restricted access Chapter Two. The System of Modern Metaphysics and the First of Its Primary Determining Grounds: The Mathematical
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Chapter Two The System of Modern Metaphysics and the First of Its Primary Determining Grounds: The Mathematical§8. Preliminary remarks on the concept and meaning of the mathematical in metaphysics a) The task: a historical return to the turning points in the concept of metaphysics With this we have provided an initially satisfactory clarification of how the concept “metaphysics” was fleshed out in a decisive period of Western philosophy. The only thing we lack is the insight into the truly determining forces and driving powers of metaphysics, into what wants to assert itself there as a claim and urgent need for human beings. So now we must ask about the historical development that preceded this hardening of the concept of metaphysics that we have discussed. The development embraces the period from the first collection of the Aristotelian treatises in the first century bc to 1800. We cannot master this entire period, and not only on account of the extent and fullness of the questions to be treated; much of it has not even been researched at all yet. Why then the amazing fact that there is still no real history of Western metaphysics—not of the concept and word, much less of the thing itself? On the other hand, this is not so amazing if one sees to what trivialities the century of history, the nineteenth century, could devote itself. But for us now, what is decisive is not the completeness and seamlessness of the course of history, but the presentation of this course in its essential effects and effective implications for the future. We are trying, going backwards from Kant, to hold firmly to some characteristic turning points in the history of the concept of metaphysics, 23 with the initial intention of highlighting two points: I. The effects of both primary determining grounds that led to the development of the concept of metaphysics that we have presented. II. Allowing us to gauge how far this concept of metaphysics was driven away from the original Greek way of posing the question. Both together can serve as a first piece of evidence for our assertion that the history of Western philosophy is an accelerating decline from its inception. This is not to deny that such philosophy brought forth great works; to the contrary, the greatness of the inception is only that much more powerful. On I. The two primary determining grounds for the development of Western metaphysics: (1) the mathematical, (2) Christian theology (already highlighted). But all with the fundamental intention of clarifying and directing our own historical Dasein.1 The concept of metaphysics we have presented that Kant took as his basis (metaphysica specialis—generalis) was expressed as an academic concept by Christian Wolff2 and Crusius,3 as well as by Baumgarten and Meier,4 whose textbooks Kant took as the basis not just of his teaching , but also of his own research. Both Baumgarten and Meier not only provided a rigorous division of the entire doctrinal content of philosophy into disciplines, but also viewed these as derived from underlying fundamental disciplines and as rigorously, methodically constructed in themselves. The ideal and standard for this was mathematics, mathesis in the broadest sense: fundamental concepts and principles and rigorous deduction. (Cf. Preface to Ontologia, so-called Euclidea.)5 The mathematical is here shown to be the sole determining ground in the law of the development and completion of modern Western metaphysics. The significance of metaphysica generalis is not just as a “vestibule” but as a foundation. (Cf. Baumgarten’s starting point, Wolff.) But not simply taking over and promulgating a defunct doctrinal content—the doctrine was set in motion by Leibniz; hence the LeibnizWolff school. On Leibniz himself, cf. De primae philosophiae Emendatione .6 Precisely for Leibniz, who himself was a productive mathemati1 . Not forward to Hegel, but backward. 2. 1679–1754; Leipzig, Halle (mathematics), Marburg, Halle; extensive educational and writing activity. 3. {Christian August Crusius, 1715–1775.} 4. {Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten, 1714–1762; Georg Friedrich Meier, 1718–1777.} 5. {Christian Wolff, Philosophia prima, sive Ontologia, methodo scientifica pertractata , qua omnis cognitionis humanae principia continentur (Frankfurt and Leipzig, 1729), Praefatio.} 6. {G. W. Leibniz, “De primae philosophiae Emendatione, et de Notione Substantiae ,” in Die philosophische Schriften von Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, ed. C. J. Ger24 The Mathematical in Modern Metaphysics [29–30] cian, mathematics became, as it was for Spinoza and Descartes before him, the prototype of all scientificity and thus also of the cognitive character of philosophy. To be sure, it...


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