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The Crisis of the "Cogito"

Author(s): Paul Ricoeur


Source: Synthese, Vol. 106, No. 1 (Jan., 1996), pp. 57-66
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20117477 .
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PAUL RICOEUR

THE CRISIS OF THE COGITO

can be held as the opening


If Descartes's
of the era of modern
Cogito
subjec
that the "I" is taken for the first time in the position
tivity, it is to the extent
offoundation,
of all philosophical
condition
for the possibility
discourse.
The question
i.e., as the ultimate
in this paper
raised
is whether
the crisis of the Cogito,
later
Nietzsche
opened
by Hume,

ABSTRACT.

on different

and Heidegger
of

very positing

grounds,

philosophical

is not

already

contemporaneous

to the

the Cogito.

I should like
Meditations,
Taking as our guide the first three of Descartes's
to stress two points: I want first to underscore
the radical discontinuity
introduced
into philosophical
investigation
by the cogito ergo sum, set in
the position of primary truth. Next, Iwant to show to what extent the Cogito,
such as itwas actually formulated by the historical Descartes,
falls short of
the unlimited
satisfying
credited him. Descartes's

ambition

with which philosophical


tradition has
Meditations
or, to give them their complete
our
on the
is not without
for
title, which
purposes, Meditations
importance
First Philosophy
inWhich
the Existence
and
the
Distinction
God
Real
of
- do
and Body are Demonstrated
of Mind
present the strange character
the certainty of the self has to be put
that, in order to begin to philosophize,
in the position of first truth, but that, in order to continue
to philosophize,
this same certainty must in a sense be toppled from its dominant position.
The recognition
of this crisis of the Cogito,
to the positing
contemporary
of Cogito,

constitutes

the thrust of the present

investigation.

1. POSITINGTHE COGITO
The

first two Meditations


which

philosophy
of the project

to the immense

attest

the Cogito

to a
belonging
and radical nature

ambition

The universal

inaugurates.
are apparent in the opening
lines: "I was convinced
of the
once in my life to rid myself
of undertaking
of all the opinions

necessity
I had adopted,

anew the work of building


from the
a
firm
and
in the
foundation,
abiding superstructure
sciences"
The
the
universal
character of
is of
(Meditation
I).
undertaking
as the doubt, which does not exempt from the region
the same magnitude
of opinion common sense, the sciences - both mathematical
and physical and of commencing
to establish

if I desired

Synthese
?

106:57-66,1996.

1996 Kluwer

Academic

Publishers.

Printed

in the Netherlands.

PAULRICOEUR

58
or the philosophical
is just as important
nature of a doubt,
three aforementioned

the radicalness
tradition. However,
as its universality.
This radicalness
to that one might
itself incomparable

of the undertaking
has to do with the
exercise

within

the

that all reality can be suspected


of being no more
than a dream, that the simple truths of geometry
and
seem
that the distinction
arithmetic can be held to be uncertain,
between
- this threefold
to the
is incomparable
questioning
ing and being vacillates
some
out
of
that
stand
sci
localised doubts
sensible,
against the backdrop
domains.

The

fact

in the moment
itself is uncontested
entific or metaphysical
certainty, which
of being completely
fooled stems from a doubt
of doubt. The hypothesis
in
that Descartes
in order to signal its disproportion
calls "metaphysical"
a
to
dramatize
relation to all doubt kept within
space of certainty. In order
of a great deceiver
this doubt, Descartes
forges the incredible hypothesis
or a malignant
the inverted image of a veracious God, reduced to
demon,
the state of simple opinion: "How do I know", Descartes
asks, "that I am
"
two
not also deceived
and three?...
each time I add together
(ibid.).
to the self in this dramatic episode? There are, it seems
happens
two important points to stress here. On the one hand, all subjectivity
the human body has
has not fallen with the collapse of opinion, although
What

tome,

if I can doubt

the reality of sensible things,


seated by the fire"; with this body
terms are abolished.
And yet, all
someone
in
since
cannot
be
swallowed
the
of
doubt,
up
subjectivity
depths
it is
is performing
the doubt. The doubt, indeed, is not merely
suffered,
directed: "I will at length apply myself
earnestly and freely to the general
followed

the fate of all bodies:

