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  • On Kant1
  • Gershom Scholem
    Translated by Julia Ng (bio)

Today there are many people who call themselves Kantians, and who profess to have—or actually do have—cognitions in Kantian terminology. Obviously, such terminology is not equivalent to Kantian language. It is out of the question that these people, or even just one of them, understand this terminology. But on what does the possibility of Kantianism depend? It has a spark of genuine mysticism in it. There is nothing transmissible in the Kantian system, for otherwise the system would have to be understandable, which is eidetically not the case. Rather, the system has a kind of transmissibility as such and neo-Kantianism is based precisely on this. The first person to look more closely at these concepts, without taking the absolute system as a starting point, would not use them for a second longer. But the mere transmissibility of terminology is what maintains the semblance of life. This mysticism is unfruitful, however, for it is only a spark. The comprehension of the tradition in which mysticism is supported does not correspond positively to anything here. Somehow the Kantian system is without a doubt a tremendous matter, but the only possibility of arriving at it is to explicitly turn away from it, until one comprehends the system and can legitimize its transmissibility from a new perspective. Apart from this one spark, neo-Kantianism is the pure cult of a mysticism without an object. Its ceremonial protocol consists in nothing other than bowing before the transcendental (which today can no longer be legitimately used), and whose entire accomplishment is to refute psychologism every couple of years. The neo-Kantians practice magic, but it is an abusive one because it is external. [End Page 443]

The concept of science in Kantianism is incest. It creeps about trying to approach formal logic by abusing mathematics. It aims at stringency rather than freedom. When it comes down to it, it does not ground cognizing in thinking. [The concept of science as a system] has to be grounded in a radically different manner and grasped in an altogether different way. [The Kantian concept of science] is one great metaphysical capitulation before pragmatism. "Cognition is only what is useful to cognition." This sentence, which no one can get around, contains what is radically nonsensical about the opinion. One can only critique good works [;] that is the reason why no one has yet written the absolutely negative critique of Cohen's "Kant's Theory of Experience." This book proves only one thing absolutely [:] that it is impossible to understand Kant today.

Equivalence of all segments, clear in the Euclidean system. But what happens in the non-Euclidean geometry in which several (∞) parallels to a straight line are possible through one point?2 In that case at the very least the bijective3 relation would no longer hold. [End Page 444]

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The ray through P and A does not in fact need to meet . However, if A corresponded to the point at infinity, what then happens to the point at ∞ of BB'?4 Do set theorists answer this question?

  1. 1. finite set of numbers

  2. 2. set of all natural numbers5

  3. 3. "    "    rational6 "

  4. 4. "    "    algebraic7 "          { [ad 2), 3) + 4)] are equivalent8

  5. 5. "    all real9      "  not countable

  6. 6. set of real numbers between real numbers however little differentiated (4 and 6 together !!) not countable, equivalent to the set of all real numbers.10 [End Page 445]

  7. 7. set of all injective11 functions f(x), 0≤ x ≤1, not equivalent to that of the continuum.

    12 on the contrary the set of all continuous injective functions etc. equivalent to the set of real numbers.13 [End Page 446]

Julia Ng

Julia Ng is a PhD student in Comparative Literary Studies at Northwestern University and has conducted archival research in Paris, Vincennes, Berlin, and Jerusalem with the support of the Josephine de Kármán Foundation, the Berlin Program for Advanced German and European Studies, the Paris Program in Critical Theory, and the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts. She writes on literary theory...


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pp. 443-446
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