Between Kant and Hegel: Lectures on German Idealism

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

8
Reinhold and the
Systematic Spirit

Jacobi's charge that the only possible consistent philosophy is Spinozism, and that for this reason, philosophy always undermines the deepest needs of humans, exercised profound influence. Indeed, it is one of the distinctive factors in the intellectual situation from which idealist philosophy emerged. Coincident with this was a theological tendency that, although it enjoyed no influence in the circles of academic philosophy, was able to accept Jacobi's path with enthusiasm. This "tendency" bordered on the conviction that Spinoza's philosophy is the best theoretical account of the ultimate, as well as the most adequate interpretation of the potential hope and promise of Christianity: a final reconciliation between the human community and God, which dissolves the difference between God, the creator, and humans, the believers, by way of the advance of the Holy Spirit in the community.

Far from wanting to support these tendencies, Jacobi actively opposed them. But his argument—that speculative philosophy has to become Spinozistic in order to be coherent at all—paradoxically encouraged this position. Until this time, only theologians had advanced this view, but now philosophers deemed it, and with it, Spinoza, respectable, if not superior to all previous philosophical positions. However much Jacobi opposed these initiatives, they became the principle impact of his own work. Despite his attempts to show that there is no way of mediating Kant's theoretical discoveries and his Rousseauian conception of freedom with the system of Spinozism, the theological impetus to discern such reconciliation persisted.

The path toward a "Spinozism of freedom" appeared increasingly promising, even if it only remained a programmatic objective without a system-

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