Thesis of Modern Ontology [180-181]

knowledge is supposed to be possible a priori."3 Transcendental knowledge relates not to objects, not to beings, but to the concepts that determine the being of beings. "A system of such concepts would be called transcendental philosophy."4 Transcendental philosophy denotes nothing but ontology. That this interpretation does not do violence to Kant's meaning is attested by the following sentence that Kant wrote about a decade after the second edition of the Critique of Pure Reason, in the essay that was published immediately after his death, On the Prize Question proposed for the year 1791 by the Royal Academy of Sciences at Berlin, "What Real Progress has Metaphysics made in Germany since the Times of Leibniz and Wolff?" "Ontology (as a branch of metaphysics) is the science that consists of a system of all concepts and principles of the understanding, but only so far as they are directed at objects which can be given to the senses and therefore can be verified by experience."5 Ontology "is called transcendental philosophy because it contains the conditions and first elements of all our knowledge a priori."6 Kant always stresses here that as transcendental philosophy ontology has to do with the knowledge of objects. This does not mean, as Neo-Kantianism interpreted it, epistemology. Instead, since ontology treats of the being of beings and, as we know, Kant's conviction is that being, actuality, equals perceivedness, being-known, it follows that ontology as science of being must be the science of the being-known of objects and of their possibility. It is for this reason that ontology is transcendental philosophy. The interpretation of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason as epistemology completely misses the true meaning.

From our previous considerations we know that for Kant being equals perceivedness. The basic conditions of the being of beings, or of perceivedness, are therefore the basic conditions of the being-known of things. However, the basic condition of knowing as knowing is the ego as "I-think." Hence Kant continually inculcates that the ego is not a representation, that it is not a represented object, not a being in the sense of an object, but rather the ground of the possibility of all representing, all perceiving, hence of all the perceivedness of beings and thus the ground of all being. As original synthetic unity of apperception, the ego is the fundamental ontological condition of all being. The basic determinations of the being of beings are the categories. The ego is not one among the categories of beings but the

3. Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, B25.

4. Ibid.

5. Kant, Werke (Cassirer), vol. 8, p, 238. [Kant did not submit the essay in the competition. On the title page in Cassirer it is called Fortschritte der Metaphysik. Heidegger later refers to it as On the Progress of Metaphysics.]

6. Ibid.