moment of unrestrained freeˇ iz dom, “the arbitrary freedom,” in the words of Hegel, quoted by Z ˇek from the Jenaer Realphilosophie, “to tear up the images and to reconnect them without any constraint,” a moment both of disobedience to

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who. a suggestion that the latter. which could ˇ iz diminish the interpretative power of his approach. lies the true abyss of imagination. ˇ iz Yet while Z ˇek’s suggestion is extremely convincing. and the ontological recluse of the Black Forest. one synthesizing and one disruptive. one might question the validity of an argument that bases its interpretation of Kant’s— and concomitantly Heidegger’s—treatment of imagination on an account of the faculty derived from a reading of Hegel. and Z ˇek’s contentions thus seem to project a non-Kantian conceptual framework on the Kantian text. this alternative route leads back to a suggestion of Heidegger’s. and thus to trace Kant’s fear of the imagination to the latter’s own Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View.the moral law and of unheedfulness to the absolute primacy of Being. yet he decides not to explore the implications of this connection. the account 106 The Reasonable Imagination . who was soon to join the party of National Socialism. which unsettled both the transcendental sage of Königsberg. Does Z ˇek’s juxtaposition of two different concepts of imagination. simply constitute a different kind of interpretative violence to the Kantian text than the one executed by Heidegger.41 ˇ iz Here.and non-critical texts to open up the unspoken connections in the critical system. Heidegger clearly rejects the possibility that Kant’s account of the imagination in Anthropology might be of any importance for an interpretation of the Kantian critiques. faced with the quandary of legitimizing Prussia’s enlightened absolutism. For Heidegger is certainly correct when he contends that Kant’s account of imagination is strongly influenced by the negative view of the faculty passed on to him by the discourses of anthropology and psychology. Z ˇek’s reading can indeed be strengthened and vindicated if one embarks on an alternative route. Since the object of Anthropology is not imagination in its transcendental form. Quite to the contrary. in their study The Other of Reason. much in the way he attributes to Kant’s discovery of imagination. there are no direct traces of a disruptive conception of imagination to be found in the ˇ iz Critique of Pure Reason. opens up yet instantly forecloses in Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics. but a moment of violence nevertheless? While the question is difficult to ˇ iz answer if one remains within the limits of Kant’s critical texts. in the ultimately political notion of a radical and revolutionary freedom. After all. Heidegger insists. Z ˇek argues. Ironically. thoroughly demonstrate the power of Kant’s pre. which follows the example of Hartmut and Gernot Böhme.

however. If. while a look at Anthropology would be based on a misconception and could not bring any new insights about imagination as the foundation of ontology. unlike Heidegger. when old age forced him to discontinue the lecturing. Anthropology. Stepping outside the transcendental framework of the three critiques can then bring Kant’s apprehensions with regard to imagination into much sharper focus. which threatens the laws of rational control. were the most popular of Kant’s lecture series and the last one he still routinely gave at the University of Königsberg. in its empirical context. for it is Anthropology in which Kant directly discusses the dangers of an uncontrolled and unruly imagination. one approaches the question of imagination in the Kantian texts not from a transcendental or ontological point of view. takes up topics from all three of Kant’s critiques and thus allows for a crossreading with the critical texts that can illuminate the “worldly” underpinnings of Kant’s transcendental idealism. then Anthropology in fact offers an abundance of material that can help to get a better understanding of the anxiety about imagination that informs the Kantian critiques.42 Due to this fact. Kant did not publish his lecture material in book form until 1798. Heidegger’s dismissal of Anthropology. an empirical discussion of human nature. Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View thus reflects close to three decades of Kant’s occupation with the subject. as Hartmut and Gernot Böhme have so meticulously done for Kant’s work as a whole. dreamers and madmen: imagination in A N T H RO P O L O G Y The lectures on anthropology. With both Hartmut and Gernot Böhme’s ˇ iz approach and Slavoj Z ˇek’s account of imagination as radical freedom in mind. we can now take a closer look at Kant’s discussion of the faculty in his Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View. which Kant first offered in the Winter semester of 1772. which he pursued side by side with the transcendental investigations of his critical philosophy. but discusses it from a discourse-theoretical perspective. The epithet “pragmatic” in Anthropology’s title is akin to Kant’s use of the term “practical philosophy” for the discipline of ethics and refers The Reasonable Imagination 107 . is indicative of preˇ iz cisely the blind spot Z ˇek diagnoses.Kant gives in the Critique of Pure Reason must necessarily be more fundamental.

to the basic distinction between the realm of nature and the realm of freedom in the philosophical evaluation of human activity. Kant.” which Kant begins by succinctly summing up the accusations traditionally levelled against the senses: 108 The Reasonable Imagination . not as they are influenced by nature. where he presents a metaphorically much more explicit description of the relation between the two cognitive realms. as a systematic account of our empirical knowledge of man. as Kant puts it.” and it thus provides an account of the human being in so far as it is the passive product of its biological functions.43 Kant’s main philosophical interest. Kant takes up this discussion. unlike Descartes in the Meditations. the relationship between the understanding and sensibility. or can and should make of himself. can either be physiological or pragmatic. Sections 8 through 11 of book I of Anthropology thus present an “Apology for Sensibility. An anthropology. but as far as they pertain to the realm of freedom. will not discard sensibility as detrimental to human knowledge. Kant explains in the introduction to his book. already reflects this basic dichotomy of nature and freedom in the Kantian discussion of our make-up as human beings. “what he [man] as a free-acting being makes of himself. lies in the human capacities. Kant first needs to defend the senses against the suspicions of seventeenth-century scepticism that had so strongly informed Descartes’ position. The Rule of Understanding In the empirical approach of Anthropology. however. the active and the passive elements of cognition. It investigates. once again in the first book of Anthropology. which structures the architectonic of the first critique. In order to secure the empiricist basis of his discussion. A physiological anthropology aims to investigate “what nature makes of the human being. A close look at Kant’s use of language in Anthropology can provide a view of the hierarchical struggle between the two poles of cognition.”44 On the most fundamental level. and which brings Kant’s text much closer to ˇ iz Z ˇek’s reading. His pragmatic anthropology hence focuses on our empirical knowledge of human beings as potentially free agents. just as in the transcendental analysis of the Critique of Pure Reason. uninfluenced by nature in their actions and decisions. which equally informs the more abstract discussion in the Critique of Pure Reason.

while its proper place is that of a maid to the understanding. Human perfection for Kant can only be reached through a complete control over one’s mental faculties. Many evil things are said about it: e. even though indispensable.45 Robert B. and unreliable empress or mistress that is hard to subdue and control. The cognitive process will only come into disarray if our rational faculties do not sufficiently exert their control and if we thus do not surmount and actively shape the passive input of the senses on which we remain necessarily dependent. when it should be merely the servant of understanding. and that we cannot be sufficiently on guard where it is concerned. Kant maintains. the Kantian text never discards the misogynous rhetorical framework of subordination and domination in order to describe the proper relation between male understanding and female imagination. which only passively present the sensory data to understanding. only figure as the providers of raw material The Reasonable Imagination 109 . cannot be blamed for the mistakes our rational faculties might make in the active combination of the sensory manifold. 3) that it even deceives us. And even though Kant will continue by defending sensibility against the charges brought against it. sensibility is presented as a stubborn. Sensibility. 2) that it monopolizes conversation and is like an autocrat. Louden’s English translation of the passage cannot render the explicitly gendered personification of sensibility that Kant utilizes. Kant here reenacts the gendering of the epistemological process that had already marked Descartes’ and Pascal’s discourse on the relation of reason to the senses and imagination. they offer themselves to understanding merely to be at its disposal. and the senses. Entirely passive. is ultimately much less influential than the sceptical position makes it out to be. it could never possibly rule over understanding and is always already reduced to the role of a docile servant. Rather. is in bad repute. unruly. over which understanding can dispose as it sees fit: The senses do not have command over understanding. on the other hand. 1) that it confuses the power of representation.Sensibility.. Kant follows an Aristotelian perspective and argues that the senses.g. In the German text.46 In his defense of sensibility. which I have given in the footnote. stubborn and hard to restrain.47 Cognitive problems thus for Kant do not stem from any active deception on the part of sensibility but rather from its very passivity.

whose authority remains unchallenged.” to rephrase Kant’s dictum from the first critique. as Kant combines the two main metaphorical networks that inform his description of the relation between the senses and understanding. which we after all cannot get rid of. “A ruler’s power. is actually the source of all the evil said about it. the legislating judge. The inner perfection of the human being consists in having in his power the use of all his faculties. To give the people the chance to be heard in court. He presents the act of forming judgments as taking place in a cognitive “court.” Kant complements this metaphor of a political and social hierarchy with a second analogy derived from the juridicial realm. because it does not think). For this it is required that understanding should rule without weakening sensibility (which in itself is like a mob. without which his power would be meaningless. for without sensibility there would be no material that could be processed for the use of legislative understanding. but still want to be heard. who. are like the common people.”49 110 The Reasonable Imagination .” where the senses may present evidence and maybe even plead a case. Kant explains. The first of these metaphors is the relation between a ruler and his people. The voice given to the senses in this court remains merely nominal. .48 This passage clearly brings to light the political dimension implicit in Kant’s account of the cognitive process. in order to subject them to his free choice. while the people without a ruler remain blind. Kant can place the codependence of understanding and sensibility within a clear hierarchy: while the ruler remains dependent on the existence of a people. Necessary but intellectually inconsequential. if they are not a mob [Pöbel] (ignobile vulgus). . the lower and unreflective part of human nature can be redeemed as long as understanding adequately asserts its dominance in the hierarchy of cognitive powers: The passive element in sensibility. this specific form of dependence never actually threatens his authority. “without a people is empty. gladly submit to their superior understanding. is simply a means to reward them for their willingness to accept a state of subjugation: “The senses .in this context. for it does not achieve any true power. In employing this metaphor. but where the verdict is always spoken by understanding and ultimately by reason. which presents the senses as an unthinking mob that needs to be controlled for their own benefit by the rule of understanding.

decrees.The senses are thus only admitted to the court of reason and understanding under the condition of their prior domestication.50 While imagination. where Kant will now distinguish between two quite different incarnations of the faculty. Kant now introduces a further differentiation. so that it lies outside the sphere of influence of reason and the understanding: “The power of imagination.”51 The dangerous potential of imagination. He who succumbs passively to their uncontrolled flux and takes them to be actual representations of empirical reality becomes a “Phantast. stands in relation to our rational faculties and can thus be controlled by our volition (“Willkür”). In addition to the already familiar distinction of the faculty into a productive. and judgments declared by the rational faculties. For how will it account for the “mob” who. which ensures that they will submit willingly to the rules. thus finds expression in the unruly images generated by fantasy. a posteriori form. a priori and a reproductive. does not as happily accept the subordinate position appointed to it? How can their relationship to the authorities be construed.” a fantacist. But the passage just quoted also alludes to an underlying threat that accompanies this framework. the form of the faculty that Kant calls fantasy produces its mental images involuntarily. and loses all ability to distinguish The Reasonable Imagination 111 . both in its productive and its reproductive form. Einbildungskraft and Phantasie Kant turns to a discussion of imagination in section 28 of Anthropology. is called fantasy. Kant also preempts the possible— legal and political—conflict between sensibility and understanding by limiting the discussion to a framework that is already brought under rational control.” an unruly element of sensual danger thus remains hidden in the margins. In much the same way that Descartes made the unruly imagination suitable for philosophical discourse. bracketed out in its productive and reproductive form. since they obviously may not be admitted to a hearing at the court? Even in Kant’s “Apology of Sensibility. which ultimately surfaces in Anthropology’s discussion of imagination. an element of mistrust and fear of the radical and arbitrary freedom discussed ˇ iz by Z ˇek. that between “Einbildungskraft” (imagination) and “Phantasie” (fantasy). in so far as it also produces images involuntarily. one must assume.

where fantasy plays 112 The Reasonable Imagination .” according to Kant. which. The former inventions could still find their place in a possible world (the world of fable). while normal and healthy during sleep. even in their imaginary exuberance. give proof of the artist’s active control. present an offense for which even fiction is no excuse. in which imagination plays with the waking mind. but ruleless imagination approaches madness. he is controlled by them as he loses his ability to evaluate their truth status. Such mere passivity in relation to the images of fantasy. when it occurs during the waking state. indicates a “diseased condition. In their worst form. . ultimately carries the threat of insanity. while a disturbance in the world of “regular” human interaction. those will lead to a perversion of the rational laws of the mind: The offenses (vitia) of the power of imagination are that its inventions are either merely unbridled or entirely ruleless (effrenis aut perversa). because they are self-contradictory. for the “Phantast” takes a merely passive reception of images as his own active production of experiences and has thus become the deluded plaything of his own imagination. which instantiate the logical crime of self-contradiction. in another juridicial as well as moral metaphor. the offenses (“Vergehungen”) of imagination. They border on madness and might lead the individual to a complete loss of control over imagination’s representations. Rather then controlling the representations produced by the faculty and putting them to rational use. .”52 The problematic passivity of sensibility is thus heightened and intensified by the dangers presented by fantasy.54 The “unbridled” imagination. and constant vigilance is necessary to guard the mind against what Kant calls. however. The perversions of the “ruleless” imagination. The latter fault is the worst kind. It is luxuriant because of its richness. can still be safely confined to the possible worlds of art and poetry. where its images make up our dreams.53 This pathological condition. “He who is accustomed to regarding these images [the involuntary representations of fantasy] as (inner or outer) experiences is a fantacist. but ruleless inventions have no place in any world at all. Unbridled fantasy can always be humbled .between truth and illusion.

Sympathy is itself an effect of imagination and triggers an uncontrollable mimetic imitation of the observed behavior. but when we are asleep each has his own world. imagination poses the ultimate threat for the rational mind: its descent into madness. The contagiousness of this frenzy once again reveals the political and social dimension of Kant’s discussion of the faculty: if the excesses of ruleless imagination spread to form an unruly mob. the offenses of lawless imagination will not remain confined to the mind of the offender.55 This capacity of imagination is particularly problematic because it is potentially contagious. unwilling to submit to the laws of reason. its crimes are contagious. Kant will not let this form of madness. as the associations it creates remain completely The Reasonable Imagination 113 . Waking Dreams Unlike Descartes. and people with nervous problems and a particularly excitable imagination should avoid a visit to the lunatic asylum.completely with the human being and the unfortunate victim has no control at all over the course of his representations. reality must comply with rules that are verifiable intersubjectively by means of rational communication. invade rational discourse. The danger of madness always also connotes the political insanity of revolution. will induce similar convulsions in the observer: a soldier in a violent frenzy (“Raserei”) will draw bystanders into the same state.56 Once unleashed. To observe convulsions or epileptic seizures in another. Madness. can spread from one person to another by means of sympathy. The criterion for clearly distinguishing dream from reality is for Kant not subject to doubt: while dreams constitute a private world that ultimately cannot be shared. and the Anthropology thus reveals the potential “dark side” of the faculty that is so central to the cognitive process in its synthetic form. whose images are not bound to any objective correlative. If uncontrolled by the laws of understanding. the very fabric of the body politic is at stake. as a dangerous confusion of the waking and the dreaming state. Kant shows. for they might easily lose their mind as a price for their curiosity.”57 Fantasy. will blur precisely this distinction. as well as almost any other kind of behavior. Kant recounts. As Kant quotes Heraclitus’s dictum: “When we are awake we have a world in common.

even a sorceress. whose association is achieved without consciousness of the rule. there must always be a theme on which the manifold is strung. Imagination may not take flight beyond the limits of intersubjectively shared experience. which ensure comprehension for all participants. Ultimately. However. and this association is in conformity with the understanding. which confuses dream and reality. Kant points out.59 A ruleless “free play” of imagination. even though his interlocutors cannot discern the principle of their connection. in inducing such a dreamlike state. Social conversation.”58 Imagination. but must get the material for its images from the senses. is only possible if the associations that connect one topic of the discussion to the next are guided by the objective rules of understanding. It remains necessarily constricted by the material presented to it through the senses: “No matter how great an artist. it is still not creative. a disruption that needs to be prevented by the provision of a common theme. which ensures that the “play” of imagination remains bound to the objective laws guiding sensibility and understanding that make up our shared reality. unrestricted by the control of understanding. we would have to live the Cartesian experience of a waking dream: “The irregular.subjective and are taken for reality by the fantacist. Were we to participate in a conversation in which imagination was given free reign. which provide the material. and Kant indeed first introduces this ruleless form of imagination in Anthropology in the context of social conversation (“gesellschaftliche Unterhaltung”). and for this reason it can also not be seen as truly creative. the play of the power of imagination here still follows the rules of sensibility. that he who leaves a gathering of this kind feels as though he has been dreaming. In silent thinking as well as in the sharing of thoughts. effectively undermines the rules of intersubjective communication. through the succession of ideas that are not tied to anything objective. so that understanding can also be effective.”60 The image of imagination as a sorceress is once again reminiscent of 114 The Reasonable Imagination . fantasy causes a social and intersubjective problem. roaming power of imagination so confuses the mind. although not derived from it. so that the faculty always needs to be tied to the laws of sensibility provided by understanding. ultimately poses a threat to the social fabric. the power of imagination may be.

Only if the artist’s inventions (“Dichtungen”) are actively governed by his volition (“Willkür”) can he truly lay claim to them. unrelated to a set of authoritative laws. the artist needs to first have produced it in imagination. This is equally true for imagination’s role in art as Kant presents it in Anthropology. the faculty needs to be tied to the rules of nature and sensibility if it is not to be discarded as aberrant and dangerous. and the Kantian text keeps the faculty under control in much the same way as the sensibility to which it remains connected.” thus also needs to be constricted within clear boundaries. they are the involuntary and hence dreamlike products of fantasy. and artistic expression. is unacceptable for Kant.61 In order to depict a corporeal form. The faculty’s inability to truly create prevents this dominance. with its potential to break with the rules of “social conversation. Also in the realm of aesthetics.62 Should the artist in this way produce forms “according to images that cannot be found in experience. Kant explains in section 31 of Anthropology. the artist has no right to call these passively received creations his own. Artistic Imagination The artist needs imagination.” he ultimately flirts with the danger of becoming a mere plaything of fanThe Reasonable Imagination 115 . however. for its capacity to produce intuitions in space. If. Kant points out. The artist’s products will only be acceptable. A radical freedom. The artist is thus equally in danger of losing his active control and of becoming a merely passive recipient of images in the process of creation.the dangers of the faculty presented by Pascal and Descartes. To ensure that the active process of composition remains within the laws of understanding. as long as he procedes mimetically and in adherence with the forms of nature. which Kant calls the imaginatio plastica. this restriction is complemented by the demand to keep the products of the artistic process in compliance with natural models. Otherwise. an aesthetic process in which the artist is confronted by the same danger that also threatens the “regular” aspects of cognition. his artistic products will be the “perverted” and unnatural products of ruleless imagination (“imaginatio perversa”). which here once again produces the dangerous “dream images of a waking mind” (“Traumbilder eines Wachenden”). Yet Kant does not share Pascal’s view that in her alluring garb imagination could be more powerful than reason.

however.tasy: “We play with the imagination frequently and gladly. in the famous formulation that Kant also presents in the Critique of Judgment. however original. need to be “exemplary. the genius must then again proceed according to clear. it is thus all the more capable of originality. and sometimes very inconveniently. which he presents in sections 57 through 59 of the Anthropology. To account for true artistic originality. as Kant explains. that is truth 116 The Reasonable Imagination .” now needs to be presented as creative after all.. that they themselves need to be worthy of imitation in turn. in the discussion of genius. while originality emerges as precisely the product of the faculty’s ability to break with the rules of understanding: “The proper field for genius is that of the power of imagination. even mechanical rules and constraints. For the adequate representation of the rule in the work of art. rules that can then be imitated by others. because the genius discovers the (natural) rules that inform the artistic process. Kant can thus ensure that the rules of nature will also apply in art. Kant ensures that the products of genius remain in the realm of imitation.”63 Hence also in the process of artistic creation imagination needs to be kept in reasonable bounds if it is not to pose a threat. being less under the constraint of rules than other faculties. Genius is hence defined. Kant encounters a difficulty on this account. which is “the proper domain of genius. Since. as the talent “by which nature gives the rule to art” (7:226). Through the concept of genius. Should the genius neglect these rules. imagination. his creative activity will lead to nothing but “original folly”: But every art still requires certain mechanical basic rules. a control which Kant effects by constricting the artist to an imitatio naturae. namely rules concerning the appropriateness of the product to the underlying idea.” i. By means of this caveat. mere imitation cannot suffice to explain the phenomenon.”64 To praise imagination for its capacity to evade the law would put Kant in an awkward position. originality is a defining quality of genius. which allows him to restore a social function even to artistic originality. which ensure that his work can be deemed exemplary. because this is creative and.e. but imagination (as fantasy) plays just as frequently with us. and he solves the problem by declaring that the artistic products of genius. The products of genius can be models even though genius does not create according to predetermined rules.

Kant tellingly defines the peculiar type of madness that grips the “Schwärmer” as systematic. “the sickness of a deranged reason”—“die Krankheit einer gestörten Vernunft”—is the twin brother of the systematic philosopher. For while the fantacist only suffers from an inability to distinguish the fabrications of his imagination from true experiences.68 The philosopher. Now this must be learned by means of school rigor [mit Schulstrenge].” oblivious of the transcendental limits of philosophical inquiry.” and his illness constitutes not only an aberrance of the use of reason. In the Critique of Judgment Kant defines “Schwärmerei” (visionary rapture) as the propensity to “dream according to principles” (“nach Grundsätzen träumen”) or to “rave with reason” (“mit Vernunft rasen”).65 The inspiration of genius is thus dangerously close to the ravings of the madman. the “Schwärmer” confounds his imagination with suprasensory essences and thus suffers from a defect of reason. might deliver original folly [originale Tollheit]. In his discussion of mental illnesses in Anthropology.in the presentation of the object that one is thinking of. who suffers from vesania. to free the power of imagination even from this constraint and allow the talent proper to it to proceed without rules and swoon [schwärmen]. one can only assume. one lawful and the other lawless.67 His reason follows “a different rule. Indeed. the “Schwärmer” and his lawless imagination present a far more disturbing aberrance for Kant than that of the fantacist. claims to possess the knowledge that The Reasonable Imagination 117 .66 This is precisely the kind of dream that Kant needs to keep at bay at all costs. but “positive unreason” (“positive Unvernunft”). and is indeed always an effect of imitation. is rather precarious. for the possibility of conceiving of imaginary principles of reason threatens the very fabric of the critical system. This inmate of the mental hospital. but it would certainly not be exemplary and thus also would not be counted as genius. even against nature. is strongly urged not to pay his hospitalized alter ego a curious visit. The insidious “what if?” that Descartes’ doubt had openly invited into philosphical speculation returns in the Kantian text as the possibility of the dreamer of principles. where reason leaves the limits of sensibility behind and—unable to control the temptations of lawless imagination—believes it has direct insight into matters of transcendence. and the difference between the two states. both of which are induced by imagination. However. for the “Schwärmer.

99) (a viii). however. but it also constitutes a desire that is produced by the very limitations of the critical system. Its principles are the pre-critical ones of a reason that is still caught up in the “battlefield of metaphysics. and to ascertain their legitimacy is the central goal of the critical project.” The diagnosis Kant gives of the systematic madman equals his account of the pre-critical principles of reason in the preface to the first critique.69 The “other rule” of “Schwärmer’s” unreason is based on a transcendent knowledge that the self-censorship of the critical system had to exclude from the realm of reasonable speculation. but they also immediately open up a beyond that can now no longer be reasonably addressed. which are equally contradictory. of perpetual motion. imagining that he conceives the inconceivable. Kant’s own systematic thought. The “Schwärmer’s” metaphysically principled dream is a monstrosity from the critical point of view. the unveiling of the supersensible forces of nature and the comprehension of the mystery of the Trinity are in his power.70 The strained tight-rope walk Kant needs to perform as 118 The Reasonable Imagination . and “since they surpass the bounds of all experience.—The invention of the squaring of the circle. Yet how to deduce the validity of such principles beyond all experience without falling prey to the contagious ravings of the systematic madman and his lawless imagination? The source of the anxiety with regard to imagination that informs Kant’s critical project has thus come into even clearer focus: everything depends on a clear separation between reason and imagination.the critical philosopher might desire but knows to be out of his critical reach: The mental patient flies over the entire guidance of experience and chases after principles that can be completely exempted from its touchstone. also demands the existence of an invisible world. the noumenal realm of freedom and the moral law. Dreams might be “a wise arrangment of nature. which can never find expression in the limits of possible experience. no longer recognize any touchstone of experience” (Kant 1997. 69) (7:175–76). The transcendental boundaries of self-reflective reason create a safe space in which reason can operate without self-contradiction.” yet one must always take guard not to take them for “revelations from an invisible world” (Kant 2006. while the nonempirical principles that underly the critical system constantly threaten to undercut the very possibility of this differentiation.

however. that of the understanding pertaining to nature in the first critique and that of reason pertaining to freedom in the second. understanding. a contrafactual moral command. natural art and sublime madness: imagination in the C R I T I Q U E O F J U D G M E N T In the Critique of Judgment. which can by definition never become objects of experience. the moral philosophy of Kant’s second critique depends on the principles of freedom and the moral law. where the struggle between madness and philosophy. also needs to show that a connection between the two critical worlds can at least be thought within the limits of transcendental philosophy. the complex endeavour of savThe Reasonable Imagination 119 . Otherwise. For if there could be no connection whatsoever between the noumenal and unconditional realm of freedom and the moral law and the phenomenal realm of human experience. That there must be a connection between the two critical spheres and hence a unity of self-consciousness that guarantees the possible effect of the practical on the theoretical self. may not infringe upon each other in order to avoid the metaphysical confusion the critical system had set out to combat in the first place. as is well known. provided that theoretical knowledge does not overstep its prescribed epistemological boundaries. While the epistemological framework of the first critique had excluded all principles from the grasp of pure theoretical reason that would go beyond the transcendental conditions of possible experience. The transcendental argumentation of the Critique of Pure Reason shows that these two jurisdictions can at least coexist within the same subject without contradiction. a conclusion that constitutes an unacceptable consequence for Kant. is in itself. as it were. Kant aims to unify the critical system by bridging the chasm that had opened up between the domains of the first two critiques as a consequence of the seemingly irreconcilable dichotomy between nature and freedom.a result of this constant tension becomes most obvious in the Critique of Judgment. Kant. The two legislations (“Gesetzgebungen”) at stake in the first two critiques. and reason is now played out one more time in critical terms. the possibility of ethical behavior would remain mere speculation. imagination. as Kant attempts to guarantee the unity of transcendental philosophy. the legislative realms of theoretical and practical philosophy.

while keeping its eye securely on the touchstone of experience. since two distinct realms of philosophical enquiry now demand an impossible yet necessary principle of connection and transition. if it is not to become the airy dream of a systematic madman. Thus there must still be a ground of the unity of the supersensible that grounds nature with that which the concept of freedom contains practically. its no-place (u-topos). Since a direct cognition of the transcendent ideas of practical reason is rationally impossible. is thus “homeless. It needs to remain in this conceptual no-man’s land. the concept Kant employs to relate the realms of nature and freedom. Just as the strictly separated realms of concepts and intuitions called for the mediatory common ground of imagination in order to account for the possibility of cognition. the concept of which. the conceptual utopia of the Critique of Judgment. 120 The Reasonable Imagination . The structure of the critical system as a whole thus reenacts the problem that Kant had already encountered in the first critique. and thus has no proper domain of its own.”72 Neither theoretical nor practical. it has no proper domain of its own and finds its place only in the hybrid zone of transition between the realms of reason and the understanding. this principle will ensure the unity of philosophy and self-consciousness and allow for the possibility of the moral law to manifest itself in the realm of nature.71 Just like the transcendental imagination. What cannot be possible nevertheless should be possible. even if it does not suffice for cognition of it either theoretically or practically.ing the transcendental unity of the self undertaken in the first critique would be undone by the impossibility of connecting this theoretical self with its practical counterpart. and in the third critique Kant attempts to show that the lawfulness of nature can at least be conceptualized as being in accordance with the laws of freedom. nevertheless makes possible the transition from the manner of thinking in accordance with the principles of the one to that in accordance with the principles of the other. is a fictional realm of analogy and felicitous coincidence. where it only points to the ideal realm of the moral law. and which restores the unity of self-consciousness. By virtue of its mediatory capacity. the clearly distinct realms of theoretical and practical philosophy necessitate a common principle that is neither theoretical nor practical.

a philosophical leap of imagination. and it accomplishes the sought-after task by establishing the principle of the purposiveness (“Zweckmäßigkeit”) of nature. not to nature. while the actual existence of such an understanding. Kant’s argumentation in the third critique proceeds in a hermeneutical circle that begins with the fictional desire of an “as if. thus also does not have a proper realm of legislation.73 An end (“Zweck”) in the Kantian context is a concept that not only unifies and controls intuitions. To judge nature in terms of its purposiveness thus asks us to represent it as if an understanding contained the ground for the unity of the manifold of nature’s empirical laws. It thus needs to be assumed—and here Descartes’ benevolent God underhandedly reenters the Kantian stage—that the empirical laws of nature. The bridge that judgment provides between the realms of nature and freedom is hence built in the fictional mode of analogy. does not necessarily have to be presupposed. as Kant remarks. The Reasonable Imagination 121 . it gives its laws only to itself. and in this capacity. The principles of judgment used here are only reflective. are equally constituted in accordance to the transcendental laws of our cognitive faculties. they try to find the general law that could account for the particularities of the natural world.” thus enabling the desired system of experience in accordance with nature’s particular empirical laws. judgment cannot determine its objects by subsuming them under a known rule of law.74 This assumption constitutes the a priori principle of reflective judgment. since our cognitive apparatus provides only the universal laws of nature (the conditions of possibility of experience) in the form of the categories. It postulates a correspondence that will subsequently be verified through the consistency it affords the critical system. like Descartes’ cogito. Such would be the case if another—implicitly a divine—understanding had given them such a unity “for the sake of our faculty of cognition. which does not have a proper domain. which are ultimately independent of our mind. Judgment. the necessary “intermediary between the understanding and reason” in the “family of the higher faculties of cognition” is the power of judgment. but directly contains the ground of reality of its object. but not the actual empirical laws governing the natural forms. The postulated understanding that guarantees the purposiveness of nature cannot be our own.” which demands.Divine Understanding and the Empirical “as if” In the third critique.

These final ends should exist. as it represents the relation of mind and nature as if it sprung from a common source. it is equally possible that they could be brought into accordance with the supersensory laws of reason. and hence at the same time an indication of its supersensible substratum. and thus the power of judgment makes possible the transition from the domain of the concept of nature to that of the concept of freedom. Through its “heautonomous” laws—Kant’s term for an autonomy without legislative power—the power of judgment ensures that nature and understanding can be connected by means of the principles that the philosopher “wants” to exist. through its a priori principle for judging nature in accordance with possible particular laws for it. but it leaves this entirely undetermined. reason and understanding. judgment achieves the fictional a priori mediation born of the philosophical desire for unity and the possibility of truthful cognition. the power of judgment creates the desired bridge between the two legislations of understanding and of reason and helps to fulfill the dream of a complete philosophical system: Through the possibility of its a priori laws for nature the understanding gives a proof that nature is cognized by us only as appearance. which are for Kant the “final end” (“Endzweck”) of the natural world’s teleological course. The power of judgment.and in this fictionally autonomous but legally neutral position it can mediate between the two other legislative powers.75 122 The Reasonable Imagination . The “subjective principle (maxim) of the power of judgment” is hence a formal and ultimately aesthetic construct. an assumption for which there can be no proof aside from the formal consistency of the philosophical system based on this very principle. By pointing to the determinability of nature by means of our intellectual faculties. and the postulate of the purposiveness of nature makes their realization in the empirical world possible. for if the empirical laws of nature can be seen as operating in accordance with the transcendental laws of our understanding. But reason provides determination for the same substratum through its practical law a priori. Everywhere and nowhere. autonomous but without true legislative power. This fictional postulate then equally opens up the possibility of a connection between the concepts of nature and the concepts of freedom. provides for its supersensible substratum (in us as well as outside us) determinability through the intellectual faculty.

In the account of the aesthetic judgment Kant returns to imagination proper. not a freedom to. It is a freedom from personal interest. only the first part of the critique. the accordance of its forms with the possibility of objects themselves as determined by the concepts of reason and understanding. independent of reason and understanding. the aesthetics.76 In addition to the cognitive faculties of understanding. and the faculty of desire (“Begehrungsvermögen”). Kant suggests. The faculty of cognition. Kant now also introduces what he calls the three fundamental capacities or faculties of the soul. is for Kant always a freedom from. However. as Kant points out in the Metaphysics The Reasonable Imagination 123 . in the perception of “natural beauty. and the faculty now enters into an ambivalent partnership with understanding and reason in order to ensure the stability of the critical system and the unity of consciousness. and judgment. we deceive ourselves should we believe that a refusal to accept the law might lead to more freedom.” which we determine through a judgment of taste. is the realm of legislation of pure understanding. guided by feelings of pleasure and displeasure. Like Lucifer in his rebellion against God. contains the unique a priori principles of the power of judgment. the faculty of cognition (“Erkenntnißvermögen”). it needs to be remembered once again. This formal and subjective purposiveness of nature can become known to us aesthetically. one that to him “seems to be of still greater importance” than judgment’s family relation with the other cognitive faculties. We are free to accept the moral law.Kant discusses the “real” and objective purposiveness of nature. the feeling of pleasure and displeasure (“Gefühl der Lust und Unlust”). reason. In analyzing the subjective and formal purposiveness of nature. Freedom. and thus a free acceptance and subordination under the impersonal and universally applicable moral law. while the faculty of desire receives its a priori laws directly from reason by means of the concept of freedom. the second part of the Critique of Judgment. the aesthetics attempts to verify nature’s accordance to our faculties of cognition prior to the formation of concepts. Kant explains. in the teleology. but not free to reject it. Pleasurable Cognitions: Analogies of Mind and Nature Kant provides yet another analogical ground on which to bring the power of judgment into a mediary relation with regard to the other powers of representation. which has nature as its object.

just as in its logical use it makes possible the transition from understanding to reason. as Kant maintains.e.of Morals. a source of considerable displeasure. a pleasure connected to both the practical domain of reason and the theoretical domain of understanding.” while the discovery of our inability to subsume the particular natural laws under universal and general ones would present. and since the faculty of desire is necessarily connected to the feeling of pleasure or displeasure. since. its pleasurable discovery hence amounts to a “happy accident”: hence we are also delighted (strictly speaking. to the domain of the concept of freedom. this latter feeling now allows for a transition from the concept of nature to the concept of freedom. the active discovery that two heterogeneous empirical laws can be subsumed under one a priori principle creates “the ground of a very noticeable pleasure. since pleasure or displeasure is necessarily combined with the faculty of desire . Since such an a priori unity has to be assumed.77 This transition becomes possible. The concept of freedom hence controls our faculty of desire in accordance with the laws of reason.78 124 The Reasonable Imagination . since understanding effects this accordance unintentionally. . while we could neither gain an insight into it nor prove it. While the accordance of our intuitions with the a priori categories of our understanding produces neither pleasure nor displeasure. just as if it were a happy accident which happened to favor our aim. It is therefore to be suspected at least provisionally that the power of judgment likewise contains an a priori principle for itself. just as the power of judgment is contained between the understanding and reason.” To discover the accordance of the empirical natural laws with our faculties of cognition—the aim of the analytic of the beautiful—will thus also produce a feeling of pleasure. the “attainment of every aim is combined with the feeling of pleasure. Now between the faculty of cognition and that of desire there is the feeling of pleasure. i.. even though we necessarily had to assume that there is such a unity. as Kant contends. yet without having been able to gain insight into it and to prove it. relieved of a need) when we encounter such a systematic unity among merely empirical laws. from the domain of the concepts of nature. it will likewise effect a transition from the pure faculty of cognition. . which is analogical to the logical transition afforded by the power of judgment between the understanding and reason. and.

and Kant will ultimately claim that we only call an object purposive because it is the immediate cause of pleasure. but solely to the subject. are not inherent in the object itself. and the experience must take place in apprehension. the a priori faculty of apprehension. They are an effect produced by the subject. a synthesis that occurs before the cognitive unity produced by concepts has come into play. this pleasure cannot be the product of understanding. the pre-conceptual synthesis of intuitions by imagination. a moment of inadvertent correspondence for which the representation of the object is only the occasion. and understanding. the power of providing rules through concepts. This subjective pleasure is necessarily pre-conceptual. The apprehension of forms in imagination can never take place. which points to the purposiveness of the object in question that already conforms to the rules of understanding before these have been actively enforced. without an—even inadvertent—attempt on the part of the power of judgment. Pleasure will arise if in this act of judgment imagination and understanding are brought into an unintentional accord. and the pleasure can express nothing but its suitability to the cognitive faculties that are in play in the reflective power of judgment. the two faculties at play in this aesthetic judgment are imagination. as it experiences pleasure due to the suitability of nature’s forms to its cognitive faculties. The desire for this unity to exist is the “need” of which the subject is “relieved” in the experience of the beauThe Reasonable Imagination 125 . and thus merely a subjective formal purposiveness of the object. Both the feeling of pleasure and the formal characteristic of purposiveness. however.The feeling of pleasure hence constitutes the only “proof” of the formal purposiveness of nature. In the felicitous harmony of its cognitive apparatus with the natural world. the subject thus ultimately experiences pleasurably the unity of its own self.79 Famously. insofar as they are in play. then the representation is thereby related not to the object. As a feeling. to compare them with its capacity to subsume intuitions under the rule of concepts. which precedes the actual formation of concepts. If pleasure is connected with the mere apprehension (apprehensio) of the form of an object of intuition without a relation of this to a concept for a determinate cognition. for the subject experiences a possible unity of nature and our cognitive apparatus. explains Kant.

which is based on the subjective feeling of pleasure in the encounter with the beautiful. the free acceptance of the moral law. and the beautiful object. For the highest principle of practical reason. Kant calls taste (“Geschmack”). it also introduces the possibility of an analogy with Kant’s ethical imperative.82 The central prerogative for this propaedeutical analogy is the simultaneity of freedom and lawfulness in the experience of beauty.tiful. The aesthetic judgment of taste prepares the ground for this relation. as it allows us to find pleasure in a subjective feeling that is at the same time universally valid. so that the feeling of pleasure can also provide a bridge to the concepts of practical reason. be both subjective and universally valid. In its subjective universality the doubly analogous judgment of taste allows us not only to regard nature as if the unity of its empirical manifold were provided by a superior understanding. This universally valid judgment. Kant’s categorical imperative is a practical rule.81 Like the critical system as a whole. the categorical imperative acts as a form of self-censorship and only legitimizes those desires that are already in accordance with the law and that hence cannot introduce any threat to the system. For only then will the judgment about this relation. The aesthetics of the beautiful and the judgment of taste thus function as a sort of propaedeutics for ethical behavior. transforming actions that would be contingent in and of themselves into moral necessities by ensuring that the subjective desire of the agent—what he or she wants to do—is simultaneously also what he or she should do according to the objective laws of reason. the experienced connection. the categorical imperative. If the form of an object provokes such a pleasure without any intention on the part of the subject. while not a priori. 126 The Reasonable Imagination . while necessarily subjective.”80 In the spontaneous and harmonious play of imagination and understanding. the subject will make the pleasurable discovery of its own internal unity. serves as the “exemplary expression of a subject that feels itself. It is crucial that the hierarchical relation between imagination and understanding be suspended during the experience of the beautiful and that the accord be produced without the subject’s intention of forming a concept about the object in question. as Hans Feger has put it. a relation in which imagination will now come to play a central role. must also be universally applicable for any judging subject. also demands a coincidence of the subjective with the universal when it asks us to choose the subjective maxims of our actions in such a fashion that they could be elevated to a general law.

the free play of imagination and understanding in the judgment of taste needs to follow the general rules of cognition. Its freedom always already complies to the law and the pathological and ultimately incommunicable liberties of fantasy could only be judged as “tasteless. even if not subsumable under a concept.” In this paradoxical dynamic of free lawfulness the hierarchy between the faculties is simultaneously eliminated and retained. which still always rests on that relation as its subjective condition.” which closes the Analytic of the Beautiful. imagination exercises the form of self-censorship that the individual also needs to practice with regard to the moral law.83 This free play. Kant will accordingly come to define the concept of taste as “a faculty for judging an object in relation to the free lawfulness of the imagination. as a mode of representation that is. And yet. since no determinate concept restricts them to a particular rule of cognition. and imagination is free but by no means ruleless. To make such a communication possible. necessarily valid for all rational beings. this judgment must be at the same time universally valid and communicable to everyone. which remains in this sense a purely subjective sensation. no rule. since it is supposed to occur without presupposing a determinate concept. according to Kant.Lawfulness without the Law: The “Free Play” of Imagination Since the judgment of taste pertains to a preconceptual unity. no concept. In the “General remark on the first section of the Analytic. . The powers of cognition that are set into play by this representation are hereby in a free play. Imagination needs to be considered as free in the judgment of taste. It plays with a relative freedom that remains within the realm of what is universally agreeable and hence communicable. just as any determinate cognition is. can be nothing other than the state of mind in the free play of the imagination and the understanding (so far as they agree with each other as is requisite for a cognition in general): for we are conscious that this subjective relation suited to cognition in general must be valid for everyone and consequently universally communicable. as it operates indeThe Reasonable Imagination 127 . The subjective universal communicability of the kind of representation in a judgment of taste. . thus remains necessarily controlled. it is nonreproductive. .e. can exist to determine the beautiful.”84 To enable the experience of the beautiful. i..

” Kant assumes that the possible form of a beautiful object will demand a combination of the manifold in accordance with the laws of understanding. like the faculty of judgment. a freedom within bounds that ensures the consistency of the critical system without posing a threat to its foundations. and imagination can only enter into this free play because it has already internalized the laws that necessarily apply in any process of cognition.”86 The experience of the beautiful thus does not challenge the law-giving power of understanding. and its forms would thus achieve legislative power. such a direct imposition is not necessary to assure the lawfulness of the judgment of taste: Thus only a lawfulness without law and a subjective correspondence of the imagination to the understanding without an objective one—where the representation is related to a determinate concept of an object—are consistent 128 The Reasonable Imagination . Imagination. achieves its freedom only in relation to the laws of understanding: “Yet for the imagination to be free and yet lawful by itself. but since imagination can be seen to anticipate the rule of law without any outside pressure. i. a function that remains the privilege of reason and understanding. not even to produce a form that would freely fall under the laws of understanding. is a contradiction.e. The rule of the concept may not be directly present in order to secure the special status of the judgment of taste.pendently of the laws of association and must be considered as “productive and self-active.85 Kant’s use of the conditional in this passage is indicative: imagination is never truly left completely free by itself.” In order to contain a process in which imagination acts as the “authoress of voluntary forms of possible intuitions. A completely autonomous imagination would be able to provide a law.. The faculty can act freely as long as it does so in accordance with the rule of understanding. that it carry autonomy with it. The understanding alone gives the law. which coincides with the combination imagination would produce of its own accord “if it were left free by itself”: nevertheless it is still quite conceivable that the object can provide it with a form that contains precisely such a composition of the manifold as the imagination would design in harmony with the lawfulness of understanding in general if it were left free by itself.

with the free lawfulness of the understanding (which is also called purposiveness without an end) and with the peculiarity of a judgment of taste. The aesthetic idea is probably the most explosive conception Kant introduces in his analysis of the aesthetic judgment. which consist of mere formalities. for example. since it remains in strict accordance with and operates for the benefit of reason and understanding. a capacity to surpass the conceptualizing ability of understanding. Kant defines the “underlying Idea. The Freedom of Aesthetic Ideas In the paragraphs devoted to the discussion of genius in the Critique of Judgment. the ability of imagination to productively synthesize intuitions exceeds the capacity of understanding to unify them under a concept. for it ascribes to imagination an ability that the first critique had strictly reserved to reason. which may speak before the law as long as it complies with its rules. which is designed to hide a privation. can guide and rule the world (mundus vult decipi) by deluding it with images in place of reality. it is still better to have only the illusion of having this good that ennobles humanity than to feel manifestly deprived of it. This rhetoric of illusory possession of a good. just as well as an aesthetic one. a political artist. However.88 Kant’s text in the Analytic of the Beautiful does the work of the political artist and grants a freedom to imagination that is ultimately a mere formality. Kant himself reveals the framework for imagination’s freedom in the Analytic of the Beautiful in a peculiar statement from Anthropology about the political artist and his relation to freedom and the people: Moreover.” which. In the presentation of aesthetic ideas. will return in the account of genius that Kant gives in the Critique of Judgment. the freedom of the people (as in the British Parliament) or their rank and equality (as in the French Assembly). as an aesthetic idea. the genius must represent truthfully and with “school rigor” in the work of art.87 Once again. and it hence triggers an uncontainable process of The Reasonable Imagination 129 . the freedom granted to imagination is the freedom of a domesticated faculty. as the analysis of Anthropology had pointed out.

since the faculty is now no longer situated between concepts and intuitions.89 In other words. very different from the one described in the Critique of Pure Reason. imagination finds itself in a liminal position. In this sense. Once again. Powerful and powerless at the same time. which serves as an analogy for the power of reason. imagination may change its position within the system.90 Like the ideas of reason. the aesthetic ideas exceed the capacities of the concepts of understanding. however. conversely. concept. imagination develops its true power.e. I mean that representation of the imagination that occasions much thinking though without it being possible for any determinate thought. while ideas of reason are concepts to which no intuition can be adequate. a concept to which no intuition (representation of the imagination) can be adequate. consequently. i. their relation to the ideas of reason is not analogical but complementary: aesthetic ideas present intuitions to which no concept can adequatly correspond. In Kant’s account. which they anticipate in a complicated inverse analogy. which properly belongs to the realm of reason.thought that simultaneously stimulates and frustrates the abilities of understanding: by an aesthetic idea. no language fully attains or can make intelligible. which is. Here. which is. imagination here proceeds in a sense like reason and achieves something understanding can never accomplish: it finds a way to allude to the ineffable. however. but they only open up the possibility of a noumenal realm which they cannot properly represent. situated on the limits of the critical system. it can create a “second nature” out of the material given to it by the intuitions of empirical reality. 130 The Reasonable Imagination . The aesthetic ideas of imagination can thus become a counterpart (“Gegenstück”) to the ideas of reason. One readily sees that it [the aesthetic idea] is the counterpart (pendant) of an idea of reason. in the realm of artistic production. which. but rather between concepts and ideas. where it now mediates between understanding and reason. to be adequate to it.. but its function remains the same: it affords the possibility of a transition and of unity but always answers to a higher faculty that controls its mediatory influence.

e. since Kant’s aesthetics is unreservedly an aesthetics of nature—imagination as employed by the genius enables us to feel our freedom from the empirical laws of association and points to our ability to conceive of a supersensory realm that lies beyond the realm of empirical sensation. the poet actually dares to attempt the impossible: he sets out to make sensible the supersensible ideas of reason: The poet ventures to make sensible rational ideas of invisible beings. etc.” and what is more. as it were. “aesthetically enlarges the concept itself in an unbounded way” and its creative representations thus set the faculty of intellectual ideas. And what is more. The aesthetic ideas are not his own creation... The Reasonable Imagination 131 . eternity. by means of an imagination that emulates the precedent of reason in attaining to a maximum. and it is really the art of poetry in which the faculty of aesthetic ideas can reveal itself in its full measure. the genius is here again dangerously close to the “Schwärmer” of Anthropology. by means of them..g.92 In this capacity. and all sorts of vices. the kingdom of the blessed. he seems to have the impossible in his grasp and he dares to go beyond the limits of what the critical philosopher may allow himself reasonably to dream. The aesthetic ideas “strive toward something lying beyond the bounds of experience. etc. imagination.. death. e. sensible beyond the limits of experience. reason in motion. But at the same time. they are given to him by nature. nor can he describe how he creates—the creation of the work of art is not in his control. the kingdom of hell. like the madman. very powerful in creating. another nature. envy. i. with a completeness that goes beyond anything of which there is an example in nature. namely.The imagination (as a productive cognitive faculty) is. the genius.” The genius neither knows how he receives the aesthetic ideas. as Kant puts it. however. as well as love. creation.91 In this creation of a second nature—which must. appear in the form of the first. out of the material which the real one gives it. knows not what he does. since the genius is after all only a medium “by which nature gives the rule to art. fame. as well as to make that of which there are examples in experience. Like the latter.

as also the Anthropology contends. and in itself merely a “talent (of the imagination). if this talent is combined with the ability to find a communicable expression for the idea. The Corrective of Taste The ability to receive aesthetic ideas is only one side of the capacities of the genius. 3) That it [genius] cannot itself describe or indicate scientifically how it brings its product into being. and the excessive and disruptive capacity of imagination in its lawless form needs to be immediately contained if it is not to threaten the very architectonic it supposedly supports.”95 The exemplariness of the products of genius is ensured through the genius’s judgment of taste. Communicability. and in an argument parallel to that in the Analytic of the Beautiful.93 This passivity. however.”94 True genius will arise only. Like Plato. . which can guarantee that the aesthetic representations of the ideas of the imagination will be universally agreeable and com132 The Reasonable Imagination . . Once again. and also does not have it in his power to think up such things at will or according to plan. and hence the author of a product that he owes to his genius does not know himself how the ideas for it came to him. and to communicate to others precepts that would put them in a position to produce similar products. the incommunicability of inspiration remains too close to madness. Genius is thus defined as “the exemplary originality of the natural endowment of a subject for the free use of his cognitive faculties. seems to be the reason why the capacity derives its name from the Roman genius. exemplary (“musterhaft”) and hence frames the freedom of imagination in a set of universally acceptable rules. Kant speculates in strikingly un-Kantian manner. Kant explains. but rather that it gives the rule as nature. whose inspired visions are equally uncontrolled and incommunicable. Kant achieves this goal by imposing a restraining form of self-censorship. one that will be.From this one sees . whose inspirations are the only source of original ideas. is an absolute necessity in the realm of Kantian aesthetics if it is truly to serve as the bridge to the noumenal realm of the moral law. As Kant’s etymological explanation suggests. the position of the genius is close to that of the manteis in Plato’s Timaeus. the guiding spirit given to humans at birth. Kant needs the prophetai to control and communicate the inspired madness of the genius.

