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Transcendental Arguments, Reason, and Scepticism: Contemporary Debates and the Origins of Post-Kantianism
Why have transcendental arguments attracted so much interest? One reason, I believe, is the fact that they combine present philosophical fruitfulness with the promise to revitalize the philosophical past. For many, the combination is exemplified by the intimate connection between Strawson's descriptive metaphysics and his powerful rereading of Kant. I For many readers of Strawson, this combination suggested a way of vindicating the conviction that the advent of analytic philosophy had not drained Kant's revolution of its significance. At the same time, Kant's pivotal role in other philosophical traditions made a number of other revitalizations seem possible. Post-Kantian Idealists like Fichte and Hegel were to be read as engaging in transcendental argument," as were post-Husserlian philosophers like Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty ' The idea of transcendental arguments promised to open channels of communication between analytic and Continental philosophy, without sacrificing the demands for rigour and clarity that are essential to the analytic self-understanding. Some channels have indeed been opened. But one cannot undertake to
I am grateful for the conversation and comments of Frederick Beiser, Stanley Cavell, James Conant, Michael Friedman, Arata Harnawaki, David Hills, Frederick Neuhouser, Hindy Najrnan, Graciela de Pierris, Hilary Putnam, Michael Rosen, Robert Stern, and Barry Stroud. See Strawson (I959, I966). While Taylor (I972) argues only that the first three chapters of Hegel's Phenomenology may be read as transcendental arguments, Neuhouser (I986) extends this interpretive strategy to the fourth chapter. Neuhouser -(I990) argues that Fichte may also be understood as engaging in transcendental argument in his Jena W1issenschaftslehre. 3 On Merleau-Ponty see Taylor (I972, I995). Okrent (I988), reads Being and Time as an exercise in transcendental argument from which Heidegger 'turns' for reasons related to Stroud's criticisms of Strawson. Of great relevance here is Husserl's 'transcendental turn' and his relation to Kant. Husserl (I96I) is particularly illuminating.
and that an answer to the question would provide philosophical insight. or even unavoidable. An internal relation to scepticism. or had even succeeded in radicalizing and vindicating. If philosophy begins in wonder. Whereas scepticism seems to itself to have discovered that we cannot be certain that X is possible. Anachronism precludes such discoveries. and some ways in which Fichte's project was shaped by his understanding of the vulnerability to scepticism of transcendental argument as conceived by Reinhold. 1. transcendental philosophy begins with wonder that takes the form of a characteristic question: 'How is X possible?'. some students of Reinhold responded to these criticisms in ways that seem similar to some contemporary responses. Milton was not misusing the English language when he prefaced Paradise Lost with an account of its argument. Whereas transcendental philosophy depends upon a certain encounter with scepticism in order to raise its question. But this will require an investigation of how the post-Kantians themselves conceived of their philosophical methods and hopes. Transcendental philosophy learns to ask its question from scepticism. As David Bell pointed out in discussion. and it is historically and philosophically important to understand why they did not. First. And this contestation is understood differently by those who regard the point of transcendental arguments either as the direct refutation of scepticism. it is likely that earlier instances are to be found. but he uses it to signify an argument that transcends the limits of the proper employment of the understanding. If the term 'transcendental arguments' is to be used without prejudging contentious issues. this was notably not the path taken by Fichte. and how these divided ways are both different and similar. Schelling. in a paper given in I939. by fiat. but because it is more illuminating to regard the question of transcendental arguments as the field for a contest about what is philosophically essential in Kant's revolution. hence an argument that is not a legitimate part of transcendental philosophy. Kant (I998a: A62 7/B6 55). it will need to contest scepticism's understanding of its own significance-to bring out what transcendental philosophy regards as the truth of scepticism. Only on a particular interpretation or range of interpretations must transcendental arguments be inferences of a special form. And I say this." there is no need to use it anachronistically. What are transcendental arguments? I can see little point in offering a definition that. for philosophy's interest in its history is not solely historical. During the 1790S. Although current usage of the term 'transcendental arguments' appears to be recent. Here I propose to examine one strand of these controversies: Reinhold's attempt to systematize Kant's philosophy by transforming it into a single transcendental argument. A definition might suggest that there is no room for dispute. than with those who thought that Kant had failed to refute. the sceptical criticism of Reinhold's project by Schulze. but the question is not asked by transcendental philosophy in the tone of scepticism. if not therefore well-understood. it can both shed light on the origins of post-Kantian Idealism and open new contemporary prospects. we can discover not only new answers to familiar questions. Second. And the danger of anachronistic history of philosophy is not solely the danger of inaccurate history. what may be learned from this dividing of the ways. transcendental philosophy takes it that X is possible or even actual. If wielded with care. Not every philosophical strategy is perspicuously portrayed as a set of premisses from which a conclusion is to follow. or as the indirect undermining of scepticism's claim to be taken at face value as a challenge to our ordinary commitments. The well-known. An argument that begins with some premiss shared by the sceptic is not the only possible response to . Schulze's criticisms of Reinhold anticipate. and subsequently (although they lie beyond the purview of this paper) by Schelling and Hegel. third. I will mark some features of this question that provide occasion for fateful divisions among those who conceive of transcendental arguments in divergent ways. 4 The earliest instance of current usage I have found is in Austin (I96I: 3). uses the term. In the attempt to understand an alien past by overcoming the present.112 Paul Franks I. Kantians were less concerned with rationalist opponents. It would therefore be anachronistic to read these post-Kantian Idealists as if they did take a contemporary path. Among the points emerging from this examination are the following. but has learned from scepticism that there is a pressing question as to how this can be the case. legitimizes some contenders while delegitimizing others. This change of tone implies a complexity of relationship. construed as 'What are the necessary conditions for the possibility of X?' Making no claim to exhaustiveness. but also new possibilities for philosophical questioning. post-Kantian projects of Fichte. And I will sound some cautionary notes about dark places where anachronisms are apt to lurk. or might presume to decide issues whose detailed contestation is philosophically useful. then 'argument' will have to be construed generously. Since Austin does not give the impression of introducing a usage. SOME The Origins of Post-Kantianism FEATURES OF TRANSCENDENTAL ARGUMENTS 113 revitalize the past without running the risk of anachronism. Hume's scepticism. not because there are no pretenders who do not deserve the title. and Hegel originated in a series of subsequently forgotten controversies about the nature and relation to scepticism of Kant's transcendental method. Yet. It will also require a frank confrontation with precisely those aspects of their thinking that seem unpalatable to contemporary sensibilities. recent criticisms of transcendental argument as conceived by Strawson. mutatis mutandis.
