Between Kant and Hegel: Lectures on German Idealism

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

9
Reinhold and
"Elementary Philosophy"

Jacobi's principal ideas approach some notions that Fichte deemed crucial in his Science of Knowledge. Viewed from this perspective, three among Jacobi's contributions stand out: (1) the idea of the internal unity of the human that expresses itself in one basic drive, (2) the challenge to the Kantians to become absolute egoists, and (3) the elimination of the thingin-itself by way of the introduction of the adverbial interpretation of sensation. Nonetheless, it was impossible to advance from Jacobi's philosophy to the type of idealist thoughts that would soon emerge. What was missing was the coherent idea of a systematic formal structure that could incorporate both the basic drive and its description. However much these young philosophers believed in the truth of Kant's philosophy, they had no notion of what its systematic structure might be. It was for this reason that the ideas of Reinhold signaled a new beginning. He pioneered the idea of a one-dimensional system, even though his execution of such a system was thoroughly flawed. Despite its numerous shortcomings, it is impossible for us to omit consideration of the systematic idea he introduced. For it, and the extensive inadequacies of the system he developed, prompted Fichte to develop the Science of Knowledge.

Reinhold takes as his point of departure a description of the unsettled controversies among the followers of Kant and of their disagreements over the meaning of his terminology. In his view, these controversies mandated the attempt to present Kant's philosophy from some elementary starting point, even though Kant himself had never done this. Kant presents a series of correlations among terms at the beginning of the Critique of Pure Reason, but with no attempt to justify them. In the paradigmatic case of the "thing-in-itself," Kant's terminology is at least obscure, if not inconsis-

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