Posted - Dec 08 2006 : 7:45:08 PM
| Being and the Ought as Phenomenon and Noumenon: The Moral Reductio of Kant and Schopenhauer
By Matthew Holzapfel
In the preface to The World as Will and Representation, Schopenhauer said that his book was not a system of ideas, but rather a single thought—albeit one which he required hundreds of pages to express. I will now show that this single thought, when stripped to its barest content, can be understood as a moral reductio ad absurdum of the principle of sufficient reason.
Just what such a moral reductio entails will become clear through the course of this essay, but it can be described generally as the deducing, from a stipulated proposition, some situation that is found morally unacceptable (absurd.) Or, in another sense closer to the contemporary usage of reductio ad absurdum in logic, by establishing a contradiction between a stipulated moral truth and a stipulated truth of reason. However, it should be noted again that this terminology could be taken as too literally logical in nature, when the actual reduction is accomplished not by logical argument. Rather, it is by inducing of moral revulsion over suffering in the human condition that one is caused, in this case, to reject the world of reason altogether. The essential feature is the introduction of a proposition, only to derive something from that proposition that renders it unacceptable.
This work will be divided into two sections, along with subsections. The first section will establish the above truth, namely that Schopenhauer’s primary work, which properly encompasses both The World as Will and Representation and its ex post facto introduction On the Four Fold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason, is such a moral reductio—of the principle of sufficient reason no less. I will also establish the existence of such a reductio in Kant, as is evidenced by the Kantian basis Schopenhauer takes for granted for his primary work just as much as the introduction.
The second section will show, with the aid of Feuerbach’s analysis of Christianity, that Schopenhauer’s primary work (and Kant’s moral philosophy) represents the highest philosophic expression of the essence of Christianity. The essence of Christianity, in turn, is to be understood in the Feuerbachian sense as the belief in God, which in turn is just the elevating of personal subjectivity above all constraints (including the relation of subject to object or idea) at the expense of the natural world. I will close by showing that affirming or denying the world as a whole are equally disingenuous means of avoiding life within the world.
A. The Kantian Moral Philosophy as Grounded in the Distinction between Phenomena and the Thing in Itself
“…as soon as this thinking achieves dominance in the modern age, as self-sufficient reason, the real development of the division between Being and the ought is made ready. This process is complete in Kant.”-Martin Heidegger, Introduction to Metaphysics1
As Schopenhauer says in the appendix to the World as Will and Representation, Kantian morality is grounded in the distinction between the world of phenomena and the things in themselves. This is because Kant recognized that certain ideas were needed for his conception of morality (such as a personal God, an immortal soul, and freedom of choice) and none of these ideas could be found either in experience, as a purely descriptive morality, or in the possibility of experience as derived from pure reason.
In fact, it was a central aim of the Critique of Pure Reason to prove that it is impossible to derive the traditional metaphysical or theological grounds of morality from pure reason alone. The world of possible experience is, explicitly, the world of Newtonian physics for external experience, and the world of psychology for inner experience. In both cases the world is a deterministic system, governed by the rules of possible experience that do not apply and cannot apply to anything outside experience.
And yet, our status as moral beings requires us to understand ourselves specifically as free, rational agents. The conflict between morality and the world of possible experience is resolved by placing the elements of morality outside the world and into the things themselves. The things themselves are unassailable by pure reason and prior to the phenomenal world, and thus our knowledge of them exists above our knowledge of the world. Where the two aren’t in harmony, the truths of morality in the things in themselves are to be chosen above the truths of the phenomenal world—what ought to be is placed above what is.
However, Kant’s body of work as it pertains to morality is not just a simple, unanalyzed placing of the ought above being. It is in fact a moral reductio in the manner described above. I say this because Kant never abandons but only upholds his work in the Critique of Pure Reason, which is in fact wholly presupposed as a metaphysical basis for the Critique of Practical Reason. Reason dictates that man is determined, finite, and living in a world with no God to be found. But morality dictates that man is free, that he possesses an eternal soul, and that he exists under an omnipotent God. The two cannot exist in a unified world without contradiction, and thus they require a world that is divided in two—an upper and a lower, suggestive of Platonism—where one is over the other.
