ABOUT THIS BOOK
By applying the tools of deconstruction to crucial texts of German Idealism, John Sallis reveals the suppressed but essential role of imagination in even the most ambitious attempts to represent pure reason.
Sallis focuses on certain operations of "spacing" in metaphysics—textual lapses and leaps in which reason is displaced or suspended or abridged. In the project of establishing priority of reason, such operations can appear only in disguise, and Sallis reveals the play of imagination and metaphor that masks them. Concentrating on what has been called the closure of metaphysics, he examines texts in which the suppression of spacing would be carried out most rigorously, texts in which even metaphysics itself is seen as only an errant roaming, a spacing that must still be secured, to be replaced by a pure space of truth. And yet, in these very texts Sallis identifies outbreaks of spacing that would disrupt the tranquil space of reason. Rather than closure, he finds an opening of reason to imagination.
Sallis's reading of a metaphorical system in the Critique of Pure Reason reveals a fissuring and historicizing of what would otherwise be called pure reason. Next he traces in Fichte's major work as well as in several lesser-known texts a decentering from reason to imagination, which he characterizes as a power of hovering between opposites and beyond being. Sallis then returns to the Critique of Pure Reason to expose, in relation to the famous question of the common root of reason and sensibility, a certain eccentricity of reason. Proceeding to the Critique of Judgment, he traces a divergence of sublime nature away from that supersensible space of reason to which Kant would otherwise assimilate it—a withdrawal toward an abyss. Finally, Sallis turns to Hegel's Encyclopedia, supplementing his reading with previously unknown notes from Hegel's lectures on those sections dealing with imagination; his reading of those sections serves to expose, within the most rigorous reduction of spacing in the history of metaphysics, an irrepressible and disseminative play of imagination.