although I would argue that it underlies many of the central disputes. and his interpretation of Kant as proposing possible experience as a principle of significance distorts essential features of Kant's own project. but on the nature of the grounds adduced and on a given transcendental philosopher's success in delivering the grounds he had promised. none of the eighteenth century thinkers with whom I am concerned appears to have doubted that philosophy was to be measured by its ability to meet the sceptical challenge by grounding ordinary claims. necessary conditions of interest to transcendental philosophy are intended to ground that which they condition. marks a fateful turn. Recent work on Kant's philosophy of mathematics has done much to clarify this distinction and has put it to good use. as it emerges in those debates themselves. First. speaks of experience. It seems to me of the utmost importance that a first-personal possessive always attaches itself. 5 See Beiser (I98T 206-7). or of meaningful discourse. 3. for that leaves open the possibility that metaphysical claims will secure reality in another way.114 Paul Franks The Origins of Post-Kantianism 115 scepticism. I and 2). As early as 1785. See 'Kant's Philosophy of Arithmetic'. not an interpretation of his philosophy. transcendental philosophy can limn our conception of reality.and twentiethcentury debates. to that in whose necessary conditions of possibility transcendental philosophy takes an interest. or as circumstances without which (in fact or in logic) something could not arise. Of course one might choose to rule it out. and his conception of consciousness must be carefully compared and contrasted with that of Husserl. Thus. although too rarely for discussion. The choice of the conditioned. as in Strawson's view. as reasons. even though the categories lack the objective reality (what is thought through them lacks the real possibility) secured through the conditions of possible experience. and of twentieth-century debates about Strawson and others. Each of these alternatives may in turn be variously interpreted and there is frequently a frustrating lack of clarity on this score in both eighteenth. is marked by the variable in 'How is X possible?' It makes an enormous difference whether one is concerned with necessary conditions for the possibility of experience. This first-personal character. Since this paper is intended only as an initial attempt to link those debates. In contrast. The relation to scepticism IS a prominent tOpIC both of eighteenthcentury debates about Kant and Reinhold. Johann Schultz pointed out that Kant understood experience differently from Hume. to them. there are significant parallels between the debates. but it should be clear that this would be a move against Kant. his conception of the task of transcendental arguments is coloured by a post-Fregean interest in linguistic intelligibility. Although Strawson. like Kant. As I will argue. the claim was a direct implication of the notion that philosophy is the . and thus to explore my possibilities or the possibilities pertaining to creatures who are like me in relevant respects. on some conceptions. not on the need for grounding. capacities she is thought to be in a special. if not infallible. or be. is the source both of its greatest attraction for its admirers and of its greatest detriment for its detractors. Detractors regard this fact as the cause of a narrow parochialism: at best. it merely reflects the limited imagination of a particular philosopher or philosophical generation. implicitly or explicitly. admirers regard transcendental philosophy as attractive because it is an exploration of the philosopher's own capacities. 6 See Rosen (1988). 7 The distinction between logical possibility (the non-contradictoriness of a concept) and real possibility (the connection of a concept to an intuition. position to test. The conditions of possibility with which transcendental philosophy concerns itself may be variously construed as causes. Transcendental arguments seek to investigate the conditions for the possibility of my or our experience or consciousness or meaningful discourse. by means of a turn to the practical. both in Kant's day and in our own.f It is crucial to Kant's philosophy that it is possible to think objects through the categories beyond possible experience (that the metaphysical objects thought through the categories retain logical possibility). but also important differences in their presuppositions. Two dangers of anachronism are worth noting here. to the basis on which transcendental philosophy claims access to its subject matter. for them. and specifically of its origins. or endure. although there has been a temptation to think so. which pertains not only to the subject matter but.I Fichte's concern with the conditions of consciousness. and each of these terms is open to various construals. This first-personal character of transcendental argument has been underthematized in both the eighteenth. Although Fichte's response to sceptical objections to transcendental argument is very different from contemporary responses. in Parsons (I983: IIO-49) and Friedman (I992: chs. These eighteenth-century philosophers saw no need to argue for the claim that transcendental arguments provide grounds. 7 If. The nature of the conditions. his recognition of the linkage between the nature of transcendental philosophy and scepticism about other minds may be suggestive for contemporary philosophy as well. the use of categories beyond possible experience lacks significance altogether. but not reality itself. or of consciousness. the centrality of the first-personal character will emerge only gradually. at worst. then Kant's turn to the practical is ruled out.and twentieth-century debates. so a direct engagement between them was harder to achieve than might be imagined. 2. Disputes centred. A site for disagreement. through which connection the possibility of instantiations of the concept may be demonstrated) is central to Kant's thought and important for what follows.
Today the idea of the absolute has become unpalatable. Whereas some twentieth-century philosophers have understood Transcendental Idealism primarily as a modest claim about the limits of our knowledge. regressive arguments would trace the links from capacities to their foundations. not only a ground for everything. 239) seems less willing than Kant to place weight on that notion. Again. In apparent conflict with his Humean naturalism once again. but an absolute or unconditioned ground for all grounds. 4. whose necessity may be construed in a wide variety of significantly different ways. The idea that necessary conditions ground what they condition is essential for understanding a distinction that plays a central role in eighteenthcentury debates. Perhaps there are still further tensions between Straws on's Humean and Kantian tendencies to criticize scepticism as idle or incoherent for us humans. much disagreement about how this was to be done. However. The necessity of the conditional. Such 8 9 This emphasis on the grounding function of transcendental philosophy affected the post-Kantians' understanding of Transcendental Idealism. of course. if foundational status is constituted by the brute fact of indispensability to humans. To show that a capacity rests upon such foundations would not be to validate the capacity. Strawson (1997: 237). See Kant (I997a. whose role is expressed by the motto 'Only connect'v'' What is more. this followed immediately for them from the idea that philosophy is an exercise of reason. partly because that conception of the limits of knowledge can seem in tension with the claim that our knowledge is adequately grounded. But the inexplicability remains only if it is possible to be rational beings in some other way. They hoped to remove the tension by construing Kant's arguments as showing the incoherence of the very notion of things in themselves as wholly mind-independent grounds of knowledge. The Principle of Sufficient Reason (der Satz des Grundes). between arguments that proceed from ground to grounded. and Fichte thought that the Principle of Sufficient Reason demanded. Yet it can by no means be assumed that twentieth-century transcendental arguments are concerned with grounding in the same way.? Strawson (I985: 2I-3). since the foundations are themselves without ground. one may think that there is something to the idea that this conception tries to express: the idea of reason reaching satisfaction. Strawson's arguments that the forms of judgement may be derived from the concept of a discursive understanding and that the spatio-ternporal forms of intuition may be derived from the concept of sensible intuition bring him closer to the postKantian thought that our forms of judgement and intuition are demonstrably the only such forms possible for rational beings. 'If (the conditioned) then (the conditions)'. As Putnam (1998) argues. if one is committed to a hierarchy of dependence-relations terminating in foundations that are not conceived as grounding the claims or capacities they support. underlying what might be called analytic and synthetic conceptions of transcendental argument. and that grounding is reason's proper function. This is the distinction between progressive and regressive transcendental arguments-that is. Much might be gained from a critical encounter with some of the last philosophers to take the absolute seriously. Transcendental arguments may be paraphrased as conditionals of the form. there are longstanding tensions between Strawson's Humean tendency to criticize scepticism as idle and his Kantian tendency to criticize scepticism as incoherent. although they are used in confusingly different ways. not to Kant's distinction between analytic (regressive) and synthetic (progressive) methods of proof. since he criticizes Kant for regarding them as 'not capable of further explanation'. Kant. and his post-Kantian tendency to regard our fundamental capacities as indispensable-hence. the conditional is analytic in the sense that the conditions are reached by conceptual an endorsement may appear to be in tension with the Humean naturalist's disavowal of grounding. depending on what this indispensability amounts to-not only for us but for all rational beings. Compare with Bennett (I979). And Straws on (ibid. and arguments that regress from grounded to ground. I will begin by distinguishing two interpretations. IV: 277 n. But no interpretation of post-Kantian idealism can afford to ignore it. they were made notoriously uncomfortable by the suggestion that our knowledge is limited in the sense that there are things in themselves that forever elude us. My usage is connected to Kant's distinction between analytic and synthetic judgements. Strawson (1985) explicitly repudiates any intention of grounding ordinary beliefs through transcendental philosophy. Indeed. which demands both that there be a ground for everything and that we should seek to make those grounds intelligible to us. where he appears to endorse Wittgenstein's use of the term 'foundations'. while progressive arguments would trace the implications of the foundations. remains central to their understanding of philosophy. Have we lost faith in our ability to attain an absolute that would nevertheless be nice to have? Or is the very idea incoherent. the reasons for its present unfashionableness are none too clear. and their main crises and controversies can be portrayed as concerning the interpretation of that principle.116 Paul Franks The Origins of Post-Kantianism 117 self-knowledge of reason. One might disavow the grounding function of transcendental arguments and yet find room for a distinction between progressive and regressive arguments. W It seems impossible to avoid these terms. for example in (1985: 15). of peace from philosophical challenge. Besides. Transcendental philosophy was supposed to show that human reason could satisfy itself by attaining such an absolute. Strawson sometimes views transcendental arguments as capable of delineating the 'foundations' of our conceptual capacities. to criticize scepticism as either idle or incoherent. Again."? (a) On the analytic conception. Thus. based on a false understanding of reason? Even if one is critical of a conception on which reason satisfies itself by tracing a series of grounds back to an ultimate foundation. despite his (I 985) disavowal of the goal of 'wholesale validation'. perhaps by having what Kant calls intellectual intuition. But there may be no tension. . if it remains inexplicable that we humans have a discursive understanding requiring sensible intuition. seems to reassert a certain grounding role for the foundations. On this view.). although there was. coupled with the notion that reason could only attain genuine satisfaction by discovering a self-grounding or absolute ground. Reinhold. there is perhaps no real conflict. Reinhold and others understood it primarily as the thesis that our knowledge is ultimately grounded in necessary features of the mind.