"that I am in this place,


self all the reference points of deictic
I can also doubt

overthrow
malignant

of the
of all my former opinions"
(ibid.). Even the hypothesis
is a fiction that I invent: "I become my own deceiver,

demon

are entirely
false and
supposing, " for a time, that all those opinions
a
to
(ibid.). The / is, in this way, raised
power proportionate
imaginary...
to the radical nature of the doubt it exercises.
From this stems our second

by

/: in the
the / that doubts, who
is it? It is assuredly Descartes'
are
on
the
features
of
adventure
the autobiographical
Discourse
Method,
as is
stressed. Nor are these features erased in the Meditations,
heavily
lines: "Several years have now elapsed since I
confirmed
in the opening
remark:

even from my youth, many false


that I had accepted,
"
as
ever more radical,
for true...
the doubt becomes
(ibid.). But,
opinions
in order
loses its "token" character. This is not, however,
the / gradually
to resort to the "/ as type", to the empty / found in the table of personal

first became

aware

The strangeness
pronouns.
itself of its autobiographical
in the sense

of

indicators

adhering
character
and deictic

to doubt

in the / stripping
in order to become, not just anyone,
or
terms, but an / as metaphysical
results

THE CRISISOF THECOGITO

59

as doubt itself, an / that, by shedding


its body along the way,
hyperbolical
for ordinary
loses its anchoring and, therefore, breaks with the conditions
as
as
us
"Let
reference:
well
for
suppose, then
identifying
self-designation
... even that we
an
nor
neither
entire
hands such
body
really possess
as we see" (ibid.). To the extent, then, that it is just as metaphysical
and
as doubt, this /possesses
the value of an example,
immediately
hyperbolical
but in a sense of "anyone" which
is without any common measure with its
sense: anyone who, after Descartes,
retraces the trajectory of
grammatical
a non-person,
that
doubt, says, as he did, /. But, in so doing, this / becomes
the
between
is to say, unidentifiable,
distinction
beyond
undesignatable,
and other-ascribable
This
is why the who of
self-ascribable
predicates.
in no way
lacks others,
it leaves
since, by losing its anchoring,
and dialogue. One cannot even say
behind the conditions
of interlocution
retreats from the
that it is engaged
inmonologue,
inasmuch as monologue
doubt

it presupposes
it.What
is left to say about this
dialogue
by interrupting
to
inwanting
unanchored /? By its very obstination
doubt, it attests to a will
at this stage we are not distinguishing
to certainty and to truth
between
- which
a
to
In this
the two expressions
doubt
kind
of
orientation.
give
sense doubt is not Kierkegaardian
to
the
will
the
despair; quite
opposite,
is what motivates
is the truth of
it, and what I want to discover
discovery
the very thing that is put into doubt, the fact that things actually are as they
that the hypothesis
of the
appear to be. In this respect, it is not insignificant
a
that
of
deceiver.
The
in
is
demon
deceit
consists
great
precisely
malignant
making
seeming pass for "true being' (ibid.). By doubt "I persuade myself
that nothing has ever existed"; but what I want to find is "something
that
is certain and true" (ibid.).
is capital if we are to understand
the turn-around
to the certainty of the Cogito
in the second Meditation.
This
about contains three decisive moments.
First moment:
in accordance
This final remark

