Kant And The Dual Character Of The Ego

Kant distinguished the noumenal from the phenomenal ego. The former he

regarded as an idea, the latter as a reality in time. The distinction

corresponds roughly to that between person and nature. The phenomenal

ego is the nature of man. It bears the brunt of the struggle of life.

The noumenal ego is the transcendent personality of the individual--an

idea which pure reason necessarily forms and which practical reason

establishes. Though the Kantian philosophy no longer carries

conviction, it is interesting to see that Kant felt and admitted a

double current in man's being. He recognised that the superficial self

is not the true being of the man. It is not necessary, however, to go

as far as Kant went. We need not with him relegate the core of

personal being to the realm of idea. Granted that personality is not

part of our normal experience as nature is, there are times when the

depths of being are stirred. Moments of crisis drive a man deeper than

will and thought and even feeling, and make him conscious of himself as

a psychic unity, permanent and of infinite value. Personality normally

remains in the recesses of the subconscious. It is the hidden basis of

life. It is active, though its activities are for the most part

underground. It does not, however, lie altogether outside the ken of

consciousness. It may be experienced; it is experienced when great

emotion rends the surface fabric of the man and discloses the true self.