§70. A fundamental methodological consideration concerning
the understanding of all metaphysical problems and concepts.
Two fundamental forms of misinterpretation.
a) The first misinterpretation: the examination of philosophical
problems as something present at hand in the broad sense. Formal
indication as a fundamental character of philosophical concepts.
We shall go into this issue briefly here, especially since in this connection we encounter a fundamental methodological consideration which may act as a pointer for our understanding of all metaphysical problems and concepts. I shall briefly refer to an issue that was first brought to light by Kant in attempting to lay the foundations for metaphysics. Kant for the first time pointed out a certain, and indeed necessary, 'illusion' contained in metaphysical concepts, an illusion that does not condemn these concepts as empty fictions but rather for its part renders a particular problematic quite necessary for metaphysics. He calls this 'dialectical illusion'. It is not the 'designation' which is important here, but the matter itself. By the dialectical illusion of reason Kant understands the peculiar fact that for human thought certain concepts are given that intend what is ultimate and most universal; and that furthermore precisely these ultimate and most decisive of concepts, which guide and in a certain sense ground all concrete thinking, essentially lack the possibility of our demonstrating their legitimacy through any intuition of what it is they properly intend. It is because this possibility of demonstration is lacking that the understanding falls victim to an illusion, for it does not recognize this lack and holds such a demonstration to be quite unnecessary or to be already accomplished in an a priori fashion. Kant broached this problem of dialectical illusion in the second major part of the 'Transcendental Doctrine of Elements," i.e., in the Transcendental Dialectic. We shall leave aside the question as to whether this problem of dialectical illusion was developed and grounded in a sufficiently radical manner.
For us there is something else that is essential. For there is another illusion which is far more decisive and originary than the dialectical one discovered by Kant, and one which persists in all philosophical thinking and exposes it to misinterpretation. Philosophizing is something living only where it comes to language and expresses itself, although this does not necessarily imply 'communicating itself to others'. Such coming to language in terms of concepts is not something fatefully unavoidable, but is rather the essence and power of this essential human activity. Yet once philosophizing is expressed, then it is exposed to misinterpretation, and not merely that misinterpretation which lies in the relative ambiguity and unreliability of all terminology; rather it is in the relative ambiguity and unreliability of all terminology; rather it is
The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics
GA 29/30 p. 421