Nicolai Hartmann (1882-1950),
A Friesian Critique

When I was a graduate student working on my dissertation, my advisor, Douglas Browning, thought I might be interested in a couple of philosophers who were contemporaries of Leonard Nelson -- who himself was my principal focus, for my dissertation and for philosophy in general. These other philosophers were Max Scheler (1874-1928) and Nicolai Hartmann. I gathered that they were on the sort of spectrum that included Edmund Husserl (1859-1938), with whom I already had some familiarity. But at the time I did not expect to get much more of value out of Husserl, and Browning had nothing to say about Scheler or Hartmann that indicated in what ways they might be helpful. So I did not pursue the matter.

Years later, looking through a book catalogue, still many years before Amazon.com or on-line searches, I saw a three volume work on ethics listed by Hartmann. That sounded like something in an area where new ideas or perspectives might always be helpful. So I placed an order. Unfortunately, this edition, by the Humanities Press [1974, 1975], seemed only to have available the second and third volumes, not the first. Only the two volumes arrived. I suspected that the books listed were being remaindered, and that the first volume had actually sold out the print run. No "print on demand" books back then. I did not want to start reading a work by Hartmann except from the beginning, so the two volumes obtained were filed away until such time as the first could be found. Again, there did not seem enough promise in the business to warrant simply obtaining the book from a library -- not like I went in urgent pursuit of John Philoponus.

Now all three volumes are back in print from Transaction Publishers [Ethics, Volume I, Moral Phenomena, 2002, 2007, Volume II, Moral Values, 2003, 2009, and Volume III, Moral Freedom, 2004, 2015] and, after ten years, I noticed that they were out there. They have now all acquired new, extensive introductions, written by Andreas A.M. Kinneging, from the Faculty of Law at the University of Leiden. With a detailed background on Hartmann, the Introduction to Volume I is what I began reading. This gives some perspective that the substance of the three volumes on ethics might not, and it already calls for a response.

Kinneging says that Hartmann, "studied with the neo-Kantians Hermann Cohen and Paul Natorp," and:

As a student Hartmann was very much under the influence of neo-Kantianism, but from about 1910 he gradually began to move away from idealism and turned towards a very different philosophy. His first important book, Grundzüge einer Metaphysik der Erkenntnis, which appeared in 1921, constitutes a renouncement [sic] of idealism and a conversion to realism. [Ethics, Volume I, Moral Phenomena, pp.vi-vii]

Now, in Friesian terms this is of significant interest. The Neo-Kantians like Cohen were critics of Jakob Fries, and Leonard Nelson's own doctoral dissertation was a defense of Fries and a refutation of the Neo-Kantian approach to both Kant and Fries.

In those terms, Hartmann was off to a bad start, although perhaps breaking with the Neo-Kantians was a sign of better things. Or not. Kenneging says, "Hartmann's thought is decisively shaped by six writers: Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Hegel, Husserl, and Scheler" [p.viii]. In terms of those philosophers, Hartmann's thought threatens to be as misconceived as that of the Neo-Kantians. The list of "six writers" signifiantly leaves out Descartes and, most especially, Hume, and it unfortunately includes Hegel, whose influence can be of no use in any development of the Critical Philosophy. Without Hume, there is the danger and the threat of a philosopher, whether Hegel or Hartmann, falling back into the "dogmatic slumber" from which Hume awakened Kant. Indeed, Hartmann himself seems to have ended up with an ontological realism of such an uncritical sort that it might just be called "stubborn" or "obstinate" rather than merely "naive" realism.

Kinneging gives us an overview:

In a sense, Hartmann's work constitutes a return to a Platonic and Aristotelian ontology cum ethics, even though he differs with Plato and Aristotle in important aspects. Many of these differences can be traced back to Kant, who always remained one of Hartmann's guiding-lights, even though he rejected Kant's transcendental idealism. Hegel was important to Hartmann both in his general ontology, influencing his views on the structure of the world, and also in his philosophy of the spirit. From Husserl, Hartmann mainly derived the phenomenological methodology of essence-perception (Wesensschau), which according to him was the basis and starting-point of good ontology. Finally, Max Scheler (1874-1928) needs to be mentioned, because he deeply influenced Hartmann's ethics. [p.viii]

None of this sounds goods. Unless one is a Neoplatonist, there is no such thing as "Platonic and Aristotelian ontology," but one or the other. That Hartmann really wants neither, without actually specifying how, as we will see, is part of his stubborn realism. If Hartmann rejected "Kant's transcendental idealism," this means that he rejected the existence of things-in-themselves, as did the Neo-Kantians, which ought to leave him with subjective (Berkeley) or objective (Hegelian) Idealists, but doesn't, since he wants to be a realist, without, however, answering any of the arguments of Descartes, Hume, Kant, or, for that matter, Husserl.

