Knowing Limits

Toward a Versatile Perspectivism with Nietzsche, Heidegger, Zhuangzi and Zen

Research in Phenomenology


This essay is about “knowing limits,” both in the sense of acknowledging the inevitable perspectival limits of our knowledge, and in the sense in which the act of knowing delimits the parameters of that which is known. Moreover, it aims to cultivate a versatile perspectivism that is ethically oriented by a capacity for ecstatic empathy rather than an egocentric will to power. The essay begins with an examination of the mind/body problem as a paradigmatic case of perspectival ambiguity, making reference to a wide range of authors. The focus of the central sections of the essay is on Nietzsche and Heidegger, while the final sections are devoted to developing a phenomenological reading of Zhuangzi and Zen. At issue throughout is the articulation of a versatile perspectivism responsive to both the demarcative and disclosive senses of knowing limits.