Who is Nicolai Hartmann?June 26, 2021
Nicolai Hartmann (Niklāvs Hartmanis). He is a famous German speculative metaphysician born in 1882, Riga, Latvia.
Hartmann, who is one of the most important thinkers of 20th century philosophy with his moral understanding that emphasizes human and human values, apart from the doctrine of knowledge and existence, has argued that the tradition of Western philosophy has been based on the thinking subject since Descartes, and this is a big mistake. For him, a cognition of an independent reality is as direct and unmediated as a cognition of the self. In this context, Hartmann said that all philosophical problems are ontological problems; they are attempts to understand the type of being given to us.
According to Hartmann, knowledge is always the apprehension of an object. This understanding is not realized by the spontaneous falling of objects into our consciousness, but on the contrary, when the subject, as thinking being, goes beyond himself and grasps the objects. This happens through a design. Knowledge is realized through designs, which are the reflection of the object in consciousness. According to Hartmann, although design exists with the object of knowledge, the object itself continues to exist even when there is no information. Therefore, Hartmann argued that ontology is not based on the theory of knowledge, but the theory of knowledge is based on ontology. Because, according to him, in order for the knowledge of the object to be in question, the object must first exist.
The intellectual trajectory drawn by the German philosopher Hartmann, who influenced German philosophy in the first half of the 20th century and had indirect effects on the course of philosophy in Turkey through his student Takiyettin Mengüşoğlu, and who was the main founder of the “new ontology” movement and teaching, is close to that of his contemporary Heidegger at first glance. similar.
As a matter of fact, Hartmann, who started the work by putting an end to the Neo-Kantian interest in the question of knowledge and the foundations of knowledge, later turned to the problem of “existence”, that is, the existence of beings. But unlike Heidegger, he did not give any priority to humans or “Dasein” in this context. With his “awakening from the slumber of criticism”, Hartmann rejected many Kantian teachings, such as the transcendental idealism, the transcendental self, the primacy of practical reason.
He argued that the theory of knowledge is not the only field of philosophy, as some New Kantians think, on the grounds that knowledge does not produce existing knowledge and cannot change what is known. According to Hartmann, the entity that needs to be investigated is; It is the existence of known objects and the one who knows those objects. Nevertheless, it is clear from the following words that Hartmann did not reject Kantianism entirely in the last sense:
“Philosophers have established some systems, pondered on certain problems; but they have arrived at some absurd conclusions precisely because of the system they have chosen. Strings must be rejected; they are things of the past. However, problems are immortal, and philosophers have made permanent contributions to these problems with the solutions they propose. One of these contributions is Kant’s idea that our experience consists of categories. By deducing that categories are subjective, Kant has shown that our experience is inapplicable to things themselves.”
The main point where Hartmann differs from Kant is that categories exist both in our cognition and in things in themselves. As a matter of fact, at this fundamental point of divergence, Hartmann laid the foundations of a new ontology whose effects will be felt very closely, especially in the phenomenological tradition.
According to Hartmann, selves form a hierarchy of levels among themselves. At the lowest level, there are physical entities subject to the categories of space and causality. Above these are plants that are subject to organic categories. It is the various forms of animal life that come after plants, subject to categories such as consciousness or purpose. Next comes people, with their social and cultural creations, as the “objectified spirit”, which he describes by quoting Hegel. These levels, or layers of being, are related in various ways, but the lower entities can never form the higher ones.
In this sense, for example, entities consisting of pure matter cannot exist in any part of a plant, animal or human being. However, on the contrary, the self at a higher level of being necessarily exists in a lower entity or its corresponding categories. In line with this pure ontological distinction, Hartmann turned to the question of how the field of values should be grounded. As a matter of fact, Hartmann’s greatest contribution to philosophy undoubtedly shows itself in the field of “value-knowledge”. In the most general sense, Hartmann does not think that values exist based on the living of the rational will, as Kant thought, nor are they justifiable in any way by the moral imperative “you must”.
Values constitute an objective field of essences, just like mathematical and logical truths; moreover just like them a p