Thus, while Kinneging keeps talking about "idealism," he doesn't mention Kant's empirical realism -- which has a much clearer meaning that the peculiar and obscure "transcendental idealism" used for Kant's philosophy in general -- or the that is Husserl's Pyrrhonian form of Phenomenology. Instead, Husserl is endorsed by Hartmann for his Wesensschau, which is a naive intuitionism, without value for epistemology, and the most devastatingly targeted by Friesian epistemology, and a grave relapse, like Hegel himself, into dogmatic Rationalist epistemology. Later, Kenneging says,

Kant's synthetic judgment a priori also bears upon this kind of knowledge. Following the latter, Hartmann speaks of a priori knowledge as 'an inner grasping of a state of affairs, that has immediate certainty, and can claim generality and necessity.' [p.xv]

"Immediate certainty" absolutely defines intuitionism, and it contradicts Kant's own definition of "synthetic," which applies to propositions that can be denied (as Hume said) without contradiction. Thus, Kant would never say that the axioms of geometry, which he says are synthetic, are known with "immediate certainty," this would erase the whole point of the analytic/synthetic distinction and the whole basis of rejecting Rationalist epistemology (although it is a mistake commonly made by later philosophers and commentators). If Hartmann thinks he is a follower of Kant there, he has understood Kant no more and no better than most other Kant commentators, pro and con, since. Furthermore, a "claim" of "generality and necessity" is not something evident (with "immediate certainty") from a priori knowledge but instead, like any other claim, must be tested and evaluated, as Socrates proposes to do with the "claim" about piety by Euthryphro. Socrates had his own Method, which we should continue, for doing this.

And then we get the most alarming part of the passage. Hartmann found Hegel "important... both for his general ontology, influencing his views on the structure of the world, and also in his philosophy of the spirit." However, Hartmann, with his stubborn realism, seems to actually reject Hegel's ontology and his "structure of the world," as Kenneging informs us, "Hegel wrongly metastasized spiritual being as something existing outside of the individual and with an inherent teleology" [p.xi]. Unfortunately, that pretty much erases Hegel's "general ontology" and his theory "on the structure of the world," leaving little or nothing for Hartmann to legitimately take away from it. Hegelian Spirit is essentially teleological, and Spirit exists "outside of the individual" because, in the Dialectic, Spirit synthesizes internal and external, Concept and Nature, overcoming both. The individual is ephemeral, overwhelmed by Death and the State, which, each in their own way, are immortal.

Now, it is only sensible if Hartmann had said this was false, but somehow he wants to salvage Hegel's Spirit without retaining Hegel's metaphysics. How he can do that is a good question, especially if maybe, like a lot of people, he has not properly understood Hegel's metaphysics -- we don't find Karl Popper among the "six writers," despite Popper's critique of Hegel being available in Hartmann's lifetime. Of course, Hegelians don't accept Popper's critique; but then sometimes I wonder if Hegelians have understood Hegel, or at least whether they are honest about the implications of Hegel's system. Robert Solomon's interpretation often seems evasive or disingenuous -- especially when we find him saying things like "We assume as our dogma the priority of the individual," without otherwise admitting, as Hartmann at least does, that individuality is unreal and "irrational" in Hegel.

Part of the answer about Hartmann is something that Kenneging puts in a footnote, and we might take a peek there before looking at the main text:

Does this imply that Hartmann, like Plato, believes in a chorismos between the ideal and the real? He explicitly denies it in ch.50b, but he also rejectes Aristotelian 'immanentism.' The truth, according to Hartmann, ch.46b, lies in a synthesis between Plato and Aristotle. At ch.50b he metaphorically describes the relation between the ideal and the real as the 'floating of the sphere of ideal being.' [note 32, p.xxxiii; references to Hartmann's Grundlegung der Ontologie]

Why Kenneging thinks it necessary to use a Greek term here, , "separation," that no one is likely to have heard of, I cannot say. It does refer, however, to an essential feature of Platonic metaphysics, which is that the World of Being, with the Forms, is separate from the World of Becoming, which we see. So Hartmann rejects Plato, and he also rejects the "immanentism" of Aristotle, where essences subsist, and can be apprehended, in empirical objects. What "synthesis" does he end up with? Not Hegel's, apparently, but instead as the "floating of the sphere of ideal being," which seems to literally mean nothing. Indeed, Kenneging quotes J. Notbüsch, a commentator on Hartmann, saying, "more or less all who have commented on Hartmann's theory of ideal being have concluded that at this point much in Hartmann's utterances remains unclear" [ibid.]. No kidding.

