The “I” : philosophical analysis

Immanuel Kant inAnthropology from a pragmatic point of view, in 1789, makes the human person someone superior to other living beings, because he can think the “I”.

To possess the I in his representation: this power raises man infinitely above all other living beings on earth. By this he is a person; and thanks to the unity of consciousness in all the changes that may occur to him, he is one and the same person, that is to say, a being entirely different in rank and dignity from such things as are animals without reason, which can be disposed of as one pleases; and this even when he cannot say I, for he has it in his thought; so all languages, when they speak in the first person, must think this I, even if they do not express it by a particular word. For this faculty (of thinking) is the understanding.

It is not necessary to use the word “I” in order to be elevated so “infinitely”, and indeed in many languages the word “I” is often only implied. But in all human beings there is this thought of “I”.

Immanuel Kant postulates, moreover, the unity of the consciousness. The consciousness remains always the same, in spite of the different states that the human being cross.

It is necessary to go back to René Descartes, to understand the importance of the “I” in the Western philosophy. The “I” of the Cogito is at the same time a generic “I”, designating any human being as here Immanuel Kant. But more specifically, it is difficult not to see in the Cogito an individual “I”, that is to say, one that is specific to the one who thinks it. His two works, where he makes the discovery of the Cogito, the Discourse of the Method and the Metaphysical Meditations are in this sense written in the first person of the singular, it is about his own experience.

Finally, there will be many critics on this “I”. It is, on the one hand, to forget the social framework in which the “I” is born, and without which it would perhaps be nothing. It is to forget the animality of the human being, defended by Friedrich Nietzsche. It is still to eclipse all the zone of the unconscious, as it will be analyzed by Sigmund Freud or Lacan.

Rimbaud will write with poetry:“I am another. If the copper awakens bugle; there is nothing of its fault.

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