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(2009) Who one is II, Dordrecht, Springer.

The transcendental attitude and the mystery of death

James G Hart

pp. 43-96

Death as the problematic absence of an ipseity occasions a reflection on the distinction between secret and mystery. Secrets may not reveal anything other than that something is being withheld. The revelation that the quest for intelligibility is at a dead-end need not be a negative nothing, as something either meaningless or trivial. In both ipseity (the non-sortal "myself") and death what is essential is withheld from understanding's quest to articulate by way of assigning properties. Death surely can generate strictly third-personal epistemic questions and answers, but when it comes to how we may experience it in the second- and first-person we find Gabriel Marcel's distinction between problem and mystery useful. Further, Marcel's notion that the mystery, as in "the mystery of death," encroaches on the questioner can be elaborated with a "prospective retrospection" where, with the canceling out of one's futural horizon, one's whole life is brought into a unique intuitive synthesis of its salient moral-valuational themes. This "realization" can take on an obligatory aspect, i.e., because what is at stake is what is of unconditional importance one is compelled morally to give this matter absolute preferential attention. This required preferential attention is not compatible with the transcendental attitude. This raises important issues about the non-identity of the gathered personal I and the transcendental I. It also raises the question of the relationship of philosophy to death, and the call to be authentic with one's ownmost self; it also raises the old question about the primacy of intellect or will.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4020-9178-0_2

Full citation:

Hart, J.G. (2009)., The transcendental attitude and the mystery of death, in J. G. Hart (ed.), Who one is II, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 43-96.

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