97 This corrective and violent control. the power of judgment. the suitability of the products of free imagination to the law of understanding guaranteed by the judgment of taste is ultimately more important than their originality. Thus if anything must be sacrificed in the conflict of the two properties in one product. it must rather be on the side of genius: and the power of judgment. clipping its wings and making it well behaved or polished. Kant leaves no doubt that it is always preferable to sacrifice this exuberance and freedom in order to secure the control of the understanding.96 The discipline of taste thus ensures that genius and its imagination remain civilized and well-behaved while giving guidance to keep them in the bounds of true purposiveness. which in matters of beautiful art makes its pronouncements on the basis of its own principles. and no matter how necessary the freedom of imagination might be. is the discipline (or corrective) of genius. as Kant puts it. Taste. In the Analytic of the Sublime. which presents the next The Reasonable Imagination 133 . will surface much more openly in the Kantian text once imagination is no longer the partner for understanding but encounters the law of reason in its noumenal form. even if only ex negativo. For all the richness of the former produces. Taste clips. . nothing but nonsense. if the products of genius are not to become the mere “nonsense” of ruleless imagination: To be rich and original in ideas is not as necessary for the sake of beauty as is the suitability of the imagination in its freedom to the lawfulness of the understanding. . “Beautiful art” necessitates a combination of genius and taste. is the faculty for bringing it in line with the understanding. but at the same time it gives genius guidance as to where and how far it should extend itself if it is to remain purposive. the wings of genius. will sooner permit damage to the freedom and richness of the imagination than to the understanding.municable. A corrective violence (“Zucht”) is necessary to keep imagination in its natural limits. . however. in its lawless freedom. which informs Kant’s language and rhetoric in the Critique of Judgment. and while both need to be present. like the power of judgment in general.

this trace appears precisely in the inability of imagination to create adequate representations for the ideas of reason. which is nevertheless a law for us. In the sublime moment. As the philosopher himself tries to achieve a glimpse of the noumenal world. imagination. and the violence that Z ˇek has diagnosed becomes openly apparent. but rather the superiority of our rational vocation (to accept the moral law) over even the highest faculty connected to sensibility and the laws of nature. This experience of our inadequacy with regard to an idea of reason. Liminal Violence: The Encounter of Reason and Imagination Ultimately. and the philosophical desire for an empirical trace of the intellectual realm of reason remains unsatisfied in the Analytic of the Beautiful. reason’s idea of unity. even more so than the beautiful.step in the Kantian argument. his philosophical desire can only be ˇ iz realized through a violation of imagination. What we come to respect in the experience of the sublime is not the power of nature. imagination openly enacts a self-sacrifice in order to reveal the omnipotence of the moral law. To locate the sublime in nature and not in the 134 The Reasonable Imagination . For the sublime. fails in its endeavor to synthesize and comprehend the given object in the whole of an intuition. the Absolute only leaves its trace in the moment of pure negativity that is the sublime. the previous internal constraint of self-censorship will be replaced by an open display of violence enforced by the power of reason. As Kant allows imagination to display its disruptive side in an excessive production of images. Imagination. In the Critique of Judgment. both in its mathematical form of incalculable vastness and the dynamic one of aweinspiring force. when faced with the mathematical sublime. which demands that it embark on the attempt in the first place. the power of imagination can only fall short in relation to the noumenal Absolute of the moral law. is what Kant defines as respect (“Achtung”). Yet in this failed endeavor it nevertheless gives proof of the existence of a law. is for Kant purely a product of the subject. which he has to exclude from rational discourse. while triggered by the encounter with natural phenomena. both in the positive analogy of the beautiful and the controlled freedom of the aesthetic idea. and this paradoxical moment of spontaneous receptivity that Heidegger had diagnosed as the core of subjectivity is also at the heart of the sublime.

it shows us that our cognitive apparatus is not in accordance with the empirical laws of nature. since by this means no particular form is represented in the latter. makes itself an “instrument of reason” (“Werkzeug der Vernunft”). and makes of the theory of the sublime a mere appendix to the aesthetic judging of the purposiveness of nature. as it allows us to think the Absolute of the moral law by means of the impossibility of its representation. and Kant’s theory of the sublime only develops the “purposive use” that imagination can make of its failed representations. rather than disrupting the fabric of the critical system. The ideas of the sublime are thus entirely separate (“ganz abgetrennt”) from the analysis of the purposiveness of nature. If the beautiful object is conceptualized by Kant as the outward projection of the harmony of our faculties with a purposive nature. As long as the subject still falls prey to the subreption and attributes the sublime moment to nature. but only a purposive use that the imagination makes of its representation is developed.99 The Reasonable Imagination 135 .subject would constitute a subreption. but for the sublime merely one in ourselves and in the way of thinking that introduces sublimity into the representation of the former—a very necessary introductory remark. if such a trope can be said to exist.98 The feeling of the sublime thus presents a negative analogy. Compliant with the rule of reason. By affording this transformation from pain to pleasure. Imagination. a seriously detrimental misunderstanding that the critical philosopher must set out to untangle. For the beautiful in nature we must seek a ground outside ourselves. a confusion of an object with an idea. the sublime object causes a disruption of that very process and shows us the inadequacy of our cognitive apparatus. this experience causes precisely the displeasure Kant had feared in the Analytic of the Beautiful. it already knows how to “use” this moment and is thus able to turn it into a moment of negative pleasure (“negative Lust”). a masoschistic pleasure that presupposes a prior moment of pain and deprivation. which entirely separates the ideas of the sublime from the purposiveness of nature. will not revel in its disruptive capacity. the imagination. Where the feeling of the beautiful causes pleasure. by acknowledging the sublime’s relation to reason and the subject. however. the first encounter with the sublime only causes pain.

if only via negationis. which is the genuine property of human morality. which had only mildly asserted itself in the “Zucht” of taste applied to the genius’s imagination. When doing “lawful business” (“gesetzliches Geschäft”). is a movement from aesthetic play to the corrective business of dominance and coercion. Aesthetic Play and Moral Business The movement from the beautiful to the sublime.” it now encounters the necessity of violence. the violence it presupposes is self-inflicted and transformed into the negative pleasure of an imaginary reward. where reason must exercise dominion over [must do violence to] sensibility. and.100 As the judging consciousness discovers the “genuine property of human morality.” necessitated by the encounter with the sublime. The rule of law does not have to interfere anymore.In this “purposive use. and in the aesthetic judgment that serves as a negative analogy for the noumenal law. one encounters a core of restrictive violence as Kant erects a philosophical high-voltage fence around the abyss of imagination. although the beautiful in nature likewise presupposes and cultivates a certain liberality in the manner of thinking. 136 The Reasonable Imagination . it is just that in the aesthetic judgment on the sublime this dominion is represented as being exercised by the imagination itself.101 As an “instrument of reason. as an instrument of reason. independence of the satisfaction from the sensory enjoyment. reason is forced to do violence to sensibility. i. the freedom of imagination in the production of the aesthetic idea and the judgment of the beautiful reveals itself as the illusion of the political artist that Kant had referred to in Anthropology.e. this violence is exercised by imagination itself: In fact a feeling for the sublime in nature cannot even be conceived without connecting it to a disposition of the mind that is similar to the moral disposition.. Behind the façade of aesthetic play. it sacrifices its own freedom and uses this self-inflicted deprivation to point to a law that is not its own.” imagination thus does violence to itself. a power far greater than the one imagination has to relinquish. yet which promises. from pleasure to respect. nevertheless by means of it freedom is represented more as in play than as subject to a lawful business.

will have understood that true power always lies with the government and will thus choose not to openly exert the freedom granted to him in theory but not in practice. namely a feeling of the deprivation of the freedom of the imagination by itself. that the joy of seeing or of almost seeing the law is obtained. through the mediation of its violation. It thereby acquires an enlargement and power which is greater than that which it sacrifices. whereas it feels the sacrifice or deprivation and at the same time the cause to which it is subjected.”104 The purposiveness of the morally good. which lies in the potential discovery of the radical freedom.The satisfaction in the sublime in nature is thus also only negative (whereas that in the beautiful is positive). the Analytic of the Sublime denies that The Reasonable Imagination 137 . is heightened by the fact that this threatening abyss must be traversed if the moral philosopher himself wants to receive a glimpse of the moral law.102 The freedom that had been granted to imagination in the pleasurable feeling of the beautiful is stripped away again in the encounter with the sublime. in other words. Here. insofar as it is purposively determined in accordance with a law other than that of empirical use. a different kind of law makes itself felt at the price of precisely this potentially disruptive freedom. which is revealed precisely in the voluntary self-sacrifice of imagination. can only be indicated in this negative moment of painful pleasure that is simultaneously jubilation and defeat. A good revolutionary. In the sublime moment. which Kantian imagination denies itself before it can truly apprehend it. by suggesting that imagination already understands that it will gain more power by its own subjugation then by an attempt to defy the law. the power of the law of reason. that a bridge between the realms of nature and freedom is indeed possible. but whose ground is hidden from it. The complex power relations between the mental faculties in Kant’s account of the sublime thus once again open up the political dimension of imagination’s ˇ iz unrestricted freedom that is central to Z ˇek’s reading of Kant. Kant quite ingeniously and insidiously prohibits an opening of radical freedom. This sacrificial logic has been analyzed in detail by Jean-François Lyotard. a higher purpose.103 But the averted danger of the sublime moment. If the Analysic of the Beautiful could verify the postulate of the third critique. who succinctly describes the masochistic simultaneity of pleasure and pain that is produced for the Kantian philosopher by the sublime moment: “Violence must be done to the imagination because it is through its pain.

In other words.”107 Fearing for his sanity. the systematic philosopher has to accept the painful impossibility of his desires.” it can only be brought into this accord by means of violence. the philosopher. be unconditioned. but only through the violence reason does to sensibility. like Ulysses. this admission of the necessity of violence to unify the self as well as the critical system could only constitute a defeat. the just. as it freely accepts a violence born out of desperation. a constraint that the Analytic of the Sublime presents as a negative pleasure. and the beautiful in the realms of knowledge. offered by the sublime.”105 Ultimately. must exclude but at the same time relies on an unconditional Absolute. morality. while he convinces himself of the pleasure the pain of this precaution causes him. as it seeks to establish the a priori conditions of possibility for judging the true. As Lyotard comments: A priori conditions of possibility must. Yet if the critical examination can establish them as such. The relative freedom of imagination in the realm of the beautiful is only an illusory façade. which hence deflects the shortcomings of the sublime’s negative analogy.” if this submission can only be achieved by means of coercion? Yet the self-sacrifice of imagination seemingly saves reason from this embarrassment. may listen to the sirens only while chained to the mast of his ship. Kant points out. and which is the very desire the critical philosophy is designed to constrain. Lyotard has rightfully pointed out that the violence that emerges in the sublime moment is brought forth by the philosophical desire that animates the critical system. by hypothesis. for what happens to the “free submission under the law.possibility—at least by way of a “natural” harmony. it must be able to see the nothingness of the condition that is “behind” them. and insists that the experience of the Absolute. and aesthetics. “of its own accord. the highest idea of reason.106 While the “Schwärmer” can happily believe he has this very principle in his posession. or else they would not be a priori. “since human nature does not agree with that good of its own accord. which hides the violent deprivation the faculty will have to undergo when confronted by the law of reason. precisely because of its negativity is in no danger of the undisciplined excess of “Schwärmerei. reflection pushes the analysis of its own con138 The Reasonable Imagination . Kant himself is very aware of his closeness to the philosopher’s systematic twin in the lunatic asylum. Kant’s transcendental philosophy. Human nature. does not agree with the good.

Not only does it threaten the social fabric and the very fabric of the self. forbidden (as illusion).ditions as far as it can. Reflection thus touches on the absolute of its conditions. remains unable to close. Simultaneously necessary and dangerous for the unity of the system in its synthetic and its disruptive function. which the critical system is designed to hold together. who is more than prone to a sympathetic infection with the virus of an over-imaginative and uncontrolled sensibility. which is consitutive of critical thinking. is the avowal of its own fury. Thus when thinking reaches the absolute. The Reasonable Imagination 139 . All thought is a being put into relation—a “synthesis. which is none other than the impossibility for it to pursue them “further”: the absolute of presentation. in accordance with the demand of the critique itself. in spite of its rigorous unifying mechanisms. much as it still wants it. which knows no bounds in its freedom bordering on madness. the absolute of morality.108 The sublime thus encapsulates the dual nature of the Kantian fears with regard to ruleless imagination. the absolute of speculation. the faculty opens up a conceptual abyss that the Kantian system. How can the without-relation be “present” to relation? It can only be “present” as disavowed (as metaphysical entity). it is also dangerously close to the denied desires of the critical philosopher himself. the relation reaches the without-relation. It forbids itself the absolute. for the absolute is without relation.” in the language of Kant. At once the solution for the most vexing conceptual problems and a dreaded intrusion of lawless irrationality into the court of reason. This disavowal. imagination can thus only have a paradoxical and painfully conflicted position within the transcendental framework.

der sie studirt. 140 . and Friedrich von Hardenberg. Schelling. which he had so vigorously ruled out in his discussion of the transcendental unity of apperception in the Critique of Pure Reason. weil ihre Grundideen in jedem. sondern daß sie lediglich durch den Geist sich mittheilen läßt. Fichte.Die Wissenschaftslehre ist von der Art. but only through the spirit. Much to Kant’s surprise.] The Science of Knowledge is of a kind that cannot be communicated by the letter merely. to name only some of the most prominent participants in the German philosophical debate at the turn of the eighteenth century.] — johann gottlieb fichte Wissenschaftslehre 4 The Highest Point of Philosophy fichte’s reimagining of the kantian system I mmanuel Kant’s critical project immediately triggered an intense philosophical debate that gave rise to the intimately connected discourses of German Idealism and Early German Romanticism. durch die schaffende Einbildungskraft selbst hervorgebracht werden müssen[. the critique leveled against his systematic approach focused on his account of the structure of self-consciousness and in particular on the possibility of an intellectual intuition. all took Kant’s assessment of the unity of self-consciousness as the “highest point of philosophy” very seriously. by the creative imagination itself[. in anyone who studies it. Hölderlin. for its basic ideas must be produced. Friedrich Schlegel. daß sie durch den blossen Buchstaben gar nicht.

”2 The tiger of an untamed and unreasonable nature. or cast it as a willingly subservient handmaiden that will ultimately support rather than challenge the role of rational subjectivity as the foundation of the philosophical system. of the role of imagination in German philosophical discussion.1 In both Descartes’ and Kant’s accounts of subjectivity. whose most powerful means of influencing the cogito is imagination. imagination. The discussion of imagination as the mediating faculty between the respective oppositions within the system only brings this tension into more immediate focus. to put it in Friedrich Nietzsche’s words. and as a grave danger for the philosophical project. subject and nature. Upon closer examination. This assessment in turn springs from the dualistic tension between mind and body. and. potentially detrimental to the goals of reason because of its treacherous. and thus either exclude the mediating faculty of imagination from the constitution of the subject altogether. as the two previous chapters demonstrate. and both systematic accounts of subjectivity betray a consciousness—formulated with varying degrees of explicitness—that the cogito. poses a constant threat to the subject’s systematic control. as well as Friedrich von Hardenberg’s brilliant semiotic rereading of Fichte’s Science of Knowledge. From their respective philosophical perspectives. and possibly uncontrollable connection to the senses. the following two closely related chapters delinThe Highest Point of Philosophy 141 . The fundamental ambiguity with regard to imagination. “rests on the back of a tiger. however. is a direct result of this dual assessment of the faculty as both indispensable and dangerous for the constitution of the subject and the philosophical system. deceptive. while hanging in dreams. and the realms of freedom and determined causality at the heart of both Descartes’ and Kant’s philosophy. In examining Johann Gottlieb Fichte’s Idealist response to Kant. consequently. emerges simultaneously as a central concept for the constitution of self-consciousness and the foundation of the philosophical system. both Descartes and Kant proclaim the victory and the control of rational subjectivity over the irrational forces of nature. the subject in both the Cartesian and the Kantian text remains uneasy in its seemingly supreme position. which close readings of the Cartesian and Kantian texts bring to light.and their scrutiny of its potential as the absolute foundation for a complete philosophical system led to a radical reconfiguration of the concepts of subjectivity and freedom. which might in an instant be revealed as an illusion.

from which all of reality must of necessity be deduced. to a certain degree still the Other of the subject. as we shall see. Kant’s dictum ultimately denies the possibilty of a self-present first principle for the architectonic of a systematic philosophy. Fichte perceives Kant’s refusal to allow for the possibility of an intellectual intuition—a simultaneity of the noumenal and the empirical in which the subject would be completely present to itself in the realm of experience—as a philosophical skandalon. particularly in chapter 5.eate the discursive transformation of this particular tension in the postKantian philosophical debate that would shift imagination to the center of the philosophical stage. since a potentially unruly nature has been completely assimilated within the overarching structure of the absolute subject. that the threatening shadow of imagination. Even if transcendental imagination emerges with and after Fichte in all its Romantic glory thanks to the meticulous work of conceptual domestication. has not truly left philosophical awareness. In transcendental terms. then (re)discovers the foundational qualities of imagination for the philosophical system. When Fichte. completely domesticated. fantasy. imagination can be unrestrictively presented as an essential cognitive faculty precisely at the moment when Fichte completes Descartes’ and Kant’s philosophical premises. even for Kant. it no longer carries the traces of a disruptive power that could challenge the primacy of reason. which is. It will also be seen. continues to hover disquietingly in the background. without a doubt. will for Fichte simply become a different expression of the free and autonomous absolute subject. since.3 In an only seemingly paradoxical development. and Fichte’s Idealist project to remedy this foundational problem within a transcendental framework constitutes. the awareness of the threat posed by imagination dissipates as Johann Gottlieb Fichte sets out to complete and secure the role of the cogito as the absolute foundation of philosophical discourse. this discovery no longer poses a threat to the philosophical endeavor. however. Nature. its undesirable twin brother. Imagination’s synthetic capacity can be fully exalted. while seemingly exorcised in Idealist and Romantic discourse about the faculty. which comprises both sides of the epistemological equa142 The Highest Point of Philosophy . however. the most ambitious philosophical attempt to vindicate the Cartesian conviction that philosophical certainty can only be located in the self-evidence of the cogito. He transgresses the Kantian limitations for transcendental apperception in order to ascertain the absolute primacy of a freely acting subjectivity.

one of the most attentive readers of Fichte’s Science of Knowledge. and he admits in the first paragraph of the Foundations of the Whole Theory of Scientific Knowledge that even philosophical reflection cannot make the foundation and first principle of consciousness part of consciousness itself. freedom.5 This act of absolute identity is expressed in the statement A ϭ A. the concepts of subjectivity. Indeed. since the “I” is nothing but an emanation of itself as the absolute subject. since it alone can guarantee the autonomous origin of subjectivity in an act of absolute spontaneity. Fichte famously maintains.4 When Friedrich von Hardenberg. Ironically.” Both are ultimately one and the same. reexamines the Fichtean terms already derived from a reassessment of Kant’s critical system. and it is driven by the belief in an absolutely autonomous subject. the logics of positing: intellectual intuition and the absolute subject The absolute foundation of all human knowledge. which can only be demonstrated in a circular argument. which selfThe Highest Point of Philosophy 143 . agent. In order to trace this process in more detail. is for Fichte rather a moral necessity. though. where the first A represents the absolute subject and the second A the empirical “I. while never present in empirical consciousness. Fichte’s idealism is first and foremost a practical one. is a pure transcendental activity. Fichte openly acknowledges that there can be no proof for this absolute identity. and imagination undergo a double transformation within the span of a mere two years. In this action. act. claims Fichte.tion. the absolute subject. the act and that which is produced by it: in the Act. the subject or the “I” is at the same time the agent and the product of the agency. even if it cannot make the Absolute an empirical reality. this very transgression of the boundaries set by Kant for philosophical thought pushes philosophical discourse to the recognition that the subject cannot ground itself autonomously but must rely on an Other for its constitution. Yet. an Act (“Thathandlung”) in which the absolute subject posits itself as such. philosophical reflection is nevertheless the means to understand what necessarily has to be thought as the absolute foundation of consciousness. and agency become one and the same. it is first necessary to examine the Fichtean argument in the Science of Knowledge of 1794 – 95. which in turn becomes the object of reflection and thus posits itself in its empirical form.

the cogito.7 This Act. Recognizing this logical impasse. The absolute subject thus represents not what “is” but rather what “should be produced by us. but as an Act. For without this unconditional decree.” Trying to present an alternative to Spinoza’s pantheistic philosophy. the theoretical phenomenon of self-consciousness. would ultimately remain inexplicable. but as something that ought to but cannot be produced by us. a circular dilemma that is inescapable within a reflective and consequently representational model of self-consciousness. fall into one as the subject creates its own origin. the subject that reflects back on itself remains caught in an infinte regress.” as both Dieter Henrich and Manfred Frank have pointed out. Fichte decides to sever the Gordian knot of self-consciousness by imagining it. no matter how contrafactually. but rather. in which action and reflection. The term “intellectual intuition. Fichte is intent on claiming a highest point grounded not within the empirical reality of being. unlike either Kant or Descartes. not as a moment of reflection. in the noumenal realm of morality: We shall encounter his [Spinoza’s] highest unity again in the Science of Knowledge. though not as something that exists. an “absolute decree of reason” (“Machtspruch der Vernunft”). form and content. In Kant’s account of transcendental apperception. which serves as the highest point of the philosophical system even though we cannot succed in making it “real.” a moral command. and as Fichte himself insisted repeatedly in 144 The Highest Point of Philosophy . Constantly reproducing a split between observer and observed.originates as a freely acting moral agent.6 To posit the absolute subject’s necessary existence is. 106) (I:2:268). in Fichte’s own terms. 1982. the only system that had postulated a truly all-encompassing unity. and could never recognize itself as the “I” that must be able to accompany the act of reflection if it did not already “know” itself as the origin of both the transcendental and the empirical form of subjectivity. constitutes for Fichte precisely the object of the intellectual intuition that Kant had excluded from his transcendental account of subjectivity. the subject’s transcendental self-reflection could never bring about any form of self-knowledge. with which we seem so intimately familiar. a decision that is not only a practical but also a theoretical demand (Fichte.

who publicly repudiated his former protégé’s claim to have understood the critical project better than Kant himself. Kant excludes the possibility of an intellectual intuition from the realm of experience since it designates for him the mental production of sensual intuitions. and thus. he assigns a quality to this moment that differs from Kant’s. the very term “absolute subject” indicates that the powers of self-creation traditionally reserved for a divine entity have been philosophically transferred to the subject itself to guarantee its complete autonomy. has no such qualms. like Kant. return the Absolute to a position outside and beyond both subject and being. and it thus The Highest Point of Philosophy 145 .” a conception for which Fichte sees no precedent in the Kantian text. Fichte himself. like Emmanuel Swedenborg’s. To claim such a divine capacity for a human intellect would entail absurd philosophical consequences. in the post-Fichtean phase of his philosophical career. As Fichte points out in the second introduction to the Science of Knowledge. there can be no doubt that Fichte’s originary act of positing has the thinly veiled qualities of a divine fiat. Friedrich von Hardenberg questioned whether Fichte could truly claim the right to locate everything within the subject: “Has not Fichte too arbitrarily packed everything into the I? With what warrant?”9 Kant. After all. and in the framework of the Science of Knowledge this intellectual intuition directed towards an Act solves more than the question of self-consciousness. From a Kantian perspective. Schelling. not a philosophical impulse at all. though. Despite this necessary differentiation. but rather toward an “acting.response to the criticism of his contemporaries. And in his notebook entries on the Science of Knowledge.8 While Fichte does see the necessity of taking exception to Kant’s strict separation of concepts and intuitions for the originary act of self-consciousness in which the absolute subject constitutes itself as such. the highest point of theoretical philosophy. excludes this “intuitus originarius” from human experience. has a different meaning here than it had for Kant. Fichte’s philosophical impulse. is ultimately that of the Schwärmer. would criticize the hubris entailed in Fichte’s position and. for one. an intellectual intuition within his philosophical system is not directed toward being. certainly saw Fichte’s position as unwarranted. and Fichte. As an autonomous act of the subject it also constitutes the first principle of practical philosophy. in its refusal to accept the boundaries of the critical system.

for in that law your freedom is presupposed. as Manfred Frank has pointed out.enables Fichte to close the gap in the Kantian system between the first two critiques. presents a problem similar to that of the transcendental unity of apperception. In both cases. and would have been led to discover the true first principle of all philosophy.” which needs to accompany all perception to guarantee the unity of consciousness.” one has to think oneself as subject to a law and vice versa: If you think of yourself as free. he would have had to acknowledge the existence of an intellectual intuition in the Fichtean sense. but on whose existence the unity of his philosophical system nevertheless depends. you are forced to think of yourself as free. Freedom. Had Kant only asked himself what kind of self-consciousness the highest principle of his practical philosophy entailed. you are forced to think of your freedom as subsumed under a law. Indeed. Kant presupposes the actualization of a principle to which no empirical experience can ever be adequate. it should be noted here. In order to think oneself free. for Fichte as for Kant. The Act through which the absolute subject posits its own existence is thus also an absolute act of freedom in which the subject overcomes what “is” and realizes what “should be” in accordance with the moral law. and it announces itself as a law for freedom. and if you think of that law. Kant himself laid the groundwork for such a connection and was merely unable to complete it because he pursued two different lines of inquiry in the first and the second critiques. Fichte concludes that both of these principles need to be seen as united in a single act.11 146 The Highest Point of Philosophy . necessitates an intellectual intuition in the form of an act of the will.10 In the theoretical realm of the Critique of Pure Reason this principle is the “I. the categorical imperative. Fichte argues. which constitutes the truly highest point and first principle of a complete philosophical system. Indeed. for here the subject simultaneously perceives and enacts the law. as it entails the free acceptance of the noumenal moral law. Fichte maintains. and in the Critique of Practical Reason the principle in question is the categorical imperative. Kant’s concept of the categorical imperative. Fichte suggests. cannot be thought independently of the moral law. situated right on the threshold of the sensible and the supersensible. Fichte points out in the “System of Ethics According to the Principles of the Theory of Scientific Knowledge.

To accomplish the desired proof. which are to unfold the philosophical implications of this first principle. which allows for a different kind of rhetoric with regard to imagination. or second-order observations. philosophy begins with an Act (ThatHandlung [sic]). and which simultaneously provide a means to go beyond their limitations. The moment of intellectual intuition finally provides the Archimedean point from which the philosopher can survey both the phenomenal and the noumenal world: If philosophy begins with a fact (ThatSache [sic]).It is clear that for Fichte. What changes from the Kantian to the Fichtean system in this respect is the overall philosophical framework. while the second series presents the reflections. not as an ontological fact (“Thatsache”). In defining the intellectual intuition of the absolute subject as an Act (“Thathandlung”). but not so much the conviction about the absolute necessity to guarantee the autonomy of reason and the moral law. and it will be difficult indeed for it to discover any path leading from this world to an infinite and supersensible one. borrowing from the terminology of contemporary systems theory. By means of The Highest Point of Philosophy 147 . One series presents the facts or observations of empirical consciousness. however. is then to be given by the narrative of the theoretical and the practical part of the Science of Knowledge. the philosophical narrative proceeds on two parallel and simultaneously developing series or levels. but simultaneously the question of freedom and ultimately of the unity of a complete philosophical system.” reality exterior to it. which could be called. the power granted to imagination depends on a preestablished harmony between imaginative freedom and reasonable laws. that make the presentation of the first level possible to begin with. no less than for Kant. the empirical “I” sees itself as differentiated from and limited by the “Non-I. where this differentiation appears as a mere illusion of consciousness. an observation on which it can reflect at the second level of the narration. If.and second-order observations. then it finds itself at the precise point where these two worlds are connected with each other and from which they can be both surveyed in a single glance. first.12 The retroactive proof for the existence of the highest point of philosophy in which the subject emerges as both unified and free. Fichte claims to have solved not only the problem of self-consciousness. At the first level. then it places itself in the midst of a world of being and finitude.

This internal narrative technique corresponds to the relationship of the reader of the Science of Knowledge to its author. ecstasy. The Science of Knowledge is a philosophical novel. the reader. and the narrative structure of the Science of Knowledge is the only way this belief can actually be taught: by inducing an act of sympathetic identification on the part of a reader or listener. a quasi-religious affair. who starts out at the first unreflective level of consciousness. The transmission of philosophical knowledge thus openly depends on a moment of hermeneutical inspiration. and philosophical genius Critics of the Science of Knowledge.” To grasp the true premise of the Science of Knowledge. since they interpret it either from an idealist or from a realist perspective. The English translation of Wissenschaftslehre as Science of Knowledge. where the philosopher has been waiting for him all along. the empirical “I. but rather imagination. which the text needs to induce in order to make its message understood. Just as the empirical I is led to understand its absolute nature. it is necessary to do neither. and the medium of this transmission is now no longer reason. who allows the author/ philosopher to perform an act of reflective transformation of his consciousness. actively 148 The Highest Point of Philosophy . of which the philosopher is the prophet. which proves to be one and the same once the narration has come full circle. the empirical I can understand that it has. forcing it to focus either on the subjective pole of the relation. the “Not-I. inspired communication. a Bildungsroman—minus the aesthetic pleasure—and it demands the sympathetic act of a “self-activity” (“Selbstthätigkeit”) from the student. Fichte points out as he brings his philosophical argument to its conclusion. actually posited these limits itself and is thus their free and productive unity.reflection. as the absolute I. and to reflect on both poles of the epistemological equation at the same time.” obscures one of the fundamental points of the project. is guided to the second level of reflection. which does not render the German word “Lehre. usually do not understand the fundamental principles of the Fichtean system. The narrative of the Science of Knowledge leads the “I” from the first level to the second.13 The core belief of Fichte’s “doctrine of science” is the belief in the existence of the absolute autonomy of the subject. A “Lehre” is literally a doctrine.” or on its objective counterpart. however.

clearly signals a return to one of the oldest roots of the philosophical assessment of imagination: the (Neo)Platonic interpretation of the faculty as a divine gift that accounts for inspiration and prophecy and allows for the communication with the noumenal. in a fortunate minute. the Absolute. though by no means all of them have it at their command. to create therewith in a purposeful manner. but needs to present itself to the soul in a “fortunate minute” of inspiration. the desired image should visit their soul like a flash of lightning. all-replacing conThe Highest Point of Philosophy 149 .14 The central metaphor Fichte employs for intellectual intuition in this passage. a faculty that all men are quite certainly endowed with. enabling a fortunate vision of the Absolute. capable of freely controlling and using his imagination. and a recurrent image of Neoplatonic as well as mystic thought and religious practice. since without it they would have no presentations at all. however. indicates that the empirical “I” has stepped outside itself by means of imagination in an extratemporal and ecstatic moment. and inexorably imprint it in his memory so that it is not lost for further use. is able to put it to the necessary use in this extraordinary moment. can prolong this instant. and to register it inerasably for any use they wish. but rather loses itself in an inspirational moment of contact with the Absolute. While every human being is endowed with the faculty of imagination. This moment. the flash of lightning that fleetingly reveals the desired image. and the divine. Fichte claims. hold on to the image it presents to the mind. which is precisely the intellectual intuition that reveals the Act of the absolute subject from which both “I” and “Not-I” originate.15 Over twenty years earlier. to examine it. would make clear that the subject does not relate to an empirical object. to seize it. Only the philosopher. cannot be produced at will. Schelling was certainly still true to the spirit of Fichte’s Science of Knowledge when he suggested in his Erlangen lectures in the 1820s that the concept of intellectual intuition would be more appropriately and less confusingly rendered by the term ecstasy (“Ekstase”). And this is the business of the creative imagination.imagining them in a unity that refuses a resolution on either side. analyze it. This change in terminology. or if. Schelling suggests. The flash of lightning as an ancient metaphor for divine revelation. as in a sensual intuition. Friedrich von Hardenberg had already reached this conclusion in the General Brouillon: “Without ecstasy —captivating. not everybody.

but only through the spirit [Geist]. be otherwise in a Science that penetrates back to the ultimate grounds of human knowledge. Who would have suspected a post-Kantian philosopher to proclaim that 150 The Highest Point of Philosophy . cannot be performed if the reader does not use his or her own imagination for an act of self-activity (“Selbstthätigkeit”) that repeats and represents—makes present once again—the central idea that informs the Fichtean teaching. The hermeneutical act of sympathetic identification.17 To anyone familiar with Kant. Read unimaginatively. while the imagination cannot be grasped save through the imagination itself. but rather—anathema to Kant—the quasireligious inspirational power of imagination. the nonchalance with which Fichte proclaims the primacy of imagination can seem almost shocking. If the Fichtean philosopher is uninspired. the fundamental principles of Fichtean philosophy can neither be understood nor communicated. in that the whole enterprise of the human spirit issues from the imagination. which is necessary for the reader to grasp the true spirit of the Science of Knowledge and to follow the philosopher on his reflective path from the illusions of the empirical I to the origin of the absolute subject.sciousness—all of philosophy is not worth all too much. the text of the Science of Knowledge will remain an assemblage of dead letters and will lack the spirit (“Geist”) that alone makes it communicable. indeed. by the creative imagination itself. It is no longer the universal law of reason that guarantees the communicability of ideas within a reasonable philosophical community. he thus reintroduces and rediscovers an ecstatic and ultimately irrational moment of inspiration as the basis of subjectivity and the philosophical system. As Fichte attempts to bring both the Cartesian and the Kantian projects to their completion. unable to employ and activate the imagination. as could not. It is this power which determines whether or not we philosophize with insight [Geist]. in anyone who studies it. and Kant had agonizingly introduced it while simultaneously holding it at bay in the paradoxical moment of negative revelation that is the sublime.”16 The young Descartes had referred to such an encounter when he suggested that philosophical invention might proceed through inspirational moments that lie hidden in the soul like sparks in a flintstone. for its basic ideas must be elicited. The Science of Knowledge is of a kind that cannot be communicated by the letter merely.

as we shall see. light. dusk. is in need of genius if he is to succeed in his task. and darkness: the reconciliation of opposites In the narrative procedure of the Science of Knowledge. Imagination is not only essential for the transmission of this philosophical narrative. while the philosopher is in need of a sense for truth. for the argument that should unfold and secure the postulate of a single absolute principle consists of a seemingly unending spiral of differences. which never quite return to a single origin. but also.” and that only by activating imagination rather than reason can the reader ultimately understand that he or she literally is the (absolute) subject of the Fichtean text? The lower faculty of imagination has seemingly supplanted reason in its place of honor for the philosophical system. whose reconciliations only produce new distinctions.” a “sense for truth”: It is thus illuminated that the philosopher is no less in need of the dark feelings of the adequate or of genius [der dunklen Gefühle des Richtigen oder des Genie] than the poet or the artist for example. which creates the narrative complications of the Science of Knowledge.18 It is clear why the Science of Knowledge. no less then the poet or the artist. in its incarThe Highest Point of Philosophy 151 . is in no need of an aesthetic tertium akin to Kant’s Critique of Judgment. The poet and the artist are in need of a sense for beauty.19 The crux of Fichte’s argument. which indeed exists. Fichte almost seems intent on the deconstruction of his own philosophical premise. in its fusion of the theoretical and the practical. The Fichtean philosopher has already assumed the domain of the artist. and it is hence only a logical consequence if Fichte claims in his programmatic introduction to the principles of the Science of Knowledge. What makes the successful philosopher is a “dark feeling. and the ultimate success of the Fichtean system depends on the inspirational effect of its narrative execution. and why Fichte. is to explain why the subject. saw no need to write a philosophy of art. unlike Schelling. he only needs them in a different way. “On the Concept of the Science of Knowledge or the Philosophy So-Called.” that the philosopher. for the unity of its internal structure. as Winfried Menninghaus has remarked.imagination forms the basis of the “whole business of the human mind.

it also and simultaneously opposes a Not-I to itself. from which unity becomes observable. The narrative of the Science of Knowledge in its various incarnations flows from the unfolding of these three principles and Fichte’s attempt to explain their ultimate unity and identity. the statement -A A. a reciprocity which allows for the inference of their common origin. The subject can only become conscious of itself as the subject if it distinguishes itself from an outside. Every quantum of negation. the object.nation as the empirical I. The absolute subject thus performs two Acts (“Thathandlungen”). for the possibility of unity can only be perceived consciously. perceives itself as limited by the outside influence of a seemingly objective world if it is truly constitutive of both empirical realms through the act of freedom it performs as the absolute subject. or Not-I. 152 The Highest Point of Philosophy . will flow. that the I posits within itself creates an equal amount of reality within the Not-I and vice versa. which signifies the simultaneous act of an absolute “opposing” (“Gegensetzen”). Fichte takes recourse in an unprecedented way to the mediatory power of imagination. how can the empirical perception of an insurmountable subject-object opposition. Equally certain is its implied contrary. claims Fichte. be revealed as a mere illusion of consciousness? In the attempt to resolve this narrative predicament. one in which it posits itself in the unconditional reality of the I. and hence a lack of freedom with regard to the objective world. the principle of limitation. once a distinction has been made. The statement A ϭ A is thus not the only principle of the Science of Knowledge with claims to absolute certainty. which presents the opposites I and Not-I as the mutually dependent poles of a reciprocal determination (“Wechselbestimmung”). the object. for only in this opposition will the absolute subject be able to recognize itself in the mirror of consciousness. In the production of selfconsciousness. not only posits itself as the absolute subject. The answer to the question lies once again in the central paradox of consciousness itself. Fichte explains. does the I perceive itself as finite and limited if it is truly infinite and unlimited. as this “should be” the case. The I. in other words. from which the other pole of the epistemological equation. the absolute subject thus simultaneously posits and delimits itself. and. Why. for finitude and limitation are its necessary preconditions. The unity of both the act of positing and that of negation will be provided by the third fundamental principle introduced in the Science of Knowledge. and another in which it posits its unconditional negation as the Not-I.

the problem will have to be solved in a more radical way: And so it would go on forever. anticipating the historical dialectics that would later be developed in different versions by Schelling and Hegel. which the philosopher does not pronounce himself but which he merely proclaims: Since there is no way of reconciling the not-self with the self. Within these synthesizing links. without any discernible endpoint. a point can always be discerned in which I and Not-I would have to come. as all limitations must be sublated within the allencompassing singularity of the absolute subject. Once again. These intermediary links. as Fichte concedes. will then serve as syntheses. infinity and finitude. Fichte. and the synthesizing process would thus potentially have to be repeated ad infinitum. If I and Not-I cannot be unified. In other words. The philosophical method of the Science of Knowledge consists in the continuous introduction of intermediary links (“Mittelglieder”) between the two seemingly irreconcilable extremes of I and Not-I. attempts to solve the problem by means of a deferral. in order to demonstrate that the two completely different poles of subject and object indeed have a point of connection through which they can be seen as united. which are affected by both I and Not-I. into direct contact. Fichte’s most important task becomes to clarify how the two polar opposites of the I and the Not-I can indeed be seen as mutually affecting each other. which arises through its limitation by the Not-I. the objective empirical The Highest Point of Philosophy 153 . if the knot were not cut. and its infinity. not the necessary existence of the absolute subject. This simultaneity. is precisely what the system demands. rather than loosed. however.” through which reason now declares. are ultimately one and the same. which is the product of its own free act of positing as the absolute subject. impossibly. contains a logical impossibility. a simultaneity of infinity and finitude which. it must be shown that the finitude of the I. through which the two poles can be seen as mutually affecting each other. but rather the necessary nonexistence of the Not-I. Another mediatory link is required to prevent such a direct confrontation. however. by an absolute decree of reason. let there be no not-self at all!20 The Not-I “should not” exist. and Fichte thus needs to show that it is ultimately nothing but the I under a different guise. this intolerable infinite regress is prevented by an “absolute decree. To guarantee a philosophical system without contradictions.For this reason.

the problem of transition is only deferred. From this perspective. Yet the original difficulty will recur at both points of contact. can only be resolved by assuming that light and darkness are ultimately not in opposition at all. And since dusk can only be differentiated from light by virtue of not being darkness and vice versa. Fichte’s narrative reconciliation of these two empirical states ultimately fails if he cannot take recourse to a principle of a different kind. will remain incomplete until an equivalent for the transitional state of dusk can be introduced into the argument of the Science of Knowledge. One might attempt to solve the problem by introducing the phenomenon of dusk as an intermediary between the two states. however. a transitional phase that would be bordered by light on one side of its spectrum and by darkness on the other. flexible and fluid enough to mediate the harsh opposition between subject and object. it is impossible— in the terms of binary logic—to conceive of a point that could be simultaneously light and darkness. while sufficiently autonomous to keep both of them separate. but rather only differentiated by degrees. 154 The Highest Point of Philosophy .world loses all autonomous reality. as their substance. The absolute subject. The analogy. not solved: both liminal points on the continuum would still need to be simultaneously light and darkness. Fichte explains. is. The ensuing contradiction. darkness has no status of its own. for an intermediary that could guarantee the continuity of a gradual spectrum from the total light of the I to the complete darkness of the Not-I still remains to be found. it is nothing but a very low quantity of light. the metaphysics of oscillation and the truth of imagination As Fichte develops his argument in the course of the Science of Knowledge’s theoretical part. as it is redefined in terms of the I. he will define I and Not-I as accidents of the absolute subject. Fichte claims. While light and darkness form a continuum. Fichte maintains. is precisely the relation between I and Not-I. Fichte illustrates his argumentative procedure by means of another ancient gnoseological metaphor when he portrays the opposition of I and Not-I in terms of the opposition between light and darkness. for one would necessarily need to envision the contact point A to be a mixture of dusk and light and contact point B to consist of a mixture of dusk and darkness. Such. in turn.

but rather a simultaneous activity of positing (“Setzen”) and reciprocity (“Wechsel”) that allows for the connection of I and Not-I. and thereby preserves them both. By means of this faculty. accounts for nothing less then the existence of life and consciousness as such. which we shall examine more closely in due course.” even if Fichte has stripped it here of almost all the representational aspects traditionally connected to it. By now. As he returns once again to the metaphorical relation of light and darkness in order to illustrate the unity and reciprocity of the accidents I and Not-I. however. transitions. it is that which alone makes possible life and consciousness. through the most marvellous of its faculties. holds fast the perishing accident long enough to compare it with that which supplants it. effectively transforming it from an image-making to a time-producing capacity at the heart of life and consciousness. which. The positing I. For the time being. Fichte has pushed his argument a step The Highest Point of Philosophy 155 . as a progressive sequence in time. especially. in and by itself. and cognitive hybridity: imagination.21 We are of course by now familiar with this “almost always unrecognized and misrepresented faculty.nothing but the synthesis and reciprocity (“Wechsel”) of these two accidents. Fichte. it is a container. This faculty—almost always misunderstood—is that which from inveterate opposites knits together a unity. since they would mutually destroy each other. is endowed with a “marvellous faculty. accidents which have no common bearer. It has no reality but only contains the totality and completeness of their relation. a “sphere” (“Sphäre”). and consciousness. is not quite ready yet to reveal the identity of this peculiar power. which will be presented at the appropriate moment: The positing self. the subject can connect and sustain two moments that otherwise would cancel each other out. as he asserts confidently. This substance is hence not a stable substratum of two accidents. increasing the narrative suspense. thereby establishing their unity. as Fichte puts it. the reader is left with the promise of a more detailed analysis. the absolute subject. which intervenes between elements that would mutually abolish each other. and could have none. Fichte now completes his earlier analogy and replaces the intermediary state of dusk with the traditional faculty of thresholds.” which enables it to retain the diminishing accident just long enough to compare it with its rising opposite. and all this it does simply by carrying forward.

Underlying all of these incarnations.23 As it produces the connecting border between I and Not-I. however. The limit it produces is hence changeable and moveable. and imagination does much more than merely ensure the (temporal) continuity between light and darkness by providing the unifying border or substratum that allows for a connection and relation between the two extremes. and imagination produces the sought-after unity precisely because it is not fixed and 156 The Highest Point of Philosophy . the liminal power of imagination. imagination has itself no stable position.)22 The seemingly irreconcilable opposites. two interacting spheres or globes (“Sphären. without which nothing at all in the human mind is capable of explanation—and on which the entire mechanism of that mind may very well be based. the marvellous faculty of the productive imagination . appear in ever-shifting forms in the various steps of Fichte’s argument: as two conflicting drives (“Triebe”) or directions of desire (“Sehnen”). and which find their productive unity in imagination. . might very well be the fundamental ground and basis of the whole mechanism of the human mind: ( . the infinite activity of self-positing and the finite activity of (self)definition and delimitation. As the limit or border between these opposites. but also the interface where they can be united (“Zusammenfassen”). Fichte can now speculate. . Fichte designates this “marvellous” productive activity of imagination with the term “oscillation” (“Schweben”). The “homeless” faculty of imagination. all of which only find connection in their productive limit.” “Kugeln”). . since its limit not only constitutes the conceptual border where the extremes will meet (“Zusammentreffen”). one centripetal. one centrifugal. imagination manifests itself as the central concept for Fichte’s argument. in which the absolute subject becomes conscious of itself as the opposition and substance of I and Not-I. which Fichte almost off-handedly adds in parentheses. but rather “oscillates” between the finite and the infinite. or as two opposing forces (“Kräfte”). remain the two fundamental activities of the absolute subject. emerges as the productive force that actually brings them into existence.further. As the “marvellous faculty” that—however fleetingly—gives I and Not-I unity and substance. . In a formulation that would become one of the central terms and concepts of Early German Romanticism. which nevertheless constitute the substance of the absolute subject. in a very Romantic and utterly un-Kantian move.

Imagination is a faculty that oscillates in the middle between determination and nondetermination. and being itself. both through the determinate A. The faculty active therein has already been denominated earlier the productive imagination. which puts it simultaneously in the position of both. which is that very synthesis of imagination of which we were speaking just now. reason alone posits anything fixed. that the mind can receive a fleeting glimpse of its unity as the absolute subject. it produces the latter in the course of its oscillating and through its oscillating as it were. in which productive imagination is the active faculty. the mind puts them in relation to itself and thus gives them a certain content and a certain expanse. and hence it does indeed determine A ϩ B. Fichte calls this state of paradoxical unity in opposition. and only in this state. provides no less for the subject then all of reality. The highest point of philosophy. between finite and infinte. the moment that productive imagination here enables and enacts can only be the moment of intellectual intuition. One of the traditional critiques of imagination. In this movement. the liminal unity of consciousness and the philosophical system.24 In this moment of synthesis the two opposites undergo a substantial transformation. even as it is constantly attracted and repelled by both of them.”25 And since it is in this. a state of “Anschauung” (intuition): “This condition is called the state of intuition. The imagination posits no sort of fixed boundary. consciousness. life. Fichte explains. they will receive something that they did not have before: reality and content. and also through the indeterminate B. can thus produce the sought-after unity of the absolute subject. however. as Fichte elaborates. While passing through the unifying limit of imagination. still lingers even in the Fichtean apotheosis of the faculty.allows for no fixed borders. is thus not only communicated by imagination. Its oscillation between the extremes. it touches on and holds together the extremes.—Imagination designates this oscillation precisely through its product. it is also produced by the faculty whose action. for it has no fixed standpoint of its own. As the mind (“Geist”) oscillates between the need to unify its opposing forces and the impossibility to fulfill this reconciliatory need. and Fichte feels the need The Highest Point of Philosophy 157 . in that it first fixates imagination itself. a transmission that creates the fundamental categories of time and space.

our existence as selves. our life. Our doctrine here is therefore that all reality— for us being understood. since it is impossible that what does the abstracting should abstract from itself. 158 The Highest Point of Philosophy . and there must be a means of escaping it. Hence imagination does not deceive but gives us truth. our existence for ourselves. In the context of Fichte’s idealism. for such a doubt would have to deny the self-evidence of the subject’s existence. that this act of imagination forms the basis for the possibility of our consciousness. Fichte. makes the very power that Descartes had decidedly excluded from the cogito the ultimate condition of its possibility. is the same. the subject’s self-consciousness and hence the cogito’s very existence depends on the activity of imagination. whose teaching. Fichte thus affirms that the representations of imagination. then it cannot be eliminated. however. then the faculty’s products can no longer be reasonably doubted. that is. as I understand it. unless we abstract from the self. To suppose that it deceives us would be to institute a scepticism that told us to doubt our own existence. which creates the substratum that subtends the opposing forces of I and Not-I. and in one of the most ironic twists in the history of philosophy. Only the necessary and truth-providing illusion of imagination prevents this reductio ad nihilo of the Fichtean system. as Fichte calls it. and the only possible truth. provide the only possible and accessible truth for the thinking subject. as the present system claims to prove it. since he anticipates a reminder of imagination’s deceptiveness and the illusory quality of its products. which can no longer be separated from imagination. If. to put it in Kantian terms. such Cartesian scepticism with regard to the products of the faculty can no longer be sensibly entertained. as it cannot be otherwise understood in a system of transcendental philosophy— is brought forth solely by the imagination. who arguably sets out to bring Descartes’ philosophical project to its completion. I and Not-I would annihilate each other and would ultimately amount to sheer nothingness. calls this a deception on the part of the imagination. But to every deception a truth must be opposed. which is a contradiction.26 Without the “benevolent deception of imagination” (“wohlthätige Täuschung der Einbildungskraft”).to address it. Yet if it is now proved. no thought and no reflection would be possible. Without imagination. even if possibly deceptive or illusory. One of the greatest thinkers of our age. and Fichte will immediately dismiss it as ultimately irrelevant. as Fichte had attempted to show.

the reading of the Cartesian text carried out in chapter 2 is thus performed. since Fichte’s attempt to deduce all being from the absolute subject runs counter to Heidegger’s endeavour to demonstrate the primacy of Being. is no less of a self-aggrandizement then Fichte’s deduction of empirical existence from the all-encompassing position of the absolute subject. and dangerous form of the faculty that still appeared so threatening to The Highest Point of Philosophy 159 . which made it a threat for both Descartes and Kant. productive of time and consciousness. however. however. and he in fact presents his own account in Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics as headed in the opposite direction from German Idealism.Fichte’s absolute subject would be both blind and empty. reality and being. as its inclusionary move strips imagination of all its subversive power. these philosophical differences matter little when it comes to the assessment of imagination. very much doubts that they discovered the “true essence” of the faculty. which could present a serious challenge. which brings all of Being under the purview of the philosopher. one might say. Ultimately. has been safely defused by Heidegger just as it was by Fichte.28 The same assessment can be made of Fichte’s “rehabilitation” of imagination. reason’s fixations: arresting imagination It would seem that by thus acknowledging imagination as the foundational power of the human mind. Heidegger’s ontological project. by the process of intellectual history itself. this position should not come as a surprise. while he acknowledges that Fichte and Schelling had already given a central role to imagination in their development of transcendental philosophy. Heidegger’s philosophy exceeds the dominion ascribed to reason in Kant’s enlightened philosophy. As Hartmut and Gernot Böhme have pointed out. for Fichte’s philosophical presentation of the faculty as essential for the unity and even the existence of self-consciousness does not amount to an acceptance of the potentially disruptive. unruly. and neither of the two systems acknowledges an Outside or an Other. Heidegger.27 Particularly with regard to Fichte. Fichte here comes to embrace precisely the discovery from which Heidegger saw Kant recoil in the Critique of Pure Reason. which can be fully embraced from both perspectives. to which subjectivity needs to be deferred. In the philosophical development from Descartes to Fichte. because its disruptive power.

and that is revealed in the intellectual intuition. so that we can conceive it as one and the same. which Fichte now 160 The Highest Point of Philosophy . In order to secure this connection and to ground the philosophical system in its highest practical and theoretical principle.Kant. Imagination. is to say that imagination should oscillate no longer. the single origin that alone can give to the system its necessary order and foundation.29 If the subject is to truly recognize itself as one and the same. needs to remain controlled within the sphere of the absolute subject.30 Reason accomplishes this task of fixating imagination through its “executive decision” in the absolute act of positing. That it should be fixated. is of necessity an enactment of the absolute moral law. would ultimately destroy the fragile state of intuition and the oscillating imagination. Fichte agrees completely with Kant that the freedom the subject realizes when it discovers itself as the absolute subject is the freedom to act according to the categorical imperative and the moral law. then the intellectual intuition. consisting of neither but containing something of both. Yet it still depends on another cognitive faculty to carry out its demand. needs to be “fixated” in an act of limiting control that can only be accomplished by reason. The Act that instantiates the absolute subject. with the result that intuition would be utterly abolished and destroyed. reason alone posits anything fixed. as Fichte puts it. rather. the fleeting product of imagination. however. as the autonomous unity of observer and observed from which the system takes its origin. the “oscillating” of imagination ultimately needs to be brought to a halt. needs to be retained and fixed. Yet this must not happen. for it has no fixed standpoint of its own. The imagination posits no sort of fixed boundary. so that in intuition there must at least remain the product of this state. which knows no boundaries. consisting. But intuition as such is in no way fixed. The movement of imagination. a trace of the opposed directions. a state of which thus at least a trace should remain in the necessary act of fixation: Intuition as such is to be fixated. Such a fixation. in that it first fixates imagination itself. in an oscillating of the imagination between conflicting directions.

while understanding is necessary on the other hand to make the ephemeral products of imagination available to reason as stable fixated entities. leaves no space for the free decisions of individuals. has direct political implications.” and which points for Fichte to a movement come to a standstill. no less than Kant’s. his philosophical attempt to systematize natural law according to the principles of the Theory of Scientific Knowledge.” which can be detected in the German “Verstand. becomes immediately apparent when one examines Fichte’s Foundation of Natural Law According to the Principles of the Science of Knowledge. published in 1796 – 97. understanding is now seen as the mental power that mediates between reason and imagination. Fichte sees the understanding as an arrested form of imagination.” just as in the English “understanding.presents as understanding.32 Friedrich von Hardenberg. which. The last vestige of imagination’s disruptive capacity still present in Fichte’s account. Fichte’s desire to deduce the system of natural law from the principles of the Science of Knowledge and to conceive of a state whose central authority could secure the safety of all its citizens leads to a system of absolute bureaucratic control. In a reversal of the usual relation between the faculties. reason can fixate imagination. That Fichte’s system. anticipated this consequence of Fichte’s approach. In an almost Heideggerian instance of philosophical etymology. By means of understanding.31 Fichte’s system thus remains constrained by the authority of a single origin. as indicated by the root “to stand. or as reason furnished with objects by the imagination. though it derives its goals from the reasonable principle of freedom. The Highest Point of Philosophy 161 .33 to whose reading of Fichte I now turn. is safely brought under the control of reason. and saw the desire for an absolute origin and the philosophical tendency to reduce everything to a single foundation as the fatal flaw of the Fichtean system. which determines and fixates the objects that fall under its jurisdiction. the faculty’s limit-defying movement. Here. Understanding might be described either as the imagination stabilized by reason.

like his close friend Friedrich Schlegel. ist eine Kunst. could systematize its own lack of systematicity: An authentic philosophical system must systematize freedom and infinity. in order to be neither unjust nor anarchic. it must systematize systemlessness. Only such a system can avoid the errors of system and be accused of neither injustice nor anarchy.1 Hardenberg searches for a compromise between the anarchic effects of unconstrained freedom feared by both Kant and Fichte and the complete 162 . to express it more strikingly. would aspire to develop a philosophical system that. — friedrich von hardenberg Fichte Studien 5 A System without Foundations poetic subjectivity in friedrich von hardenberg’s ORDO INVERSUS F riedrich von Hardenberg. To be a complete I is an art. or.Vollständiges Ich zu seyn.

Hardenberg will also redefine Fichte’s concept of productive imagination. He develops his attempt to delineate an alternative system in an attentive reading of Fichte’s Science of Knowledge. by inhabiting the Fichtean terms and presuppositions. however. which seemed the only philosophical and political alternatives. Hardenberg’s claim that the products of imagination only seem illusory from the perspective of ordinary understanding but are otherwise not only real. but the source and matrix of reality itself (“der Quell. his way of explaining Fichte’s argument to himself in the process of writing. since the text both unfolds Hardenberg’s reading of Fichte. and one of the most brilliant Romantic critiques of Fichte’s idealism. are extensive marginalia to the Science of Knowledge and need to be read side by side with Fichte’s text. die Realität selbst”) is also taken straight from Fichte. although they use the Fichtean text as their starting point. continually radicalize its conclusions and ultimately reach a philosophical position that is Hardenberg’s. and a process of discovery in which Hardenberg develops his own ideas and insights. and a close look at entry 555 of the Fichte Studies can help to demonstrate the process of reading that takes place when Hardenberg “fichtesizes. Like all of his notebook entries concerning the Science of Knowledge. they constitute a reading through which Hardenberg. documented in the series of philosophical questions. and reflections in his notebooks. The Fichte Studies. not Fichte’s. As a critical questioning of Fichte’s philosophical system. follow Fichte’s injunction A System without Foundations 163 . Hardenberg does not. collected under the title Fichte Studies. which. which fill roughly two hundred pages in the critical edition of Hardenberg’s work. die Mater aller Realität.” as he and Friedrich Schlegel called their productive engagement with Fichtean texts and ideas. In the course of this critique. What emerges from the Fichte Studies is a sketch of Hardenberg’s own idea of a system. and thus the subject itself. Specifically in entry 555. entry 555 performs a double movement. Hardenberg also clearly has the Fichtean text directly in front of him when he discusses the oscillating of productive imagination as the only way to harmonize the two accidences of the absolute I as it produces the two extremes of I and Not-I. speculations. Hardenberg is concerned with the Fichtean problems of freedom and reflection as they play themselves out in the relation of the I and the Not-I and the overarching sphere of the absolute I.control of the law of reason. ultimately decenters and wrests them from their place in order to create something new.

