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Between Reinhold and Fichte

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Ezequiel L. Posesorski

2. Fichte

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2.1 Fichte’s Influence

  • 1 This paradigm was Fichte’s critical alternative to the skeptically refutable paradigm of the monad (...)

1Diez’s objections caused Reinhold to modify his Elementarphilosophie in ways unacceptable to Hülsen. Fichte’s position enabled Hülsen to reformulate Reinhold’s system in his own way. The Wissenschaftslehre allowed Hülsen to embrace the new Fichtean paradigm: self-determining knowledge as a personal self-grounded expression of a holistic activity of the will, and not as a grounded form of monadic subjectivism.1 Fichte’s position provided Hülsen with a new synthetic alternative capable of fusing and re-grounding morality and epistemology. It paved the way for a critical monism capable of transforming and expanding Reinhold’s systematic approach to the history of philosophy: the main missing feature of Fichte’s “improved” Elementarphilosophie and Hülsen’s own contribution. Fichte influenced Hülsen in many other ways. The adoption of a circular or self-reflecting method of derivation, the personal concept of infinite practical striving, its importance for the consolidation of a critical “moral order” within the sphere of a purposively coordinated community, the strict primacy of “spirit” on “letter”, the articulating concept of inherent systematic coherence, the ethical model of the scholar, etc, are perhaps the most preeminent examples of such influence.

2.2 The Rezension des Aenesidemus: the Origins of the Wissenschaftslehre

  • 2 See: Schulze 1911, 18. Dieter Henrich (2003, 149) summarizes Schulze’s criticism of Kant and Reinh (...)

21792 was a crucial year for the Elementarphilosophie. Apart from the objections raised by Diez, Arthur Schopenhauer’s brilliant teacher, Gottlob Ernst Schulze (1761-1833), challenged Reinhold’s system in an anonymously published essay entitled Aenesidemus oder über die Fundamente der von dem Herrn Professor Reinhold in Jena gelieferten Elementar-Philosphie: Nebst einer Vertheidigung des Skepticismus gegen die Anmaassungen der Vernunftkritik. Schulze objected to the systematic value of Reinhold’s first principle; Schulze’s skeptical criticism was also aimed at questioning the status of the thing-in-itself and the grounded human capacity for philosophical knowledge. It invalidated the systematic possibility of affirming the correspondence of an empirically represented object and its noumenal correlate.2

  • 3 See Fichte’s letter to J. F. Flatt from November or December 1793 in: Kabitz 1968, 30-1*

3By the time Schulze’s essay appeared in print, Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1762-1814) was one of the prominent emerging figures of the critical movement. His Versuch einer Kritik aller Offenbarung (1792) made him one of the emergent hopes of the new generation of post-Kantian thinkers. Schulze’s skeptical criticism of Reinhold forced Fichte to reconsider his early critical convictions and rethink his own philosophical premises.3 Fichte reacted to Schulze’s criticism in Rezension des Aenesidemus (1793), a short analytic review that appeared in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung. Fichte’s essay not only opened a new chapter in the history of German philosophy; its sketch of a critical solution to Schulze’s criticism of Reinhold reinforced Hülsen’s conviction that the early position of his first philosophy teacher was insufficiently grounded.

  • 4 See: Reinhold 1978, 109-10

4Reinhold’s early Elementarphilosophie demands that philosophy’s foundation be both materially (real) and formally (logical) valid. The proposition of consciousness is Reinhold’s formal expression of the self-evidently existing fact of consciousness.4 Fichte agrees with Reinhold on the need of grounding philosophy on a first self-evident principle. Fichte argued however, that Schulze’s criticism of the early Elementarphilosophie finds a serious inconsistency in Reinhold’s attempt to ground philosophy on a fact of consciousness.

  • 5 Fichte, ga i-2, 46

Der Satz des Bewußtseins, an die Spitze der gesamten Philosophie gestellt, gründet sich demnach auf empirische Selbstbeobachtung, und sagt allerdings eine Abstraktion aus. Freilich fühlt jeder, der diesen Satz wohl versteht, einen innern Widerstand, demselben bloß empirische Gültigkeit beizumessen. Das Gegenteil desselben läßt sich auch nicht einmal denken. Aber eben das deutet darauf hin, daß er sich noch auf etwas anderes gründen müsse als auf eine bloße Tatsache.5

  • 6 See: Hartmann 1960, 46
  • 7 According to Fichte (ga i-2, 43), Reinhold may have accepted Schulze’s criticism but have probably (...)
  • 8 See: Fichte, ga i-2, 43

5Fichte argued that Reinhold’s principle of consciousness does not achieve the required criterion of a universal or unconditionally self-grounded synthetic principle. For according to Fichte, it is actually arrived at a posteriori through abstraction from objectively determined self-observation. Fichte accordingly claimed that Reinhold’s principle is only an empirically valid and subordinated principle. It depends on the concrete representational conditions of consciousness. Fichte denied that Reinhold’s principle be ascribed the self-evident status of a first principle of philosophy. If its establishment depends on a mediating act of abstraction, then its immediate and “transparent” self-certainty must be discounted. Fichte so undermined Reinhold’s claims for the immediate epistemic and semantic self-grounding nature of the principle of consciousness. Also the subordinated character of Reinhold’s principle allows for the possibility of skeptical objections. It is possible to question the validity of the presupposed or unjustified conditions from which this principle is derived.6 Schulze claimed that the proposition of consciousness is a subordinated proposition; it presupposes the highest rule of judgment, i.e., the logical principle of contradiction.7 Consequently, Schulze concluded that the proposition of consciousness could not qualify as the first principle of philosophy.8 Paul Franks pointed out the radical importance of Fichte’s response to Schulze’s criticism of Reinhold:

  • 9 Franks 2005, 234-5. For the bracketed clarification, see: Franks 2005, 226-7

First, no universal and necessary principle can be justified through abstraction, so the Principle can be at best inductive and probable. Second, no absolutely unconditioned condition can be arrived at through mere negation of certain conditions. Such a procedure can yield at best a relatively unconditioned that is homogeneous with that which it is supposed to condition. Even if the Principle of Consciousness is not spatiotemporally conditioned, it will still turn out to share some conditions with the empirical acts or states from which it is abstracted, and so it will not be fit to serve as their absolutely unconditioned first principle, for it will be incapable of stopping the regress [i.e., the effect caused by the transformation of the principle into a part or a member subjected to the governing laws of the series from which it is abstracted]. [...] His [i.e., Reinhold’s] underlying conception of the first principle is itself ambiguous. On the one hand, he conceives it as a principle that is self-explanatory and therefore heterogeneous to what it conditions. On the other hand, he conceives it as a principle that is self-evident through “empirical self-observation” and therefore homogeneous with what it conditions. Moreover, this ambiguity must infect his conception of the entire system because it infects the character of his transcendental arguments. For if the first principle is heterogeneous with what it conditions, then systematic derivations from it should progress from ground to grounded. But if the first principle is homogeneous with what it conditions, then systematic derivations from it should regress from grounded to ground. Reinhold is — to use an apt phrase — systematically ambiguous.9

  • 10 See: Fichte, ga, i, 2, 46

6Systematic ambiguity, Reinhold’s failure to distinguish the transcendental and the empirical uses of representation, and the conditions which his strategy presupposed and which Schulze could legitimately question, led Fichte to the conclusion that philosophy cannot be grounded on a fact (Thatsache).10

  • 11 Fichte, ga, i, 2, 46

7According to Reinhold’s own standards, Fichte argued, the principle of consciousness could only assure an a priori formal-logical certainty.11 Reinhold conceded that the content of his principle is empirically given: that it only emerges a posteriori through the affecting action of a thing-in-itself. This dependence according to Fichte confirms that the principle of consciousness cannot fulfill the criteria of a first principle of philosophy; it is not a universally self-determined principle. Ontologically, Reinhold’s principle is materially deficient.

  • 12 See: Fichte, ga, i, 2, 44

8Despite the systematic inconsistencies caused by the thing-in-itself, Fichte, as later Hülsen, demanded that the first principle of philosophy fulfill this material-ontological condition. Fichte pointed out that the principle of consciousness admits that in the act of representation two original simultaneous procedures of the human spirit are synthesized: distinction and relation. Schulze’s objection was that in Reinhold’s system these two procedures are vaguely defined and left open to ambiguous interpretations. Fichte, agreeing with Schulze, concluded that Reinhold did not entirely explain the necessary transcendental conditions of this original synthesis of the human spirit.12

  • 13 See: Reinhold 1963, 323-4
  • 14 See: Fichte, ga, i, 2, 45-8

9Fichte was well aware of the skeptical implications of Schulze’s criticism. The non-determined character of the transcendental conditions suggests that the principle of consciousness is not an exhaustive principle; it is not knowledge’s superior instance. Since representation is (1) a transcendental synthetic act, Fichte reasoned, its grounding possibility must comprehend (2) a thetic (“subjective”) and (3) an antithetic (“objective”) constituting elements whereby the simultaneous acts of distinction and relation be accomplished. According to Fichte, Reinhold conceded that a noumenal or original subject and object must be logically presupposed to enable the immediate possibility of representation. Both subject and object must be thought of as indirectly present in consciousness under the forms of the representing subject and a represented object. According to Reinhold, knowledge of these two noumenal elements could be claimed only after their representation. In addition, Fichte contended that the original acts of distinguishing and relating be understood as two simultaneous procedures that point to the pre- and non-representational way in which the human spirit must be thought to act to produce the transcendental possibility of representation. In Versuch Reinhold acknowledged, though only in passing, the systematic requirement of these four original proto-conscious elements, namely a pre-representational (1) subject and (2) objet, as well as their simultaneous acts of (3) distinction and (4) relation.13 Fichte notwithstanding claimed, perhaps unfairly, that Reinhold reserved the discussion of this intrinsic issue for some future time.14 What Reinhold argues, Fichte quoted in Rezension, is that

  • 15 Fichte, ga, i, 2, 48

die bloße Vorstellung sei unmittelbar, Subjekt und Objekt aber nur vermittelst der Beziehung jener auf diese im Bewußtsein vorhanden; denn dasjenige, was im Bewußtsein auf Objekt und Subjekt bezogen werde, müsse zwar nicht der Zeit, aber seiner Natur nach vor den Handlungen des Bezogenwerdens da sein, inwiefern nichts bezogen werden könne, wenn nichts vorhanden sei, das sich beziehen lasse.15

  • 16 In a letter from July 2, 1795, Fichte [ga, iii, 2, 345] gave Reinhold the following explanation: “(...)
  • 17 Fichte’s strategy provides evidence of Schulze’s criticism of critical philosophy. For as Dieter H (...)

10For Fichte, the reinstitution of the critical status of philosophy demanded a systematic explanation of the transcendental possibilities of the three original elements comprehended in the act of representation [thesis, anti-thesis, and synthesis (of distinction and relation)].16 Fichte suggested, however, that the new original self-explanatory principle of philosophy should not be a subjectivist monadic principle, but a holistic act of the human spirit (Thathandlung). This act enables a critical monistic derivation of the exhaustive possibility of the subjectivist- monadic mechanism of representation, and secures it from all possible skeptical attacks.17 Reinhold and Fichte’s focus on the original subject also differ in another substantial aspect. As Frederick Neuhouser comments,

  • 18 Neuhouser 1990, 106-7

[...] Fichte starts with the world Tatsache but replaces Sache (“thing”) with Handlung (“act”), thereby expressing what will become the central point of his theory of the subject: The I is not to be understood as a thing but as an activity. Furthermore, the subject is a “Tat”-Handlung, an activity that is at the same time a deed, or fact. The point of joining Tat with Handlung to coin a […] term for the subject is to suggest that the existence of the I, its facticity, stands in some intimate relation to its activity and, further, that it is this relation that essentially distinguishes a subject from a thing.18

  • 19 See: Franks 2005, 229

11Fichte believed that through a holistic Thathandlung “act-grounding” of Reinhold’s subjectivist-monadic fact of consciousness, philosophy is provided with a certain and unitary ground for all possible syntheses of the human spirit, including its concrete modes of representation. Through his criticism of Reinhold, Fichte sketches the foundations of a new synthetically grounded philosophy (in the sense of the early Elementarphilosophie) the building blocks of which seem to be outlined, at least to some extent, by Reinhold himself.19 Among Reinhold’s students, Hülsen was one of the first enthusiastic receptors of Fichte’s new paradigm.

