Kantian Journal

2022 Vol. 41. №3

The Problem of Being: Kant and Heidegger


My task is to demonstrate substantial differences in the views of Kant and Heidegger on being. To this end I analyse Heidegger’s work Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics which Heidegger was writing intermittently during the period from 1927 to 1964. It deals not only with the ideas of the Critique of Pure Reason but also with Kant’s pre-critical work, The Only Possible Argument in Support of a Demonstration of the Existence of God (1763), in which Kant explicitly addressed the question of being for the first time. Heidegger focuses on the transcendental power of imagination not only as the “common root” of sensibility and understanding, but also as the fundamental faculty of ontological cognition. He links it with the phenomenon of time, arguing that the object of knowledge as such is also linked with this phenomenon. True, for Heidegger what matters is not a singular empirical object, but the universal noumenal object, including being. Consequently, Heidegger draws a distinction between empirics and sensibility: all empirics is sensible, but not all sensibility is empirical. A triangle in general, a dog in general, etc. have an image, but it is not a singular image, but a schema. Heidegger argues that time as pure intuition is the “field” in which the imagination faculty draws its image schemas. This field is the horizon of objectness, i.e. the possibility of emergence of non-empirical objects, including being. Being, then, is not a Kantian noumenon, not an X, but a sensible, albeit non-empirical, object created by the power of imagination, a correlate of everything cognisable. So understood, being is created by the human, therefore it is not transcendent but immanent to him/her. I also note that in characterising being Heidegger gradually moves from “time” to “work of art” in the frame of which the power of imagination does not simply reflect reality, but creates multiple diverse worlds.

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