presumably. One might think that any such argument will take the form of an analytic conditional. and might proceed by analysis of the concept of the experience to the synthetic conclusion that the analytically necessary conditions of experience are actually fulfilled. for Kant. but also on the very capacities that we exercise as agents within our specifically human spatio-temporal world. the concept of causal determination) cannot be derived from their subject-concepts (for example. unlike us. where the concept of causal determination is derived by conceptual analysis from the concept of possible experience. And so the necessity with which.'3 However. Like the truths of geometry. The synthetic conception of transcendental arguments sounds mysterious. Again this syntheticity is linked to the logical possibility of minds radically different from our own. like us. The thought that Kant does not exclude this possibility is based on a reading that is likely to be contentious and about which I am myself of two minds. he also distinguishes logical from real necessity. II Although analytic arguments of this kind deploy only logical and conceptual or semantic necessities. and as being committed to the view that our grasp of the conditions of the possibility of experience cannot be expressed as the possession of a concept of possible experience. I4 To grasp what it is to See Kant (I998a: A737/B765). the categorial principles are not analytic. provided that the premiss (the conditioned) is synthetic and is taken to be true. but who. he thinks that the thought of a figure enclosed by two straight lines is non-contradictory. and their negations are not self-contradictory. or supplements. for example. Kant is not committed to the view that it lacks meaningfulness altogether. denies that we humans possess an intellectual intuition that would enable the categories to be applied to things in themselves. But of course the fact that Kant takes the categorial principles to be synthetic a priori does not by itself imply that a transcendental argument by which they might be derived is synthetic a priori. 12 Forster (1989: 9) suggests that many contemporary transcendental arguments are in fact synthetic. because it is incompatible with the nonconceptual or intuitional conditions peculiar to human sensibility. not of contradictions. and some of his successors have drawn a still closer connection. then the causal law must apply'. Gram (I98I) argues that Kant (I998a: B308). but synthetic a priori. as Michael Rosen pointed out in conversation. it is not the only way. but we cannot exclude the possibility of beings with a non-discursive or intuitive understanding. thus entertaining the (perhaps incomprehensible but not contradictory) possibility that there might be beings with discursive understandings and intuitions whose forms. uncaused events are supposed to be excluded from our experience is not analytic necessity. including Strawson's. I2 It helps to recall that. A transcendental argument of this sort might begin. did not prevent things in themselves from being given and hence conceptualized as such. 10) tries to develop a synthetic conception of transcendental argument. An alternative is to interpret Kant as claiming that it is our first-personal grasp of our capacities as actual experiencing subjects that enables us to grasp the necessity of the categorial principles. unlike space and time. then. the negations of those principles would be meaningful. And this may indeed be one way to understand Kant's claim that possible experience provides the linkage between concepts that enables the principles to be synthetic a priori. they might establish necessities that are irreducible to logical and conceptual or semantic necessity. the concept of an event) by conceptual analysis. but he ultimately admits defeat. but of putative thoughts that are necessarily ruled out in some other way. Thus. and I believe it faces some difficulties. And although the thought lacks significance for us. yet nevertheless necessarily ruled out of geometry. And our grasp of those specifically human capacities is synthetic. it might be maintained that 'There is experience' analytically entails 'There are necessary causal connections among events'. For example. The categorial principles are not analytic. The conclusion of such an argument may nevertheless be expressed as a synthetic claim. For example. The categorial principles are necessary for beings like us. to conceptual analysis and establish conditionals that are the negations. with the synthetic claim that there is experience.and twentieth-century debates. then it follows with analytic necessity that there is (in fact) causal necessity that is irreducible to analytic necessity. our capacity for necessary geometrical knowledge depends not only on our capacity for conceptual analysis and general logical inference. then the categorial principles must apply'. Taylor's (1995) conception appears to be synthetic. So their predicate-concepts (for example. Wilkerson (1976: ch. for it might have significance for beings whose sensibility is constituted otherwise than our own. and real necessity cannot be grasped through conceptual analysis. if there is (in fact) experience. II (b) On the synthetic conception. The insufficiency of conceptual analysis and general logical analysis for geometry is linked to the conceptual or logical possibility of minds radically different from our own. for whom the principles would not hold and for whom. what does Kant's philosophy of geometry have to do with transcendental arguments? There is a connection within Kant's thinking. Such an '3 '4 . but variants of that conception have played an important role in both eighteenth. just as Kant distinguishes logical from real possibility. One reason to think that our grasp of what it is to be an experiencing subject is not fully discursive may be that Kant appears not to exclude the possibility of beings who have discursive understandings. such as 'If experience is possible. and the possibility of such beings cannot be ruled out a priori. 'If the conditioned is possible. What is wrong with the thought can therefore be discerned neither by analysis of the concept of the figure nor by analysis of the concept of sensibility. have non-sensible intellectual intuition. for example. Still.118 Paul Franks The Origins of Post-Kantianism 119 analysis and the negation of the resulting conditional is a contradiction. and that causal necessity is irreducible to analytic necessity. In that case. transcendental arguments are alternatives.