German Idealism thus turns into Early German Romanticism: To be free is the tendency of the I—the capacity to be free is the productive imagination. Be one with yourself is thus the fundamental condition of the highest end—to Be. All being. being in general. is clearly a mystical. extratemporal moment in which the universe and the (self-)contemplating subject contained in it reveal themselves as one and the same.3 As a narrative that demands an act of imagination for its transmission. not it through them. Quite despite itself. is equally clear. in the characteristic doubleness of Hardenberg’s thought.” and only “virtually” (“quasi”) as a mystical moment. Hardenberg can show. or to be free. as Hardenberg describes it in the following notebook entry. the Science of Knowledge. At the same time. All reality radiates from this light-point of oscillation—everything is contained in it—object and subject have their being through it. thus also allows for a 164 A System without Foundations . is nothing but being free— oscillating between the extremes that necessarily are to be united and necessarily are to be separated. and the “fact” (“Thatsache”) of this state of “being I” (“Ichseyn”). the “irony” of this moment. not temporal.to subsequently fixate the oscillation of imagination by means of reason. its moral freedom. for the oscillating itself becomes for Hardenberg synonymous not only with the I. as it were a moment that encompasses the eternal universe. contains it within itself—in which we live. between opposites. To fixate it would entail an act against the self ’s highest destination. The self-identity of cosmos and consciousness that Hardenberg describes hence reads the mystical underpinnings of Fichte’s intellectual intuition back into the Fichtean text. but with being and freedom itself. while it realizes the coinstantaneousness of subject and object in a decidedly un-Fichtean way: But the fact that is under discussion here must be thought of as completely spiritual. not singular. as the “fact” in question is something that needs to be thought of as “purely spiritual. create and have our being—an unending fact that happens completely in every moment — identical eternally acting genius— being I.2 Freedom and subjectivity are here thus depicted as a state of indetermination. its inevitable constructedness.— Harmony is the condition of its activity—of [its] oscillating (Schweben).

Unlike Fichte. is thus ultimately a deception (“Täuschung”) of imagination. The pure. and imagination yet another radical turn in the span of a mere two years. and no predicate or empirical intuition will ever be adequate to it. even if imaginary. Hardenberg continues.. an appropriation that will give the concepts of subjectivity. must be called empirical. Hardenberg concludes. foundation of the absolute subject in the impossible moment of an intellectual intuition. Like any narrative. since a pure concept can have no empirical content. Hardenberg here.e. it is neither real. It is now time to investigate the Fichte Studies in more detail in order to trace this transformation. recapitulating the transcendental philosophical argument. As he will do throughout the Fichte Studies. which revisits the central distinction of Kant’s critical philosophy in the light of Fichte’s Science of Knowledge. Hardenberg contends as he transfers the Fichtean reciprocal determination (“WechA System without Foundations 165 . everything that can be described by the logical relation of a subject to its predicate. a system without foundations “What do pure and empirical mean?” Hardenberg asks in a long reflection in entry 234 of the Fichte Studies. “thinks through” the Fichtean argument. in order to account for a stable.self-activity (“Selbstthätigkeit”) that can defy the presumed intentions of its author. Hardenberg does not collapse the distinction between the real and the imaginary. The pure. Everything that is related or relatable (“bezogen oder beziehbar”). is thus necessarily empty. i. Both truth and illusion. bringing out its logical and radical conclusions. as it were. however. as Kant had already argued. nor possible. is by definition non-related and non-relatable. freedom. between truth and illusion. which is nevertheless the precondition for any form of self-consciousness. nor even necessary. conclusions from which Fichte had shied away in his effort to secure the absolute authority of philosophical discourse. Hardenberg thus presents a radicalized version of Fichte’s argument in the Science of Knowledge when he comes to the conclusion that the foundation of a transcendental philosophy in the Kantian sense can only be provided as a product of imagination. it is open to creative appropriation. The concept “pure” itself. It constitutes a “necessary fiction” without which no thought and no reflection would be possible.

Illusion and truth together constitute only one actual reality. Illusion is not truly the negation of truth. . Both are identical—illusion (Schein) is illusion—truth [is] truth. . the empirical I would be completely cut off from the truth of the pure. is thus an “art of illusion” (“alles Denken ist eine Kunst des Scheins”). Both truth and illusion are hence the coinstantaneous products of imagination. . we still remain deceived by the fractured half of our consciousness. . the “highest point of philosophy” is seen as informed by a peculiar dynamic: Imagination has two products—the true and the illusory (das Wahre und den Schein). One excludes the other—negates it. As truth and illusion simultaneously exclude and precondition each other. are interdependent products of imagination. Truth is the whole—illusion only the fracture—the half that seems to be the whole and is not—the former [truth] [is] the positive. a notion that would remain inaccessibly empty without the deceptions of imagination. the latter the negative quantity. . Hardenberg contends. Whenever we believe we have grasped the whole (“das Ganze”). and all thought. the faculty that guarantees that truth can be represented at all. To think this paradoxical simultaneity of truth and illusion. while the productive imagination creates the foundation for all form and content of our consciousness. and Hardenberg reads it back into the imaginative account of selfconsciousness that he found in Fichte’s Science of Knowledge. Truth is the form of illusion—illusion the form of truth. There can be no escape from this paradoxical state. We can only have access to truth—the pure a priori form of absolute self-consciousness—in the form of an illusion. the incomplete half (“das Halbe”) or fracture (“der Bruch”) that constitutes our empirical consciousness. which only creates the illusion of a complete reality. of illu166 A System without Foundations . . but rather the condition for the appearance of truth in empirical consciousness. Kant describes this problem as a necessary illusion of reason in the transcendental dialectics.selbestimmung”) onto the relation of these terms themselves. however. even if only in illusory form.4 This paradoxical account of the relation between truth and illusion contains the central topos of Hardenberg’s thought and of Early German Romanticism as a whole. The distorting lack of this illusion. Without it. simultaneously constitutes the only means by which the truth can have any reality for us.

As a statement. and embarks on a thorough semiotic critique of Fichte’s first principle. in which the equal sign inevitably introduces an insurmountable moment of difference. since consciousness deals in signs. The process of reflection through which the unity of the statement is produced is always a process of representation. not in things. Feeling. It surfaces as a sign and has been lost in the form of a representation that presupposes a difference between signifier and signified. Hardenberg also perceives Fichte’s argument to reside in a fundamental contradiction: for the I to know itself as itself in the act of intellectual intuition.7 A System without Foundations 167 . appears [scheint] already to be there. the actual unity of which cannot become part of consciousness. Hardenberg thus reintroduces the doubling movement of reflection that Fichte had sought to exclude from the intellectual intuition in order to overcome the impasse of Kant’s account of self-consciousness back into the philosophical argument. A ϭ A. and I will now retrace the steps of Hardenberg’s argument in the Fichte Studies in more detail in order to illuminate how his aesthetic philosophy arises from a transformative reading of Fichte’s scientific system.5 Reflection. Reflection thus reveals a unity which must seem to exist prior to the act of reflection itself. Hardenberg contends. and the Problem of Representation In the group of fragments with which the Fichte Studies begin.sory foundations and foundational illusions. the notion of the sameness of perceiver and perceived. the idée simple on which Fichte bases his argument. as Hardenberg points out: What reflection finds. Hardenberg questions the authority of reason’s “executive decision” in the positing of the absolute I. Hardenberg argues. the moment where absolute identity reaches the level of consciousness. it is hence no longer absolute. He consequently splits the foundational act of intellectual intuition into the moments of perception and conceptualization (“Anschauen und Begreifen”).6 At the moment of reflection. does not constitute an absolute identity at all. the subject and object of thought needs to exist prior to the act of self-consciousness. Much like Schlegel and Hölderlin. The absolute unity of the I constitutes the very possibility of consciousness and cannot be produced by it in the act of self-perception. but rather a representation of the Absolute. is indeed an art.

If imagination is the source of all reality. a force (“Kraft”) outside of the empirical I that could logically never have any effect on it. The Absolute is thus reflection’s presupposition as well as its product.9 Fichte had sought to overcome this representational impasse by differentiating between reflection and feeling (“Reflexion und Gefühl”). thus provides a pre-conscious synthesis of the two opposites I and Not-I. which fulfills a function very similar to that of imagination in the theoretical part of the Science of Knowledge. thus always finds its truth in the form of an illusion. Hardenberg formulates the problem with great precision: The essence of identity can only be put forward in an illusory proposition [Scheinsatz]. and here Fichte 168 A System without Foundations .8 Once again. then feeling is analogically. its possibility can at the same time only be known in the illusory moment of reflection that takes place in empirical consciousness. We abandon the identical in order to represent it. not through reflection. is—paradoxically—a reflection without consciousness. While one necessarily has to assume that the absolute unity of the I precedes the moment of reflection.” Hardenberg introduces a crucial moment of indeterminacy into the system. thus simultaneously depends on and precludes a moment of identity. in which the subject feels itself as the pre-conscious product of the two conflicting drives (“Triebe”) of the ideal and the real. and the moment of representation. It is through feeling. of all consciousness and being for us. since it allows the empirical I to “feel” something that is not part of its own conscious activity of reflection. like imagination. the subject “feels” the activity of the Not-I. that the empirical I becomes aware of its own positing activity as the absolute subject. Reflection. which is the precondition for any self-conscious act of thought. It indicates the absolute identity of consciousness by overcoming the illusion of its empirical divisions. and it seems to already have been there when reflection either finds or produces it. the very same moment of ambiguity that also informs the foundational productivity of imagination discussed above. Feeling. which provides both the form and the content on which it reflects. In this pre-conscious state. Feeling.Through the ambiguity of the verb “scheinen. a distinction that is central to the practical part of the Science of Knowledge. Fichte explains here. and the relation of the two terms thus unfolds in analogical fashion to that of imagination and reason.

” The Absolute (which also figures in the Fichte Studies as “pure or only-being” [reines oder Nur-Seyn]. like imagination. or the “spirit of feeling. it constitutes a form.”12 Feeling. and communicate the philosophical process. Hardenberg asserts in a skeptical twist on Fichte’s distinction in the Science of Knowledge.”10 As both Fichte and Hardenberg point out repeatedly. Feeling thus needs reflection just as reflection depends on feeling. to which the Absolute. is a feeling? It can only be observed in reflection—the spirit of feeling is then gone. however. “state” [Zustand ].” as Hardenberg puts it.and Hardenberg agree. the Absolute. Rather. ultimately an act of imagination. “is originally a feeling. then. And since feeling is not a conscious form of knowledge. And since philosophy originates in feeling. complete. or the “ideal-real. which would otherwise never be known. “the identical” [das Identische]. can only A System without Foundations 169 . it remains dependent on reflection to determine its content. can only appear in consciousness in the form of a dead letter. this restriction also constitutes the insurmountable boundary of philosophical thought as such. The Absolute. “The limits of feeling are the limits of philosophy. “Philosophy. even feeling. the origin of all philosophical thought. “cannot feel itself” and will always remain dependent on the semiotic preconditions of reflection. mirroring the simultaneity of truth and illusion as products of imagination. It can only appear in consciousness in the form of the paradoxical relation of feeling and reflection. is always already lost once feeling is constituted by reflection as the form of the Absolute in consciousness. cannot provide for a direct experience of the Absolute. and the hierarchy between the two modes of thought constantly subverts itself. In the illusory movement from feeling to reflection and vice versa. which Hardenberg at this point designates with the term “original act” (“Urhandlung”)—his version of Fichte’s Act (“Thathandlung”)—needs to be given as its content. or “opposition” [Gegensatz]) can thus never become the unmediated object of knowledge. a “feeling of the self” (“Selbstgefühl”).” as Hardenberg sums up and appropriates Fichte’s position. is necessary to instigate.” as Hardenberg now calls it. The spirit. Feeling cannot feel itself. The producer can be inferred from the product in accordance with the schema of reflection. and the existence of an Absolute can only be inferred retroactively as the possible cause of a feeling that is the product of reflection: “What. Hardenberg insists.11 Yet. Hardenberg elaborates.

while the ultimate source of reflection remains ever elusive. bring being into a form of thinking. if it still seeks to attain a glimpse of the Absolute. Only such a process might allow reflection to abstract from the processes through which it prestructures its own content and hence to infer ex negativo something about the original form of the Absolute before it is given to consciousness. where nothing is what it seems. and with it the possible substrate of all matter. As soon as the absolute. from the given form. then it must appear inverted—the unlimited becomes limited and vice versa. in order to find the original form of being. inverted.13 Consciousness. as I want to call the original ideal-real or real-ideal. even this level of philosophical reflection can only repeat the impasse of the first in the recurring figure of the ordo inversus. however. a hall of mirrors. is a progression from unlimited to limited—this inverted appearance [limited to unlimited] is natural. reflection and feeling are contradictory and yet interdependent in a constant movement from one pole 170 A System without Foundations . where half appears whole and up appears down.15 Ultimately. We must make the virtually objective into the virtually subjective. in order to be able to investigate it. which in its semiotic constitution is inevitably characterized by this paradoxical simultaneity of conflicting movements.14 Since this illusion of consciousness cannot be overcome—an insight from which Friedrich Schlegel would develop his closely related conception of Romantic irony—philosophical thought. regarded abstractly. It is easy to discern how carefully one must then abstract from the necessary additive. appears as accident or half. where thesis and antithesis. in which the fundamental categories of thought are brought to bear upon themselves. and distorted” (verkehrt): In consciousness it must appear as if it went from the limited to the unlimited. a third-order observation.appear “half ” (halb) and “upside-down. can only attempt to do so by performing a rigorous reflection on reflection. because consciousness must proceed from itself as limited—and this happens through feeling —without consideration of the fact that feeling. must hence be described for Hardenberg as an ordo inversus.

and. Hardenberg had read in Fichte’s Science of Knowledge. Only by acknowledging the ordo inversus of consciousness as a continual movement to and fro. An absolute foundation is necessarily absent from the ordo inversus. It is the unfixated oscillation of imagination. If the very concept of an “absolute ground” contains a logical impossibility. led him to the conclusion that this desire could never be fulfilled. and from one pole to the other. Hardenberg will come to abandon the idea of a selfpresent Absolute as philosophy’s first principle. but rather insofar as I sublate myself—I am not. I am not insofar as I posit myself. which is driven by the unrealizable desire to represent an Absolute. far from taking recourse to Fichte’s “absolute decree of reason” in order to prevent a feeling of conceptual dizzyness. must necessarily seek an absolute foundation if it wants to realize its systematic desires. “The Key to Philosophy”: Relinquishing the Absolute Philosophy. but rather in the act of its own reflective negation. comes to a radical reformulation of Fichte’s first principle. that constitutes the closest representation the reflecting self can achieve of its own ineffable origins. the subject finds itself no longer in an act of absolute identity. up and down. Hardenberg’s own reflections on Fichte’s text. and the movement will thus continue ad infinitum. in other words. insofar as I am within myself. The stable ground that Fichte sought in the act of absolute positing has now turned into reflective quicksand. however. [insofar as] I apply myself to myself. with and against Fichte’s text. and Hardenberg. but rather a constant cognitive movement enacting and displaying the illusory negation of inescapable illusions. In the Fichte Studies.16 The only “truth” that can still be found in the process of reflection is thus not a prereflective act of absolute positing. Hardenberg contends. can philosophical thought still point to an Absolute that ultimately lies beyond its grasp. The need to cancel out and reverse the result of a distorting reflection by a further reflection on reflection and vice versa resurfaces on every level of the reflexive spiral. the philosophical striving for an Absolute would constitute an infinite drive (“unendlicher Trieb”) that could never come to an end: A System without Foundations 171 .of consciousness to the other.

Yet this Absolute can never be an actual object of knowledge. This absolute that is given to us can only be known negatively.17 This activity of an infinite striving towards the Absolute. changing the nature of philosophy from a Fichtean project. which can do no more than allude to the heuristic principle of an absolute unifying ground. is the only Absolute that is actually accessible to us. it is neither real. if this concept contained an impossibility—then the drive to philosophize would be an unending activity—and without end because there would be an eternal need for an absolute ground that could be satisfied only relatively—and that would therefore never cease. Freedom. Instead of providing a positive foundation for philosophical thought and the source of the moral law. which needs to be constructed in retrospect as a necessary yet fictional presupposition for the mutual dependency of feeling and reflection. For Hardenberg. in an Early Romantic twist on both the Kantian and the Fichtean positions. freedom now resides in the voluntary relinquishing of the Absolute. Hardenberg now argues. Hardenberg suggests. for it can only be represented in the dialectical movement of feeling and reflection. it is now presented as an unfulfillable ideal. While the notion of a self-present and identical Absolute is still retained by Hardenberg.All philosophizing must therefore end at an absolute ground. insofar as we act and find that what we seek cannot be attained through any action. of truth and 172 A System without Foundations . results precisely from the fictionality of this Absolute. triggering human action and desire and thus enabling freedom through its very inaccesibility: Unending free activity in us arises through the free renunciation of the absolute—the only possible absolute that can be given to us and that we only find through our inability to attain and know an absolute. needs to be postulated in order to establish a functioning philosophical system. where freedom is tied to the notion of the absolute autonomy of the subject. to a Romantic process of eternal desire. Now if this were not given. Hardenberg agrees. the Absolute now serves as a negative principle of absence.18 An absolute principle that guarantees the unity of experience and the identity of subject and object. nor possible. not in the free subjugation under its self-present law. and that we can paradoxically only find by relinquishing the hope of ever attaining the Absolute altogether.

as it was for Fichte. something composed. but rather must be freely made. a whole that takes shape by virtue of the ceaseless and unarrested weaving motion of imagination within the ordo inversus. a conclusion that he would repeat in entry 555. devised” (“ein Erdichtetes. Borrowing one of the central neologisms Hardenberg coins in the group of fragments under discussion here. imagination produces unity through its constant liminal movement between the two poles of consciousness— “All transition [Transitus]—all movement is the efficacy [Wircksamkeit] of imagination. Philosophy’s highest principle.illusion.” and not the moment of its subsequent fixation. which can ground the system without recourse to a self-present origin. Erdachtes”). freedom is now no longer the product of an absolute identity but rather a process of constant interA System without Foundations 173 . which cannot be anything given or present for reception. has to be conceptualized as an act of poiesis. Erdachtes]. the resulting system can then truly begin in and lead to freedom: The highest principle must be absolutely nothing given. which is a direct result of the renunciation of a self-present first principle.” writes Hardenberg—and for both Fichte and Hardenberg philosophy’s first principle becomes possible by means of a creative fiction of imagination. in order to ground a universal metaphysical system that begins with freedom and proceeds toward freedom.21 In both systems. It needs to be understood as something freely made. not even in the ecstatic moment of an intellectual intuition. devised [ein Erdichtetes. which contains and fixates this movement.”19 Because it relies on a first principle that entails itself a free act of poetic and reflective construction. but rather a non-foundational unity. In another reformulation of the Fichtean pre-text. as an aesthetic product of reflection. that is “something composed.20 When Hardenberg thus contends that the term “freedom signifies the state of the oscillating imagination [schwebende Einbildungskraft]. Hardenberg concludes. aesthetically focused type of thinking” a “poetics of erdenken. Thomas Pfau has fittingly called this “new. he refers to an aesthetic process that creates a unity quite different from the one Fichte describes in the Science of Knowledge.22 But the freely created first principle at which Hardenberg arrives in the Fichte Studies is no longer a moment of absolute identity. in which freedom is the result of an ever closer connection of the various parts within a whole.

” which is needed to understand the true worth and foundational qualities of poetry. is for Hardenberg the constitutive force of the work of art. and the preferred medium for the “making whole” of the system is thus not philosophical but rather poetic discourse. however. clarified. Because of the aesthetic shift from the Absolute to the whole. the more effective. philosophy. Abstraction from the absolute ground and validation of the actual absolute ground of freedom through connection (making whole) [Verknüpfung <Verganzung >] of that which is to be explained / to a whole. poetry now becomes.” the “key of philosophy. The more manifold the members [Glieder] of the whole. the result of philosophizing. much like feeling and reflection. vividness of practical freedom—the connection [bears witness] to the activity of theoretical freedom. imagination can continue its oscillating movement in the construction of the whole. and the “actual absolute ground” of freedom: Philosophy. however. freedom.connection. then poetry is as it were the key to philosophy. As Hardenberg calls for an interruption of the philosophical drive towards an absolute ground. in it. and interdependent in Hardenberg’s transcendental poetics: 174 A System without Foundations . The manifoldness bears witness to the energy. intuitable. thus remain united. is the absolute ground of all grounding.23 The idea of the whole. to quote Hardenberg’s definition from the fragments collected under the title “Poetry.]24 Reciprocally. arises accordingly through interruption of the drive toward knowledge of the ground—through standing still at the link [Glied] where one is. which now replaces the concept of the Absolute as the ultimate goal of philosophical desire. Both discourses. its purpose and meaning[. complementary. as Hardenberg puts it in a fragment also written in 1798.” its final end and meaning: Poetry elevates each single thing through a particular combination with the rest of the whole—and if it is philosophy that first prepares the world through its legislation for the active influence of ideas. becomes the necessary “theory of poetry. of “making whole” (“Verganzung”) within a system without a center or an absolute foundation. the more whole it is. the more vivid will be the sensation of absolute freedom—the more connected.

It teaches us to recognize the worth of poetry. while imagination remains as the prime mover of the human mind: Feeling. understanding and reason are in a way passive—which is already shown by their names—imagination on the other hand is the only power — A System without Foundations 175 . Only the German term “Einbildungskraft” contains the lexeme “-kraft. for Hardenberg “[t]he term imagination is essentially nothing else but another name for the self. Philosophy raises poetry to the status of a principle. Once again radicalizing the tendency he had detected in Fichte’s text.27 As Géza von Molnár points out. as he writes in one of the “Anecdotes. the “higher organ” that enables this creative unity of transcendental poetry is imagination.Poetry is the hero of philosophy. which consequently becomes “the greatest possession” for Hardenberg. as the poetic sense and the principle of movement (“Transitus”) and making whole (“Verganzung”) within the ordo inversus thus makes possible the unity and interdependence of philosophy and poetry that is at the heart of Hardenberg’s poetic and philosophical project. and are thus seen by Hardenberg as essentially passive. nor reason. which emphatically conveys its true nature as free activity. or the higher organ.” the “mixture” of philosophy and poetry.” The primacy of imagination.” Neither understanding.”28 It should not come as a surprise that Hardenberg consequently also reformulates the traditional eighteenth-century orthodoxies of faculty psychology. that it is one and all.” meaning “force” or “power. Philosophy is the theory of poetry. Hardenberg has no qualms about making imagination the superior faculty with regard to reason and depicting it as the fundamental power underlying and producing all processes of human consciousness. Hardenberg feels additionally vindicated in his convictions by a piece of philosophical etymology that echoes Fichte’s conviction that the “arresting” quality of understanding is reflected in its root “to stand. would not be possible without imagination. Hardenberg contends. regarding both the interplay and the hierarchies of the various faculties (“Vermögen”) thought to structure the human mind. which constitutes for Hardenberg.” the “poetic sense as such”: “Is not imagination. nor feeling can make that claim. is also expressed linguistically since it alone among human faculties is clearly labelled as a power.25 And the faculty. It shows us what poetry is. the poetic sense as such?”26 Imagination. “Transcendental poetry.

So-called psychology is also among the masks that have usurped the place in the temple where true images of the deity should be found. our tools and categories for investigating the processes of our inner life quite simply lack sophistication.30 176 A System without Foundations . What passed for psychology in the late eighteenth century—and Hardenberg was intimately familiar with the discourse of his time—seems to him almost a sacrilege. Understanding. and reason are taken into consideration: Strange. as Hardenberg notes a little earlier on the same page. what marvellous productions of the inner life are still in store for us. and transitions. But Hardenberg also questions and undermines the clear distinctions of traditional faculty psychology as such by insisting that all mental powers are one and only seem distinct for us when we focus on one aspect of mental acitivity or the other. How little physics has been used to explain the mind and soul [Gemüth]—and mind and soul to explain the outer world. that until now the inner life of man has been treated so poorly and with such lack of wit. unnamed powers— to trace their sociable relationships—Who knows what marvellous unions. productive of intuitions and representations of both outer and inner sense. as Hardenberg would note a few years later in a notebook entry from around 1800.the only active one—the moving one. as only two aspects of the same ordo inversus. fantasy [Fantasie].29 On the one hand. Nobody has had the idea—to look for new. imagination literally makes consciousness while being its only driving force. As the only truly active power of the human mind. this notebook entry clearly designates imagination as the sole productive faculty and thus as the creative medium of consciousness’s ordo inversus. formations. imagination. Hardenberg urges the application of recent advances in physics to the mind and soul (“Gemüth”) and expects the discovery of a multitude of so far unknown mental powers once the transitions and hybrid combinations of the ultimately fluid and connected “faculties” of understanding. a mere mask usurping the place of true idols in the inner sanctum of the human mind. reason—those are the poor framework of the universe within ourselves. Ultimately. Convinced of the applicability of the outer to the inner sense and vice versa. So it must also be—only one that is productive—all four are always together—they are one—only for us to separate through itself. No word about their marvellous mixtures.

Poetic discourse—and poetry is for Hardenberg. the most appropriate medium for the investigation of the human mind is an aesthetic one. or poetic.” represented within a whole that can communicate if not cancel out the deceptions and distortions of the ordo inversus. It is hence inevitable that this “narrative construction” only realizes an “immanent transcendence. or rather a quality that ideally infuses all forms of art33 —is thus best suited to instigate the reader’s desire to reenact such a unity.35 As the principle of connection of a manifold of elements within a whole replaces the idea of their deducibility from one absolute principle. scientific.” he points to the fact that the subject can always only discover itself in modo representationis. not a specific genre. but a negative one. Imagination. Only in the poetic performance of its own products in a work of art could imagination begin to grasp the complexities of its workings in the human mind. Poetry is hence only a privileged medium of expression insofar as it allows for the aesthetic representation of an ideal unity. be they philosophical.31 Herbert Uerlings has termed the resulting aesthetic and philosophical principle the “narrative construction of immanent transcendence.” a term that designates not a positive. but a principle. Such a “narrative construction” constitutes the first principle at the base of all of Hardenberg’s endeavours. while Uerlings uses the epithet “narrative” to illuminate that this positing and construction is always necessarily a poetic representation. theological. clearly. political. encyclopaedic. as for most of the Romantics. is a particular process of represenA System without Foundations 177 .”32 The term “construction” points to the fact that the absolute unity of subject and object enabling and underlying their harmonious whole always has to be posited. which manifests itself as an infinite “moving towards.34 while pointing at the same time to the illusory constructedness of this very goal. and as such for a self-reflexive representation that already indicates its own failure. is thus not only the originator of consciousness but also the active principle that animates the performance of Hardenberg’s texts and in which the self can most adequately reflect its inner processes. in fact. Subjectivity. as the poetic sense. When he asserts in the Fichte Studies that “to be a complete I is an art. Hardenberg thus develops a truly aesthetic model of subjectivity. to which this entry is undoubtedly related—Hardenberg advocates a “poeticization” of the sciences. actually present transcendence.In the General Brouillon —the notes on his encyclopedia project. to be constructed as if it existed.

37 178 A System without Foundations . . Only a system based on such a first principle could truly be said to have freedom as its goal: The highest principle must be absolutely nothing given. it can only grasp itself poetically in the reflection of a work of art. the subject thus constitutes itself not only by means of imagination. As a mode of representation (“Darstellung”).tation. one that operates without the need for an absolute referent or signified. yet empirically defined as a concrete aesthetic product. in which the subject always appears as both philosophical reflection and poetical construction—both truth and illusion are the products of imagination—the work of art will always indicate that the unity of transcendental poetics can only be realized in the realm of the ordo inversus and hence as a fiction. Only the work of art presents the I as “unendlich bestimmt. but as an aesthetic product of imagination. The artwork thereby acquires a free. which Fichte also perceived as the desired origin of self-consciousness. which only represents to represent.” infinite and thus free in the process of representation. Erdachtes]. as a determinate presenting I. . in the productive whole of the work of art. in an act of free representation. because it posits itself as an unending I—because it must posit itself as a perpetually presenting I—it thus posits itself as free. but rather must be freely made. In a transformation of which Descartes would not have dreamed. Hardenberg’s complete I thus needs to posit itself as (re)presenting (“darstellend”). devised [ein Erdichtetes. . ideal character—an imposing spirit—because it is the visible product of an I—But the I posits itself determinately in this manner. in order to ground a universal metaphysical system that begins with freedom and proceeds toward freedom. which is its free and visible empirical expression by means of imagination. . . Hardenberg thus finds the impossible moment of a defined infinity. and which is best realized in the creation of a work of art: The I must posit itself as presenting . something composed.36 Subjectivity is thus a process that realizes itself—becomes real—in the unity of the work of art. There is a particular power of presenting—that merely presents for the sake of presenting—presenting in order to present is free presenting. independent.

Hardenberg’s fragmentary novel The Disciples of Sais. his literary texts need to be understood as the highest possible expression of his theoretical and philosophical insights. writing literature in this Early German Romantic sense consitutes the supreme philosophical act. during much of the same time that he worked on The Disciples of Sais. entries that fill his notebooks in 1798 – 99. Based on Hardenberg’s conviction that philosophical reflection ultimately leads to poetical practice. presents a concrete example of the realization of just such an aesthetic system. which must be read not A System without Foundations 179 . all the while taking into account the intricate connections between nature and consciousness as two halves of the ordo inversus. Written intermittently over the course of the year 1798. Hardenberg calls for a “poeticization” of the sciences in an effort to develop a scientific method that could reveal and express a “true unity” of the sciences as well as their reciprocal relation. One cannot esteem poetry lowly enough. In the General Brouillon. to which I next turn. It is only logical that Hardenberg would develop his most concise and complex nature-philosophical statement in the form of a poetic text. These scientific speculations find their theoretical expression in the vast network of notes that form the General Brouillon and the Freiberg Natural Scientific Studies. and one that cannot be properly understood without an acute awareness of Hardenberg’s philosophical positions. Lifting the Veil: The Disciples of Sais Man kann die Poësie nicht gering genug schätzen. If the poetic medium is indeed the most sophisticated instrument of self-reflection available to the thinking subject. Hardenberg’s nature-philosophical novel The Disciples of Sais stands in direct relation to the scientific and nature-philosophical reflections that preoccupied him once he began his studies at the Freiberg mining academy. — friedrich von hardenberg Fragmente und Aufzeichnungen 1799/1800 The philosophical conclusions of the Fichte Studies make it abundantly clear that Hardenberg’s poetic texts cannot be separated from his theoretical and philosophical work.

however. and scientific approaches to the understanding of the natural world. Whoever attempts to understand the laws of nature. Hardenberg’s novel equally incites the reader to become a disciple him. Hardenberg’s presentation communicates this condition throughout. If the Science of Knowledge has the structure of a philosophical novel.or herself. while it also embodies the philosophical insights Hardenberg had developed in the Fichte Studies.38 The argument relies on the well-known claim of Romantic nature-philosophy that the basic principles regulating the natura naturans. a Bildungsroman for the cogito. The Disciples of Sais is not only a narrative performance of the scientific insights Hardenberg developed in 1798 – 99 but also serves. but also as a scientific statement in its own right. In keeping with the principles of Fichte’s text.only as a literary achievement. presenting an answer to the basic question of a possible unity of the philosophical. which leads the I from its illusory empirical state to its origin as the absolute subject by way of a philosophical narrative. As such. and. Hardenberg probably first encountered the myth and mystery cult of Sais in Friedrich Schiller’s rendition of it in his poem “The Veiled Image at Sais” (“Das verschleierte Bild zu Sais”). will be led back to the self and the origin of both mind and nature in the transcendental consciousness of the ordo inversus. the text can ensure that the reader does not forget that in the process of reading he or she retraces an image that is already a poetic construct. unlike the Fichtean narrative. as the poetic “key to philosophy” Hardenberg had theorized a few years earlier in the Fichte Studies. poetic. To study nature necessarily entails a process of self-reflection on the part of the observing subject. published in the “Horen” in 180 A System without Foundations . In an aesthetic medium. while an understanding of the natural world is impossible without an understanding of human consciousness. Hardenberg’s novel enacts one of the main principles of Fichte’s Science of Knowledge. for its rhetorical structure necessitates an active reconstruction of the novelistic text. Hardenberg argues in the Disciples of Sais. are the same principles that inform the human spirit and that thus guarantee the fundamental unity of mind and nature. Hardenberg’s text openly realizes the imaginative return of the I to itself through the intermediary engagement of nature as a narrative construction. particularly in its first part. the invisible and nonempirical natural forces that produce the empirical and observable forms of the natura naturata. As such.

with unconsecrated and guilty hand / Lifts the holy. despite the repeated warning. is inextricably linked to a process of learning. directly alludes to the desire to become immortal at the end of the first part of the narrative. no mortal can lift the veil. as a movement towards the divine. Since no mortal has ever lifted the goddess’s veil. himself a disciple at the temple. prohibited veil earlier / He.” a veiled statue of the goddess Isis was to be found at the temple of Sais. . speechlessness. this process. as the term “Disciples” in its title already indicates. / It will nevermore be pleasant to him.’”40 When Schiller’s protagonist.43 A System without Foundations 181 . he presents it. and his text. deep depression. until I lift it myself.1795. Schiller’s youthful seeker of truth is warned by the deity through the words of one of the priests at Sais that “‘No mortal . no mortal ever lifted my veil.” while a pyramid at Sais was inscribed with the following words: “I am everything that is. implicitly also entails the desire to overcome the limitations of one’s own mortality. who reaches truth through guilt.42 When Hardenberg’s narrator. not as a limit set and only to be lifted by the deity. as well as in his lecture “The Mission of Moses” (“Die Sendung des Moses”). and ultimately a premature death. was and will be. His final cautionary words at the end of the poem present a dire warning to all those who would transgress divine injunctions on their quest for truth: “‘Woe is him. who. / And he. what is. bearing the caption “I am. Hardenberg is not interested in exploring the question of human guilt nor the problem of transgression. a possibility that in Hardenberg’s text. with the inscription seemingly in front of his very eyes. . speaks the deity—’—‘Well?’—‘He sees the truth. he who does not seek to lift it. does not present any cautionary threats.39 According to Schiller’s version of the classical legend in “The Mission of Moses.” these limitations are inextricably tied to questions of guilt and transgression.” Sais thus symbolizes the possibility of absolute (self-)knowledge. is no true novice of Sais. but rather as a positive and generative impossibility: and if according to the inscription. / Moves this veil. he is punished for his transgression with mental shock. does lift the veil of Isis in order to see the truth. we must seek to become immortal.’”41 In contrast to Schiller. accordingly. true to Hardenberg’s views in the Fichte Studies. In Schiller’s poem “The Veiled Image at Sais. both texts that were certainly known to Hardenberg.

” “being I. which is constantly present. the true disciple only needs to want to lift the goddess’s veil. true moral conduct. plants. is. they seem literally part of the same language.” The position of the narrative voice invoked in the first lines of Hardenberg’s text thus echoes the extratemporal moment of “Ichseyn. while realizing that this goal cannot be reached in the realm of mortality. Yet.” so that the secret. where its totality always already happens. but the text in no way indicates that this goal will or can actually be reached. everything. the key to whose decoding can only be apprehended in these figures themselves. the narrative voice informs the reader. Hardenberg’s text then unfolds the linguistic constructedness of this moment. while the absence of the Absolute generates both knowledge and. the narrative voice suggests. Human beings and nature thus seem intricately linked. Consequently. It is necessary to strive to become immortal (“Unsterblich zu werden suchen”). an unending and infinite process of desire. which constantly eludes consciousness even though it is its precondition.” in fragment 556 of the Fichte Studies (discussed at the end of chapter 4). From this perspective.The lifting of the veil. but will not cohere into any clear form. egg-shells. from clouds to crystals. human beings are unable to clearly perceive their essential textual unity with nature. This process of self-realization is triggered in the first paragraph of the text—written in the present to suggest that the action described is continually taking place—by the disembodied narrative voice of a seemingly divine narrator. Hardenberg’s prose makes clear. The text’s speaker seems to command the knowledge Hardenberg indicates in the earlier notebook entry: that the universe of which the self feels part is in fact contained in its own consciousness. and human beings. Human beings. describe figures in their manifold paths.” “Mannigfache Wege gehen die Menschen. figures that seem to be readable as ciphers (“Chiffren”) in the same way as natural phenomena. much like the philosophical striving for the Absolute in the Fichte Studies. their premonitions with regard to the key to this magical script (“Wunderschrift”) do not cohere into concrete form. or at least of a narrator aloof and distanced enough to begin the text with an assessment of the situation of mankind as a whole: “Various are the roads of man. becomes the very process of learning itself. as a consequence. Equally in keeping with the Fichte Studies. and their inability to read themselves 182 A System without Foundations . seems to be part of a form of writing. The secrets of Sais are only revealed in a continual process of “Bildung.

Hardenberg’s text instead performs the unrealizable desire to speak a prelapsarian language that only seems to reveal itself in unstable thoughts and desires. that same state also prevents them from ever grasping the code that seems to emerge from the dissolution of forms and representations.makes it impossible for them to comprehend natural phenomena. Only ephemeral glimpses of it are possible. doubles its own movement: if the first paragraph speaks of the presentiment of a A System without Foundations 183 .44 Nothing is clear or stable in this illusory state of flux where nothing can ever more than seem to be the case. being simultaneously one with and separate from it. as it were. Yet the attempt to do so is certainly provoked and creates an unsettling tension when the subsequent first-person narrative of a disciple seems to try to recapture its lost present-tense voice. While it opens the human senses toward the premonition of a code behind natural phenomena by keeping the latter in a state of fluidity. the universal solvent of the alchemists. to which the rest of the novel’s first part functions almost like a commentary. Only at moments do their desires and thoughts seem to solidify. Thus arise their presentiments. Far from describing a return to a Renaissance worldview of correspondences in which the alchemist and magus could manipulate phenomena through an understanding of the universal language expressed in their reciprocal signatures. Reputedly able to dissolve all matter regardless of consistency into a clear fluid. cannot be grasped. The peculiar predicament of human (self )knowledge is rendered in the text in the metaphor of the alkahest. however. the alkahest (a term coined by Paracelsus and derived from the middle German “al-gehist. The text.” the shift in tense makes it questionable whether the pronoun “I” can actually be applied retroactively to the first paragraph. just as the knowledge of the Absolute is given to feeling only to immediately dissolve in the medium of reflection. but these quickly disappear. The code necessary for an ultimate deciphering. it gains a rather ambiguous status. As the second paragraph of the text opens with the words “I heard a voice say from afar. It is as though an alkahest had been poured over the senses of man. In Hardenberg’s text.” “Allspirit”) is discussed in the alchemical tradition as a potent instrument in the alchemical process of purification. but after a short time everything swims again before their eyes. granting self-knowledge as well as knowledge of nature.

which speaks without subjective agency.”45 This process of self-reflection in its interrelation with the teacher’s insights about nature.key to decipher the common language of man and nature. the “real Sanscrit. it subsequently becomes itself a lost present voice. Both “halves” of this ungraspable original language are represented in the following narrative of the disciple: his teacher focuses on the deciphering of the natural world and finally arrives at true comprehension of the productive power of nature.” Language here emerges. not as a system of reference but rather as an autopoetic system.” a definition of unknown origin. The teacher is thus able to recreate his own living recombinations of natural phenomena. is not an instrument to be used by the self. a theory of signification that doubles that of Hardenberg’s famous Monologue. as will later be discussed in more detail. not in order to be understood. on the other hand. is led through his studies of nature to a Fichtean process of self-reflection. the “Ahndung. The narrator/disciple. I [ascend] to the thesis God. and tries to pass on this art and wisdom to his disciples. which generates the outward order of the natura naturata. to reach a religious unity: “Spinoza ascended as far as nature—Fichte to the I. who are asked to collect natural objects. which they arrange in specific patterns that reveal them as particular signs in a web of relations. which sets off the textual movement and to which the subsequent text attempts to return. Language. as it were. simply out of the desire to speak. and the disciple’s own self-reflective process point to and revolve around a unifying principle. Its autopoetic structure instead expresses the unrepresentable unity of self and nature at the heart of Hardenberg’s text. Between these two moments. however. nature and the absolute subject respectively. which comprises both the absolute I and an independent Not-I in the form of the natura naturata. Hardenberg had already claimed in the Fichte Studies that his system would combine and hence move beyond both Spinoza’s and Fichte’s first principles. the natura naturans. or the person. which ultimately culminates in a proclamation that encapsules the main principle of the Science of Knowledge: “Everything leads me back into myself. this natural script. or feeling.”46 True compre- 184 A System without Foundations . the narrative situates a definition of language itself. it becomes clear.” that both the patterns of stones and objects the disciples collect. yields the un-Fichtean intuition. which the speaker of the second paragraph “heard a voice say from afar.

immediately connotes the statue of the goddess Isis supposedly found at Sais. both notions are invariably true at the same time. is itself a cipher for this interchangeabilty: Sais is reached. miraculous image [göttlich Wunderbild]. but to me it seems as though they were only shapes. does not develop in time but rather reveals a simultaneity not visible in the natural world. Sais. ornaments. the exterior space from which the disciple is narrating. cloaks. once the unity of inner and outer world is realized. Isis is unveiled. the two halves of the absent whole. where the main clause of the sentence. even if it is a continual process of learning. [Es ist. Sais. I do not search for them.” which Hardenberg presents in the Disciples as the divine image of the maiden: I take delight in the strange mounds and figures in the halls. wo in tiefem Schlaf die Jungfrau steht. they show the path “where” the virgin already is. This connection could be read in two ways: either the present is a constant potentiality. in other words.” is seen as modified by the conditional of the dependent clause. The outside world and the realm of thought are thus interchangeable in the space of the narration. but within them I often search. only comprised of the two words “It is. or the projected goal of the conditional “sollten” is already present. als sollten”)—present and conditional are presented as parallel in these opening words. Hardenberg has carefully crafted his sentence to highlight all the ambiguities that can nevertheless alert the reader to this simultaneity: “where in deep slum- A System without Foundations 185 . the objects collected by the disciples) do not seem to show the path to something or somewhere. thus lead back to a divine “thesis. it seems.” which the narrator conceives of in his thoughts.]47 Exteriority and interiority are presented as united in a complex pattern in this passage: first of all. as is indicated in the dependent clause: “as though they might show me the way where in deep slumber stands the virgin.48 The next sentence constructs this process in an intricate way: “It is as though”(“Es ist. It is as though they might show me the way where in deep slumber stands the virgin for whom my spirit yearns. nach der mein Geist sich sehnt. In the world of the ordo inversus. the “divine miraculous image.” They (that is.hension of both self and nature. als sollten sie den Weg mir zeigen. gathered round a divine. A paradox that can only seemingly be unfolded as a process. and this is always in my thoughts.

becomes all at once like a household utensil. so that once again two processes can be seen to take place at the same time.49 This new-found “homeliness” ultimately triggers an alienation from the specific methods of the teacher. or the virgin is seen to be standing in deep sleep herself and thus requires the activity of the beholder to wake her up and bring her to life.” which thus also communicates its own illusory nature. which would imply that this vision of the divine cannot be achieved by conscious reflection.” There are no prepositional markers indicating whether “in tiefem Schlaf” refers to the virgin or to the narrator. embarks on an inward journey through which he hopes to reach his own version of Sais. even the use of the “where” in this particular instance is ambiguous: one cannot determine whether it refers to the “place” (interior or exterior) the narrator actually reaches. In addition.” in which the previously strange now becomes intimately familiar: she [the virgin] is present. his own figure— a figure describing a spiral that will eventually lead back to the “sacred home. which Hardenberg describes in the Fichte Studies. and with this vision in mind the narrator decides to follow the advice of his teacher and to embark on his own path. In this case. so dear to me. the possibility of which is made visible through an encounter with the divine. a new design [Ordnung]. and what before seemed strange and foreign. finds its perfect representation in this unresolvable ambiguity. Either the narrator is only able to see the virgin while he is sleeping. The relation of feeling and reflection. Inside and outside can no longer be distinguished in this intricately constructed dream-image of the “divine miraculous image. When with this faith I look around me here. or whether he “sees” the virgin at a place toward which he would then still have to journey.” the very place the narrator had left. everything converges into a higher image. 186 A System without Foundations . while physically remaining at Sais.ber stands the virgin for whom my spirit yearns. The belief in the presence of the maiden and hence of Sais then immediately produces a “new order. and all my companions are moving towards one place. the conscious longing of the spirit would be the presupposition for the connection of narrator and divine image. The new design. and the disciple. needs to be actively produced. Then everything becomes so familiar.

the fairy tale of Hyacinth and Roseblossom. and refracts the novel’s narrative strands. has led the text to a presentation of various conflicting opinions about the relation of mind and nature. is thus this self-reflexive movement of the text. too. He wants us rather to go our own way. Each seemed to him right. because every new road goes through new countries and each in the end leads anew to these dwellings. does not realize the actual fulfillment of the utopian moment of absolute unity qua “love.” each of which appears correct to him. The inscription on the statue of Sais. the famous “criss-crossing voices. he [the teacher] has never spoken against my feeling or my desire. the veil to be lifted. for the disciple’s inward journey. and a strange confusion overcame his spirit. . . since his figure will be one of the figures of human beings mentioned in the first line of the text.” but rather constitutes a narrative mise-en-abîme. has only fallen into despair because he has not yet fallen in love: A System without Foundations 187 . The disciple. a perspectival reflection of the text within the text that highlights the inescapable structure of the ordo inversus. . announced at the end of the first part. in which the reflexive I realizes the illusory nature of its own consciousness.51 The fairy tale is told to the disciple in the second part of the novel as consolation in a moment of despair and confusion. then will inscribe my figure” directly relates to “Various are the roads of man. he also produces the text in this very inscription.50 It is ultimately the text itself that describes this figure as it refers back to its beginning at the very end of its first part: “I. to this sacred home.”52 At this point. the common language of human beings and nature.It is above all this strangeness that is strange to me. and that is why this collection has always both repelled and attracted me. who is now clearly separated from the narrative voice and presented as a third person character of the narration. repeats.” Not only does the narrator thus inscribe himself in the text he is narrating. a “merry youth” offers the fairy tale as an illustration of love’s ability to overcome this illusion. Similarly. the novice listened to the crisscrossing voices. which constitutes the centerpiece of Hardenberg’s prose fragment and which mirrors. as the youth suggests. He who follows and compares them will see strange figures emerge. is unable to reconcile the contradictory voices of scholars and disciples he hears. and which thus plunge him into confusion: “Anxiously. since his figure is the narration of the text itself. for the disciple.

already suggests the imperfection of his state.”56 While it has become a commonplace of criticism to read the fairy tale as an enactment of Hardenberg’s belief in the power of love to overcome the division of philosophical discourse—a belief that is then either interpreted positively as a key Romantic insight or negatively as appalling naïveté—the illusory constructedness of this original moment of loving unity could not be more clearly communicated. and he readily exchanges it—to the chagrin of his beloved Roseblossom—for the books and knowledge of a traveling teacher. the outpourings of yearning. as he regularly communicates. Hyacinth. His newfound knowledge completely alienates him from those around him.”55 In the dreamscape of the temple he then approaches the “heavenly virgin”—the disciple’s “divine miraculous image”—and discovers Roseblossom as he lifts the veil to reach a state of complete fulfillment and harmony: “A distant music surrounded the mysteries of the lovers’ meeting. and recovery on a higher level of awareness in the temple of Sais.“You have not yet loved. and he realizes. 188 A System without Foundations .’”54 His subsequent travels abroad in search of peace eventually lead him to the completion of the Romantic triad of original unity. the protagonist of the fairy tale. poor fellow. within a dream that is part of a fairy tale. “‘[A]ll peace is gone. my heart and love with it. His somber and serious mood. incomprehensible to his family. I must go forth in search of them. after all. prompted by a wise woman from the woods. alienation. even though incomprehensively for the outside observer (“you may imagine he never said a sensible word. and rocks. however. It takes place. for only a dream could take him to the holy of holies. plants.”53 Consequently. In the beginning of the tale he is depicted in a state of communion with nature. The anticipated utopian moment is clearly fictional and hence needs to be read within an overall structure of narrative self-reflection that openly alerts the reader to the constructedness of the text at hand. which he is allowed to enter in a dream: “Amid heavenly scents he fell asleep. but such nonsense you would have died laughing had you heard it”) with animals. that he needs to leave on his own travels in order to be be able to return. and excluded all that was alien from this lovely place. which in turn is narrated by one of the many narrators within the complex texture of Hardenberg’s Romantic novel. functions as an alter ego for the disciple.

Their voices in turn are no less contradictory and confusing than those of the scholars who had plunged the disciple into despair earlier. but only constant movement within an aesthetic and unending. Clearly. as if the narrator himself had awoken from a dream. the known with the unknown. it actually takes an inverted direction. Both figures. while Hyacinth’s path clearly parallels that of the disciple. harmonious whole of echoing voices.” Yet the bourgeois idyll with which the fairy tale ends—Hyacinth and Roseblossom living harmoniously with their parents. and perspectival narratives. is thus confronted with a mode of poetic communication that Hardenberg describes in the Fichte Studies: A System without Foundations 189 . and Hyacinth’s dream of Sais seems rather quaint by comparison. the divine Absolute. And this ironic process of “Romantisirung” also informs Hyancinth’s “discovery” at Sais itself. as Peter Pfaff has pointed out. like Hyacinth. The reader. and we are returned either to the temple of the previous narrative space or to another place altogether. for the metaphysical realm behind the veil. for no continuities can be clearly established in Hardenberg’s text. just as everything incomprehensible and strange had earlier become intimate as household objects for the disciple when he contemplated the presence of the virgin’s “divine miraculous image. refracting mirrors. While the disciple moves inwardly at Sais in his search for the “holy home. the disciple’s inward journey does not reach a comparable point of rest. to arrive at the temple where the disciple already is. creating a narrative movement that realizes the to-and-fro direction of the ordo inversus. have made the journey to Sais. The fairy tale ends abruptly. Here the disciples are seen taking their leave. friends.57 The metaphysical trades places with the real.This principle of poetic construction is also highlighted by the fact that. who. There is thus no actual arrival in this narrative universe. as they merge in the self-reflexive dream world of Hardenberg’s Romantic fairy tale. mirror each other in inverted fashion. appears as the empirically real beloved. to be replaced by the plaintive voices of nature itself. narrated by the “merry youth” in the interior space of Sais. and countless grateful children until the end of their days—does not find its equivalent in the complementary experience of the disciple.” Hyacinth leaves home on a physical journey. who is asked to self-reflexively repeat this figure in an act of self-activity (“Selbsttätigkeit”) that is at the heart of Hardenberg’s transcendental poetics. and ultimately by those of a group of travellers.

because speech is its delight and essence. can now also be read as the product of a true autopoiesis. Rather. It exists as the imaginative product of its own creative energy. Hardenberg’s communicating subject painting itself as it paints itself in front of the mirror of reflection. Hardenberg’s reflection suggests. because speech does not understand itself. The subject as a poetic construct.60 190 A System without Foundations . nor wishes to. the fact that the communicated image of the subject “paints itself” takes on an additional connotation that goes beyond the communication of self-reflexive constructedness.e. that the picture is painted from such a position that it [the first signifier] paints itself. but that it should rather be understood as an expression of the simple desire to speak: “We do not understand speech. literally paints and hence creates itself without the need for an outside absolute force to originate this process. the first signifying self] without noticing it will have painted its own picture in the mirror of reflection.”59 This language. both the structure of Hardenberg’s poetic text and the text of natural and human history it seeks to relate are constituted by the free narrative movement of its interrelated parts.. which connects human beings and nature in the narrative movement of Hardenberg’s text. and their semiotic connection is not one of reference.58 Under the impression of the Disciples’s ceaseless narrative movement within an aesthetic whole without a discernable origin. A compelling image for this nonhierarchical coherence can once again be found in the Fichte Studies: The whole rests more or less—like a game in which people sit on each other’s knees in a circular fashion without a chair.The first signifier [i. in the second paragraph of The Disciples of Sais. Here the voice the firstperson narrator had heard from afar suspects that language might ultimately be ill-defined as a system based on representation and the construction of meaning. which form a whole that is not dependent on an absolute center for its coherence. does not operate as a hierarchical structure of signifiers connected to a single transcendent origin. Such an autopoetic notion also informs the view of language—the poetic medium of subjectivity—that is presented at the very beginning of the narrative. the true Sanskrit speaks in order to speak. not forgetting to paint the feature.

Only by revealing this fundamental freedom of relation is language indicative of the “order of things. is realized through an aesthetic principle of freedom. is asked to describe his or her own A System without Foundations 191 . not an outward point of reference. human beings and nature. written to instigate the same “Selbsttätigkeit” in the reader.” which is an immanent principle. is known to no one. The particular quality of language. is to perceive its function as one of reference: One can only marvel at the ridiculous mistake that people make when they think—that they speak for the sake of things. and clearly connected to The Disciples of Sais. is the recognition that the unity of subject and object. who. of which humans are part. The fundamental misconception about language. which manifests itself in an active process: an activity that is inseparable from the self-reflexive illusions of the poetic text. the self-referential play of language and the freedom it displays is analogous to the relation of objects in the world of nature. These constitute a world of their own. express nothing but their own marvellous nature. and hence the poetic key to philosophy. Only through their freedom are they elements of nature and only in their free movements does the world soul manifest itself in them and make them a sensitive measure and ground plan of things. written in 1798 or 1799. and just for this reason they are so expressive—just for this reason the strange play of relations between things is mirrored in them.62 The “key to this miraculous script” (“der Schlüssel dieser Wunderschrift”). also informs the view of language Hardenberg expresses in his short and much-discussed language-philosophical text Monologue (Monolog).This same notion. Rather. They play only with themselves. just like the disciple.61 The relation of language to nature and its ability to poetically express the unifying principle of the universe (“die Weltseele”) thus does not reside in a referential relation of these realms. If one could only make people understand that it is the same with language as with mathematical formulae. the fact that it is concerned only with itself. of free play within a self-sustained and nonreferential system without origin or foundation. Hardenberg contends in the Monologue.

