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Józef Tischner "Thinking From Within a Metaphor"

Article translated by Anna Fraś. Original polish version was published in "Myślenie według wartości" (Kraków, Znak 2004) 462-476.
opublikowany: 1980

First thanks to Descartes, then thanks to Kant, a belief has been established in the modern philosophy, that all discursive thinking is characteristically distinguished by radical criticism through which one strives to reach the inalienable fundaments of certainty. It can be rightly said that all thinking means to attain truth or, at least, to get near to it – truth is the element of all thinking – but philosophical thinking enjoys the privilege of truth attained in a radically critical way. Philosophical thinking, to be more precise, is imbued with two opposing aspirations. One of them makes for the highest truths – on the sense of life, the existence or nonexistence of God, the beginning or end of the universe, on the nature of the good and evil. The other one pursues the inalienable certainty even at the cost of knowledge of the ultimate. Hence the painful consciousness of tension between the highest hopes and continuing possibility of losing all hope.
Our task, here, is to consider the role of a metaphor in philosophical language insomuch as it is vested in the special function of revealing the fundamental human matters. But philosophical language cannot be separated from philosophical thinking. If somewhere in philosophical language there appears a metaphor, a symbol or a trope, if at that, this metaphor in a capsule abstract seems to summarise an important fragment of philosophical discourse, it means that thinking itself has become metaphorical. Can one efface from Plato the symbol of people closed in a cave and faced only with shadows of reality? Can one efface the symbolism of “giving birth” from the epistemology developed by St. Augustine? And the hypothesis of the malign genius from Descartes? Much has been written on the role of symbol in thinking. Paul Ricoeur devoted some invaluable works to this subject. Still, one needs to return to the matter time after time so that – even if nothing truly novel is said – one could remember some fundamental truths.
Let us recall Plato’s cave: people chained to the rock, shadows of reality in front of them, the world of truth and the shining sun behind them. Plato compares thinking to the light that has suddenly broken into the deep of the cave and revealed to men, and for men, their proper state. Thanks to thinking, which is like light, the world surrounding men receives background. From the consciousness of contrast between the world and its background, the first words of thinking are born. What do these words speak about? They say that there happens something which ought not to happen. We ought to exist in a different way. Our existence is semblance of existence. Who has thrust it upon us? Why? For what trespasses? Thinking opens to man and for man the agathological horizon of being: the horizon of truth or falsehood, fairness or foulness, good or evil. Thinking by asking wants to learn the truth: where does the frontier separating semblance and reliable phenomena go? If we get to know this frontier, a way to the authentic good and authentic beauty will be opened for us. If not, everything may turn out to be a semblance.
Let us consider how thinking lives. Thinking performs as it were two kinds of movement: a movement inward and a movement outward. Thinking seems to withdraw from life, from everyday occupations and concerns, as if it wanted to concentrate in itself, as if it looked for some particularly privileged standpoint which would allow the best outlook on the world, the best perception of voices coming from the world. Philosophical thinking is distinctive in the first place because of where it comes from. Only then is it distinctive because of what it says. Philosophers speak from such places in the world which no-one else speaks from – neither a poet nor preacher, nor scholar pursuing positive sciences. A question arises: what are such places? But what philosophers say is something distinctive as well. Hence another question: what do they want to say? In any case, something hidden from the profane, something supramundane, metaphysical, supernatural. Don’t they then breach the critical postulate? Hadn’t they better remember that “whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent”?
Here we want to consider these questions in short. We want to consider the problem of a metaphor in philosophical thinking in order to shed some light on the metaphorical quality of the way great philosophers speak.
 On Where a Philosopher Speaks From…
Considering the above mentioned instances of philosophical metaphors (I have deliberately restrained from defining the metaphor and restricted myself only to examples), especially the cave metaphor, we encounter a motif, recurring more or less clearly, of the drama bound up with human existence and, indirectly, also with human thinking. If there were no tragedy in man’s life, there would be no radical philosophical thinking in his life either. There is some close relationship between suffering as an immediate consciousness of tragedy and thinking, which nolens volens is a form of an answer to the tragic. Is it perhaps because suffering forces one to think about itself? Certainly, it often happens so; but it makes one run away from it, too. The relationship between thinking and suffering is not only a relationship between an act and its subject matter. Suffering imbues human thinking from within, from its roots, it makes itself the basis for thinking, it makes thinking become its articulation, its expression. However, it does not occur under compulsion. Suffering does not force a thinking movement as burning the hand with coal compels one to draw back. Thinking is an answer which can be given or not. It is an answer of freedom. Pain hurts, thinking does not hurt – it thinks. But, despite that, there would be no such answer if it were not for suffering. Birds fly high, but have their nests low. Which suffering is the fundamental source of thinking? Where does thinking have its nest?