B. Schopenhauer’s Critique of Kantian Ethics
“This mistake [the categorical imperative] had to be censured, closely connected as it otherwise is with Kant’s great service to ethics, which consists in the fact that he freed ethics from all principles of the world of experience, particularly from all direct or indirect eudaemonism, and showed quite properly that the kingdom of virtue is not of this world.”—Arthur Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Representation2
As Schopenhauer writes in his preface, his work presumes the work of Kant, and is in agreement with its central innovation—the division of the thing in itself and phenomenal world. However, as is equally clear upon reading the appendix to The World as Will and Representation, Schopenhauer’s work does not arise simply out of an application of Kantian principles, but rather by a critique of Kantian philosophy. And as I will show, Schopenhauer’s critique of Kant is not arbitrary controversy, but rather is a necessary outgrowth of the common Christian ethics that both are upholding in their work.
Schopenhauer’s critique of Kantian morality, as it appears in the appendix to The World as Will and Representation, is conducted on two major points. The first is the failure of Kant to identify the thing in itself with will. The second is the subsequent invention of the categorical imperative, or the unconditioned ought.
For the first point, the argument Schopenhauer uses to establish will as the thing in itself is not altogether clear. It is appears on page 110 of the first book, and seems to hinge on an analogy between our nature as being of inner and other and the inner and outer structure of all else. From here Schopenhauer quickly moves away from the individuation of our inner and outer, because we are just a grade in the objectification of the will in representation, meaning that there is strictly speaking no one’s individual will—but only will which is refracted by itself in the prism of representation.
I will now deal with the second point of disagreement, namely the categorical imperative. Schopenhauer denies the Categorical imperative on several grounds. First and more superficial, Schopenhauer understands the concept of ought to be something that by its very nature cannot be unconditioned. This is because ought requires punishment or reward. This, unfortunately, is an example of question begging—whether the ought requires punishment and reward or anything else is just what is up for debate.
However, Schopenhauer has other reasons for denying the categorical imperative, which arise from the structure that is shared his ethical work and Kant’s. If the will is the thing in itself then the need for the categorical imperative goes away. Our action is already connected to the things in themselves by will, and no longer requires a reasoned circumvention to act from them. In fact, the categorical imperative is to be denied explicitly because it is reason entering into the sphere of the things in themselves, where it has no business being. Schopenhauer must, by the very nature of his project, oppose the reintroduction of reason into the discussion of the noumenal constituents of morality.
This will be shown more thoroughly in the forth subsection. For now, all that needs to be realized is that Schopenhauer appropriates the structure of Kantian ethics, including the metaphysics of noumena and phenomena, and his own work is an outgrowth of the work of Kant. His only disagreement is in the place that Kant retains for reason, which is to say the categorical imperative, to decide our ethics; he instead places the whole of the ethical dimension into the things themselves by defining the thing itself self as will. This is shown most clearly in the appendix, where Schopenhauer scoffs at (among other examples) the idea of Jesus being the supremely rational being because he is the supremely ethical being of Christian doctrine.
This is indeed an absurdly against the spirit of Christianity, as Feuerbach also shows. This is because the significance of God the father is of disembodied understanding, while the significance of Jesus is in feeling. The God of the philosophers who does not suffer and is not human cannot feel uniquely human feelings because he is not human himself. He can only know perfectly of the correlates of suffering, but the mere knowledge of suffering does not move a being to sympathy unless one can feel the same things that the suffering person can feel. The figure of Jesus, conversely, feels because he suffered. He endured the passion. He knows of the pain of being human.
C. The Lifting of Subjectivity From The Limits of Individuality
“In the Creation, as everywhere else, the true principle is concealed by the intermingling of universal, metaphysical, and even pantheistic definitions. But one need only be attentive to the closer definitions to convince oneself that the true principle of creation is the self-affirmation of subjectivity in distinction from Nature. … But just so subjectivity in general, which distinguishes itself from the world, which takes itself for an essence distinct from the world, posits the world out of itself as a separate existence, indeed, this positing out of self, and the distinguishing of self, is one act.”—Ludwig Feuerbach, The Essence of Christianity3
Throughout Schopenhauer’s primary work, and especially in the context of his discussion of art, one sees a process—in fact, a hierarchy—where our individual subjectivity is removed from all limits in the world. Surely there are differences in quality between animals and human beings, although both are subjects perceiving objects. But more explicitly there is a vast difference to be seen between the genius and the ordinary man. The latter is stuck in the simple dichotomy of individual subject and his object, while the former finds the pure subject, freed from all individual constraints, beholden to the pure platonic ideas instead of mere shadows.
