Between Kant and Hegel: Lectures on German Idealism

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

13
"Own Meditations on
Elementary Philosophy," II

Let us continue our interpretation of Fichte's manuscript, Own Medita tions on Elementary Philosophy, but this time from a critical perspective. To do so we need first to recall the two discoveries on which Fichte based his Science of Knowledge. These are (1) the idea of the original self-reference of the faculty of representation, and (2) the idea of opposition as the basic structure of the mind. These ideas are, at least in part, independent of one another: a decisive criticism of one would not necessarily affect the other adversely. We need to keep before our eyes the difference between these two basic ideas as we undertake our interpretation of the various stages through which the Science of Knowledge developed. While both systematic and historical, this interpretation reconstructs Fichte's thoughts to bring more clearly into view the principle lines of his argument. In consequence of this, the order of my presentation does not always coincide completely with the precise order in some of Fichte's own writings.

In his Own Meditations on Elementary Philosophy, Fichte sought a foundation behind the structure of representation as Reinhold had described it. Fichte is committed programatically to the goals of (1) articulating a structure that can be fully comprehended without the ambiguities that accrued to Reinhold's analysis of it, and (2) developing a method for constructing a system of the mind, thereby progressing beyond the structure of representation—a development impossible for Reinhold, whose theory afforded no possibility for any rigorous deduction. Indeed, Fichte was of the view that reaching the foundation under the structure would permit him to engage in the sort of deduction that Reinhold's system precluded.

Fichte's vehicles for this reconstruction are (1) "opposition" as the basic structure of the mind, and (2) the privileged position of the subject from

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