In Plato’s metaphor of the cave, and in Descartes’ conception of the malign genius, everything is finally reduced to the inability of distinguishing between a semblance and reliable manifestation. The whole immediate world of phenomena, events and things creates in us a pretence of the real world. We see shadows and we become attached to shadows. We do not even know what we have on our hands or legs. We strive to act, we create technology and art, not even asking, how things really are. In this way we escape our deepest pain which is the pain of radical uncertainty. The first task of a philosophical metaphor turns out to be revealing that fundamental pain. In other words, showing the nest in which thinking is born and from which it will always speak.
Thinking all by itself gives birth to the subject of thinking. What, who is this subject? Who is the thinking self? In any case, it is known who this subject does not want to be and who most often he is not – the self of everyday naivety that does not ask but simply lives. It is not the poeticising self, either. In fact, the poeticising subject is also born out of a tragedy, but too soon and too hastily resolves the problem of tragedy. Discovering beauty in the world, discovering beauty in what is tragic, the poeticising self somehow justifies the tragic. Finally, it is not a subject of praxis, whether ethical or technical. This subject acts too soon as well: wants to change the world, before having even managed to acknowledge the mysteries of the world. The thinking self is basically not against poetry and not against ethical and technical praxis. Still, he submits both to a radical critique on account of some blindness – a blindness to radical uncertainty. The thinking self is a subject who in the Platonic cave wants to exploit fully the event of light.
The thinking subject is, firstly, one who takes distinctive position towards suffering that oppresses man: does not abandon suffering and does not escape into forgetfulness, but revalues it radically. Even when taking various pains as a theme, the thinking self wants to express the fundamental pain of man – the pain of radical uncertainty. We continuously live in the middle ground between semblance and real manifestation. The hidden pain of uncertainty accompanies our every moment. It is able to shatter all hopes we have for tomorrow, all existing love, wreck all faith. Uncertainty can even touch the fact that we are: Is our existence not a semblance of existence? We continuously strive, as Hegel says, to be “oneself in another”. And from this pain our thinking comes – thinking that asks how it really is. This question is not an emanation of suffering. It is “born” through suffering. We will return in a while to the metaphor of “giving birth”. Here, we will just say: all birth makes us see the father and mother. So let us continue our metaphor: suffering here is like the mother. And who is the father? The father is the world given to us through perception: its joys and, first of all, its pains.
The subject of philosophical thinking does not live, then, in the heaven of happiness, where there are no tears or death. To think means to overcome radical uncertainty. It also means to remind oneself, time after time, about the danger of illusion, i.e. to awaken uncertainty. Thinking is that spiritual power which not only overcomes pain, but is also able to animate it within oneself and even to support it. Only such thinking can give rise to cognition. Cognition is a child of thinking, born in the pain of uncertainty and in the hope of increasing light. It seems that this is the reason for the special dignity of thinking. To think amidst the tragedy of the world, one must have courage as well as hope. The one and the other are also indispensable for giving birth.
We are not able to enter into particulars here. But it would be interesting to show how the primordial symbolism of giving birth functions in the modern conceptions of cognition. Can’t we see its characteristics in the Kantian synthesis of categories and data coming form experience? Don’t we see it in Husserl’s idea of the transcendental constitution? In both the result of cognition is the fruit of two different elements: mind and experience, isn’t it? Admittedly, it bears similarities to both; but cannot be reduced to them.
Let us still underline two things.
The thinking subject is not a lonely self who deepens his solitude through thinking. On the opposite, it is a subjectivity that looks for communion with another and testifies to community. Radical uncertainty is not only the deepest pain of man, but also the most common one. Disappointed love is experienced by those who have loved each other. The loss of trust is experienced by those who have trusted each other. But radical uncertainty, in its incipience, is shared by all. Therefore, we seek a common standpoint on what is happening around: “try to transcend yourself and see that I’m in chains too”. The point is to give up the for-me-and-for-you situation and come to the for-us situation. To have a common topic, we need to reach a common standpoint. Hence, the importance which the modern philosophy of cognition gives to the concept of “the subject of cognition” – an ideal standpoint on everything. But, in the philosophy of cognition, a standpoint of this kind is rather wishful thinking than a fact. In practice, we have to do only with ideal subjects of diverse discourses, subjects different in each system of discourse. We have an ideal subject of the positivistic discourse, of the phenomenological discourse, a subject of theological discourses, etc.