  • 20 See: Fichte, ga, i, 2, 149, and Breazeale 1982, 812

12For Fichte, the only possible way to keep the validity of Reinhold’s theory is through an a priori subordination or derivation of its Grundsatz from a new original self-explanatory principle. Fichte focuses on Reinhold’s early Elementarphilosophie as a propaedeutic that calls for critical re-grounding and correction. Fichte’s attempt will be to incorporate Reinhold’s system into a more encompassing system: the Wissenschaftslehre.20 One of Fichte’s efforts will be to disambiguate Reinhold’s transcendental-empirical equivocation. As Paul Franks holds, Fichte’s fundamental purpose will be to determine the That- handlung as

  • 21 Franks 2005, 259

a uniquely necessary, absolute first principle, heterogeneous with everything empirical, yet with demonstrable actuality; and to progressively derive from this principle, in uniquely necessary steps, the a priori conditions of experience and its objects, while demonstrating that these conditions have actuality within experience.21

13According to Fichte, the progressive deduction of the subjectivist-monadic levels of the system of knowledge demands an inquiry about the original proto-conscious acts of the human spirit. Fichte will first discuss this issue systematically in his 1794-5 Grundlage der gesammten Wissenschaftslehre, an essay which will influence Hülsen crucially.

2.3 The Grundlage der gesammten Wissenschaftslehre: the Nodal Points of Fichte’s Correction of Reinhold

  • 22 Scholars of Fichte do not agree on the nature of the foundations of the Grundlage. Although a full (...)

14The purpose of Fichte’s 1794-5 Grundlage der gesammten Wissenschaftslehre is to lay down the entire foundations of the Science of Knowledge. For Hülsen it paved the way for his expansion and re- articulating of Reinhold’s approach to the history of philosophy. As during the last decades Fichte’s Grundlage was the object of many Anglo-Saxon and German scholarly studies, I will here discuss only those results of Fichte’s correction of Reinhold which are relevant for the understanding of Hülsen’s achievement.22

  • 23 According to Paul Franks, the separated presentation of the theoretical and the practical division (...)

15Fichte’s holistic monism is committed to a first absolute principle: the Thathandlung. The self-reflectively grounded character thereof determines an immediate self-complementary fusion of the real and the ideal activities of the human spirit.23 Thus, an original pattern is established for all that that will emerge as the immanently self-posited system of knowledge: no practical grounding element can exist without its theoretical derivatives and vice versa. This necessary nexus prevents real ensuing distinctions between grounding and grounded elements.

16[i] The deduction of the Grundsatz or the Thathandlung proposition “I=I” or “I am”, has a significant role in overcoming three major failings of Reinhold’s early Elementarphilosophie: (1) the material deficiency of the principle of consciousness, (2) the idea of a noumenal subject presupposed by all representation, and (3) the concept of an immediately given certainty.

  1. Fichte argues that according to Reinhold’s own standards the principle of consciousness can only assure an a priori formal-logical certainty. The Thathandlung is Fichte’s holistic way to overcome this uncritical inconsistency. As an original onto-epistemic act, the Thathandlung establishes immediately and exhaustively the necessary protoconscious material and formal features demanded by a true first principle of philosophy. According to Fichte, Reinhold unsuccessfully tried to have provided these universal features through the ambiguous dualistic interrelation of the formal a priori principle of consciousness, and the a posteriori evident factual materiality enabled by the thing-in-itself.
  2. Fichte’s position plays an intrinsic role in the overcoming of Reinhold’s uncritical argument about the presupposition of a noumenal subject as a necessary logical condition for all representation. Fichte refutes and develops Reinhold’s thesis by showing that the Absolute I is not a transcendent entity. The concept “Absolute I” conceptualizes a holistic activity of immediate “self-awareness” that exists exclusively for, in and by itself. The Absolute I is not a noumenal entity or a “thing” at all; it is nothing but an unconditional act of self-positing in the sense explained earlier. What follows is that philosophy should be idealistic. For even the most elemental condition demanded by a critical epistemology, namely an unconditionally self-posited I, can only exist for itself.
  3. Through the Thathandlung, a necessary logical coincidence is established between the universal-formal-factor-I and the universal- content-factor-I. The original proto-conscious possibility of all certainty is thus established as an immediate act of connection of all possible form and matter of cognition.24 So the proposition expressing the form, the matter, and the necessary reciprocal presupposition of these two, namely the Thathandlung proposition “I = I” is an absolutely valid proposition.
  • 25 See: Fichte, ga, i, 2, 116
  • 26 See: Pipin 2000, 149. According to Rolf-Peter Horstmann (2000, 120), Fichte “[...] wants to overco (...)

17Fichte and Reinhold’s concept of immediate certainty differ in a significant way. Certainty in Fichte’s Wissenschaftslehre is not immediately given as in Reinhold’s early Elementarphilosophie. Instead, it is immediately self-produced or self-derived by the I as something exclusively valid for itself. In this way, Fichte gives a critical answer to one of his implicit Programmschrift objections to Reinhold, namely: how the certainty of the first principle of philosophy is itself established.25 Immediate self-grounding frees Fichte’s concept of certainty from previous logical determinations such as the law of contradiction (Schulze’s objection to Reinhold); it secures the concept Thathandlung from possible skeptical objections.26

18As Preisschrift shows, Fichte’s original monistic act enabled Hülsen, who sought original unity of thought or presumably the holistic possibility of original systematic certainty, to not only distance himself from the objectionable position of Reinhold’s principle of consciousness, but also to approach the disambiguated self-grounded standpoint of the Wissenschaftslehre.

  • 27 See: Fichte, ga, i, 2, 272
  • 28 See: Martin 1997, 96

19[2] The three foundational acts of the Wissenschaftslehre (thesis, antithesis, and synthesis) provide the holistic grounds for all that that will emerge as the subjectivist-monadic system of knowledge.27 Fichte’s system, as Wayne Martin points out, abandons Reinhold’s ideal of a single and self-evident starting point. Fichte’s Wissenschaftslehre is not founded on a universal “transparent” principle such as the fact of consciousness. Instead, it is self-grounded on a set of three original acts of the Absolute I, namely self-positing (thesis), counter-positing (antithesis), and quantified limitation (synthesis). Nonetheless, these appear as three correlative moments of an original synthetic principle.28 So Fichte’s reformulation enables, though in an entirely new way adherence to the ideal of the first principle of Reinhold’s early system.

  • 29 On this point, I am partially indebt to Franz G. Nauen.

20Fichte’s reformulation, as Preisschrift shows, enabled Hülsen, a persistent supporter of the synthetic character of Reinhold’s early Elementarphilosophie, to find a pure systematic Archimedean point to reground and expand Reinhold’s logical-historical insights.29

  • 30 Fichte, ga, i, 2, 306-8, 311-4, 325-6, 330-8

21[3] For Fichte the quantified formal-subjective and material-objective agents involved in the foundational act of all finite knowledge are transcendental products of the self-reflecting activity of the imagination spontaneously, immanently, and synthetically counter-posited. Both this self-positing activity and its immanently self-posited products are opposed aspects of the same single practical-theoretical activity of the Absolute I. The self-reflective act of the imagination provides the transcendental ground of representation.30 It emerges as (1) a synthetic act of the Absolute I whereby (2) an objective-material agent, a quantified Not-I, is counter-posited to (3) a subjective-formal agent, a quantified I. In this way, the possibility of the acts of distinction and relation that Reinhold presupposed in the act of representation is determined systematically. The quantified subject and object furnish the basic ground for the emergence of the representing subject and a represented object. The faculty of imagination lays down the transcendental foundation for a parallel spontaneous (active) and receptive (passive) activity of the subjective agent, another feature that Reinhold attributed to the faculty of representation. Through it, the principle of all individuation is furthermore established systematically. The rational being emerges as a pure-empirical spiritual being, the holistic foundational moment of whom is absolute rationality.

22Fichte’s theory of the imagination enabled Hülsen to distance himself from Reinhold on two other questionable issues. (1) Fichte’s theory lays down the foundations for an innovative transformation of reason into logical-historical self-reflecting agent embodied in the real-ideal figure of the subject. This is the systematic ground of Hülsen’s holistically self-grounded alternative to Reinhold’s vague concept of philosophizing reason. (2) Hülsen’s transformation of the activity of the imagination also furnishes the ground for a historical self-reflecting capacity of the subject to strive after a regulative reconciliation of the pure (holistic) and the empirical (monadic) characters of the Absolute I. For Hülsen, the subject’s spontaneous ability to self-determine himself autonomously is a necessary constitutive feature of his spiritual nature. For Reinhold self-determination was only the result of an unexplained causal coincidence between the personal independent theoretical account of the self-thinker and the true a priori system of knowledge.

23The importance of all this for understanding Hülsen must be stressed. Hülsen’s original contribution is his interpretative transformation of reason into a logical-historical imaginative agent. Regarding all the antecedent acts that integrate the system of all knowledge, Fichte and Hülsen are in complete agreement.

2.4 The Spiritual-Imaginative Dimension of the Wissenschaftslehre

  • 31 See: Fichte, ga, ii, 3, 325. Notice in addition the following passage from the Programschrift: “Nu (...)
  • 32 See also Fichte’s Grundlage statement in: Fichte, ga, i, 2, 414-5

24The self-reflective activity demanded for the systematic articulation of the Wissenschaftslehre is personal. The only way possible to uncover the timelessly accomplished acts of the Absolute I is by repeating them personally through a temporal-actualizing series of correlative representing acts of the imagination. Philosophizing or rather the self- reflecting articulation of the system of all knowledge, is an activity that each single individual must exclusively do for himself.31 Fichte wrote this in Ueber den Unterschied des Geistes und Buchstabens in der Philosophie, a series of lectures delivered in Jena on 1794.32 These lectures were published only on 18oo. It is more than probable that owing to his close friendship with Fichte, Hülsen was acquainted with their content when he wrote Preisschrift. Some specific aspects of these lectures demand a short discussion. They may have furnished the ground of one of Hülsen’s central arguments: critical knowledge cannot be expressed through the printed letter.