Yet Schopenhauer work is ultimately aims at an even higher state that is auspiciously not a degree in the objectification of will at all. He says that this higher state is rather the denial of willing by itself, which is done because the nature of man is such that suffering is his only positive criteria of feeling, and all pleasure is merely the negative lack of suffering. He says that such a state cannot be described with the terminology of subject, as subject requires individually an object, and presumably in its non-individuated form an idea. However, as Feuerbach suggests it is necessary for the religious view to deny that it consists of the raising of the subject beyond all constraints—though of course we need not take it on his authority.
The essential feature of the subject is not its correspondence to an object; as Schopenhauer himself says, objectivity is the limit of the subject and subject is the limit of object. Yet if one abstracts subject beyond all limits, as Schopenhauer has done, the relation between subject and object is no longer one of mutual limiting. It is rather a state just as Schopenhauer describes for his supposedly subjectless being that is just the relativised negation of the world, where subject exists over and above the object as such—the world—which is turn only has existence insofar as the subject acknowledges it.
More quotes are not required to establish the survival of the subject from the removal of the limits of the world of objects. Any perusal of the last section of The World as Will and Representation will demonstrate that it is true. One can see quite easily throughout Schopenhauer’s concluding remarks a cacophony of words like “we” and “they,” both of which get to “see” and “experience” at the world that they have left behind, and the relative nothingness that they will achieve. The bare essentials of the subject, that is to say primordial self-identity, survive the elimination of the world.
D. The Reductio of Schopenhauer
“…we freely acknowledge that what remains after the complete abolition of the will is, for all who are still full of will, assuredly nothing. But also conversely, to those in whom the will has turned and denied itself, this very real world of ours with all its suns and galaxies is—nothing.”-Arthur Schopenhauer, the concluding sentences of The World as Will and Representation4
The final lines of The World as Will and Representation are the key to understanding the whole. They form the end of the thought that started with the principle of sufficient reason and which is moved to its end through the deduction of the will from representation within the Kantian structure, and from there the elevation of the subject from all constraints. This process is continued until it reaches such a level where it can, through negation, free it from the will posited as thing in itself, and therefore the world of suns and galaxies that is our representation.
But what else is the world that is being spoken of here—the world of suns and galaxies—than the world that is governed by the principle of sufficient reason? What else is finally being made into nothing, except the very principle that Schopenhauer’s philosophizing started with? The book leads to a simple truth: when the principle of sufficient reason is merely upholds with the suffering essential to human nature, the principle is denied in favor of its opposite. Nothing is caused.
The only question that remains is elucidating exactly why this juxtaposition produces the result that Schopenhauer arrives at. The answer, as I’ve said, is a moral revulsion at the human condition—but just what is the human condition, according to Schopenhauer? Man’s essence, simply put, is the Buddhist’s desire and suffering. Man’s feeling exists on a cline from absolute pleasure to absolute suffering, but suffering is the positive value and pleasure is merely the negative lack of suffering.
Schopenhauer enters elsewhere in his book into a discussion of negative and positive, saying that they are entirely relative terms; however he takes it that his reader will agree that pleasure is indeed the negative of suffering. This is because we can never be satisfied in our wants, we rarely accomplish what we want, and when we do the pleasurable affect is only fleeting. We take great pains in wanting something and when we have it, there is scant reward to justify the difficultly, and it isn’t long before we want something entirely different. Life, to Schopenhauer, is a rushing about from dissatisfaction to dissatisfaction until one finally dies. But willing goes on and the process continues.
“All willing springs from lack, from deficiency, and thus from suffering. Fulfillment brings this to an end; yet for one wish that is fulfilled there remain at least ten that are denied. Further, desiring lasts a long time, demands and requests go on for infinity; fulfillment is short and meted out sparingly.”-Arthur Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Representation5
The only way to avoid this fate is to renounce willing altogether, thus negating the entire world.
