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in itself/for itself

m. okrent

Subject Philosophy » Epistemology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631192589.1993.x


The distinction between the ‘in itself and the ‘for itself originated in the Kantian logical and epistemological distinction between a thing as it is in itself, and that thing as an appearance, or as it is for us. For K ant , the thing in itself is the thing as it is intrinsically, that is, the character of the thing apart from any relations in which it happens to stand. The thing for us, or as an appearance, on the other hand, is the thing in so far as it stands in relation to our cognitive faculties and other objects. ‘Now a thing in itself cannot be known through mere relations; and we may therefore conclude that since outer sense gives us nothing but mere relations, this sense can contain in its representation only the relation of an object to the subject, and not the inner properties of the object in itself’ (CPR, B. 67). Kant applies this same distinction to the subject's cognition of itself. Since the subject can know itself only in so far as it can intuit itself, and it can intuit itself only in terms of temporal relations, and thus as it is related to its’ own self, it represents itself ‘as it appears to itself, not as it is’ (CPR, B. 69). Thus, the distinction between what the subject is in itself and what it is for itself arises in Kant in so far as the distinction between what an object is in itself and what it is for a knower is applied to the subject's own knowledge ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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