In fact. as the aesthetic unity of mind and nature. not the experience of an apocalyptic moment in which I and Not-I. which is expressed in an endless process of connection of the parts within a whole. Freedom without anarchy can only be introduced into the system if it is realized aesthetically. a state of inactivity for the thinking I—Golden Ages might appear—but they do not bring the end of things—the goal of the human being is not the golden age—the human being should exist eternally and be a beautifully ordered individual and endure—this is the tendency of human nature. To lift the veil of Isis is to become part of this self-reflexive process of reading. reflection and feeling. It would be a mistake. signifier and signified would unite in an eternal moment of absolute presence. thus arguably finds its greatest possible vindication in Hardenberg’s work. “fantasy. as well as the dangers it represents for the 192 A System without Foundations .figure. to assume that the philosophical shift in perspective from Kant via Fichte to Hardenberg’s Early Romantic models of subjectivity and consciousness and the concomitant reevaluation of transcendental imagination should have brought about the complete disappearance of the negative discourse about imagination that led to both Kant’s and Descartes’ reservations about the faculty.63 To realize the full potential of a complete I. presented as the central creative force of a unified poetic subjectivity. The I as the highest principle of transcendental poetics. however.” the transcendental faculty’s dark twin. The golden age that Hardenberg envisions will not bring an end to time but rather the realization of this freedom. is of necessity the product of a poesis. as the subject becomes a work of art. fantasy and the body Imagination in its transcendental and aesthetic form. and hence a product of imagination. an aesthetic process prefigured by the harmonious order of the poetic text: For the living being the world becomes more and more unending—therefore there can never come an end to the connecting of the manifold. is for Hardenberg hence indeed an art. as the unifying sphere that emerges through the infinite connection of parts within a whole. which emerges in the performance of the poetic text.

who here comments on those speakers who caution against the study of nature altogether. where fear and complete domination present themselves as the only alternatives in man’s relationship to nature. Such fears about the powerlessness of the higher moral aspects of the reasonable self in the face of nature are countered by a group of “braver” voices (“Muthigere”). and to madness. who are convinced that nature must ultimately lose the struggle with mankind and who advocate a “slow.” and hence the “purer world. as the self ’s sympathetic identification with nature causes its inevitable infection by nature’s deadly and horrifying phantasmagorical irregularities. which need neither fear nature nor use violence against it since its laws will become familiar through a process of introspection. in which “one drop of freedom” is sufficient to paralyze nature forever. well-thought-out war of destruction” (“einen langsamen. Into this quintessential Enlightenment dialog. since the “source of freedom. its debasement to the level of an animal. Fichtean notion that an investigation of the outside world is ultimately unnecessary.66 These previous speakers see such a study as an impossible and dangerous endeavour that can only lead to the self ’s utter destruction.64 In order to begin an investigation of Hardenberg’s position with regard to the dangers of imagination. wohldurchdachten Zerstörungskrieg”).” “the great magic mirror. are presented by the “earnest man.65 In the Disciples. are by no means absent from Hardenberg’s texts. most clearly rears its head in the words of the “earnest man.” one of the participants in the dialogue of “criss-crossing voices” that precedes the fairy-tale of Hyacinth and Roseblossom. we can first turn to the The Disciples of Sais itself. All the well-known dangers presented by imagination. The key to the book of nature lies within the moral subject itself.” already lies within the self. The “earnest man” then sides with the latter group of speakers against A System without Foundations 193 . as well as the Idealist means for overcoming them. a third group introduces the Idealist. the specter of the “lawless imagination.” most likely intended as a portrait of Fichte. since significant parts of the text reveal Hardenberg’s acute awareness of the negative discourse about imagination. as we shall see in the remainder of this chapter. with which he was more than familiar from his study of Kant and Fichte as well as his readings of the main exponents of the late eighteenth-century discipline of anthropology.” which had already haunted Kant’s Anthropology.reasonable subject.

all-embracing efficacy of a high. adventurous mask of their own desires. . . sketching out the philosophical framework for the moral self ’s inevitable victory over the natural world: They [the first two groups of speakers] do not know that their nature is a game played by their thoughts [Gedankenspiel].67 This self-assured sermon rehearses the rhetoric of Fichtean idealism and the way in which it seeks to overcome the dualism between freedom and determination that marks the late eighteenth-century discussion about the relationship between self and nature. indeed. We are 194 A System without Foundations . some day it will be the divine image of reason’s workings. and if at first it is the battleground of a childlike. or as an enemy to be overcome. . for he knows they are immaterial ghosts of his own weakness.” and as such the undisciplined and lawless product of the self’s own imagination. a true cathedral. . a wild dream fantasy. The man who is awake sees without trembling this brood of his uncontrolled fancy [regellose Einbildungskraft].the former two. Only as long as the self still holds on to the erroneous belief of nature as something separate and extraneous to itself can it feel threatened by perceptions that have ultimately no more validity or reality than the images of a dream. Such perceptions. To them. ethical world system [einer hohen sittlichen Weltordnung]—the citadel of his I—emerge more clearly. Ethical action is the one great experiment by which all the mysteries of the most manifold phenomena are solved. monsters (“brood”) produced by an uncontrolled and lawless imagination.” the “earnest man” argues in Fichtean fashion. a mere “game played by their thoughts. a strange. will no longer provoke a fearful trembling in an awakened self. his self soars [schwebt] all-powerful over the abyss. and for all eternity it will soar exalted over this world of everlasting change [endloser Wechsel]. . is in fact only seemingly external to the self. perceived as threatening to the self. burgeoning reason. He feels that he is lord of the universe. nature is a terrible beast. and its dangerous Otherness. is ultimately nothing but an illusion of individual consciousness. “Nature. and at every step he sees the eternal. The meaning of the world is reason: for the sake of reason the world exists. . he becomes more and more at one with himself and his creation around him. As he moves into the infinite. which knows that they ultimately have no existence of their own—that in the light of the sun they must dissipate like all immaterial ghosts of the night always will.

with its possibly immoral scenarios and suggestions. Warning of the dangers of imagination’s nightly visions. touch. is kept as short and confined as possible. of which Kant’s text is only one example. Hardenberg in fact combines Fichtean idealism with the main tenets of the anthropological discourse of his time with regard to the subject of dreams. and madness. imagination. forms an integral part of the German anthropologies.” which dutifully resumes in the morning. By letting the “earnest man” express his views with the help of the dream metaphor.. smell. produced by imagination’s associative logic of connection. Given the indecent connotations of such nightly products of an unbridled imagination. nor is it able to differentiate representations in dreams as self-created “machinations [Spielwerke] of imagination” from “objects of real experience. much like Pockel and other contemporary writers in the anthropological tradition. it is no accident that the “earnest man” presents the view of nature as a “horrifying animal. Fichte and the Fichtean “earnest man” brush aside such worries without a second thought. Manfred Engel succinctly lists the fears of the eighteenth-century “empiricists of the soul”: The soul is neither surprised about the “strange and nonsensical” “leaps” in dreams. which give shape to lowly desires that threaten the integrity of the moral self.68 Whereas Kant. fears this immoral power of imagination.reminded here of Kant’s “lawful business. after the play of imagination at night. which are all-powerful even in the waking state.e. even the soul’s capacity for moral self-control fails: In dreams we are indifferent “against moral principles that we otherwise hold most dear”. intoxication [Rausch].” as nothing but the “mask” of the still sleeping perceivers’ desires (“Begierden”). Such dangers are of the self’s own making and only indicate an insufficient control of the moral self over its imagination. blasphemies. conjures preferably lascivious images. In his synopsis of Carl Friedrich Pockels’s entry “dream” in the anthropological “Magazin zur Erfahrungsseelenkunde. and taste. the anthropological interpreters place them in close vicinity to enthusiasm [Schwärmerei]. Since dreams thus appear as an ensemble of malfunctions of the most varied kind. Once the self has been awakened to its true nature as the absolute subject. such illusions of imagination will vanish like A System without Foundations 195 .” And finally.” co-edited by Pockels and Karl Philipp Moritz. which is part of the suspect lower faculties. and sensations of the “less noble senses”—i.

leading to a domestication of the faculty that made the philosophical glorification of its transcendental form possible in the first place. secure in its impregnable morality—the “high.morning mists in the sun. In putting imagination in its proper place. this relationship still appears as one of violence and subjugation. Once this illusory conflict is overcome. thus the position of the Fichtean “earnest man. and nature understood as merely a projection of the self. the self is left to revel in its absolute and eternal supremacy. the world becomes visible in its proper function: to be an image. The Fichtean “schweben” employed by the “earnest man”—translated by Ralph Manheim as “soaring”—is particularly significant in this context.” only exists for the sake of reason. and the passage unfolds the final argument of the Science of Knowledge. imagination and its products are once again relegated to the abyss. however. in which reason must for moral purposes assert its arresting primacy with respect to imagination. and 196 A System without Foundations . a site of violent conflict in which a still youthful but blossoming reason needs to assert its control. which is a necessary byproduct of this philosophical strategy. ethical world system. Without fears of any kind. it is to glorify the superior capacities of reason. If imagination has any place in this dialectical scheme. in its awakened guise as the absolute subject. as the postitions of the first two groups of speakers prove.” “soaring all-powerful over the abyss. for when the self. For the moment. The world. is seen to “soar” sublime and aloof over the never-ending movement (“Wechsel”) between the poles of subject and object.” The words of the “earnest man” thus concisely present the argument with which the fears concerning imagination that still haunt the Kantian system could be overcome from a Fichtean perspective. and only reason can give it sense. the reasonable and moral self thus also usurps the foundational oscillating (“Schweben”) of imagination so essential to the transcendental faculty in both Fichte’s and Hardenberg’s texts. And this activity is first and foremost an ethical one: ethical action (“sittliches Handeln”) is the ultimate key that will solve the mysteries of the natural world. a mere reflection of the superior activity and workings (“Tätigkeit”) of reason. displaying a relationship between self and nature that will be revealed over the due course of time. and as it explains away its own nightmares. and the world presents itself as a battleground. while the abyss. the citadel of his I” taking shape ever more clearly—it can feel itself “lord of the universe.

” While the system of the body receives its stimuli from without. from nature or the outer world. one must assume. The Body in the Mind Probably the best-known of Hardenberg’s assessments of the mind-body relationship can be found in fragment 111 of the Logological Fragments of 1798. caused. The position voiced by the “earnest man” is of course only one among many in the dialogical network of perspectives presented in the Disciples. conveniently recedes into the shadows. the differences between Hardenberg’s philosophical position and Fichte’s notwithstanding. it is most likely that the Disciples as a whole are intended as a criticism of all the “crisscrossing voices” that are heard before the tale of Hyacinth and Roseblossom. Clearly.70 For that reason. follows the logic of the philosophical position developed in the Fichte Studies: both systems. or as Hardenberg’s own. from the inner world of the spirit (“Geist”). quoted below. The relationship between both of these systems. in which Hardenberg depicts body and soul as two different but closely interrelated “systems of senses. the dismissal of imagination in its connection to the body and the senses. Fichte’s call for “moral action” as the key to the relationship between self and nature remains central for him. While there can be no doubt that a view of nature as a monstrous entity to be overcome in an all-out war of destruction is far removed from Hardenberg’s own standpoint. the system of the soul is dependent on stimuli from within. it is necessary to take a closer look at Hardenberg’s conception of the relation between mind and body.which still so unnerved Kant in his speculations in the Critique of Judgment. by the explicit and implicit violence entailed in each of their positions. like the subjective and objective poles of the ordo A System without Foundations 197 . it should not be mistaken as the overall position expressed in the text. and the advocation of the mind’s control over a nature that lacks a substance external to the subject’s consciousness. is ultimately not as far from Hardenberg’s own perspective as one might expect. which is told to assuage the fears of the disciple.69 Nevertheless. much of the anthropological discourse about the dark side of imagination remains active in Hardenberg’s early Romantic position. On the contrary. In order to sketch out these points. which Hardenberg develops in the fragment.

written in the same year as the Logological Fragments. one the soul. though separate and distinct. not disharmony or monotony. The latter originally is dependent on the essence of inner stimuli that we call spirit [Geist] or the world of spirits [Geisterwelt]. however different they appear. The desired harmony of the two systems can hence be free and polyphonic. and one soon notices that both systems ought actually to stand in a perfect reciprocal relation to one another. When the traveler explains that we have intimate access to the natural world via the various internal states of our 198 A System without Foundations . the two distinct and interrelated systems of body and soul should produce a unified sound (“Einklang”). which Hardenberg distinguishes from a mutual creation of the same note (“Einton”). Nevertheless frequent traces of a converse relation are to be found. should be in a relation of “perfect reciprocity” (“in einem vollkommnen Wechselverhältnisse”) and should. Usually this last system stands in a nexus of association with the other system—and is affected by it. a “free harmony. they should create harmony. The “sound scape” of The Disciples of Sais. the first traveler presents the basic model of Hardenberg’s fragment as a possible way to gain true knowledge of the natural world.71 The difference from the Fichtean perspective of the “earnest man” is clear and consistent with Hardenberg’s rewriting of Fichtean philosophy in the Fichte Studies: a “free harmony” of two distinct but interdependent systems replaces a hierarchical relationship.inversus. their correlation leading neither to disharmony nor monotony: We have two sense systems which. while each of them is affected by its world. In short.” and a version of the ideas sketched out in the fragment is voiced here by one of the travelers who arrive at Sais after the closing of the fairy tale and the departure of the disciples. In this second extended dialogical passage. like both systems. are to create free harmony. in which the realm of mind or spirit holds absolute dominance over the realm of nature.” To clarify the distinction between this conception and a Fichtean one. One system is called the body. both worlds. can be read as the novelistic development of such a “free harmony. The former is dependent on external stimuli. not a monotone. Hardenberg employs a musical metaphor: when perceived together. in which. form a harmonious whole. whose essence we call nature or the external world. are yet entwined extremely closely with one another.

” the “traveler” clearly grants nature an existence of its own. these faculties of our body must first of all be studied. No matter how intimately the self might feel itself connected to its body. Nature here no longer appears as a threatening monster. whether we can learn to understand the nature of natures through this specific nature. nothing the self perceives. Their arguments for this rejection as well as their conceptions of nature are. whose receptivity to the natural world is now no longer a threat but rather a blessing and a valuable instrument of inquiry with a mind of its own for the subject connected to it. not the least of which is a different perspective on the body.bodily system. into which we are initiated by our body. or else determine it. these inner relations. but which represents a “marvellous community.72 Both the “earnest man” and the “traveler” reject the position of those who would caution against the study of nature because of nature’s dangerous and potentially destructive influence on the mind of the investigator. Yet the laws of the ordo inversus make themselves felt as much in the study of nature as in the search for the Absolute. however. . not a danger. The metaphorical framework employed to understand the subject’s relationship to nature has shifted from an Enlightenment to a Romantic perspective. hence nature stands in an immediate relation to the functions of our body that we call senses . and the traveller A System without Foundations 199 . quite dissimilar. escapes the distortions of consciousness. but rather as a fragile and delicate being that needs to be treated with care. no matter how finely tuned this instrument might be to provide access to the laws of nature. Clearly. nature is a marvellous community [wunderbare Gemeinschaft]. including the information obtained from its body. and which we learn to know in the measure of our body’s faculties and abilities. In contrast to the “earnest man. before we can hope to answer this question and penetrate the nature of things. and one which not only merits study. and to what degree our ideas and the intensity of our attention are determined by it. The question arises. his position could thus be seen as a counterpoint to the position voiced by the “earnest man”: The epitome of what stirs our feeling is called nature. thus snatching it away from nature and perhaps destroying its delicate flexibility. . with clearly visible consequences.” access to which would be a desirable privilege. akin to a sensitive person whose friendship one desires.

the system of our thoughts rather than the system of our body: It might also be thought. albeit within a different philosophical framework. the key to an understanding of nature is seen to reside within the self. since the “key” to decode its “script” was located within the self. and that the mind can only study its own constructs. that the mind can ultimately observe nothing but its own thoughts. the deciphering would become increasingly simple and our power over the movement and generation of thoughts would enable us to produce natural ideas and natural compositions even without any preceding real impression. leads the traveller to suspect that the focus of the inquiry might of necessity have to lie with the other half of the equation. the argument of the traveler goes beyond the assertions entailed by the earlier Fichtean voices. This group of speakers had argued that nature would best be understood through introspection.thus suspects. The ultimate end (“Endzweck”) advocated by the traveler is not merely the understanding of nature. once we had this practice. .” whose position the “earnest man” had supported. not in the world of natural phenomena. before trying our mettle on the inner structure of our body and applying its intellect to an understanding of nature. and indeed. The mind should hence be able to produce 200 A System without Foundations . is argued for here: “nature’s code” is the movements of thoughts triggered by the subject’s perceptions within the realm of consciousness and the script of nature is thus written in the mind. to pass from one process to another. and then the ultimate end would be attained. in a statement that seems to foresee the laws of quantum physics. to acquire nimbleness and lightness in this craft. Here. In its conclusion. . Once we had evolved thought processes to serve as nature’s code [als Buchstaben der Natur].73 The resulting position of the traveler is hence not all that different from that of the third group of “criss-crossing voices. however. too. that we must have extensive practice in thinking. that the very attention of the perceiver will inescapably alter the object perceived. to combine them and subdivide them in innumerable ways. A similar position. never the “nature of things” it had set out to understand. To decode the secrets of nature one must hence pay close attention to the laws guiding one’s thought processes. . nothing would be more natural than to call on every possible process of thought. but the production of “natural ideas” and “compositions” without an original outside impulse of perception. however. The basic fact of the ordo inversus.

and without a sense of touch). Hardenberg’s fragment is clearly placed in the context of a discussion of magic. be able to produce sense organs (eyes. it has become creative: “Creating and contemplating simultaneously—in one inseparable act” —“Machen und Betrachten zugleich—in einem unzertrennten Acte.” we would. we should be able to learn how to control those organs of our body that are normally seen as beyond our conscious control.76 This position is elaborated in the following fragment where Hardenberg speculates that if we were completely deprived of any sensual input (deaf. pointing out that while currently the body was predominantly seen to affect the mind. The “magic mirror of freedom” is no longer simply reflective. etc. More than simply a comment on psychosomatic processes. effects of the mind on the body were equally detectable. and describes the “period of magic” as one in which the body serves the soul or the spirit world. ears.” which hence ceases to be madness. so that a reciprocity of influences should be expected in a truly harmonious whole.75 Fragment 111 itself closes with a definition of magic as “communal madness. “Our whole body. as our body would be under our complete control. free of any outside influence or limitation. while our soul were completely “open. given enough effort. They are rather living entities created solely by means of the power of thought. which fragment 109 defines as “the art to consciously manipulate the world of the senses” (“Magie istϭKunst.74 The traveler’s conclusion leads us back to the logological fragment 111. Hardenberg notes his conviction that in the same way we can control our thoughts and consciously express them in both spoken language and bodily movement. which argues that both systems of senses should mutually affect each other.its own world.” as Hardenberg would note about the “mechanism of thought” in a fragment probably written in the summer of 1799. “is absolutely able to be set in voluntary movement by A System without Foundations 201 . In them. These ideas are formulated most explicitly in a group of fragments Hardenberg wrote in Freiberg in May 1798 that also connect Hardenberg’s convictions about the relationship of mind and body with Fichtean philosophy.77 Taking Hardenberg’s fragments as an indication. we can assume that “natural compositions” means more to the traveler than simply mental maps of potential real-world objects. forming part of our internal world just as much as our soul currently does. mute.” Hardenberg contends in fragment 247. die Sinnenwelt willkührlich zu gebrauchen”).) of our own volition.

our spirit. and the bodily effects of fantasy as proof that the spirit can control and affect the body. The sympathetic 202 A System without Foundations . perhaps even in a position to restore lost limbs. and exact way. life—death and the world of spirits. and thereby to achieve for the first time true insight into the body—mind—world. He will see. and joy among others. If such aspirations were implicit in Fichte’s account of the absolute subject.79 There is little reciprocity between the “two systems of senses” left in this account. and paints the following picture of the time when human beings will have achieved complete mental control over their bodies: Then everyone will be his own doctor—and will be able to feel his body in a complete. sure. how and in whichever combination he will. Perhaps then it will only rest with him to quicken inert matter.” “God wants Gods” he notes matter-of-factly in the following fragment. shame. hear— and feel—what. Hardenberg makes deification of the human mind an explicit part of the divine plan: “Gott will Götter. He will compel his senses to produce for him the shape he demands—and he will be able to live in his world in the truest sense. Then for the first time the human being will be truly independent of nature. as a mind in absolute control makes its own body and its own world. killing oneself by sheer mental force.” but Hardenberg’s fragments written at the same time make it clear that his own position would be as subject to that complaint as those of Kant and Fichte. 80 It is true that Hardenberg lets the natural objects (“Naturen”) voice the complaint about man that “his desire to become God has separated him from us. The abilities Hardenberg ascribes to a truly evolved spirit—creating limbs at will. If Hartmut and Gernot Böhme can laud Hardenberg for uncovering such narcissistic aggrandizements and their destructive effects for the relationship between human beings and nature in the philosophy of Kant and Fichte. animating dead matter—are no longer bound by physical limitations—human beings will be finally independent of nature and their own bodies and realize their own divinity. Then he will be capable of separating himself from his body—if he finds it good to do so.”78 Hardenberg cites the bodily effects of emotions such as fear. disassociating the mind from the body. they are ultimately mistaken in hoping for a greater amount of humility on the part of Hardenberg himself. 248. to kill himself merely by his will.

and nature.” Hardenberg argues here. and sensations. is already within our conscious control: Imagination is the marvellous sense that can replace for us all the senses— and which stands to such a great degree already within our volition [Willkühr]. the body should be “within our power” (Logological Fragment 112). can only comply. Once again. which is not bound to the actual presence of outside impulses. as Hardenberg puts it a few months later.” “Fantasie.” In inescapable narcissism. that “imagination is the miraculous sense that can replace all senses. while nature is nothing but the blueprint for the mind to understand and unlock its own powers. is thus able to produce pure thoughts. nature has no function or significance outside of the self’s desires.” The self has become absolute master and creator of its own reality. imagination. unencumbered by the mechanical laws of the physical world.” which here clearly designates the transcendental imagination. images.approach to nature ultimately leads the self to reduce outside nature to a status of complete insignificance. While our “outer senses. The “magic” or “synthesis” of imagination thus lies at the basis of Hardenberg’s transformation of philosophy into a “magic idealism. to “force” their senses to produce for them the appearance they “demand. when Hardenberg famously writes.” while it becomes the instrument for the self to free itself from all limitations by the natural world. If the outer senses seem to be subject completely to mechanical laws —then imagination is obviously not bound to the presence and contact of outside stimuli. the self everywhere only encounters itself. seem subject to mechanical laws and hence outside of our direct influence. as part of his “Studies on the Plastic Arts” in August 1798.81 In quite the same vein. Hardenberg describes imagination as an “extramechanical force. or what is left of it. not the fantasy. Thus. A System without Foundations 203 . a script to which the self always already holds the key since it is writing it itself.” the implications are not merely aesthetic ones. while the semantic indicators of violent force and control are not absent from Hardenberg’s own text: ideally. while human beings will be able. “What is nature?” Hardenberg asks at the beginning of fragment 248 and gives the following answer: “an encyclopaedic systematic index or plan of our spirit.

”84 Strikingly. Philosophy here appears complete. Intellectual intuition. are ultimately only a logical extension of the active and self-conscious use of the “organs of thought” advocated by Fichte. as magic idealism. but which have originated outside of so-called mechanical laws —the sphere of mechanism. as Hardenberg would predict under the heading “Metaphysics” in the General Brouillon: “Both operations are idealistic. and led it to the place which Fichte should have reached himself. Unwanted Fantasies and Base Desires What happens then to the monstrous nature that threatens the primacy of the moral self and of which several speakers in The Disciples of Sais are still so acutely aware? Do the fears voiced by the anthropological authors well-known to Hardenberg simply disappear. The laws for the complete control of all organs of the body. Hardenberg claims. is simply a moral command: Fichte taught—and discovered—the active use of the organ of thought [Denkorgan]. logically developed its consequences. (Magic or synthesis of fantasy. images and sensations—which are not called up by a corresponding object etc. imagination thus becomes the ultimate instrument to undo the threat posed by the body and by fantasy. while the “magical idealist” would be the one able to turn thoughts into reality just as easily as reality into thought. Should Fichte have discovered the laws of the active use of organs as such. Whosoever has both completely in his power. Fantasy is such an extra-mechanical force. Hardenberg thus concludes fragment 247.)82 Once again. Intellectual intuition is no different. Hardenberg believes he has completed Fichte’s project. is a Magical Idealist.83 Hardenberg’s “magical idealism” was to achieve this ultimate goal. is ultimately no different from the divine capacities he had just claimed for an awakened consciousness. Such mastery. A truly absolute subject must of necessity be absolute master over its own body.A pure thought—a pure image—a pure sensation are thoughts. one might say. had he only dared to think through the implications of his own philosophical position. thanks to a trust in the unlimited possibilities of the human mind? How does Hardenberg conceive of the body that has not yet been refashioned by the subject’s 204 A System without Foundations .

in which Hardenberg substitutes the equivalence of I and You for the foundational Fichtean axiom of IϭI. the stubborn body that plagues the mind with its physical needs and unwelcome desires. one that in turn can have no place or reality in his model of the self. and he takes the precepts of anthropological discourse just as seriously. their medium in the realm of consciousness. the latter all the more insistently makes its presence felt.will.” While Hardenberg’s proposition clearly intends to overcome the dissatisfying self-centeredness of the Fichtean model of subjectivity by making the processes of intersubjectivity the basis of the self. the wish to eliminate bodily desires. fantasy. In fact. needs to be kept free of any connotations of bodily desires. such low needs and desires must be “posited as nonexistent.” and fantasy. as Friedrich Nietzsche would put it about a century later. For Hardenberg makes it very clear in the following lines that the principle of “love. an unruly body and its spokesperson. not two physically embodied human beings drawn to each other by the force of desire. Precisely because the mind and the moral self should gain complete control over the body. his note continues to create its own Other. The rehabilitation of imagination on the transcendental plane has done little to alleviate the standing of the faculty in the realm of the body and the desires: A System without Foundations 205 . which undermine the strictures of the moral law and threaten the “citadel of the I”? Are there still remnants in Hardenberg’s thought of that body whose lower half. number 96. still play a role in Hardenberg’s work just as they did in Kant’s. boldly noting: “I am You. Employing overtly Fichtean vocabulary. indeed. The intended relationship between I and You is purely spiritual and develops between two abstract philosophical entities. “it is understood. we shall see. Hardenberg. can be found in one of the most famous notebook entries of early 1798.” which now comes to determine the basis of the self. is ultimately just as intent on the “annihilation of the lower needs” as Kant had been. is “the reason why the human being does not that easily mistake itself for a God”?85 Is nature indeed completely domesticated and safely contained within the controlling confines of mind and consciousness? As the insistence of these questions might lead one to suspect.” “Ich bin Du.” will have no hand in directing the dynamic that constitutes the self through its identification with an Other. and the denigration of imagination in the form of “fantasy” that this wish entails.

A low need and everything to which one does not want to grant influence on oneself one has to posit absolutely. Hardenberg continues to sketch out a position that is remarkably Fichtean in both content and philosophical vocabulary.” While such doubleness is typical for the Fichte Studies. In this respect. I sublate all community with it. remakes. hinting once again at the deep-seated fear and paranoia about the potential influence of the body that hides behind the seemingly impregnable walls of the fortress of the moral subject. the position Hardenberg develops here is not much different from that of the “earnest man. Only through needs am I limited—or limitable. has to be contrafactually posited in Fichtean fashion as “absolutely nonexistent” in order to save the desired model of the self. The distinction between fantasy and transcendental imagination is once again crucial for this purpose. the self can retain its transcendental and ideal purity.” and “sublating. The rigorousness of the “program” Hardenberg develops here is reminiscent of the steely force and unswerving determination animating the discourses of Descartes and Kant. the I. and the faculty that is so central to the processes of subjectivity in one guise can be excluded from them in another.” “positing. By “sublating” all commonality and connection (“Gemeinschaft”) with bodily needs and effectively annihilating them. as it unfolds the process of “limiting.—In this way.No fantasy whatsoever/it is understood—as controlling power [Directrice]— for it is only the material of understanding/[concept of a tool—of a self-active [selbstthätig] tool]/annihilation of the low needs. and be it through an act of utter denial.86 After opening the notebook entry with a strikingly un-Fichtean thought. and radicalizes Fichte’s arguments. it is an important reminder that no matter how much he deconstructs. the absolute positing of the moral self as free from any limitations by the natural world.” needs that limit the supremacy of the rational self. as nonexistent. it will not do so by admitting its commonality with the lowly elements 206 A System without Foundations . The nonexistence of “low needs.” and “fantasy” and the “lawless imagination” are only different terms for the same dangerous phenomenon that needs to be denied in order to exclude the slightest possibility of its influence on the moral self. If it seeks entry to the “wonderful community” of nature. as not existing for me. Hardenberg never gives up the basic premise of the Science of Knowledge. “Fantasy” can be eliminated should it overstep its designated role as mere handmaiden of understanding.

” casting himself as the accused. Arctander O’Brien has shown. shows Hardenberg’s sexual desires. Leonore—devoted all his energies to a two-year sequence of frivolous flirtations. as O’Brien points out. As Hardenberg sketches out his daydreams at the office for Brachmann. is not so easily subdued. and a letter to his friend Christian Friedrich Brachmann from November 16.87 His engagement to a twelve-year-old. while the relationship with Friderike and Karl left him. equally entitled “flirt and correspondent. afforded Hardenberg a relationship in which physical desires were at least temporarily out of the question and which thus allowed him to defer and block out the “base” sexual fantasies that plagued him before meeting Sophie. O’Brien argues convincingly that Hardenberg. was conveniently in love with her older sister. states the facts of his case to his accuser. shortly before he met Sophie in November 1794. Meeting Sophie As Wm. a sequence that reached its climax in a triangulated pursuit of Friderike von Lindenau together with his brother Karl. however. Hardenberg performed just such a sublation in his infamous and highly idealized relationship to Sophie von Kühn. The letter is written in a style that parodies the formal bureaucratic language Hardenberg and Brachmann were beginning to employ at their new posts. Desire. as manifested in his daydreams. Hardenberg’s mentor in matters of the world. the day before he was to meet Sophie. Hardenberg. Through his analysis of Hardenberg’s letters and the scarce surviving biographical material.” While O’Brien has analyzed Hardenberg’s letter in detail. with a sense of physical contagion and the desire to escape the sticky business of actual personal relations in games of flirtation altogether. its specific connection to the problem of fantasy merits quoting its central passage again.of physical nature that inconveniently remind the self of its repressed needs and desires. grew increasingly weary of the implications of his noncommittal affairs. as his letters to his brothers and friends make clear. Brachmann. in full force. we see the nightmare scenario of any eighteenth-century anthropologist unfold before our very eyes: A System without Foundations 207 . after a scandalous affair in Leipzig in 1793 with the seventeen-year-old Julie Eisenstuck—Friedrich Schlegel. O’Brien argues. “flirt and correspondent. Hardenberg. and in a formal deposition.

and the young does. is subsituted for the name of “His Electoral Highness. where the name of His Electoral Highness was supposed to have been entered.” the representative of the formal order of the state. as the name of a girl. he attributes his sickness—caused by an “indisposition of the body” in conjunction with an “indisposition of the soul”—squarely to the faculty traditionally seen to make the self susceptible to the magical influences of eros. and in a letter to his newfound confidante. As O’Brien rightfully notes. The effects of the workings of fantasy also make themselves felt immediately after Hardenberg’s encounter with Sophie on the following day. Caroline von Just. is no laughing matter. even if fictitious. Hardenberg falls ill after the fateful meeting in Grüneberg on November 17. which feed there under roses. no matter how humorously Hardenberg attempts to frame it. demonized in classical fashion as an instrument of the devil. The “young does” of the paradisiacal Weißenfels. even recently to the point that his pen maliciously let the name of a girl be written in an official protocol. smoky office. ultimately cause no less than “Pandemonium” at the office. The “voluptuous images” created in fantasy interpose themselves between Hardenberg and his work. causing the self to lose itself in the gaze of an Other and succumb to the debilitating effects of love sickness: 208 A System without Foundations . the “Devil of Lasciviousness” (“Wollustteufel”) to be specific. the affair. and he must unfortunately admit that there seems to be a veritable Pandemonium in the old. while the unlawful play of desires dangerously interferes with the execution of lawful business. and Hardenberg is no doubt aware that such satanic influences will have very real effects for his future career as a civil servant. in which the Devil of Lasciviousness continually chicanes him and dances around on the paper in front of him with voluptous images. dance on the paper on which he is supposed to write. except that he has not been able to discard completely from his memory the streams of milk and honey in Weißenfels. the object of Hardenberg’s desire. Kant’s greatest fears are here realized. occasioning much teasing and injuries to the estate. blurring the lines between the real and the imaginary. deceptively innocent in Hardenberg’s initial metaphorical frame. and even cause a—real or ficticious—slip of the pen. as fantasy and its unruly images topple the social hierarchy.88 The culprit here is of course fantasy.Nothing adverse has happened to him since.

and suddenly it is there. her indeed unique friendship. From the beginning.90 In light of such troubling effects of his activated fantasy. that unhappy. to follow the logic of the magical theory of love.89 Hardenberg diagnoses his mal de cœur in traditional fashion as the effect of an overactive and irritable imagination. but the focus of my illness lies in my fantasy—I only need to think for a time about those objects.So much delight at once. . . so that his self. as Hardenberg puts it in a letter to his brother Erasmus from November 1795 (4:159). The self is defenseless against the images and corresponding emotions that have invaded and infected its imagination due to the fateful glance upon the beloved. Sophie is thus the fictional object of Hardenberg’s desire. By interposing von Just between himself and Sophie. that I had to suffer because of it in the end. and the infinite prospect. inextinguishable longing and anxious nauseating aversion to the present. The relationship to Sophie thus allows Hardenberg to enact precisely the relation between I and You he would sketch out in the carefully composed notebook entry written a year after her death. an idealized love relationship from which all base desires could be expurgated. all at once in such a way. will allow him to keep bodily sexual desires at bay for the most part. If this fragile arrangement remained threatened by Sophie’s impending sexual maturity as long as A System without Foundations 209 . which had lain idle for a while. a sensitive being can suffer. though even Sophie would eventually show her “more dirty side” (“der schmutzigere Revers”). which would “transform” his hope for happy hours into “the worst agony . as O’Brien points out.”91 Once Hardenberg is assured that the affections are mutual. the ensuing liminal affair. The encounter with Sophie thus provides Hardenberg with a cure for his sickened fantasy. is given back to him as reflected through the eyes and the fantasy of Sophie. Sophie. I feel only too acutely that the body surely plays its part. one which Hardenberg would carefully create and perform in writing over the following years. while allowing for an embodiment of his philosophical desires. which opened up to me here so definitely for my life and my destiny—all this bombarded my already sensitive fantasy. Hardenberg hopes to escape being completely overcome by the projections of his fantasy. Hardenberg downright implores von Just to protect him and to possibly provide him through her presence with the means to “wear down an all too intense irritability of [his] fantasy” in order to help him achieve the inner peace he so much desires.

elaborations of his plan to follow Sophie into death and to complete their union in the afterlife are complemented by frequent and unashamed entries about his physical arousal and his masturbatory fantasies.” as O’Brien remarks. Hardenberg does not give up his desires to achieve complete control over his own body. In the Journal. As he slowly abandons his suicidal plans. Hypochondria is pathologizing fantasy—combined with a belief in the reality of its productions—phantasms.she was still alive. At the same time. the complex work of mourning Hardenberg performs in his celebrated Journal after Sophie’s death ultimately allows him not only to reground his existence and to free himself from the all-consuming absent presence of Sophie. Hardenberg also returns to his own body in a way that is increasingly free of the paranoia that characterized his earlier letters.92 Constant Waking As O’Brien has demonstrated. but that they are rather part of the same logic of the process of mourning.93 Nowhere is the distinction between transcendental imagination and fantasy clearer than in this short entry. While the productions of transcendental imagination make all reality for the subject. her premature death in March 1797 after the painful ordeal of her tubercolosis would perpetuate the deferral into eternity. it also provides a way for him to come to terms with his own body. Hardenberg is clearly not demonizing his physical urges in the Journal. while his condemnation of fantasy continues to inform his work and his writings. even though they are contrary to the project of a lover’s suicide he has set for himself. however. a belief in the reality 210 A System without Foundations . Hardenberg’s refusal to attend Sophie’s funeral as well as that of his brother Erasmus shortly afterwards can serve as a final confirmation of his “general repulsion at the physical and its ‘uncontrollable’ urges. An entry for the General Brouillon for example addresses the problem of hypochondria. and once again assesses the role of fantasy in traditional anthropological fashion: physiology . O’Brien is certainly correct in pointing out that these two tendencies in Hardenberg’s Journal should not be seen as mutually exclusive or in opposition to one another.

While transcendental imagination allows for a potential. the exalted faculty productive of reality and consciousness on the one hand. technical understanding and a calm moral sense than by means of fantasy. Here Hardenberg relegates the workings of fantasy. just like Kant. and fantasy.” the product of a deranged psyche and the antithesis of true heaven: I am convinced that one will sooner reach true revelations by means of a cold.95 Hardenberg. Plotinus would become a central influence for Hardenberg’s thought after he discovered Plotinus’s Neoplatonic philosophy by way of extensive excerpts in Dieterich Tiedemann’s The Spirit of Speculative Philosophy. where they present a danger against which the philosopher must impose a barrier of ideally constant wakefulness: I know that fantasy likes the most immoral—the animal-like aspect of the spirit [das geistig-thierische] the best. which only seems to lead us into the realm of ghosts (Gespensterreich). in its dangerous connection to the body and the desires.94 Although he never explicitly formulates it in that way. intellectual form is seen as beneficial. while it presents a detriment to the spiritual progress of the subject and the soul in its lower. While Hardenberg thus praises the powers of transcendental imagination for the unity of subjectivity. again in Kantian fashion. to the world of dreams.—But at the same time I also know how A System without Foundations 211 . on the other. the products of fantasy. Hardenberg ultimately conceives of two quite separate instances of imagination. Akin to Plotinus’s model in the Enneads. which stand in a relation akin to that presented in the two-imaginations theory of Plotinus. he would openly condemn the immoral effects of fantasy—a clear threat to the moral integrity of the self—as late as his well-known letter to Caroline Schlegel from February 1799. this antipode of true heaven. presents two decidedly separate types of imagination: transcendental imagination.of the products of fantasy remains pathological for Hardenberg. though never-realized mystical opening toward the Absolute. just as much as it had been for Kant. imagination in its higher. bodily incarnation. here only lead to a “realm of ghosts. like Plotinus. And one of Hardenberg’s notes from the Fall of 1799 makes it equally clear that the products of fantasy remain morally suspect.

reason and the moral law hold sway and urge constant waking. cannot avoid sleep —but at the same time I enjoy waking.—Only its fleetingness makes the impudence of its existence good. for they might hold a truth about the rea- 212 A System without Foundations .” (Philosophiren ist nur ein dreyfaches oder doppeltes Wachen — Wachsein —Bewußtseyn. I. a truly free subjectivity unencumbered by the illusory limitations of ordinary consciousness. Here. Kant’s Anthropology seems quite close at hand.)97 If an awakened consciousness of the moral self. the animal urges of the human mind. to use Hardenberg’s formulation from the fragment of the Poëticismen discussed earlier. is the goal of philosophy. a call for their immediate forgetting in fact. urges that need to be dispelled like bad dreams—posited as nonexistent. There is a clear social injunction against giving such images more weight than they deserve.much all fantasy is like a dream—which loves the night. is in fact the activity of philosophizing as such. whose “senseless” images may at best be shared among lovers but can serve no purpose for the larger community. and I secretly wish to be always awake. And when Hardenberg remarks on the ultimately a-social nature of dream and fantasy. one must at least be constantly aware that they do not represent the “noblest part” of the self. it remains vehemently opposed to the threatening workings of imagination in dreams. where it assails the subject with immoral images and desires in the guise of fantasy. too. and solitude—dream and fantasy are the most personal property—they are at most for 2 —but not for several people.96 Fantasy thus consorts with the immoral. Maybe the intoxication of the senses [Sinnenrausch] is part of love just as sleep is part of life—the noblest part it is not—and the healthy human being will always prefer to wake rather than to sleep. Dream and fantasy are to be forgotten—one should not dwell on it—least of all eternalize it. for otherwise. meaninglessness. to be found in a fragment written in the second half of 1799: “Philosophizing is only a triple or double waking — wakefulness— consciousness. their “impudence” might threaten the stability of the subject and ultimately of the social order. And if sexual desires—the “intoxication of the senses”—and sleep with its potentially unwelcome fantasies cannot be completely done away with. Such a state of ultimate wakefulness is in fact one of Hardenberg’s definitions of philosophical thought. Such images are best left in the dark or declared as nonexistent.

The last chapter of this book is thus devoted to the double knowledge of imagination that marks his thoughts about the subject and the self. A System without Foundations 213 . Probably none of the Romantic champions of imagination felt the disruptive power of this tension more acutely than Samuel Taylor Coleridge.sonable subject that the latter is unable to accept or contain.

and aesthetics presented for Coleridge a philosophical means of liberation. lord brooke Mustapha. took possession of me as with a giant’s hand. Samuel Taylor Coleridge famously proclaimed that “The writings of the illustrious sage of Königsberg .”1 Paying his debts to this moment of philosophical inspiration. . Coleridge saw himself as charged with the translation and transmission of Kant’s critical system and of German Idealism to the British philosophical and cultural context. .2 Kant’s transcendental perspective on epistemology. for Kant’s critical system afforded him a position from which to counter the associationism of David Hume and David Hartley. far unlike his books. — fulke greville. “Chorus Sacerdotum” 6 Divine Law and Abject Subjectivity coleridge and the double knowledge of imagination A ddressing Kant’s influence on his philosophical thought in chapter 9 of the Biographia Literaria.Yet when each of us in his own heart looks He finds the God there. which suggested the mechanical determination of the human mind by the 214 . ethics.

seemed to Coleridge the dangerous outcome of an account of human beings as “living machines”: And truly.3 Coleridge found the argument he was looking for to “repel the sarcasm” in the Kantian distinction between noumenal reason and phenomenal and hence mechanical understanding. . by what arguments I could repel the sarcasm. Although Coleridge was strongly influenced by David Hartley’s Observations on Man earlier in his philosophical career. he had already developed the ethical consequences of associationism in the 1809 – 10 version of his periodical The Friend. and that (as one of the late followers [i.empirical forces of cause and effect. and can thus guarantee the sanctity of human moral freedom against all empiricist allegations. or if with a writer of wider influence and higher authority [i.” Coleridge. I had reduced all virtue to a selfish prudence eked out by superstition . it seemed to Coleridge the indispensable first principle for any philosophical system worthy of the name.4 Precisely because Kant’s noumenal law of reason remains intact as a moral principle regardless of the empirically observable actions and behavioral patterns of human beings. the theologian Paley]. which allowed for the “vital” and “warm” metaphysics of The Friend and Coleridge’s attempt to unify reason and (religious) feeling to provide a counter-model against the “dead” and “cold” mechanical position of utilitarianism. .. associationism had become an untenable philosophical position for him by the time he was writing the Biographia.. which for Coleridge. saw the self’s very essence as residing in its connection to the noumenal law of reason. based on associationist philosophy. The utilitarianism of Wiliam Godwin and William Paley. chapters 6 and 7 of which are devoted to a refutation of the Hartlean system. however. but decidedly a divine principle. I know not. While Coleridge here mainly exposes the philosophical inconsistencies of a mechanical account of the human mind. much like Kant.e. This equation of metaDivine Law and Abject Subjectivity 215 . Godwin] of Hobbes and Hartley has expressed the system) the assassin and his dagger are equally fit objects of moral esteem and abhorrence. was not merely a transcendental.e. an eminent “receptivity to ideas. if I had exerted my subtlety and invention in persuading myself and others that we are but living machines. a philosophical assumption that had at this point become as ethically troubling for Coleridge as it had been for Kant. to put it in Kant’s words. Coleridge’s philosophical texts always exemplify.

in an all-encompassing and dynamic philosophical system.”7 divine imagination Most influential for Coleridge in this regard had been the transcendental idealism of Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling. “how closely Reason and Imagination are connected. in what is his most concise formulation of this conviction. or Thing in Itself. than his mere words express. did not appeal to Coleridge’s philosophical and religious sensibility.physics and religion. which we have seen at work both in Kant’s and Descartes’ philosophical accounts of subjectivity. where the faculty was no longer described in its previously threatening connection to the realm of the passions and the senses. Coleridge.” Coleridge declares in the Biographia.5 While Coleridge thus placed utmost importance on the revelation of a noumenal realm and on the subject’s nonempirical connection and access to a divine moral law. it was possible for him to have meant no more by his Noumenon. Coleridge thus could not emphasize the conception of imagination as a disruptive and unruly power. two faculties which to him could ultimately be seen as united in their respective reference to the divine will. “It is wonderful. subject and object. Coleridge seized upon the concept of imagination as a unifying and mediatory power. also had to be Kant’s own. in a note to the flyleaf to copy D of The Friend.” sought to overcome conflictual models of the relation between reason and imagination. Schelling departed from the Fichtean system by locating the Absolute not in the subject itself but in an overarching sphere that united 216 Divine Law and Abject Subjectivity . Rather. pitted against and in conflict with the rational law of reason. which had found its strongest expression in the philosophical texts of the German Idealists. he was nevertheless troubled by the violent form this revelation took in the Kantian account of the sublime experience. in his struggle “to idealize and to unify. The idea that the law of reason should only manifest itself in a violent power struggle with the phenomenal world of the senses and imagination. Coleridge felt. in which the mind demonstrated to itself its own superiority at the expense of nature. and Religion the union of the two. conviction: “In spite therefore of his [Kant’s] own declarations. albeit unexpressed.6 In his attempt to reconcile mind and nature. I could never believe.” Coleridge wrote. for whom imagination played an even more overtly central role than it already had for Fichte.

rather than the merely illusory reflection of the Fichtean “I.”10 Schelling’s philosophical system thus answers the concern at the heart of Coleridge’s philosophical project—a concern presented in the Biographia. godless. Coleridge claims in Leibniz’s words that if all philosophical systems known so far were considered in their fundamental and Divine Law and Abject Subjectivity 217 .e. to whom Fichte’s theory ultimately “degenerated into a crude egoismus. could be revealed and realized in the work of art and thus ultimately by means of imagination. “I first found a genial coincidence with much that I had toiled out for myself. “we owe the completion.” Coleridge writes in the Biographia. the self.8 Fichte. in truly Coleridgean fashion.both the self’s conscious subjectivity and the unconscious force of nature. of this [i. which thus constitutes part of the Absolute.”9 But Schelling provided Coleridge with a model of imagination. In reducing nature to nothing more than the Not-I.’ and the ‘System des Transcendentalen Idealismus’. which lent themselves much more readily to the development of a truly all-encompassing and palatable philosophical perspective. in an aesthetic representation of the Absolute. in words purloined directly from Johann Gottlob Ephraim Leibniz. through which the latter could realize its true nature as the absolute subject. a necessary opposition to the empirical I. the Biographia’s philosophical center.” provided Coleridge with a model of imagination that relies on the Kantian distinction of the phenomenal and the noumenal. This faculty provides for Schelling a connection to both conscious and the unconscious poles of the Absolute and can hence act as the mediatory power able to reconcile both subject and object.” The union of subject and nature. while abolishing the direct conflict of reason and imagination inherent in Kant’s system. mind and nature. and the philosophical system. Fichte’s Science of Knowledge could not present an acceptable philosophical model for Coleridge. and altogether unholy. Schelling. as discussed in chapter 4 in this volume. as lifeless.. as Coleridge points out in the Biographia. “In Schelling’s ‘Natur-Philosophie. which Schelling discusses in his System of Transcendental Idealism and his Philosophy of Nature. a boastful and hyperstoic hostility to Nature. to whom. In chapter 12. rehabilitated imagination as a central philosophical concept by effectively collapsing the distinction between mind and nature on which the Kantian system relied. and the most important victories. the Kantian] revolution in philosophy. and a powerful assistance in what I had yet to do.

