I’ve been thinking actively again about Frege. I was puzzling through his apparent Platonism, wondering about Tom Ricketts’ way of responding to that (in his masterful paper, “Objectivity and Objecthood”), and I recalled this passage of Karl Jaspers. It strikes me as useful on Kant (as it was intended to be) but also as useful about Frege–and as marking a deep similarity in the problematic each faces.
The fundamental difficulty is that Kant, in striving to disclose the conditions of all objectivity, is compelled to operate within objective thinking itself, hence in a realm of objects which must not be treated as objects. He tries to understand the subject-object relationship in which we live as though it were possible to be outside it. He strives toward the limits of the existence of all being for us; standing at the limit, he endeavors to perceive the origin of the whole, but he must always remain within the limit. With the transcendental method he strives to transcend while remaining within the world. He thinks about thought. Yet he cannot do so from outside thought, but only by thinking.
Frege does not use Kant’s transcendental method. But his symbolism can be understood as striving to transcend thought while remaining within it, to disclose the conditions of all objectivity while operating within objective thinking itself.