doubt

from
turn
with

the ontological
aim of doubt, the first certainty derived from the doubt itself
is the certainty of my existence,
of thought
implied in the very exercise
in which
the hypothesis
of the great deceiver
consists:
"Doubtless,
then,
I exist, since I am deceived;
and, let him deceive me as he may, he can
never bring it about that I am nothing,
so long as I shall be conscious
that
an
I am something"
This
is
indeed
existential
(Meditation
II).
proposition:
is taken absolutely
and not as a copula: "I am, I exist".
on Method may be surprised not to
The reader familiar with the Discourse
find here the celebrated
formula: Cogito ergo sum. Yet it is implicit in the
formula: I doubt, I am. In several different ways: first of all, doubting
is
a
to doubt by
"therefore", reinforced
thinking; next, the "I am" is connected
the verb "to be"

by all the prior

reasons

for doubting,

so that the statement must

be read:

PAULRICOEUR

60

"In order to doubt, one must exist". Finally,


the first certainty is not on the
in fine, be maintained,
order of feeling; it is a proposition:
"So that itmust,
all things being maturely
and carefully considered,
that this proposition
I
or
true
time
it
I
each
is
is
conceived
am, exist,
necessarily
expressed by me,
inmy mind" (let us leave aside, for the moment,
the restriction; "each time
a
in what I shall later call
will
it is expressed
it
decisive
role
me";
by
play
the crisis of the Cogito).
if the first certainty
is indeed an existential
one, it is imme
However,
from
the first: I am
followed
diately
by a second certainty
inseparable
a thinking thing. This development
of the first certainty
is provoked
by
a question:
clearness what I am,
"But I do not yet know with sufficient
am
conscious
that I exist,
though assured that I am" (ibid.). And again: "I
and I who know that I exist inquire into what I am" (ibid.). This passage
the question who to the question what is prepared by the use of the
to be, which oscillates
between
the absolute use: "I am, I exist" and
am
use:
"I
the predicative
but what? The reply to
something".
Something,
"I am therefore,
leads to the full formulation
of the Cogito:
this question

from
verb

precisely
speaking, only a thinking thing, that is, a mind,
was before unknown
reason - terms whose
signification

or
understanding,
tome" (ibid.). By

the question what, we are led into a predicative


investigation,
concerning
or even
to
I
have
that which
the
of
(ibid.)
myself"
"belongs
knowledge
more clearly, "(that which)
to
nature"
(ibid.). Here
my proper
appertains
a
there is a new sifting of opinions by methodical
doubt,
sifting similar to
but now the stakes involve the list of predicates
that of the first Meditation,
in the nakedness
of existing
of the / am. The
/ completes
in becoming
its loss of all singular determinations
thought;
remark that in the expression,
One will nevertheless
that is, understanding.
the status of predicate,
but the thought
'a thinking thing', the / receives
attributable

to this / certain

to it itself remains without


This point
any determinants.
in the third
the sort of retraction contained
for understanding
the triumphant status of the / think. If thoughts are
Meditation
concerning
to
to
these thoughts which
introduce a diversity
said
thinking,
"belong"
in relation to their representative
into the Cogito are not considered
value,
which, as we shall see, is very uneven but in relation to the sheer fact of
that is attributed
is crucial

to the subject, ensuring


their complete
their belonging
equality.
us
to the third and final moment
The last remark leads
of the reflex
of ideas, even when
ive conquest. The multiplicity
they are cut off from
us
to
modes within
different
their representative
value, brings
distinguish
to
is
that
families
of
ideas
rather well to
say,
corresponding
thinking itself,
acts in the theory of speech-acts".
But what is a thinking
the illocutionary
thing?