” where in the system of all systems every possible philosophical perspective would prove to be relatable to the same underlying principles. and Hardenberg. Quite purposefully. the “one perspective central point” in which all philosophical perspectives can be seen as united. It should hence come as no surprise that at the center of the Biographia Literaria —at the textual hinge between its two parts that needs to secure the unity of the text itself. is also the voice that will be able to outline the complete philosophical system.”11 This promise is the basis for Coleridge’s own attempt at idealist system-building and the ultimate philosophical goal he had set himself for his continually deferred “magnum opus. and which presents itself as distinctly Coleridge’s own. Since the Biographia itself is notoriously unyielding on that account. as a process of literary and poetic self-creation. Very much in tune with Hardenberg’s insights in the Fichte Studies—even though Coleridge does not employ this strategy as self-consciously as Hardenberg—the Biographia presents the unity of subjectivity. The voice of the philosophical. and literary utterance that can include and synthesize the network of quotes and appropriated perspectives that make up the textual body of the Biographia. which shows regularity and coincidence of all the parts in the very object. we can turn at this point to Coleridge’s Essays on Method. 218 Divine Law and Abject Subjectivity . Fichte. after all. which from every other point of view must appear confused and distorted. they would be found “united in one perspective central point. critical.only seemingly contradictory truths. it is first necessary to take a closer look at the way Coleridge envisions an allencompassing philosophical system and the method by which it could be constructed. For both the philosophical and the autobiographical self in the Biographia. together with its philosophical and ideological projects. the desired unity is thus of necessity a synthetic act of creation and of writing. not serendipitous that Coleridge presents a sketch of his systematic philosophical convictions in the form of a literary autobiography. as well as the public image Coleridge attempts to create in his “life in letters”—we encounter Coleridge’s definition of imagination. the Biographia Literaria is written to guarantee both the progressive unity of Coleridge’s literary life and by virtue of this unity the possibility of a complete and dynamic philosophical system. But before we can fruitfully approach this oft-discussed paragraph in the Biographia. the unity and successful completion of such a philosophical meta-system is directly predicated upon the unity of subjectivity. just as for Descartes. For Coleridge. It is. Kant.

the goal of Coleridge’s essays is “To refer men’s opinions to their absolute principles. “to convey not instruction merely. to apply the principles thus ascertained. Method constitutes a science that does not treat specific classes of objects. in other words. and hence their feelings to their approriate objects.”14 Clearly. Consequently. Morals. who is to be led to the discovery of the fundamental philosophical principles that will then emancipate him from received notions and public opinion to make his own enlightened choices and decisions. philosophical. will alone enable its practitioners to satisfactorily construct a system. fixed. but rather the dynamic roots of shifting propositions. as Coleridge is quick to explain. or otherwise. which forms part of the 1818 version of his 1809 / 1810 weekly The Friend. which he might wish to examine by its light. This “science of Method. and Religion. has thought and reflection itself as its objects: Divine Law and Abject Subjectivity 219 . as to kindle his own torch for him. and in their due degrees. and which nevertheless should allow the establishing of “fixed” principles and a stable system of thought that could be based upon them.15 Method.”12 As such. and requires its own “science” to be established correctly. The Friend is primarily designed. and dead. Morality. to the formation of steadfast convictions concerning the most important questions of Politics. and Religion with Literary Amusements Interspersed. be it scientific. Coleridge thus attempts to produce a “self-activity” in the reader. The Method Coleridge tries to transmit in The Friend. but fundamental instruction. but rather ever-changing and alive.”13 Like his Idealist contemporaries and predecessors in Germany. which must be adjustable to a human knowledge and experience that is not stable. As such. must thus be elusive. and to leave it to himself to chuse the particular objects. not so much to shew my Reader this or that fact. Essays on Method In its second. the fundamental principles in question are not mere facts to be taught or transmitted directly. but rather the relations between the objects of knowledge as its primary material. which proclaims it as “A Series of Essays in Three Volumes to Aid in the Formation of Fixed Principles in Politics. Coleridge’s The Friend bears a programmatic subtitle.” as Coleridge describes it in The Friend. 1818 edition. and finally.his most refined published attempt at presenting his view of systematicity. aesthetic.

but for the purposes of understanding. shall the generalization be made? The theory must still require a prior theory for its own legitimate construction. Every meta-theory would be as groundless as the theory it was designed to explain. Built on such an insecure basis (“observation. discovered by observation or experiment. as Coleridge explains: For what shall determine the mind to abstract and generalize one common point rather than another? and within what limits. since it operates unconcerned with empirical reality and deals exclusively with intellectual entities that are the synthetic products of prior definitions. as the product of an abstraction from empirical data. and its generalizations would hence be in need of yet another theory for their justification. Coleridge labels this associationist mode of classification “theory” and defines it as a relation “in which the existing forms and qualities of objects. or communication of the same.20 Following the model of mathematics. though aided by experiment. becomes natural to the mind which has been accustomed to contemplate not things only.” no matter how abstract its principles. or to the state and apprehension of the hearers. but likewise and chiefly the relations of things. the science of Method would be caught in an infinite regress.”17 The hypothesis underlying such a theoretical approach. from what number of individual objects. only mathematics qualifies as a perfect science. or for their sake alone. is necessarily limited and imperfect”). For Coleridge.19 For this reason. however. them. necessarily remains arbitrary. Coleridge explains. a merely theoretical system could never provide any insight that goes beyond these empirical limitations. suggest a given arrangement of many under one point of view: and this not merely or principally in order to facilitate the remembrance. and in most instances of controlling. The second and lesser type of relation stems from the observation of empirical facts and will thus always suggest a systematic arrangement governed by the mechanical laws of cause and effect. true philosophical insight can thus only be achieved if the relations that are the material of Method originate not in 220 Divine Law and Abject Subjectivity . is its reliance on observation and empirical data.method . therefore. the central problem of “theory. either their relations to each other. or to the observer.16 The relations that can form the material for Method are of two kinds. recollection.18 If this were all.

a propaedeutical discipline that is to supply. much like Fichte’s Science of Knowledge.23 Coleridge’s science of Method. and as supplying the copula.” occupies the foremost place in the science of Method. the principles of Law are not only intellectual principles. And Divine Law and Abject Subjectivity 221 . however. This superior kind of relation. as the science common to all sciences.22 The “essence of method” is thus for Coleridge an act of intuition and of faith. “A Principle of Unity with Progression” that would provide the foundation. which modified in each in the comprehension of its parts to one whole. however. wisdom. while the mere ingenuity of theory is due to the lack of a religious principle: Alienated from this (intuition shall we call it? or steadfast faith?) ingenious men may produce schemes. as integral parts of one system. that from the contemplation of law in this. in Coleridge’s words. The science of Method is thus firmly grounded in religious faith. capable of continuous development. unity. is thus a science of science. in consequence of which philosophy itself becomes the supplement of the sciences.24 Based on the principle of Law. but also account for the relations between and for the very existence of the objects of empirical reality. conducive to the peculiar purposes of particular sciences. They can do so because they are the divine causes of empirical phenomena that can never be derived from the latter through the deductive processes of theory. which Coleridge terms “Law. and first principle of a truly comprehensive philosophical system. this scientific philosophical method thus extolls religion as the ultimate goal and unifying element of any systematic endeavour: Religion therefore is the ultimate aim of philosophy. its only perfect form. both as the convergence of all to the common end. is in its principles common to all. namely. inseparable from the idea of God: adding.empirical observation. but in the mind of the observer. we contemplate it [Law] as exclusively an attribute of the Supreme Being.21 Unlike the definitions of mathematics. but no scientific system. must be derived all true insight into all other grounds and principles necessary to Method.

this is method . It is this capacity that distinguishes theory from Method and a mere mechanical arrangement of facts from an organic system. Fichte. needs to be recognized if one aims to construct a satisfactory philosophical system. otherwise the principle of solution would be itself a part of 222 Divine Law and Abject Subjectivity . For the same reason that theory was discarded as a means for providing it in the “Essays on the Principles of Method. which unites philosophy and the sciences. immediately after he had introduced the goal of completing an all-inclusive philosophical system. by returning to the Biographia Literaria. Coleridge thus deems precisely those insights that Kant had categorically banned from the realm of transcendental philosophy and from reasonable philosophical discourse as absolutely essential to the philosophical enterprise. the immediate offspring of philosophy. Faith. which form the primary material of the science of Method. must of course place its first position from beyond the memory. as well as Coleridge’s departure from Kant. left off. itself a distinct science. religion. proceeds to ask where the first principle of such a system might be found. and anterior to it. which provides him with the vantage point from which to truly perceive the necessary relations of things. beginning at the point where the purloined quote from Leibniz.25 This methodical religious principle. Coleridge. as this part of the human mind after all constitutes part of what the system as a whole should be able to explain: A system. and the Subject We can examine more closely the relationship between philosophy. Imagination. Such an approach would immediately lead to the familiar problem of infinite regress. and Schelling with regard to the questions of subjectivity and imagination. and subjectivity. which aims to deduce the memory with all the other functions of intelligence. discussed in the first section of this chapter. the mechanical part of the human intelligence.” he now excludes the possibility that this principle could be located in memory. and the link or mordant by which philosophy becomes scientific and the sciences philosophical. It demands of the philosopher an act of faith. Coleridge’s philosopher is ultimately a philosopher only because he has access to the source of divine reason.

which still operates within the terminological framework of Fichte’s Science of Knowledge. and the first question will be. This original activity. the philosopher needs to discover the first principle and postulate of philosophy by means of a “most original construction. Such a position therefore must. via Schelling. uses the mathematical discipline of geometry as an analogy for philosophical activity.” where Coleridge asserts the existence of the divine relations of Law as a necessity that only had to be reinforced by the shortcomings of theory. as we have seen in chapter 4. In his attempt to demonstrate the right to demand such a first principle located outside the confines of merely mechanical ingenuity.” In this text. must be intuited as the middle ground of the two movements. “The mathematician” hence “does not begin with a demonstrable proposition.the problem to be solved.” which cannot be demonstrated. is the philosophical equivalent of the mathematical postulate. is in fact merely a postulate. Coleridge here gives the example of mathematics that he would present again in The Friend. but with an intuition. Divine Law and Abject Subjectivity 223 . a practical idea. from which every science that lays claim to evidence must take its commencement.” Thus. and determined through itself. It needs to be inferred from the two observable types of movement: straight lines and circles. “undetermined through any point without. in the first instance be demanded. Just as the mathematician needs to intuit the first principle of geometry. in which the “I” creates itself simultaneously as subject and object. Schelling. is the Fichtean Act. by what right is it demanded?26 This question complicates the central assumption of the “Essays on the Principles of Method.27 Geometry’s first principle. or rather an undetermined point in motion. The possibility of an externally undetermined line.”29 In Schelling’s early text. ultimately an act of imagination. can never be empirically demonstrated. this “most original construction. an undetermined line. Since this postulate.”28 Coleridge. the self-reflexive construction of the “I” in consciousness. which is an appendix to Schelling’s “Treatises for the Explication of the Idealism of the Science of Knowledge.” written in 1796 and 1797. Coleridge now moves from Leibniz to the writings of Schelling and continues his text with an embellished translation from the latter’s “On Postulates in Philosophy. Schelling uses the postulation of first principles in geometry as an analogy that “supplies philosophy with the example of a primary intuition. as a purely internal act.” which provides the first principle of philosophy.

because it is. too. Without access to this self-reflexive inner organ. or through mere contemplation.30 The central postulate of transcendental philosophy.31 As the “philosophical organ. and is. like a theory of music to the deaf. as Coleridge explains in his translation of Schelling’s text: So is there many a one among us.like Fichte. Schelling had written: 224 Divine Law and Abject Subjectivity . but the whole is groundless and hollow. which is also not made comprehensible by means of figures. a product of imagination. such an activity has to be demanded in order to make the philosophical position communicable and comprehensible.” but are derived from another of Schelling’s early texts. yes.” this faculty constitutes the irreplaceable element that alone can differentiate a merely mechanical set of presuppositions from the living whole of an organic system. which is known. The connection of the parts and their logical dependencies may be seen and remembered. just like mathematics. which Schelling here renders as the Fichtean command “become conscious of yourself in your original activity!”. which Coleridge uses throughout the remainder of chapter 12 of the Biographia: “About the I as the Principle of Philosophy or on the Absolute in Human Knowledge.” Here. because it is known. Also in Schelling’s explication of the principles of the Science of Knowledge. to whom the philosophical organ is entirely wanting. and some who think themselves philosophers. philosophy is a mere play of words and notions. insists that it will only be evident to those who possess the “philosophical organ” that will allow them to recreate the same moment of construction within themselves. or like the geometry of light to the blind. philosophical thought will lack any true meaning and will constitute mere rote learning at best. It [philosophy] is evident for anyone who possesses the organ for it (who does not lack the inner capacity for construction).32 The last three lines of this quote are no longer a translation from “On Postulates in Philosophy. as for Fichte. unaccompanied with any realizing intuition which exists by and in the fact that affirms its existence. stencilled in copper. To such a man. is thus for Schelling. unsustained by living contact. but by means of an inner organ (the imagination).

like the principles of Law. this identity of being and knowing.” Schelling introduces God and immortality to clarify a possible misunderstanding about his use of the term postulate.For the ultimate ground of all reality is a something that is only thinkable through itself.. which is only thought insofar as it is. For Coleridge. and as such they are the objects of commandments (“Gebote”) which philosophy strives to realize but cannot Divine Law and Abject Subjectivity 225 .33 This absolute ground of reality in which the activity of thinking or knowing and being are one and the same.” God could not be seen as an object of knowledge. and it only thinks itself because it is. If the idea of God should constitute the ground of all knowledge. and it is thought because it is.e.34 Schelling does discuss the idea of God in both of the texts that Coleridge has amalgamated in his paragraph. however. but would have to be assumed as identical with the “I. For Schelling. i. however. making essentially the same argument as in “About the I.” Such an identity of God and the absolute subject. but creates itself in absolute causality in the act of thinking itself: It [the absolute subject] is by virtue of being thought. epistemology and ontology. does not depend on the idea of God. which the passage in the Biographia Literaria professes as the outcome of “living contact” and “realizing intuition. however. God and immortality are not postulates. he still calls the absolute subject. in short. which.” since they cannot be the objects of an original construction.e. in which the principle of being and thinking fall in one. the absolute identity of knowing and being. “is impossible in theoretical philosophy.”35 In “On Postulates in Philosophy. They are rather the infinite tasks (“Aufgaben”) of philosophy and specifically practical philosophy. It hence is because it thinks itself. has different connotations for Schelling and Coleridge respectively. i. only be attributed to a supreme being.. the reason being that it is only insofar and is thought only insofar. they are decidedly not products of imagination.” is a property of the living God and can as such. yet he does so only to show that it cannot form the first principle of a philosophical system. Schelling argues. following Fichte. Schelling explains. through its being. Schelling explains in “About the I. It produces itself—from absolute causality—through its own thinking. as it thinks itself.

now forms only one part of a comprehensive philosophy and needs to be complemented by natural philosophy. where Coleridge continues to unfold the necessary prerogatives of a complete philosophical system by creating his own text out of a series of translated quotes from Schelling. the science that treats of the objective activity of nature. It is the task of Schelling’s system to show that these two poles of human knowledge are ultimately identical and simply two different expressions of one and the same absolute activity. This conviction is reinforced throughout the remainder of chapter 12. an absolute that is now no longer located within the “I.” Here Coleridge significantly alters the first principle and postulate of philosophy presented in Schelling’s text.36 Coleridge. which presents a decisively less Fichtean position than the earlier texts Coleridge had used. which had been for Schelling the recognition of the original activity that constitutes the “I. As is well known.37 In the Biographia Literaria. which has the “I” or self-consciousness as its object. which is the postulate underlying the philosophical system. This transformation becomes obvious in a sentence that immediately follows the translated passage from Schelling’s “On Postulates in Philosophy. transcendental philosophy. however. just as in The Friend. While Coleridge reproduces Schelling’s argument in broad stretches of his own text. Coleridge draws mainly from Schelling’s System of Transcendental Idealism. is no other than the heaven-descended know thyself . In Schelling’s own system. Schelling describes the highest goal of natural philosophy as showing the identity of nature and self-consciousness.” is rendered by Coleridge as a divine gift: The postulate of philosophy and at the same time the test of philosophic capacity. As real but unrealizable. Coleridge.” but constitutes a higher sphere that comprises both the subject and nature. on the other hand.reach within the finite limits of time and space. aims precisely to unite the postulate and the commandment of philosophy in an original construction that links the “I” directly to the idea of God. Self-knowledge. they are thus differentiated from the absolute subject. 226 Divine Law and Abject Subjectivity . the act of selfknowledge that underlies transcendental philosophy has its true foundation in divine reason. he continues to significantly alter these Schellingian passages.

philosophy would pass into religion.presents this identity as an affirmation of the creative presence of the Judeao-Christian God. We begin with the i know myself . which remains bound to the mechanical law of Divine Law and Abject Subjectivity 227 .40 Coleridge’s text here foreshadows his definition of imagination. provides the possibility of an actual connection of the self and God and thus the unity of philosophy and religion in the medium of artistic activity. and Schelling. for Coleridge as central as for Fichte. We proceed from the self . This divine relation differentiates the “living contact” of imagination from the “mere play of words and notions” that is the product of the recollective faculty of fancy. What the self grasps in the act of poetic imagination is its analogical connection to the divine. even as he appeared to the great prophet during the vision of the mount in the skirts of his divinity. religion and philosophy would be seen as interchangeable in this point of absolute identity: In other words. urging him to spare his readers a bulky and all-but unintelligible philosophical treatise in the context of his literary biography.”41 Imagination. in order to lose and find all self in god . which in its highest known power exists in man as intelligence and self-consciousness. but the glory and the presence of their God. The theory of natural philosophy would then be completed. Hardenberg. postpones for a later work on “constructive philosophy. when the heavens and the earth shall declare not only the power of their maker. when all nature was demonstrated to be identical in essence with that. in order to end with the absolute I AM. and religion become philosophy. which Coleridge. using the ploy of a cautionary letter from a fictional friend.”39 In a description that recalls Coleridge’s assertion from The Friend.38 But Coleridge’s religious transformation of Schelling’s Absolute is most clearly visible when Coleridge describes his own expectations of the “equatorial point” of both natural and transcendental philosophy that “would be the principle of a total and undivided philosophy. presented in chapter 13 of the Biographia as a substitute for an extensive deduction of the “equatorial point” of philosophy.

One and the same capacity. and in the mode of its operation. conscious activity of the intellect. the Absolute’s conscious and subjective pole. which only appear separate from the point of view of a consciousness that has not yet come to understand the illusory nature of the subject-object distinction with which it operates. and modified by that empirical phenomenon of the will. dissipates. and blended with. even as all objects (as objects) are essentially fixed and dead. in order to re-create.” the active power of the natura naturans. Schelling’s definition of poetry (Poesie) in chapter 6 of the System of Transcendental Idealism. unconscious being of the Absolute with the secondary. imagination. co-existing with conscious will. serves to dissolve the illusory divisions of empirical consciousness in order to re-create an ideal unity in the work 228 Divine Law and Abject Subjectivity . we can now revisit Coleridge’s famous definition of the faculty: The imagination then I consider either as primary.association. It is essentially vital. But equally with the ordinary memory it must receive all its materials ready made from the law of association. or secondary. which we express by the word choice . objective pole of the Absolute. diffuses. The secondary I consider as an echo of the former. Coleridge’s secondary imagination.”43 Poetry is for Schelling both the “primordial intuition. which is designed to explain how art can “reconcile the primary. The primary imagination I hold to be the living Power and prime Agent of all human Perception. and differing only in degree. yet still.42 Nigel Leask. has clarified the much-debated relation of primary and secondary imagination by referring the Coleridgean passage back to the most important of its sources. The fancy is indeed no other than a mode of Memory emancipated from the order of time and space. it struggles to idealize and to unify. or the unconscious. and as a repetition in the finite mind of the eternal act of creation in the infinite I AM. is active in both poles of the Absolute. at all events. one of the most astute among this passage’s numerous commentators. It dissolves. but fixities and definites. and the highest degree of productive power of the perceiving intellect. or where this process is rendered impossible. as a poetic and creative power. With this vital connection of imagination and the divine first principle of Coleridge’s desired philosophical system in mind. on the contrary. yet still as identical with the primary in the kind of its agency. has no other counters to play with. fancy.

however. which allows the self to regain its connection to the divine by means of the aesthetic. The secondary imagination is thus a “copula. The secondary imagination thus frees the self from its limitations within the empirical realm of cause and effect. It operates in the realm of consciousness and will. and it has. which “has no other counters to play with.” which are mistakenly taken for the real.”46 Thus. the famous passage in the Biographia’s chapter 13 nevertheless retains a knowledge of the dangerous potential of the faculty that made both Descartes and Kant so reluctant or rather emphatically unwilling to admit it as a constitutive principle of the self. since the dual properties of imagination depend on their distinction from this purely mechanical faculty. and its marked distinction from fancy thus encapsulates in nuce the philosophical desires that we have seen at work in the Coleridgean project as a whole. the secondary imagination “dissolves” the habits of empirical perception in order to recreate the customary relations between thoughts and things in order to return the self to its true origins in the divine and living Law of reason. thus revealing the hermeneutical “ground” of Being that is the primary imagination. For if we take up the Divine Law and Abject Subjectivity 229 . can secondary imagination open up the vital connection of the self to the divine. but serves to make the self aware of its intimate connection to the Absolute—the divine principle of the infinite I AM in Coleridge’s rendition of the philosophical problem—an Absolute that permeates both mind and nature in the form of the subconscious principle of the primary imagination. the capacity to awaken “the mind’s attention from the lethargy of custom” and to remove from habitual perception “the film of familiarity. as Coleridge will describe with regard to Wordsworth’s contribution to the Lyrical Ballads in chapter 14 of the Biographia. The distinction between fancy and imagination thus doubles and runs parallel to the distinction between the mechanical and empirical philosophy of association and the transcendental principles of Kantian and Idealist systems that informs the overall argument of both the Biographia and The Friend.of art. the role of secondary imagination can only be properly understood in its relation to fancy.44 As such. a principle of creative freedom. but fixities and definites” and which “must receive all its materials ready made from the law of association. and is thus an aesthetic and poetic principle. the internal division of the faculty. Despite Coleridge’s desynonymizing philosophical precautions.”45 Only by dissolving these “fixities and definites. The definition of imagination.” as Leask puts it.

. agonizing selfdoubt and the fear of losing his faith were constants in Coleridge’s life. the frightening thought of his personal inadequateness for such an endeavor was by no means alien to Coleridge. for him. a wretched psychologist. yet they were always a pillar of fire throughout the night. To uncover the hidden reverberations of the dark abyss of the self in Coleridge’s text. he reminds the reader eloquently that the study of philosophical and religious texts was. the sandy deserts of utter unbelief. we also rediscover the openly disruptive potential of imagination that is by now well-known to us. without crossing. and enabled me to skirt. . we need to leave the transcendental philosophical project of the Biographia behind in order to turn to Coleridge’s extensive writings and observations about the workings of imagination in the psychological thought-processes of the empirical self. When Coleridge expresses his gratitude toward the mystics George Fox and Jacob Böhme in chapter 9 of the Biographia.48 Coleridge’s philosophical insistence on the self’s connection to the moral law of reason and the divine origins of the latter. during my wanderings through the wilderness of doubt.Coleridgean definition of imagination yet again.” Coleridge would unfold his own finely tuned and keenly astute powers of psychological (self)observation. more than a purely intellectual pursuit: If they [i. the path to a full understanding of Coleridge’s thoughts about imagination leads through the myriad pages of his notebooks. as this quote illustrates. the writings of the mystics] were too often a moving cloud of smoke to me by day.e. whose notebooks explore the dark abyss of his empirical consciousness in excruciating and minute detail. in which he denounces Kant as “Again & again ..47 the abyss of the empirical self Despite his steadfast attempts to ground the highest point of an all-inclusive philosophical system in religious faith. In these same pages. If the clue to Kant’s philosophical struggle with imagination is found in the empirical concerns of his Anthropology. in order to read it from a perspective sharpened by our readings of Kant. and Hardenberg. Descartes. His “receptivity to ideas” notwithstanding. 230 Divine Law and Abject Subjectivity .

As Coleridge reveals in a notebook entry. has not left him ignorant that this too is altogether a poison. was of no help whatsoever in the struggle to quit the abuse. Indeed. yet the trembling hand with which he raises his daily or hourly draught to his lips. The sot would reject the poisoned cup. Coleridge’s immediate and personal experience of such impulses led him to target the utilitarian belief in self-interest as the main motivation of human actions as “entirely spurious” and a philosophical “blindness to our ‘inherent depravity. instead of trying them by our experience & actual Observation. the possibility of becoming virtuous by the means of knowledge alone and without recourse to faith and the life-giving “light of religion. is by no means sufficient to stop it. though almost perishing with thirst. in essay xiv of The Friend. . we should dash to the earth a goblet of wine in which we had seen a poison infused.are not the admonitions of a righteous believer. argues Coleridge. which is eagerly grasped at by the infant . as Deirdre Coleman has shown in her study Coleridge and The Friend (1809–1810).50 The mere knowledge of a vice.’” Such a view of human nature. was the product of “the habit of referring to notions formed from books for the truth & nature of characters & passions found in books. could draw from his immediate personal experience. . Coleridge wrote in a notebook entry. but rather the necessary beliefs that provided him with philosophical and religious protection against the fears openly displayed in his notebooks. as Coleman demonstrates. . the knowledge that for the dependent addict opium only alleviated the physical agony of withdrawal to subsequently increase and aggravate it. as he despaired over his inability to successfully fight his body’s dependency on laudanum.” Coleridge himself presents an example of the spirit of self-destruction with which he was intimately familiar: The man shuns the beautiful flame. Coleridge the opium addict was painfully aware of his inability to “reject the poisoned cup” despite better knowledge. was quite conscious of the human capacity to act on irrational and self-destructive impulses. .”49 And when he discusses. for whom the “sot” clearly serves as a semi-autobiographical figure. . a fact that caused Coleridge intense physical as well as spiritual pain: Divine Law and Abject Subjectivity 231 . Coleridge. a conclusion that he.

let alone to consistently avoid a return. It is necessary for “the habituation of the intellect to clear. dissevered itself from the Will. which are “necessary to the moral perfection of the human being” and which thus 232 Divine Law and Abject Subjectivity . O who shall deliver me from the Body of this Death?51 Deliverance seems far off indeed. and the remorse.” This fitting epithet is the culmination of a poignant description of his anguished predicament. & Feet as it were) was completely deranged.” yet as such it is not an end in its own right. and only distract not hide it.52 Knowledge alone. as it was precisely the erosion of will-power and volition that Coleridge experienced as the most agonizing long-term effect of opium. but “deep feelings” for those notions that are not “possible objects of clear conception” because their illimitability does not allow for their clear definition. . in which Coleridge unfolds—without any need for Neoplatonic metaphysical decorum—the pain of being confined to a body and enslaved by a volition that he himself is unable to control: If it could be said with as little appearance of profaneness. Coleridge consequently insists in The Friend. and the wilful turning away of the eye to dreams imperfect. tho’ slowly and gradually.and I know it—and the knowledge. & became an independent faculty: so that I was perpetually in the state. dead. descended into Hell. is not enough to (re)ascend from Hell. but never the ultimate remedy. Legs. and it ultimately serves to reserve. at times frenzied. who attempting to push a step forward in one direction are violently forced round to the opposite. a drug he consequently calls. in tune with a long tradition of religious thought. or rather these are the hard prices. not knowledge. and by which alone the Will can realize itself—it’s Hands. in which you may have seen paralytic Persons. Morgan. By the long Habit of the accursed Poison my Volition (by which I mean the faculty instrumental to the Will.J. by which the Armistice is accompanied & paid for. that I had been crucified. and the fear. these are the wretched & sole Comforts. and am now. I might affirm. These ideas. rising again. . I humbly trust. in a letter of 14 May 1814 to J. as there is feeling or intention in my mind. that float like broken foam on the sense of the reality. and buried. distinct. it can only be the first step to moral liberation. . and adequate conceptions concerning all things that are the possible objects of clear conception. a “free-agency-annihilating Poison.

Life. the possible connection of the self to such ideas needed to be maintained. & yet my Reason at the Rudder/O what visions [mantoi] as Divine Law and Abject Subjectivity 233 . God!”53 Coleridge thus had very personal reasons for embracing the Kantian distinction between the phenomenal and the noumenal and for insisting on the exclusion of the latter from the “jursidiction” of knowledge and reason. I was entering that region & realized Faery Land of Sleep—O then what visions have I had. was mainly interested in saving the integrity of philosophical discourse by delimiting it within the realm of the rationally knowable. the Ideas of Being. who was as aware as Coleridge of the need for metaphysics. it at first afforded him a glimpse of the philosophically impossible: A state of consciousness in which an unconscious production of images and the rational control of the process could coincide: —O then as I first sink on the pillow. although on a less clearly-defined level of transcendental reflection. no less than their indefiniteness renders them sublime: namely. remain unknowable and by their nature “obscure” because they pertain to the “indefinite” realm of the sublime. whose function and capacity for salvation depended on their being untainted by the empirical flaws of the conscious and knowing self. however. asserts the primacy of feeling over thought and reflection in matters of the religious and the sublime. There can be no doubt that Coleridge.54 If opium would gradually become the poet’s undoing. what dreams—the Bark. very much like Hardenberg. the all the shapes & sounds & adventures made up of the Stuff of Sleep and Dreams. Immortality. The role of knowledge is hence only to act as the necessary safeguard which allows us “to reserve these feelings. as if when I sank on my pillow. which their very sublimity renders indefinite. for which laudanum was regularly and routinely prescribed as a remedy. which he philosophically never called into question. Form. was first of all concerned with the purity of such first principles. and so Coleridge. the Law of Conscience. If Kant. Coleridge. the Reason.provide the only hope Coleridge sees in light of the “inherent depravity” of the human self to bring about its conversion to a virtuous predisposition. also used opium precisely to overcome those limits of reason and conscious thought. as if Sleep had indeed a material realm. I repeat. Freedom. who could not but think of the foundations of a philosophical system in religious terms. apart from his physical ailments. for objects. the Sea. At the same time.

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. also seems to be in active control of his dream-images. is both the passive receiver of visions and their active observer. For despite the numerous interpretive attempts to reintegrate Coleridge’s disturbing poetic text into a version of Christian dogma. and it is significant in the current context to recall that in the Biographia Coleridge had promised a complete presentation of his fully formulated theory of imagination for a preface to a future edition of precisely The Rime. The Rime. in this opium-induced state.” a definition he repeats in his Shakespeare lectures. a dream poet capable of actively controlling his own visions while they are occuring to him. mind-altering drugs only rarely produced mystical visions of the nature Coleridge may have ultimately sought. when opium would completely lose its status as a means to salvation in the writer’s mind. whose poetic world comes much closer to a representation of his most private fears than to the public hopes expressed in his philosophical texts. Divorced from the necessary ritualistic context. calling it a “waking dream.” Coleridge thus experiences a simultaneity of enthusiasmos and rational control that Plato had clearly excluded as a possibility for “inspired” states of consciousness. truly affords Coleridge a glimpse beyond the necessary limits of philosophical speculation. as Raimonda 234 Divine Law and Abject Subjectivity .” hence suggesting little more than a shift in emphasis from the creative dream state described above with regard to the relation between imaginative receptivity and active readerly and writerly control.if my Cheek & Temple were lying on me gale ’o mast on—Seele meines Lebens!—& I sink down the waters. But when Coleridge translates such visionary dream states into actual poetry. Coleridge’s consciousness. as he notes. he is both mantis and prophetos.57 Even before Coleridge would be caught in the agonies of addiction. That disjunction is probably most obvious in Coleridge’s best-known poem. Opium.56 Coleridge. the visions we find on the written page do not coincide with Coleridge’s philosophical hopes as they are expressed in the Biographia and The Friend. however. Coleridge describes poetry as “a rationalized dream. however. “at the rudder. it seems. since his reason remains. yet a Spirit— 55 Like Descartes in his famous dream. the resulting poetic products are rather disconcerting for Coleridge’s vision of the self’s connection to the divine. thro’ Seas & Seas—yet warm. In a notebook entry from May 1804.

against Coleridge’s most ardent wishes. Alone. Modiano draws particular attention to the ambiguous position of the Mariner. all alone Alone on a wide. can be discerned.” This empirical abyss also opened up by imagination could hardly be seen as united with a view of the latter as a “Vision and Faculty Divine. sacrificers and sacrificed. is.” To accept the Mariner’s state as the self’s irremediable predicament. describe not the unimaginable but ultimately the real.Modiano has convincingly argued. the one opposition that could not be seen as reconciled from “one perspective central point”: his ardent desire for “steadfast faith” and his personal experience of the “sandy deserts of utter unbelief. precisely not the religious framework Coleridge sought to secure in his attempts to establish a complete philosophical system. This anguished cry of the Mariner gives voice to the unacknowledged fear that both underlies and drives Coleridge’s attempts to develop a philosophical system grounded in the divine will. as an amalgam of both Cain and Abel. the fear that the universe might be ultimately empty. who. It is precisely the ultimate irreconcilabilty of these two states that marks Coleridge’s thought and writing as a whole. ultimately resists any morally redemptive reading that could provide a meaningful framework for the Mariner’s act of violence and subsequent punishment. journeys in a universe where there are no clear distinctions between victims and perpetrators. It seems no wonder that the promised edition of The Rime. however. alone. who nevertheless continually attempted to find a systematic philosophical and religious cure to keep his own anxieties at bay—to find comfort in Divine Law and Abject Subjectivity 235 .58 This dual condemnation of the self as both the perpetrator and the victim of a crime in a universe that provides no readable signs of a moral order and the existence of a benevolent God. uniting in a single preface the despair of Coleridge’s poem with his philosophical definition of imagination. that Pascal’s silence of the eternal spaces of a world without a divine presence would. never appeared in print. would have been unbearable for Coleridge. as an aid to successfully guide one’s actions. wide sea! And never a saint took pity on My soul in agony. needless to say. all. and where no clear moral law.

Coleridge’s recollection of a nightmare at sea on his way to Malta in May 1804.his “wanderings through the wilderness of doubt. as the quote from the Biographia reminds us. and eternal Life. an experience that is separated by only a few months from the 1803 entry in which he could still extoll his dream visions with reason “at the rudder. the eternal act of creation. necessarily absent from open discussion in the Biographia. actus 236 Divine Law and Abject Subjectivity . these Horrors. took place mainly at night. A Self Without a Center “Whirled about without a center—as in a nightmair—no gravity—a vortex without a center. the dark side of Coleridge’s “heaven-sended know thyself. these frightful Dreams of Despair when the sense of individual Existence is full & lively only [for one] to feel oneself powerless. / —and all this vanishes on the casting off of ill-tasted Gas from the Stomach / But O mercy! what a Dream to expect Death with what a pillow-mate for a Death-bed!60 The self here has lost precisely what is at the heart of Coleridge’s endeavor in the Biographia. its being “whirled about” in a maelstrom of forces not of its own making. and in his definition of imagination in particular: its connection to the divine will. yet struggling. removed from all touch of Life.” gives us a vivid illustration of such a powerless self that finds itself—in its own interiority—at the mercy of external powers: & of these Sleeps.”59 This notebook entry from October 1810. depicting a conscious self that witnesses its complete loss of control. during the terifying nightmares that Coleridge experienced on a regular basis as the destructive effects of his opium addicition continually grew. as they are an ever-living Death. probably comes closest to the state. as it impacts and defines this nocturnal self.” These wanderings. one abject miserable Wretch / yet hopeless.” to which we now need to turn. who is Actus Purissimus. deprived of all notion of Death / strange mixture of Fear and Despair—& that passio purissima. It is to imagination. which undercuts all the hopes and projections Coleridge sought to develop in his philosophico-literary autobiography. crushed in by every power—a stifled boding. and which we find recorded in his notebooks. that mere Passiveness with Pain (the essence of which is perhaps Passivity—& which our word—mere Suffering—well comprizes—) in which the Devils are the Antithesis of Deity.

and anxieties. so miserable a prey to outside influences in his/her own mind be at the origin of the philosophical system? How. despairs. we again find two kinds of imagination at work: the well-known idealist and transcendental mental faculty presented first and foremost in the Biographia. while the necessary conditions. when the pure mind would recoil from the very [eye-lengthened] shadow of an approaching hope. How could a self so desperate. produced by “illtasted Gas” in the stomach.purissimus. is marked by a fundamental ambiguity. All it can do is to observe in complete passivity—philosophical anathema for Coleridge—its (self)destruction in its own oneiric thought processes. in other words. his efforts to the contrary notwithstanding. the only possible causes of such contingencies are known to be impossible or hopeless. if it also creates—at least in its work in dreams—the “lifein-death” that Coleridge not only depicted in his “nightmare poetry” but that he himself experienced in his own nightmares? In order to answer this question it is necessary to perform a little desynonymization of one’s own. can we expect the work of imagination to secure the self.61 In a chilling metaphorical conflation. when painful sensations have made it their Interpreter. When we read Coleridge’s notebooks side by side with his philosophical texts.”63 Particularly in light of the hopes expressed in the Biographia. the self here becomes its own death-bed. this power of imagination to disrupt the unity. are no more and no less than the product of a problem of indigestion.” directly connected to the material processes of the body. where it is forced to accept a dark twin for a pillow-mate. of which it can experience itself as a repetition. and rational control of the self must indeed seem “strange” to Coleridge: Strange Self-power in the Imagination. imagination in Coleridge’s texts. and a second “version. as from a crime—yet the effect shall have place & Substance & living energy. peace. . and which will vanish upon its “casting off. so frail. for. as well as the quite vivid images that accompany them.64 Divine Law and Abject Subjectivity 237 .62 Coleridge makes the bodily rather than transcendental origins of this second “incarnation” of the faculty quite explicit when he remarks in his notebook entry that all the aforementioned fears. —strange power to represent the events & circumstances even to the Anguish or the Triumph of the quasi-credent Soul. as in Hardenberg’s. the self depicted here is unable to ward off by an act of will the devilish powers that threaten to crush it. in the infinite I AM. Quite to the contrary. yea. . .

a state not of Sleep but of Stupor of the outward organs of Sense. whose reason. I think. this “stupor” or “reverie. but rather produces a cluster of images. as the “motions of the blood” force him to contemplate unwanted yet undismissible images that do not lend themselves as 238 Divine Law and Abject Subjectivity . i. Yet this creation does not effect a soothing organic reconnection to the divine. the “true inward Creatrix. It reassambles the “shattered fragments” it has at hand and recreates a new whole out of the chaos of elements now floating in the void before it. known by the rational self to be an illusion. unable to stop the production of this nightmarish alternative reality: Night-mair is. the true inward Creatrix. to which the Imagination therefore. the “quasi-credent Soul. but nevertheless so real in its effects on the psyche that the self cannot but descend into the black night of fear precisely because it knows that it has lost all power over the distinctions between the real and the imaginary. while the volitions of Reason. but which nevertheless has real and complete power over it. comparing &c are awake.65 In the nightmare. . .It is this “self-power” of imagination that most disturbs Coleridge. . .e.” in which the self is suspended between wakefulness and true sleep. . that the power of Reason being in good measure awake. bodily causes as its basis. and moral integrity. most generally presents to us all the accompanying images / very nearly as they existed the moment before.. This experience holds the greatest possible terror for Coleridge. . unity.” does exactly the work of secondary imagination described in the Biographia. a stream of images uncontrollable by the self. in such an agony of Terror— 66 With real. when we fell out of anxious wakefulness into the Reverie. instantly out of the chaos of the elements [or shattered fragments] of Memory puts together some form to fit it—which derives an overpowering sense of Reality from the circumstance. An abyss of its own making opens up at the heart of the mind and thus of the world: Good heaven! (reasoned I) were this real. I never should or could be. imagination.” can now only look on. for it creates a dream-world all its own. imagination here creates a reality the self knows to be imagined. always . . The self thus experiences a loss of control over the very reality it produces and which determines its sense of identity. tho’ disturbed .

” Coleridge’s reflections on the nature of dreams and nightmares consequently provide ample material for a view of imagination that cannot be openly presented in Coleridge’s “life in letters. . particularly in dreams.67 Precisely because the terror. here it also loses its innocence.68 The goal of secondary imagination in the Biographia. With regard to Kant’s speculations about the relationship between reason and imagination in the Critique of Judgment. Quite to the contrary. images it cannot stop or “poise” and which it would find abhorrent in its waking life.” In another note from December 1803 Coleridge even more directly connects this streamy nature of mental association. or supposed Presences. where its humanity should survive even if the individual self were to perish. for here the self does not discover its groundedness in the moral law. where the world is not made to fit the mind’s reasonable expectations.” Disentangling the causes of the Divine Law and Abject Subjectivity 239 . But Fancy and Sleep stream on. new Influxes from without counteracting the Impulses from within. they connect with them motions of the blood and nerves. however threatening it might appear in the mind’s empirical constructions. Thank Heaven! However/ Sleep has never yet desecrated the images. In the nightmare as Coleridge lives it.mediators of the self ’s divine origin. and images forced into the mind by the feelings that arise out of the position & state of the Body and its different members. Reason and Reality can stop and stand still. cannot be stopped. the self thus not only cannot find rescue in the transcendental realm of the moral law. Coleridge’s experience in his nightmares might thus be called a moment of the negative sublime. is here revealed as a grave moral danger. the rational self is confronted here with its utter impotence with regard to the mental creations of imagination. even though it is known to proceed from an imaginary experience. and poising the Thought. as imagination operates without any moral corrective during sleep to give what is most repulsive to the waking self “place & Substance & living energy. Kant’s argument for the primacy of mind and reason breaks down in Coleridge’s nightmarish experience. and . for it finds itself forced to contemplate threatening images of its own making. of those whom I love and revere. to dissolve the “fixations” of fancy so as to aid the self in reconnecting with the fundamental and unconfinable fluidity of living Being. . . . with the “Origin of moral Evil. . and hence its superiority over nature.

the presence of such fears is. this quest seems to Coleridge poignantly all but lost. a help that here should be provided precisely by imagination. for the cross of my blessed Redeemer! For I am nothing. albeit faint hope to save him from the labyrinth of such “bad Passions” and the confinement to a state of pure evil: My Prayers have been fervent. but evil! Help. incessant! still ending. and for hours together. The imaginative act of dissolution of 240 Divine Law and Abject Subjectivity . for the agonies. J. a poetic lifting of the “veil of familiarity” created in the mind by the dead and mechanical relations of both understanding and fancy. if it unlabyrinths me. curbs & rudders/how this comes to be so difficult/Do not the bad Passions in Dreams throw light & shew proof upon this Hypothesis?—Explain those bad Passions: & I shall gain Light. in a letter to J.“bad Passions in Dreams” and an explanation for reason’s difficulty in controlling them seemed to Coleridge a feat of truly Pythagorean import: I will at least make an attempt to explain to myself the Origin of moral Evil from the streamy Nature of Association. but evil—I can do nothing. for Coleridge’s definition of imagination in chapter 13 also contains a principle of disruption and dissolution within itself. must thus of necessity be exorcised from the text of the Biographia. which Thinking ϭ Reason. and that connect imagination with equal directness to the “streaminess” of mental association and the “bad passions” that spring from it. Help!—I believe! help thou my unbelief!— 70 From a philosophical perspective. As I suggested in the first section of this chapter. quite real even in the Biographia. The thoughts that preoccupy Coleridge in his notebook entries about dreams and nightmares. while the cross of the Redeemer appears as the only. the argument developed in the Biographia and The Friend is a discursive version of this despairing cry for help. Morgan from May 15. securing the self through its immediate connection to the divine law. I am sure—A Clue! A Clue!—an Hecatomb a la Pythagoras. though veiled. The secondary imagination after all is openly called upon to effect a disruption.— 69 Eleven years later. in agony of Spirit. 1814. O! only for the merits.

encapsulates. which Coleridge attributes to the secondary imagination in the Biographia. A glance at the dictionary reveals that the verb “to dissipate” and the act of dissipation.the epistemologically necessary but dead “fixations” of fancy should be followed by a moment of poetic closure and an aesthetic recreation of the vital powers of reason and the primary imagination. and spirit of unity.” by virtue of which the poet “diffuses a tone. however. for it is after all quite possible that the secondary imagination.” Its distinction from fancy notwithstanding. imagination in its secondary and poetic form retains a spirit of restless dissemi- Divine Law and Abject Subjectivity 241 .” semi-conscious. There can. the main suspicions that Immanuel Kant held about the image-creating faculty: a wasteful squandering of energy without thought about the usefulness of the work. that blends. might “dissolve. an intemperate indulgence in extravagant pleasure. imagination will not appear as the desired “synthetic and magical power. The guilty conscience of the opium addict echoes subterraneously in the definitions of the philosopher.”71 It will rather once again emerge as the dangerous “mistress of the passions.” a material troublemaker connected to the uncontrollable desires of the body. As Coleridge’s descriptions of his nightmares clearly show. in an imaginary process that takes place. In this scenario. to use Coleridge’s own expression. clearly connoting the effects of opium. “the name of imagination” has not been “exclusively appropriated” in his definition for the “spirit of unity. near comprehensively. a hapless. and contrary to what Coleridge asserts at the beginning of chapter 14. diffuse. as an act of poetic freedom. and a general state of physical and moral dissolution. each into each. which allows the self to recognize and to embrace the divine Law. excessive amusement. and dissipate. while the subject “lies in a stupor. more than the philosopher had wished for might escape from the Pandora’s box that opens between the disruption of “the lethargy of custom” and the closure enacted by the law of reason. or at least not to recreate in a way that is compatible with the principles of divine Law. helpless prey to a mental process beyond its rational influence. The “Devils” as “the Antithesis of Deity” might very well take hold of the mental power able to reconceive the customary relations between thoughts and things and to recombine them entirely anew. so that it might fulfill its function against the subject’s will.” yet not in order to recreate. be no guarantee that this moment of closure will actually take place. as we now know. and (as it were) fuses.

leaving these “highest goods” their essential integrity. Like the maenads who tear apart a Pentheus too secure in his belief in the dominance of reason and the intellect. and imagination in its wake. for the material body here acquires a power that threatens the primacy of mind and ultimately the divine reason. There could not be a greater challenge to the view of the self Coleridge seeks to institute in the Biographia than the fact that the body. due to its proximity to the bowels is responsible for the base human desires and cut off from any reasonable influence. it will be remembered. even during the “dark night of the soul. imbue it by way of the liver with the power of phantasis and thus the ability to receive “sweet” visions at night. in order to redeem the lower part of the human soul. the stomach. as the mystics assure us. and disintegrate. visions that will give even the lowest part of the human organism access to the divine. a power to unlawfully scatter. such a redemption can also be found in Coleridge’s notebooks. however.” In Plato’s Timaeus. which the faculty should simultaneously help to secure. however. “A Shechinah in the Heart” There is. As Coleridge’s fears presage Nietzsche’s attack on Western philosophy. clearly not in control of its innermost thoughts. might produce in a nightmare. where one discovers. which. the secondary imagination thus retains the seed of danger for the self. the nerves. the physical body and its uncontrollable effects. of even the last vestiges of an ideal of unity and divine autonomy to which it desperately clings. the blood. undercut the very unquestionable principles that should be at the basis of the unified self. with imagination as their “interpreter.” are able to “force” images into the mind in a process beyond the self’s control. a description of the workings of imagination 242 Divine Law and Abject Subjectivity . Coleridge can only apprehensively thank heaven that what is dearest to the self has not yet been desecrated by its material and imaginative constitution. amidst the despairing accounts of his nightmares. Ultimately. for there is no knowing what the body. hope. Imagination is thus responsible for both the self’s salvation and its destruction or damnation. be no guarantee that this desecration will never take place. the gods. disperse. There can.nation. ultimately depriving the self. made “real” by imagination.

Coleridge’s thought. as it unfolds here. a quasi-independent feminine element within Him. continuing for ever its arc of motion by the for ever anticipation of it?—or like some fairer Blossom-life in the centre of the Flower-polypus. it might constitute a beacon that signals a way out of the impasse that otherwise must follow from Coleridge’s conflicting views of imagination: I fall asleep night after night watching that perpetual feeling. implanted as it were precisely in the place most dangerous to the self. yet mutually penetrated. a life within Life.’ is in Rabbinical usage His Shekhinah. and which departs both from the accounts of the faculty’s work in nightmares and from the definition Coleridge would present in the Biographia Literaria.— 72 In Talmudic literature and Rabbinical Judaism. however. each possessing both itself & the other—distinct tho’ indivisible!—S.” As such. created and accessible only by means of imagination and a reminder to ensure that the self does not forget about its ultimate destination in a realm of transcendence. which Sholem discusses in detail.C. as an animant self-conscious pendulum. & constituting a part of the Life.”73 The usage of the term is different in the Jewish mystical tradition of the Kabbalists. “Here. literally “the act of dwelling” or “presence” (of God in the world). God’s presence. Gershom Sholem explains. the Shekhinah becomes an aspect of God.that is as complex as it is fragmentary. “is taken to mean simply God himself in His omnipresence and activity in the world and especially in Israel. brings him into close proximity with Hardenberg’s with regard to both the processes of transcendental imagination and the structure of self-consciousness.—Shall I try to imagine it to myself. Even in the darkest hours of the night. If Coleridge dreaded the unspeakable nightly fears generated by his nightmares. the Shekhinah can be conceived Divine Law and Abject Subjectivity 243 . in a notebook entry dating from February 1807 we witness him anticipating sleep with a very different aspect of the ineffable in mind. what in the Bible is called His ‘face. Shekhinah. Coleridge’s singular note reminds us. the [sic] includes it? A consciousness within Consciousness.T. there remains a safe haven of hope. to which Imagination or the real affection of that organ or its appendages by that feeling beyond the other parts of the body (tho’ no atom but seems to share in it) has given a place and seat of manifestation a shechinah in the heart. As such.

which it can only anticipate but never reach. provides “a place. Imagination. powered by the anticipation of the divine. if it exists. imagination is pictured in Coleridge’s words in a form that echoes Hardenberg’s poetic substitution of the Absolute with the 244 Divine Law and Abject Subjectivity .” “a shechinah” for “that perpetual feeling” that intimates the presence of the divine. an impossibility that causes a never-ending movement of both philosophical and religious desire. and that Coleridge watches “night after night” when falling asleep. Making this abstract process “visible” and translating it metaphorically onto the page in order to allow the mind to grasp it equally requires an effort of imagination.”74 It is with the help of imagination that Coleridge carries “a shechinah” in his heart during his nightly wanderings in the wilderness. The absolute ground of consciousness. which presents the mind with an image for the process that it alone makes possible.” an aspect of the divine that is accessible to human consciousness and that can mediate between God’s transcendence and the embodied realm of human experience. and can thus only be known to the self through the acknowledgment of an impossibility. while it can also be seen as the “dwelling place of the soul. although essential for a process that cannot be accomodated or channelled by any other part of the body—even though.as “a providential guide of Creation. It is first imagined and thus understood by Coleridge as a pendulum. Imagination. or rather the feeling of the divine. thus imagines itself and its own process of movement in the language of Coleridge’s text. as Hardenberg equally points out. a veritable perpetuum mobile of the mind. as Coleridge points out. conceived in Coleridge’s note both as an organ and a faculty. imbued with its own consciousness and force of animation. the Shekhinah can then be symbolically identified with the mystical Ecclesia of Israel. and reveals a Coleridgean conception quite close to Hardenberg’s view of the impossible presence of the Absolute in consciousness’s ordo inversus. could never be present in consciousness. In this Kabbalistic context. Imagination. in self-reflexive fashion. every atom of the physical body is affected by it— thus remains medium and mode of representation for a feeling. which in itself can also be no more than a mediator of the divine. As Coleridge’s metaphorical representation of the self’s connection to the divine unfolds in this notebook entry.” “a seat of manifestation. it rivals Hardenberg’s in its complexity. Alternatively.

it is taken to mean that a part of God Himself is exiled from God.75 And Coleridge’s concluding sentence might just as well have been written by Hardenberg himself. For what image of imaginary self-consciousness is Coleridge’s “fairer Blossom-life in the centre of the Flower-polypus” if not Hardenberg’s view of the self as a work of art. the sefirot. consciousness and being. But the Shekhinah. and it can thus become the biological metaphor in Coleridge’s text which illustrates the fact that the part indeed contains the whole. however. Sholem points out. the empirical and the transcendent. its hydralike ability to produce two new wholes when cut in half. in which the latter becomes vulnerable to demonic influences that can turn it into an instrument of evil: Divine Law and Abject Subjectivity 245 . is also marked by a fundamental ambivalence in the Kabbalistic tradition. “In the Kabbalah.”77 The exile of Israel and the exile of the soul from God are then combined in the conception of the exile of the Shekhinah.” a part of Life that includes the whole? The polypus is known in the scientific discussion of the Romantic period for its power of self-regeneration. ideas that thus also leave their trace in Coleridge’s text. the powers of mercy and of stern judgment are alternatively preponderant in the Shekhinah. even though distinct nevertheless make one whole. the power of stern judgment brings about evil in the world. as Sholem elucidates.” however. which is in turn related to the exile of the people of Israel. In the Talmud. that “Being outside of Being within Being. so that the Shekhinah can be seen alternatively as a source of salvation and a source of evil. This ambivalence. as it perfectly encapsulates the processes described by the latter as the movement of “immanent transcendence” of the ordo inversus.Whole. which. this meant simply that the Shekhinah and hence God’s presence was with Israel in all its exiles. “a life within Life. the only way in which for Hardenberg the transcendent as the whole can make itself known in human consciousness.” The mutual interpenetration of the two distinct realms. an ambivalence that is connected to the myth of its exile.”76 In its metaphysical “hypertrophy. which can “exert their influence only through its mediation. is described here by Coleridge in a succession of complex metaphors that can be seen as equal to the Early German Romantic’s hope to provide a poetic solution for the central mystery of Western metaphysics. Sholem explains. is directly related to the Kabbalistic myth of the Shekhinah’s exile. Since the Shekhinah contains within it all the divine emanations. which as such is purely receptive and ‘has nothing of its own’.

Nur der Verstand ordnet unter.J. purely limited. 246 Divine Law and Abject Subjectivity . as Coleridge argues in the Statesman’s Manual. and subordinated.”79 There seems hardly a better way to describe the ambivalence and “double knowledge” imagination holds in the work of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. ohne sich zu drängen und zu reiben. Only understanding subjugates.” then any theory of subjectivity and the role of imagination in its context will inevitably have political implications. in der Vernunft und in der Einbildungskraft ist alles frei und bewegt sich in dem gleichen Aether. could be complete without addressing the political implications of the term at the turn of the nineteenth century. and make her subservient to their activities of stern judgment. subjugate her. coda: imagining ideology Wir verlangen für die Vernunft sowohl als für die Einbildungskraft. daß nichts im Universum gedrückt. —F. is consequently at the analogical basis of several attempts of the past decades to recover Coleridge’s definition of the poetic imagination for an academic discussion that is increasingly focussed on questions of (cultural) politics. We demand for every thing a particular and free life. and indeed the Romantic period as a whole. with all its consequences—and Coleridge might have described his nightmares in the very same way—is usually ascribed to the influences of human sin. in reason and imagination everything is free and moves in the same ether without being crowded or causing friction. Coleridge’s well-known dictum. while “the aim of religious action must be to end this exile or at least to work in this direction. If it is true. rein beschränkt und untergeordnet sey.78 The exile of the Shekhinah. Wir fordern für jedes Ding ein besonderes und freies Leben. Schelling. that “It is with nations as with individuals. The reunion of God and His Shekhinah constitutes the meaning of redemption. Philosophy of Art No discussion of the role of imagination in Coleridge’s thought. We demand for reason just as much as for imagination.W. or at least a version of it. The Shekhinah thus becomes the symbol of individual guilt.’ which break into her realm. that nothing in the universe be dejected.Sometimes the Shekhinah is represented as overpowered by the demonic powers of the ‘other side.

Pyle insists in deconstructive fashion that it is indeed impossible for the contemporary critic. and the Early German Romantics. just as it had for Kant. but both the Biographia Literaria and The Friend develop explicit links between the discourses of philosophy and politics.Probably the most thorough reevaluation of the “discursive figure of imagination” is presented by Forest Pyle in his 1995 study The Ideology of Imagination.81 Antidotes to Fanaticism In Coleridge’s texts we have mainly seen such a contrafactual projection of imagination at work with regard to his desire for the unity of the self and the philosophical system. and it is quite clear that imagination has for Coleridge. By discussing “imagination” not as a particular ideological construct of Romantic poets but rather as part and parcel of any ideological position. to extricate him or herself from the curse of ideological positioning and the lure of imagination. and he sees the poetic performance and/or philosophical assertions connected to the concept as inseparable from political as well as social matters.80 Pyle views Romantic imagination as inextricably linked to ideology. Imagination. Pyle describes in detail what he sees as the ideological power of imagination in the Romantic period: its function in Romantic texts to (re)present and thus to create by means of aesthetics a unity that could empirically only be diagnosed as absent. Fichte.82 Coleridge indeed makes this ideological dimension of aesthetic and philosophical positions quite explicit when he presents his “Opinions in Religion and Politics” in chapter 10 of the Biographia Literaria. not only an aesthetic and philosophical but also an immediate political dimension.” and as it seeks to construct and implement a particular vision of social coherence and unity. then. His approach is thus an explicit critique of Jerome McGann’s new historicist project to unmask the “Romantic ideology” of organic unity and to undo the aesthetic smoke and mirrors of the Romantic theory of imagination that constitutes its centerpiece. is for Pyle the necessary precondition and the active principle of any ideological position. no matter how committed to material history he may be. it necessarily relies on the ability to imagine such a unity in the face of existing social divisions. Ideological discourse in Pyle’s rendering is not a form of “false consciousness” but rather “the fundamental necessity of a representation of the social. When Divine Law and Abject Subjectivity 247 . be it Romantic or contemporary.

and (as the feelings of men are worthy of regard only as far as they are the representatives of their fixed opinions) on the knowledge of these all unanimity. was to provide the philosophical and hence political antidote. For by these all opinions must be ultimately tried. Coleridge offers a philosophical solution to this political problem.Coleridge discusses the factional political strife in Europe and England in the wake of the French Revolution. could choose not to accept the principles of the moral law—and thus a functioning political system that would deliver both England and Europe from the cycle of sectarian and partisan violence in which it had been engulfed for centuries.” the uncontained and destructive rev248 Divine Law and Abject Subjectivity . as we know from Kant. The “democratic fanaticism” of Jacobean terror is for Coleridge the direct outcome of the “cold. Only the successful completion of his philosophical project can guarantee a “true unanimity”—no reasonable human being. not accidental and fleeting. who here casts his philosophical endeavor to establish the first principles of a complete philosophical system in unequivocally political terms. He praises the knowledge of principles as the only effective and truly patriotic source of a lasting unanimity and social coherence that would be based on transcendental and hence immutable moral feelings rather than on the whim of political opportunism. which threatens in his view the very fabric of English society through the violent clash of divergent and fanatical beliefs that are embraced as absolute political truths.85 “Democratic phrensy. an English version of the German transcendental model. who devotes his life and the utmost efforts of his intellect to the preservation and continuance of that unanimity by the disclosure and establishment of principles.” purely rational. Such a foundation of the political order on Kantian first principles seems all the more pressing to Coleridge since he directly attributes the disturbing and disruptive violence of the French Revolution—France’s enlightened experiment in freedom gone wrong— to the shallow half-truths of a misguided “French” philosophy. a-religious. for which the “vital warmth” of Coleridge’s own organic system.83 If then unanimity grounded on moral feelings has been among the least equivocal sources of our national glory. even as patriots. and mechanical system of the French philosophes. that man deserves the esteem of his countrymen.84 An example of such a man is of course Coleridge himself. must be grounded.