  • 33 See: Fichte, ga, ii, 3, 309

25In the opening section of Ueber den Unterschied, Fichte identifies the faculty of imagination, the spontaneous capability of self-reflection responsible for creating all epistemic contents, with the human spirit.33 No philosophizing is possible without spirit, for

  • 34 Fichte, ga, ii, 3, 334

Diese Vorstellungen aber, über welche die Philosophie reflektiert werden soll, sind durch, u. vermittelst der bloßen abstraction noch nicht da; sie müßen erst, wenigstens zum Theil d.i. insofern in ihnen eine Anschauung enthalten ist, durch Einbildungskraft hervorgebracht werden. Dieses Vermögen der Einbildungskraft aber, besonders insofer es höhere, u. in der gewöhnlichen Erfahrung nicht vorkommende Bilder zum Bewußtseyn erhebt, heißt Geist. Ohne Geist ist demnach nicht einmal der Stoff der Philosophie möglich?34

  • 35 See: Fichte, ga, ii, 3, 329-30

26No epistemic outcome can be divorced from the personal activity that brings it about. Such a hypothetic divorce causes what Fichte calls “philosophy by formula”, namely a philosophy in which imaginative intuition or spirit is absent.35 Fichte concludes:

  • 36 Fichte, ga, ii, 3, 332-3

Diese Gesinung, M. H. ist Philosophie, und sie ist die einige Philosophie. Nicht das, was in unserem Gedächtniße schwebt, nicht das, was in unsern Büchern gedruckt zu lesen ist, ist Philosphie; sondern das, was unsern Geist ergriffen, und umgeschaffen, u. in eine höhere geistige Ordnung der Dinge eingeführt hat, ist Philosphie. In uns, in uns muß die Philosophie seyn [...].36

  • 37 As Steven Hoeltzel (2001, 44) reminds us, “[...] the philosopher begins by intending representatio (...)
  • 38 See: Fichte, ga, i, 2, 119, 126
  • 39 See: Fichte, ga, iii, 2, 344
  • 40 See: Franks 1997, 312

27Fichte develops this idea in a letter to Reinhold from July 2, 1795. According to Fichte, what the Wissenschaftslehre tries to communicate cannot be said nor grasped through discursive thought alone, but it demands personal intuition. The printed word only guides the reader to bring about the required inherent successive series of imaginative intuitions so that he can personally self-reflect on them and portray the system of all knowledge.37 Accordingly, the exhaustive possibility of this system can be proved only through its actual spiritual articulation.38 The Wissenschaftslehre demands that one “let words be words” and try instead to awake a series of necessary intuitions.39 All philosophizing demands a spiritual activity without which any critical thought is possible. No text can convey this activity. Each single reader must supply it for himself while reading the text.40 The standpoint of philosophy therefore is as it will be in Hülsen’s Preisschrift a personal standpoint.

  • 41 See: Fichte, ga, i, 2, 146-7, 365
  • 42 See: Breazeale 2001, 23
  • 43 See: Breazeale 2001b, 687, 693, 699
  • 44 Fichte’s distinction between spirit and letter in Ueber den Unterschied differs from the distincti (...)

28According to Fichte, the system of all knowledge emerges as a “pragmatic history of the human spirit” (pragmatische Geschichte des menschlichen Geistes).41 Fichte employs this term as a synonymous of “transcendental deduction”. It designates a personal systematic account of the transcendental acts whereby the human spirit produced the system of knowledge.42 Or rather, a genetic systematization of reason’s a priori or timeless course of production of the different transcendental levels of this system to be exclusively self-determined a posteriori by personal self-conscious reflection (imagination/spirit).43 Hülsen will fuse Fichte’s bi-dimensional position in his own temporal-imaginative concept of rationality.44

2.5 The Systematic Fusion of Method and System of Knowledge

29In Hülsen’s Preisschrift, the logical-historical deduction of system reproduces the self-reflective steps taken by reason throughout its course of development. This fusion of deductive method and system of knowledge is another aspect of Fichte’s overcoming of Reinhold adopted and augmented by Hülsen.

  • 45 See: Fichte, ga, i, 2, 132-3

30The object of inquiry of Fichte’s Wissenschaftslehre is knowledge itself or rather its actual self-grounded possibility. Philosophizing demands that one proceed self-reflectively. The system of knowledge should be articulated in a progressing circular manner starting from its Grundsatz. Its deduction demands gradual ascension in thinking and self-reflection on the transcendental possibility of each performed thought. For Fichte and Hülsen the circularity of this method does not entail either an obstacle or an error as for Reinhold, for whom deduction is essentially linear. Since a circular method of deduction is unavoidable, Fichte argues, it should be openly acknowledged.45

  • 46 See: Breazeale 2001, 29

31The intuitional self-reflection, first enabled by the faculty of imagination, emerges as the necessary ensuing part of the original analytic- synthetic method of deduction brought about by the self-excluding I and Not-I. With it, reflection ceases to be mainly inferential. The philosopher appears as a spectator of the imaginative products that he has gradually self-deduced for himself as well as of the self-positing I behind them. As Daniel Breazeale points out, the derivative method of Fichte’s Wissenschaftslehre is a “mixed” method. For it combines analytic-synthetic logical inference, imaginative production, and self- reflective or rather pragmatic descriptive observation.46

  • 47 See: Fichte, ga, i, 2, 116

32Fichte’s “mixed” method is crucial for the overcoming of another problem posed by Reinhold’s standpoint. Fichte in the Programmschrift objected to the syllogistic method of deduction of Reinhold’s early Elementarphilosophie. Fichte criticized Reinhold for (1) omitting the discussion of the key systematic relation of the Grundsatz to it’s a priori method of inference, as well as (2) for the spurious authority (Befugniß) of this method to derive the subordinated propositions of philosophy.47 Fichte suggested that Reinhold used the syllogistic rule of logic in an arbitrary and thereby uncritical way. Fichte’s “mixed” method provided a solution to these two major inconsistencies derived necessarily from the original proto-conscious set of acts of the Absolute I. Its unavoidable circular or self-reflective character enables that the system of all knowledge be articulated by reproducing the same genetic (correlative) acts accomplished by the Absolute I. Fichte’s method is connected therefore transcendentally to its Grundsatz. The system of all knowledge can only be articulated by following a “mixed” method; only this disarms the objections of a possible skeptic opponent. What distinguishes Fichte’s Wissenschaftslehre, and by extension, Hülsen’s historically enlarged version from Reinhold’s Elementarphilosophie, is its fusion of method and system of knowledge. Only by a “mixed” method can philosophy’s propositions be determined critically.

2.6 The Qualitative Completeness of the Wissenschaftslehre

33Hülsen holds that the qualitative logical-historical evolution of the system of knowledge, and of its inherently contained history of philosophy, is exhausted with the emergence of philosophy’s distinctive self-conscious insight. This self-reflective act is regressive. Reason (or the Absolute I) reemerges through it as one’s own original articulating point of departure. Self-consciousness reveals the impossibility of deriving additional transcendental or qualitative progressive instances of cognition from The Grundsatz. What for Fichte and Hülsen remains is for the rational being to achieve striving after a quantitative expansion of these exhaustive instances. For Fichte morality demands self-determination of all possible reality (Not-I); quantitative progress is the rational being’s practical means to reach reason’s originally and absolutely self-posited being. For Hülsen, the inexhaustible character of this being also compels an unending logical-historical process of selfdetermining approximation. Hülsen’s position is therefore that the pragmatic portrayal of philosophy, the systematic articulating thereof, will yield full qualitative completeness. Hülsen’s logically-historically augmented position tallies in this theoretical aspect with Fichte’s own moral position, which Hülsen shared. Fichte’s insight enabled Hülsen to complete his own critical reformulation of Reinhold’s skeptically objectionable logical-historical views, provide them with a new inherent systematic coherence, and develop a history of philosophy to augment Fichte’s Wissenschaftslehre.

34In section “Four” of the Programmschrift, Fichte discusses the articulating criteria, which the Wissenschaftslehre, the pragmatic portrayal of the a priori system of all knowledge, has to fulfill. These criteria were of significant importance for enriching and consolidating Hülsen’s historically expanded concept of systematic articulation. Fichte distinguishes between (1) negative and (2) positive criteria.

  • 48 Fichte, ga, i, 2, 130

Ein Grundsatz ist erschöpft, wenn ein vollständiges System auf demselben aufgebaut ist, d.i. wenn der Grundsatz nothwendig auf alle aufgestellten Sätze führt, und alle aufgestellten Sätze nothwendig wieder auf ihn zurückführen. Wenn kein Satz im ganzen System vorkommt, welcher wahr seyn kann, wenn der Grundsatz falsch ist — oder falsch, wenn der Grundsatz wahr ist, so ist dies der negative Beweis, dass kein Satz zuviel in das System aufgenommen worden; denn derjenige, der nicht in das System gehörte, würde wahr seyn können, wenn der Grundsatz falsch, — oder falsch, wenn auch der Grundsatz wahr wäre. Ist der Grundsatz gegeben, so müssen alle Sätze gegeben seyn; in ihm und durch ihn ist jeder einzelne gegeben. Es ist aus dem, was wir oben über die Verkettung der einzelnen Sätze in der Wissenschaftslehre gesagt haben, klar, dass diese Wissenschaft den angezeigten negativen Beweis unmittelbar in sich selbst und durch sich selbst führe. Durch ihn wird erwiesen, dass die Wissenschaft überhaupt systematisch sei, dass alle ihre Theile in einem einzigen Grundsatze zusammenhängen.48

35Fichte’s method of deduction fulfils the negative logical proof demanded to ground the Wissenschaftslehre systematically. Its pragmatic (self-subsuming) condition assures (1) the rigorous necessary character, as well as (2) the exclusive gradual inclusion of each derived proposition. This conclusion applies to Preisschrift. Fichte’s method is one of Hülsen’s main sources. As to the required positive criteria, a point about which there is much confusion in scholarly literature Fichte writes that

  • 49 Fichte, ga, i, 2, 130-1

— Die Wissenschaft ist ein System, oder sie ist vollendet, wenn weiter kein Satz gefolgert werden kann: und dies giebt den positiven Beweis, dass kein Satz zu wenig in das System aufgenommen worden. Die Frage ist nur die: wann und unter welchen Bedingungen kann ein Satz weiter gefolgert werden; denn es ist klar, dass das bloss relative und negative Merkmal: ich sehe nicht was weiter folgen könne, nichts beweist. Es könnte wohl nach mir ein anderer kommen, welcher da, wo ich nichts sah, etwas sähe. Wir bedürfen eines positiven Merkmals zum Beweise, dass schlechthin und unbedingt nichts weiter gefolgert werden könne; und das konnte kein anderes seyn, als das, dass der Grundsatz selbst, von welchem wir ausgegangen wären, zugleich auch das letzte Resultat sey. Dann wäre klar, dass wir nicht weiter gehen könnten, ohne den Weg, den wir schon einmal gemacht, noch einmal zu machen. — Es wird sich bei einstiger Aufstellung der Wissenschaft zeigen, dass sie diesen Kreislauf wirklich vollendet, und den Forscher gerade bei dem Puncte verlässt, von welchem sie mit ihm ausging; dass sie also gleichfalls den zweiten positiven Beweis in sich selbst und durch sich selbst führt.49

  • 50 As Daniel Breazeale (1994, 51) comments, “one should not [...] be misled by Fichte’s remarks [...] (...)

36Fichte’s positive criterion is to exhaust the theoretical grounding of the system of knowledge by preventing unconditionally the possibility of further transcendental deduction. The closing of the deductive circle is not meant to determine the definitive logical certainty of the first principle of the Wissenschaftslehre.50 Its raison-d’être is rather to provide a rigorous logical proof of the inherent systematic coherence or consistency of the system of philosophy, to establish an inherent systematic identity between its starting and concluding point. This identity assures the deductive correctness of system. Fichte claimed that the articulation of the Wissenschaftslehre closes the circle and provides the required positive proof. The Wissenschaftslehre has the ability to yield full qualitative theoretical completeness. By expanding this strategy, Hülsen derived from Fichte systematic benefits for his own historically augmented concerns.

