Review of Metaphysics 8 (4):642 - 657 (1955)

Harris is not unaware of the problem involved or of the fact that a very large number of philosophers would disagree with his own stand on the matter. He even goes so far as to call it a paradox--though he hastens to make clear that he does not actually regard it as such. "How can a finite and imperfect fragment aspire so to transcend its own limits as to cancel its fragmentary and imperfect character, which yet must be maintained in order that its knowledge should not be defective"? Employing the same argument which Hegel used against Kant's theory of the Thing-in-itself, Harris adds that "to know of limitations is at once to have transcended them". Now there can be no doubt that this is the case. To be aware of finiteness or subjectivity is to be one step beyond it, to recognize it for what it is. And some ideal or idea is required by virtue of which we can assess the limitations of our situation. But, we must inquire, what purchase do we thereby acquire on the absolute? What sort of transcendence do we achieve? Is absolute knowledge always implicit in our imperfect knowledge of the world in such a way that we can hope to put our imperfections behind and achieve a level of thought and knowledge at which being and truth are one? Or is knowledge necessarily infected with a mode of subjectivity which is ineradicable?
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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Reprint years 1955
ISBN(s) 0034-6632
DOI revmetaph19558424
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