Between Kant and Hegel: Lectures on German Idealism

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

16
Foundation and System in
The Science of Knowledge

We have now arrived at the point at which it is possible to discern specific instances in which Fichte was a creative thinker, and the extent to which his interpretation of the nature of humans was evidently relevant to the intellectual climate in which he was writing. Starting from the premises that Fichte introduced, we can now see how one might carry through the possibility of an idealistic program of philosophy. Still more, we have been able to bring into view the hidden structure and dynamic of the mind as Fichte understood it and to delineate ways in which others used it to reach a new understanding of the dynamism of human life. Indeed, considerable enthusiasm emerged among those who used this structure in a new analysis of the task of interpreting the formal structures of art and literature that issued in obviously modern and hitherto unseen assessments.

Through the reconstruction of Fichte's path to the foundation of the Science of Knowledge, I have attempted to demonstrate the specific kind of creativity in which he engaged and from which a sketch of an idealistic philosophy emerged. For this accomplishment alone Fichte would indeed merit recognition, as no one before him had been able to develop such a program. What he accepted as the highest principle of the Science of Knowledge was the idea of the Self's absolute being. His arguments throughout the Science of Knowledge depend on this assumption, even though he had not yet made it explicit. In the absence of this explicit assumption, certain weaknesses accrued to the arguments that he developed as he attempted to make his way through his Science of Knowledge. This is somewhat puzzling, inasmuch as he had first suggested that philosophy should be founded on the concept of the Self during his stay in Königsberg while visiting Kant. He later reported that he made this suggestion to the

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