However, what is bespoken by the sheer possibility to dissociate consciousness and to constitute diverse “standpoints” on the same thing? What is proved by that easiness of entering in a discursive communion with others? How does it happen that the consciousness does not die by dissociation, but lives all the more? What is our subjectivity in the light of the facility of those dissociations? An answer to that has come recently from Emmanuel Lévinas. Subjectivity does not mean loneliness and separation, subjectivity is… closeness, proximity. Closeness is substitution. The truth about subjectivity is such that another is within me, is closer to me than I am to myself. Only because another is within me, because he is so close, can I desire a common standpoint, asking and responding, speaking. The pain of radical uncertainty turns out to be a form of experiencing radical responsibility.
The second thing is the question of alternative. Radical thinking not only strives to be grounded in what is fundamental and shared by all, but also to show a possibility of some opposite. Such an opposite is the idea to solve the problem of radical uncertainty. The idea of solution is present within the introduced metaphor. For Plato the solution is “conversion” towards the world full of brightness, thanks to which it will be possible to compare shadows of things to things themselves, semblances to reliable manifestations, to distinguish between faces and masks. In Descartes, the opposite to the malign genius is good God, who cannot lie. The function of alternative is doubly important in a philosophical metaphor. Firstly, because it seems to indicate a possible direction of how to solve the problem. Secondly, because it reveals the essence of thinking itself. Who thinks, sees that everything may be different. Thinking is a revelation of possibility. Thanks to it, things, facts, events begin to exist in a horizon of other possible things, other possible facts, other possible events – they receive the agathological, axiological and ontological background. That is probably where the joy of thinking springs from. Thinking expands the realm of freedom and opens horizons of hope. A further task for thinking is to direct the light so that one could see which way leads out of the cave walls.
On What a Philosopher Wants to Speak About…
A philosopher’s thinking strives to get out of the cave walls. One needs to force through veils and pretences towards what really is. Today we are used to saying: thinking has an intentional character, as it is constantly directed beyond phenomena toward the object. Together with the intentionality of thinking goes the metaphorical quality of language. Shifting our life from the level of phenomena onto the level of objects, their causes, aims, and reasons, thinking performs an expansion of the meaning of words at the same time. Immanuel Kant observes “Our speech is full of such indirect representations, based on analogy, therefore an expression does not contain a correct scheme for conception but only a symbol for reflection”[1]. Thinking itself protests against this movement of thinking beyond the world of possible experience. Radical criticism demands caution. Who flies too high, may lose sight of all things. Famous became Sir Francis Bacon’s saying: “man needs no wings but lead”.
The metaphorical is an expression of intentionality. Thinking as a process or intentional act cannot get rid of its metaphorical quality. But does it pertain to philosophical thinking as well? Does radical criticism of this thinking not require abstaining from the metaphorical? Let us consider two cases which illustrate our problem. The first one is linked, to some extent, to Husserl’s eidetic phenomenology, the second one touches upon traditional theory of analogical predications. The one and the other show how one can attach lead to birds’ wings.
Edmund Husserl puts forward a catchphrase which itself is a metaphor: “Back to things themselves”. What does it mean? Husserl postulates halting the movement of cognitive intention within the sphere of phenomena and their eidetic structures. The sphere of phenomena is a sphere of immediacy, closer and more fundamental than distinguishing between semblance and manifestation. I see a stick immersed in water, it seems the stick is broken. When I say “I perceive the stick as broken”, I do not make an error. In Husserl’s eidetic phenomenology, the point is to speak not about what is, but about what is given, according to how it is given. The world of a cave dweller is an ambiguous world, but it is not a reason for refraining from critical discourse. In the ambiguous world one can, in any case, develop at least a phenomenology of ambiguity. So Husserl’s phenomenological discourse turns out to be an attempt at expounding what is essential on the level of phenomena in conjunction with the mode of presentation of phenomena. The assumption of this discourse is: for an illusion to exist, there first has to be a real manifestation of something. Thus, a critical analysis of the “most immediate” sphere, unaffected by illusion, is a condition for the cognition heading beyond the cave.
