Between Kant and Hegel: Lectures on German Idealism

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

11
The Aenesidemus Review

The course pursued in the preceding lectures affords us a distinct vantage point from which to discern the peculiar sense in which the experiment of idealism was inevitable. We can now see that a certain confluence of desires—to eliminate the unsatisfactory aspects of Kant's critical system, to fulfill Reinhold's methodological demands, to remain within the dimension of self-consciousness that Kant's teaching had intimated, and to relate to the intellectual tendencies and basic experiences of the time—issued in Fichte's experiment in idealism.

Within the perspective we have been developing, I have accorded a distinctive role to Schulze's simple, but effective, strategy for criticizing Reinhold. He developed a modified skepticism, observing that just as the thingin-itself is an illegitimate concept in the Critique of Pure Reason, so also is the very idea of critical philosophy, given the criteria it establishes. Schulze was persuaded that Kant had in two cases used an inference from what is given in consciousness to a cause that explains its givenness. In the first instance, Kant uses this inference to introduce the idea of the thing-in-itself; in the second, he uses it to introduce the discourse on the faculties of the mind that constitute mental phenomena.

The effect of Schulze's published criticism was to raise again the question of what might count as an adequate description of the method of critical philosophy. It had become evident that Reinhold had not really settled this question, inasmuch as the highest principle he proposed remained ambiguous. In the absence of any plausible explanation of the kind of evidence upon which he was basing his highest principle, Reinhold's formulation on the proposition on consciousness itself also faltered. Schulze suspected that the basic structure in Reinhold's program was unclear: we are

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