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Producing knowledge in a Kantian sense is, for Benjamin, a form of appropriation that captures its object as property. Whatever can be registered and made coherent according to the a priori categories of understanding, and the corresponding forms of intuition, is seized by consciousness. Objects are never taken on their own terms; they are subordinated to the rule of reason. For truth, however, presentation is a primary concern.

The unity of knowledge means the conceptual coherence of individual insights constituted through the application of its formal method.


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Put differently, the unity of knowledge is not determined by the individual phenomena that it appropriates, but by the method of their appropriation in consciousness. By contrast, the unity of truth is derived from being. As such, it is not a unity of being, which has been forgotten in the course of history, or hidden behind the false appearance of an alienated world, as it had been for Heidegger.

It means a unity integral to truth, which cannot be turned into an external object for thought.

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Every such answer would therefore necessarily lead to the repetition of the question that produced it. Truth, in this regard, is unity as being, as Benjamin goes on to suggest. However, as remains to be seen, this being is not essential; rather, it is historical.

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As in the case of truth, ideas are said to exist ; however, unlike truth, they are given. For the time being, it suffices to note the following: if truth, as Plato argues in the Symposium , guarantees the being of beauty, i. Truth neither discloses a content, nor does it expose a secret. Just as truth is inextricably linked to beauty qua semblance, so it is immanent to the presentation of ideas — and here Benjamin departs from Plato — that it appears as a configuration of conceptually mediated, phenomenal elements.

But how do phenomena and ideas relate to each other in the first place? Phenomena are not, as Benjamin stresses, contained in ideas. Ideas neither serve the knowledge of phenomena, nor do phenomena simply attest to the existence of the ideas. Phenomena and ideas belong to fundamentally different realms.

Just as phenomena are not contained in ideas, ideas are not given in the world of phenomena. Therefore they cannot be made into the objects of intellectual vision, intellectual intuition. Ideas elude any kind of intentional grasp. After all, as we have seen, Benjamin blurs the boundaries between conventional accounts of subject-object dialectics. Language and history thus appear as the media of philosophical thought. The philosopher destructs the false unity of the empirical world and dissolves it into its elements by means of the concept, so that an image of the world of ideas may appear as a constellation of these elements.

The possibility of such an interpretation of the world in the order of ideas, however, is grounded in language and history. Philosophical thought is, for Benjamin, fundamentally dependent on language. Accordingly he argues that. It is the task of the philosopher to restore, by presentation, the primacy of the symbolic character of the word, in which the idea is given self-consciousness, and that is the opposite of all outwardly-directed communication.

Since philosophy may not presume to speak in the tones of revelation, this can only be achieved by recalling in memory the primordial form of perception. After the expulsion from Paradise, however, the creative power of Adamitic language is compromised.

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Benjamin, in other words, does not simply purport to name ideas into being; rather, he outlines a language-philosophical model for constructing constellations of objects through which ideas may yet be experienced at the level of language. If language is the mediating instance between the world of ideas and the world of phenomena, then history is the site upon which this mediation manifests itself as origin. True historiography, for Benjamin, begins where the deductive method is abandoned and thought becomes absorbed in the singular phenomenon wherein it unfolds its truth-content.

To execute this description it is necessary to treat every idea as an original one. Hence the concept of origin is, as Benjamin stresses, a historical category.

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It does not, however, designate the origin of a development. Accordingly, discovering an origin in history does not mean tracing a historical development backwards to where it is supposed to have begun. Rather, origin is where the historical continuum is interrupted. To present an idea requires the immersion into the singular. At the same time as the philosopher-qua-scientist destructs the false unity of the empirical world, and dissolves it into its elements by means of the concept, she destructs the false continuum of history and immerses herself in the singular fact.

Indeed this is where the task of the investigator begins, for he cannot regard such a fact as certain until its innermost structure appears to be so essential as to reveal it as an origin.

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The authentic — the hallmark of origin in phenomena — is the object of discovery, a discovery which is connected in a unique way with the process of recognition. Rather, it derives from their innermost structure. Order a copy Copyright or permission restrictions may apply. We will contact you if necessary. To learn more about Copies Direct watch this short online video.


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Need help? How do I find a book? Can I borrow this item? Can I get a copy? Can I view this online? Ask a librarian. Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and other First Nations people are advised that this catalogue contains names, recordings and images of deceased people and other content that may be culturally sensitive. And one of the most significant ways in which our political being is conceived is by how we understand our freedom.

Kafka laughs at our illusion that we have a free will. And he also laughs at the correlate of the free will, namely, the separation between a world of ideal freedom and a fallen world of confinement. As such, and pace interpreters such as Brod and Weltsch, Kafka performs also a critique of transcendence as the linchpin of both Western metaphysics and theology.