A. The Grounds of a Feuerbachian Response.
“God is absolute subjectivity, – subjectivity separated from the world, above the world, set free from matter, severed from the life of the species…”-Ludwig Feuerbach, The Essence of Christianity6
“Faith in the power of prayer – and only where a power, an objective power, is ascribed to it, is prayer still a religious truth – is identical with faith in miraculous power; and faith in miracles is identical with the essence of faith in general. Faith alone prays; the prayer of faith is alone effectual. But faith is nothing else than confidence in the reality of the subjective in opposition to the limitations or laws of Nature and reason, – that is, of natural reason.” (ibid.)
Feuerbach’s analysis rests on the grounds that religion is something about humanity, and the essence of a religion is ultimately something about man—either understanding his surroundings by analogizing them with himself, or understanding himself by analogizing himself with his surroundings. This basis is not argued for, strictly speaking, but the grounds are prepared both prior to him and in his work. Kant’s work, contrary to his ethics was essential for Feuerbach.
In The Critique of Pure Reason, Kant demolishes step by step every form of rational argument for the existence of God. He goes to the trouble of establishing their specific confusions, but not only that he shows generally why they cannot ever succeed. This is because reason is about the work of possible experience and God, as a transcendent being outside of space and time, is not in the world of possible experience. Therefore, when any rational basis for believing in God is denied, people are left to ask—where does it come from? If we are forced to be agnostics about the actual existence of God per say, then what is the concept of God actually doing amongst human society that can be ascertained without arguing over such questions?
Feuerbach inherited the right to his inquiry from Kant; yet the religious can and do reply that the basis of belief is not reason at all, but faith. Some have even said that it is abhorrent that good reasoning would be rewarded by God with eternal joy and bad reasoning with eternal punishment, which necessarily follows from the ability to come to God by reason. Surely, they say, God doesn’t care if you are smart but only if you are good and faithful. Of course from the perspective of reason, merely setting up a dichotomy between reason and faith cannot protect faith itself from reasonable inquiry, in order to see just where faith stands in relation to other inquiries into religion.
This is exactly what Feuerbach does, and upon inquiring the answer is readily found, as is demonstrated in the quote above. Faith is the confidence in subjective desire over the world of reason. Beyond the desire of Jesus and his followers, there was no reason behind the miracle where by Jesus turned water into wine or raised Lazarus from the dead. These were miracles because there was no other cause, and if there had been another cause they wouldn’t have been a miracles. Thus, since the object of faith, the miracle, is something rooted in the desires of man and faith is also an expression of those desires, there is nothing more to inquire about except man and his desires.
B. A Response to the Kantian-Schopenhauerian Ethic From Feuerbach’s Analysis of Christianity.
“…creation is a product of the Will: as in the Word of God man affirms the divinity of the human word, so in creation he affirms the divinity of the Will: not, however, the will of the reason, but the will of the imagination – the absolutely subjective, unlimited will. The culminating point of the principle of subjectivity is creation out of nothing. As the eternity of the world or of matter imports nothing further than the essentiality of matter, so the creation of the world out of nothing imports simply the non-essentiality, the nothingness of the world. The commencement of a thing is immediately connected, in idea if not in time, with its end. “Lightly come, lightly go.” The will has called it into existence – the will calls it back again into nothing,. When? The time is indifferent: its existence or non-existence depends only on the will. But this will is not its own will: – not only because a thing cannot will its non-existence, but for the prior reason that the world is itself destitute of will. Thus the nothingness of the world expresses the power of the will.”-Ludwig Feuerbach, The Essence of Christianity7
As I’ve discussed, the promise of a subject-less, will-less state at the end of Schopenhauer’s denial of the will cannot be supported from his own arguments. In his final section, while he announces the triumph over the world, he never ceases to refer to those who’ve denied the will, and what will happen to us once we deny it. He also goes further and proclaims “only knowledge remains; the will has vanished.” This is said in spite of his statements on page 176 that “Originally and by its nature, knowledge is completely the servant of the will, and, like the immediate object, by which the application of the law of causality, becomes the starting point of knowledge, is only objectified will.
To Schopenhauer, we are phenomenon of the will and that is all, and if Schopenhauer were strict in his methodology he would maintain, quite strictly, the personal nothingness of those who’ve made what is to be their final step away from the world. He would also deny that such a state could be experienced at all—as, of course, space and time are the forms of experience and experience is noting but representation. He would finally deny that anything like knowledge could be had.