. while the recent past of revolutionary bloodshed seemed almost forgotten. To prevent another outbreak of the cycle of violence and counter-violence. that the detestable maxims and correspondent measures of the late French despotism had already bedimmed the public recollections of democratic phrensy. and devoted my thoughts and studies to the foundations of religion and morals. ultimately culminate in his famous definition of imagination and fancy in chapter 13 of the Biographia. both with regard to the disputes and the parties disputant” and in profound “despondency. In 1817. Coleridge thus decided. which I have discussed in the earlier sections of this chapter. Coleridge is clearly quite aware of the ideological positioning he executes when he finally Divine Law and Abject Subjectivity 249 . and Coleridge saw it as his personal mission to prevent England from such devastating philosophical and political confusion. . definitions that thus are not only of philosophical and aesthetic import but also form the centerpiece of Coleridge’s political aspirations for his principled philosophical approach. the establishment of a more than “fashionable” and truly lasting philosophy thus appeared all the more important: The same principles [of sectarian and democratic fanaticism] dressed in the ostentatious garb of a fashionable philosophy once more rose triumphant and effected the French revolution. as he recalls in 1817. . . . and that a favorable concurrence of occasions was alone wanting to awaken the thunder and precipitate the lightning from the opposite quarter of the political heaven?86 With “thorough disgust .” after the political events of the French revolution seemed to have perverted the principle of freedom itself. is for Coleridge the inevitable result if the political and philosophical thought of Rousseau and Voltaire is applied to political realities. And have we not within the last three or four years had reason to apprehend. Coleridge feared that the barely overcome despotism of the Napoleonic regime had once again whetted the public’s appetite for revolution. to turn his back on the “mad game” of contemporary politics in the late 1790s in order to devote himself to the study of philosophy: I retired to a cottage in Somersetshire at the foot of Quantock.87 Coleridge’s recapitulation of the outcome of his studies.olutionary energy so feared by Kant in the Anthropology.

but what their author could not have admitted: that the unity of the cogito can only be imagined. lies precisely in the fact that it does not presuppose the unity of the subject and by extension the cohesiveness of the nation but rather in that it projects them as a future potential.” to borrow Forest Pyle’s useful term. the self is caught up in a chain of linguistic substitutions and representations that must ultimately fail to return it to the desired point of origin and unity. As much as it endeavors to enact a unifying process of reconnection. Far from simply falling prey to mystification. as Forest Pyle has suggested. and repetitions.” Coleridge knows. The unifying task of imagination thus points to a disruption. 250 Divine Law and Abject Subjectivity . and what he performs is not merely a description of the way imagination operates. a fissure between various aspects of the self. It is to be suspected at this point. internally divided. Yet the Coleridgean text is by no means as straightforward as it might seem. an actual moment of (co)presence with the absolute act of divine creation. as the prior discussion in this chapter has already revealed. that it is by no means a fact. but rather the product of a philosophical and/or poetic leap of imagination. and the purported textual moment of unity is riddled with doubles. but an idealistic “institution. an unconscious process that is “echoed” by the conscious poetic choices of the secondary imagination. however. it arrives. is thus. its distinction from “fancy” notwithstanding. Imagination. a divisive state that cannot be truly recovered. not once. which Coleridge’s text both attempts to close and opens up.comes to define imagination. an “imaginary outcome. what Descartes’ texts already reveal. but twice. As the primary imagination “repeats” the infinite I AM in the finite mind. as did Hardenberg. The philosophical “institution” of the faculty that is called upon to unify and to heal a disruption within the self and the nation is seen. as we know. Coleridge’s definition necessarily draws attention to a state of difference and displacement within the self that cannot truly be recuperated. the power of Coleridge’s theory of imagination. to contain and to produce a rift itself. however. echoes. of the way the faculty should work in order to fulfill its ideological mission. Coleridge’s definition necessarily draws attention to a state of difference and displacement within the self and analogically the nation. not singular. but double. For when the definition of imagination finally appears in the Biographia. which sees the light of day in Coleridge’s text in primary and secondary form.

as we have seen. are in fact provoked and supported by Coleridge’s text. Political Nightmares For Pyle. The ambiguity that has marked philosophical discourse about imagination since its inception in the texts of Plato and Aristotle thus also marks the political discourse that develops on its basis in the Romantic period.” Another tradition of Coleridge criticism. which will allow the self to recognize and Divine Law and Abject Subjectivity 251 . which institutes a unity in view of a perceived division. The secondary imagination. more closely associated with post-structuralist frameworks of interpretation. Both readings. driven by a desire for unity that is undercut by the rhetoric of the passage itself. is openly called upon to effect a disruption. One line of interpretation sees this passage as the direct presentation of Coleridge’s ideas about the faculty. This act of dissolution should be followed by a moment of poetic closure and an aesthetic recreation of the vital powers of reason and the primary imagination. informed as it is by the double gesture of ideology. Pyle remarks that there are two ways of reading and interpreting Coleridge’s celebrated definition. his account of how imagination does in fact “work. discusses the passage as a self-conscious narrative act and thus as a verbal performance. which drew attention to the conflict between the synthesizing role of imagination in Kant’s critical system and the Kantian fears of the faculty’s disruptive (political) potential as expressed in the Anthropology. however.that the desired articulation of synthesis and unity will evince visible fissures in the Coleridgean text. this contradictory effect of simultaneously healing and revealing a rupture is a necessary attribute of imagination as a discursive figure in the Romantic period. Such an assessment of imagination has already been borne out in chapter 3 and the discussion of Kant’s view of the faculty. Pyle argues. a poetic lifting of the “veil of familiarity” created in the mind by the dead and mechanical relations of both understanding and fancy. Both the continuation of Kantian fears in Friedrich von Hardenberg’s assessment of the moral dangers of “fantasy” and particularly the reading of Coleridge’s notebooks remind us that imagination’s threat to the stability of the self remains very much alive beyond the unifying discourse of Idealism and its influence on Romantic aesthetic positions.

” in the words of Hegel from the Jenaer Realphilosophie “to tear up the images and to reconnect them without any constraint. ˇ iz Coleridge cannot lay stress.to embrace the divine Law. on the secondary imagination as an “activity of dissolution.”88 And by analogy. uncontrolled by reason “at the rudder. and political interests of the self as they are outlined in the Biographia must remain hidden in the private disquisitions of Coleridge’s notebooks. The nightmare of an imagination working against the ultimate philosophical. might ultimately bring about its failure. “the arbitrary freedom. as we have seen in the examination of Coleridge’s notebook entries. but ultimately no freedom at all—precisely the “democratic phrensy. in a political context. it is analogous to the “streamy nature” of imagination. despite all empirical obstacles. Coleridge’s discussion of the workings of imagination in nightmares reveals a disquieting shadow behind the poetic processes of the secondary imagination that.”90 Such “arbitrary freedom. is strikingly close to ˇ iz Z ˇ ek’s description of the radical and disruptive freedom of imagination from which Kant recoiled in the Critique of Pure Reason.” for Coleridge as for Kant. The negative aspect of imagination.” the “democratic fanaticism” that Coleridge saw unleashed during the French revolution. While Coleridge does not attempt to hide the fissures inherent in the self that prompt his desire to unify and to synthesize. to “tear the texture of reality apart. 252 Divine Law and Abject Subjectivity . is ˇ iz for Z ˇ ek the potential for a radical and violent freedom at the core of the self.” which lies for Coleridge at the origin of both moral and political evil. since it would place imagination in an entirely different ideological context. in Z ˇ ek’s words.”89 cannot be openly invoked in Coleridge’s text. its ability. religious.” since a faculty that separates rather than unifies would ultimately undercut the creation of an organic whole in which the primary imagination would stand revealed as the “communicative intellect in Man and Deity. Yet. is not welcome potential for political change. the negative and ˇ iz disruptive aspect of imagination. he nevertheless does pass over in the Biographia the rather disturbing possibility that the same faculty under so much pressure to realize the project of unification. the self might also be overcome by dread and vertigo upon discovering its ability to reconceive the customary relations between thoughts and things and to recombine them entirely anew. as Z ˇ ek does.91 As such. irreconcilable with both Coleridge’s philosophical and political hopes in 1817. as we have seen in chapter 3.

In his essay “Dreams and the Egotistical Sublime. then the ideological “purchase” connected to imagination by way of analogy must also include the political possibility of violent revolutions and the anarchic. which permeates Coleridge’s notebook entries on nightmares as a subterranean force.’”92 This unsettling conception of imagination.” Tim Fulford has already suggested that this threatening form of imagination might also be present in the Biographia by way of its very absence. The people. instituted by Coleridge in the text of his literary life. and of which “The Pains of Sleep” are not a singular poetic expression. needs to be integrated into the political discussion of Coleridge’s concept of imagination in current academic discourse. the “democratic phrensy” so dreaded by Coleridge the political analyst in 1817. which has been the central concern of this study with regard to models of subjectivity and philosophical systems. If the same faculty that is called upon to secure the unity of the self also holds the threat of its potential dissolution. look much less promising than he might have wished for. The ambiguity of imagination. / To know and loathe. thus equally emerges in the faculty’s related role in the political disDivine Law and Abject Subjectivity 253 . “unprincipled” chaos. If it is indeed true that “it is with nations as with individuals. Fulford argues. to use Kant’s metaphor in the Anthropology. forces within the self creative of a drama by which the self is enthralled: ‘The Horror of their Crimes to view. might ask for more than simply the right to be heard in an otherwise unchallenged court of reason. The famous “letter from a friend.” even the imaginary and projected prospects of principled unanimity and union for the British nation. but rather because “if pursued too far. yet wish and do. we cannot ignore the possibility that this “body” might have a mind of its own and that it might act in ways that are incompatible with the ideological project of a nation unified by unquestionable principles. Once we decide to utilize the metaphor of the “body politic” to highlight the ideological positions entailed in Coleridge’s philosophical and aesthetic speculations about the role of imagination in the constitution of the autonomous subject. the quest to discover the origins of the imagination will discover its source in an incestuous union of hellish mental forces over which reason and will have no power.” which curtails the transcendental deduction of imagination. might have been inserted by Coleridge not because he was unable to perform this deduction in a convincing fashion.

to perceive them as mutually exclusive. Imagination as a discursive figure always carries a double promise and implies both a unifying and a disruptive and disseminating potential. to champion one over the other. is as much an aesthetic and philosophical decision as it is a political one. 254 Divine Law and Abject Subjectivity . reconcilable.course of the Romantic period. To embrace either one or both of these two sides. or complementary.

Imagination dead imagine. — samuel beckett “All Strange Away” Conclusions A highly complex. in which imagination serves as the crucial link that secures the subject’s intimate relation to both nature and the divine. The narrative structure seems. manifold narrative connecting concepts of imagination to modern concepts of subjectivity links the six chapters of this study. initially. Imagination plays a central role in the discursive transformation that leads from the Cartesian cogito to poetic models of subjectivity during the Romantic period—exemplified here by Friedrich von Hardenberg’s conception of subjectivity as an autopoietic and aesthetic whole. that same fac255 . and Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poetics. a work of art in its own right. to follow the course of a fundamental reversal: while René Descartes forcefully excludes all products of the faculty of imagination from his conception of the cogito.

imagination. If imagination could be denigrated in the seventeenth century. In a relatively clear-cut historical plot a negative perspective on imagination is thus slowly replaced with a positive one over the course of the eighteenth century. this narrative strand is already complicated by the fact that the workings of imagination are deeply inscribed in both the Cartesian method and the Cartesian conception of the cogito. when Friedrich von Hardenberg develops his poetic model of subjectivity with imagination as its medium.ulty claims the center of the philosophical stage as essential for the unity of subjectivity and philosophical systems-building 150 years later. If eighteenth-century empiricism helped to 256 Conclusions . and the consequent development of the discipline of aesthetics as the turn in philosophical fortune that would allow for a resurgent interest in imagination in Enlightenment discourse. since it is a mode of representation central to philosophical and scientific problem-solving. Yet as we have seen in chapter 2. because of its intimate connection to the body. the passions. As a medium that makes the philosophical fables of his texts possible—notably those in The World and the Discourse on Method —imagination surreptitiously informs the realm of the cogito. following a quite different narrative thread that also connects the chapters of this book. cannot dispense with imagination. based on the philosophical conviction of the inescapably representational and illusory nature of consciousness. To account for this reversal. though his position would have been unthinkable for Descartes. This renewed interest then presents the necessary precondition for the ultimate vindication of the faculty in the Romantic period. and the desires. he only unfolds what is latently present in the Cartesian text itself. which could then be fully embraced and given its rightful place in the philosophical and literary discussion at the turn of the nineteenth. however. despite Descartes’ protestations to the contrary. remains a constant underlying threat to the philosophical conception of the autonomous subject. Descartes. still working within the Aristotelian framework of faculty psychology. one might resort to the relatively well-known storyline that adduces the eighteenth-century focus on empiricism and aisthesis. the empirically minded scientists and philosophers of the eighteenth century would return their attention to the neglected faculty. due to a preoccupation with rational modes of inquiry. More importantly. Despite his metaphysical reservations in the Meditations. Hence.

And as both Hardenberg’s and Coleridge’s deep-seated worries about the bodily incarnation of the faculty of imagination show.redeem imagination in terms of aesthetics. This doubleness of imagination and the consequent ambiguity connected to the faculty in the texts of the authors studied in this book are not solely an effect of the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century. but must be controlled and domesticated if it is to be successfully integrated into and made palatable for scientific and philosophical discourse. continues this process of domestication. with the destabilizing passions and desires it might potentially unleash. if not more prominent. As the connections between the Kantian critiques and Kant’s Anthropology make clear. in which imagiConclusions 257 . Descartes reinstates this split in the context of the modern philosophical debate about subjectivity when he defines the cogito exclusively as a mode of thought. necessarily separate from the body. ranging from potential moral dissolution to irrationality and madness. threatens to imprison human beings in the dangerous and illusory realm of the senses. which. Enlightenment fears about the faculty are equally. he does so only within the unchallenged parameters of the subject’s rational control over its own body and the representational processes of imagination. as Kant’s Critique of Judgment clearly demonstrates. An unruly and unpredictable imagination. Once this philosophical decision is made—and it has to be made by Descartes in order to overcome the skepticism of Montaigne—the knowledge provided by imagination. these fears have a considerable impact on the philosophical debate. If Descartes also transforms imagination into an effective tool for philosophical inquiry in the context of his scientific method. The aesthetic debate of the eighteenth century. can only be detrimental for the rational subject. needs to be brought into accord and given control over a lower and empirical one. and find quite explicit expression in eighteenth-century anthropological discourse. when left unguided. however. It is most clearly expressed in Plotinus’s conception of a twofold phantasia. seen as responsible for a wide array of threats to the subject’s integrity. but can be traced at least as far back as the writings of Plato and the Neoplatonists. can have no place within these parameters. in which a higher form of the faculty. The vindication of imagination in the realm of transcendental aesthetics ultimately does not help to reduce the fears connected to the faculty’s dark empirical twin. such fears by no means dissipate in Romantic discourse. in its intimate connection to the body. connected to the realm of Platonic ideas.

so that the repressed body. Phantasia. as imagination channels a type of knowledge that precedes philosophical discourse and on which the latter is seen to depend. do not truly provide a place for an embodied notion of subjectivity. imagination are thus clearly located on an inferior level of the mental hierarchy established by faculty psychology. The philosophical project of securing the unity and autonomy of the subject ultimately founders on the persistence of the empirical aspects of the embodied self. Aristotle points out. While essential. In this context.nation plays an acceptable role only so long as it remains subservient to the demands of reason. closely related to the first. and nightmares produced by imagination. At the same time. a third narrative strand. while essential to the processes of cognition. Finally. Imagination provides the raw material with which the intellectual faculties work. wherein imagination is viewed as a power allowing for human access to a realm of supersensual and inspirational knowledge that is made available through the images formed in dreams and visions. later. ultimately returns to haunt subject and system. In the Aristotelian framework of faculty psychology—reformulated by Kant at the transcendental level. is a capacity human beings share with animals. much as they attempt to overcome the limitations of Enlightenment discourse. “speaking” through the images. which both affect and infect philosophical discourse in the figure of imagination. whereas the processes of dianoia (discursive thought) are the distinguishing features that define human beings. but which only the latter can turn into meaningful information. The hierarchies between the faculties seem reversed. phantasia and. however. Even the Romantic philosophical approaches of Hardenberg and Coleridge. The relationship between the 258 Conclusions . illicit desires. imagination offers direct access to truth. is clearly defined as inferior to the intellectual faculties of understanding and reason. and to a foundational knowledge unavailable within the rational confines of the philosophical logos. where it exerted its influence on Idealist and Romantic discussions—imagination. it produces the representations necessary for thought and concepts. as we have seen in Plato’s Timaeus. a set of beliefs enters the Platonic text from a much older stratum of religious and ritualistic practice. connects the chapters of this book and the relationship between subjectivity and imagination that they present: the ecstatic and visionary knowledge imagination is said to provide.

the seers and their interpreters. continue to threaten and to potentially disrupt the primacy of rational discourse. Since. the inspirational knowledge provided by imagination plays a central role for the early Descartes. This “fantacist” becomes as much a source of envy as of fear and contempt. The “systematic madman. since imagination seems to offer exactly the kind of knowledge reason most desires but must deny itself within the boundaries of Kant’s critical philosophy. who make them communicable within the rational structures of the logos. thus institutes the struggle between reason and imagination that would guide so many subsequent discussions of the faculties in the Western tradition.” arguably Kant’s irrational alter ego. their visions ultimately depend on the subsequent interpretation by the prophetai. unabashedly deems everything in his grasp that the critical philosopher knows to be irrevocably beyond rational reach. in their claim to an immediate access to truth. a struggle in which imagination has for the most part had the losing role. Thus. in Plato’s account. the visions of the manteis can only be received when the rational part of the cognitive apparatus is inactive.1 It is for this reason that ideological and political positions. one that has been either repressed or forgotten. For Kant. and is condemned to suffer the fate of repression behind the walls of the lunatic asylum. as the coda to the final chapter indicates. imagination’s claim to a knowledge of inspiration is particularly vexing. A power struggle is thus inscribed into the discourse about imagination at the very inception of Western metaphysics. The open vio- Conclusions 259 . are so intimately connected to seemingly neutral aesthetic and philosophical discussions about the faculty of imagination. Rational philosophical discourse thus takes retroactive control over the products of imagination through the processes of interpretation and communication. enthralled by the visions of his uncontrolled and ruleless imagination. As chapter 2 demonstrates. as we have seen in chapter 3. who could still believe that the foundations of his revolutionary scientific method were given to him in a prophetic dream and in a state of divine inspiration. the processes of imagination underlie the rational texture of Descartes’ writings—the beginnings of the discourse of modernity are much closer to a world of analogies and divine enthusiasm than we care to remember. yet the hierarchy between the two processes remains ambiguous. The visions received by means of imagination.manteis and the prophetai.

the subject could not be seen as either whole or complete. At the same time. that exposes the subject. And. which threaten its autonomy and moral integrity. all three of these aspects must be taken into account in any attempt to accurately describe the central role of imagination in the discussion of modern subjectivity. Ultimately. as we have seen in chapter 6. his example clearly shows how closely the third strand of the narrative that unfolds in this study is also related to the second.lence of this conflict becomes quite clear in Kant’s “Analytic of the Sublime. where rational control must of necessity be relinquished. a connection without which.” in which the unity of the subject and the philosophical system is revealed in a moment of ecstasis. however. to negative and malevolent influences beyond its control. the relationship between reason and imagination deeply informs the very structure of subjectivity in the Idealist and Early German Romantic discussion about the possibility of an intellectual intuition. And even if faculty psychology has lost its explanatory power as a scientific model of the human mind. as these influences assail the subject in nightmares created by imagination. willfully relinquishes its powers for the sake of reason. while taking into consideration the inescapable embodiedness of subjectivity as well as the aesthetic constructedness of self-consciousness and the subject’s metaphysical needs. in Coleridge’s view. The unbridgeable gap between the manteis and the prophetai thus reappears in the context of Kantian philosophy as a split within the subject itself. as Coleridge insists.” where imagination. only a truly integrative model of subjectivity. could provide a way to overcome the destructive tensions that surface in all of the authors discussed in this book. imagi260 Conclusions . able to unite mind and body. It is this same opening towards the divine. the faculty’s inspirational powers are most explicitly extolled in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s model of subjectivity. which. where imagination in its primary and secondary form allows for the individual’s connection to the divine. the “highest point of philosophy. have their origin in the processes of a diseased and fallen body. reason and imagination. While Friedrich von Hardenberg couches the centrality of imagination to the structure of subjectivity within the self-reflexive framework of Romantic irony. in an act of internalized violence. a split that for Kant can only appear as a threatening abyss against which the philosophical system serves to protect the rational self at all costs. self and other. And as chapters 4 and 5 demonstrate.

nation will remain an essential part of any such attempt at integration. Conclusions 261 . for the term “imagination” is ultimately only a cipher for the unsolved questions at the heart of subjectivity and the fissures and vicissitudes of an embodied self that emerges at the liminal threshold between a body. a self. an other. a mind. and a potential opening towards the divine.

.

see Jochen Schulte-Sasse’s article on “Einbildungskraft/Imagination” in Ästhetische Grundbegriffe: Historisches Wörterbuch in sieben Bänden. vol. Whenever the word “imagination. ed. For one of the best introductions to the concept’s history.notes introduction 1.” I use this shorthand for the sake of readability. ed. Karlheinz Barck (Stuttgart: Metzler 2001). Frederick Burwick and Jürgen Klein (Amsterdam: Rodopi. is used in what follows. it should be read as shorthand for “the concept of imagination.” which will concern us in chapter 1. 19 – 62. 2. although it should be understood throughout that it is the goal of this study to discuss the function of a con- 263 . See also Jürgen Klein. Many encyclopedia articles and dictionary entries provide just such a glance. Imagination: Aesthetic Theories of Production from the Renaissance to Romanticism. 2: Dekadent—Grotesk.” or the term “phantasia.” The Romantic Imagination: Literature and Art in England and Germany. 1996). Ingenium. “Genius. 88 – 120.

Chapter 3 of book 3 provides Aristotle’s main discussion of the functions and properties of phantasia. The Idea of the Self: Thought and Experience in Western Europe since the Seventeenth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1: On the Soul. which are. Watson’s thorough account provides a detailed discussion of the various classical discourses on phantasia. vol. See Jerrold Seigel. Joachim Ritter (Basel: Schwabe. 516 – 22. and the arguments I present could not have been developed without his exhaustive research and meticulous philological work. A. In The Idea of the Self. 1984). 2005). trans. For a comprehensive introduction to Plato’s use of the term. and rhetoric 1. 263d264a. ed. while “multi-dimensional” ones will attempt to describe the self as arising from a connection of all three levels. albeit one that has had a tremendous impact on the history of Western thought.” Historisches Wörterbuch der Philosophie. The Complete Works of Aristotle: The Revised Oxford Translation. ed. involving “the physical. See Aristotle. corporeal existence of individuals”. Plato’s only extensive definition of phantasia can be found in the Sophist.” “One-dimensional” models of the self locate the concept of selfhood exclusively in one of these three dimensions. J. the modern philosophical conception of the autonomous subject is clearly a “one-dimensional” model that locates the essence of selfhood on the level of reflectivity. For a concise overview of the changing views of imagination in post-Kantian philosophy. metaphysics. Less prominent accounts can also be found in De Motu Animalium. 3. 5–6. the relational. 1988). arising “from social and cultural interaction”. where Aristotle uses it to explain the processes of dreaming and remembering. establishing order among its attitudes and beliefs. due to Aristotle’s own ambivalence about the status of phantasia. 3. his recent history of the concept of the self in the Western Tradition. 2. and the Parva Naturalia. It should be noted that the concept of subjectivity at stake here is thus not coextensive with broader notions of the self like the one Seigel explores. I must acknowledge my particular indebtedness in this chapter to Gerard Watson’s Phantasia in Classical Thought (Galway: Galway University Press. where phantasia is connected to animal motivation. According to Seigel’s parameters. Jonathan Barnes. see Karl Homann. 1972). in which “the self is an active agent of its own realization.” Archiv für Begriffsgeschichte 14 (1970): 266 – 302. 1 epistemology. For a scrupulous philological analysis of Aristotle’s use of 264 Notes to Pages 3 – 17 . not to present a sketch of a reified “faculty” of the human mind. see Watson. Among the literature devoted to classical notions of phantasia. and giving direction to its actions. Seigel distinguishes three dimensions of the self: the bodily or material. I have borrowed the term “one-dimensionality” to describe these models of subjectivity from Jerrold Seigel. not easily reconciled with those in chapter 3. “Zum Begriff der Einbildungskraft nach Kant. Additional significant remarks on the faculty.cept in particular instances of philosophical and literary discourse. and the reflective. 4. See Georg Camassa. “Phantasia. Phantasia in Classical Thought. Smith (Princeton: Princeton University Press. appear in chapters 10 and 11. There are indeed many different modern concepts of the self. of which the Cartesian subject is only one.

On the Soul. whereas the ontological status of qualia such as “blue. thanks to Jerry A. sensitive. the conceptual challenge that the postulation of phantasia was meant to solve still remains very much unanswered. Ibid. Ibid. 1987). starting with Aristotle’s attempt. who recast the ancient model in terms of a fundamental “modularity” of the mind. 687. the “coffeeness” of the smell of coffee. 4. which enter our consciousness prior to any further conceptual activity. by the second half of the nineteenth century. must be assumed to be non-modular and not restricted to specific parts of the brain. These are the highly individual “raw feelings. that only modu- Notes to Page 17 265 . each of which can then be further subdivided according to their various functions and objects. 1995). and here phantasia’s distinction from or coextensiveness with doxa is a crucial factor. Most models of faculty psychology. 5. 7.” the idea that certain mental operations are innately specified and hardwired into certain areas of the brain. like “thought” for example. only applies to certain specific cognitive processes. As Thomas Metzinger sums up the discussion: “Many. In continuous variations. Conscious Experience (Paderborn: Schöningh. Fodor. this is the central epistemological question that drives the debate about phantasia or synonymous discursive creations from Aristotle until the present.” caught between the electromagnetic waves of the “outside” world and the neuronal patterns of the human brain. while the most important ones. to provide a philosophical option for a means of communication between mind and body. One of the main points of contention between Plato and Aristotle is the question of how falsity enters our judgments.” be it phantasia or imagination. however. Faculty psychology remained the dominant explanatory approach for human cognition well into the eighteenth century. See Aristotle. therefore. is very much under debate. ask themselves privately whether the phenomenal property of ‘blueness’ really exists in this world: is there a point of contact between the inner world of consciousness and the outer world of physics?” See Thomas Metzinger. Aristotle’s problem remains one of the central epistemological questions to the present day. 685.the term.” such as the “blueness” of the sky. The mystery of the human mind allowed faculty psychology to survive for an additional two hundred years. The crucial difference. In the 1980s. operate with a basic division of the soul into a vegetative. 15.. however. creating a network of localized brain functions. is that for Aristotle it was inconceivable not to assume the connection between mind and world. The current successors of the phantasmata produced by the Aristotelian phantasia could very well be what philosophers of mind refer to as qualia. Fodor acknowledges that such “modularity. and intellectual part. 431a.. before it was largely replaced by the explanatory models of mental associationism. “faculty psychology” had a resurgence of sorts. see Viviana Cessi.. ed. 427b– 428b. 68–81. Due to the circularity inherent in the model (a phenomenon is explained by a “faculty” that is itself in need of explanation). Erkennen und Handeln in der Theorie des Tragischen bei Aristoteles (Frankfurt am Main: Athenäum. or the specific quality of the sound of a violin. 432a. Fodor claims. 6. While there is usually no recourse in contemporary discussion to a “faculty. talk of mental faculties had become an object of the same philosophical ridicule that had been directed in the seventeenth century toward the use of scholastic faculties in the explanation of the natural world.

2: Poetics. The Modularity of Mind: An Essay on Faculty Psychology (Cambridge. for example. Ingram Bywater (Princeton: Princeton University Press. as discussed in the final chapter..” Philosophy and Rhetoric 20:2 (1996). Corsini. 433a-433b. 18. Fodor. Enneads IV.. Aristotle. 19. Aristotle’s laconic insight causes considerable personal anguish and a quite conflicted view of the workings of imagination. 13. 2 (New York: Wiley and Sons. Plato.. and Theories of Imagination in Western Philosophy. 72B.” Encyclopedia of Psychology. 17. See also Watson. Techne is a much broader term that is not limited to art in the usual contemporary sense but includes all forms of craftsmanship. 12. Hans Blumenberg puts this radicalization from Platonic to Neoplatonic thought most succinctly. vol. 131f. Ibid. 8. R. when he notes that “the demonization of matter” corresponds “to the theologization of the idea” in Neoplatonic systems. Gaye. For a Christian thinker like Coleridge. 688f. Plato. Plotinus. in his article for the Encyclopedia of Psychology. Thomas H. Jonathan Barnes. 1988).. Ibid. See Michael L. 427b.lar cognitive processes offer any hope of being understood scientifically. 199a. 1927). K. 493. 680. Ibid. 14. Timaeus. Die Legitimität der Neuzeit (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp. vol. 1994). 687. 1460b. See Dan Flory. Finally. 1983).. 9. Aristotle. (Princeton: Princeton University Press. “Faculty Psychology. 433a. “Stoic Psychology. Raymond J. Aristotle. ed. 147 – 67 and Murray Wright Bundy. 72B. 1924). 4 (Cambridge. 266 Notes to Pages 17 – 31 . See Hans Blumenberg. 16. 20. 1: Physics. On the Soul. Plato. IV. 6 – 7.. Morgan. 432b. Jonathan Barnes.” Thomas H. Leahey reminds us that while faculty psychology is officially “dead” in contemporary scientific psychological discourse.3. Timaeus. MA: Harvard University Press. 11. 21. 2337. 494. 689f. Aristotle. Fodor also provides a thorough systematic discussion of previous models of faculty psychology. 140. MA: MIT Press. 434a. Platonic Piety: Philosophy and Ritual in Fourth-Century Athens (New Haven: Yale University Press. 15. 1984).31. so that the biggest questions about the human mind will have to remain unanswered. 11. common-sense psychology. 22. 448. 23. The translation of techne with “art” is somewhat misleading. The Dialogues of Plato. trans. trans. ed. 10. 3: Timaeus (Oxford: Oxford University Press. Classical Rhetoric. See Jerry A. its underlying assumptions remain “well-entrenched in everyday. vol. Leahey. 1994). 1984). P. 340. 493. The Complete Works of Aristotle: The Revised Oxford Translation. Ibid. 688. The Complete Works of Aristotle: The Revised Oxford Translation. 71B. On the Soul.. The Theory of Imagination in Classical and Mediaeval Thought (Urbana: University of Illinois Press. ed. Harpie and R. vol. vol. 1984).

Robert Stoothoff. 25.29. vol. 82. Especially Watson’s detailed argument for a combination of Stoic ideas about phantasia with the Platonic creation myth of the Timaeus provides a persuasive account for the “transformation” of phantasia into an important term for the discourse about artistic creation. 3 (Cambridge. vol. See Flory. MA: Harvard University Press. Russell. 3. Not accidently. the Latin edition of the Meditations followed in 1641. 31. Duc de Luynes. 63. Kant’s own aesthetic theory is no exception here. 2 (Cambridge.” 151f. as quoted in Watson. and trans. René Descartes. appeared with Descartes’ approval in 1647. Diogenes Laertius. already undergone centuries of commentary. has remained the same. 32. Theories of Imagination. Phantasia has played an essential role in the vast memory systems that were part of the orator’s education in most rhetorical schools since the discipline’s inception. and its influence on Descartes. 2: Meditations on First Philoso- Notes to Pages 31 – 38 267 . 29. 1996). Phantasia in Classical Thought. 59–60. MA: Harvard University Press. Philostratus. Phantasia in Classical Thought. however. The Life of Apollonius of Tyana. of course. 84. Jones. is. John Cottingham. 2001). 155f. about divine and artistic creation. theological as well as rhetorical. and trans. Donald A. Aristotle’s categories and definitions have. doubts. Yates. see Frances A. Watson demonstrates patiently how these two traditions slowly merge in the ongoing classical discussion. Christopher P. 27. The Orator’s Education. Sepper. vol. 1966). By the time Descartes joins the discussion. The elaborate mnemonic rhetorical systems that begin with Simonides and are perfected in the Renaissance would be unthinkable without extraordinary powers of imagination. variations. The Art of Memory (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. “Theories of Imagination. after all. See Watson. See Watson. 6. For a history of the ars memoria. 2 dreams. and the French translation by Louis-Charles d’Albert. ed.19. Lives of the Eminent Philosophers 7:148 – 49. and Flory. ed. and trans. Dugald Murdoch. 6. 28.. The essential role of imagination in the epistemological process. Descartes’s Imagination: Proportion. The Critique of Judgment. 91. a tightrope walk that attempts to reconcile a modern aesthetics based on Kant’s transcendental philosophy with the teleological tradition that goes back to Aristotle. For a concise overview of the development of faculty psychology.24. The Discourse was published in French in 1637. 2005). 26.. Images. Phantasia in Classical Thought. Watson. which I will discuss in detail in chapter 3. among other things. The Philosophical Writings of Descartes. 80f. 2. 30. and evil demons 1. see Dennis L. See Quintilian. particularly in the Middle Ages. ed. 157. Aristotle uses the example of calling up mental images in the practice of mnemonics as an illustration of our conscious use of phantasia in De Anima 427b. and the Activity of Thinking (Berkeley: University of California Press.2. and redefinition.

14–15). the final sentence of the passage quoted above reads as follows: “And. John Cottingham (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Philosophical Writings 2. and their argument could not hold the consequences of modern science at bay for long. In 1663. 15). ed. see Josef Simon. hereafter cited as AT. for the nonrepresenta- 268 Notes to Pages 38 – 41 . 8. 1964 –). it is clear that the carefully constructed architecture of the Meditations depends on a true deus ex machina: mind and world are only held together thanks to a metaphysical entity exterior to both of them. 1978). I include the volume and page numbers of Adam and Tannery’s standard edition of Descartes for each reference. Œuvres de Descartes. But it takes divine intervention to do so: only through proving the existence of a benevolent God in the third and fifth meditations is Descartes able to vouchsafe the mind’s connection to the world and return the cogito through its existence in God to a world it can trust. IX. 121 – 66. John Cottingham’s translation renders the Latin text of the Meditations. Wahrheit als Freiheit: Zur Entwicklung der Wahrheitsfrage in der neueren Philosophie (Berlin: de Gruyter. all translations in this chapter from the French version are mine. 50 (René Descartes. 6. By the end of the sixth mediation. that I am utterly astonished. and my astonishment is such that it is almost capable of convincing me that I sleep” (AT IX. staying with this thought. I see so manifestly that there is no concluding evidence. Descartes. The religious argument. vol. 4. 13. For the Meditations. IX. 5. The fear of a universe devoid of a metaphysical center is only barely contained in the Meditations. 406 (AT VII. 20. Descartes will have refuted this doubt as hyperbolical. which the text here addresses directly. however. Vrin. Even without a final determination of the extent of Descartes’ actual allegiance to the dogma of the Catholic church. and the metaphysical reassurance at which Descartes arrives at the end of his text. despite his life-long efforts. The infinite and eternally silent spaces of Pascal’s Pensées are the disquieting shadow of Descartes’ metaphysical optimism in the Meditations. 57–58). VII.phy. If the Meditations were ultimately no more than the attempt on Descartes’ part to protect himself and his natural philosophy from theological attack—a deadly serious precaution in seventeenth-century Europe—the incompatibility of Descartes’ scientific convictions with the positions of the church could not be concealed for too long. that the Meditations are designed to provide. The self alone has no means of observing its mind’s representations of the world from the outside and hence cannot determine their accuracy. AT VII. nor sufficiently clear features by which one could cleanly distinguish waking from sleep. Only a benevolent God who neither sleeps nor slumbers can provide that function. In the French version. Charles Adam and Paul Tannery (Paris: J. The French edition of the Meditations is more explicit with regard to this problematic distinction. 1984). thirteen years after his death. vol. remains rhetorically unconvincing when compared to the paranoid prose of the first and second meditations. Whether this addition is Descartes’ own or an explanatory elaboration by the Duc de Luynes that Descartes approved is impossible to establish. received a listing on the Index of Forbidden Books. 71–72. Descartes. For an extensive discussion of Descartes’ formal concepts of truth and certainty in the Rules. trans. 7. I provide the references for both the Latin and the French editions of the text.

1967). 13. who might prevent human beings from understanding any truth. but without intuitus there could be no starting points from which to link the various elements of a problem. and establishing an order would become impossible.” the second chapter of his Folie et Déraison: Histoire de la Folie à l’âge classique. From a philosophical perpective. Descartes. carved out against the scholastic God. which Derrida opens with his critique of Foucault’s critique of Descartes in “Le Grand Renfermement. Folie et Déraison: Histoire de la Folie à l’âge classique (Paris: Plon. which had to be conceptualized as all-powerful even at the expense of not being bound to guarantee a world that could be livable or understandable for human beings. The debate between Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault about the cogito. trans. 1: Rules for the Direction of the Mind. Descartes. John Cottingham. or to freely accept the possibility of error. see Hassan Melehy. For a good overview of the debate and its ramifications. and the Institution of the Modern Subject (Albany: State University of New York Press. has itself become a classic of twentieth-century French philosophy. IX. thus emerges as the possibility to refrain from judgment altogether. and trans. Robert Stoothoff. Philosophical Writings 2. 1997). that would make the modern claim of radical novelty vulnerable to the subsequent discourse of historicism (Blumenberg 1988. ed. 14. 15. Descartes’s Imagination. Hans Blumenberg has described Descartes’ position and the resulting discovery of absolute certainty in the cogito as the logical consequence of high scholasticism. see Sepper. but rather as a thinker who ultimately brings the medieval system to its conclusion and opens it up for destruction as he openly displays the absurd consequences of scholastic concepts of reality. 9. Writing Cogito: Montaigne. 10. the deus absconditus of high scholasticism. Dugald Murdoch (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1961). 11. 202ff. Descartes. Philosophical Writings 2. 368). Blumenberg argues. 21. Blumenberg thus sees Descartes not so much as the founder of a new epoch. Dugald Murdoch. previously already demanded in theological terms by Martin Luther. What Descartes himself and the modern discourse in his wake present as an absolutely new beginning is thus intimately tied up with the philosophical and theological discussion of the Middle Ages. 15 (AT VII. Jacques Derrida. 12.” L’Écriture et la différence (Paris: Seuil. 71. The moment of freedom. For a discussion of the history and Descartes’ use of the term ingenium. 14 (AT VII. could only return as the deus malignus in the context of the philosophical endeavor to understand the laws that govern the world in which we live. madness. 22–23. see Sepper. One can rightfully point out that the basic principle of the Cartesian method in the Rules is order. or rather as the necessary philosophical opposition against its cosmology. 1985) 14 (AT X. See Michel Foucault. “Cogito et Histoire de la Folie.tional character of the relation between images and objects in the Rules. 16). 18). IX. Notes to Pages 41 – 44 269 . and the discourse of philosophy. The Philosophical Writings of Descartes. an unacknowledged origin. Descartes’s Imagination. 87 – 94.). vol. René Descartes. Blumenberg points out.

which are nevertheless quite clear to the intellect. Ibid. Descartes. as we shall see in chapter 3. Ultimately. imagination is shown to quickly reach its limits in the task of representing geometrical figures to the mind. 398–99). “Apologie de Raymond Sebond. Ibid. Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity (Cambridge. 61 (AT X. 23. Descartes. it is difficult to see how the intellect could make a judgment about the existence of exterior objects without prior input from the senses. Philosophical Writings 2. IX. 24. employs a similar argument to demonstrate the supremacy of reason over imagination in his “Analytic of the Sublime. (AT VII. 43 (AT X.16. as the eighteenth-century empiricsts would not tire to point out. 23). The doubling of imagination / phantasia as both mental activity and organ of the brain can be traced back to the theories of Avicenna (Ibn Sina) and Averroës (Ibn Rushd). Here. 20. 22 (AT VII. Immanuel Kant. Descartes thus has a much wider and more comprehensive conception of “thought” than Aristotle. 22–23). 22. Ibid. 270 Notes to Pages 45 – 53 . Descartes can only uphold this absolute priority of the mind over the senses through the doctrine of innate ideas. 25. IX.” 28. 73. IX. 31. ed. MA: Harvard University Press. 25–26). 18. 19. 143 – 58. 26. IX. 51 (AT VII. 21. as we have seen. 19 (AT VII. 27. Ibid. Ibid. This particular limitation of imagination will be employed again by Descartes in the sixth meditation to elucidate the difference between imagination and pure understanding (intellectus purus). 330–31. which he advances in the third and fifth meditation. 31.. The burden to reconcile both positions would be taken up by Kant. Pierre Michel (Paris: Gallimard. IX. 445). Descartes.. including the self’s own body. proves to be an impossible task for imagination which cannot produce a precise mental image of such a complex figure (Descartes. Translation mine.” Essais II. 1965). 72. the most influential commentators and reformulators of Aristotle for the Middle Ages. Descartes’s Imagination. 32 (AT X. 20 – 25. To conceive a chiliagon. See Sepper. Ibid. 22). AT IX. Philosophical Writings 2. 33. 57–58). Philosophical Writings 2. AT VII. (AT VII. Descartes describes it as “an application of the cognitive faculty to a body which is intimately present to it”—The ingenium or vis cognoscens survives as the facultas cognoscitiva in the Meditations’ Latin text. Ibid. This characterization of imagination still survives in slightly modified form in the Meditations. 58). 1989).. 29. 29. IX. AT IX.. 438). 28. see Charles Taylor. Philosophical Writings 1. 416–17). Michel de Montaigne. 30. where. for whom only the intellective faculty proper is the locus for what can be termed thought processes. 56 (AT X. for example. 29. Without such a metaphysical conception. 24–25. For Taylor’s discussion of “Descartes’s Disengaged Reason” and the integral connection between the certainty of the cogito and the objectification and instrumentalization of the world. 21. 50) (AT VII. 17.

41. 38. “Descartes and Modern Imagination.” see also Taylor. 370).” but rather as the faculty that provides the mind with images and figures to work with internally. but rather a purely mental concept that the mind can work with in the process of reasoning. The truth of ideas can thus be established independent of their correspondence to external evidence. Charles Adam and Paul Tannery have collected these notes under the title Cogitationes Privatæ. are to be made on the grounds of internal coherence. designating the true essence residing in things. For a discussion of the crucial shift from an ontological to a representational understanding of the term “idea.32.” Philosophy and Literature 23. Lyons. will become a necessary tool for the formation of scientific models and hypotheses. to nothing. fragment 81. Not surprisingly. is of uncertain origin. 143ff. vol 1: The Passions of the Soul. as we will see later. I have followed Fer- Notes to Pages 53 – 57 271 . Martin Turnell (London: Harvill Press. Robert Stoothoff. 1962). John D. 39.. Descartes’ break with the scholastic tradition lies in his redefinition of the term “idea. which is now no longer perceived purely as the representational means to furnish the mind with images from the “outside. trans.” Marcel Proust. Translation mine. “For divesting our pleasures of it [imagination] means to reduce them to themselves. the representational power of imagination. which will be discussed in detail in chapter 3. Blaise Pascal. as they note. A l’ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs III: A la recherche du temps perdu V (Paris: Gallimard. Robert Stoothoff (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.2 (1999): 302 – 12). Dugald Murdoch. The Philosophical Writings of Descartes. René Descartes. Sources of the Self. Translation mine.” which for him is no longer an ontological term. Philosophical Writings 1. to one that gives mental processes an actively constructing role in the epistemological process. 1949). 35. but this title. 1985). Ibid. 325 – 404 (AT XI. away from the more traditional Aristotelian framework. see also Taylor. Descartes.” so to speak. that will and understanding can then act upon in order to provide judgments about truth and falsity. 37. instrumental control of the passions as the underlying goal and principle of Cartesian ethics. 323 – 488). 33. In this capacity. and trans. trans.” 127 – 30. “Imagination. It is this shift in position that allows Descartes to accomplish a reversal from a conception of the mind as passively receiving external input. John Cottingham. Imagination provides the “raw material. the same power dynamic with regard to reason’s relation to imagination is encountered in the anthropological texts of Kant. 34. within which Descartes still defines it (John D. Sources of the Self. These judgments. 36. For a discussion of rational. Lyons has pointed out that—the exclusion of imagination from the selfdescription of the cogito notwithstanding—Descartes’ shift in approach to the problem of epistemology constitutes in fact a redemption of imagination and needs to be seen as a first step toward a modern assessment of the faculty. They form an interrelated mental network that is ultimately secured in the self-evident immediacy of the cogito. as the system of the Rules shows. not through a process of comparison between mental conceptions and outside reality. Pascal’s Pensées. 346. I agree with Lyons that Descartes’ shift in approach ultimately changes the role of imagination. 149ff. 348 (AT XI. ed.

Œuvres Philosophiques. 217). 42. addressing the Neoplatonic tradition to which it is connected. which he. I will not be concerned in the following with a detailed textual analysis of Descartes’ dreams. 61. 2006).” and chapter 3. 4 (AT X.) What interests me here first of all is the event of the dreams as such. 57ff. thus connecting them to Descartes’ famous dream of 10 November 1619. and the ease with which Descartes can still connect his scientific endeavors and divine inspiration. I. notably the passage on poets and enthusiasm that I discussed above. Dennis Sepper has aptly dubbed this passage the “two-imaginations note.) One can thus at least assume that Baillet stayed fairly close to Descartes’ original text. particularly the Compendium Musicae and Descartes’ early mathematical observations. 41. 179. Michel Foucault. are of no actual import. however. How close Baillet’s version comes to Descartes’ original text is difficult to assess. 1966). 179 – 88). who presents an extensive analysis of the role of analogy in Descartes’ early philosophical thought. Descartes: A Biography (New York: Cambridge University Press. The subsequent dreams. Sepper. Translation mine. Marion contents. Descartes. consulted in Stockholm. which 272 Notes to Pages 57 – 60 . (Freud himself famously declined to make any explicit comments. Sepper has convincingly shown that these two notes are by no means isolated instances. Clarke has correctly reminded us that the central features of the scientific revolution in the seventeenth century emerged in a climate of intellectual fluidity and change that included equally serious discussions and explorations of alchemy and magic and where the boundaries between “fact” and “fiction” were often hard to distinguish. 1963 – 1967). Ferdinand Alquié (Paris: Garnier. with which one would have to proceed with considerable caution given the second-hand nature of the surviving text. In any case. ed. which I will discuss subsequently. See Desmond M. Les mots et les choses (Paris: Gallimard. in an essay from 1991. Philosophical Writings 1. (See also Ferdinand Alquié’s editorial comments in Descartes. Jean-Luc Marion.” In his recent biography of Descartes. The sole version still available is that given by Baillet in his 1691 biography of Descartes (AT X. 218). 45. “La prose du monde.dinand Alquié’s decision. Desmond M. just as Leibniz. This sentence fragment is the only surviving part of Descartes’ original account of his dreams. Descartes. “Représenter. see particularly chapter 2. 46. It is hence emblematic of the period rather than anomalous that Descartes himself briefly flirted with the claims and manifestos of the infamous brotherhood of the Rosicrucians. In his analyses of Descartes’ early texts. Clarke. See René Descartes. but his account contains passages that can also be found in Leibniz’ copies. based on the copies Leibniz made. 40. forcefully maintains the opposite when he argues that the state of “enthusiasm” experienced by Descartes could only be the product of his scientific discovery and not vice versa. Philosophical Writings 1. 44. vol. 43.” without. AT X. to see these notes as part of the Olympica. 5 (AT X. Œuvres philosophiques. Descartes’ early preoccupation with relations and proportion is consistently predicated on a universal harmony of the corporeal and the spiritual. is exclusively concerned with the Aristotelian and scholastic tradition of faculty psychology that informs Descartes’ concept of imagination. while only Descartes’ auto-interpretation. 74–75.

Critical interpretations of the three dreams are numerous. Descartes’ interpretation is thus not clearly separable from the foundational moment of inspiration. fn 2.. apart from Marion 1991. who would thus secure the metaphysical underpinnings of his scientific method by the power of reason alone. and Descartes’ own assessment of the divine origin of his insights and dreams as reported by Baillet is quite unequivocal: “He adds that the Spirit (Génie). had predicted these dreams before he went to bed. just as much as Descartes. is in its exclusion of any notion of Platonic inspiration too much beholden to the rational framework the later Descartes will build following the “irrational” moment of 1619. has any significance. Descartes’ rhetorical move—which he of course did not see as rhetorical—has worked exceptionally well. 376). 7 – 36. Dennis Sepper. In addition. for example. Translation mine. in one of the few instances of the account that has survived in his original Latin. For a good overview of the literature and the various contending positions. 1963.” which Marion can ultimately only see in the events of November 10. Jean-Marie Wagner. le rêve et la philosophie au 17e siêcle. Ausonius’s poem. 184. which roused in him the enthusiasm of which he had felt his brain heated for several days. 17 (AT X. 49. “Les songes de Descartes du 10 novembre 1619 et leur interprétation. as well as a convincing conjecture about the meaning of the melon in dream one and the probable real-life counterpart of the dictionary of dream three. also refers to the power of enthusiasm and imagination in the process of interpreting his dreams. free invention on Baillet’s part is unlikely. Ibid. Hall. 186. While there is no way to ascertain the accuracy of Baillet’s transmission of Descartes’ experiences and journal entries. repeatedly stresses the importance of not misreading intuitus as “intuition. Most noteworthy. 16 – 47. Sepper insists. While Marion is certainly correct in underlining Descartes’ explicit effort to take rational control of his oneiric processes and in pointing out that the basal operations of cogitatio equally inform Descartes’ thought in the dreaming and in the waking world.” Revue des Sciences Humaines 211 (1988). 50. “Le Songe de Descartes. This is hardly a mere “auto-inspiration” on the part of Descartes.4 (1998): 651 – 68. see Allan Gabbey and Robert E.” Papers of French Seventeenth-Century Literature XX (1984). the “auto-inspiration. “La pensée rêve-t-elle? Les trois songes ou l’éveil du philosophe. AT X. needs to be understood as an operation of the pure intellect. 373).” Études sur le temps humain (Paris: Plon 1951). and that the human mind (l’ésprit humain) had no part in it” (AT X. are Georges Poulet.” Questions cartésiennes: Méthode et métaphysique (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France. 1619. “Esquisse du cadre divinatoire des songes de Descartes. 48. Descartes. 47.” Journal of the History of Ideas 59. 57. G. just as they will in the Rules and the Meditations. See Jean-Luc Marion. Descartes.” Baroque 6 (1973). Philosophical Writings 1. 1991). “Descartes.makes his dreams part of the Cartesian philosophical framework.” Intuitus. beginning with “Est et Non” has in fact “The Yes and No of Pythagoras” as its title. “The Melon and the Dictionary: Reflections on Descartes’s Dreams. and Jacques Barchilon. as we shall see in the following chapter. translation mine). See Descartes. vol. 51. 18 (AT X. a clear grasping Notes to Pages 60 – 66 273 . I. Simon. 52.

of the mind, and not as an inspirational moment. It is no doubt correct that Descartes wanted to be understood that way, but Sepper fails to see that Descartes needed to deny a nonrational moment at the very foundation of his method in order to sustain it (Sepper, Descartes’s Imagination, 124). In the same vein, Ferdinand Alquié adduces V. Gouhier’s commentary to Descartes’ assertion that his dream-visions had been divinely inspired. Gouhier insists that Descartes is in fact not describing a religious or mystical experience, but rather presents a religious explanantion of his experience. The divine origin of his dreams is hence not felt but logically concluded (Descartes, Œuvres Philosophiques, 57, fn 3). Jean-Luc Marion makes essentially the same argument in order to come to terms with Descartes’ religious reaction to his experience (Marion, “La Pensée”). There may indeed be no irrational aspects in Descartes’ œuvre, a need that Descartes has effectively passed on to his commentators. 53. Descartes, Philosophical Writings 1, 14 (AT X, 368). 54. Ibid., 47 (AT X, 424). 55. AT IX, 15. Translation mine. 56. Descartes, Philosophical Writings 2, 13 (AT VII, 20). 57. René Descartes, The World and Other Writings, ed. and trans. Stephen Gaukroger (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 21 (AT XI, 31). 58. Ibid., 24 (AT XI, 36). 59. Ibid., 23 (AT XI, 34–35). 60. Ibid., 23–24 (AT XI, 35). 61. Descartes, Philosophical Writings 1, 129 (AT XI, 37). 62. Desmond M. Clarke has convincingly argued that Descartes, contrary to conventional wisdom, did not subscribe to the much-ridiculed philosophical position of substance dualism. Rather, Clarke contends, Descartes realized that the properties of matter, to the extent that he could understand them before the invention of the microscope, had no explanatory force for an understanding of the workings of the human mind. If Descartes reverts to the scholastic terminology of faculties when discussing the mind, a terminology he thoroughly rejects in his natural philosophy, he does so, Clarke points out, not because he conceives of the mind as a substance apart, but because the medieval terminology is the only one available to him to at least discuss phenomena which clearly did not fall under the mechanical laws governing matter. In Clarke’s view, Descartes is thus best described as a property dualist, who did not advocate an absolute separation between mind and matter as distinct substances, a separation which would make any explanation of their connection philosophically impossible. See Desmond M. Clarke, Descartes’s Theory of Mind (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2003). For further discussion of the mind/body distinction in Descartes’ philosophy, see also the essays of Amélie Oksenberg Rorty, “Cartesian Passions and the Union of Mind and Body,” Essays on Descartes’ Meditations, ed. Amélie Oksenberg Rorty (Berkeley and London: University of California Press, 1986), 513 – 34, and “Descartes on Thinking with the Body,” The Cambridge Companion to Descartes, ed. John Cottingham (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 371 – 93. 63. AT VI, 4. 64. The paradoxical fact that Descartes uses an autobiographical fiction to establish

274 Notes to Pages 66 – 76

the absolute truth of the cogito has of course not gone unobserved. See, for example, Georges Leyenberger’s essay “Métaphore, fiction et vérité chez Descartes,” Littérature 109 (March 1998): 20 – 37. However, the discussions of the fictionality, the “written” nature of the cogito are mostly unconcerned with the role of imagination in its formation. 65. Descartes, Philosophical Writings 1, 126–27 (AT VI, 31–32). 66. Bernd Rathman, “L’imagination et le doute. Essai sur la genèse de la pensée cartésienne,” Papers on French Seventeenth Century Literature (PFSCL) 15.1 (1981): 57 – 73. 67. Robert Stoothoff decided to translate Descartes’ “feindre” with “to pretend.” For reasons that will become clear in the following the rarer word “to feign” seems more fitting to me. I have not altered Stoothoff’s translations but have noted in parentheses the respective forms of the original “feindre” to indicate the connection to my argument. 68. Descartes, Philosophical Writings 1, 127 (AT VI, 32). 69. Leyenberger, “Métaphore, fiction et vérité,” 33. Translation mine. 70. Descartes, Philosophical Writings 1, 127 (AT VI, 32–33). 71. This argument would also be made by Friedrich Nietzsche, one of Descartes’ most merciless critics. For a thorough analysis of Nietzsche’s critique of Descartes, see Tilman Borsche, “Intuition und Imagination: Der erkenntnistheoretische Perspektivenwechsel von Descartes zu Nietzsche,”Kunst und Wissenschaft bei Nietzsche, ed. Josef Simon and Mihailo Djoric (Würzburg: Königshausen und Neumann, 1986), 26 – 44.