Thinking according to the rules of the eidetic phenomenology basically excludes the metaphor of language. A metaphor can have here only an ancillary importance, it can help to see, facilitate memorizing or understanding. But, in Husserl’s phenomenology, the core of vocabulary is established according to the rules of univocality. What is essential is everywhere the same, essences are “essential” everywhere. However, the case of phenomenology is not closed here. For, in the end, what is this world of phenomena, the world of essences intertwined with each other, noesis wedded to noema for good or bad? The eidetic phenomenology must now be accompanied by the transcendental phenomenology. In the light of the transcendental consciousness, the world surrounding us is a particular expression of the pure consciousness, it is its own metaphor. Meta-phor, as the word itself indicates, transports us from something beyond this something. The metaphorical quality of the world of phenomena makes us think continuously about the pure consciousness that has constituted it. A phenomenon “gives rise to thought”. A phenomenon becomes a sign, symbol, manifestation of what is radically transcendental in the consciousness. And radically transcendental is thinking itself. In the world of phenomena critical thinking reads truths about itself.
The second case is the traditional theory of analogy and the theory of analogical predication based on the former. Both theories developed in close relation to disputes over the nature of God. The issue was, at the same time, the character of inner relationships of the three Persons within the Holy Trinity and the relation of God to the existent world. The issue, among other things, concerned the metaphor of “giving birth” and the relation of “giving birth” to “creatio ex nihilo”. Let us start, however, with what happened later, that is with the codified theory of analogical predication and proceed to Saint Augustine and his vision of One God in Three Persons.
As a result of long disputes over the role of analogical reasoning in ontology, a belief was established that the proper realm of thinking based on analogy (so called “analogy of proportion”) is the realm transcending beyond the sphere of genera and species, it is the realm of so called transcendentalia: the truth, beauty and good. The sphere of transcendentalia is, as we would call it today, a sphere of fundamental values. From one of the given solutions it follows that e.g. the species concept of “human” is realized in each individual identically and not analogically: every man is the same man. Whereas values are realized “according to proportion”, that is analogically: someone is better, another worse, one is more beautiful, another uglier. So, basically, in anthropology we have two languages at our disposal: the univocal genus-and-species language and the analogical language: (metaphorical,  symbolical) axiological and agathological[2]. In which language do we have the right to speak about God? It depends on what relations bind God and the world, on whether the world has been “born” of God or “created” out of nothingness.
Let us shortly consider both possibilities. If the world has been “born” of God, if it is a distant emanation of His nature, then, in some way and to some degree, the world should inherit God’s nature. Then, one can proceed from the world to God by degrees according to the analogy of attribution. One can say e.g. that human life is a reflection of God’s “life”, and the threefold faculties of human soul (mind, will and feeling) testify to the three Persons within God. But if God has not given birth to the world but created it out of nothingness, then, the language of attribution is discontinued and one must be silent about God or look for a different language. Is another language thinkable here? Yes, such an instance is the language of art. A work of art also reflects, in some way, the personality of an artist, although it is not “born” of the artist but rather “created”. If the world, man, the history of man were seen as God’s works of art, we could find a language, in which one could speak about God. It does not necessarily have to be the language of art. It could be a language based on the “analogy of proportion”, the analogy, according to which, three fundamental values are embodied in things: the good, beauty and truth, and their particular derivatives (I’ll keep silent about “existence” not to make matters worse). Then, it could be said that human goodness “gives rise to thought” about God’s goodness, and similarly the beauty of nature, “the great silence of space”. In this way, speaking about God is not forbidden – why? “the earth is His footstool” – but a fertile ground is made for negative theology. The language of theodicy becomes symbolical and at the same time thoroughly axiological and agathological. In this [language], our speech continuously revolves around values, around goods, it considers rather the good and evil than being and non-being. Words “give rise to thought”, but they do not exhaust any substantial content. In fact, lead was being attached to the wings of thinking, but thinking was not being attached to earth.
In this situation, what happens to the idea of “giving birth”? Does it lose its importance for the science of God? Let us inspect this matter more closely. Perhaps we will succeed at showing in a concrete example the greatness and poorness of the metaphorical. And moreover, nothing reveals the mystery of words more than attempts to use them outside the ground which has given birth to them. In St Augustine, in keeping with the biblical texts, the concept of “giving birth” is applied to describe the inner relations within the Holy Trinity. God has not given birth to the world but created it, still God the Father has given birth to the Son. The concept of “giving birth” becomes a metaphor-symbol serving to describe a sphere beyond the limits of possible experience. What happens to this concept then? What metamorphosis does it undergo?