It is a thing

that doubts,

understends

(conceives),

affirms,

denies,

THE CRISISOF THE COGITO

61

refuses, that imagines also, and perceives"


(ibid.). This enumeration
of
the
of
the
the
poses
identity
subject, but in an entirely differ
question
a
ent sense than the narrative
concrete person.
It can only be
of
identity
a question here of a sort of point-like,
ahistorical
identity of the / in the

wills,

This identity is that of a same, which escapes


diversity of its operations.
in time, since the Cogito
the alternatives
of permanence
and change
is
to cite the argument here: "For it is of itself
It is worthwhile
instanteneous.
so evident

that it is I who doubt, I who understand,


and I who desire, that
to add anything by way of rendering
it is here unnecessary
itmore clear"
concerns
What
is
here
the
of
evident
(ibid.).
impossibility
separating any

of these modes

from

the knowledge
the evidence

I have of myself,
hence from my true
to what I
that I am, already extended

nature. Consequently,
of
am, also covers the identity of the ego in the instantaneous
diversity
to the self-evidence
its acts. The sameness
of the self is ascribed
of the
argument will
of the Will to Power.
This

Cogito.
section
At

the conclusion

subject

seems

to be

be contested

by Nietzsche

in the famous

last

of the second Meditation,


the status of the meditating
to
unrelated
the framework
of
what, within
totally

language, we call person, agent, speaker, subject of imputation,


of narration. As we began to say in connection with the subject
on its own
of the doubt, the subjectivity
that posits
itself by reflecting
even
more
that
made
the
doubt
is
the
radical
fable
of
the great
doubt,
by
an
is
unanchored
which
the
deceiver,
Descartes,
subjectivity,
preserving
ordinary
character

substantialist
vocabulary with which he thinks he has broken, can still call
a soul. But he really means
the opposite: what the tradition calls a soul is,
in truth, a subject, and this subject is reduced to the simplest and barest act,
that of thinking. This act of thinking, still without
any determined
object,
is enough to conquer doubt because doubt already contains
it. And since
doubt is voluntary and free, thought posits itself in positing doubt. It is in
this sense that the "I exist as thinking" is a primary truth, that is to say, a
truth that nothing precedes.

2.
And

THE CRISISOF THE COGITO

yet...

in this way to the Cogito


yet, the very status of primary truth assigned
contains all the seeds of what earlier I termed, by anticipation,
the crisis
indeed, is to know how and at what cost a
of the Cogito. The question,

And

truth can be added

to this first one. Descartes


offers us a guide, the
reasons.
are
two
to
But
be
in this
different
of
aspects
distinguished
order: the analytical order (in the sense of geometers) which
is the order of
second

order

PAULRICOEUR

62

or ordo cognoscendi,
and the synthetic order, that of the "truth
discovery
to the first order,
of the thing" or ordo essendi (Gu?roult 1953). According
move from the ego to God, then to mathematical
essences
theMeditations
to the second, God,
and, finally, to sensible things and to bodies. According
the first ring. The Cogito would be
simply a link in the first order, becomes
one
in
if
show that there is only a single
all
could
absolute
respects
truly
the other order sends back
it is actually first and which
order, that in which
to the second level, derived from the first. Now,
it does seem that the third
reverses
in a
the order by placing
the certainty of the Cogito
Meditation
in relation
position
to the "truth of the thing".
In order to understand what

subordinate

to divine
is at stake

veracity,

which

is first according

in the third Meditation,

we must

first measure

what the second has secured in the face of the challenge posed
the
remains an exception
of the great deceiver. The Cogito
by
hypothesis
to doubt inasmuch as certainty and truth coincide when "I represent my
the truthfulness of the
self to myself"
(Meditation
III); nothing guarantees
this certainty-truth
lasts
clear and distinct ideas of anything else. Moreover,
were
if
I
but the space of an instant, that of the act of reflection:
"Perhaps
to cease thinking, I would cease to exist" (ibid.). How can we overcome
to the instant?
confined
the precariousness
of an evidence
The way out offered by the third Meditation
is extremely
subtle. It
was admitted
in the second Meditation
that ideas which are the content of
in the certainty of thought insofar as they
participate
thought themselves
are inseparable from myself.
to me in this way are ideas
But what belongs
in me, abstracting
from their representative
insofar as they are present
called their "objective being" in order to distinguish
value, what Descartes
their "formal being", which
puts them all on the same level,
me.
case
are
if we consider
all
The
is quite different
they
thought by
ideas from the point of view of their representative
value; they then present
as
of
insofar
they are thought, ideas are
varyiny degrees
Equal
perfection.
this from

