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".