Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Alexander, Thomas


The first chapter explores an anachronistic Kantian critique of Plotinus wherein Plotinus' notion of the One and the soul's ascent to the One is discussed. In the second part of the chapter it will be argued that despite Plotinus' via negativa approach to the One, he commits what Kant calls a transcendental illusion. At this time, Kant's conditions of experience and knowledge are discussed, to show what constitutes as experience. Then, Kant's notion of transcendental illusion is discussed, specifically in its paralogistic and ideal forms. From this discussion, it is evident that Plotinus' idea of the soul is a paralogistic error and his idea of the One becomes the Ideal of pure reason, thereby mistaking the Ideal of the One as constituting ultimate existence. Following this Kantian critique, the second chapter discusses Úankara's view of Âtman. The exposition demonstrates that Úankara's approach is essentially via negativa, that while it is the most humble approach to Brahman, yet it is unable to account for the absolute reality that is essentially ineffable. This discussion focuses on Úankara's belief that people falsely attribute or superimpose qualities to the true Self, because of Avidyâ and that only true knowledge transforms Avidyâ into vidyâ or discriminating knowledge. After this discussion, some criticisms are discussed to show some apparent problems with Úankara's view. At which time, it will be argued that despite Úankara's use of via negativa he commits what Kant calls a "transcendental illusion." We do not have an empirical intuition of the concept of Brahman; therefore, we have neither access to the mystical reality of Brahman as a thing in itself, nor to true knowledge about ultimate reality. Thus, Úankara's view engenders transcendental illusion. The final chapter addresses Schelling's idealism and in particular the view of the potencies at work in God, before God was God. Due to creation, an inversion of the potencies occurs and the outer gains control over the inner. Next, elements of Habermas' view are discussed, wherein he holds a materialistic-interactive-idealist position, as indicated in his ideal speech situation. At this time, it will be argued that Habermas' "ideal speech situation" is idealistic like Schelling's position. Consequently, both Schelling and Habermas' reaction respectively make the Primordial Will and the Ideal Speech Situation into an Ideal and in so doing commits a transcendental illusion.




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