Kant, Thom, Heidegger
1985 • 66 pages • Price : 12 €

<··· Previous page


Kant may be interpreted in the light of Plato's cave allegory. Four kinds of objects are found in it: the Sun or God, who lightens Ideas or structures or true realities, which generate phenomena or shadows, projected on the inner wall or material substance of a cave. The shadows are perceived by prisoners (bounded by the senses and the body), who take them for true realities and therefore are deceived by illusions. One of the prisoners, a philosopher, manages to free himself from the body's trammels and can contemplate the Ideas and even the Sun. The others are condemned to live in darkness and their life is a sort of purgatory. The true deliverance is the separation of the soul from the body through death, which enables the soul to perceive the true realities.
One can say that, with Kant, the Sun equates the transcendental subject which is the author of the a priori forms and is common to all men. The Ideas are the things en-soi which are beyond reach. Phenomena, which alone are perceivable, result from the action of the transcendental on the things en-soi. Knowledge is not an illusion but an accurate relationship to the phenomenon, and this is the only true reality around which revolves, like a satellite, the empirical subject, i.e. the individual who never ceases to contemplate the real.
The difference with and even progress from Platonism becomes then conspicuous. Man is saved from longing after the ideal transcending world (i.e. the transcendental and the thing en-soi) which is not a reality but rather a reference beyond reach. The wonder of the real world, that of the phenomena, results from its poesy, i.e. because it is constructed by the transcendental and the thing en-soi, independently of the empirical subject who never ceases to contemplate it. This construct is revealed to a certain extent by art and it is in the soft chiaroscuro of the cave that man can be happy...
In the second part of the book the author summarizes the thought of mathematician René Thom who reverts to and modernizes Platonism. Thom's catastrophe like Plato's Idea is a mathematical structure or Form non dependent of phenomena and imposing itself on them. But it is steeped in the Heraclitan flux of forces at work on it until it shifts over discontinuously into a new Form, except in the particular case in which the system it shapes can find no equipoise and is destroyed and dissolved.
The book ends with a study of the Origin of the work of art by Heidegger. Art is no arbitrary creation but a purified perception, as through an optical instrument, of the world's mystery and beauty, as pointed out by Dürer and quoted by Heidegger: "Art is in nature, and if you know how to grasp it, it is yours".

Excerpts / Classified by themes


The bridge of Beni-Bahdel
The wonder of the world in Plato's cave

<··· Previous page