So it looks like Hartmann has decided he doesn't want Plato's metaphysics, or Aristotle's, or Kant's, or Hegel's. And he doesn't want to suspend judgment, like Husserl. But we never quite get the idea of what is going to combine the truths in all of these without actually being any of them -- although there was a long history in Neoplatonism of doing something of the sort. But we don't get Neoplatonic metaphysics either, only something "floating." But if "much in Hartmann's utterances remains unclear," it means that he doesn't have an actual metaphysical theory. His "realism," with its "floating" ideal being, is just stubborn in its opaqueness. This is not the sign of a very good philosopher.

Returning to the beginning, I might have some sympathy for Hartmann when Kenneging says that he avoids the "fashionable currents" of "subjectivism and relativism" and "materialism and empiricism," or the trendy schools where "The world 'in itself' is unknowable or even non-existent" [p.v]. Unfortunately, the "stubborn" feature of Hartmann's thought is that his denial of these things does not seem to be accompanied by arguments or observations that would establish any real alternative theory. We only get, again, something "floating."

So let's see now Hartmann and Kenneging get things going:

In the first sentence of the introductory chapter of his Grundzüge der Metaphysik der Erkenntnis, Hartmann states that, phenomenologically, it is undeniable that 'cognition is not a creation, production, or bringing about of an object, as idealism [...] wants to teach us, but comprehending something, that is there, prior to all cognition and independent of it.' Cognition is always cognition of a transcendent object 'in itself.' This phenomenological fact entails nothing conclusive as to the ultimate nature of cognition, but it does give realism a certain prima facie claim to truth. [pp.viii-ix]

Actually, cognition is indeed "a creation, production, or bringing about of an object," an object of thought or perception that exists, as such, only in thought or perception in consciousness. In this, Hartmann seems entirely unaware of the problems addressed by Descartes, Hume, Kant, and even Schopenhauer, in which thought and perception disappear with the loss of consciousness. He is innocent of the central problematic of epistemology and metaphysics in Modern Philosophy. Also, if he thinks that "idealism" posits the creation of empirical objects quite apart from external reality, then he has missed Kant's assertion that "representation in itself does not produce its object in so far as existence is concerned" [Critique of Pure Reason, 14, A92, B124-125]. Since Hartmann now apparently makes no distinction been phenomena, which have a mental existence, and things in themselves, which are objects in so far as they exist externally and independently, he can say "Cognition is always cognition of a transcendent object 'in itself'."

This now sounds like appalling nonsense. If we had Hartmann's Wesensschau and could intuit the essences of things as "transcendent objects in themselves," then we would certainly know (with "immediate certainty") through perception that matter consists of atoms and sub-atomic particles, which as dimensionless, Dirac Point Particles, leaving matter to consist of empty space filled with fields of the forces of nature. But, having noticed nothing in his perception of matter that Newton had not already discerned, Hume said that nothing else would ever be discovered. This is revealing about the nature and limits of Hume's empiricism, or any empiricism.

Ignoring Hume, in so far as I can gather from Kenneging, Hartmann makes a clearly absurd claim. Most of what the world is like is hidden from us, and Hartmann's stubborn realism is not such as to make any provision for this. Descartes figured that he only knew the essence of matter from the "clear and distinct ideas" that God had provided with his innate reason. There is no "prima facie claim to truth" with Hartmann, but something more like an embarrassing self-refutation. If Hartmann means Kant when he says that "idealism" means that "the world 'in itself' is unknowable," then he has not paid attention to Kant's expectations from science, which are very different from Hume's, or Kant's idea that morality provides clues to the transcendent. Thus, Hartmann's approach actually is a kind of reductionism, and his "realism," of a "what we see is what we get" sort, closes off whole spheres of being, where, as Kant understood, unconditioned realities (God, freedom, and immortality) can exist as they cannot among phenomena. And Hartmann can offer no "phenomenological fact" that is not covered by Kant's empirical realism.

