It is often said that dignity of person is in itself the greatest moral “given”; that person is “a purpose unto itself” (Kant); that it is inviolable “given” of humanity. And so on and so forth, from the popular moralizing to the real basis of legislature, this perpetually used, yet rarely pondered upon notion strikes us as something that should be the most comprehensible and closest thing to our minds, but, on closer inspection, it is hard to be sure where it really stems from and how we came to understand it as a self evident “given”. In this two parts essay we’ll inquire about the origin of this “given” in the singular event in history when, quite literary, the “given” was handed to us, while employing help of our regular assortment of traditional authorities. In the first part we treat metaphysics that can prepare the mind for the approach to the heart of the matter, beyond the subject/object split, but that can nevertheless take us only one part of the way. Also we juxtapose the traditional understanding of the relationship of intellect and being against Immanuel Kant’s idea of “transcendental philosophy”, which could be understood as an epitome of all attacks on metaphysics, by metaphysics, in modernity.
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