I’m very slowly reading Wahl’s Human Existence and Transcendence. I have come the final section of the book, reading comments from the philosophers who attended Wahl’s 1937 “famous lecture” that is the nucleus of this book, and I’m noticing an interesting and important theme I want to give a name.

First, much of the discussion revolves around differences between existential philosophies and philosophies of existence, the difference being whether the philosophy itself is an existential act or if the philosophy focuses on questions about existence. The same basic form occurs around other questions, including transcendence (thought that is an act of transcendence versus thinking about what transcends us), religion (thought that is religious in nature vs theories about religion), and so on.

This is a very interesting move, and for me it is especially important because it features in my Geometric Meditations. I suggest that intuitions of what, how and why can be both acts of intuition as well as objects of intuition, and that we often confuse them along these lines. I offer some names for different combinations of ways of intuiting with different kinds of intuitive objects, less for the sake of designing a taxonomy than as a distinction sensitization exercise.

Before I can continue this thought I will need to provide some clarity on my unusual (and if I may say so, extremely useful) conception of subjectivity. I prefer to base it, not on our common subject-object distinction, which most serious thinkers have recognized to be irreparably flawed, and instead base it on academic subjects. An academic subject is a distinct style of approaching, encountering, understanding, communicating and generating knowledge in some domain of reality which can partially or entirely overlap with other subjects. I think human subjects and subjectivity in general are best understood in this sense of subject.

This means that the theme I noticed in Wahl — the tendency to confuse of the understanding subjectivity and the understood object — could be viewed as a subject-object ambiguity, or what I will (until something better or more established comes along) call ambijectivity.

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