By W. J. T. Mitchell
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Additional resources for Picture Theory: Essays on Verbal and Visual Representation
Whereas intuitive thinking is the source of its own objects, discursive thinking receives objects from an external source. ‘Our understanding’, he writes, ‘through its representations is neither the cause of the object (save in the case of moral ends), nor is the object the cause of our intellectual representation in the real sense’ (Kant 1900–: 10: 130). The knowledge given to the discursive intellect is never of the objects themselves, but of representations. In contrast, intuitive thinking is the productive ground (in the ontological sense) of its objects and therefore has a direct grasp of them as things-inthemselves.
How was the gap between the understanding and sensibility, between noumena and phenomena, to be bridged? If such a gap could not be bridged, Kant’s critics argued, then scepticism could not be overcome. 3. Fichte and the Ontological Absolute These early critiques led Kant’s first interpreters – Fichte and Reinhold – to reconsider the dualism in the Kantian system. Reinhold maintained that it was only on the basis of an original unity, a first principle of consciousness from which sensibility, understanding and reason are derived, that the necessary correspondence between sensibility and understanding (cognitive matter and form) could be achieved and knowledge made possible.
This did not mean a denial of the existence of the thing-in-itself but rather the critical claim that the existence of the thing-in-itself is not only uncognisable but also unthinkable (see Beiser 2002: 269). The concern of critical philosophy can only be that which is radically immanent: what is ‘for the self’, as opposed to ‘in itself’. There is therefore no need to presuppose or assume a reality outside of the self, for all that is – all that concerns philosophy – is what is given to the self.