But to worry too much about all this as a means of refutation is to ignore the historic significance of Schopenhauer’s work in favor of quibbles about his exact methodology. Such quibbles would lead us to forget the significance of Schopenhauer’s completion of the project of Kantian ethics, and his status as the highest philosophic representative of the essence of Christianity.
So, what then is reached at the end of Schopenhauer’s activity? Feuerbach’s comments above are instructive, and not surprisingly need little adaptation from the Christian God to Schopenhauer’s ambiguous state of the denial of the will. The will that is denied by Schopenhauer is not the total, disembodied, absolutely subjective will of the imagination; it is merely, as Feuerbach calls it, the will of the reason. In other words, the will that is bound up within the world of representation, wanting and succeeding or being thwarted to make something for itself in our world of suns and galaxies—our world of love and heartbreak, elation and disappointment, friends and enemies.
What remains, however, is not the lack of will but rather a will that is so totality prevalent over everything that it decides the existence or non-existence of the world by it’s convenience. And whatever it decides the world is rendered nothing already, by the very same dynamic of creation out of nothing that Schopenhauer so despises in the Fourfold Root. The world that passes out of being is either parasitic on another world that is eternal, such as the Atomists say, or it is made of nothing and therefore nothing at all.
I say that this is the highest expression in philosophy of the essence of Christianity because Christianity consists of the exact same maneuver. By prayer and miracle and the sympathy of Jesus that is attached to the otherwise distant, cold God of the understanding, Christianity becomes the elevation from all limits of the subject or the will (Schopenhauer is right in presenting these as two sides of the same coin.) Worship in Christianity is a hope against nature and reason that is stretched out over the whole of the world, covering it.
C. The Rejection of the World as the Rejection of Art and Culture.
“Culture, in general, is nothing else than the exaltation of the individual above his subjectivity to objective universal ideas, to the contemplation of the world. The Apostles were men of the people; the people live only in themselves, in their feelings; therefore Christianity took possession of the people. Vox populi vox Dei. Did Christianity conquer a single philosopher, historian, or poet of the classical period? The philosophers who went over to Christianity were feeble, contemptible philosophers. All who had yet the classic spirit in them were hostile, or at least indifferent to Christianity. The decline of culture was identical with the victory of Christianity. The classic spirit, the spirit of culture, limits itself by laws, – not indeed by arbitrary, finite laws, but by inherently true and valid ones; it is determined by the necessity, the truth of the nature of things; in a word, it is the objective spirit. In place of this, there entered with Christianity the principle of unlimited, extravagant, fanatical, supra-naturalistic subjectivity; a principle intrinsically opposed to that of science, of culture.”-Ludwig Feuerbach, The Essence of Christianity8
“The particular thing and the knowing individual are abolished with the principle of sufficient reason, and nothing remains but the Idea and the pure subject of knowing, which together constitute the adequate objectivity of the will at this grade”-Arthur Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Representation9.
The language of pure subject and idea was in the air in Germany during the nineteenth century, and both Schopenhauer and Feuerbach used it; however, though the language is similar the implications are radically different. Feuerbach upholds ancient culture as the very epitome of the objective and that which is in the bonds of law. Schopenhauer, conversely, champions the Christian devaluation of worldly culture, while claiming that art, while still an objectification of the will as such, is above at least the principle of sufficient reason which governs all natural laws.
It is clear from the previous portions of this work and of Schopenhauer’s own words that eventually art, as the objectification of the will, is going to have to be left behind. Though it brings pleasure that pleasure comes at the cost of isolation for the genius, the pain of everyday disappointment for those who appreciate him, and a life that is only rarely in the realm of the ideas for either. Like everything else, it is not worth the suffering that mostly fills up our lives.
Ultimately Schopenhauer comes to agree with the Christian that even the beauty of art is to be devalued against the promise of the beyond. Yet what are we to make of this intermediate stage, where the principle of sufficient reason is gone but will and objectivity remain? Perhaps Schiller is right when he says that the artistic impulse is the unity of feeling and understanding—where being and ought coincide for a moment; but this coincidence is not at the expense of either reason or feeling.
