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Ego, Freedom, and Harmony

Author: WangDongHai
Tutor: LiuFangTong
School: Fudan University
Course: Foreign Philosophy
Keywords: Naturalism Transcendentalism Common-good Self-realization
CLC: B15
Type: PhD thesis
Year: 2006
Downloads: 835
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Ego is a concept that can not be avoidable in western philosophy, and is also a principal one which T. H. Green tries to deal with. Green is a neo-Hegelian philosopher, but is affected by Aristotle and Kant as well. From the whole, Green’s philosophy includes three parts: eternal consciousness, relation theory and the distinction between experience and nature. Green believes that the target of moral metaphysics is to realize man’s free will, which is related to the concept of self-consciousness. But under the influence of naturalism epistemology of sensationalism, phenomenalism and atomism, self has become isolated and consciousness has become negative, which leads to the dualism of subject and object, soul and body, mind and material, causes free will to lose and self-consciousness to be divided.Self-consciousness is the logical starting-point of Kant’s transcendental philosophy, pure ego in his epistemology is a transcendental presupposition which makes experience possible, it is equal to pure factors which can not come from any successive feelings. To Kant, transcendental is not a time concept, but a priori form which makes knowledge possible, man can get knowledge because they have a priori ability to learn. Kant makes a clear distinction between transcendental concept and empirical one, so his transcendental idealism has paid more attention to a priori place of pure categories than of experience. Since Kant separates theory reason and practice reason, pure ego and empirical ego absolutely, thus man’s reason and desire grows antithetic, free will becomes thing-in-itself in noumenal world. Green argues that Kant’s pure categories deduction manifest there being some objective necessary relations, which are universe to conscious-subject. All of man’s experience is made possible by the transcendental function of reason, he makes a transcendental reformation in experience, in fact his spiritual principle is a transcendental explanation of human practice. To Green, the transcendental subject and object are substantially one, eternal consciousness may be rationally understood as the general structure of human experience. Green synthesizes some common factors of empiricism and transcendentalism, he criticizes naturalism fallacy thoroughly, and makes some clarifications about the ideal of liberalism. Naturalism is using a methodology of objectivism, which is a form of physicalism and psychologism. Transcendentalism is using a methodology of backdating, to any idea of experience, man should return to the premise which the idea derives from. To Green, this premise is the conscious ego.Hegel presents a concept of self-consciousness as historical and inter-subjective, the transcendental ego is no longer the formal indeterminate transcendental one of Kant, but has become a concrete and determinate one. In the dyadic structure of absolute Spirit, substance has become subject. In the multi-structure of the social community an inter-subjective I is also a We. Thus, Kant’s transcendental ego has been transcended. The main idea which Green gets from Hegel is reason and spirit, heregards nature and history as a process of spirit, and defines this spirit as a self-distinction and self-pursuit eternal-consciousness, man’s self-consciousness is the copy of the eternal-consciousness. This is the essence of idealism’s concept of concrete universal, which is similar to an enlarged universe soul of human kind, it is the metaphysical premise of reality, as well as the premise of all the knowledge, it could not be explained by anything outside itself.Green argues that eternal-consciousness is built on ultimate common-good, its core is an enquiry of something which should be, an essence intuition of true good, also a recognition of other-consciousness, and a transcending of ego-centric theory. It reaches the aim by participation. Thus, man’s reason is no longer a negative mirror of necessity, but a dynamic constitution. Man’s freedom is no longer a negative freedom, but a positive realization, a process of self-realization which transcends thing-in-itself constantly, a process of social interaction and recognition. Thus man can transcend internal ego, constitute a relationship with the external living. Ego is no longer an abstract ego in epistemology situation, but a concrete ego in community situation. For Green, only in a spiritual community could man get true freedom and harmony.

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