since

not so with
is one
held
all

respect to what
idea that is distinct

there
continues,
they represent. Yet, Descartes
from all others: this is the idea of perfection,

to be synonymous
with the philosophical
ideas but is endowed with a representative

to my

inner self, which


to attain the truth along

idea of God; it is inme like


content out of proportion

as I am
is that of an imperfect being, condemned
the arduous path of doubt. This is the astonishing

then arises as
greater than its container. The question
to
I could hold
all
of this idea. With
other
ideas,
my
respect
more
to
not
I do. Of
than
be
do
their
for
cause,
possess
being
myself
they
am
cause.
not capable of being the
I
Then itwas
the idea of God, however,
situation:

a content

to the cause

placed

inme

by the very being

that it represents.

THE CRISISOF THECOGITO

63

that are related to


I am not discussing
here the innumerable difficulties
of this argument: the right to distinguish
the objective
each of the moments
to
formal
the
from
their
consider
the degrees
of
ideas
being,
right
being
to the beings represented
in this
of perfection
of the idea as proportional
of his own
way, the right to consider God as the cause of the presence
that concern the Cogito
idea inme. I shall go directly to the consequences
in this way by the idea of the infinite or of perfection,
itself, surpassed
with its condition of finite being.
incommensurable
Even

if the main

accent

is besides

myself
idea of

(the very
of rebound-effect

falls on demonstrating
on the Cogito
is by no means negligible.
It
... but there
"I am not alone in the world,
being who exists as the cause of that idea

in the third Meditation

of God, its effect


can be summed up as follows:
the existence

some other

being, the idea of God)". By a sort


- the existence
of God - onto that
certainty
the idea of myself
transformed
appears to be profoundly
infinite

and perfect

of this new

of the Cogito,
of that Other who brings about in me
by the sole fact of the recognition
I appear to be inhabited by an idea
the presence of its own representation.
which cannot "come from me" (ibid.). But how did I get here? By changing
I am investigating
in the investigation
Now
of myself.
no
my power of "producing" my ideas and
longer the fact of having them,
to
this
them.
It
that the idea of God differs
is
with
power
respect
thinking
to me
from all the others: as regards the ideas of things, "they exhibit
the line of attack

so little reality

even distinguish
the object represented
from
see
not
I
should
be the author of them"
(that)
non-being,
why
(ibid.). The accent indeed falls here on the self as author and not simply
as the receptacle
in the line of attack that is
of ideas. It is this change
decisive
for the idea of God: it has so much more objective
reality" than
that I cannot
I do not

of myself
that it could not have "come from me". Instead,
to
I have
say that the idea of God is logically prior to the idea of myself:
"in some way I possess
the perception
of the infinite before that of the
"
of God before that of myself...
finite, that is, the perception
(ibid.). One
the idea I have

must

thus admit that, if God is the ratio essendi of myself,


he becomes,
am
as a result, the ratio cognoscendi
an imperfect
of myself,
insofar as I
a
to doubt is
is
For
the
that
being
lacking.
being,
imperfection
attaching
known only in the light of perfection;
in the second Meditation,
I knew

as existing and thinking but not yet as a finite and limited nature.
myself
This infirmity of the Cogito extends a long way: it is not only related to the
of doubt, but to the very precariousness
of the certainty that
imperfection
to
to itself, the ego
lack
its
of
duration.
Left
conquered doubt, essentially
is Sisyphus
of the Cogito
to the next, the rock of