  • 51 As Tom Rockmore (2001, 66) alternatively puts it, “[...] Fichte does not focus on the a priori ana (...)
  • 52 See: Fichte, ga, i, 2, 384

37The purpose of the theoretical division of the Wissenschaftslehre is to deduce the transcendental possibility behind the Absolute I’s self- limiting of itself through a counter-posited quantified Not-I. The deduction of the faculty of imagination furnishes the ground of the first sensually represented object. The full discursive self-determination of this object demands an ascending self-subsuming series of imaginative self-reflections. This series is a pragmatic disclosure and portrayal of the remaining levels of the a priori system of all knowledge. Each one of these deductive steps represents a higher degree of transcendental self-determination of the same single empirically represented object posited by the faculty of imagination. In other words, the emerging content of these concatenated self-reflections is the transcendental and therefore qualitatively “evolving” structure of an actual fixed quantity.51 This self-subsuming series ends with the emergence of finite self-consciousness, a self-referential abstracting capability founded on the faculty of reason. Reason’s deduction, the topic that closes the theoretical division of the Grundlage, may be the key to Fichte’s claim that his approach provides the positive articulating proof demanded to establish the required inherent logical coherence. The pragmatic series unveils the transcendental “evolution” of a fixed quantity. Hence, the scope of the resulting logical coherence will be only qualitative. The self-determination of reason’s possibility is the pragmatic “event” that ends unconditionally the deduction of the system of all knowledge. From its self-conscious regressive angle, the Absolute I emerges as a non-transcendent and therefore exhaustive instance of deduction. This explains Fichte’s claim that reason’s deduction constitutes that theoretical instance from which the Wissenschaftslehre cannot advance any further.52 Self-consciousness proves that reason or the Absolute I is the universal and hence exhaustive qualitative agent behind the actual self-positing of the aforementioned quantity. The pragmatic procedure enables the systematic self-determination of the universal a priori conditions whereby the Absolute I self-limits itself through a counter-posited quantified Not-I; it enables the systematic deduction in concreto of the transcendental ground of all theory. Fichte therefore concludes that

  • 53 Fichte, ga, i, 2, 131. Some passages of the Programmschrift (particularly in section “Seven”) ques (...)

Die Wissenschaftslehre hat also absolute Totalität [i.e., logical totality]. In ihr führt Eins zu Allem, und Alles zu Einem. Sie ist aber die einzige Wissenschaft, welche vollendet werden kann; Vollendung ist demnach ihr auszeichnender Charakter. Alle andere Wissenschaften sind unendlich, und können nie vollendet werden; denn sie laufen nicht wieder in ihren Grundsatz zurück. Die Wissenschaftslehre hat dies für alle zu beweisen und den Grund davon anzugeben.53

38The consolidation of a critical “moral order” compels a regulative striving after an exhaustive quantitative expansion of philosophy’s transcendental conditions. All these systematic aspects of Fichte’s Wissenschaftslehre apply to Hülsen’s Preisschrift. Fichte’s position enabled Hülsen to complete his critical reformulation of Reinhold’s unjustified logical-historical views, and provide them with a new inherent systematic coherence.

2.7 The Wissenschaftslehre and its Systematic Connection with the History of Philosophy

  • 54 Both German and Anglo-Saxon studies of Fichte do not pay sufficient attention to the fragmentary a (...)

39Still, Fichte did not neglect entirely the history of philosophy.54 Fichte’s exhaustive reconstruction of Reinhold’s system impelled a reconstruction of its introductory part. Although Fichte never reconstructed Reinhold’s history of philosophy systematically, his writings on the Wissenschaftslehre contain many passages in which different aspects of Reinhold’s insight are restated in passing. Most of these passages can be found in the Programmschrift, the 1794 essay in which Fichte outlined the program of his forthcoming system. Due to their incidental character, most of Fichte’s statements are not justified systematically.

40My modest purpose here is to show ways in which Fichte may have intended to develop a history of philosophy on the foundations of the Wissenschaftslehre. This discussion will uncover another reason for Fichte’s 1797 enthusiastic identification of Hülsen’s Preisschrift with the Wissenschaftslehre. Since Reinhold’s early Elementarphilosophie is the historical source of this key aspect of Hülsen’s approach, I will limit myself to showing the Reinholdian origins of Fichte’s own fragmentarily developed position.

41It would be a mistake however to confuse Fichte’s occasional remarks which connect the Wissenschaftslehre with the history of philosophy with his description of his system as a pragmatic history of the human spirit. Pragmatische Geschichte des menschlichen Geistes designates reason’s timeless course of production of the different levels of the a priori system of all knowledge, which are exclusively uncovered and portrayed genetically by personal self-conscious reflection. History of philosophy on the other hand refers to the gradual systematic process of development whereby the necessary philosophizing activity of many different finite rational beings results in the historical discovery of the self-conscious pragmatic capability to articulate the a priori system of all knowledge.

  • 55 See: Fichte, ga, i, 2, 118
  • 56 See: Fichte, ga, i, 2, 111
  • 57 Note the following Statement from Ueber den Unterschied:Alle, die jemals Erfinder in der Philoso (...)
  • 58 See: Fichte, ga, i, 2, 110-1

42Fichte following Reinhold focuses on the history of philosophy as a necessary accumulative process. As in Reinhold’s early Elementarphilosophie, a transcendental agent carries out this process: the reflecting or philosophizing faculty of judgment (reflectierende or philosophirende Urtheilskraft). Fichte shares Reinhold’s focus on philosophy’s historicity as the ascendant product of a logical-historical activity of reason. Fichte’s scattered remarks are causal restatements of some of Reinhold’s arguments. The scope of the task of the exhaustive articulation of the Wissenschaftslehre is too great for a single human lifetime.55 Every ascending step taken to reach philosophy has to be first climbed before a higher step is reached.56 All past efforts made throughout the history of philosophy appear as necessary partial attempts of the philosophizing faculty of judgment at an articulation of a Wissenschaftslehre.57 The articulation of philosophy depends on all previous logical- historical steps. Philosophers emerge as necessary historical moments of this general process. Through their philosophizing activity, the philosophizing faculty of judgment gradually uncovers the a priori system of all knowledge.58

  • 59 See: Fichte, ga, i, 2, 119
  • 60 The following statement from Ueber die Bestimmung des Gelehrten provides additional evidence of th (...)
  • 61 Jürgen Stolzenberg discusses the personal possibility of such a practically grounded historical ca (...)

43According to Fichte, the articulation of the Wissenschaftslehre demands that concrete rational beings spontaneously turn their rational activity in a specific direction: self-conscious reflection. Fichte’s argument that personal articulation is an indispensable condition to establish the possibility of the Science of Knowledge,59 can be connected to a general logical-historical process of development, the carrying out of which might be the result of the ascending degree of self-conscious activity (philosophizing) of different historically situated philosophers.60 This fusion of the general and the personal spheres of logical-historical development is also a distinctive feature of Reinhold’s standpoint. In the third book of the Grundlage, Fichte however implies the practical grounding of this possibility. The self-reflecting nature of the rational being is a holistically individuated striving nature. Fichte implies in this way the possibility for a general-personal logical-historical activity by the philosophizing faculty of judgment.61

  • 62 See: Fichte, ga, i, 2, 143. In the preface to the first edition of the Programmschrift, Fichte des (...)

44Fichte also shares Reinhold’s idea that all philosophers shared the same logical-historical goal: the attainment of critical knowledge. According to him, they all tried to use reflection to separate the human spirit’s necessary mode of acting from its contingent conditions. By attempting to achieve this, the philosophizing faculty of judgment progressed historically and approached its inherent goal: the Wissenschaftslehre.62 Reinhold and Fichte do not only agree as to the necessary teleological character of all logical-historical philosophizing activity. They additionally concur on the empirically reachable character of reason’s goal.

  • 63 See: Fichte, ga, i, 2, 282
  • 64 See: Fichte, ga, i, 2, 109

45Fichte argues that it was reserved for critical philosophy to take the final developing step of the philosophical history of reason and uncover the true concept of philosophy.63 The following seems to be an adaptation of Reinhold’s claim that philosophy’s necessary emergence enables a universal reconciliation of all possible systematic positions. Fichte argues that the conclusive step taken by the philosophizing faculty of judgment enables a universal reconciliation of the conflicting claims of the only two possible systems of thought, namely dogmatism and criticism.64

  • 65 Fichte’s essay dates from 1796, a year after Hülsen wrote Preisschrift. I however include it here (...)

46The main purpose of Fichte’s approach is to ground Reinhold’s ungrounded concept of representation. In his Vergleichung des vom Herrn Prof. Schmid aufgestellten Systems mit der Wissenschaftslehre,65 Fichte states this unambigously

  • 66 See: Fichte, ga, i, 3, 247

Meines Erachtens — dies ist eine historische Behauptung, und ich appellire über diesen Punct an die besseren unter den jetzt lebenden philosophischen Schriftstellern, und an die gesammte Geschichte der Philosophie — meines Erachtens ist die Frage, welche die Philosophie zu beantworten hat, folgende: wie hangen unsere Vorstellungen mit ihren Objecten zusammen; inwiefern kann man sagen, dass denselben etwas, unabhängig von ihnen, und überhaupt von uns, ausser uns entspreche? […] Alle Philosophie, von Anbeginn an bis jetzt, hat die Beantwortung dieser Frage zu ihrem letzten Zwecke gehabt.66

47Fichte shared Reinhold’s view that what is crucial is to give an exhaustive grounding answer to the question about the transcendental possibility representation. An asking mechanism also characterizes philosophizing judgment’s logical-historical modus operandi.

  • 67 See: Fichte, ga, i, 3, 247. The following passage from Ueber den Begriff provides a negative evide (...)

Es versteht sich, dass die philosophirende Urtheilskraft in der Beantwortung dieser Frage, oder in den Versuchen sie zu beantworten, systematisch zu Werke geht.67

  • 68 See: Bubner 2003, 110

48According to Fichte, the philosophizing faculty of judgment progresses historically by giving systematic answers to the question about the transcendental possibility of representation. All systematic attempts therefore are necessary developing stages of an exclusive historically secured philosophy the possibility of which may finally emerge as an exhaustive accumulative answer to this question. All such attempts constitute a single historically extended systematic attempt of reason at an articulation of philosophy. The correlative emergence of these developing stages is an ascending series of rectifying or actualizing perspectives whereby the philosophizing faculty of judgment uncovers the supra-historical system of all knowledge. The logical-historical process of development that culminates in the critical concept of philosophy, in the personal self-conscious ability to portray the pragmatic history of the human spirit, should be understood as the history of reason climbing systematically to a full awareness of itself as an a priori system of knowledge.68 All these arguments, as one could once again confirm, may have been inspired by Reinhold’s approach to the history of philosophy.

49For Fichte the Wissenschaftslehre enables an increasing display of reason’s practical potential (expanding self-determination). Fichte should be committed to Reinhold’s claim that the logical-historical emergence of philosophy establishes the possibility of a moral improvement of the human species.

50Fichte should also be committed to the following conclusion: as in Reinhold’s early Elementarphilosophie, neither the recognition of reason’s systematic process of teleological production, nor the articulation of the introductory history of philosophy is possible prior to the logical-historical attainment of critical knowledge. Earlier it is impossible to identify either the striving direction of the philosophizing faculty of judgment, or the possibility of articulation. This follows from Fichte’s discussion of pure philosophical and philosophical-historical (logical- historical) knowledge in Ueber die Bestimmung des Gelehrten.

  • 69 Fichte, ga, i, 3, 53. The following passage from the late 1796 Philosophische Wissenschaft des Rec (...)

Die Kenntniß der ersten Art gründet sich auf reine Vernunftsätze, und ist philosophisch; die von der zweiten zum Theil auf Erfahrung, und ist insofern philosophisch-historisch; (nicht bloß historisch; denn ich muß ja die Zwecke, die sich nur philosophisch erkennen lassen, auf die in der Erfahrung gegebenen Gegenstände beziehen, um die leztern als Mittel zur Erreichung der ersten beurtheilen zu können).69

  • 70 As in Reinhold’s system, Fichte ought to be committed to the view that during the epoch of pre-cri (...)

