Psychology Dictionary of Arguments

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Thing-in-itself: The concept of the "thing-in-itself," or "Ding an sich" in German, originates from the philosophy of Immanuel Kant. It refers to an object's existence and properties independent of human perception, cognition, or experience. Kant proposed that our knowledge of the world is shaped by our mental faculties and the way our minds organize sensory information. He argued that while we perceive and understand the world through our senses and mental structures, we cannot directly apprehend things as they truly are in themselves. See also reality, absoluteness, cognition, knowledge.
Annotation: The above characterizations of concepts are neither definitions nor exhausting presentations of problems related to them. Instead, they are intended to give a short introduction to the contributions below. – Lexicon of Arguments.

Author Concept Summary/Quotes Sources

Hans-Georg Gadamer on Thing in itself - Dictionary of Arguments

I 451
Thing in itself/being by itself/Gadamer: As a linguistically composed world, every (...) world is of itself open to every possible insight and thus to every expansion of its own world view and accordingly accessible to others.
"Perceived": (...) this makes the use of the term "world in itself" problematic. The yardstick for the progressive expansion of one's own world view is not formed by the "world in itself" situated
outside of all linguistically. Rather, the infinite perfectibility of human experience of the world means that, whatever language one uses, one never arrives at anything other than an ever more extended aspect, a "view" of the world.
Phenomenologically speaking, the "thing in itself" consists in nothing other than the continuity with which the perspectival shadows of the perception of the thing merge into one another, as Husserl has shown (1).
Gadamer: Whoever contrasts "the thing in itself" with these must either think theologically - then to "thing in itself" is not for him, but for God alone - or he will think luciferically, as one who wants to prove his own divinity to himself by having the whole world obey him - then to him the thing in itself is a limitation of the omnipotence of his imagination.
I 453
In linguistic events (...) not only the insistent finds its place, but also the change of things. (...) in language the world represents itself. The linguistic experience of the world is "absolute". It transcends all relativities of being, because it encompasses all things in themselves,
I 454
in which relations (relativities) it always appears. The linguistic nature of our experience of the world is prior to everything that is recognized and addressed as being. The basic reference of language and world does not therefore mean that the world becomes the object of language. Rather, what is the object of knowledge and statement is always already enclosed by the world horizon of language. The linguistic nature of human experience of the world as such does not mean the objectification of the world.
What is in itself, is independent of one's own will and choice. But by recognizing it as it is in itself, it is made available in the very way that one can count on it, i.e. that one can classify it to its own purposes.
As can be seen, this concept of the thing in itself is only seemingly the equivalent of the Greek concept of kath' hauto. The latter, first of all, means the ontological difference of what a being is according to its substance and its essence, from what can be and what is changing in it. What belongs to the permanent essence of a being is certainly also knowable in an excellent sense, i.e., it has always been previously assigned to the human spirit. What is "in itself" in the sense of modern science has nothing to do with this ontological difference between the essential and the inessential, but is determined as a secure knowledge that allows the mastery of matter. The assured facts are like the object and resistance with which one must reckon. What in itself is, therefore, as Max Scheler showed in particular, is relative in a certain way of knowing and wanting (3).
I 456
Natural Sciences/Recognition/Thing in itself/Gadamer: As a science the one as well as the other [physics or biology] has pre-designed its subject area, the knowledge of which means its mastery.
Linguistically composed world: A completely different situation is found, however, where the world relationship of humans as a whole, as it is situated in the linguistic execution, is meant. The world, which appears and is written linguistically, is not in the same sense in itself and not in the same sense relative, as the object of science. It is not in itself, if it does not have the character of the representational at all. As the comprehensive whole that it is, it is never given in experience. But as the world that it is, it is not relative to a particular language either.

1. Husserl, Ideen 1, § 41.
2. It is therefore a mere misunderstanding to invoke the thing in itself of the world against idealism, be it transcendental or the philosophy of language. In doing so, one misjudges the methodological meaning of idealism, whose metaphysical form may be considered overcome since Kant (see Kant's refutation of idealism (in the Critique of Pure Reason, B 274ff).
3. GadamerVsScheler: This remains correct, even if Scheler misunderstands the sense of transcendental idealism as generational idealism, and understands the "thing in itself" as opposition to the subjective production of the object.

Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Concept/Author], [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] resp. "problem:"/"solution:", "old:"/"new:" and "thesis:" is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

Gadamer I
Hans-Georg Gadamer
Wahrheit und Methode. Grundzüge einer philosophischen Hermeneutik 7. durchgesehene Auflage Tübingen 1960/2010

Gadamer II
H. G. Gadamer
The Relevance of the Beautiful, London 1986
German Edition:
Die Aktualität des Schönen: Kunst als Spiel, Symbol und Fest Stuttgart 1977

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