condemned
its certainty

to climb
against

up, from one instant


the slope of doubt. On the
back

PAULRICOEUR

64

other hand, because he preserves me, God gives the certainty of myself
the
it cannot draw from itself. The strict contemporaneousness
of
permanence
the idea of God and the idea of myself,
considered
from the perspective
of the power of producing
ideas, makes me say that the idea of God "is
same
as
is the idea of myself"
innate, in the
(ibid.). Better yet: the
way
idea of God

is in me

that assures

the resemblance

as the very mark of the author on his work, a mark


to confess
the two. I have finally
between
...
same
I
this likeness
by the
faculty by which
apprehend

that "I perceive


myself"
The

(ibid.).
fusion between

the idea of myself


and that of God could hardly
be pushed any further. But what are the consequences
of this for the order
no
as a linear
The
result
that
order
of reasons?
is
this
is
longer presented
chain but instead as a loop: of this rebound effect of the end point on

sees but the benefits, namely


the elimination
of a lying God who would nourish
the most
of
the great deceiver
is conquered
doubt; the fabulous
image
hyperbolic
in me as soon as the Other who is truly existing and entirely truthful has
the starting point, Descartes
of the insidious hypothesis

first critics, the question


taken its place. For us, however, as for Descartes's
is whether, by giving the form of a circle to the order of reasons, Descartes
has not made the step that will tear the Cogito out of its initial solitude into
a gigantic vicious circle.
of the third Meditation
is still enum
It does seem that the reasoning
The
stark
choice
that
bered by an insurmountable
equivocation.
subsequent
a comfortable
one: it is
to be in Descartes
history will uncover continues
of two competitive
orders, that of subjective
presented as the interweaving
reasons and that of the objective
truth of the thing. Descartes
thought he
in the exami
could pass smoothly
from one to the other, by substituting
in thought the point of view of their repre
nation of the ideas contained
sentative

in the place of their merely


belonging
to this representative
value and equivocal

value

by assigning

to the Cogito,
and
status:
existential

and
being we are still in the Cogito
"objective
being". With
objective
are
to
extent
in
the
the
We
that
still
the
the
outside
Cogito
Cogito.
already
of the objective
degrees of perfection
reality of each idea possess evidence
of the same nature as that of the Cogito
itself, due to the fact that objective
cannot
be separated from my nature.
of
that
is
that
ideas
and
ideas
reality
to the extent that the hierarchy of
the Cogito
outside
are, nonetheless,
ismeasured
the degrees of perfection
by the highest among these, the idea
to be sure, is inme as an idea but is not pruduced by me
of infinity, which,
- as
than I do, Iwho doubt.
it has more perfection
between
It is this pivotal position
sub
of "objective
being", half-way

We

jective

certainty

and objective

truth that has not stood up to criticism. What

THE CRISISOF THECOGITO

65

is the break up of the order rather than its con


been perceived
the
authors of the Second and Fourth Objections,
others,
tinuity, by, among
and even more clearly by modern
who come after
interpreters of Descartes,

has actually

the dilemma

of modern

subjectivity

on the great
its appearance
"the objective
being" of the idea, the
has made

stage of history. In the expression:


term "being" is primary. Now, what can assure me that the being of the idea
shares the evidence of the Cogito? And if it does not share this certainty, it
introduces a heterogeneous
element that renders the certainty of the Cogito
and sterile. Can it be said that the consciousness
of my finite nature
can simply be added, without
to the naked con
break,
any
occasioning
as thinking? But this union is heterogeneous
sciousness
to
of my existence
the extent that the latter depends on me and so comes from me, whereas

useless

does not come from me and in this sense does not depend on
once the union is operated between
Besides,
certainty of existing as
seems
not only incomplete
and
the
truth
of
the
former
finiteness,
thinking
and unfinished but genuinely
truncated: what indeed is a thought, abstract
the former

me.