our grasp of the form of our sensibility is. one may still object that Kant insisted on the distinction between the nature of those arguments and the nature of mathematical arguments. At this point.120 Paul Franks The Origins of Post-Kantianism 121 be an experiencing subject would therefore be. THE GRUNDSATZ OF REINHOLD'S OF ALL PHILOSOPHY. r 5 or when Neuhouser suggests that 'the proof Fichte proposes [in his 1793 intellectual intuition would be quite different. Although Gram's reading seems to me to fit Kant's words. see Beiser (1988: ch. not only by Reinhold himself. at the same time.g. I8 See Reinhold (1789). And. as Gram realizes. The point of the preceding remarks is to prepare the ground for a close examination of the species of transcendental argument actually considered by the first post-Kantians. in Aenesidemus. then the necessary conditions must obtain. an intelligible yet perhaps non-conceptual form of things in themselves. In particular. with which I shall not deal here. as perhaps his pre-eminent spokesperson. So there is some reason to think that Kant himself may regard as synthetic. and that our sensibility has the specific non-conceptual form it has. they argued that the right way to think of our first-personal and not fully discursive grasp of what it is to be actual experiencing subjects is as a kind of intellectual intuition.' Even if one agrees that Kant may have thought that transcendental arguments aspire to synthetic necessity. that led to significant revisions of these Kantian notions. I8 And it was this proposal. but also to be aware that we have sensible intuition. first proposed in Reinhold (1789). Yet the Elementarphilosophie. of a form of intuition that is. TRANSCENDENTAL OR THE PREMISS ARGUMENT When the great debates about Kant's transcendental method occurred in the 1790S. Schulze (1792. and Hegel. not only to possess the concept of a discursive understanding. in which philosophical concepts can indeed be constructed. that he understands science to be systematic knowledge satisfying reason's demand for an unconditioned to complete its chains of conditions or grounds. famous far beyond the Critique of Pure Reason's original audience. but also by Fichte. Salomon Mairnon contributed a distinct sceptical response to Kant and later to Reinhold. But I hope to have shown that synthetic conceptions of transcendental philosophy are not to be dismissed out of hand as wholly un-Kantian. 'By "transcendental argument" I mean arguments that start from some putatively undeniable facet of our experience in order to conclude that this experience must have certain features or be of a certain type. it creates the need not only for the distinction of several species of intellectual intuition. It may ultimately be more attractive to read B308 differently than to attempt to develop such an account. but also transcendental conditionals of the form 'If the conditioned is possible. So close was the identification that Gottlob Ernst Schulze. Schelling. a parting of the ways becomes unavoidable. . along with the sceptical responses it stimulated. I7 his sceptical tour de force. had made Kant a household name. Karl Leonhard Reinhold was closely identified with Kant. On Reinhold. I6 I7 Taylor (1972: lSI). during which he impressed upon me the challenges facing anyone who accepts Gram's reading. then we should recall that Kant calls upon others to help him complete the task of setting philosophy on the sure path of a science. B145. r6 These suggestions can be fruitful. the grasp of synthetic necessities. I5 review of Gebhard) is intended as a transcendental argument similar to Kant's mode of argumentation in the Critique of Pure Reason'. there is little hope of a genuine debate about the philosophical significance of post-Kantian Idealism. the moral law. as Gram points out. for that is an intuition that creates its objects by thinking them and therefore has no need for the categories of a discursive understanding at all. and all the other Kantian notions were to be derived. from the intellectual intuition denied to us humans elsewhere. Reinhold (1790-2). If it seems to us bizarre that such a project should have been conflated with Kant's. was the first genuinely post-Kantian project. for otherwise this undeniable facet could not be'. Caution is called for when Taylor begins to interpret Hegel with the stipulation. and Franks (1998). the categories. if not before. from which the forms of intuition. for Kant. Reinhold's conception of the critical philosophy as a single analytic transcendental argument that begins with an absolute first principle. not only the premisses of transcendental arguments. and that Neuhouser (1990: 34). 10). In this paper I can neither fully motivate this move nor can I explain why they did not take themselves to be in conflict with Kant's denial that we humans have intellectual intuition. In 1789 he proposed to systematize Kant's philosophy by grounding it in a Grundsatz of all philosophy. 8). first published in instalments in the Teutsche Merkur from August 1786. which Gram does not provide. 1911). So we cannot understand the debates of the 1790S without understanding Reinhold's conception of transcendental argument or. rather. I am grateful to Michael Friedman for illuminating discussion of this difficult passage. for Fichte and Schelling developed the view that transcendental philosophy was far more like mathematics than Kant had allowed. seemed to see no fundamental distinction between Kant's method and that of Reinhold's Elementarphilosophie. but also for an account. and they deserve discussion elsewhere. but only if anachronisms are avoided and if distinctions are drawn between competing views of transcendental method. The implications of Maimon's scepticism for Fichte's methodology were at least as significant as those of Schulze's scepticism. See Beiser (1987: ch. To be sure. II. Without such caution. which involve construction in pure intuition. and to avoid an anachronistic imposition of contemporary assumptions. But Reinhold was no mere popularizer. e. as I have argued.
since there can. Reinhold seems to have three different sorts of self-grounding in mind. be able at the same time to present the unity of practical with speculative reason in a common principle. Read within the context of Kant's thought. which is 'nothing other than the entire vocation of human beings. V: 90-I). Kant does not think that these aspects of his philosophy stand in need of justification and therefore does not look for such justification from the discovery of the Grundsatz. for they rightly occasion the expectation of perhaps being able some day to attain insight into the unity of the whole pure rational faculty (theoretical as well as practical) and to derive e:rerything from one principle-the undeniable need of human reason. However. assuming as Kant does that experience is law-governed). the Grundsatz must be 'selfdetermining': it must provide its own semantic ground or introduce its own terms clearly and unequivocally. for that Grundsatz must articulate the ultimate end. 23 In the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals. unjustified by its association with the logical table of judgements) and the concept of possible experience (which he agrees is. more particularly in the principle of the unity of apperception. initially in two separate systems. in order to end the series of conditions known to philosophy. perhaps following Kant's declaration that: The synthetic proposition. Such considerations might also lead one to suspect that Kant's conception of systematicity is quite different from the conceptions of his successors. such as the table of the categories (which he agrees is. Kant both divides philosophy and demands its ultimate reunification: Now the legislation of human reason (philosophy) has two objects. if it is to be carried through completely. 20 Kant (I997b. at present.t ' Small wonder. at present. without relying on prior definitions. then. not within the context of post-Kantian developments. which finds complete satisfaction only in a complete systematic unity of its cognitions. be only one and the same reason which must be distinguished merely in its application. .?" And. Second. will return to Kant's hint that the Grundsatz has some special connection with practical philosophy. Both the initial division of theoretical and practical philosophy. '9 Fichte. and the philosophy of it is called moral philosophy.t" Reinhold insists that.22 But Reinhold's Grundsatz is rooted in Kant's theoretical philosophy. IV: 39I). without relying inferentially on the evidence of some other truth. in Fichte (I988). as the next great task of philosophy. and in Foundations of the Entire Wissenschaftslehre. the first principle of our thought in general must itself be grounded in a higher principle of spontaneity-most familiar in its derivative form as the moral law-if the unification of theoretical and practical philosophy is to be possible without the obliteration of freedom. Reinhold differs fatefully from Kant on at least two counts. and thus contains the natural law as well as the moral law. a suspicion that deserves development elsewhere. the Grundsatz must be self-grounding. in the Critique of Practical Reason. Furthermore. rather. its discovery may be not only hoped for but expected: For someone who has been able to convince himself of the propositions presented in the Analytic such comparisons will be gratifying. Although he is not always careful to distinguish them. the reason why it is the way it is. Second. in Fichte (I982). that every different empirical consciousness must be combined into a single self-consciousness. ~3 Ibid. he announces that. 2I Kant (I998b. In the Critique of Pure Reason. and the idea of the first principle as a kind of premiss are explicitly rejected in Fichte (I992) and in the various works associated with Fichte's second Jena version of his system. First. For him. Kant seems to suggest in the passages cited above that the looked-for Grundsatz will Kant (I998a: A840/B868). nature and freedom.. however. but ultimately in a single philosophical system. Reinhold thinks that the discovery of the Grundsatz will allow him to justify some of the aspects of Kant's philosophy against its opponents. although he has not yet found that one principle. H 2. the Grundsatz must be self-evident: it must provide itself with its own epistemic ground or reason for being believed. he explicitly makes the provision of a single principle of philosophy into a desideratum of philosophy's completeness: I require that the critique of a pure practical reason. the Grundsatz must be 'self-explanatory': it (or rather its subject matter) must provide itself with its own antic ground.4 . It is important to note that Reinhold conceives of the point of grounding all philosophy in the Grundsatz as the securing of universal validity (Allgemeingultigkeit) for philosophy. I9 itself be practical in nature. I discuss Fichte's development in Franks (I997). the Grundsatz cannot merely fail to have any condition or ground outside itself. these passages should lead one to consider the role of the highest good within Kant's philosophy. no thesis can be universally valid if it is not universally acknowledged as Kant (T998a: A840/B868). but rather in their being a priori valid for all finite rational beings like us. First. Fichte gradually freed himself from Reinhold's picture of transcendental argument. Third. is the absolutely first and synthetic principle of our thinking in general. a petitio principii against Hume's scepticism. in the end. ATT7 n. whose traces can still be seen in Concerning the Concept of the Wissenschaftslehre. that Reinhold proposed to carry out that derivation from one principle. for then it and philosophy as a whole would be merely arbitrary or groundless.122 Paul Franks The Origins of Post-Kantianism 123 he regards rootedness in a single principle as the mark of systematic completeness. Thus the special character of the truth of transcendental philosophy's theses lies not solely in their being universally and necessarily true of the objects they characterize.
