Cave: 8

Herzog and McCarthy have both attributed a collective nature to the paleolithic mind, a nature from which the modern mind has been alienated or severed.  However, it may be that they are projecting recent conceptions of mind backwards into the past.  To me, the ideas expressed (tabernacling, Spirit ventriloquism) seem distinctly post-Kantian. Just as, in The Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche projected Schopenhauer’s post-Kantianism back on to the Greek mind, so Herzog and McCarthy project their own brands of post-Kantianism back on to the Cro-Magnon mind.

Schopenhauer once wrote that Kant’s greatest merit was the distinction he made between the phenomenal and the noumenal, the thing in its appearing to us and the same thing as it is in itself.  For Kant, this distinction meant that there is an inbuilt and untranscendable restriction on our capacity to know things.  We can only know them in their appearing, never as they are in themselves, only empirically, never transcendentally.  We know that we can only know so much and only in a certain way and nothing more.

Many of Kant’s contemporaries found his epistemology unnerving or worse.  Think of Heinrich von Kleist.  For not only can you not know anything about your environment as it is in itself, you can not even know anything about the in-itself of your own self.  You can only know your self as it appears to you when you try to regard it.  But in the reciprocal mirroring of the regarding and the regarded, of the “I” and the “me,” the undivided thing in itself–the mind as it is transcendentally one–is occluded, beyond sensuous intuition or empirical observation.

So Kant introduced the notion of a rift or schizz in the human psyche, and this notion has been returned to, proclaimed completed, corrected and transformed many times over since by subsequent philosophers, like Schelling, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud and Jung, to drop some big names.  Each of these thinkers in his own way critiqued Kant’s treatment of the noumenal side of the schizz.  For Kant, what lies beneath your empirical “I” is the transcendental “I.”  Moreover, your transcendental “I” is private.  It is different than, and separate from, the transcendental “I” of my mind.  In the big names above, we find variously attempts to correct this notion of the “private” nature of the transcendental realm of the mind.  In various ways, the transcendental “I” becomes a transcendental “We.”  And so we get to the notions of reciprocal tabernacling and macrocosmic Spirit ventriloquists…

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