§13. Kantian Formulation of Problem [173-174]

the use made of this return to the Dasein was by a virtually necessary constraint. In Kant we see a conscious reversion to the ego. To be sure, this reversion to the subject has other motives for him. It does not spring directly from insight into the fundamental-ontological function of the Dasein. This return in the specifically Kantian view is rather a result of the orientation of philosophical problems already predominant in him, an orientation toward the subject. This orientation itself is the one that determines the philosophical tradition and, beginning with Descartes, starts from the ego, the subject. The motive of this primary orientation toward the subject in modern philosophy is the opinion that this being which we ourselves are is given to the knower first and as the only certain thing, that the subject is accessible immediately and with absolute certainty, that it is better known than all objects. In comparison, objects are accessible only by way of a mediation. In this form, this view is untenable, as we shall later see.

a) The modern orientation toward the subject; its motive as not fundamental-ontological; and its dependence on traditional ontology

In the ensuing discussion of the third thesis, we are not interested in the pre-eminent role claimed by subjectivity in modern philosophy. We are even less interested in the motives that led to this pre-eminence of the subject or the consequences that resulted for the development of modern philosophy. Rather, we are taking aim at a problem of principle. We have so far seen that ancient philosophy interprets and understands the being of beings, the actuality of the actual, as being extant {in the sense of being at hand]. The ontologically exemplary entity, the being from which being and its meaning are gathered, is nature in the broadest sense, including natural products and equipment made from them, things disposable or available in the widest sense or, in the language customary since Kant, objects. Modern philosophy made a total turnabout of philosophical inquiry and started out from the subject, the ego. It will be surmised and expected that, in conformity with this fundamental diversion of inquiry to the ego, the being now standing at the center would become decisive in its specific mode of being. It will be expected that ontology now takes the subject as exemplary entity and interprets the concept of being by looking to the mode of being of the subject—that henceforth the subject's way of being becomes an ontological problem. But that is precisely what does not happen. The motives for modern philosophy's primary orientation to the subject are not fundamental- ontological. The motive is not to know precisely that and how being and being's structure can be clarified in terms of the Dasein itself.

Descartes, who carried through the turn to the subject that was already

Basic Problems of Phenomenology (GA 24) by Martin Heidegger