its unequal content and from the principle


that governs
this very
true
as finite
If
between
it
is
that
the
union
of
the
idea
inequality?
myself
and imperfect and the idea of God as infinite and perfect
is indissociable
in our primary consciousness,
and original
then how could I form the first
ing from

certainty in feigned
ignorance of this union? Are we to say that this union
rests on the original union of my consciousness
and its contents? But there
is a sharp discontinuity
between
the principle of uncertainty
of the former
to
and the principle
the latter. Henceforth,
of truth belonging
if we take
seriously the transmutation by which the Cogito passes from the second to
we must then say that the Cogito
the third Meditation,
separated from the
of God cannot go beyond the plane of common
sense, with
to have made a clean break.
the Cogito was supposed
But then, without
it, the
falling to the level to which Spinoza relegates
loses its character of first truth to the extent that the idea of myself,
Cogito
consciousness

which

(M.
separated from the idea of God, "is but the denatured
image of myself"
Descartes
selon
F
ordre
des
1953, pp. 244-5):
Gu?roult,
raisons, Aubier,
"In reality there is no consciousness
is not at the same time the
which
etc...
of God (that is to say, of its own imperfection,
): the
true Cogito
is the Cogito attached to God" (ibid., 244).
A choice seems open to us here: either the Cogito has the value of a
but then it is a sterile truth which cannot be pursued without a
foundation,

consciousness

in the order of reasons; or it is founded on its finite condition of the


idea of perfection
and the first truth loses its halo of first foundation.
This choice has been transformed by Descartes'
heirs into a dilemma:
on the one hand, Malebranche,
even more
and Spinoza
the
so, drawing

break

PAULRICOEUR

66

saw in the
of the reversal performed by the thirdMeditation,
consequences
an
no
more
than
truncated
all
of
abstract,
truth,
Cogito
stripped
prestige;
the discourse
is, in this respect, the most coherent: for the Ethics,
Spinoza
to be a foundation;
the Cogito
is not
to the second level, but it loses its formulation
in terms
relegated
merely
II of the Ethics, we thus read:
of the first person. At the start of Book
of infinite

thinks". An

"man
stresses

alone

substance

axiom

the subordination

deserves

this lapidary formula, Axiom


I, which
precedes
of the latter: "the essence of man does not include

that is to say, itmay just as well be, following


the order
existence,
that this or that particlar man exist, as that he not exist." The
horizon. On the
of the self moves
away from the philosophical
problematic
movement
entire
other hand, for the
of philosophical
idealism, by way of
Kant, Fichte and Husserl,
(at least the Husserl of the Cartesian Meditations)
necessary
of Nature,

the only

is the one in which


the alleged
reading of the Cogito
is marked with the same seal of subjectivity
existence
of my own existence;
the guarantee constituted
by Divine

coherent

of God's

certainty
as the certainty

veracity, behind
than an appendix
is not a primary
nth

truth, but

the Cogito as self-positing,


does not then constitute more
to the primary certainty. If this is the case, then the Cogito
truth that would be followed
by a second and a third, an
to all
the foundation
that founds
itself, incommensurable

as well as empirical.
In order to avoid falling
Transcendental
propositions,
into subjective
idealism, the "I think" has to be stripped of all psychological
It has to
reference.
and all the more so, of all autobiographical
resonance,
states
"I think", which
Deduction
the transcendental
become
the Kantian
to accompany
all my representations".
The problematic
of
this in a sense magnified,
but at the cost of the loss of its
to
to the person of whom one speaks, to the I-you of interlocution,

"must be able
the self
relation

leaves

to the identity of the historical person. Must we


the self of responsibility,
at least owes a debt
choose between humiliation
and exaltation? Modernity
to Descartes
choice.
for having been placed before such a formidable

REFERENCES
Descartes,
Gu?roult,

Department
University

Ren?:
M.:

on First

1979, Mediations
1953, Descartes

of Philosophy
of Chicago

1050E. 59th Street


Chicago, IL 60637

selon

Tordre

Philosophy,
des raisons,

Hackett,

Indianopolis.

Aubier-Montaigne,

Paris.