Giving birth is first of all an event of human life. It is connected to the experience of pain and at once to the experience of happiness. Christian theology shudders in front of the prospect to recognize suffering, pain in God. To suffer, God has had to take on human nature. If giving birth occurs is God, it has to occur painlessly, in the fullness of happiness. God is the highest cognitive being. If that is the case, then, giving birth in Him is the very [instance of] cognition, and cognition is giving birth. In St Augustine’s theology, the Son of God is conceived as the Word born out of Father’s cognitive thinking: being the Son of God means being the Word that God speaks about Himself. The Son has the complete nature of the Father, it means that the Father knows Himself adequately, faultlessly in the Son. Giving birth is something of its own kind: it is neither reflection nor creating out of nothing. Where there is a reflection, e.g. a mirror reflection, the reflected image is of a different nature than the object. A flame reflected in the mirror does not burn or give warmth. Whereas the Son has the nature of God just like the Father. Giving birth is not creating, either. What is created is of lower rank than the one that creates. Whereas the Son is, in every aspect, equal to the Father.
How is it pertinent to our issue? Well, to apply the concept of “giving birth” to what happens in God, this concept needs to undergo a special idealization. It must not describe a fact any more, but a value. To give birth is to realize a value. What value? The value of truth, the truth which is the Son. The vital axiology is absorbed by the gnostic axiology. But not thoroughly. Because to give birth means also to experience happiness. If self-cognition in God is giving birth, it is the highest happiness as well, a happiness that becomes the Holy Ghost (the happiness of love).  At this point it is rather the vital axiology enriching the gnostic axiology. Cognition becomes an experience of happiness. Being happy means reaching the truth and at once giving birth to it. We find ourselves in one of the points where the European rationalism is conceived – seeking happiness in cognition.
But the concept of “giving birth” has a further history. Purified from the experience of pain, bound up with faultless cognition, the concept returns from high back down to earth. Theology is also some anthropology. God is an ideal of man: what is happiness in God, should well be happiness in man, too. The word “giving birth” still functions as a metaphor in accounts of human cognition. In St Augustine, it is everywhere called by its own name, in other authors it is named by other terms, but its tone echoes throughout those names in Kant, Husserl, Heidegger. Only the advocates of the “theory of reflection”, who might not have heard about the Holy Trinity, and radical idealists, who prefer the concept of “creation”, are beyond its range of influence. Still, the moment of suffering generally disappears from the descriptions of cognition. Cognition stops being an expression of suffering. To know is rather to soar away from the vale of tears. Cognition gives only happiness now: the Father is happy giving birth to the Son, who is God equal to the Father, man is happy when he gives birth to words of truth which express for him what is most precious in things. Kant’s transcendental apperception, the fruit of radical criticism, neither suffers nor feels happiness. Similarly Edmund Husserl’s transcendental ego who, at least according to some texts, is an “unbiased observer” of the world’s drama. Suffering becomes only a theme for thought, but never its immanent content.[3]
And in this a defeat is revealed, a defeat of a thinking that has fallen in love with metaphor. When metaphors come back down on earth, after having played their roles in “heaven”, they may mean something different than before and describe something else. Metaphors become capricious, they describe the world selectively, sometimes they mistake man for God. They make man forget things his thought has not seen in heaven. Make one forget… To forget does not mean to solve. It means only: to direct attention somewhere else. A metaphor makes one sensitive but it also hardens one. We can understand why some prefer univocality and ask for lead for their wings. But they also are hardened and sensitive only the other way round. Some are oversensitive to earth, others to heaven. Some cannot jump down, others cannot jump up. In the end, both attitudes are some form of cripplehood.
 What Philosophers Do With the Factuality…
But the metaphoricality of speculative metaphysics is not the only manifestation of philosophical thinking which, starting from the experience of uncertainty, wants to comprehend the whole. Another instance of such a manifestation is a motif implicitly present within the hermeneutic thinking and still more clearly seen within the idealistic thinking. Let us consider some trivial examples.
Let us ask: has the cave scene described by Plato happened really? Of course not. The situation is only a metaphor for every man’s real situation. It can be seen even more clearly in the case of Descartes’ malign genius. The malign genius is an invention of the philosopher’s thinking imagination. Another example comes from Paul Ricoeur’s works: a stain as a symbol of guilt. It does not matter whether the stain really exists or is a figment of the writer’s mind, it can fulfil its role of symbolizing guilt anyway. What do these examples tell us? They say that in the metaphorical or symbolical thinking (Ricoeur differentiated between them once, but recently he, allegedly, overlooks the difference) there is accomplished a change in the content of a concept which has been taken as a starting point for symbolization. It is usually stated that this content undergoes “extension”. But this is not quite precise. “Extension” is in the first place a particular operation on the act of recognition of something as really existing: a stain might be, it might not be, but the guilt really is. In Greece, there might not have been a single cave, but, in spite of that, what is expressed by Plato’s metaphor may really be. The same is true for Descartes. Hence a conclusion: radical metaphorization of the visible world means degrading it from the position of an absolutely existing world.
