Between Kant and Hegel: Lectures on German Idealism

By Dieter Henrich; David S. Pacini | Go to book overview

3
Sensation, Cognition, and the
"Riddle of Metaphysics"

In the preceding lecture, before starting my interpretation of the systematic structure of Kantian thought, I observed that the idealists' program promised to bridge the gulf between philosophical theory and the internal experience of human life. In their view, philosophy originates in such inner experience and aims toward its interpretation. I tried to make this observation without reference to the idealists' metaphysical ideas and arguments. So I presented this idealist type of philosophizing as a philosophy of mind that is conceived as ultimate and, therefore, as a truly universal domain of philosophical analysis. So constituted, this program (I have Fichte in mind as I describe it) has to become a transcendental theory. It has to make the claim that there are different basic structures of the mind that are essentiallylinked with images of the world.

Idealist philosophy hinges on the concept of the nature of personality, which is the self-definition of the person that dominates the experience she has of what is different from herself. It simultaneously dominates her experience in such a way that the structure of experience itself depends on her self-interpretation. So conceived, such self-definition does not simply designate a discrete "person." It refers instead to "personality," which is both developed and highly integrated. By virtue of its capacity to incorporate into its self-definition the interpretation of its stages of development toward some final end, such a conception of personality also incorporates an ultimate image of the world that reflects all the stages of its development.

We can compare Plato and Fichte insofar as they share fundamental affinities in their approach to personality. The ultimate philosophical insight is also the insight into the way of the self, and one can have this insight into the way only if one has reached the final step. Both Plato's and

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