51A similar view follows from Fichte’s brief discussion in Programmschrift of the ongoing, though partially self-aware attempts made throughout the history of philosophy to reach the standpoint of the Wissenschaftslehre. Prior to the Wissenschaftslehre’s insight, the philosophizing faculty of judgment can only strive unconsciously after its logical-historical goal. It cannot recognize the inherent correlative character of its own logical-historical course of systematic production.70

  • 71 See: Fichte, ga, i, 2, 143

Der menschliche Geist macht mancherlei Versuche; er kommt durch blindes Herumtappen zur Dämmerung, und geht erst aus dieser zum hellen Tage über. Er wird Anfangs durch dunkle Gefühle (deren Ursprung und Wirklichkeit die Wissenschaflslehre darzulegen hat) geleitet; und wir hätten noch heute keinen deutlichen Begriff, und wären noch immer der Erdkloss, der sich dem Boden entwand, wenn wir nicht angefangen hätten, dunkel zu fühlen, was wir erst später deutlich erkannten. — Dies bestätiget denn auch die Geschichte der Philosophie; und wir haben jetzt den eigentlichen Grund angegeben, warum dasjenige, was doch in jedem menschlichen Geiste offen da liegt, und was jeder mit Händen greifen kann, wenn es ihm deutlich dargelegt wird, erst nach mannigfaltigem Herumirren zum Bewusstseyn einiger wenigen gelangte.71

  • 72 Peter Baumanns (1974, 119) is right in objecting to Fichte that “Wenn die WissenschaftslehreNatu (...)

52According to Fichte, the Wissenschaftslehre provides an explanation of why so much wandering was necessary to enable the final grasping of the ever-existing system of knowledge. Still, apart from implying the systematic possibility of this logical-historical striving task fragmentarily, Fichte did not develop this topic during the years that concern us here. One of the issues that Fichte’s “improved” Elementarphilosophie fails to develop is the systematic grounding of its historical standpoint.72

53Though Fichte did not develop fully Reinhold’s concept of a history of philosophy, his systematic introduction to the Wissenschaftslehre agrees with Reinhold’s position in a number of central points. (1) The history of philosophy is a logical-historical ascending process. (2) Historical progress is accomplished ideologically through the self-reflecting activity of a transcendental agent (philosophizing reason or the philosophizing faculty of judgment). (3) The articulation of philosophy depends on all previous logical-historical steps taken by this agent. (4) Critical knowledge emerges as the ultimate rational outcome of philosophy’s history. (5) It is the empirical result of reason’s reaching of a non-regulative inherent goal. (6) Teleological progression is carried out through a systematic and ongoing answer attempt of the question about the transcendental possibility of representation. (7) All the systematic attempts made throughout the history of philosophy appear as necessary developing stages of a single systematic attempt of reason at a definitive articulation of philosophy. (8) The correlative systematic emergence of all developing stages appears as an ascending sequence of rectifying or actualizing perspectives that reason attains of the a priori system of all knowledge. (9) The necessary emergence of philosophy enables a universal reconciliation of all philosophical positions. (10) It furthermore makes possible a moral improvement of the human species. (11) Neither the necessary process of logical-historical development, nor the articulation of the introductory history of philosophy is possible prior to the attainment of critical knowledge. (12) Philosophers emerge as necessary historical moments of the rational history of philosophy. Through their ascending general-personal efforts, reason uncovers the system of all knowledge.

54These coincidences provide sufficient evidence that the re-articulation of most of Reinhold’s introductory approach to the history of philosophy was an idea that Fichte originally had in mind but did not develop.

  • 73 Fichte’s essay appeared in print in the 12th issue of the Philosophisches Journal. It was official (...)
  • 74 See Schlegel’s letters to Körner from September 21 and 30, 1796 in: Schlegel (KA), XXIII, 333

55As to the intriguing question of why Fichte did not re-articulate this aspect of Reinhold’s approach, two different answers are plausible. (1) During the period of 1794-1799, Fichte’s interests were mainly focused on the development of the foundational epistemic principles of the Wissenschaftslehre, as well as on the formulation of its Rechts- and Sittenlehre parts. (2) Fichte lost interest in this historical dimension. Friedrich Schlegel’s correspondence provides evidence that already in August 1796, a few months after writing Vergleichung des vom Herrn Prof. Schmid,73 Fichte told him that he was not interested in history.74 Notwithstanding Schlegel’s report, another possible reason for Fichte’s desistence was that he relegated this task to Hülsen.

2.8 The Practical Vocation of the Scholar

  • 75 See: Über das vollständige Fundament der Moral in: Reinhold 2003, II, 131-81

56While as theorist, Hülsen was as much a student of Reinhold as a disciple of Fichte, as a moral philosopher Hülsen’s dependence on Fichte is unambiguous. There is no evidence that Hülsen was affected by either Reinhold’s writings on the first principle of morals in Beiträge vol. II75 or by the practical philosophy at the close of the Versuchsschrift. Fichte’s Wissenschaftslehre explains and insures an infinite moral improvement of the human species. The spontaneous or unconditioned activity of the self-positing I, enables an ongoing self-determination of the human will. According to Fichte in Ueber die Bestimmung des Gelehrten, a series of public and non-systematic lectures delivered in Jena in 1794, the scholar, as the true expert on philosophy, the “heir” of the Reinholdian Selbstdenker, should be the most outstanding ethical person of his time. He is responsible for the advancement and supervision of the ethical improvement of the human species. Hülsen integrated Fichte’s scholar with Reinhold’s Selbstdenker in his own ethical model of Selbstdenker; the critical philosopher responsible for turning humanity’s attention to the logical- historical path of philosophizing reason leading to a moral perfection via the historically enlarged Wissenschaftslehre. Ueber die Bestimmung discusses two key features that Hülsen will embrace. (1) It introduces the idealistic concept of a purposive coordinated community, a stance that opened the road for Hülsen’s further understanding of a joint “rational fate” of the human species. (2) It reformulates the Kantian concepts of the “categorical imperative” and “the highest good”, and links their expanding possibilities, the critical consolidation of a universal “moral order”, with personal regulative striving.

  • 76 See: Fichte, ga, i, 3, 28
  • 77 See: Fichte, ga, i, 3, 30-1

57According to Fichte, the scholar is a human being. The disclosure of his practical vocation demands a previous inquiry into the vocation of the rational being as such, a strategy that Hülsen will apply. In the theoretical Wissenschaftslehre, the knowing subject cannot achieve exhaustive self-determination. As a finite rational being, he cannot attain absolute self-conscious knowledge. The subject attains consciousness of itself only as an empirically determined self-reflecting agent.76 Empirical self-consciousness presupposes a quantitatively undetermined, and hence conditioning Not-I. This Not-I emerges infinitely as an extra- reflective aspect of self-determining reflection. It appears to the knowing subject as an insurmountable quantitative dependence, the alleged origin of which is “external” and “foreign”. Moral improvement impels a regulative striving for the overcoming of this empirically restricted freedom. As Hülsen learns from Fichte, the subject should subordinate under or harmonize this quantitative “foreign” indeterminacy of the Not-I with the holistic (thetic) self-positing activity of the pure or Absolute I.77 The result of this should be absolute self-identity or selfagreement, for the absolutely self-posited I is indivisible and non- contradictable.

  • 78 Fichte, ga, i, 3, 31

Das Resultat aus allem Gesagten ist folgendes: Die vollkommene Uebereinstimmung des Menschen mit sich selbst, und — damit er mit sich selbst übereinstimmen könne — die Uebereinstimmung aller Dinge ausser ihm mit seinen nothwendigen praktischen Begriffen von ihnen, — den Begriffen, welche bestimmen, wie sie seyn sollen, — ist das letzte höchste Ziel des Menschen.78

  • 79 Fichte, ga, i, 3, 29

58The subject’s higher ethical goal is for Fichte as later for Hülsen in Preisschrift, absolute being or rationality, namely the quantitative self-conscious subsuming of all possible experience. Fichte formulates this in a practical command: “Der Mensch soll seyn, was er ist, schlechthin darum, weil er ist”.79 Exhaustive self-determination compels the subject to strive personally and accomplish empirically the full practical potentiality of reason. The subject ought to grasp himself as the unconditional agent behind his own infinitely expanding empirical existence. Ongoing practical striving is his way to bring about a critically intensifying “moral order” and improve himself existentially: the coincidence between Fichte and Hülsen on this point is irrefutable.

  • 80 See: Fichte, ga: i, 3, 31-2

59Fichte’s concept of self-determination results in an innovative reformulation of Kant’s “categorical imperative”, a reformulation that Hülsen will incorporate. According to Fichte, a manifold of quantitative empirical determinations contradict the original proto-quantifiable identity of the absolute I. That is the reason why reason and sensibility, the pure and the empirical spheres of the human spirit, are at first not in harmony. Nonetheless, this harmony should be brought about. Moral perfection, the “categorical imperative”, demands their ultimate self- subsuming identity. While the Kantian concept of the “highest good”, ethical virtue combined with happiness, is twofold, for Fichte the “highest good” is a unitary concept. In Fichte’s Wissenschaftslehre, the “highest good” is rational harmony of the rational being with himself, a self-determining identification of all Not-I as his own self-posited product, thus no happiness without moral acting. Only that which is good makes us happy and not conversely.80 The “highest good” is, as Fichte will persuade Hülsen, an unavoidable by-product of the critically emerging “moral order”.

60Nonetheless, for Fichte his finite character prevents the subject from reaching absolute identity or harmony. Our practical vocation (Bestimmung) is not for Fichte or Hülsen to reach this goal. Qua finite rational being, the subject’s vocation lies in an unending approximation to absolute self-harmony.

  • 81 Fichte, ga, i, 3, 32

Nennt man nun jene völlige Uebereinstimmung mit sich selbst Vollkommenheit, in der höchsten Bedeutung des Wortes, wie man sie allerdings nennen kann: so ist Vollkommenheit das höchste unerreichbare Ziel des Menschen; Vervollkommnung ins unendliche aber ist seine Bestimmung. Er ist da, um selbst immer sittlich besser zu werden, und alles rund um sich herum sinnlich, und wenn er in der Gesellschaft betrachtet wird, auch sittlich besser, und dadurch sich selbst immer glückseliger zu machen.81

  • 82 See: Fichte, ga, i, 3, 36-8, 40-1

61According to Fichte, the rational being is not an isolated being. He is destined to live in society, to interact with other autonomous beings. After discussing the ontological existence of other free acting agents outside oneself, Fichte employs Kant’s terminology and defines society as a purposeful coordinated community of self-determined rational beings. Fichte’s insight will be Hülsen’s way to expand Reinhold’s concept of self-determined consensus. Such a coordinated society is characterized by the mutual respect of the self-determined nature of its interacting members. To restrict someone’s freedom is tantamount as to master or subordinate him by not taking into account his rational nature. Such acting is immoral, as it does not consider one’s own fellowmen as practical ends. So acting would interfere with one’s own ability and by extension, with the ability of one’s fellowmen to achieve self-determined harmony. For Fichte, coordination demands the cultivation of the practical skills of autonomous giving and receiving. As Hülsen will learn from him, reason is in complete agreement with itself regarding humanity’s ultimate goal: universal moral perfection.82

  • 83 Fichte, ga, i, 3, 40

Die Vollkommenheit ist nur auf eine Art bestimmt: — sie ist sich selbst völlig gleich; könnten alle Menschen vollkommen werden, könnten sie ihr höchstes und letztes Ziel erreichen, so wären sie alle einander völlig gleich; sie wären nur Eins; ein einziges Subject.83

  • 84 See: Fichte, ga, i, 3, 40-1

62Fichte argued that in a coordinated society the activity of each rational being is characterized by an ongoing striving for exhaustive improvement of his own moral quality as well as of that of his fellowmen. Each rational being accomplishes this by attempting to raise himself and his fellowmen to his own moral ideal of man. The ultimate moral goal of society is a complete unanimous unity of all its members. The achievement of this goal presupposes the achievement of the human vocation as such. Nonetheless, this social goal remains unachievable; the complete unity of all members of society is the final ideal goal of all rational coordinated beings but not their achievable vocation. Moral perfection therefore compels an infinite striving approximation to this social goal.84 Fichte writes:

