Between Kant and Hegel: Lectures on German Idealism

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

12
"Own Meditations on
Elementary Philosophy," I

Fichte conceived of the Aenesidemus Review in 1793, and the Allgemeine Literaturzeitung published it in the spring of 1794. The review is, in part, a defense and, in part, a criticism of Reinhold. Of equal import is its rejection of Schulze's skeptical method, whose underlying assumptions excluded significant philosophical insight by overlooking the facts on which one could base such insight.

Two thoughts dominate the review. The first is that opposition, rather than combination, is the basic mental structure. In criticism of Reinhold, Fichte maintains that relating and distinguishing are not basic activities of the mind, but presuppose what is truly basic—the activity of opposing. The second is that the faculty of representation exists only for the faculty of representation. This claim is a consequence of Fichte's criticism of Schulze's strategy that implicitly requires the immediate certitude and autonomy of the "I am" to be valid in itself, without recourse to any other thing.

In his criticism of Reinhold, Fichte concurs with Schulze's assessment that the proposition on consciousness is not ultimate. At the same time he agrees with Reinhold and Schulze that the phenomenon of representation is a key phenomenon for a theory of the mind. Moreover, Fichte embraces Reinhold's view that a theory of the mind has to arrive at the structure of representation. Where Fichte differs from Reinhold is in his attempt to deduce and explain the structure of representation by analyzing another structure that underlies it. The structure to which Fichte turns is the opposition between the Ich and the Nicht-Ich—the self and the not-self.1

1. Henrich follows the convention Heath and Lachs adopted in their 1982 translation of
the Wissenschaftslehre (1794-1795), referring to the "self" and the "not-self" rather than the
"ego" and "non-ego," or the "I" and the "non-I."

-174-

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