the Berlin Enlightenment theologian. it stands at its ground. Although he has set himself a daunting task. and its being referred to them. .124 Paul Franks The Origins of Post-Kantianism 125 valid (allgemeingeltend). esp. Sometimes the Tatsachen des Bewusstseins just are the claims doubted by scepticism. When Reinhold spoke of the fact of consciousness. of accomplices before or after the fact. 198s: 70). The ambiguity is compounded because the genitive 'of' can be construed either as an objective genitive ('the fact belonging to consciousness'. than the highest Principle of Consciousness itself: 'that in consciousness representation is distinguished through the subject from both object and subject and is referred to bothJ'" And the fact that the Principle of Consciousness expresses is the fact of consciousness. coined the term Tatsache in 1756. The phrase has led to much confusion and deserves full investigation elsewhere.I" 25 27 29 3 0 Reinhold (1791: 77--8. By the 1790S. (b) 'the determining act constitutive of consciousness'. 1985: 70). it constitutes (when expressed in words) the definition of representation. 55-60). Consequently. 'the fact appearing in consciousness') or as an explicative genitive ('the fact of there being consciousness'. to philosophy's relation to its audience. 'the fact constitutive of consciousness') . He construes the phrase as (b) when he writes: The concept of representation does not merely stand as a simple concept. of all of the conditions that are the objects of philosophical knowledge. the distinguishing of the representation which is as such unexplainable from the object and subject.. in the course of an extended transcendental argument. although we are apt to forget that 'fact' is derived from the Latin 'facere' ('to do'). The original. and (d) 'the determination constitutive of consciousness'. It is the scientific concept of representation. 'Fact(s) of consciousness' (Tatsache(n) des Bewusstseins) was one of the catchphrases of the 1780s and 1790S.e. However. to have necessary conditions incompatible with the sceptic's doubts. The result is that in his usage 'fact' is ambiguous because it refers both to an act of determining and to the determination produced by that act.26-a fact. The Grundsatz is nothing other. and unequivocally determines its own propositional expression. a Tatsache had not yet hardened into a proposition's being true or into the obtaining of a state of affairs. i. unexplainable and simple concept of representation precedes consciousness. 'the fact of consciousness' can be construed in four ways: (a) 'the determining act belonging to consciousness'. However. Tatsachen were frequently invoked in the theological controversies of the 1760s about the relevance of history to faith. Reinhold's project is riddled with ambiguities that already infect his use of the phrase 'fact of consciousness'. There Butler appears to be invoking the legal notion of that which is accepted on the basis of testimony in order to validate miracles as witnessed by the apostles.28 but it suffices to note here that Johann Joachim Spalding. is of great importance. and is determined by the facts that make up the latter. Reinhold claims. both 'Tatsache' and 'matter of fact' still retained the sense of an act ('Tat'.Y? Reinhold's shift of emphasis. Reinhold (1985: 70). however. So 'the author must try to guarantee the universal validity of his theory by presupposing nothing at all to be universally valid which is not actually universally acknowledged. But Tat is still visible in Tatsache and. we may argue regressively to the reality of what it entails.29 In any event. 'fact') whose performance could be relevantly demonstrated. (c) 'the determination appearing in consciousness'. which is supposed to be the one fact no sceptic can deny and which will turn out. In the eighteenth century. Reinhold himself seems to construe the phrase as both (b) and (c). 26 Reinhold (1791: 77. 'fact' is ambiguous. that is self-explanatory. what is important is the fact of consciousness itself. we encounter serious difficulties when we try to explain what this fact is. at the ground of the principle of consciousness. See Shapin and Schaffer (1985: ch. we still speak. In contrast. Nowadays it can be hard to hear the sense of activity in these familiar terms. Reinhold insists that the Grundsatz expresses 'an actual fact [Tatsache]. as well as through the proposition expressing these facts. viz. not of history but rather of consciousness. for example. and that importance will only begin to emerge when Fichte and others are pressed to separate the claim to universal validity from the claim to universal acknowledgement. the original but complex and explainable concept of the same follows from consciousness. self-evident. thanks to Spalding's translation of Butler. Reinhold (1789: 66). First. These appeals take various forms. Since the Grundsatz is objectively real. the actual facts of consciousness. in which the term 'matter of fact' is frequently employed. and that could perhaps playa role in responding to scepticism. And inasmuch as it is so determined. that is. in short. where we mean by 'fact' the criminal deed. as the bearers of a kind of evidence that was neither deductive nor inductive but nevertheless valid. 2. this process of reification was already underway. 28 See Franks (1997) for some further details. philosophers were also appealing to Tatsachen. it is also determined by what the principle expresses. and the task of the theory of the faculty of representation is to exhaust its content. from philosophy's relation to its subject matter. For Reinhold. and the dogmatic insistence upon those claims against scepticism owes more to Scottish Common Sense philosophy than to Kant. for his translation of Butler (1740). that is. It may also be relevant that Boyle had invoked the same notion to validate the reported results of experiments performed in the laboratory.
or the determination of which we are conscious. but elsewhere he gives a regress argument. But if it is claimed that in this self-consciousness that I am an object to myself. unexplainable and simple concept of representation' that 'precedes consciousness' and 'stands at its ground. you are conscious of your thinking.. He does not explicitly note the ambiguity in 'fact(s) of consciousness'. on any philosophically demonstrable proposition.. The incompatibility of the two construals may be seen as follows. if the Principle of Consciousness can be construed in two incompatible ways. you must be conscious of yourself . But in order to be conscious of your thinking. that the Principle of Consciousness cannot be both self-explanatory and self-evident in these senses. He is claiming. then what was true of the subject in the previous case [i.' In other words. In his review of Aenesidemus. then it cannot also express the most general determination of consciousness and therefore be self-evident. 'the . whether Wolffian rationalist or Humean sceptic. Those 'facts' or acts determine 'the original. If the Principle of Consciousness expresses the act determining consciousness and is therefore self-explanatory. This principle is incontrovertible. 'The Principle of Consciousness is not a principle determined completely by itself.Paul Franks Here 'the actual facts of consciousness' are the acts of distinguishing and referring that 'make up'. as Fichte intimates in his review of Aenesidemus. Of course.e. originally given by Schulze against the Principle of Consciousness. qua fact.. But the problem is. which the science of the faculty of representation is to determine analytically. that is. it is a suitable candidate for the starting point of the sort of total explanation demanded by reason.e. in the consciousness of an object] must also hold for the subject here [i. In short. then it is not self-determining either. facts of consciousness' are acts that determine the ground of consciousness. between the conditions of consciousness investigated by the philosopher and that which is available to the nonphilosophizing subject within ordinary acts of consciousness. or the determination of consciousness. it follows that if such an explanation were developed. there are many determinations of consciousness. It is not through any inference of reason that we know that in consciousness representation is distinguished through the subject from both object and subject and is referred to both. that is. Because the Principle of Consciousness is putatively self-explanatory. Reinhold seems to intend to indicate that determination of consciousness of which we are conscious insofar as we are conscious of anything. On the other hand. Reinhold appears to have the elements of a transcendental argument that will satisfy reason's demand for systematicity. by ordering together what is present in it. that is. Reinhold construes 'fact of consciousness' as (c) when he writes: The concept of representation. as we shall see. [Thus] no object comes to consciousness except under the condition that I am also conscious of myself. in this sense. the Principle of Consciousness is not the Grundsatz. that what the Principle of Consciousness expresses can be known immediately or non-inferentiallycan simply be seen-in any state of consciousness. Furthermore. Reinhold arrives at it through 'empirical self-observation'<" and hence claims on its behalf self-evidence of a kind that is inappropriate for a transcendental claim. it would be undeniable by even the most recalcitrant opponent of Kant. but through simple reflection upon the actual fact of consciousness. must ground the foundation of the Philosophy of the Elements-for otherwise the foundation cannot rest. is that Reinhold does not distinguish clearly between the transcendental and the empirical. This fact alone. Thus Reinhold construes 'fact of consciousness' as 'act determining consciousness' when he is discussing the selfexplanatoriness or ontically self-grounding nature of the Principle of Consciousness. of which we are conscious. And because the Principle of Consciousness is putatively self-evident. then. taking this as evidence that it is derivative from a higher Grundsatz.' I The Origins of Post-Kantianism I27 Here 'the actual fact of consciousness' is the determination belonging to consciousness. the most general determination of consciousness or the discernible property of any state of consciousness whatsoever.. the pure concepts of the understanding. for the latter depends on this original determinateness for its correctness-the concept of representation can only be drawn from the CONSC10USNESS of an actual fact. Given these two features of the Principle of Consciousness.. without circularity. in selfconsciousness]. The source of the problem. constitute consciousness. an explanation that may ultimately include the forms of intuition. But. Instead of arriving at the Principle during a properly transcendental investigation of the conditions of consciousness. many facts. the conscious subject. and the ambiguity can be seen to underlie that regress argument: Insofar as you are conscious of some object . by referring to the fact of consciousness. Fichte concedes that. without generating an infinite regress. It too becomes an object and requires a new subject and so on . So determined-independently of all philosophizing.. Thus Reinhold construes 'fact of consciousness' as 'determination of consciousness' when he is discussing the self-evidence or epistemically self-grounding nature of the Principle of Consciousness. must have already been synthetically determined to this end. and the various other determinations of consciousness discussed by Kant in the Critique of Pure Reason..