  • 85 Fichte, ga, i, 3, 40

Dieses Annähern zur völligen Einigkeit und Einmüthigkeit mit allen Individuen können wir Vereinigung nennen. Also Vereinigung, die der Innigkeit nach stets fester, dem Umfange nach stets ausgebreiteter werde, ist die wahre Bestimmung des Menschen in der Gesellschaft: diese Vereinigung aber ist, da nur über ihre letzte Bestimmung die Menschen einig sind und einig werden können — nur durch Vervollkommnung möglich. Wir können demnach eben so gut sagen: gemeinschaftliche Vervollkommnung, Vervollkommnung seiner selbst durch die frei benutzte Einwirkung anderer auf uns: und Vervollkommnung anderer durch Rückwirkung auf sie, als auf freie Wesen, ist unsere Bestimmung in der Gesellschaft.85

  • 86 As Wilhelm Weischedel (1973, 17) clarifies, “Wenn nun die Erfahrung anderer notwendig zum Menschse (...)
  • 87 See: Fichte, ga, i, 3, 43-5

63Hülsen learned from Fichte that all coordinated beings resort to the same rational means to strive after the same single moral perfection. That is the reason their personal strivings interrelate.86 The ability to affect and let others affect oneself demands the cultivation of two practical skills. (1) The trait of giving, namely the moral ability to affect or cultivate the personality of other free rational beings precisely in those aspects of one’s own personality in which one is strong and they are weak. (2) The trait of receiving, namely the moral ability to let others affect or cultivate one’s own personality in those precise aspects in which one is weak and they are strong.87 Hülsen will apply this idea to the history of philosophy, and justify thereby the personal self-determined ability to contribute to and to incorporate someone else’s systematic degree of practical progress. Hülsen will share Fichte’s conclusion that

  • 88 Fichte, ga, i, 3, 49

Wenn wir die entwickelte Idee auch nur ohne alle Beziehung auf uns selbst betrachten, so erblicken wir doch wenigstens ausser uns eine Verbindung, in der keiner für sich selbst arbeiten kann, ohne für alle andere zu arbeiten, oder für den anderen arbeiten, ohne zugleich für sich selbst zu arbeiten — indem der glückliche Fortgang Eines Mitgliedes glücklicher Fortgang für Alle, und der Verlust des Einen Verlust für Alle ist: ein Anblick, der schon durch die Harmonie, die wir in dem allermannigfaltigsten erblicken, uns innig wohlthut und unseren Geist mächtig emporhebt.88

  • 89 See: Fichte, ga, i, 3, 52-4, and Fichte, ga, ii, 3, 357
  • 90 As Liang Zhixue (1991, 229) reminds us: “Wenn der Gelehrte im moralischen Leben zurückbleibt oder (...)
  • 91 See: Fichte, ga, i, 3, 54-8

64According to Fichte, a certain kind of knowledge is required to enable the moral progress of the human species. Philosophical knowledge of moral perfection alone is insufficient for making moral progress possible. Moral progress demands knowledge of the particular cultural level of historical development of one’s own society. The philosopher must also be acquainted with the subsequent purposive level to be reached as well as with the means required for achieving this. This demands that the philosopher know the means whereby the moral aptitudes of the rational being develop. The moral improvement of the human species requires a joint application of (I) philosophical, (2) historical, and (3) philosophical-historical (logical-historical) knowledge.89 Taken together, these three types of knowledge constitute what Fichte calls learning (Gelehrsamkeit). The scholar is the person that dedicates his life to the attainment of this knowledge. Learning makes the scholar the ethically best man of his time. Only the scholar is acquainted with the means required to improve the moral performances of man. Fichte therefore argues that the scholar should be the educator of humanity. His knowledge should be applied for the benefit of society. The scholar is required to turn the attention of his fellowmen upon their true needs, and make them acquainted with the means demanded for their satisfaction. This pedagogic task compels the scholar to act according to the moral law, to employ ethical means to influence society.90 Thus, the vocation of the scholar is to promote and to supervise unceasingly the moral progress of the human species.91 The pedagogical task of the Fichtean scholar does not really differ from that of the Reinholdian Selbstdenker. What distinguishes these two figures is the level of post-critical impact that the labour of the Fichtean scholar has on communal life. This higher degree of communal commitment, a key moral concern of the Hülsenian Selbstdenker, is another source of Preisschrift.

  • 92 For this lesson see: Fichte, ga, ii, 3, 357-67

65Self-determination compels the scholar not to yield his will to any academic authority. Fichte encourages the scholar to rigorously autonomous and independent scholarship. It could be claimed that Fichte’s position will inspire Hülsen’s ideas about a true academy of sciences. Fichte discusses this in the 1ste Vorlesung. Im Winter-Halbjahr. [von der Bestimmung der Gelehrten.]92 not included among the five published lectures of Ueber die Bestimmung.

  • 93 Fichte, ga, ii, 3, 366 [my bold]

[...] alle Geisteskultur ist nichts, u. hilft nichts, ohne Characterbildung; u. ich erinnere abermals, was ich schon mehrmals erinnert habe, daß man irrt, wenn man in einer Akademie bloß eine Schule der Wissenschaften zu er- bliken glaubt. Sie soll zugleich seyn eine Schule des Handelns. Bilden Sie dahero zuförderst Ihren Character zum festen entschloßen Halten an Wahrheit, u. an Recht. Thun Sie nichts gegen Ihre Ueberzeugung; suchen Sie aber beständig Ihren Geist der beßeren Ueberzeugung offen zu erhalten. Unterlaßen Sie alles, wodurch Sie auf irgend eine Art abhängig, wodurch Sie zum Instrumente eines fremden Willens werden; oder wodurch Sie gehindert werden, frei jedem unter die Augen zu treten. Erhalten sie sich diese Freiheit, die Ihnen die Gesetze geben.93

66The primordial significance that Fichte attributes to the personal labour of the scholar confirms that the Wissenschaftslehre plays an existential role in the moral improvement of the human species. As Klaus Vieweg points out,

  • 94 Vieweg 1995, 180. In a letter to Friedrich Heinrich Jacoby from August 30, 1795 Fichte writes: “Wo (...)

[...] die Bestimmung des Gelehrten als des höchsten wahren Menschen ist somit die letzte Aufgabe für philosophisches Forschen. Bei Fichte ist ebendiese Wissenschaft auf die Humanität verpflichtet, er hält ausdrücklich alle Philosophie und Wissenschaft für nichtig, die nicht auf das Ziel der Förderung der Kultur und der Erhöhung der Humanität ausgeht.94

  • 95 In Fichte’s (ga, i, 3, 54) own words: “Von dem Fortgange der Wissenschaften hängt unmmitelbar der (...)

67A joint application of philosophical, historical, and logical-historical knowledge is required to enable the moral progress of humanity. Nonetheless, Fichte suggests that in this triad logical-historical knowledge plays a preponderant role. In Ueber die Bestimmung, moral progress is described as depending directly upon the progress of philo- sophy.95 A similar statement is found in the iste Vorlesung, in which Fichte claims that

  • 96 Fichte, ga, ii, 3, 357

Nichts in der ganzen Geschichte seiner Zeit liegt dem Gelehrten näher, als der Zustand der Wissenschaften selbst; der Hoffnungen, oder Befürchtungen, die er vernünftiger weise über den Fortgang oder Rückgang derselben zu faßen hat.96

  • 97 See: Baumanns 1974, 107

68Peter Baumanns’ studies reveal that for Fichte true philosophy is ethical anthropology, a foundation of personal critical knowledge according to the idea of the practical vocation of man, or rather a simultaneous foundation of metaphysics of experience and metaphysics of man.97 Fichte’s claim about the preponderance of logical-historical knowledge suggests that an exhaustive formulation of the Wissenschaftslehre demands a systematic discussion of the relationship of the rational history of philosophy and the personal pre- and post-critical labour of the scholar (the self-determining subject). Fichte however does not discuss this issue. All he seems to imply is, as we saw earlier, that the reaching of the standpoint of the Wissenschaftslehre depends on a general, ongoing, and ascending logical-historical process of development the exclusive rational architects of which are concrete self- reflecting philosophers. Fichte’s writings of 1794-5 leave this question open. Hülsen’s Preisschrift characterization of all rational activity as general-personal logical-historical activity appears in the history of German idealism as the first attempt to fuse these two apparent stems of Fichte’s approach systematically.

2.9 The Spiritual-Normative Character of the Wissenschaftslehre

69The main difference between Fichte’s Wissenschaftslehre and Hülsen’s Preisschrift is Hülsen’s inclusion of a constitutive temporal dimension to Fichte’s a priori concept of rationality. This divergence did not prevent Fichte from identifying Hülsen’s position with his own standpoint. Fichte recommended Preisschrift strongly as a work which facilitated the study of the Wissenschaftslehre.

  • 98 See: Horstmann 1991, 47-8
  • 99 See: Breazeale 1981, 548-9
  • 100 Take for instance the following passage from the Grundlage: “Die hier aufgestellten und aufzustell (...)
  • 101 As far as I know, this topic was neglected in scholarly literature.

70Both Fichte and Hülsen agree that the concept of the Wissenschaftslehre is a “spiritual” as opposed to “literal” concept, that it demands an independent explanation, or rather a self-adaptable normative completion. This explains Fichte and Hülsen’s identification of their not entirely concordant systematic positions and Fichte’s motives for recognizing Hülsen as a partner in the completion of his system. Reinhold was the first post-Kantian thinker to refer to the possibility of reformulating a philosophical standpoint and keep its “spirit” intact. The reassertion of critical philosophy appears in Reinhold’s early Elementarphilosophie as an attempt to step back from the “printed letter” of the Kritik and complete it normatively with a Grundsatz.98 The objections of Schulze-Aenesidemus and Fichte’s determination not to award victory to the skeptic led him to develop Reinhold’s distinction between “spirit” and “letter”.99 Fichte’s insistence that the Wissenschaftslehre is the “spiritual-normative” critical complement to Kant’s propaedeutic is well known.100 A nuance of Fichte’s stance is the self- adaptable character of the normative task of “spiritual” completion.101 Fichte attributes to the critical philosopher (or the scholar) a prominent role in the achievement of this “spiritualizing” task. In Rezension des Aenesidemus Fichte writes that

  • 102 Fichte, ga, i, 2, 67 [my bold]

Er [i.e., the reviewer — Fichte] wünscht nichts lebhafter, als dass seine Beurtheilung dazu beitragen möge, recht viele Selbstdenker zu überzeugen, dass diese Philosophie [i.e., the critical philosophy] an sich, und ihrem innern Gehalte nach, noch so fest stehe, als je, dass es aber noch vieler Arbeit bedürfe, um die Materialien in ein wohl verbundenes und unerschütterliches Ganze zu ordnen. Möchten sie dann durch diese Ueberzeugung selbst aufgemuntert werden, jeder an seinem Orte, so viel in seinen Kräften steht, zu diesem erhabenen Zwecke beizutragen!102

  • 103 See: Fichte, ga, i, 2, 326. Fichte (ga, 1, 4, 184) makes the same statement in the 1797 Erste Einl (...)

71Fichte acknowledges that the self-thinker, an independent philosophizing figure, is responsible for the restitution of the critical status of philosophy. Fichte makes a similar statement in Grundlage, though in this text the term “self-thinker” is omitted. Fichte holds that the normative philosophizing activity whereby the “spirit” of critical philosophy should be completed demands independence (Selbstständigkeit), a position, which according to Fichte each philosopher can only confer on himself.103 This independence is a not explicitly clarified extension of self-determining autonomy, the expression of which might be a normative degree of personal appropriation or self-adapting completion of a given standpoint. The following passage in the 1797 Zweite Einleitung, an essay that Hülsen of course could have not known while writing Preisschrift, is perhaps where Fichte formulates this already apparent early “spiritualizing” conviction most clearly.