D. Being and the Ought
“…the ought arises out of opposition to being as soon as Being determines itself as idea. With this determination, thinking as the logos of assertion (dialegesthai) assumes a definitive role. Thus, as this thinking achieves dominance in the modern age, as self-sufficient reason, the real development of the division between Being and the ought is made ready. This process is complete in Kant. For Kant, beings are in nature—in other words, whatever can be determined and is determined in mathematical-physical thinking. The categorical imperative, which is determined both by and as reason, is opposed to nature. Kant more than once explicitly calls it the ought, considering the relation of the imperative to what merely is, in the sense of merely instinctive nature.”-Martin Heidegger, Intro to Metaphysics, page 21210.
Heidegger’s discussion of being in the Introduction to Metaphysics is too complex tofully explain here; however, the two fragments I have quoted (one which includes the other) are important to the overall purpose of this essay, and I can explain the significance I see in them briefly enough. The quote that began the first section of this essay was a good way to introduce the issue at hand, but it ultimately derives in meaning from the additional material I have included here. Therefore I will deal with that additional material first, and only treat of the first quotation in the process of explaining the whole.
The first part that should strike the reader is the threefold relation that Heidegger develops out of Kant, where the categorical imperative arises out of reason in favor of the ought and against nature. This shows even more clearly why Schopenhauer had to rid Kantian ethics of the categorical imperative. Reason is about the world of possible experience—that is to say, about nature. It is one of the fourfold incarnations of the principle of sufficient reason, along with the principle of sufficient reason for being. Ethics, conversely, is not from reason and is to be found only in the things in themselves, where the principle of sufficient reason does not apply.
Schopenhauer recognized this difficulty, and it motivated him to reestablish the strict dichotomy of nature/reason and ought by denying the categorical imperative and defining the things themselves as will. Without this decision, Kantian morality is in conflict with itself.
But we can derive far more from the Heidegger quote than just this. The determination of being as an idea is what has driven the entire discussion thus far, and is what drove the ethical philosophies of Kant, Schopenhauer and all of the rest of the names we have mentioned—along with countless others. The division between a world of ought and a world of is—the world of perfect desire and the actual world—only comes about once man gained the conceptual ability to think so broadly and generally.
Wanting without the idea of being is just wanting. Wanting with the idea of being is wanting the world to be different than it is. It is therefore wanting a different world than that which is. This is why the full-fledged, Christian idea of eternal heaven (and hell) took so long to develop, despite being immensely attractive psychologically. It had to wait for being as an idea to make its appearance and for the Jews to be Hellenized in order to transform the various heathen and pre-Christian Jewish underworlds into eternal reward or punishment.
Before Plato’s conception of being as an idea made the problem apparent (there is a counterpart to this development in India too, I am sure,) wanting really was wanting in the world. What the pre-philosophic man wanted was in his world. His wants were in his world. And what happened was in the world too. In fact his world was just the things he wanted and his wanting them, and the things that occurred to him in his life. Above all, he was in the world.
This original division is repeated in the life of ay man who has engaged in philosophy, however slightly. He begins without a world divided between is and ought; he merely wants, in the world, for something to happen in the world. It was only when his wanting comes under philosophic analysis that the division is formed. Specifically, it was only when the universe is understood by an ancient determinism that the world became twofold.
This is because it is recognized that to hope for anything other than what was, is and will be requires the negation of the self. This is because we are part of a world where everything affects everything else, and our lives reflect these conditions as much as anything else. The thinker ceases to be able to take good and evil individually, but rather he must take it corporately, as part of the entire world. And this is why Christians and their philosophers negate the entire world, and why Nietzsche affirmed it.
Yet both answers amount to the same, and the entire thing is disingenuous because we don’t actually know of being insofar as its moral worth. Nor do we know the extent of our desires. We have a concept of being, a concept of our wants, and a knowledge that they will not always be of accord. But insofar as our desires will be satisfied or not—and therefore how incompatible the two worlds are—we cannot ever say, or at least not until our lives have run their courses. As Aristotle says, we cannot pronounce a life as good until it has ended.
In the meantime these renunciations or affirmations of the world are just the evasions of failed selves to the reality of their own failure, and they will serve only to weigh down the young and hopeful with the entire burden of the suffering of the world, as well as the question of their future happiness. What purpose could there be to affirm the world except to avoid it? What purpose could there be to deny it? The purpose is merely to eliminate all of the other questions of worth in our lives that are decided not by the world as a whole, but our own individual existences. All is swept away before this question, but no one is concerned with the right and grounds and our very ability to ask it. No one asks: “whence does the question come?”