The Monist 55 (2):312-333 (1971)

Philosophical reflection proposes a return to self as the condition required of a genuinely radical transcendental philosophy. This proposal has its proper ground. It is not an ideal externally imposed upon reflection but rather springs from the very structure of reflection itself in its relation to the reflected. It has its source, specifically, in the capacity on the part of reflection to gain mastery over any proposed external condition in the sense that the very posing of such a condition, presumed to mark the limit of reflection, proves, in the end, to be itself the work of reflection. To the extent that reflection, as re-enactment, poses the limit for itself, it thereby represents the limit in such fashion as to exhibit it as having already been, at the unreflected level, no more than a constitutive product. To the degree that reflection brings an external limit to light, it reveals that limit as sustained precisely by the light which illuminates it, and hence, it dissolves its externality. Thus, philosophical reflection proposes a return to self which is achieved in an act of total reflection. Such reflection first opens up the domain of philosophical thought by actualizing at a single stroke the ideal born of the first act of reflection. It places itself from the very outset at the terminal point of the transcendence from perspectivity to objectivity whose inherent incompleteness defines our perceptual life, and it claims not only to have achieved this vantage point but also to have brought objectivity totally under its command, to have subjugated it by elevating itself to that position which is no longer really a position at all, that position from which objectivity is only for-consciousness. The return to self is a reflective appropriation of the pre-reflective through which the identity of reflection with the reflected is established in such a way that all that remains to be accomplished is the explication by reflection of what is already totally, though still implicitly, appropriated to it. The authentic task of philosophical thought is to render the implicit explicit. Transcendental philosophy is thus obliged to insist that with the very inception of genuinely philosophical thought the subject is already implicitly a pure presence of itself to itself, a presence which is, in principle, totally transparent. The subject is pure inferiority, and the way is prepared for asserting, with Hegel, that “Spirit is Being-within-itself.” Even its own return to itself by which it first reaches the level of philosophical thought is, in the end, taken up into the circuit of self-presence definitive of this level and appropriated in such a fashion that the shadows which made this path of self-discovery into a highway of despair are banished by the high noon of reflection; the subject's own constitutive history is transformed without residue into a history constituted by the subject.
Keywords Analytic Philosophy  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest  Philosophy of Mind  Philosophy of Science
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ISBN(s) 0026-9662
DOI 10.5840/monist197155216
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