3

the reasonable imagination

1. As Peter F. Strawson notes about the Critique of Pure Reason in The Bounds of Sense (London: Routledge, 1966), “The idiom of the work is throughout a psychological idiom. Whatever necessities Kant found in our conception of experience he ascribed to the nature of our faculties” (19). Kant thus not only presents an analytical argument but also his own particular model of faculty psychology, what Strawson calls, “the imaginary subject of transcendental psychology” (32). The task Strawson sets for himself as a twentieth-century philosopher is thus to disentangle Kant’s philosophical argument from the outdated beliefs and model of the mind in which it is couched. Faculty psychology may have become unacceptable for contemporary philosophy, but Kant’s analytical arguments, which are ultimately independent from the psychological idiom Kant uses, Strawson argues, certainly are not. The strategy of this chapter is, in a sense, the reverse, as it aims to illuminate the idiom of faculty psychology and the various connotations that were for Kant still connected to the term “imagination” affect the argument and the structure of his text in the first and third critique. 2. Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, ed. and trans. Paul Guyer and Allen Wood (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 193–94 (A51, B76). Hereafter, for each translation, the standard notation of the Berliner Akademie Ausgabe will be added in parentheses. For the Critique of Pure Reason, I will provide the page numbers of both the A and the B edition, for Kant’s Anthropology and the Critique of Judgment I will give the volume number of the Akademie Ausgabe, followed by the page number.

Notes to Pages 76 – 82 275

3. Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 210 (A77, B102). 4. Ibid., 211 (A78, B103). 5. Ibid. 6. Ibid. (A78, B104). 7. Ibid. 8. Ibid., 234 (A111). 9. Ibid., 231 (A105). It is crucial to stress that the Kantian perspective emphatically constitutes a limitation of our cognitive abilities, a limitation that is, however, simultaneously restrictive and empowering. On the one hand, Kant’s restriction of our cognition to the realm of appearances in consciousness puts all knowledge that would transcend these limits decidedly out of our reach. We cannot cognize objects as such, but only as they appear for us. The highest theoretical knowledge we can achieve in Kant’s epistemological framework is the self-reflexive transcendental one of precisely these limits of our cognition. These critical limits constantly come into conflict with the fundamental goals of our faculty of reason, which pushes us to seek absolute first principles and hence constantly creates the illusory belief that we could possibly overstep the theoretical boundaries of cognition. The negative task of the Critique of Pure Reason is hence to prevent reason from falling prey to this self-created and unavoidable illusion. Kant outlines this self-critical task in the Transcendental Dialectic, the second part of the Transcendental Logic, which is designed to uncover the illlusions of seemingly transcendent judgments. In the realm of pure reason, the Kantian project is hence first and foremost a propaedeutical project of self-limitation, which has, as Kant puts it in the Canon of Pure Reason, mainly the negative function of guarding against errors (Ibid., 672) (A795, B823). Yet, apart from the merit of avoiding errors, this limitation also has a positive effect for the demarcated realm in which reason can safely operate. For within these limits it now becomes conceivable that we can have a certain and a priori knowledge of what we perceive as “nature” or the outside world, since the order which we “discover” in the sensory manifold is the one produced by our own cognitive apparatus: “Thus we ourselves bring into the appearances that order and regularity in them that we call nature, and moreover we would not be able to find it there if we, or the nature of our mind, had not originally put it there. For this unity of nature should be a necessary, i.e., a priori certain unity of the connection of appearances. But how should we be able to establish a synthetic unity a priori if subjective grounds of such a unity were not contained a priori among the original sources of cognition in our mind, and if these subjective conditions were not at the same time objectively valid, being the grounds of the possibility of cognizing any object in experience at all?” (Ibid., 241) (A125–26). Hartmut and Gernot Böhme have convincingly described Kant’s two-fold solution to the problem of epistemology as the culmination of the modern scientific project that begins in the sixteenth century with the work of Francis Bacon. Nature as an Other that could not be completely controlled or dominated by an enlightened human observer is not only excluded from the Kantian project, it is effectively non-existent for it, since it cannot become the object of rational knowledge. The “nature” of Kant’s epistemology is a mere accumulation of empirical data, the product of modern scienctific method, which can only yield the answers that are in accordance to the experiments that produce it. The Böhmes, whose

276 Notes to Pages 84 – 87

controversial and provocative 1985 study of Kant, The Other of Reason, is an attempt to “think the Dialectics of Enlightenment to its end,” have coined the term alienated knowledge (“entfremdete Erkenntnis”) for this lifeless epistemological safety-zone. See Hartmut and Gernot Böhme, Das Andere der Vernunft. Zur Entwicklung von Rationalitätsstrukturen am Beispiel Kants (Frankfurt a. M.: Suhrkamp, 1996). 10. The first to seize the philosophical opportunity of Kant’s conspicuous shift from a binary to a tri-partite structure in his account of cognition was Martin Heidegger. Heidegger, in his reading of Kant’s first critique in his 1929 study Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics, sees transcendental imagination as the productive root (“Wurzel”) of Kant’s systematic account of cognition. In writing the first critique, Heidegger claims, Kant “discovered” this foundational role of imagination, but immediately “recoiled” from this discovery, which would have challenged the primacy of reason, ultimately erasing the status of imagination as an independent source of cognition in the B version of the transcendental deduction. Heidegger’s interpretation of Kant demands further attention, and I will return to it in more detail in later sections of this chapter. Martin Heidegger, Gesamtausgabe, ed. Friedrich-Wilhelm von Herrmann, abt. I, vol. 3: Kant und das Problem der Metaphysik (Frankfurt a. M.: Klostermann, 1991). 11. Kant’s division of the faculty into various incarnations that fulfill different functions in the epistemological process is not new in the history of the concept. Kant is indebted in particular to Johann Nicolaus Tetens’s discussion of imagination in the latter’s extensive Philosophische Versuche über die menschliche Natur und ihre Entwicklung from 1776 to 1777, which Kant had studied closely. Tetens, who synthesizes both the contemporary German and British discussion of imagination, was one of Kant’s main sources for the eighteenth-century aesthetic debate about the faculty. Since it is not my goal at present to retrace once more the intricate eighteenth-century “Begriffsgeschichte” of the term “imagination,” I would like to refer the reader to two of the most thorough studies on the topic: James Engell’s The Creative Imagination, and Gabriele Dürbeck, Einbildungskraft und Aufklärung: Perspektiven der Philosophie, Anthropologie und Ästhetik um 1750 (Berlin: Peter Lang, 1998). 12. Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 241 (A125). 13. Ibid., 240 (A124). 14. Hume develops his argument in the section “Of Personal Identity” in Book I of his Treatise of Human Nature. It should be remarked, however, that Hume, in his complete reversal of the Cartesian position with regard to the cogito, actually brings the philosophical debate full circle by returning with an empiricist twist to Montaigne’s sceptical view of the human mind as a kaleidoscope without any discernible center. What we perceive as the self is for Hume entirely the product of imagination, which is for him— just as much as for Descartes—still also the physiological organ in which the representation of sense perceptions, as well as the association of ideas, literally takes place. David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature, ed. David Fate Norton and Mary J. Norton (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 166. 15. Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 237 (A117). 16. Ibid., 247 (B134). 17. Ibid., 259 (B157).

Notes to Pages 87 – 92 277

18. Ibid., 414 (A346, B404). 19. See Manfred Frank, “ ‘Intellektuale Anschauung.’ Drei Stellungnahmen zu einem Deutungsversuch von Selbstbewußtsein: Kant, Fichte, Hölderlin/Novalis.” Die Aktualität der Frühromantik, ed. Ernst Behler and Jochen Hörisch (Paderborn: Schöningh, 1987), 96 – 127, 109. 20. Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 254 (B145). 21. Ibid., 250 (B138–39). 22. Ibid., 238 (A118). 23. Ibid., 268 (A133, B172). 24. Ibid., 271 (A137, B176). 25. Ibid., 273 (A140, B180). 26. Ibid., 276 (A145, B184). 27. Ibid., 273 (A140, B179). 28. Ibid., 276 (A145f., B185). 29. In his book on Kant and the semiotics of cognition, Umberto Eco, discussing the Kantian schematism in the contexts of Peircean semiotics, analytic philosophy, and cognitive science, presents a helpful clarification of the Kantian distinction between image and schema by likening the schema to Wittgenstein’s Bild and to a scientific model: “If anything,” Eco writes, “one should say that the Kantian schema, more than what is commonly understood as a ‘mental image’ (which evokes the idea of a photograph), is like Wittgenstein’s Bild, a proposition that has the same form as the fact it represents, in the same sense in which we talk of an ‘iconic’ relation for an algebraic formula, or of a ‘model’ in the technical-scientific sense.” Like a model, the schema is not itself an image but provides the necessary “instructions” for the generation of images in consciousness. Umberto Eco, Kant and the Platypus: Essays on Language and Cognition, trans. Alastair McEwen (New York: Hartcourt Brace, 2000), 82. 30. Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 273 (A140 / 141, B180). 31. Ibid. (A141, B181). 32. Eco again provides a helpful clarification when he uses Wilfried Sellars’ distinction between imagining and imaging to elucidate the empirical and the transcendental operations of the schemata. While imagining designates for Sellars the act of calling up an image, imaging refers to the mental processes that allow one to know, to use Eco’s example, merely upon seeing it, that a stone is hard, by calling up the properties the concept “stone” necessarily implies. Eco himself uses the term figuring to describe this transcendental operation of the schema and quite accurately notes the centrality of this imaginative process for the Kantian system: “This figuring in order to understand and understanding by figuring is crucial to the Kantian system: it reveals itself as essential both for the transcendental grounding of empirical concepts and for permitting perceptual judgments (implicit and nonverbalized) such as This stone.” Eco, Kant and the Platypus, 80. 33. Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 274 (A142, B181). 34. See Ernst Robert Curtius, “Das Schematismuskapitel in der Kritik der reinen Vernunft. Philologische Untersuchung,” Kant-Studien 19 (1914): 338 – 66. For a critical perspective that links the Kantian schema to the metaphorical processes of language and

278 Notes to Pages 93 – 98

which has no qualms in depicting the latter as more fundamental than their resolution on the level of concepts, see Paul Ricoeur, “The Metaphorical Process as Cognition, Imagination, and Feeling,” Critical Inquiry 5:1 (Autumn 1978): 143 – 59. The first to see a connection between the schematism and the workings of language was of course Johann Gottfried Herder. For Herder’s brutally dismissive account of Kant’s chapter on the schematism, see “Vom Schematismus reiner Verstandesbegriffe,” chapter 4 of Vernunft und Sprache. Eine Metakritik zur Kritik der reinen Vernunft. Zweiter Theil 1799, ed. Bernhard Suphan. Herders Sämmtliche Werke (Berlin: Weidmann 1881), vol. 21, 113 – 28. 35. Martin Heidegger, Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics, trans. James S. Churchill (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1962), 21 (3:17). For each translation, I will provide the reference to the original text, giving the volume number of the Gesamtausgabe followed by the page number. ˇ iz 36. See Slavoj Z ˇek, The Ticklish Subject: The Absent Centre of Political Ontology (London: Verso, 1999), 22. 37. Heidegger describes the pure synthesis of imagination as a “going to and fro” (“Hin- und Hergang”) between the two poles of the cognitive process, while he depicts imagination as the middle ground that must be traversed in both cognitive directions Kant discusses in the transcendental deduction, the movement “downwards” from pure understanding towards pure intuition, and the “upward” movement in the opposite direction. Heidegger here almost directly echos Friedrich von Hardenberg’s “to and fro direction” (“Hin und her Direction”) in the ordo inversus of human consciousness, which I will discuss in chapter 5. Passages that insinuate connections to Hardenberg’s Early Romantic philosophy are frequent throughout Heidegger’s text, and the essence of Heidegger’s “Daseinsphilosophie” seems encapsulated in Hardenberg’s speculation in the Fichte Studies that “consciousness is a Being outside of Being within Being.” (“Das Bewußtsein ist ein Seyn außer dem Seyn im Seyn.” See Friedrich von Hardenberg, Novalis Schriften: Die Werke Friedrich von Hardenbergs, ed. Richard Samuel, HansJoachim Mähl, and Gerhard Schulz, vol. 2: Das Philosophische Werk I (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1960), 106. 38. “In order to comprehend the essentially intuitive character of pure thought, it is necessary only to understand and retain the true essence of finite intuition as a reception of that which offers itself.” Heidegger, Kant and Metaphysics, 160 (3:154). 39. The German term “Anschauung,” literally a “looking at,” as a substantivized verb, which indicates a process of visualization that is both active and passive, lends itself much more easily to the metaphorical overdetermination of Heidegger’s philosophical language, which cannot quite be reproduced in English. ˇ iz 40. Z ˇek, Ticklish Subject, 32. 41. Ibid., 30. 42. The popularity of Kant’s lectures was also due to the popularity of the subject in late eighteenth-century Germany, where Kant’s effort was part of a rich and extensive discourse. Manfred Engel rightfully calls anthropology the “fashionable discipline of the second half of the century,” and gives a concise definition when he describes it as an “empirically oriented, medically founded, but also philosophically ambitioned investi-

Notes to Pages 98 – 107 279

46.2 (Fall 2001): 201 – 89. and to act. ed. Einbildungskraft und Aufklärung. 35. 2006). 48. The term “will” is for Kant a synonym for practical reason. it thus seems appropriate to use “fantasy” as a translation for the German term “Phantasie. to name only a few—who threaten the emerging bourgeois identity Kant champions. um ihn seiner freien Willkür zu unterwerfen. is our power to make decisions. Louden (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 36 (7:145).. Ibid. der zum Gebrauch des gesetzgebenden Verstandes verarbeitet werden könnte” (7:144). 44. 49. Herbert Uerlings (Tübingen: Niemeyer.” see particularly pp.” Manfred Engel.. daß der Verstand herrsche.B. It is an impure. was man ihr nachsagt. “‘Träumen und Nichtträumen zugleich. Die innere Vollkommenheit des Menschen besteht darin: daß er den Gebrauch aller seiner Vermögen in seiner Gewalt habe. “women” figure as the central antagonists. Ibid. “Willkür. insofar as it is connected to specific empirical objects.gation of the interaction between body and soul. Dazu aber wird erfordert. Engel also presents a useful overview of the by now extensive German research on the topic of eighteenth-century anthropology and its importance for cultural and literary history. which is affected by our passions. Ibid. empirical power. This distinction performs a function quite different from the one between fancy and imagination that developed in the context of the British eighteenth-century discussion of aesthetics. Kant. “Das Passive in der Sinnlichkeit. It can only be called free (“freie Willkür”) if it is determined by the a priori principles of our pure reason.” as Kant defines it in the Critique of Practical Reason. foreigners and mystagogues. For the deep-seated misogyny of the Kantian text and its “phantasmatic constructions of women. and physical needs. To avoid conceptual confusion. Man sagt ihr viel Schlimmes nach: z. and to which I will turn in more detail in chapter 6. Anthropology.. aristocrats. 47. da sie doch nur die Dienerin des Verstandes sein sollte.” 51. 60 (7:167). pure reason as it is applied not in the realm of epistemology but as a principle of our actions and eth- 280 Notes to Pages 107 – 111 . 3 (7:119). Anthropology. and trans. Robert B. to choose. weil sie nicht denkt) zu schwächen: weil ohne sie es keinen Stoff geben würde. Ibid. ist eigentlich die Ursache alles des Übels. Kant. In this context.’ Novalis’ Theorie und Poetik des Traumes zwischen Aufklärung und Hochromantik. 36 (7:145). 45. Immanuel Kant. 2) daß sie das große Wort führe und als Herrscherin. ohne doch die Sinnlichkeit (die an sich Pöbel ist. David Clark rightfully points out that among the text’s many “alien Others”—prisoners. 1997). 1) daß sie die Vorstellungskraft verwirre. 148. “Aber die Sinnlichkeit ist in üblem Ruf. In his long essay on Kant’s Anthropology. desires. 3) daß sie sogar betrüge und man in Ansehung ihrer nicht genug auf seiner Hut sein könne” (7:143). ed. 143 – 76. Jews.” Novalis und die Wissenschaften. 266 – 72 of Clark’s “Kant’s Aliens: The Anthropology and Its Others. 43. 34.” rather than the more commonly used “fancy. halsstarrig und schwer zu bändigen sei. Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View. 50. see especially Dürbeck. was wir doch nicht ablegen können. The power with which we can freely control our empirical “Willkür” by means of reasonable principles is our will (“Wille”).” The New Centennial Review 1.

V: Kritik der Urtheilskraft (Berlin: Reimer. Should it invade the waking world. in contrast to volition (Willkür).. 66.ical decisions. the will cannot be called free. 61 (7:168).. Imagination can thus take complete control and will manipulate the human mind according to its every whim. like Descartes in the Meditations. however. 1913). Kant’s convictions are part of an ancient discourse that sees imagination as central to the workings of sympathetic magic. 53. who renders Kant’s “Phantast” with “visionary. 120 (7:224).” Kant’s word denotes a cognitive flaw and indicates mental derangement rather than a superior mental power. Immanuel Kant. Ibid. has usually the visual arts in mind. when he discusses the creative process. As such. Kant. 275. Ibid. the philosophical “physicians of the soul” generally agree. Louden’s translation. 65. our free and voluntary submission under the immutable laws of reason. the analysis of dreams is one of the central tasks of eighteenth-century anthropologies.” 54. Dreams. Kant. Ibid. Kant. Königlich Preußische Akademie der Wissenschaften. 1987). 120 (7:225). ist ein Phantast” (7:167).. Couliano. 56. welcher diese [die unwillkürlichen Einbildungen der Phantasie] für (innere oder äußere) Erfahrungen zu halten gewohnt ist. The will simply executes the absolute authority of the moral law over our volition. 68 (7:175). 52. Anthropology. 62. Eros and Magic in the Renaissance (Chicago: University of Chicago Press.” a problematic and somewhat misleading translation.. as it lacks the clear negative connotations of the German “Phantast. “Der. See Engel. Ibid.. as Kant is not prone to ascribe visionary qualities to nonrational thought. 57. Kant’s gesammelte Schriften. 58. “Träumen und Nichtträumen. I. 74–75 (7:181). it has a safe rational explanation. and the distinction free/not free does not apply to it. 68 (7:175). vol. 61. 59. 64. As Manfred Engel has pointed out. and Kant’s discussion of dreams in his Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View reiterates the standard topoi of the Enlightenment discourse on dreams. 83 (7:190). Kant. in which the influence of the central rational faculties is considerably diminished or completely absent.. 55. 60. 74 (7:181). Anthropology. 70 (7:177). Notes to Pages 111 – 117 281 . abt. Ibid. such an irrational state of mind becomes a manifest danger. A mental process that is completely involuntary (“unwillkürlich”) and thus lies outside of the control of our will ultimately threatens our essence as reasonable beings. see Ioan P. Ibid. Ibid. This bias also informs the Critique of Judgment and clearly stems from the philosophical tradition of employing visual metaphors to describe the processes of cognition. For one of the most concise discussions of sympathetic magic and the role of imagination in this context. As long as this phenomenon remains confined to the world of dreams. 63. ed. Anthropology. Ibid. are a deficient state of mind. Ibid. I have modified Robert B.

73. like Herder’s. Hartmut and Gernot Böhme have identified a very concrete alter ego for Kant’s critical philosopher: the “visionary” Emanuel Swedenborg. from which the transcendental philosopher tries in vain to distinguish himself. “Kant’s Aliens. it was the occult metaphysical system of Swedenborg that led Kant to develop his critical philosophy in an attempt to defend his “love of metaphysics” from the charge of Swedenborgian “Schwärmerei. 75f.” or “enthusiast” for example—cannot adequately capture the specific meaning the term “Schwärmer” had for Kant. Immanuel Kant.” 239–40.) For another assessment of Swedenborg as one of the “others” of Kant’s Anthropology. Ibid. Johann Gottfried Herder laid his finger into precisely this for Kant most sensitive wound. 68.. 82 (5:196). 66 (5:178–79). to give only one example. “Der schöne Gegenstand ist nur exemplarischer Ausdruck eines sich selbst fühlenden Subjekts.” “visionary. 132. 77. caught in the seductive constructs of his own imagination. 250ff. 128). so that it cannot really be classified in the clear dichotomies of the critical system. the Böhmes claim. Kant himself is the waking dreamer. see also Clark. In his Metakritik of 1799. 64 (5:177). ein Wahnbild”). Paul Guyer (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 75. Ibid. 282 Notes to Pages 117 – 126 . Ibid. 71.. ed. Kant and Metaphysics. (5:189–90). 64 (5:177). Ibid. 63 (5:176). amounts to “a nothing. Transcendental imagination can have no systematic home: “The transcendental imagination is homeless” (Heidegger. Herder then places his barb with maximum effect when he follows this assertion with exactly the same Latin sentence Kant himself had used a year earlier in the Anthropology to describe the productions of an artist who discards the strictures of the empirical and does not work in adherence with the forms of nature: “Velut aegri somnia vanae finguntur species. 74.) 70. 72. When he closes his critique of Kant’s concept of the schematism. 79. Kant.” From the standpoint of Herder’s Metakritik. Martin Heidegger ascribes this epithet to the transcendental imagination of the first critique since it finds its proper place neither in the transcendental aesthetics nor in the transcendental logic.67. 76. 69.” (Böhme and Böhme 1996. Herder asserts that Kant’s idea of the schema. 2000).. I have hence decided to retain the term in the original German. 1881. 78. Die Macht der Einbildungskraft in der Ästhetik Kants und Schillers (Heidelberg: Winter. More so than the challenge of Hume. effectively depicting Kant’s philosophical approach as the product of a systematic madman (Herder. Kant. since it does not.. 71 (5:184). 1995). Kant.” Hans Feger. a delusion” (“ein Nichts. 110 (7:215–16.. Critique of the Power of Judgment. 67 (5:180). 142) (3:136).. Anthropology. Ibid. 80. Anthropology 110 (7:215). The usual English translations—“dreamer. 7:216. and trans. and can easily be misleading. take the element of language into account. Ibid. the publication of which constituted the climax of a by then long-standing enmity with his former teacher. Critique of Judgment.

. see Gernot Böhme.. 87. though a dangerous and unhealthy habit of women and hypochondriacs. 94. Critique of Judgment.. 98. Ibid. 192 (5:314). While the stimulation of imagination at night. Ibid. Kant. by means of ghost stories for example. Ibid.. 83. 100. 96. 102–3 (5:217–18). Anthropology. 86. the law of reason is completely inaccessible to human beings. 99.M. 193 (5:314). Kant makes this propaedeutical relationship explicit when he discusses the analogies between beauty and morality in section 59 of the Critique of Judgment..81.—Why are ghost stories.” This connection of ethics and aesthetics opened up by Kant would immediately be elaborated and expanded upon by the Early German Romantics. Kants Kritik der Urteilskraft in neuer Sicht (Frankfurt a. which are welcomed late at night.: Suhrkamp. 1999). Ibid. the dichotomy of play and business is precisely the distinction Kant uses in the Anthropology to prevent an inappropriate blurring of the boundaries between the nocturnal realm of imagination and the diurnal realm of rational action. Ibid. and Kant’s moral philosophy thus has a dimension that is close to the moral universe of early Greek tragedy. Ibid. Ibid. is a very useful rule for a psychological diet. For a recent discussion of the ethical implications of the third critique and a vindication of Schiller’s argument.. 89. Ibid. 141 (5:257). Ibid. by going to sleep early so that one can get up early. Ibid. 197 (5:319). as a purely formal principle. 124 (5:240). Kant. 90.. But women and hypochondriacs (who commonly have their ailment for just this reason) enjoy the opposite behavior more. might be tolerable as play with some entertainment value. 84. 130 (5:246). 125 (5:241). Since the categorical imperative. Ibid. Ibid. 92. 192–93 (5:314).. Critique of Judgment.. 97. Kant. 95. 124–25 (5:240–41).. and particularly of course by Friedrich Schiller. it becomes mere silliness during daytime. As far as its actual content is concerned. Ibid.. 91. 93. “On beauty as a symbol of morality. Ibid. 195 (5:318). 82. 85. found to be distasteful to everyone and entirely inappropriate for conversation as soon as we get up the following morning? Instead we ask Notes to Pages 126 – 136 283 . Interestingly and not surprisingly. when the talk should be all business: “Therefore the taming of the power of imagination. 186–87 (5:308). the burden of determining the concrete actions it demands in a specific empirical situation lies entirely with the judging subject. 75 (7:181–82). is necessarily devoid of any content. 88. 192 (5:314).

” It is also a synonym for the German “vergewaltigen. Critique of Judgment. Walter Benjamin. and to find peace only in the completion of its circle in a self-subsisting whole. Lessons on the Analytic of the Sublime: Kant’s ‘Critique of Judgment. See Kant. 105. sondern nur durch Gewalt. Kant. 108. 74 (7:181). while not for the first time yet expicitly and emphatically. The reason is that what is in itself mere play is appropriate for the relaxation of powers drained during the day. 151–52 (5:269). 106. 101. both the possibility to think an intellectual intuition and its impossibility in the realm of empirical experience. Critique of Judgment.if anything new has happened in the household or in the community. Ibid. 151 (5:268–69). is a prime example of Michel Foucault’s thesis of the internalization of corrective violence in eighteenth. 1: “Der Begriff der Kunstkritik in der deutschen 284 Notes to Pages 136 – 141 . Gesammelte Schriften. 673 (A797 /B825). “Reason is driven by a propensity of its nature to go beyond its use in experience. Anthropology. even more so then Descartes’. but what is business is appropriate for the human being strengthened and. welche die Vernunft der Sinnlichkeit antut.” See Walter Benjamin. His dissertation on the concept of art criticism in Early German Romanticism pointedly characterizes the relation between Kant and his immediate successors with regard to the questions of self-consciousness and the reach of philosophical systems in the following way: “As soon as the history of philosophy had maintained in Kant. 4 the highest point of philosophy 1. 156 (5:275).” “to rape. 154. 107.’ 23–29. “Weil die menschliche Natur nicht so von selbst. It goes without saying that Kant’s philosophical account of cognitive power relations. vol. so to speak. 1994). Jean-François Lyotard. Critique of Judgment.” a particularly telling connotation in the clearly gendered encounter of male reason with female imagination.” Kant. The English translation of Kant’s “Gewalt anthun” with “exercise dominion over” is somewhat misleading. 103. 104. or resume our work of the preceding day. Kant. reborn by a night’s sleep. Lessons. 56. Lyotard. Elizabeth Rottenberg (Stanford: Stanford University Press. trans.and nineteenth-century European societies. Walter Benjamin is one of the first to describe the relation between the variegated Idealist and Romantic responses to Kant’s position on the possibilities and impossibilities of an intellectual intuition..” Kant 1997. a varied and almost feverish desire emerges to win back this concept for philosophy as the guarantee of its highest claims. as it makes the violence implicit that is quite explicit in the German text: “Gewalt anthun” literally means “to do violence to. 180. Paul Guyer’s and Eric Matthews’s translation of Kant’s “Gewalt anthun” here again hides the violence that is explicit in Kant’s formulation. 102. I have substituted my own translation in this instance. to venture to the outermost bounds of all cognition by means of mere ideas in a pure use. zu jenem Guten zusammenstimmt” (5:271).

“It is at once the agent and the product of the action. 1988). 5. remain significant. The emergence of the notion of a “creative imagination.M. Fichte’s enthusiastically positive account of imagination. as Dieter Henrich was the first to point out in an influential essay from 1966. 4. 2. as we shall see. Fichte und Schelling. equally informs pre-Romantic philosophical positions. 1: Die Geburt der Tragödie. Oder: Über die Grenze menschlichen Wissens (Stuttgart: Metzler. 1994) and Manfred Frank. giving section. as the analyses of Descartes’ and Kant’s philosophical texts in the two previous chapters have shown. volume. For all translations I will provide the reference to the Gesamtausgabe der bayrischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. This recognition takes one of its most pronounced forms in Schelling’s critique of Fichte’s philosophical approach. Ibid.) Benjamin’s reading of the Early German Romantic theory of subjectivity as a medium of reflection (“Reflexionsmedium”). While Engell is certainly correct in pointing out that the Romantic focus on imagination cannot be explained without taking into account the resurgent interest in the faculty during the eighteenth century. focusing on the continuities that connect Enlightenment and Romanticism.” Johann Gottlieb Fichte.” Science of Knowledge: With the First and Second Introductions. 102 (I:2:264). 3. intellectual history is ultimately a more complex phenomenon than Engell’s teleological account of the rise of “creative imagination” acknowledges. While Menninghaus is correct in pointing out that some of Benjamin’s points rely on a misreading of Fichte and consequently of the Romantic response to his philosophy. 1991). Notes to Pages 141 – 144 285 . vol. “Foundations of the Entire Science of Knowledge. For a detailed presentation of Schelling’s critique of Fichte. and what the activity brings about.Romantik” (Frankfurt a. 7. its relation to Fichtean philosophy. and page numbers. Unzeitgemäße Betrachtungen I-IV. but it is. Kritische Studienausgabe. neglects the negative discourse about imagination that. Engell. Friedrich Nietzsche. as we will see in the following two chapters. the active.M. already present in the Fichtean text itself.: Suhrkamp. 877. and. and hence the ‘I am’ expresses an Act.: Suhrkamp. Peter Heath and John Lachs (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. and trans. Unendliche Verdopplung: Die frühromantische Grundlegung der Kunsttheorie im Begriff absoluter Selbstreflexion (Frankfurt a. ed. even the positions of the Romantic defenders of imagination themselves. action and deed are one and the same. see Lore Hühn. goes hand in hand with the thorough domestication of the faculty by means of reason. This. the insights provided in Benjamin’s study. Eine Einführung in Schellings Philosophie (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp. thus cannot be separated from the philosophical efforts to control this potentially unruly human capacity. particularly when taking into account his limited access to source material in the 1920s. and the aesthetic theory that follows from it has been criticized—mainly on philological grounds—by Winfried Menninghaus. 6. meanwhile. 1995).. 1987). Nachgelassene Schriften 1870–1873. 97 (I:2:259). “Ueber Wahrheit und Lüge im aussermoralischen Sinne” (München: dtv. 19. Calling attention to this notable shift entails a direct engagement with James Engell’s The Creative Imagination: Enlightenment to Romanticism. See Winfried Menninghaus. (Translation mine. 1982).” which is the subject of Engell’s book.

“Fichtes ursprüngliche Einsicht. 1994). Hardenberg. I. Johann Gottlieb Fichte. Henrich’s essay also traces in detail the various forms which Fichte’s account of the origin of self-consciousness as a “Thathandlung” or intellectual intuition would take in the constantly evolving versions of the Science of Knowledge.is Fichte’s “original insight. For each translation of Hardenberg’s texts. See Anthony J. 1977). In one of his uncollected fragments from 1798. and. Fichte: The Self and the Calling of Philosophy. Richard Samuel. who defines secularization as “the reformulation of the sacred within a desacralized discourse. See Dieter Henrich. ed. 9. a process that always presupposes a subject and an object of reflection that ultimately cannot be united. Quite aware of the potential reductionism of the discourse of secularization. who approaches “the development of Fichte’s thought as a series of moments in the secularization of Lutheranism. see also Jürgen Stolzenberg. and Gerhard Schulz (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer. Translation mine. indeed constitutes a radical shift in the philosophical discussion of subjectivity. Novalis Schriften. on the other hand. 51 (I:4:221). Arguably. I provide the reference to the standard German edition.” clearly shows the ambiguity of Fichte’s position in its relation to Lutheranism. Friedrich von Hardenberg. 188 – 232. 10. “Intellektuale Anschauung. ed. 1960) 583:247. would have no such qualms after his study of Fichte. Fichte Studies. abt.” skilfully presents the complex relation between Fichte’s transcendental idealism and eighteenth-century German Protestant culture. fragment number. Novalis. “Das System der Sittenlehre nach den Prinzipien der Wissenschaftslehre” (Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt: Frommann. 2001). La Vopa has unfolded the tension between Fichte’s conception of philosophy and Protestant religious discourse in his recent biography of Fichte. La Vopa. ed. Daniel Breazeale (Indianapolis: Hackett. 8. Reinhard Lauth. Novalis Schriften. and he would predict just such a capacity for the human intellect in his often troubling theory of “magic idealism. Fichtes Begriff der intellektuellen Anschauung: Die Entwicklung in den Wissenschaftslehren von 1793/94 bis 1801/02 (Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta. 1762–1799 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.” Subjektivität und Metaphysik: Festschrift für Wolfgang Cramer. Die Werke Friedrich von Hardenberg’s. If Fichte secularizes the Lutheran conception of 286 Notes to Pages 144 – 148 . and trans. Anthony J. page number. 13. Johann Gottlieb Fichte. La Vopa. Introduction to the Wissenschaftslehre and Other Writings (1797–1800).: Klostermann. despite the latter’s protestations. ed. 12. Hardenberg equates Fichte’s intellectual intuition with the ability of a fully awakened intellect to produce and create its own physical body. Hardenberg carries out the logical consequences implicit in Fichte’s philosophical position. Dieter Henrich and Hans Wagner (Frankfurt a. 1966). along with the volume number. 64. ed. 2003).” 103. 11. where necessary. and Hans Gliwitzky. 2: Das philosophische Werk I. For an extensive study of Fichte’s concept of intellectual intuition. 7 (2:107:5). vol. V: Werke 1798–1799. La Vopa. Frank. vol. 13.M. Hans-Joachim Mähl. and trans.” Fichte’s observation that self-consciousness cannot be accounted for as a process of reflection. Jane Kneller (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1986).” to which I will turn at the end of chapter 5. Gesamtausgabe der bayrischen Akademie der Wissenschaften.

See Hühn. such as the ideals of calling and self-mastery. Fichte. and cultural discourse of the 1790s. Science of Knowledge. Fichte was always more than a “mere” lecturer. 19. in his detailed discussion of prophecy as a rhetorical mode in the Romantic period. who uses it as the title for his study of the history of modern aesthetics and subjectivity. 26. La Vopa points out. Fichte. Fichte und Schelling. The “great thinker” to whom Fichte refers is Salomon Maimon. 2002). 16. . 1985). . Ibid. This prophetic quality of Fichte’s understanding of philosophy as a calling is by no means an isolated phenomenon. 137 (I:2:301). 18. but rather a significant element of the radical political. Translation mine. in the process of its presentation. 21. the prophetic tends to emerge . Ibid. “Allgemeines Brouillon” (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer. Metaphysik des Schwebens. 14. which it looks for and posits in the beginning and on which alone it trusts as a garantee for reality and certainty. 22.” Winfried Menninghaus. 17. I:2:143fn. rightfully remarks that “in post-Biblical and postclassical life.” which I borrowed for the title of this chapter section. See I:2:368 fn 5. was coined by Walter Schulz. 188 (I:2:350). 23. Science of Knowledge. 250 (I:2:415). he also gives Lutheran themes. See Walter Schulz.. While the foundational impetus of Fichte’s philosophy is decidedly secular. Die Werke Friedrich von Hardenberg’s. “One could say pointedly that the Theory of Scientific Knowledge withdraws itself. Novalis Schriften. Hardenberg consistently sees Fichte’s limitation to the sphere of the I as the fundamental flaw of his philosophical approach. Ibid. “for Fichte the quintessential outer-directed ‘activity’ of the self. 15. Friedrich von Hardenberg. 185 (I:2:350). The Rhetoric of Romantic Prophecy (Stanford: Stanford University Press. 1960) 465:1067. was communicative action in the public sphere” (10). Fichte.” The German Quarterly 62. a central place in his view of philosophy. Translation mine. Ian Balfour. 209. social.. Significantly. 250 (I:2:414–15). Ibid. Science of Knowledge. Fichte.” For his captivated audience at the University of Jena. 2. 201 (I:2:367). at times of great social and political turbulence. 55. 25. Translation mine.. Science of Knowledge. Such connections are obvious in Friedrich Schlegel’s famous prophetic claim in Athenäum fragment no. 3: Das philosophische Werk II. As La Vopa puts it concisely. Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der Ästhetik (Pfullingen: Neske.” See Ian Balfour.1 (1989): 48 – 58. the philosopher’s calling to speak and teach the truth invests him with a quasi-religious aura and of necessity makes him a public figure. Hardenberg’s notebook entry is meant to point out the shortcomings of Fichte’s philosophical thought and the preferability of Spinoza’s. 202 (I:2:368–69).God as the “wholly Other” by replacing it with the notion of the absolute subject. exactly that final cause. and the one that defined the philosopher’s calling. “Die frühromantische Theorie von Zeichen und Metapher. The formulation “Metaphysics of Oscillation.. 194 (I:2:360). vol. 216 that Fichte’s Science of Knowledge —together with the French Revolution and Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister —constitutes one of the “major trends of the age. Notes to Pages 148 – 158 287 . 20. 24.

Ibid. human consciousness is always already where it will never be. Einführung in die frühromantische Ästhetik: Vorlesungen (Frankfurt a.. Ibid. Hans Jacob. 4. Friedrich Schlegel. 207 (I:2:374). 30. 291 – 460. Fichte Studies.” See Wm. 1989). Kant and Metaphysics. Heidegger.. 2. 29. abt. and which is at the heart of this chapter. 187 (2:288:648). 194 (I:2:360). Ibid. and Richard Schottky. 1995). as he will be referred to throughout the following chapter. Science of Knowledge.: Suhrkamp. and the most concise account of the development and its roots in Kantian and Fichtean philosophy can be found in Manfred Frank. however. For the best current introduction to Hardenberg’s concepts of imagination and poetry and their implications for a self-creative notion of subjectiv- 288 Notes to Pages 159 – 167 . Johann Gottlieb Fichte. 33. 3: Werke 1794–1796.. is so deeply connected to his pseudonym “Novalis. For all practical purposes. ed. 28. Novalis. the late Romantic myth about Hardenberg’s life and work. The philosophical shift of Early German Romanticism to the centrality of art and aesthetics for the production of a unified system. Arctander O’Brien. For Hardenberg. 207 (I:2:373). is of course well known. vol. While the Romantic triad of original unity.” that it seems impossible to truly rewrite it without clearly indicating a caesura with the traditional Romantic reception. 5. 5 a system without foundations 1. 77ff.J. 32.W. (2:179–80:234). a myth precipitated and created by Friedrich Schlegel and Ludwig Tieck in their posthumous edition of Hardenberg’s texts and continually elaborated for patriotic German consumption throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Reinhard Lauth. See Böhme and Böhme. Ibid. Novalis: Signs of Revolution (Durham: Duke University Press. has not yet been investigated closely enough. “Grundlage des Naturrechts nach Principien der Wissenschaftslehre” (StuttgartBad Cannstatt: Frommann. and Friedrich Hölderlin. constitutive to the work of not only of Friedrich von Hardenberg. I agree with Wm. 165–66 (2:267:556). but also of F. this triad is not conceived by him as part of a historical progression. 31. Ibid. followed by a phase of alienation and an ultimate recovery of unity on a higher level of awareness marks Hardenberg’s thinking throughout. 164 (2:266:555). Schelling. from the inescapable implications of “Novalis. 137fn. Das Andere der Vernunft. 1966)..M. It should be noted that Hardenberg is decidedly unHegelian in his assessment of the paradoxes of the philosophy of consciousness.27. A change of names might help to free Hardenberg. and the paradoxical simultaneity of unity and alienation is not solved in the dialectic medium of a history of the spirit (“Geistesgeschichte”).. Gesamtausgabe der bayrischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. The specific reconfiguration of the relation between subjectivity and imagination that this shift entails. I. 3. 244–45. Arctander O’Brien that Friedrich von Hardenberg should be called by his real name. Fichte.

1987). Hardenberg’s dynamic model of the self in its three coinstantaneous aspects or “vantage points. see Herbert Uerlings. 11. Romantic Vision. Notes to Pages 167 – 173 289 . Zu einer Reflexionsfigur bei Novalis. 16. 10. Novalis. (2:114:17). 21 – 62. 93 (2:196:278). Fichte Studies. This inescapably representational and hence illusory structure of (self-)consciousness informs even the “basic schema. Kleist. but only the type of mental observation that reflects on the first-order level of thought. contemplated (behandeltes. For a concise discussion of Fichte’s and Hardenberg’s conceptions of the relation between reflection and feeling and their connections to Kant’s conflicted philosophical account of the emotional experiences of the beautiful and the sublime in the Critique of Judgment. “Einbildungskraft und Poesie bei Novalis. 13 (2:114:15). Fichte Studies. can only claim any accuracy if it is clearly marked as an illusion. 167 (2:269:566). Herbert Uerlings (Tübingen: Niemeyer. 13. 2005). 7. 171 (2:273:568). 13 (2:113:15). Ibid. and Melancholy 1790–1840 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. 19. und Kafka. Fichte Studies. see Thomas Pfau. Novalis.. ed. 18. As Hardenberg puts it in a later notebook entry.. 2004). 15. 21. Romantic Moods: Paranoia. See “Ordo inversus. 3 (2:104:1). ed.. reflection is “bedachtes Denken. 17. 168 (2:270:566). and Peter Pfaff. See Géza von Molnár. Ibid. Hölderlin. Novalis. bedachtes Denken). 12 (2:112:14). Trauma. 27 – 63.” thought about thought: “Reflection does not include all thought. Frank has also presented a detailed discussion of the concept of ordo inversus in the work of Friedrich Hölderlin and Friedrich von Hardenberg in his introductory lectures to the aesthetics of Early German Romanticism.” which von Molnár analyzes with great lucidity. 20. Fichte Studies. The structure of the ordo inversus was first described in an influential essay by Manfred Frank and Gerhard Kurz as an Early Romantic mode of thought that equally informs the work of Heinrich von Kleist and Franz Kafka. The term reflection (“Reflexion”) designates the kind of second-order observation that Fichte demands from the disciples of the Science of Knowledge.. Herbert Anton.” Geist und Zeichen: Festschrift für Arthur Henkel.” Novalis. nonego. 14. Ethical Context: Novalis and Artistic Autonomy (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. but only thought that is treated. Ibid. 8. Ibid. 55. Fichte Studies. 167–68 (2:269–70:566). 6. 75 – 97. and unifying absolute sphere that Géza von Molnár has discussed as the underlying principle of the Fichte Studies. Ibid. Romantic Moods. Bernhard Gajek.” the cyclically interrelated triad of ego.ity. Heidelberg: Winter. Ibid. 86 (2:188:249).” Novalis: Poesie und Poetik. Ibid. Pfau. Reflection thus does not cover all thought as such. 22. Ibid. Novalis. 11 (2:111–12:12). 9. 12. 29 – 57... 1977.

an interpretation that often characterizes traditional criticism. 30. 54 (2:533:31). 26. 24.” literally: the art of stimulating mind and soul (3:639:507). Jochen Schulte-Sasse et al. 33. 2:568:206. Friedrich von Hardenberg. 32. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 174 (2:275:578). Von Molnár. and trans. Novalis. “Romantic Crossovers: Philosophy as Art and Art as Philosophy. 27. genannt Novalis: Werk und Forschung (Stuttgart: Metzler. Ibid. “Einbildungskraft und Poesie. 1997). 25. One cannot insist strongly enough that poetry is for Hardenberg not a mystical practice or discourse through which the subject’s union with the Absolute can actually be achieved.23. poetry and the corresponding “sense for poetry” (“Sinn für Poësie”) is just as illusory and ineffable as Fichte’s philosophical “sense for truth” required of the true philosopher. Fichte Studies. who does not immediately know and feel what poetry is. A world of difference from rhetoric [Rede(Sprach)kunst]” (3:685:668). Margaret Mahony Stoljar (Albany: State University of New York Press. Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling. Translation mine. and. Philosophical Writings.) “Poetry” in this Early German Romantic sense is thus defined by being indefinable and described as something that cannot be conceptualized or transmitted conceptually. 3:574:138. 79 (2:590–91:280). but can be expressed positively only in a tautology: “Poetry is poetry. Hardenberg clearly does not embark on the naïve endeavor to short-circuit 290 Notes to Pages 174 – 177 . Novalis. 168 (2:270:566). Andreas Michel and Assenka Oksiloff have insightfully pointed out that an aesthetic approach like Hardenberg’s—and similarly those of Schlegel’s and Hölderlin’s— which relies on the performative capacity of poetry to actively produce a unity within consciousness and the philosophical system (a poesis) needs to be distinguished from a second trend within Romantic aesthetics that relies on the particular metaphysical properties of poetry. 31. Several of Hardenberg’s notebook entries could be adduced here. As such. ed.” 34. 65 (2:167:212). which are then used to complete the philosophical system on a theoretical level (a poetics). In another notebook entry from late 1799 or early 1800 Hardenberg defines poetry as “Gemütherregungskunst. but the most concise is probably the following. ed. also by Samuel Taylor Coleridge in England. Ibid. 51. Fichte Studies. Poetry is poetry.. See Andreas Michel and Assenka Oksiloff. written around 1800: “Poetry is absolutely personal and hence indescribable and indefinable. 1997). This second trend would be represented by August Wilhelm Schlegel. 157 – 79. as we will see in the following chapter. and trans. Thanks to the work of Manfred Frank and Herbert Uerlings in particular. No concept of poetry can be taught to him. Ethical Context. the complex epistemological and philosophical underpinnings of Hardenberg’s poetic practice can no longer be ignored. 1991). 29.. 229–30.” Theory as Practice: A Critical Anthology of Early German Romantic Writings.” 25. 35. see also Uerlings. For a discussion of Hardenberg’s attempt to reform traditional faculty psychology. Romantic Vision. See Herbert Uerlings. Novalis. It takes shape via negationis by decisively not being (mere) rhetoric. Translation mine. 28. (Translation mine.

40. as a closer look at Schiller’s poem reveals. “‘Kein Sterblicher . verbotnen früher hebt. 171 (2:273:568).” in order to distinguish the Classical. The “rows” and “networks” of voices that make up the “sound space” of The Disciples of Sais. 38. and Hardenberg. spricht die Gottheit—’—‘Nun?’—‘Der sieht die Wahrheit. 353–54. Jürgen Daiber has shown in great detail that this is no mere rhetoric on Hardenberg’s part. . the difference at stake is not really between different conceptions of the Absolute and its accessibility to human beings. bis ich selbst ihn hebe. . “‘Weh dem. 170–71. Much has been made of the difference. Novalis. Experimentalphysik des Geistes: Novalis und das romantische Experiment (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. can be seen as replicating the “oryktognostic” experiments in fossil identification developed by Abraham Gottlob Werner. “mystic” Hardenberg. none of them comment on the fact that the central aspect of Schiller’s poem. Hardenberg’s teacher at Freiberg. Ibid. / Der. 36. Daiber. 333. however. 169 – 212. Hardenberg. but that his literary texts can be accurately described as scientific experiments. 2001). the truth might very well be perceived without destructive consequences.” For an overview of this central conflict in the critical debate about Early German Romanticism. For the text’s relation to Schiller’s rendition of the Sais myth. the protagonist’s guilt. has no place in The Disciples of Sais. Experimentalphysik des Geistes. does not claim for poetry a status of scientific revelation. 1 (München: Hanser. In his extensive study Experimentalphysik des Geistes (Experimental Physics of the Spirit). needless to say. for example. Daiber shows. Hardenberg Werk und Forschung. 42. and O’Brien. 1993). Using the principles of Werner’s method as his springboard. 1987). Transzendentalphilosophisches Denken. der zu der Wahrheit geht durch Schuld.’” Friedrich Schiller. uses the formal principles that structure his text as the aesthetic equivalent of a scientific experimental aparatus with which to observe and investigate the forces that inform the data of both human consciousness and the world of nature. 39. if the seeker after truth is “consecrated” and hence no longer a transgressor in the inner sanctum of Sais. / Rückt diesen Schleier. Ultimately. Novalis.’” Ibid. / Sie wird ihm nimmermehr erfreulich sein. however. see also Loheide. Fichte Studies.. For the characterization of The Disciples of Sais as a “sound space” (“Klangraum”). Schiller’s text is in fact quite clear on that point: if the time is right and the deity favorable. see Bernward Loheide. For an overview of the sources of Hardenberg’s text. Strikingly. 41. The prob- Notes to Pages 177 – 181 291 . Kantian Schiller from the Romantic. see Uerlings. the basic principles of the ordo inversus continue to apply.. See Jürgen Daiber. with regard to the “lifting of the veil. 224.the limits of Kantian and Fichtean philosophy in a nonreflective form of “aesthetic absolutism. schuldger Hand / Den heiligen. Die Stimme als Erkenntnisform: Zu Novalis’ Roman “Die Lehrlinge zu Sais” (Stuttgart: Metzler. Fichte und Novalis: Transzendentalphilosophisches Denken im romantisierenden Diskurs (Amsterdam: Rodopi. 181 (2:282:633). 211. As everywhere in his work. vol. 2000). All of the above-quoted commentators remark on the fact that such distinctions are too facile and do not do justice to the actual complexities of Hardenberg’s text. Sämtliche Werke. see Reinhard Leusing. 226. / Und wer mit ungweihter. 37.

which the narrative reenacts here. 50. 47. 13 (1:81). there is ultimately no difference between immanence and transcendence.. 55 (2:157:151). and simultaneously as the moral organ enabling man to perceive this order. in whose texts Hardenberg had encountered the notion of love as providing the order and harmony of the universe.. 15 (1:81). 17 (1:82). The Novices of Sais. (See Loheide. Das Allgemeine Brouillon.” Novalis. Hardenberg defines this process as the quintessence of philosophy: “Philosophy is really homesickness [Heimweh]— the desire to be everywhere at home. 45. and Herbert Uerlings’s discussion in Uerlings. 155 (3:434:857). Both are simply inverted forms of each other. and presents it to the contrary as a connection that must be actively produced. 46.lem here is not so much a metaphysical impossibility. vol. sin and punishment with regard to the question of truth. “Transcendence and immanence are one—only reversed” (2:158:155). What interests Schiller are the biblical questions of temptation. Love. No jealous god watches over the fruits of his garden in Hardenberg’s conception of ultimate truth. transgression.” In a similar vein. Novalis. on the other hand.” tries to reconceive precisely the traditional Christian conception of truth and its inevitable connection to sin. part of one and the same principle. 309 – 30. 51. 120 – 24. trans. the rekindling and re-creation of this “moral organ” was connected to the return of the golden age of a harmonious unity of human beings and nature. which realizes the 292 Notes to Pages 181 – 187 . Hardenberg. also shows traits of Fichte. Hardenberg had developed his concept of love from his readings of the Dutch philosopher M. The Novices of Sais.) Arguably. the figure of the teacher combines aspects of both influential characters in Hardenberg’s life. but rather youthful immaturity and impatience.) For Hemsterhuis.F. Transzendentalphilosophisches Denken. Herder. 2005). If the contemplation of truth is to be a self-discovery and a return “home. The Novices of Sais. an impossibility which became for Herder the driving force of “Geistes-” and “Weltgeschichte. Novalis. In the General Brouillon. Ralph Manheim (Brooklyn: Archipelago. In the paradoxical parameters of the ordo inversus. As Bernward Loheide has pointed out. 15 (1:82). in his ironic Romantic attempt to envision the return of a paradisical “Golden Age. Hardenberg. 44. 17 (1:82). 2. ed.. Hardenberg abandoned Hemsterhuis’s notion of the harmony of human beings and the universe as an already existing one. and trans.” there is no place in the search for truth for either guilt or transgression. which needed only to be passivily received. Werk und Forschung. 49. Novalis. Ibid. the other to the study of the self. one related to the study of nature. which likewise developed during the time of 1798 – 99. Notes for a Romantic Encyclopedia. Ibid. had already stressed the impossibility of realizing this ideal. Wood (Albany: State University of New York Press. 335. 5 (1:79). Hemsterhuis. (See Hans-Joachim Mähl’s introduction to the Hemsterhuis Studies in Novalis Schriften. with whose reading of Hemsterhuis Hardenberg was familiar. 43. the teacher. 48. Novalis. Fichte Studies. 2007). an inspiring orator who admonishes his disciples to re-create the truth within themselves. The figure of the teacher is modelled to a great extent on Abraham Gottlob Werner. David W. however. Ibid.