  • 104 Fichte, ga, i, 4, 221 [my bold]

Es ist nicht die Art der Wissenschaftslehre, noch ihres Verfassers, unter irgend einer Autorität Schutz zu suchen. Wer erst sehen muss, ob diese Lehre mit der Lehre irgend eines anderen Mannes übereinstimme, ehe er sich von ihr überzeugen will, anstatt zu sehen, ob sie mit den Aussprüchen seiner eigenen Vernunft übereinstimme, auf den rechnet sie überhaupt nicht, weil ihm die absolute Selbstthätigkeit, der ganz unabhängige Glaube an sich selbst, fehlt, die durch jene Lehre vorausgesetzt werden. Aus einem ganz anderen Grunde sonach, als aus dem, seine Lehre zu empfehlen, ist der Verfasser der Wissenschaftslehre mit der Vorerinnerung angetreten, dass dieselbe mit der Kann- tischen Lehre vollkommen übereinstimme, und keine andere sey, als die wohlverstandene Kantische.104

  • 105 In a letter to Niethammer from December 6, 1793, Fichte (ga, iii, 2, 21) seems to argue the same a (...)

72The standpoint of the Wissenschaftslehre presupposes (1) personal independent observance of and (2) conformation to the practical demands of one's own reason. Fichte implies that a particularizing and therefore distinguishing self-adapting procedure of analysis ought to condition the “spiritual” self-determined adoption of his standpoint.105 Hülsen will deepen this point and hold that the autonomous adoption of a philosophical standpoint conforms, inevitably, to a particular degree of logical-historical development. Originally, for Reinhold the notion of “spiritual” reformulation presupposed the possibility of normative completion. Regarding the Wissenschaftslehre, this option is assured by Fichte’s own claims about the incompleteness of his system. This may have persuaded Hülsen to introduce significant changes, and still call his modified system Wissenschaftslehre.

  • 106 In Fichte’s (ga, i, 4, 203) own words: “Ich halte die angeführte Schrift [i.e., Beck’s essay] für (...)
  • 107 See Fichte’s letter to Reinhold from July 2, 1795 in: Fichte, ga, iii, 2, 347-8
  • 108 See: Fichte, ga, i, 2, 252-4

73An immediate consequence of this is Fichte’s recognition of the right of other philosophical authors to develop the concept of the Wissenschaftslehre into normative and hence not entirely concordant systematic positions. This is implied in the Ersten Einleitung, where Fichte recommends Jakob Sigismund Beck’s 1796 Einzigmöglicher Ständ-punkt, aus welchem die kritische Philosophie beurtheilt werden muss as the best philosophical preparation for “those who whish to study the Wissenschaftslehre from my writings”.106 This may explain Fichte’s 1797 identification of Hülsen’s Preisschrift with his own standpoint. It also explains his 1795 identification of Schelling’s Vom Ich als Princip der Philosophie with the Wissenschaftslehre,107 a statement, which seems to reconfirm the implicit existence of this “spiritualizing” trend prior to the writing of the Ersten and Zweite Einleitung. It even could be held that Fichte’s claims that (1) his account is not complete, that (2) he wants his reader to develop his own thought, that (3) he encourages independent thought, that (4) his system is subjected to revision, that (5) the Grundlage is a plan for how to erect further systematic construction upon its foundations, and (6) that he welcomed suggestions from other philosophers,108 are encouragements to “read” and develop the “spirit” of the Wissenschaftslehre as Hülsen did: probably another reason why Fichte recommended Preisschrift so strongly.

Notes

1 This paradigm was Fichte’s critical alternative to the skeptically refutable paradigm of the monadic-subjectivist tradition, which saw philosophical knowledge as the result of contemplation or speculation. See: Beiser 2002, 259

2 See: Schulze 1911, 18. Dieter Henrich (2003, 149) summarizes Schulze’s criticism of Kant and Reinhold: “According to Schulze [...] transcendental philosophy shows, with sufficient evidence, that we cannot avoid thinking the idea of a cause of sensations or of what is given in our sensations. We also cannot avoid thinking some idea of an origin of our representations, concepts, and so forth. From these unavoidable thoughts, however, we may draw no legitimate conclusion about the existence of things-in-themselves, or a faculty of representation, or of reason — that is, some specific entity in terms of which we can understand why representation really exists. In particular, we may not say that our knowledge depends on the faculty of reason, nor attribute the content of our knowledge to external causes.”

3 See Fichte’s letter to J. F. Flatt from November or December 1793 in: Kabitz 1968, 30-1*

4 See: Reinhold 1978, 109-10

5 Fichte, ga i-2, 46

6 See: Hartmann 1960, 46

7 According to Fichte (ga i-2, 43), Reinhold may have accepted Schulze’s criticism but have probably argued that “der Satz des Bewustseyns freylich unter dem Princip des Widerspruchs stehe, aber nicht als unter einem Grundsatze, durch den er bestimmt werde, sondern als unter einem Gesetze, dem er nicht widersprechen dürfe; [...].”

8 See: Fichte, ga i-2, 43

9 Franks 2005, 234-5. For the bracketed clarification, see: Franks 2005, 226-7

10 See: Fichte, ga, i, 2, 46

11 Fichte, ga, i, 2, 46

12 See: Fichte, ga, i, 2, 44

13 See: Reinhold 1963, 323-4

14 See: Fichte, ga, i, 2, 45-8

15 Fichte, ga, i, 2, 48

16 In a letter from July 2, 1795, Fichte [ga, iii, 2, 345] gave Reinhold the following explanation: “Kant fragt nach dem Grunde der Einheit des mannigfaltigen im Nicht-Ich. Wie vereinigt ihr A. B. C. u.s.w. die auch schon gegeben sind, zur Einheit des Bewußtseyns? und auch Sie scheinen mir die Philosophie bei diesem Punkte aufzunehmen. [...] Ich glaube es braucht nur gesagt zu werden [...], daß jene Frage eine höhere voraussetzt, die: Wie kommt ihr denn erst zu A. und zu B. und zu C.? Sie werden gegeben; das heißt doch wohl auf gut Teutsch: ihr wißt es nicht - Wohl: so lange ihr es noch nicht wißt, nicht von Philosophie, als einer Wißenschaft.

17 Fichte’s strategy provides evidence of Schulze’s criticism of critical philosophy. For as Dieter Henrich (2003, 151) explains, “What Schulze is suggesting can be conceived as a variety of philosophical phenomenalism, a method of description of consciousness that does not have any hidden implications regarding the explanation of consciousness.”

18 Neuhouser 1990, 106-7

19 See: Franks 2005, 229

20 See: Fichte, ga, i, 2, 149, and Breazeale 1982, 812

21 Franks 2005, 259

22 Scholars of Fichte do not agree on the nature of the foundations of the Grundlage. Although a full discussion of this topic transcends the limits of this monograph, a brief discussion is necessary for the understanding of Hülsen’s logical-historical project. Some commentaries of Fichte’s work such as those of Frederick Beiser and Alain Perrinjaquet ascribe to Fichte a moral foundational position. [See: Beiser 1992 and Perrinjaquet 1994]. Others such as Tom Rockmore focus on Fichte’s approach as a theoretically ungrounded system the foundations of which attain at best only a regulative status. [See: Rockmore 1994, 96-112]. I myself am in agreement with Paul Franks. This commentator characterizes Fichte’s self-grounded standpoint as a practical-theoretical or rather real-ideal “holistic monism”, which explains why Fichte strongly recommended the study of Preisschrift for understanding his own Wissenschaftslehre. Franks’ position is that “holistic monism” should fulfill the following criteria:
The Holistic requirement is that, in an adequate philosophical system, empirical items must be such that all their properties are determinable only within the context of a totality composed of other items and their properties. The Monistic requirement is that, in an adequate philosophical system, the absolute first principle must be immanent within the aforementioned totality, as its principle of unity. The two requirements together entail, first, that the absolute first principle both necessitates its derivatives and is impossible without them and, second, that between the principle and its derivatives, there can be no real distinctions.” Franks 2005, 85-6

23 According to Paul Franks, the separated presentation of the theoretical and the practical divisions of the Grundlage encourages a misreading of their self-complementary condition. [See: Franks 2005, 317]. Fichte characterizes these divisions only as “logically distinguished, or rather reciprocally presupposing moments of the same single positing activity of the I.” [See: Fichte, ga, i, 2, 286]. For Fichte’s later clarification of this aspect of the Grundlage, see: Fichte, ga, iv, 2, 16-7

24 See: Fichte, ga, i, 2, 120-2

25 See: Fichte, ga, i, 2, 116

26 See: Pipin 2000, 149. According to Rolf-Peter Horstmann (2000, 120), Fichte “[...] wants to overcome skepticism by showing that most of the judgments that are subject to skeptical attacks have the status of indisputable truths because they all have in common the characteristic of certainty. Thus, what has to be done in order to refute skepticism is to dispute not skepticism’s material claims but rather its assumption that there is a basis for doubt about the propositions it challenges.”

27 See: Fichte, ga, i, 2, 272

28 See: Martin 1997, 96

29 On this point, I am partially indebt to Franz G. Nauen.

30 Fichte, ga, i, 2, 306-8, 311-4, 325-6, 330-8

31 See: Fichte, ga, ii, 3, 325. Notice in addition the following passage from the Programschrift: “Nun aber ist ja die Wissenschaftslehre selbst die Wissenschaft von etwas; nicht aber dieses Etwas seihst. Mithin wäre dieselbe überhaupt mit allen ihren Sätzen Form eines gewissen vor derselben vorhandenen Gehaltes. [...] Das Object der Wissenschaftslehre ist nach allem das System des menschlichen Wissens. Dieses ist unabhängig von der Wissenschaft desselben vorhanden, wird aber durch sie in systematischer Form aufgestellt.” Fichte, ga, I, 2, 140

32 See also Fichte’s Grundlage statement in: Fichte, ga, i, 2, 414-5

33 See: Fichte, ga, ii, 3, 309

34 Fichte, ga, ii, 3, 334

35 See: Fichte, ga, ii, 3, 329-30

36 Fichte, ga, ii, 3, 332-3

37 As Steven Hoeltzel (2001, 44) reminds us, “[...] the philosopher begins by intending representations of the protodiscursive activities of the I. These are one and all representations of a spontaneous dynamism, but the acts of the mind invariably occur in determinate, law-governed ways, and therefore “present a system for any observer”. Thus the reflecting philosopher should find that one representation — one represented act of the mind — necessarily gives way to a certain new representations, and no other, until the highest level of determinacy is reached: reflection grasps a representation of representational consciousness, structured as Reinhold’s principle describes it.”