then they must themselves exhibit the most universal determination of consciousness. from which one may argue regressively to necessary conditions that scepticism will no longer be able to doubt. 71--2.. accounted for in this manner. Ibid. then the self-awareness conditioning any object-awareness would itself require representation of another subject distinguished from and related to the self. And the Principle of Consciousness is supposed to be epistemically self-grounding because the facts or acts it expresses are non-inferentially discernible in any particular determination of consciousness whatsoever. subject and object are distinct from each other in every state of consciousness. See Neuhouser (1990: 73). Or one may give up self-evidence and regard the fact of consciousI:ess as the self-explanatory act determining consciousness. it is given a posteriori! Yet. namely from 'the universal chief Factum that experience is. See Niethammer (1995: esp. the Principle of Consciousness seems to make it altogether impossible. But if the consciousness-determining acts of distinguishing representation and subject and referring representation to subject are themselves determinations of consciousness. and regressive if one considers them to be the determinations of consciousness that stand in need of grounding. on whose baSIS one may seek an absolute grounding of the necessary features of the mind's engagement with the world. the introductory essay in the first volume of the Philosophisches Journal that he founded in Jena in 1795. I2. according to Niethammer. and awareness of that subject would require representation of another subject. letters I I. See ihid. it 'is present to us at every moment of consciousness and can therefore certainly not be denied by anyone. As a Tatsache it is not capable of any further proof. So. must involve prior self-awareness. as is demonstrated by the correspondence between him. the objection can be formulated as follows. namely that expressed by the Principle of Consciousness itself. For the ambiguity of the 33 34 Principle of Consciousness is also an ambiguity in Reinhold's method which is progressive if one considers the acts as the ground of the determinacy of consciousness. And that self-awareness must once again involve prior acts of distinguishing and referring to myself. and Henrich. by progressively deriving them as necessary conditions of that act. The former path was chosen by some of Reinhold's students and is notably described by Friedrich Immanuel Niethamrner in 'Of the Claims of the Common Understanding on Philosophy'. and is consequently no dangerous opponent. and the sceptic who wants to contest that Fakium can do nothing further than directly deny it. and self-determining. if (as Reinhold thinks) object-awareness is always conditioned by self-awareness. 108-14).P:' 129 That is to say. 37 Niethammer (1795: 23-4). 25.34 In the terms I have established. And then the awareness of myself involved in the acts of distinguishing representation from myself and referring representation to myself must itself involve prior acts of distinguishing and referring to myself. 3 35 6 Niethammer (1795: 1-45). if the consciousness-determining acts are themselves determinations of consciousness. it also does not require any further proof . In fact. but rather a regressive ascent 'from something conditioned in the series of conditions'. and because it also expresses a fact or universal determination of consciousness that is itself determined by these acts. 30. this is the reason why . who knew Niethammer Fichte (1964.as the self-e~ident determination of consciousness. Baron von Herbert and Johann Benjamin Erhard. as a conditioned. and . Either one may give up self-explanatoriness and regard the fact of consciousness ." 8 This sort of transcendental argument should sound familiar.: IV. But if the consciousness-determining acts are not themselves determinations of consciousness. for it is similar to the kind of transcendental argument that Taylor and Neuhouser claim to find in postKantian Idealism. at least with respect to this foundation of philosophy.. 2.. then Reinhold's Principle of Consciousness is not self-explanatory. So Reinhold's Principle of Consciousness is not the Grundsatz by the standards he himself established.. and if (as the Principle of Consciousness asserts) every awareness-including self-awareness-involves the distinction of a representation from and its relation to a subject. Here lies an extremely important crossroads. but as a Tatsache accompanying all consciousness. about the project of seeking an absolute first principle... Yet both Fichte and Schelling. '37 Th' IS Factum or Tatsache is not absolute or self-explanatory.35 Pessimistic.. what cannot be p~ilosophically proven also cannot be philosophically doubted. Niethamrner was not alone. 1992: Il2-I3). for which must be presupposed that which is its necessary condition in the su bijeer. Here no objection remains for scepticism.128 Paul Franks consciousness cannot be The Origins of Posi-Kantianism ad infinitum./nd 18).I" Niethammer instead proposes to return to what he takes to be the method of the Critique of Pure Reason: not a progressive descent 'from an a priori immediately certain proposition as something in itself unconditioned'. . (1997: esp. then Reinhold's Principle of Consciousness generates an infinite regress and. must involve prior self-awareness-and so on ad infinitum. self-evident. On this view. and so on ad infinitum. far from explaining consciousness. thanks to the objections of scepticism. The Principle of Consciousness is supposed to be ontically selfgrounding because it expresses facts or acts-for example the distinguishing between representation and subject and the reference of representation to subject-that determine consciousness.