Ulrich Stadler. 10 (2:110:11).” Was aber bleibet stiften die Dichter? Zur Dichter-Theologie der Goethezeit.” as Bernward Loheide points out. 49–50 (1:90). 53. 53 (1:91).” 150. Notes to Pages 187 – 195 293 . “Zur Anthropologie Friedrich von Hardenbergs (Novalis). Fichte Studies 167 (2:269:565).” Apart from Kant’s Anthropologie. 5 (1:79). Ibid. 67 (1:95). The Novices of Sais. Novalis. Parts of the speech of the “earnest man. 1986). Hardenberg was familiar with Ernst Platner’s Anthropologie für Ärzte und Weltweise. Herbert Uerlings (Tübingen: Niemeyer. always connected with a notion of constant striving for this very connection. 141 (2:242:445). 63 (1:93). and the texts and physiognomical theories of Johann Kaspar Lavater. Gerhard vom Hofe. Ibid. “Einbildungskraft” and “Fantasie” are sometimes employed as synonyms.’ Der Poesiebegriff Friedrich von Hardenbergs (Novalis) und die anthropologische Tradition. The Novices of Sais. 60. Zu den ‘Lehrlingen zu Sais’ des Novalis. is also. “Natur-Poesie. 65. and does not formulate or present a clear systematic distinction between them. Peter Pfaff. 54. Fichte Studies. although he would formulate his distinctions along quite different lines from those pursued here. 61. 87 – 106. Novalis.” Novalis und die Wissenschaften. Novalis. 51 (1:91). one of his most cherished resources. 2004). and Engel “Träumen und Nichtträumen zugleich. even though it is quite apparent that the imaginative faculty appears in two quite distinct guises in his work. and while “Fantasie” is the predominant term used for the instance of the faculty connected to the body and the senses. 58. Fichte Studies. self and other. 68. Philosophical Writings. 66. ed. the anthropological texts of Johann Gottfried Herder. ed. While the term “Einbildungskraft” is almost exclusively reserved for the transcendental version of the faculty in Hardenberg’s texts. ed. Ibid. Transzendentalphilosophisches Denken. 151 – 69. 56.unity of subject and object. 89 – 103. “‘Poëtisierung d[es] Körpers. 59. are in fact direct quotations from Fichte’s “Vorlesung über die Bestimmung des Gelehrten. and as much as feeling and poetry. 52.. Novalis.. “Träumen und Nichtträumen zugleich. Novalis. 1997). See Peter Pfaff. Samuel Taylor Coleridge would be the first one to perceive the “desynonymization” of the two terms as an urgent philosophical need. Herbert Uerlings (Tübingen: Niemeyer. 55. Ibid. Translation mine.. 83 (2:672). 62. The Novices of Sais.” See Loheide. 57. 64. see Nicholas Saul. love too does not constitute but rather alludes to a unity that will only be realized as an unending process. Hardenberg uses both terms indiscriminately to a certain degree. For accounts of Hardenberg’s reception of the tradition of “anthropology” and related late-Enlightenment discourses. and Hermann Timm (München: Fink.” Novalis: Poesie und Poetik. in this rendition of the golden age. 67. Like most eighteenth-century writers. Engel. The notion of love is thus integrated into the transcendental presuppositions of Hardenberg’s philosophy. Novalis. for Hardenberg. 63. Novalis. 340. Ibid.

See Loheide. Wm. it needs to be emphasized here that all of his thoughts need to be seen as embedded in the underlying framework of the ordo inversus.. 72. however. 340.” of which Hardenberg’s “magic Idealism. While Hardenberg’s interest in medieval and Renaissance magic is no secret. Philosophical Writings. 77–78 (1:97–98) 73. when language’s powerful manipulation of illusions is subordinated to a political totality. 61 (2:546:111). then present the attempt to develop a sympathetic conception of nature that could counter the objectifying and thus violently destructive model of the Enlightenment. 76. 117). The relation of the “earnest man’s” position to that of Hardenberg himself has been the subject of some debate. 74. As much as the Romantics might have aspired to return to a unity they postulated as preexisting to the subject-object split of a post-Cartesian world. I agree here with Bernward Loheide. (See Loheide.69. The voices that follow the fairy tale of Hyacinth and Roseblossom. The Novices of Sais. 71. is an obvious example. which is fundamentally a world of language and signs. as we shall see. The influence of the mind on the body becomes possible not because of an ontological correspondence between them. but because both arise within the linguistic and semiotic house of mirrors that is the perceiving consciousness. which should lead. 3:572:119.) Hartmut and Gernot Böhme in turn see Hardenberg as the first to astutely and mercilessly unmask the delusions of grandeur and omnipotence and the underlying desire for power that drive both the Kantian and the Fichtean conceptions of the moral subject and its relation to nature. presentation. the move to a modern kind of linguistic magic is almost logical. and art. Hence the constant danger of even the most complex Romantic theories to lapse back into “Idealistic naiveté. Translation mine. Hardenberg also believes in the “cultivating” effects of the human spirit. 506–7n. It is for this reason that Hardenberg’s theories of language. Ibid. who points out that Hardenberg is not necessarily opposed to modern technology and the control of nature. like those of all Idealism. The terms of this union. Hans-Joachim Mähl sees it as an outright rejection of Fichte on Hardenberg’s part. Novalis. the impossibility of such a return was more than clear to them. not to the violent destruction of nature. 75. This conclusion is also corrobo- 294 Notes to Pages 197 – 201 . Transzendentalphilosophisches Denken. Das Andere der Vernunft. See Böhme and Böhme. but to a friendly union of I and Not-I. Novalis. fall so easily prey to a species of totalitarian social practice” (O’Brien. Arctander O’Brien has formulated the ensuing political dangers quite concisely: “Such Idealistic naiveté can turn quite sinister in the realm of social practice.” first hinted at in the final pages of the Fichte Studies. remain dictated by the I. Like Fichte. Novalis. 70. While Richard Samuel identifies the “earnest man’s” voice with Hardenberg’s own. 79–80 (1:98). “Naturen” themselves. 2:546:109. and developed in the Teplitzer fragments of 1798. Romantic systems of unity and correspondences are always predicated on the fundamentally modern epistemological problem of the perciever’s consciousness and the irony of any kind of knowledge claim it entails. 338. Transzendentalphilosophisches Denken. If all knowledge is subject to the parameters of the ordo inversus. among which are the voices of natural objects.

Novalis. Translation mine. Translation mine. Translation mine. politician. 80. Romantic Encyclopedia. 97. 94. Couliano in his study on Renaissance magic. Das Andere der Vernunft. 27 – 73. vol. Translation in O’Brien. Notes to Pages 201 – 211 295 . 2:583:247. everything is imagination. The magician of the Renaissance is both psychoanalyst and prophet as well as the precursor of modern professions such as director of public relations. 506–7n. Eros and Magic. 93. so that it “is primarily directed at the human imagination. O’Brien. 89. 91. 2:650:481. 1988).. “Who knows if we could not actually produce eyes. often does not take the time to distinguish Hardenberg’s own position from that of Fichte. spy. The need to separate between a philosophically acceptable imagination and the disreptuable fantasy precludes all such connections to the realm of physical desire. Translation mine. For the inextricable connections between love. 85. propagandist. director of mass communication media. While Blumenberg. and imagination. 82. Herbert Uerlings is so far the only one to have detected the critique of fantasy that is present in Hardenberg’s writings. 88. Unfortunately. Couliano points out that the basic purpose of Renaissance magic is the manipulation of social phantasms. Romantic Encyclopedia. as our soul is now” (2:547:112. because our body would then be in our power in the same way. Friedrich Nietzsche. 2:543–44:96. 1981). Novalis. see Hans Blumenberg’s chapter “‘Die Welt muß romantisirt werden’” in Hans Blumenberg. It is certainly no surprise in this context that the magic transcendental imagination will perform for Hardenberg’s magical idealism is purged of all direct connections to eros’ sphere of influence. Translation mine. particularly in his analysis of The Disciples of Sais. 4:149. 87. 79. censor. Novalis. Translation mine. his perception of Hardenberg’s own narcissism is acute. Translation mine. Translation in O’Brien. 84. 35–36 (4:146–47). 92. 2:583:247. Novalis. In the ordo inversus. 5: Jenseits von Gut und Böse: Zur Genealogie der Moral (München: dtv. XVIII). 48. Novalis. Philosophical Writings. Kritische Studienausgabe. 51 (3:301:338). 95 (3:359:535). 83. 77. in which it attempts to create lasting impressions. 3:430:826. 86. and the potential for manipulation is hence as vast as the effects of consciousness. 90. translation mine). everything is language. who is palpably impatient with Hardenberg’s philosophical and literary project. Giorgio Colli and Mazzino Montinari. 78. through manifold exertions. 75 (2:583:247). 1987. see O’Brien. For a critique of Hardenberg’s magical way of reading the book of nature. See Böhme and Böhme. 3:578:182. 38 (4:148).rated by Ioan P. see Couliano. would equally be a part of our inner world. 81. Die Lesbarkeit der Welt (Franfurt: Suhrkamp. ed. Novalis. Novalis. ears etc. For O’Brien’s debunking of the Sophie myth and his detailed and meticulous account of Hardenberg’s relationship to Sophie von Kühn. and publicity agent” (Couliano. magic. eros.

4. Coleridge assumes that Kant had political reasons not to formulate the religious implications of his critical philosophy more clearly. 96. Samuel Taylor Coleridge. He is closer to my heart than either of them” (4:269. 97. 155. Kant. see Hans-Joachim Mähl’s ground-breaking essay “Novalis und Plotin. who lost his professorship at the University of Jena on charges of atheism. Biographia Literaria 1. he relegates these instances to a footnote in his essay on “Einbildungskraft und Poesie bei Novalis” and does not attempt to provide a systematic context for them. Translation mine. The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The impact of the essential distinction between a dead. particularly in relation to Hartley’s associationism. Coleridge. I learned about this philosopher born for me from the Tiedemann—and was almost shocked about his similarity to both [Kant and Fichte]. 153. 3:572:120. 139 – 250. a philosopher “born for [him]. The Friend 1. 5. For Hardenberg’s (re)discovery of Plotinus and the impact of the latter’s philosophy on Hardenberg’s thought. 1969). particularly with regard to the General Brouillon. Coleridge speculates quite correctly. ed. With respect to Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling’s “completion” of Kant’s “revolution in philosophy. see John Whale. Significantly. 296 Notes to Pages 211 – 216 . Johann Gottlieb Fichte. 166 – 93. translation mine). Rooke (Princeton: Princeton University Press. 1981). 3. Politics and Utility (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.however. has been extensively discussed by Jerome Christensen in Coleridge’s Blessed Machine of Language (Ithaca: Cornell University Press. 1789–1832: Aesthetics. attempted to avoid a similar fate. who was expelled from Prussia because of his liberal religious views.” than to either Kant or Fichte: “I don’t know whether I already wrote to you about my dear Plotinus. 2000). Coleridge Biographia Literaria 1. There can be no doubt that the political implications of both philosophical and religious positions were vividly present for Coleridge in 1817. Barbara E. 6 divine law and abject subjectivity 1. Hardenberg himself first announces his enthusiasm about Plotinus in a letter to Friedrich Schlegel in December 1798. Untersuchungen zu einer neuen Edition und Interpretation des ‘Allgemeinen Brouillon’. For a detailed discussion of Coleridge’s philosophical struggle against utilitarianism and particularly the role of his concept of imagination in that context. and in the application of it to the most awful of subjects for the most important of purposes” (163). 2. remarking that he feels more affinity to Plotinus. Christian Wolff.” Jahrbuch des freien deutschen Hochstifts (Tübingen: Niemeyer. should I succeed in rendering the system intelligible to my countrymen. vol. 4:1. Imagination under Pressure. mechanical system and a vital metaphysics on Coleridge’s theory of language and writing. 4:280. 1962). 95.” Coleridge declared in the Biographia that “To me it will be happiness and honor enough. Translation mine. Aware of the fate of both one of his immediate philosophical predecessors. 108. and his immediate successor.

The discussion of Coleridge’s account of the self and imagination in dreams and nightmares. divine essence. Ibid. among others. and the relation of Coleridge and Schelling with regard to the question of pantheism forms part of Thomas McFarland’s seminal study Coleridge and the Pantheist Tradition (Oxford: Clarendon. Raimonda Modiano has shown in detail that both the desire to defuse the violent conflict with nature inherent in Kantian and related eighteenth-century concepts of the sublime.3 (1994 Fall): 451 – 79. Coleridge attempts to describe a sublime experience that would establish a connection between the empirical self and its noumenal. 158–59. The Friend 1. Fichte. For an extensive overview of Coleridge’s various sources. The influence of Schelling’s System of Transcendental Idealism and his Philosophy of Nature on Coleridge’s attempts at philosophical system-building. The Politics of Imagination in Coleridge’s Critical Thought (London: Macmillan. Modiano argues. 8. Biographia Literaria 1. 124 – 46. The list of theoreticians of imagination that Coleridge relies upon stretches. see James Engell’s The Creative Imagination. Raimonda Modiano has discussed the influence of Schellings Naturphilosophie on Coleridge’s thought in Coleridge and the Concept of Nature. and Schelling. Ibid. Akenside’s The Pleasures of Imagination.. For a concise presentation of Schelling’s influence on Coleridge’s famous distinction between a primary and a secondary imagination. Jackson Bate’s introduction to the Biographia Notes to Pages 216 – 217 297 . 135. 10. 9. Coleridge and the Concept of Nature (London: Macmillan. which occupies the second part of this chapter. which found unpalatable the mind’s self-aggrandizement suggested by the Kantian sublime. as well as Coleridge’s unabashed borrowings from Schelling’s texts both in the Biographia and elsewhere. Coleridge. Engell’s and W. 163. On the other hand. see Nicholas Reid. See Raimonda Modiano. “Coleridge and Schelling: The Missing Transcendental Deduction. For a lucid analysis of the influence Schelling had on Coleridge’s conception of a complete philosophical system and the deduction of its first principles. rather than their violent opposition. 1985). he drew extensively on the work of eighteenth-century authors in both Germany and England. a reformulation of the sublime was necessary for Coleridge in order to reconcile the sublime experience with his religious convictions. is so well-documented that I need not restate it here in greater detail. Schelling’s writings are of course not the only intertexts for Coleridge’s definition of imagination in the Biographia.. 7. 1988). from Alexander Gerard’s Essay on Genius. Coleridge. while granting a positive role to nature in the aesthetic process. and the hope to integrate the experience of the noumenal into the Christian framework of his philosophical thought lead to Coleridge’s own distinctive version of a Romantic sublime. will subsequently show that Coleridge also had quite personal and empirical reasons for such reservations.” see Nigel Leask. as well as Coleridge’s subsequent disenchantment with Schelling’s system as possibly pantheistic and too “protestant.6. 160. 1969).” Studies in Romanticism 33. On the one hand. so as to establish an effective unity between mind and nature. which will be discussed in more detail later in this chapter. and Addison’s essays in the Spectator to Johann Nicolaus Tetens’s Philosophische Versuche über die menschliche Natur und ihre Entwicklung and from there onward to the philosophical accounts of Kant. 203.

476. 24. The distinction. 477. 21. but the text remains essentially Leibniz’s. which is accustomed to hearing about methods of science but balks at the suggestion of a “science of Method. and which alone. 459. The paragraph in question contains an unacknowledged quote in French. can occur in the after reasoning. however. 476.. Ibid. 16. 464. Ibid. and the Events of the Day. Coleridge. and Nicholas Roe. but rather Friedrich Jacobi’s German translation of passages from Leibniz in Über die Lehre des Spinoza (1789). was published a little less pedagogically as “A Literary. Coleridge’s immediate source here is. The Friend 1. 19. While Kant is never directly referred to in the “Essays on Method. as well as the essays in Richard Gravil.. 11. 18.. between theory and law and understanding and reason is clearly derived from his study of Kant. so essential for Coleridge. Bayle a trouvées dans le système nouveau de l’union de l’âme et du corps. Coleridge’s formulation cannot but ring odd to the contemporary ear. Ibid. must of necessity produce a terminology that encapsulates contradictions. Moral. in its effort to provide the 298 Notes to Pages 217 – 221 . The original weekly of 1809 – 10. Coleridge’s Imagination: Essays in Memory of Pete Laver (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 451. Ibid. Coleridge. Biographia Literaria 1. 1985) and in Christine Gallant. The remainder of the paragraph is Coleridge’s translation from Leibniz’s “Eclaircissement des difficultés que M. Lucy Newlyn. 476. Ibid. ed. Coleridge’s principles not quite yet fixed.. Coleridge’s Theory of Imagination Today (New York: AMS Press. 14. While Coleridge’s English is a translation of Jacobi’s German..” Coleridge has slightly altered the original. and pre-establishes the terms which. ed.” nor in The Friend as a whole. and Political Weekly Paper. 16. Ibid. Coleridge. the influence of Kantian philosophy on Coleridge’s systematic approach developed here is undeniable.” Coleridge’s attempt to describe the process of arriving at scientific hypothesis itself in scientific terms. not Leibniz. 20.” a subtitle that nevertheless makes it equally clear that it would be a mistake for the reader to expect yet another publication mainly concerned with contemporary (political) events. 247. it seems. 17. Coleridge’s science of Method.Literaria. 13. 12..” writes Coleridge.. As James Engell and Walter Jackson Bate point out in their annotations to Coleridge’s Biographia Literaria. Ultimately. The Friend 1. as also Jacobi had preserved this sentence in the original. which originally derives from one of Leibniz’s letters to Remond de Mont-Mort. Ibid.. echoing Kant’s assessment of the mathematician’s synthetical a priori judgments in the Critique of Pure Reason. 23. 1989). Ibid.. 15. “With the mathematician the definition makes the object. 459–60. the French is indeed Leibniz’ own. Ibid.. Excluding Personal and Party Politics. 22. 460.

34. 30. 27. 163. .” F. The correlation of unity and progression as necessary attributes of the system on the other hand bring Coleridge closer to the thought of Hardenberg.“supersensual essence. which required the proof of a personalized God as the basis of the philosophical system.. 1856 – 1964). Ibid.. the systematic impulse to truly transform philosophy into an exact science has its roots in Fichte’s Theory of Scientific Knowledge. Coleridge’s desire to built a dynamic system that would still rest on “fixed” principles places him in a philosophical position between the thought of German Idealism and Early German Romancticism. 251. 256. “Die Mathematik gibt also der Philosophie das Beispiel einer ursprünglichen Anschauung. as Hardenberg asserts in the Fichte Studies. Ultimately. Coleridge. 26. 35. Ibid. . 283. Biographia Literaria 1. 250. Schelling Schriften 1792–1797. Ibid. .. 444. 41. Ibid. 247. 31. 36.” 25. Coleridge. 42. who was after all trying to overcome the unjust “fixations” of the Fichtean system. Schelling. not Poetry. 445.A. Biographia Literaria. vol. 302. 448. if it is to arrive at evidence. “Über Postulate in der Philosophie” (Stuttgart: Cotta. For Coleridge. von Schelling. The English translation is Coleridge’s. ed. Ibid. . Schriften 1792–1797.. must proceed from the most original construction... Religion.”) Schelling. 38. Ibid. 250. 1:1. 463). Ibid.J. This relation notwithstanding.W.. This and all following translations from “About the I” are mine. Ibid. 37. Schriften 1792–1797. Coleridge Biographia Literaria 1. . The English translation here is mine. von der jede Wissenschaft ausgehen muß.. a connection I have already indicated in the previous section of this chapter (Ibid. 40. is “the ultimate aim of philosophy. 33. Ibid. 463. 168fn. 451. 282.F. Notes to Pages 221 – 228 299 . 167. welche auf Evidenz Anspruch machen will. 29. is the pre-establisher of the harmony in and between both” is closer to the transcendental idealism of Schelling. Biographia Literaria. “Nevertheless philosophy. 28. K.. which being at once the ideal of reason and the cause of the material world.. Ibid. Ibid. 32. wenn sie evident werden soll. Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling’s Sämmtliche Werke. Coleridge. 447. this part of Schelling’s text is not incorporated by Coleridge in chapter 12 of the Biographia Literaria. 252.. a position that is necessitated by Coleridge’s attempt to unify his philosophical convictions with religious exigencies. von der ursprünglichsten Construction ausgehen . Ibid. Ibid.. 39..” (“Nun muß aber die Philosophie. 304–5.

undertaken in the Biographia’s chapter 13. Coleridge. Whoever would treat fancy and imagination as synonyms will see the knowledge of empirical reality as an end in itself. The Politics of Imagination in Coleridge’s Critical Thought (New York: St. consequently no distinct perception or conception. a symbolic means on which the human mind is dependent to gain access to the invisible and the transcendent: “The image-forming or rather re-forming power. 135. which looked death into everything— and this not by accident. Coleridge’s rarely quoted notebook entry leaves no doubt that what is at stake in the “desonynimization” of imagination and fancy. the province of which is to give consciousness to the Subject by presenting to it its conceptions objectively but the Soul differences itself from any other Soul for the purposes of symbolical knowledge by form or body only—but all form as body. Martin’s. and calls upon the performative capacity of poetry to actively produce a unity in the aesthetic text. Coleridge describes the philosophical dangers of mistaking the empirical products of fancy as coextensive with the knowable rather than as an “outward & visible sign” of the ultimate nonempirical object and living ground of knowledge much more vividly than he would ultimately do in the Biographia. Coleridge. introduced in the previous chapter. as shape. i. Biographia Literaria 2.3 (February 1979): 240 – 59.’ Here then is the error—not in the faculty itself.” Modern Philology 76. this. is much more than a mere question of terminology. Bernstein for example sees the activity of creating the self through the linguistic performance of the poetic text as central for Coleridge’s conversation poems. Leask. are also part of Coleridge’s work. Elements of such a poietic rather then poetological approach.43. who ultimately see the empirical as a ladder. 7. 46. but from the nature of the faculty itself. which I would rather call Fancy ϭ Phantasy. In a notebook entry from April 1811. See Gene M. Politics of Imagination. like Schelling before him. Gene M. which are called upon to reestablish a desired unity. Coleridge. 1988). but in the gross idolatry of those who abuse it. Coleridge’s definition of imagination thus encapsulates a poetics. relies. a literally “deadening” position for thinkers like Coleridge. on an account of the particular metaphysical properties of art and poetry. which thus present a poetic enactment of Coleridge’s philosophical principles.. & not as forma efformans. the imagination in its passive sense. 137. in the terms of Andreas Michel and Assenka Oksiloff. & make that the goal & end which should be only a means of arriving at it.e. Bernstein. Biographia Literaria 1. that we cannot arrive at the knowledge of the living Being but thro’ the Body which is its Symbol & outward & visible Sign?—” 300 Notes to Pages 228 – 229 . as it concerns the central philosophical dispute about the nature of material reality and its status in the epistemological process. however. a phainein. 45. the Fetish & Talisman of all modern Philosophers (the Germans excepted) may not inaptly be compared to the Gorgon head. whithout which there would be no fixation. Is it any excuse to him who treats a living being as inanimate Body. “Self-Creating Artifices: Coleridgean Imagination and Language. 44. is dead—Life may be inferred. which seeks to realize a poiesis. a philosophical approach that is usefully distinguished from projects like Hardenberg’s. Nigel Leask. even as intelligence is from black marks on white paper— but the black marks themselves are truly ‘the dead letter. 305.

The Friend 1. 1988). ed. 48. The Friend 1. For a revealing discussion of Kant’s addiction to coffee. Earl Leslie Griggs. Coleridge. clearly did experiment with opium and certainly not to increase his rational productivity but rather to experience an opening of consciousness that remained otherwise inaccessible. which helped him to reduce the number of idle hours of both day and night. 51. if Kant’s position with regard to the limits of consciousness is. have argued. one of forceful repression. Coleridge and The Friend (1809–1810) (Oxford: Clarendon.” which depicts Coleridge’s writings about scrofula.And here again. Coleridge. ed. 3078. “Coleridge’s Scrofoulous Dejection. 106. vol. there are several direct references to opium and its effects on the body in other entries Coleridge makes at the time. 56. . 3 (Oxford: Clarendon. as rhetorical means to hide his opium addiction. even though he would—for obvious reasons—deny such a possibility quite forcefully when later discussing his addiction in letters to friends. 1717. how imperishable Thoughts Notes to Pages 229 – 234 301 . 1959). CN I. “Exorcising the Malay: Dreams and the Unconscious in Coleridge and De Quincey. 105. CN I.” The Notebooks of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Biographia Literaria 1. Das Andere der Vernunft. Collected Letters of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Coleridge.” Journal of English and Germanic Philology 99 (October 2000): 555 – 75. that fixing unfixes & while it melts & bedims the Image. Coleridge. see Daniel Sanjiv Roberts. Coleridge clearly had no such fears when it came to attempts at overstepping the boundaries of reason in a not strictly philosophical realm. CN II. 489. that quintessential bourgeois drug. 50. entry no. See for example the entry Coleridge makes two months earlier in October 1803: “ . ˇ iz 54. Martin Wallen. see Böhme and Böhme.2 (Spring 1993): 91 – 96 and Martin Wallen’s “Coleridge’s Scrofoulous Dejection. See also Molly Lefebure’s biography Samuel Taylor Coleridge: A Bondage of Opium (New York: Stein and Day. In the following CL. still leaves in the Soul its living meaning—. see also Deirdre Coleman. from a psychoanalytical perspective. 3 (New York: Pantheon. While the drug is not mentioned directly in this notebook entry. 64. 1973). 4066. 53. vol. 422–23 and 440 – 42. . followed by volume and entry number. As Hartmut and Gernot Böhme. Kathleen Coburn. Subsequent references to the notebooks will be abreviated as CN. of the fusing power. CN III. as well as his public “shift” from poet to metaphysician. 47. If Kant was painfully addicted to coffee. 1974). where the philosopher must deny himself a vision of the transcendent however much he might desire access to it. 52. as well as Slavoj Z ˇ ek and Jean-François Lyotard. 3556.” The Wordsworth Circle 24. 49. 152. 55. 1718. the clear distinction between fancy and imagination is the basis from which the importance of the secondary or poetic imagination as a link between the empirical and the transcendent due to its specific tratment of images will be deduced: “From the above deduce the worth & dignity of poetic Imagination. O Heaven when I think how perishable Things. For informed discussions of Coleridge’s opium addiction.

Alan Richardson gives the most detailed account of Coleridge’s debt to early nineteenth-century brain science for his views about the working of the mind in dreams. See Jennifer Ford. “Coleridge and the Dream of an Embodied Mind. CN III. An in-depth discussion of the philosophical tradition that informs Coleridge’s materialist and “bodily” account of his nightmares is presented by Nicholas Halmi in “Why Coleridge was not a Freudian. CN II. as well as his own experience with opium.” Coleridge and Dreams. Fry (Bedford: Boston. what Paul Magnuson has termed Coleridge’s “nightmare poetry” could indeed be seen as a translation or transcription of opiuminduced visions has been subject of much critical debate. David S. like David Miall. also concludes that Coleridge’s interest in the contemporary debate about the workings of the brain. 58. See Raimonda Modiano. 1998). 3999. . 1575). or after long use. Coleridge includes fragments of what he would publish two years later as “The Pains of Sleep. Miall was one of the first to analyze Coleridge’s writings on dreams and to draw attention to the fact that Coleridge’s reflections on his nightmares threaten the very idea of the fundamental unity of the self so central to Coleridge’s philosophical thought.” Studies in Romanticism 21 (Spring 1982): 57 – 71. 63. produces the same effect on the visual. 62. a debate started by Coleridge himself. 187 – 219. Coleridge on Dreaming: Romanticism. See David S.1 (1999): 1 – 25. 59. and if so to what extent. special issue of Dreaming: Journal of the Association for the Study of Dreams 7. see Alan Richardson. when he affixed a preface admitting as much to the first publication of “Kubla Khan.” nearly twenty years after its composition. 1999). & passive memory/” (CN I. “Sameness of Difference? Historicist Readings of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. 1814. together with the unfinished “Christabel” and “The Pains of Sleep. medical version of imagination in Coleridge’s thought.” Romanticism 5. Coleridge himself would later come to understand quite well that his problems of indigestion and consequently the nightmares that he attributed to the former were effects of his opium use. In a letter to Henry Daniel from May 19. Miall. 57. run counter to the philosophical position he otherwise takes up with regard to the mind and imagination.” For a detailed discussion of the possible status of “Kubla Khan” as an actual dream vision in the context of Coleridge’s interest in the contemporary debate about the workings of the brain. probably by its narcotic effect on the whole seminal organization. Jennifer Ford has presented extensive evidence bringing to light the nontranscendental. & Infancy/ and Opium. 60. ed. “The Meaning of Dreams: Coleridge’s Ambivalence. [believe] me! . 2078. same or similar—sometimes dimly similar/ and instantly the trains of forgotten Thought rise from their living catacombs!—Old men. in a large Dose. “[n]ot for the Poetry. 61. Richardson.seem to be!—For what is Forgetfulness? Renew the state of affection or bodily Feeling. Paul H.” his most overt poetic representation of his hellish nightmares. Whether. .” in Samuel Taylor Coleridge: The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.1 (1997): 13 – 28. although from a different perspective. Dreams and the Medical Imagination (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. but as an exact and most faithful por- 302 Notes to Pages 234 – 237 .

70. 927. Notes to Pages 237 – 246 303 . and that the subject. trans.” Coleridge would now come to ruefully point out that the very drug which had still seemed to him an agent of salvation at the time he wrote the poem (1803 in a letter to Robert Southey) was the very cause of the agony his verse described: “The above was part of a long letter in verse written to a friend. It is in this specific context that Coleridge is cited by the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary as originating the metaphorical understanding of the word “polypus” in the English language. which I even to that hour imagined a sort of Guardian Genius to me!” (CL III. 16. CN II. as David P. and the latter a new Head—& always make sure to leave off at a paragraph” (CL III. so that the first Half should get itself a new Tail of its own. See David P. CN I. 4046. I so complained of. 74. however. Kabbalah. Ibid. 77.traiture of the state of mind under influences of incipient bodily derangement from the use of Opium. CN III. might thus fall prey to forces that are ultimately destructive to its moral integrity. 930– 31). What does present a very unsettling threat to Coleridge. In a letter to Thomas Poole from October 9. 76. 73. 108. Biographia Literaria 1. 105. For this reason. 2999. CN III. 3547. Such a loss of rational control in itself is not necessarily a problem for Coleridge. 71. CL III. Hanley has demonstrated in his reading of Coleridge’s Aids to Reflection. 1977). 78. 1809. 72. Ibid. 75. Sholem. precisely because of its necessary openness to the irrational. 64. 66. The Challenge of Coleridge (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press. the unconscious workings of imagination in dreams can have a moral effect for Coleridge. 782).. He is well aware that the divine aspects of the subject cannot be within its rational grasp. 69. 65. and that the subject thus depends for its “moral progress” on a submission and opening up to forces beyond its rational understanding. Gershom Sholem. 107. Hanley. 105–6. is the fact that imagination might not be exclusively the instrument of the divine. Coleridge. Ralph Manheim (New York: Schocken. Ibid. Sholem. 4046. he describes his modus operandi with regard to the publication of the weekly essays of The Friend in the following way: “I will divide them polypus-wise. Ibid. while I yet remained ignorant that the direful sufferings. 68. Kabbalah. 67. were the mere effects of Opium. 1770. 2001).. On the Kabbalah and Its Symbolism. Coleridge’s thought about the workings of imagination in dreams thus repeats the fundamental ambiguity about imagination that originates in Neoplatonic conceptions of the faculty and which had consistently preoccupied the Christian philosophical thought of the Middle Ages.

The systematic conceptions of both Fichte and Hardenberg do not develop in a political vacuum but need to be read within the context of the sociopolitical situation in “Germany” in the wake of the French revolution. and Jerome J.” an aspiration that is by no means politically neutral in Prussia at the turn of the eighteenth century. while Pyle’s argument constitutes in effect an attempt to reconcile both positions through his 304 Notes to Pages 246 – 248 . the “first generation” of British Romantic poets. his confrontation of the world in all its diversity. and the data of social and political development. 1995. the Romantic poets opted to “internalize” history and its political questions. Coleridge’s Biographia. 14 – 18.4 (Autumn 1981): 585 – 604. 83. What seemed a political threat to Kant. and hence “to fuse the political vision with a critical vision aimed at portraying the individual’s personal dealings with.e.” After the historical development of the French Revolution failed to vindicate their political expectations.” In this context. Peterfreund suggests. after all.” To accomodate the disappointments of the contemporary historical development. Hardenberg’s attempt to reconcile chaos and order—anarchy and social stability one might say—and to integrate a lack of systematicity into the system itself. has the task to provide a synthesis of the three sets of data that make up this confrontation: the data of the physical-natural process. the introduction of the uncontrolled exuberance of imagination into the system. the data of individual consciousness. 80. “Coleridge and the Politics of Critical Vision. 82. Both Fichte and Hardenberg. The vexing question of the relation between aesthetics and politics still haunts the contemporary debate and the contributions of both new historicist and deconstructionist critics. as Pyle will put it fourteen years later. i. McGann. The rational structures of a bureaucratic state. The figure of imagination. and personal revelations and conversions arising from. The Ideology of Imagination: Subject and Society in the Discourse of Romanticism (Stanford: Stanford University Press. Wordsworth. governed centrally by an enlightened monarch— the state championed by Kant and later by Hegel—were seen as politically stifling by the Romantics. Peterfreund argues. Blake. The Romantic Ideology (Chicago: University of Chicago Press.” (Stuart Peterfreund. must be seen as part of the Early German Romantic critique of Prussia’s enlightened absolutism. See Pyle. 1981). 81. see their respective systems as guarantors of “freedom. Forest Pyle. attempted to salvage their political hopes by articulating them aesthetically and by placing them under the aegis of their “critical vision. and Coleridge in particular. 1995). Peterfreund argues. In particular.. whose reevaluation of imagination thus stands in direct relation to a shift in political perspective. Ibid.” Studies in English Literature 1500–1900 21.79. Stuart Peterfreund has already described this complex and problematic linkage of critical/philosophical and political positions in his 1981 article “Coleridge and the Politics of Critical Vision. thus becomes the site where the unity of all three processes needs to be “articulated. the mind’s epistemological connection to nature.) Whether this “internalization” should ultimately be interpreted as a political act or rather as an ideologically suspect withdrawal from political realities has been the subject of critical discussion ever since the “second generation” Romantics lamented the loss of revolutionary spirit of their poetic predecessors. could become a political desideratum for the Jena Romantics.

Ibid. Ticklish Subject. He referred habitually to principles. 87. which is well capable of making its return at moments of cultural crisis” (Whale. 107 – 31. Coleridge and The Friend. or even the unconscious. actions. 32. Tim Fulford. 30. 191). In the intertextual trajectory that leads from Coleridge’s Biographia to Shelley’s Defence of Poetry thus lies another discursive reconceptualization of the role of imagination. 302. Imagination under Pressure. special issue of Dreaming: Journal of the Association for the Study of Dreams 7. needless to say. 199–200. Coleridge. Ibid. 90. which sees all things. Coleridge. 92. One of the defenses against the aestheticist accusation is provided by John Whale. 91. and Edmund Burke is appropriately the preeminent example of a man of political and philosophical principle that Coleridge presents immediately after the passage just cited. He was a scientific statesman. see Coleman.2 (1997): 85 – 98. 90. The aesthetic reservoir can be drawn upon when required. 88. Coleridge’s conservative assessment of the French revolution by the time he writes the Biographia is. Notes to Pages 248 – 253 305 . 84. Biographia Literaria 1. who has argued that by separating imagination and the work of the critic from the realm of immediate (political) utility—chapter 11 of the Biographia is not coincidentally an admonition to young authors not to become professional writers—Coleridge in fact enhances the political potential of imagination by keeping it as it were “in reserve”: “Perhaps with hindsight it might look more like a strategic withdrawal: imagination remains to fight another day. 190. Biographia Literaria 1. Biographia Literaria 1. “Dreams and the Egotistical Sublime: Coleridge and Wordsworth. For a thorough discussion of Burke’s importance for Coleridge’s thought and Coleridge’s attempt to reconcile his political radicalism of the 1790s with a Burkean position in the 1809 – 10 version of The Friend. 176).” Coleridge and Dreams. and events. in relation to the laws that determine their existence and circumscribe their possibility. “Edmund Burke possessed and had sedulously sharpened that eye. thoroughly Burkean. Coleridge.linkage of imagination and ideology. and the text of the Biographia here anticipates and harkens back to the political framework that structures the argument of both the 1809 / 1810 and the 1818 version of The Friend. 86. It would take the political and poetic sensibilities of a Shelley to disconnect the “defamiliarization” effected by imagination from its task to establish a unity with the transcendental principles of divine Law and to embrace the faculty’s revolutionary potential for constant change as a positive poetic as well as political principle. ˇ iz 89. 199. where the politicized dichotomy of a mechanical French and an organic English philosophy equally informs the distinction of understanding and reason. Burke in other words. The retreat might even act in favour of the power of the aesthetic: to make the aesthetic a discrete zone might provide it with all the power of the repressed. Z ˇ ek. and therefore a seer” (Coleridge.. Biographia Literaria 1.. 85. is a man of method.

Kamper seeks to counter the imaginary. the development of structures of modern rationality in their struggle with the bodily imagination.conclusions 1. For an attempt to (re)tell the history of imagination as not already predetermined by the perspective of reason and yet not as a mere rejection of the rational. The rehabilitation of imagination that Kamper has in mind is also the explicit goal of Hartmut and Gernot Böhme’s The Other of Reason. desires which are a direct product of the dominance of modern rationality. in a Foucauldian archaeological effort. with a reflexive imagination. see Dietmar Kamper. aware of its own potential and history. 1990). which attempts to think the dialectics of enlightenment to its end and to unearth. Zur Geschichte der Einbildungskraft (Hamburg: Rowohlt. 306 Notes to Page 259 . desires of unity as they are expressed in a flood of images in the visual discourses of the mass media and of nationalism.

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experience of the. Ian. 1). 142 – 43. 184. 16 – 22. 228 – 29 autopoiesis. 129 – 31 analogy. 4. 126–28. 160. 107 – 8. 193. 102. 121 – 22. 57 – 64 Balfour. 106 – 19. 135 315 . 17 – 20. 155 – 56. 287n13 beautiful. 195.index A Absolute. De Anima. 58. 205. 281n53. 6. 126. 214 – 15. 152 – 54. 280n46. 225. 52 – 53 Aristotle. 81. 223 aesthetic ideas. 190 B Baillet. 264n3 (chap. 146 – 47. 134 anthropology. 279n42. 182 – 83. 293n65 Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View (Kant). 160. 143 – 44. 257. 258. 216 – 17. 134 – 35. 11. 29 – 30. 244 absolute subject. 21 – 22 associationism. 227 – 29. 283n100 Apology for Raymond Sebond (Montaigne). 167 – 72. the. 146. 217. 287n13 Act (Thathandlung). Adrien. 152.

259. 282n68. 240 – 42. 192. 208 – 12. 141 – 42. 232 – 33. René. 39. 219. 202. 167 – 72. 84 – 88. Ernst Robert. 147. Rules for the Direction of the Mind. The Friend. 146. Samuel Taylor. 280n51 Critique of Pure Reason (Kant). 176 – 77. 152. 40. 95 Clark. 73. 271n33. 111 – 16. 300n46 fantasy. 109 –11. 119. 275n1 fancy. 239. 5. 11. The World. 278n29 Coleman. 116 – 39 passim Critique of Practical Reason (Kant). David. 74. 36 – 79. selfconsciousness Couliano. 269n11. 279n42. 38. 64. 127. 5. Umberto. 37. and dreams. 143. James. 295n76 Critique of Judgment (Kant). 43 – 47. 103 – 4. 21 – 22 Derrida. 106. The Passions of the Soul. 4. 247 – 54 Blumenberg. 281n53 enthusiasm. 236 – 40. 56 – 57. 76 – 80. The Notebooks. 231.Benjamin. 272n44. 276n9 Curtius. Walter. 160. 159. 288n5 Eco. 232 – 33. 265n6. 278n32 Engel. 240 – 42. 247 – 54. 64 – 67. 90 – 91. Kantian. 215 – 18. 295n80 Böhme. 146. 267n2. 11. 135 – 39. 37. Meditations on First Philosophy. 12. 293n64 feeling. 255 – 57. 300n46.. 175 – 76. 179. 166. 7 – 8. 243. “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. 284n1. 179 – 97. 291n38 De Anima (Aristotle). 49. 42. 8 – 11. 276n9. 66 – 67. 215 – 16.” 219 – 22. 126 – 28. 278n29. 5. 175 – 76. 274n62 cogito. 140. 71 – 76 Diogenes Laertius. Kantian account of. Jacques. 166. 219 – 22 F faculty psychology. 265n7. See also ordo inversus. 294n69. 70 – 71. Olympica. 260. 228 – 29. See also under imagination cognition. 244. 195. Gernot and Harmut. 102 – 4. 170. Edmund. 289n11. 283n81 categories. 244. 198 – 200 Discourse on Method (Descartes). 306n1 Burke. of the beautiful and the sublime. 7. 74 – 79 C categorical imperative. 68. 60 – 64. 47 – 52. 17 – 20. 227 – 29. 146. 59 – 60. 3. Deirdre. 42 – 43. 268n6. 305n85 D Daiber. Desmond M. Biographia Literaria. 12. 106. 205 – 6. 222 – 30. 47 – 52. 67. 108 – 9. 231 Coleridge. 57 – 59. “Essays on the Principles of Method. 280n46 Clarke. See also inspiration epistemology. 276n9 “Essays on the Principles of Method” (Coleridge). 81– 98. The Other of Reason. 70 – 71. 98 E Early German Romanticism. 68. 58. 142.” 234 – 35 consciousness. 62 – 64. 214 – 54. Discourse on Method. 269n9 Descartes. 265n7. 266n12.. 33 – 34 Disciples of Sais. 74 – 79. 222 – 30. The. 255 – 56. 284n1 Biographia Literaria (Coleridge). 37. 285n3 Engel. 81 – 99. 37 – 39. 215 – 18. Jürgen. 90 – 93. 141 – 42. 6. 316 Index . Hans. Ioan P. Manfred. 126. 276n9. 69. 90 – 93. 40 – 43.

77. 160. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich. David. 104 – 6. 125 – 26. 57. 116 – 17. Johann Gottfried. 163 – 73. 121 – 24. 147. 302n63. and fiction. 178. 142. Journal. 136 – 37. 240 – 42. 7. 253. Manfred. 162 – 213 passim. 164. 146. 36 – 37. 39. 252. 11. 173. 277n14 I ideas of reason. F. 292n51 hermeneutics. 210. The General Brouillon. 8 – 9. 136 – 37. and faculty psychology.. 149. and dreams. and cogito. and imagination. 98 – 105. Tim. 193 – 94. 101 – 3. 143. The (Coleridge). 143 – 61. 105 – 6. 108. 89 – 92. 281n53. 177. 164. 265n7 Foucault. 105. Dieter. 217. 239 – 40. 196. 206. as disruptive. 59. 234. 210. 215 – 16. 204. 127 – 29. 163 – 79 Flory. 4. 144. 115. free play of. 179. Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics. 252 – 53 Natural Scientific Studies. 4. and nature. 64. 12. 177. 135 – 37. 115 – 17. and Kantian anthropology. 163 – 79.. 123 – 24. 289n14 freedom: and aesthetics. 11. The Disciples of Sais. 54. Dan.297n6. 69 – 74. 5. and artistic production. 123 – 26 Fichte. 251. and evil. 195. 252. 145. M. 204. 112 – 14. Fichte Studies. Michel. and genius. Science of Knowledge. 76 – 79. 178. 244 – 45. of pleasure and displeasure. 244. David P. 197. 13. 144. 279n37. 81. 159. Martin. 3 – 4. 8 – 9. 197 – 98. 286n7 Herder. 257 – 58. and philosophical systems. 277n14. 288n5. 162 – 63. 30. 68. 119. 99 – 104. 160 – 61. and doubt. Friedrich von (Novalis). 277n10. Freiberg Index 317 . 241 – 42. 214 – 15 Hegel. 210 genius. 269n9 Frank. 292n51 Henrich. 179 – 97. 130 – 31. 105. and moral law. 127. 279n37. 127. Johann Gottlieb. 304n82. 133. 252 Heidegger. 160. 303n67 Hardenberg. domesticated by. 64. 158. 159. 130 – 32. 279n34. 217. 136 – 37. and the divine. Monologue. 227 – 28. 304n83 Friend. 214. 229. and body. 47 – 52. 69. 68. 212. 6. G General Brouillon. and subject/subjectivity. David. 45 – 48. 282n72. 85 – 86. 173. 270n16. 191 – 92. 134. 282n70. 131 – 33 H Halmi. 180 Fichte Studies (Hardenberg). 303n67. 11. 302n63 Hanley. 252. 237. 175 – 76. The (Hardenberg). and cognition. 219. 99 – 100 Hume. 140 – 61. 105. 260. 147. 277n10 Hemsterhuis. 129. 81. 248 – 49. Nicholas. 164 Freiberg Natural Scientific Studies (Hardenberg). 179 French Revolution. 178. 191 Hartley. Jerry A. 134 imagination: and the Absolute. 42 – 43. 109 – 11. and Being. 112 – 14. 198 – 200. 223 – 24. 178. 163 – 73. 178. and freedom. Logological Fragments. 231 Fulford. 106 – 7.. 179. 201. 179. 4. 32 – 34 Fodor. 256 – 58. 70 – 71. and aesthetic judgment. 163 – 64.

106 – 19. 151. Georges. 11. 271n33 Lyotard. and morality. 281n53. See also fancy. 258. 4. 121 – 23 K Kamper. 57. 165 – 67. 8 – 9. 88. 7 – 8. 4. 37– 39. 4. 81. 5. John D. 43 – 46. 123. 141. 251. 138 – 39. 273n52 J Journal (Hardenberg). 81. and inspiration. Dietmar. and understanding. 101 – 2. 81 – 99. 242. 165 – 67. 97. 7 – 8. 195. 125. 8. 137 – 39 M magical idealism. 216. 283n100. 6. 304n82. 7. imagination intellectual intuition. 11 – 13. 119 Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics (Heidegger). 113. 12.. 224. 203 – 4. 190 – 91 La Vopa. 298n11 Leyenberger. 201. 280n51. power of. 173 – 79. and philosophical systems. 165 – 67. 88 – 89. 70 –71 Menninghaus. 116 – 39. as threat to. 139. as primary and secondary. and ideology. 206. 297n10. fantasy. 105. 155 – 58. 239. 217. 7. 204. and representation. 93 – 94. 267n25. 150 – 51. 59. Anthony J. Critique of Judgment. and violence. Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View. 210 judgment. 241. See also enthusiasm. 201 Lyons. as threat to. 7 – 8. 80 – 139 passim. 80. Gottlob Ephraim. Winfried. and problem-solving. as productive and reproductive. 267n25. 109 – 10. 64. 173 – 74. 306n1 Kant.imagination (continued ) 116 – 17. 94 – 98. 272n46 McGann. 38 – 39. 159 L language. 54 – 56. 160. 47– 52. phantasia. 236 – 39. 6. 141 – 46. 283n100. 214 – 15. 81. 141. 260. and self/subject. 112 – 13. 100. and phantasia. 260. 251. 64. 46. 298n20. 203 – 4. and synthesis. 12. Critique of Practical Reason. 265n6 318 Index . 259. 102 – 3. 4. 85 – 86. 84 – 89. 157. 141. and laws of association. 184. 257. 193 – 94. Thomas. 99 – 104. and will. 250. 217 – 18. and national unity. Jerome. 141.. 81. 295n90 Marion. 247. 228 – 29 Leibniz. and rhetoric. 144 – 45. Critique of Pure Reason. 117 – 18. 9. 259. 6. 80 – 81. and nightmares. 280n46. 136 – 39. 130 – 31. Jean-Luc. 217 – 18. 270n27. 40 – 43. 52. 149. and reason. 102 – 4. 270n16 inspiration. 110. 140. and intellectus purus. 228 – 29. 129. 78 Logological Fragments (Hardenberg). 56 – 57. 39 – 42. and madness. 286n8. 246 – 54. 197 – 98. 89. 285n1 Metzinger. 250 – 52. 151. 11. Immanuel. 149 – 50. 115. and memory. 286n13 Leask. 9. transcendental imagination ingenium. Nigel. 42 – 44. 146. 247 Meditations on First Philosophy (Descartes). 125 – 28. 45 – 47. and poetics. and politics. Jean-François. 259. 286n7 intuitus. 294n76. and illusion.

The” (Coleridge). 134 – 35. 177 – 78. 167 – 68. 216 – 17. 160. 180. 191 Montaigne. 16. and mnemonics. 180. 239 N narrative self-reflection. 145. Marcel. 55 Pyle. 43 – 47. 189. Plato on. 123. 21 – 23. 234 – 35. 22 – 23. 19 – 21. 290n31 Modiano. 250 – 51. 67. Timaeus. 38 – 39. 40. Paul. 301n54. Wm. 258 – 59 Plotinus. 242. 276n9. Stoics on. Forest. Neoplatonists on. 58. 258. 226 – 27 Neoplatonism. and imagination. 247. 23 – 28. 156 – 57. 100. 57 – 59. 217. 290n31 Olympica (Descartes). Blaise. imagination representation. See also ideas of reason. 196. 99 – 103 opium. 236 – 40. 180.Miall. 257 Proust. 302n63 ordo inversus. 9. 73 ontology. Alan. 232 – 33. Géza von.. 106 R reason: 54 – 56. The. Arctander. 119. 64 – 67 P Pascal. Michel de. 215 – 16. 54 – 55 S Schelling. 164. 102 – 3. 304n83 Pfau. Assenka. 301nn56 – 57. See also under imagination Richardson. 267n25. 175 – 77. 302n63 Ricoeur. 23 – 30. 197 – 200. 59. 1). 100. 207 – 10 Oksiloff. 44 – 45. 173. and mimesis. 196 Other of Reason. 24 – 25. 38 – 39. 289n8 Monologue (Hardenberg). 223 – 28. 297n6 Molnár. Plotinus on. Raimonda. Andreas. 31 – 32 Plato. 5. 58. 31 O O’Brien. 244 – 45 oscillation (Schweben). 289n11 phantasia: Aristotle on. Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph. 103 – 4. 52 – 53. 54 – 55 Passions of the Soul. 22 – 23. The (Descartes). 170 – 73. 177 – 78. Pensées. 231 – 34. 28 – 32. 265n6. 56 – 57 Pensées (Pascal). 264n3 (chap. 187 – 90 natural philosophy. 267n30 Philostratus. 19 –21. 279n34 “Rime of the Ancient Mariner. 64. 242. 258 – 59. Descartes on. 126 – 27. 302n61 Michel. 79. 297n10 Index 319 . The (Böhme). 304n83 Q qualia. 215 – 16. Stuart. Thomas. 59. 56 – 57. 13. 16 –22. 149 Notebooks of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. 243. 132. 21 – 23. 211. 32 – 34. 234 – 35 Rules for the Direction of the Mind (Descartes). 52 – 53 moral law. Apology for Raymond Sebond. 265n6 Quintilian. 300n46 Peterfreund. 132. 146. 175. 149. David S.

243. Slavoj. Friedrich. 273n52 Shekhina. 226. 278n29. 177 understanding.. and fantasy. 85 – 86. Gershom. judgment of. 297n6 Swedenborg. 126 – 28. 59. Friedrich. 152. 288n33 Schwärmer. 163 – 73. and nature. 305n83 World. 82. 206. unity of. 237 – 39. 277n11 ˇ iz Ticklish Subject. 264n3 self. 267n2. 224. John. 291n42 Schlegel. 119 – 20. cogito. 87. 243 – 45 Stoa. 144. 282n68 Tetens. 134 – 35.). Dennis L. 8 – 10. 9. 99. The (Descartes). Charles. Ticklish Subject. 100. 152. 51 – 52. transcendental apperception self-consciousness. 105 320 Index . 125 – 30. 101 – 5. 32 – 34. 192 transcendental subject. 181. Emanuel. 104 U Uerlings. 6. Kantian. 132. 138. 95 – 98. 267n30 Whale. 105 – 7. imagination. 193 – 97. 203. 134 – 39. 117 – 18. 277n10. 105 Timaeus (Plato). 13. 278n32. 226 – 27 transcendental poetics. 42. self. 138. 137. 109 –10. Peter F.schema. 119 – 20. 64. 94 – 98. 264n3 (Intro. 89 – 93. 143 – 61. 88. and nightmares. 282n67 Science of Knowledge (Fichte). Johann Nicolaus. 242. 94. 147. cogito. 86 – 92 transcendental imagination. 165. See also under imagination W Watson. 252. 8. 182 – 85. 80. 132 – 33 Taylor. 278n34 Schiller. Gerard. 91. transcendental apperception sublime. 98. 173 – 75. 189 – 90. imagination. The (Z ˇ ek). 140 – 41. Herbert. 92 – 3. See also absolute subject. 23 – 28. 30. 141. and nature. 91 – 2. 210 – 11 transcendental philosophy. See also consciousness Sepper. 144. 94 – 95 transcendental deduction.. 47. Jerrold. 283n82. 180 Seigel. subject. 32 – 34 Strawson. See also absolute subject. 71 – 76 T taste. 243 – 46 Sholem. 282n72. 270n21 Z ˇ iz Z ˇ ek. 88 – 89. 275n1 subject. 145. 287n13. 258 – 59 transcendental apperception. experience of the. 21. 5. 24. 272n41. 99.