38 See: Fichte, ga, i, 2, 119, 126

39 See: Fichte, ga, iii, 2, 344

40 See: Franks 1997, 312

41 See: Fichte, ga, i, 2, 146-7, 365

42 See: Breazeale 2001, 23

43 See: Breazeale 2001b, 687, 693, 699

44 Fichte’s distinction between spirit and letter in Ueber den Unterschied differs from the distinction made by Kant, Reinhold, and Fichte himself in the 1798 Zweite Einleitung in die Wissenschaftslehre. For in this early text Fichte focuses neither on the interconnected reading of philosophical texts according to the idea of the whole, nor on the “spirit” and the intention that individual passages may display. See: Fichte, ga, i, 4, 231-2

45 See: Fichte, ga, i, 2, 132-3

46 See: Breazeale 2001, 29

47 See: Fichte, ga, i, 2, 116

48 Fichte, ga, i, 2, 130

49 Fichte, ga, i, 2, 130-1

50 As Daniel Breazeale (1994, 51) comments, “one should not [...] be misled by Fichte’s remarks [...] and [...] conclude that, for all of his insistence upon the need for a self-evidently certain starting point, he actually anticipated the familiar Hegelian view that criticizes all claims to immediate certainty and that treats the truth of the starting point as something that can be established only as a “result” of the system. However attractive one may find such a position to be, it is not Fichte’s.” [my bold]. The Grundsatz is a postulate, namely the propositional expression of a principle that is not susceptible to logical proof. The Grundsatz represents a meta-logical principle, the exclusive establishment of which demands the actual accomplishment of a pure or immediate act of self-positing. See: Fichte, ga, i, 2, 255

51 As Tom Rockmore (2001, 66) alternatively puts it, “[...] Fichte does not focus on the a priori analysis of the conditions of the possibility of experience in general, but rather on the conditions of real experience. He takes experience [...] and argues [...] form conditioned to condition thereof in order to explain how experience is really possible. He never attempts to deduce conditions of abstract possibility, or possibility whatsoever. He consistently describes real conditions of actual experience.”

52 See: Fichte, ga, i, 2, 384

53 Fichte, ga, i, 2, 131. Some passages of the Programmschrift (particularly in section “Seven”) question the possibility of establishing this inherent logical coherence. Fichte held that there ought to be something that could not be demonstrated strictly, something that ought to be assumed to be probable only, namely the fact that systematic coherence could have been established accidentally through incorrect deduction. [See: Fichte, ga, i, 2, 146-7, 149] Nevertheless, in the 1798 reediting of the Programmschrift, Fichte acknowledged that these doubts were concerned with his own early deductions. See: Fichte, ga, i, 2, 146

54 Both German and Anglo-Saxon studies of Fichte do not pay sufficient attention to the fragmentary allusions in the Wissenschaftslehre to the history of philosophy. Scholars overlook this issue because they fail to notice the systematic connection of Reinhold’s early Elmentarphilosophie with the history of philosophy.

55 See: Fichte, ga, i, 2, 118

56 See: Fichte, ga, i, 2, 111

57 Note the following Statement from Ueber den Unterschied:Alle, die jemals Erfinder in der Philosophie wurden, alle welche neue Systeme aufgestellt haben, die wenn sie sich auch nicht behaupteten, doch immer einer von den nothwen- digen Versuchen des menschl. Geistes zur Hervorbringung einer Wißenschaftslehre waren […].” Fichte, ga, ii, 3, 337

58 See: Fichte, ga, i, 2, 110-1

59 See: Fichte, ga, i, 2, 119

60 The following statement from Ueber die Bestimmung des Gelehrten provides additional evidence of this point. In his discussion of rational coordination, Fichte (ga, i, 3, 49) argues: “Wenn wir die entwickelte Idee auch nur ohne alle Beziehung auf uns selbst betrachten, so erblicken wir doch wenigstens ausser uns eine Verbindung, in der keiner für sich selbst arbeiten kann, ohne für alle anderen zu arbeiten, oder für den anderen arbeiten, ohne zugleich für sich selbst zu arbeiten — indem der glückliche Fortgang Eines Mitgliedes glücklicher Fortgang für Alle, und der Verlust des Einen Verlust für alle ist [...].”

61 Jürgen Stolzenberg discusses the personal possibility of such a practically grounded historical capability. He however does not enlighten it as the philosophizing faculty of judgment’s ground of logical-historical striving. Nor does he connect this point to any of the Reinholdian influences that I attribute to Fichte. See: Stolzenberg 2002, 93-106

62 See: Fichte, ga, i, 2, 143. In the preface to the first edition of the Programmschrift, Fichte describes Kant as someone who drove philosophizing judgment from the standpoint at which he found it toward its final goal. See: Fichte, ga, i, 2, 110

63 See: Fichte, ga, i, 2, 282

64 See: Fichte, ga, i, 2, 109

65 Fichte’s essay dates from 1796, a year after Hülsen wrote Preisschrift. I however include it here for it provides additional evidence of Fichte’s incidental interest in a rational history of philosophy prior to his sympathetic rating of Hülsen’s Preisschrift in 1797.

66 See: Fichte, ga, i, 3, 247

67 See: Fichte, ga, i, 3, 247. The following passage from Ueber den Begriff provides a negative evidence of the teleologically progressing character of the philosophizing faculty of judgment: “Diese Handlungsart überhaupt [i.e., the human spirit’s necessary way of acting], soll nach dem obigen durch eine reflectirende Abstraction von allem, was nicht sie ist, abgesondert werden. Diese Abstraction geschieht durch Freiheit, und die philosophirende Urtheilskraft wird in ihr gar nicht durch blinden Zwang geleitet.Fichte, ga, i, 2, 143

68 See: Bubner 2003, 110

69 Fichte, ga, i, 3, 53. The following passage from the late 1796 Philosophische Wissenschaft des Rechts von Professor Fichte [Nachschrift Lossius. Fragment] provides further evidence of this point. “Die Geschichte dieser Wissenschaft [i.e., the science of law] kann man, wie die einer jeden andern, nicht eher verstehen, bis man die Wissenschaft selbst hat: denn Geschichte eines Dinges, das nicht ist, ist nichts. So war die bis herige Geschichte der Philosophie immer nur Geschichte der Philosophen.” Fichte, ga, iv, 3, 59

70 As in Reinhold’s system, Fichte ought to be committed to the view that during the epoch of pre-critical thought, all products of the philosophizing faculty of judgment appear to the observer as atomic facts.

71 See: Fichte, ga, i, 2, 143

72 Peter Baumanns (1974, 119) is right in objecting to Fichte that “Wenn die WissenschaftslehreNaturlageund das Prinzip der Wissenschaftslehre durch Evidenz ausgezeichnet soll, warum bedurfte es dann eines so langen Prozesses der Wegräumung von Evidenzhindernissen? Welcher art waren die Evidenzhindernisse, daß sie einen so langen und mühseligen Prozeß ihrer Hinwegräumung bedingten? Auf dieser Frage aber gibt die „Programmschrift“ keine antwort. Sie will zwar „den eigentlichen Grund angegeben“ haben, warum alle bisherigen Philosophen die philosphierende Urteilskraft immer nur ein Stück vorrücken konnten; in Wahrheit aber wird bloß behauptet, daß es so sein mußte. Das, was zu erklären wäre: das herumtappen zur Dämmerung mittels dunkler Gefühle (eines „Wahrheitssinnes“) und das schließliche Übergehen zum „hellen Tage“, wird nicht erklärt, sondern in tautologischer Weise selbst als Erklärungsgrund ausgegeben.”

73 Fichte’s essay appeared in print in the 12th issue of the Philosophisches Journal. It was officially announced on May 25, 1796 in the Allgemeine Literatur Zeitung. See: Fichte, ga, i, 3, 231

74 See Schlegel’s letters to Körner from September 21 and 30, 1796 in: Schlegel (KA), XXIII, 333

75 See: Über das vollständige Fundament der Moral in: Reinhold 2003, II, 131-81

76 See: Fichte, ga, i, 3, 28

77 See: Fichte, ga, i, 3, 30-1

78 Fichte, ga, i, 3, 31

79 Fichte, ga, i, 3, 29

80 See: Fichte, ga: i, 3, 31-2

81 Fichte, ga, i, 3, 32

82 See: Fichte, ga, i, 3, 36-8, 40-1

83 Fichte, ga, i, 3, 40

84 See: Fichte, ga, i, 3, 40-1

85 Fichte, ga, i, 3, 40

86 As Wilhelm Weischedel (1973, 17) clarifies, “Wenn nun die Erfahrung anderer notwendig zum Menschsein gehört, dann gehört auch ihre unabtrennbare Voraussetzung, die Gemeinschaft mit den anderen, notwendig dazu.”

87 See: Fichte, ga, i, 3, 43-5

88 Fichte, ga, i, 3, 49

89 See: Fichte, ga, i, 3, 52-4, and Fichte, ga, ii, 3, 357

90 As Liang Zhixue (1991, 229) reminds us: “Wenn der Gelehrte im moralischen Leben zurückbleibt oder sogar durch eine entscheidende Handlung seinen eigenen Lehren widerspricht, so werden die anderen seinen Lehren nicht folgen. Fichte lieh sich an dieser Stelle die Worte, die der Stifter der christlichen Religion an seine Schüler richtete, um die Gelehrten zu ermahnen: „Ihr seyd das Salz der Erde; wenn das Salz seine Kraft verliert, womit soll man salzen?“ wenn die Auswahl unter den Menschen verdorben ist, wo soll man noch sittliche Güte suchen?”

91 See: Fichte, ga, i, 3, 54-8

92 For this lesson see: Fichte, ga, ii, 3, 357-67

93 Fichte, ga, ii, 3, 366 [my bold]

94 Vieweg 1995, 180. In a letter to Friedrich Heinrich Jacoby from August 30, 1795 Fichte writes: “Wozu ist denn nun der spekulative Gesichtspunkt und mit ihm die ganze Phlosophie, wenn sie nicht für’s Leben ist? [...] Wir fingen an zu philosophieren aus Uebermuth, und brachten uns dadurch um unsere Unschuld; wir erblickten unsere Nacktheit, und philosophieren seitdem aus Noth für unsere Erlösung.Fichte, ga, iii, 2, 392-3

95 In Fichte’s (ga, i, 3, 54) own words: “Von dem Fortgange der Wissenschaften hängt unmmitelbar der ganze Fortgang des Menschengeschlechts ab.”

96 Fichte, ga, ii, 3, 357

97 See: Baumanns 1974, 107

98 See: Horstmann 1991, 47-8

99 See: Breazeale 1981, 548-9

100 Take for instance the following passage from the Grundlage: “Die hier aufgestellten und aufzustellenden Principien liegen offenbar den seinigen [i.e., Kant's] zum Grunde, wie jeder sich überzeugen kann, der sich mit dem Geiste seiner Philosophie (die doch wohl Geist haben dürfte) vertraut machen will. Dass er in seinen Kritiken die Wissenschaft nicht, sondern nur die Propädeutik derselben aufstellen wolle, bat er einige Mal gesagt; und es ist schwer zu begreifen, warum seine Nachbeter nur dieses ihm nicht haben glauben wollen.” Fichte, ga, i, 2, 335

101 As far as I know, this topic was neglected in scholarly literature.

102 Fichte, ga, i, 2, 67 [my bold]

103 See: Fichte, ga, i, 2, 326. Fichte (ga, 1, 4, 184) makes the same statement in the 1797 Erste Einleitung. There he claims that “[...] mein System kein anderes sei als das Kantische, d.h.: Es enthält dieselbe Ansicht der Sache, ist aber in seinem Verfahren ganz unabhängig von der Kantischen Darstellung.” [my bold]

104 Fichte, ga, i, 4, 221 [my bold]

105 In a letter to Niethammer from December 6, 1793, Fichte (ga, iii, 2, 21) seems to argue the same about Kant’s Kritik. He writes: “Noch keiner hat ihn verstanden; die es am meisten glauben, am wenigsten; keiner wird ihn verstehen, der nicht auf seinem Wege zu Kants Resultaten kommen wird, [...].” [my bold]

106 In Fichte’s (ga, i, 4, 203) own words: “Ich halte die angeführte Schrift [i.e., Beck’s essay] für das zweckmässigste Geschenk, das dem Zeitalter gemacht werden konnte, und empfehle sie denen, welche aus meinen Schriften die Wissenschaftslehre studiren wollen, als die beste Vorbereitung.

107 See Fichte’s letter to Reinhold from July 2, 1795 in: Fichte, ga, iii, 2, 347-8

108 See: Fichte, ga, i, 2, 252-4

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