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The Death of PhilosophyReference and Self-reference in Contemporary Thought$
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Isabelle Thomas-Fogiel

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780231147781

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231147781.001.0001

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The Tension Between Reference and Self-reference in the Kantian System

The Tension Between Reference and Self-reference in the Kantian System

(p.195) 10 The Tension Between Reference and Self-reference in the Kantian System
The Death of Philosophy

Isabelle Thomas-Fogiel

, Richard A. Lynch
Columbia University Press

This chapter examines the tension between reference and self-reference in the Kantian system. In Immanuel Kant, the dual question of reference and self-reference is left to be read from his terms “representation” and “reflection”; the former embodies the mind’s movement toward what is not itself, namely, the object; the latter, the mind’s questioning of its own structures. And yet, in the Kantian system, the conjunction of these two notions turns out to be, in the final analysis, impossible. This impossibility is expressed in a strange oxymoron, the use of which causes the entire framework to implode. To demonstrate the incompatibility between these two orientations, the chapter first brings out the meaning of the term “representation” and then of “reflection” within the critical project. In particular, it clarifies the precise meaning of “representation” in Kant in order to situate his project with respect to the problem of reference. It also explores at least four meanings that Kant gives to reflection.

Keywords:   reference, self-reference, Immanuel Kant, representation, reflection, object, mind

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