Kenneging says that Hartmann does have "positive arguments for realism." What is offered is this:

These are not found in the sphere of cognition, but in what Hartmann calls 'emotional-transcendent acts.' In the sphere of cognition there will always be room for skepticism as to our ability to know reality as it is, because in a cognitive relation the subject remains relatively [?] untouched and isolated from its object. In these circumstances, the question of how a subject, imprisoned in its own consciousness, can know a transcendent object is easily posed and hard to answer. In 'acts' such as suffering, on the other hand, the subject is 'overcome' by reality 'in itself.' In active involvement in the world the subject experiences the 'resistance' and 'opposition' of reality 'in itself.' Here there is no room for doubt. '[T]he unfailing conviction of the being in itself of the world in which we live, does not so much rest on perception, as on the experienced resistance, that reality offers to the activity of the subject.' [p.ix]

Unfortunately, this does not rise above the level of sophistication of Locke's arguments for realism, and there is nothing in these "positive arguments" to which Kant and even Descartes could not readily agree. Neither of them thought that we are free of "active involvement" in the world, from which we indeed experience "resistance" and "opposition." In both, we are causally affected by external objects. This calls into serious question whether Hartmann has understood the most elementary features of their philosophy. If we take Hartmann's argument seriously, it only establishes that external objects are there, something Descartes and Kant have no thought of denying. Hartmann seems to be thinking of some sort of "idealism," perhaps that of Berkeley, in which external objects do not exist -- although even Berkeley held that we are causally affected by one external object, namely God, whose own "resistance" and "opposition" to many of our acts we should take seriously indeed. Only in Hegel's "absolute" Idealism is there nothing external to "Spirit," yet Hartmann seems to pay a lot more favorable attention to Hegel than to Hume.

If Harmann himself makes an argument that what he is talking about "does not so much rest on perception," then he has missed the point, since all the epistemological questions of Descartes, Hume, and Kant are precisely about perception and cognition, which, after a fashion, Hartmann has simply dismissed in this passage. After all, Descartes and Kant thought it was necessary to explain in cognitive terms how the subject is not "imprisoned in its own consciousness." Hartmann thinks he can evade that challenge with what is really an irrelevant argument, establishing something that is not responsive to the challenges posed by Descartes and Modern epistemology.

Kenneging continues:

Hartmann's arguments are directed at a restoration of the dignity of the world 'in itself,' or 'being in itself' as he calls it, and a revocation of Kant's Copernican turn. With this move... preoccupations of much of modern philosophy are put aside at one stroke, and ontology, the study of being qua being, is restored to its former status as prima philosophia. [p.ix]

Of course, Kant's Copernican turn, that the mind is an active participant in the construction of experience, now seems all but self-evident in the age when Artificial Intelligence is trying to create (perhaps hopelessly) the functional equivalent of the brain. Nor does the world in itself require any restoration of its "dignity" after Kant, since it is only among things in themselves that perfect goodness and righeousness are possible, and the moral dignity of the individual instantiated. Perhaps Hartmann thinks that such things are present in the phenomenal world. But abolishing the Cartesian problematic, with ontological priority again displacing epistemology as "first philosophy," simply returns Hartmann to the terms of Mediaeval metaphysics, i.e., as Popper would say, "Scholasticism." In retrospect, that did not accomplish any more than Rationalist metaphysics, which at least operated in the shadow of the Cartesian revolution. Hartmann does not seem to have understood what happened there, although he is not alone in trying to rid himself of the Cartesian problematic. But he seems to do it more by forgetfullness than by argument.

Kenneging moves on to Hartmann's distinction between "real being" and "ideal being." Making a dualistic disctinction like this, while denying any of the dualistic distinctions in the history of metaphysics that would ground it, and offering nothing new of the same utility, we are back to Hartmann's problem of what to do with his "ideal being," which, as I have already noted, is left "floating" between the Platonic transcendent and the Aristotelian immanent. Kenneging gets into it in this way, with a long direct quote of Hartmann:

