On the Appearance and Reality of the Ephemeral and the Significant. The Relevance of Old Differences in the Light of New Questions

Variant title

Über Schein und Wirklichkeit Ephemeres und Bedeutsames. Zur Aktualität alter Unterscheidungen im Lichte neuer Fragen 


Since the age of the ancient Greek philosophers, the distinction between reality and appearance, like the concepts of essence and attribute, has had a profound and enduring impact on occidental thought. Some philosophers drew on the analogy of the interface between the ideality of geometrical figures and their empirical manifestation to demonstrate the different ontological, epistemological and ethical status of the ‘ideal’, ‘real’ and ‘phenomenal’ domains. Proceeding from those theoretical premises predominant in the Western intellectual tradition, the following paper critically examines a set of highly significant but contested themes, including particular forms of reductionism, the epistemological ranking of cognition and experience, the graded authenticity of fact and fiction, and the assumed primacy of the economy over politics.