In Fichte's view.f" To Fichte. pure activity that is supposed to be constitutive of consciousness. The immediacy of this consciousness provides one of the motivations for Fichte's notion of intellectual intuition since. then self-awareness cannot have the same structure as object-awarenesscannot involve the distinction between representation. and other figures influenced by Nietharnmer. a priori and independently of all experience. However. Fichte (I964. from which. 30). Reinhold. the Grundsatz must express an act that does not have the representational structure of consciousness. that is. along with singularity.: I. the character of the Tathandlung fully explore Fichte's motivations. Schlegel. however. so there was already reason to think that the formulation of the self-evident and universally acknowledged premiss would be considerably more difficult than Niethammer seemed to recognize. Fichte (I964: III. by exhibiting an immediate consciousness. as Fichte thinks Reinhold correctly says. He continued to view philosophy as an exercise in grounding the claims of the common understanding-those claims that are a priori universally valid for all human beings.: IV.39 rejected this response to the problems facing Reinhold's project. Niethammer himself was concerned about the nature of the inference from the premiss to its necessary conditions because of other sceptical objections that had been raised (which will be discussed later). and object and the reference of representation to both subject and object that.f ' Much of the difficulty of the various versions of the Jena Wissenschaftslehre. 46. together with problems that any other such attempt would have to solve. 4 See Frank (I995). not for Nietharnmer 's own version of transcendental philosophy. see Franks (I996). consists in grasping this non-representational. For further discussion. however. Fichte repeatedly insists. without any representation intervening between subject and object. No. or that philosophy should not seek to meet reason's demand. an act that instead consists in an immediate unity between subject and object. 2. If the ground of object-awareness is to be understood as self-awareness. 44 See e. when he writes: This reviewer anyway is convinced that the Principle of Consciousness is a theorem which is based upon another first principle. as characterized by the Principle of Consciousness. Fichte's letter to Reinhold. from the ambiguity of 'fact(s) of consciousness' and from an underlying failure to distinguish ordinary or empirical consciousness from its transcendental conditions. 2. They chose progression from an absolute or self-explanatory ground over regression from a self-evident feature of consciousness.g. Thus the Journal became known as the mouthpiece for Fichte's attempt at an absolute grounding.f'' Here Fichte accepts Reinhold's claim that consciousness is determined by an act that distinguishes and refers to the self. There are various reasons for worrying about transcendental argument as conceived by Niethammer. We certainly do require a first principle which is material and not merely formal. So the infinite regress problem 'can be resolved only by discovering something in which consciousness is simultaneously both object and subject. both for Fichte himself and for his readers. The letter. but rejects Reinhold's claim that this act is also a determination of consciousness (a Tatsache) and that the Grundsatz is therefore known by introspection of consciousness. as we have seen.t+' Avoidance of the regress problem is one motivation for Fichte's controversial claim that the Grundsatz expresses a self-awareness describable as an intellectual intuition. pertains to every object-awarenesson pain of infinite regress. as I will elsewhere.t" Strictly speaking. one would have to examine not only the immediacy and singularity of such a consciousness. a Tathandlung expressed by the Grundsatz. Mairnon. To 0 T . immediacy is one of the marks of intuition for Kant. But one important reason for the rejection of this route by Fichte and others was that Niethammer's strategy abandoned all hope of an absolute grounding for philosophy in the face of problems encountered by Reinhold's Principle of Consciousness. hence insisting on this distinction. and the one which caused the Principle of Consciousness to be proposed as the first principle of all philosophy. it must have seemed perverse to give up in advance the hope of satisfying reason. and others had already argued that a Humean sceptic would not and should not accept Kant's conception of experience. but also Fichte's understanding of moral consciousness and his analogy between transcendental method and geometrical method. I988: 398-9). was precisely the presupposition that one must begin with a fact [Tatsache].13° Paul Franks The Origins of Post-Kantianism 131 well. the Principle of Consciousness can be strictly derived. And Fichte is disambiguating the phrase. See Kant (I998a: A320/B376-7). I discuss Fichte's account of self-awareness as a transcendental condition of consciousness in Franks (forthcoming b). But Niethammer had not claimed that reason did not demand an absolute grounding. Fichte arrived at Jena in 1794 and soon became the co-editor and leading light of Nietharnrner's Philosophisches Journal. 4 Fichte (I964. This act is a transcendental condition of consciousness that is never given as such in an ordinary state of consciousness. But such a principle does not have to express a fact. 2. 42 43 39 Niethammer was among the first of the group including Schelling and Hegel who came to Jena from the Tubingcn theological seminary. 294. The initial incorrect presupposition. it can also express an Act [Tathandlung]-if I may risk asserting something which can be neither explained nor proven here. subject. The task was to find an absolute principle free of the ambiguities afflicting the Principle of Consciousness. I988: 64). without being led astray by the unavoidable use of concepts and terms associated with representational structures. this suggested that philosophy was the necessary ascent towards an absolute that could necessarily never be atrained. is both indispensable and inappropriate for the expression of the spirit. the regress arises. To Novalis. Furthermore.
1985: 70). [which is] the cause and ground of the actual presence of representations in US. again. rather. or. it would not take the form of an inference from a premiss that any sceptic would grant. if x exists. (1792: 97. (1792: 99. was decisively abandoned by Fichte and the postKantians who followed him. 47 Schulze (1792: 99. 1985: 108). 1985: 107). 3.: I.'48 (2) Reinhold: 'the being and actuality of representations cannot be thought apart from the being and actuality of a faculty of representatiorrt? . . Schulze accuses both Kant and Reinhold of employing the same. that the use of the principle of sufficient reason in the major premiss amounts to a begging of Hume's question. and.'50 Conclusion: Therefore. it must be actively discovered by each individual. In Reinhold (1790-4: ii). it would be self-evident only after a transformation of the self. that we possess representations) to precisely the Transcendental Idealist thesis that the sceptic disputes (that synthetic a priori judgements are grounded in the mind.'52 This is a useful syllogistic representation of one conception of transcendental argument.:"" Minor Premiss: a and b cannot be thought apart. in general. Fichre's adoption of a synthetic conception of transcendental argument also depends on aspects of his understanding of the Tathandlung with which I cannot deal here. from its mode of operation as determined a priori.' 5I (2) Reinhold: 'hence a faculty of representation must also exist objectively [as the cause and ground of the actual presence of representations in us]. The absolute ground.v'' Again. problematic form of syllogistic argument. Schulze (1792: 140. mainly in response to a letter from Carl Immanuel Diez (another migrant to Jena from Tubingen). 1988: 324). from its mode of operation as determined a priori. He later abandoned the Elementarphilosophie and became a proponent. Reinhold himself revised his conception of transcendental argument. y must also exist as its sufficient reason. The idea that universal validity required universal acknowledgement. Schulze's criticisms of the major and minor premiss can therefore be understood as criticisms of a certain strategy of grounding transcendental argument. I985: 108). that it could not reasonably be required to be universally acknowledged tallgemeingeltendi+? Unlike any fact or Tatsache of consciousness. only after a preparation for philosophy. For the major premiss assumes as certain just what the Humean sceptic doubts: (r) that for anything present in our knowledge there is also objectively present a real ground and cause differing from it realiter. for a while.. but he was mainly concerned to make a clearer distinction between the synthetic (fact-demonstrating) and the analytic parts of his project. 254. then. 4 45 6 A. (r) Kant: 'Therefore. On Diez. Whatever response to scepticism might be offered by post-Kantian Idealism. of Fichte's Wissenschaftslehre. The major premiss and the reality problem Schulze argues. of which everyone was capable but which few achieved.. see Henrich (1997: 41-54). the Tatsache with which philosophy was properly concerned would not be self-evident. first. (r) Kant: 'the necessary synthetic judgements present 111 our knowledge can be See Fichte (1964. III. 49 5' Schulze (1792: 99. 1988: 108). Fichte came rapidly to think. if a exists (which the sceptic does not deny. And the major premiss attributed to Kant and Reinhold by Schulze makes essential use of the Principle of Sufficient Reason. that representations are grounded in the faculty of representation). See Reinhold (1791a: 77-8. asserting in effect that if x can only be thought as grounded in y. SCEPTICAL METHOD OBJECTIONS TO REINHOLD'S OF TRANSCENDENTAL ARGUMENT Fichte did not merely reject the premiss of Reinhold's transcendental argument.Paul Franks cannot be conveyed by Fichte to his audience. which may be presented as follows: Major Premiss: (shared by Kant and Reinhold): 'Any two things that cannot be thought apart from one another can also not be apart from one another. Schulze portrays Kant and Reinhold as arguing from what no sceptic denies (that we make synthetic a priori judgements. just as certainly as representations are present in us. The Origins of Post-Kantianism represented by us as possible only if we take them to originate in the mind. was so unlike any relative or conditioned ground. 1985: 116). then b must also exist (which the sceptic has denied but must now admit). also the necessary synthetic judgements present in our knowledge can actually have arisen only in the mind. that the principle of sufficient reason is valid not only for representations and their subjective 4 8 5° 52 Schulze Schulze Schulze (1792: 140. he also rejected Reinhold's conception of transcendental method as an analytic derivation of the necessary conditions of the possibility of that premiss. 1985: 116). Schulze's objections provide some of the reasons for Fichte's move although. which continued to be important to Reinhold long after he had abandoned his Elementarphilosophie.