'In ancient times,' Hartmann sets out in Ethics, 'it was seen that there is another realm of being than that of existence, than that of "real" things and of consciousness which is not less "real." Plato named it the realm of the Idea [], Aristotle that of the eidos [], the scholastics called it the realm of essentia. After having been long misunderstood and deprived of its right in modern times through the prevailing subjectivism, this realm has again come into recognition with relative purity in that which phenomenology calls the realm of Wesenheiten. Wesenheit is a translation of essentia. It means the same thing, if we disregard the various metaphysical presuppositions which have attached themselves to the idea of essence. But on its part, essentia is a translation, although a very faded one, of the Aristotelian phrase ti èn einai [ ; actually, it directly translates Greek ], in which the past tense èn [], understood as timeless, points to the sum total of the structural elements that are presupposed -- that is, of that which in the concrete thing, act or occurrence constitutes the objective prius and of that account is always contained in it.' [p.xiii, and pp.184-184, where Hartmann uses the actual Greek, without, suspiciously, rendering the accent of grave rather than acute]

Popular modern philosophy still has no use for essences, and Phenomenology, as conceived by Husserl, suspends metaphysical judgments, which means that the ontological status of the "realm" of essences never arises. Apparently returning to Scholastic metaphysics, Hartmann doesn't seem to understand the task he has taken on. This passage does nothing more than say that there are essences, without a clue where this "realm" is to be located. Indeed, if Hartmann rejects the metaphysics of Plato, Aristotle, Kant, and Hegel and, most importantly, affirms the indidividual against Hegel, the only place for essences to exist is in the mind of the subject, perhaps with the Conceptualism of Peter Abelard, but otherwise inescapably in a form of the dreaded "subjectivism" (or psychologism). All in all, with his "floating" ideal realm or essences, Hartmann shows no imagination or originality in fundamental metaphysics, and he offers us nothing more than "they must be someplace" kind of ontology.

The treatment of Plato may be of particular interest. Kenneging says:

Ideal being manifests itself in real being, but it is not absorbed in it. Ideal being is an independent sphere of being.

Hartmann's indebtedness to Plato on this issue is obvious. He disagrees with Plato on the status of the sphere of ideal being, however. In Plato's view, the sphere of Ideas is the sphere of true being, and real being is merely an imperfect reflection of it. Hartmann rejects this 'nimbus of loftiness' surrounding Platonic ideas. Ideal being 'is a "thinner," floating, insubstantial being, half-being so to speak, which still lacks the full weight of being.' This nimbus of loftiness 'is the expression of a false idealism, which will have to be paid for in life; because it results in a devaluation and disregard of the real.' This is tragic, Hartmann believes, because the truly valuable things in life are to be found precisely there, in the transient world of real being. [p.xiv]

If Kenneging has gotten Hartmann right, this is a very odd passage. If anything, it is a "nimbus of loftiness" that surrounds Hartmann's own "ideal realm," which is the thinly "floating, insubstantial being, half-being so to speak." Plato's Forms are in a starkly separate, absolutely existing World. Hartmann provides nothing like that for his own "independent sphere" of ideal being. Hartmann seems to be projecting the characteristics of his own "ideal realm" onto Plato's much more clearly defined ontology. For Plato, it is the visible world of Becoming that "is a 'thinner,' floating, insubstantial being, half-being so to speak, which still lacks the full weight of being" (reversing the British punctuation there).

One of the most revealing things about this passage may be the final statement, that "the truly valuable things in life are to be found precisely there, in the transient world of real being." This is not something one would expect a Christian to say, or, for that matter, a Buddhist. Indeed, if we asked where in the history of philosophy the "transient world" is the most strongly described in terms like "floating, insubstantial being, half-being," it would be in Buddhism, where the "transient" nature of , samsara, is as such productive of suffering. But for Christians, this is in turn no less than a "vale of tears." The "truly valuable things in life" are subject to absence, imperfection, and loss in this life, in the face of which Jesus promises eternal life. Having lived through the Nazis, Hartmann might have developed more concern about what can go wrong here.

Nicolai Hartmann does not need to be a Christian. But if his philosophy makes no provision for Christian, or Buddhist, belief, then there is a certain commitment involved, one that is, in religious terms, reductionistic. If the "transcendent" is what we see here, which I think Hartmann clearly says, then there is no room for heaven or hell or any other supernatural existence, and nothing that would qualify when Kant asks, "What can we hope?" Hartmann may want to deny being a materialist, and perhaps the "nimbus of loftiness" in his own ideal realm prevents this, but a thorough naturalism is not prevented, one not unlike Aristotelian metaphysics, where there is no human immortality or heaven beyond the visible sky. And does Hartmann make any provision for a personal God, or for Brahman or the Âtman? If only the visible world has "the full weight of being," he does not.