It is particularly well seen in Heidegger. Heidegger, in keeping with the hermeneutic conception, admits that in judgements which are an explication of understanding the word “is” has a weaker meaning. It means not that something exists truly, but that something “has-a-meaning-as-something”. Instead of emphatically saying: “John is Peter’s son”, I should rather say: “I understand John as Peter’s son”. The condition for conceiving is fore-conception. To understand what a being is, I must know what Being is. In the field of philosophical thinking the sense of Being is the light that allows, in this or that way, to understand the beings immediately surrounding me. Then, if throughout the history our way of understanding beings changes, it happens because of changes occurring in the sphere of fore-conception of the sense of Being. The light of Being determines the shine of beings.
This conception means the reversal of the metaphorical. The old theory of metaphor led us from what is immediate, common and known (e.g. human goodness) to what is distant, unknown, difficult to comprehend (e.g. divine goodness). Hermeneutic thinking points to the opposite movement: beings are metaphors, the metaphor is what is immediate, common, physical. The metaphor of what? The metaphor of what is really beyond beings. Existence, as we experience it, the whole realm of our physis, is in its nature quasi-existence. On the quasi-existence only quasi-statements are possible. A science of what is is only a science als-ob, is an “as-if science”, a science of things “as if they were”. Physics is not the queen of sciences any more, but meta-physics, as it is the only science which shows that the experienced being is only a metaphor of true existence.
Of course the way of wording this truth is various in various philosophical discourses. Some will convince us that the actual reality is in the state of incessant passing, so only what will be really is. Others will say that the reality is in its nature contingent and as such requires continuous action of the Absolute. And yet other thinkers will question the ontological autonomy of reality (metaphysical idealism). Despite these differences, one thing will prove common: thinking from within a metaphor. The global structure of a metaphor as a particular creation of mind will provide the ultimate horizons for thinking.
And so the defence of the rights of metaphors in thinking and philosophical language turns into a critique of the immediate world for creating in us a pretence of the real world.
What Thinking Without Metaphors Acknowledges…
A metaphor, symbol are not contingent phenomena in radical thinking, but, on the opposite, manifestations of its radicalism. Thinking is the opening up of horizons of possibility for what is given as existing. Every act of opening a new horizon wants to be expressed in a metaphor. Thanks to this, a “symbol may give rise to thought”.
The metaphor of the cave gives rise to thinking about the fundamental suffering of a thinking being – the suffering of uncertainty. The same is suggested by the metaphor of “giving birth”. Shifting this metaphor from the human to the divine realm reveals the specificity of an act of cognition as opposed to reflection and creation. Introducing the metaphorical turns out to be a shift into thinking in values. At this point metaphorization may distort the picture of the ground which has given birth to it. Cognition may forget its obligations to suffering. There is a continuous need to be on guard. And finally the ultimate work of a “living metaphor”: depriving what is immediate of its pretence to exist absolutely. Hence, if a philosophical metaphor is possible, then there is a possibility of a world completely different from the one we live in.
So which thinking can do without metaphors?
Only such thinking whose aim and reason is the total affirmation of the actual world. It is a thinking in which realism becomes not only a philosophy but is already a disease. In this thinking the principle of univocality of language – as if it were a prohibition to go outdoors which binds the virus-infected – is not really a directive meaning to facilitate communication, but a refusal to think through the sense hidden in the great metaphors of European philosophy.
[1] I. Kant, The Critique of Judgement, (§ 59). Unsere Sprache ist voll von der gleichen indirekten Darstellungen nach einer Analogie, wodurch der Ausdruck nicht das eigentliche Schema für den Begriff, sondern bloß ein Symbol für die Reflexion enhalt.
[2] More on the difference between those two in “Thinking in Values”.
[3] Things look different in e.g. Hegel, where God could suffer the only suffering worthy of God – suffering of love. Characteristically, in Hegel the relation between suffering and cognition seems different. “The unhappy consciousness” accompanies, in a changed form, each step of the Absolute Spirit’s evolution, and as the “negative” is an internal engine of every progress in cognition and action. I myself owe the idea of the bond between cognition and suffering to Hegel.

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