|SUBJECT OF SELF-TRANSGRESSION
|The first sentence of the preface to the first edition of the Critique of Pure Reason from 1781 sketches the outlines of problematic subjectivity. "Human reason has a particular fate in one genus of its knowledge: that it is troubled by questions which it cannot dismiss because they are posed by the nature of reason itself, but which it also cannot answer because they transcend all capabilities of human reason."
A part of the nature of reason — whereby in this case Kant is addressing the subjectivity of the subject itself — is the impossibility of dismissing questions which reason itself is forced to pose and to answer. Reason thereby obliges itself by making itself into the arena of an active failure or a constitutive self-overtaxing. That is its "fate", says Kant, at least "in one genus of its knowledge": that it finds itself placed under the demand of achieving more than it can factually achieve because the questions with which it troubles itself and which bring it into a state of "embarrassment" "transcend all capabilities of human reason".
They are in a certain way inhuman questions, questions which drive human being to its problematic and perhaps necessarily undecidable limit, even though they take their starting-point and their necessity from human being itself. They are questions which transgress reason, self-consciousness, the subject and obscure it as something transgressed, questions through which reason plunges "into obscurity and contradictions from which it can indeed gather that they must be based somehow on hidden errors, but which it cannot uncover because the principles which it employs no longer recognize any touchstone of experience since they go beyond the bounds of all experience. The battleground for these endless disputes is called metaphysics".
In experiencing itself, reason goes through the experience of the limits of all experience insofar as, like Kant himself says, metaphysics, "as the consummation of the culture of all human reason," is a part of reason itself. The self-articulation of reason is in itself already metaphysical in the sense that metaphysics, as the Prolegomena say, "is given by the natural predisposition of human reason". Transcendental dialectics, as the second division of transcendental logic, is the official location of the staging of the metaphysicity of reason as a transcendental self-overtaxing. Nevertheless, the book as a whole, whilst trying to simultaneously denounce two erroneous paths (firstly, the path of dreaming or seeing ghosts of dogmatic pre-Kantian metaphysics, and secondly, the path of positivist lack of fantasy and its trite obscurantism of facts), makes an effort to constitute a subject beyond these false alternatives of 'idealism' and 'realism'.
Perhaps this subject is not so far as generally assumed from the conception of a (new) subject in Nietzsche's thinking, whose decisive characteristic is the power and the will to affirm eternal recurrence. For this subject, too, is the subject of a self-overtaxing and self-overwinding. It is the subject of becoming and its affirmation which has to assert itself simultaneously both beyond and within its capabilities, the subject that emerges in more recent philosophy as the subject of ek-stasy (Heidegger), subject of absolute freedom (Sartre), subject of the exterior (Blanchot), subject of deterritorialization (Deleuze/Guattari), subject of responsibility and self-exposition in absolute hospitality (Lévinas, Derrida).
Perhaps Nietzsche, more implicitly than intentionally, has contributed to intensifying and clarifying this Kantian figure of a subject of self-overexertion. To think along with Nietzsche perhaps means to be a Kantian in a sense not taken into account by Nietzsche. Perhaps both thinkers, in their complementarity and incompatibility, open up the zone of another metaphysics as long as we understand metaphysics as the battleground of a subjectivity asserting itself against itself.