Where might the "realm" of essences be? This has been considered elsewhere in relation to the Problem of Universals. A Kantian approach to essences and universals takes advantage of Kant's metaphysics, in which essences can exist among things in themselves, without us knowing whether they absolutely subsist in Aristotelian individuals or in a Platonic World of Forms. Thus, from our point of view, they exist both in empirical objects, in Aristotelian fashion, and transcendentaly, accessed from within the mind, in Platonic fashion. But these are the same thing, since empirical objects are phenomenal objects, existing in consciousness, and consciousness itself corresponds to the existence in itself of the subject, with roots in the transcendent.

But essences in phenomenal objects are not known intuitively in the way that Aristotle, Hartmann, or even Leonard Nelson would have thought. The brain does register certain abstract features in perception, and these features are kinds of essences that come to awareness in perception. However, a chair has an essence that is not natural, but conventional, and the features naturally inhering in the object must be recognized in terms of a conventional concept learned and formulated in the mind. The interesting way this works, in part, can be studied in Gesalt images, for instance in the one at left. This contains outlines that look, on the one hand, like two faces, and, on the other hand, like a single sculpted chalice. The brain recognizes both of them, but it "sees" faces and chalice altenatively, without conscious effort, decision, or preference. This exposes the role of the mind in perception itself, so that what is seen depends on the possession of concepts like "face" and "chalice." Kant may have been the first philosopher, with his "Copernican" turn, to understand this interaction between concepts and perception, and Schopenhenauer was one of his few successors to appreciate the point. This is a "phenomenological fact" that Hartmann may not have understood.

Thus, Kantian metaphysics can accomplish the trick for which Hartmann seems to have been looking, but never found. He had already left it behind in accepting Neo-Kantianism, but then in returning, not to Kant himself, but to Scholastic metaphysics, he still could not take advantage of it. In the simplest terms, essences and concepts are not merely subjective, because phenomenal objects are themselves part of consciousness. Hegel could inflate that all into Absolute Spirit, but the Kantian places the objective existence of essences and concepts, apart from objects, among things in themselves, where we cannot say whether they have Aristotelian or Platonic status, or both, in some way that defeats our understanding and generates Antinomies. Hartmann does not seem to be the kind of philosopher to allow for real Antinomies. He had not even understood that synthetic a priori propositions are not self-evident.

Where I do not think that the Friesians went far enough beyond Kant is in this:  Kant, Fries, and Nelson all saw reason as functioning in the faculty of reason. Kant thought that the formalism of logic was a sufficient manifestation of Reason to construct the Categories of the Understanding, the Moral Law, and other things. In this he gravely overestimated the power of the formalism to produces substantive results, which is especially awkward when it comes to the Moral Law. The Friesians saw Reason as an independent source of knowledge, in the form of a priori priniciples grounded in non-intuitive immediate knowledge. That ground supplies the Kantin quid juris for synthetic a priori knowledge, but the quid facti of identifying such things falls to Socratic Method, which has been referenced above.

It has long been objected that introspection cannot observe "faculties" of the mind, although, to be sure, neurologists do think that certain parts of the brain do certain things, and brain damage in certain areas can leave victims mentally malfunctioning in sometimes bizarre ways. Nevertheless, "faculty psychology," credible or not, becomes unncessary in Friesian philosophy. That is because of the theory of non-intuitive immediate knowledge. The Platonic intuition of the Forms occurs in what Buddhism calls the "intermim state," i.e. between births. Neoplatonism retained this but abolished the separate World of Being, requiring for the requisit intuition a state of mystical transport. But when this "intuition" ceases to be an intuition, although retaining its immediacy, then the entire Platonic World of Forms, whatever it is, is suddenly something directly accesible and something with which we are immediately, albeit unconsciously, acquainted in perception. There is one feature of that already understood by Plato himself:  Beauty, , is the clue that leads directly to the Forms. Plato, of course, though it was no more than a clue, since Beauty Itself is in the World of Forms, but the Friesian can say that Beauty Itself is already there, albeit non-intuitively. Thus, what we can recognize about it, gleaned indirectly, must be analyzed and tested, as Socrates would have done.

This carries me rather far from the critique of Nicolai Hartmann. But I have indicated the directions that have been, and can be, taken, to overcomes the deficiencies in his thought, which are so glaring and painful in the presentation by Andreas Kinneging. Futher investigation will reveals whether anything of value is to be derived from Hartmann's Ethics, and whether Kinneging, perhaps, has misunderstood the philosopher.

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