Ontological Destruction of the Kantian Critique of the Paralogism of Rational Psychology

Michel Henry


In Kant, remarkably, and for the first time perhaps in the history of philosophy, the
problem of the Ego receives an ontological signification. The critique of the
paralogisms of rational psychology concerns, explicitly, this fundamental problem
of the being of the ego. Kant’s examination of this problem constitutes an essential
moment of the history of modern philosophy. This examination results finally in
the complete failure (échec total) to determine such a being, a failure that Kant
attempts to pass off ultimately as a metaphysical impossibility. This is affirmed
constantly through the labyrinthine analysis of the Transcendental Dialectic: what
emerges from its difficulties, and obscurities, is that the being of the Ego can be
neither determined (circonscrit), nor posited, metaphysically. The conclusion is
unquestionably the following: the ego cogito does not contain in itself any sum, at
least if, by the latter, one intends, as does rational psychology, the metaphysical
and, in some way, absolute being of the ‘I’ (l’Ego).

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