while at the same time (unlike the verification principle) acknowledging and affirming the gap between what is necessarily thought and transcendental reality. 55 56 In other words. And the Humean sceptic calls into doubt. Stroud does not mean to suggest that Kant's transcendental arguments invoke a verification principle. So. the mind or faculty of representation as ground] . 57 the only way to bridge the gap that Schulze can envisage would be to possess the capacity for intuition-for immediate reception of the actuality-of the mind as it is in itself. the role of the verification principle. What is more. however. two noteworthy differences between Schulze and Stroud. in effect. as the critical philosophy concedes. the alleged subject of representations but can only immediately perceive the alterations of the inner sense. the major premiss makes real-not merely logical-use of the principle of sufficient reason in order to reach a conclusion that is not only a priori but also genuinely synthetic. the most that could be proved by a consideration of the necessary conditions of language is that. whether pure or empirical. it also 'clearly contradicts the whole spirit of critical philosophy'. Stroud argues that transcendental arguments (in this case. that if we are to meaningfully engage in the practice of beliefformation and concept-ascription with respect to a kind of object. as it were. for the sceptic calls into doubt precisely our right to make inferences from the way we must think to the way things really are. presupposes a knowledge which. however. 54 Schulze (1792: 155. Since we cannot intuit. more particularly. our right to infer from the premiss that we must think in accordance with the principle of sufficient reason to the conclusion that every event or state of affairs really has a necessary connection to an existent ground or cause. entirely foreign to Schulze and his contemporaries. according to the critical philosophy's own claims. by their own lights.. 57 See Rosen (I988) for a helpful discussion of the difference between Kant's concern with the conditions for the possibility of making cognitively significant judgements and Strawsori's concern with the conditions for the possihility of employing concepts intelligibly. and not merely to the fact that we believe . however. The distinction between these conditions is essential to Kant's criticism of traditional metaphysics. critical philosophy]. 1985: 122-3)· . it follows that this subject cannot belong to the domain of objects knowable by us. the major premiss involves an inference from a merely logical use of the Principle of Sufficient Reason (we have to think of x as grounded in y) to a real use of the principle (if x exists. Putnam (1995) develops the charge that Strawson's Kant interpretation is limited by the influence of verificationism. For its most important principle and its most important result is that the categories 'cause' and 'actuality' can only be applied to empirical intuition if their application is to have any sense or reference. should be totally impossible to man..53 . For: this derivation of the necessary judgements from a thing-in-itself [i. according to it [i. or that as far as we can tell there is. and points out that there is a gap between a conclusion about what we must believe and the thesis that the sceptic doubts. and for which he may therefore seek practical significance. for example. An examination of some recent attempts to argue in analogous fashion suggests that. those of Strawson and Shoemaker) can prove at best what we must believe. which concerns what actually exists. Rosen points out that the blindness to the distinction in Strawson (I966) reflects the influence of verificationism. has been raised more recently by Barry Stroud: Kant thought that he could argue from the necessary conditions of thought and experience to the falsity of 'problematic idealism' and so to the actual existence of the external world of material objects. And both claim that we have no pure intuition of the mind or faculty of representation as transcendental ground determining the forms of judgement. But this inference simply begs the sceptic's question. we cannot attribute either knowable and real actuality to it. The thought is rather that Kant's Transcendental Idealism plays.e. which I shall henceforth call the reality problem. we must believe that there are material objects and other minds in order for us to be able to speak meaningfully at alP5 To put the point in Kantian language.e. it must really exist as grounded in y). by bridging the gap between what is necessarily thought and empirical reality. An objection parallel to this objection. Appealing instead to the Kantian theory of judgement. In other words. which he regards as employing concepts intelligibly but as failing to make cognitively significant judgements. it must be possible to verify that objects of that kind actually exist. 56 There are. (2) that we are justified in inferring from the constitution of something as it is in our representations its objective constitution outside us. the major premiss not only begs the very Humean question that Kant and Reinhold set out to answer. for only Stroud (I968: 256). without invoking a verification principle which automatically renders superfluous any indirect argument. But Kant and Reinhold both profess to believe that no synthetic judgement employing the categories is possible without an intuition. First. there is a world. but also for things-in-themselves and in their objective interconnections. which denies the very existence of such a distinction. Considerations about meaningfulness in the contemporary sense are. neither Kant nor Reinhold is entitled to make a synthetic a priori judgement employing the categories of 'cause' and 'actuality' about the mind or faculty of representation as a transcendentally determining.134 Paul Franks The Origins of Post-Kantianism 135 combination. Schulze argues. Stroud regards Strawson and Shoemaker as attempting to bridge the gap between what we must believe and what must really be the case by invoking a theory of meaning: a verification principle that says. we only have empirical sensible intuitions of the mind as determined in inner sense. actual cause. or knowable and real causaliry!" Like Schulze.
Given this method of argument by reductio ad absurdum. at the present level of its culture. has an esse distinct from ItS percipi. that it will be able to think it in only that way at all times.ga:ion of th~ thesis that at least some experience is objective. actually exist. will ever arrive at an alternative? . It is simply not true that. they do not refute scepticism by showing that. other minds. one would need only to show that we do form beliefs about other minds and then to invoke the verification principle. since he does not wish to invoke a verification principle. One would not need to show that our forming beliefs about other minds is a necessary condition for the possibility of the meaningfulness of our discourse in general. 1985: 117). most famously in the writings of Korner. who argues that. Once again.f? It is i~portant to note that a significant response to the uniqueness pro~lem IS available to contemporary proponents of non-grounding synthetic transcendental arguments but is not available to Transcendental Idealist proponents of grounding transcendental arguments. in order to be thought as possible. Strawson argues f?r his purified version of the Transcendental Deduction by bringing out the incoherence of the sense datum hypothesis-the hypothesis that all experience might be such that its esse is its percipi. at least for the refutation of scepticism. so that any alternative will be. operating WIth all the advantages of a future age. it does not seem that possession of a pure intuition of the mind as it is in itself would render transcendental argument redundant.Paul Franks a judgement relating concepts by means of an intuition is genuinely synthetic. These two functions-refuting scepticism and refuting conventionalism-are independent. acceptance of the verification principle would render transcendental argument redundant. But WIth what possible fight do they make this claim? Even if it is true that no human being who. But that hypothesis is the ne. nor with any certitude whatever. say. one has to show that y IS not only sufficient but also necessary for the actuality of x. as Stroud argues. other minds. The Origins of Post-Kantianism 137 In sho~t. these judgements have to be thought as present a priori.6r Thus. 60 6. B. Because the human understanding. uniqueness is not a problem. If. the problem arises from the use of the Principle of Sufficient ~e~son to argue from some given x to its ground or sufficient reason. w~o are Kant and Reinhold to say that no future human being. and even that no such proof is possible. y. Once again. Second. 59 58 Transcendental arguments might still have the function of refuting conventionalism. and Strawson appears to have accepted. but transcendental arguments would still be required to trace the connections by means of which the relevant features are grounded in the mind. but they do demonstrate the idleness of sceptical doubt by showing that we necessarily believe that other minds exist. 59 Schulze (1792: 142. see Schaper (1972 ' . For this point and a more general critical discussion of Korner. The following passage refers particularly to Kant's minor premiss. for example. as Reinhold and others thought. so that we could not abandon the beliefs that scepticism challenges. In contrast. the premisses asserting that it is impossible to think of synthetic a priori judgements apart from a transcendentally determining ground in the mind and that it is impossible to think of representations as present in the mind without a determining ground in the faculty of representation. Kant ~~d Reinhold claim that it is only possible to explain synth~tlc a priori l~dge~ents or representations as such in only one way. that Kant fails even to attempt to prove the unique sufficiency of his proposed 'schema'. 'Sufficient conditions are not distinguished from sufficient and necessary conditions'. t~ have more than one possible ground. not by showing that certain alternatives . but rather by showing that the negation of the putatively necessary condition is incoherent. So if the sense datum hypothesis is incoherent. The contemporary response to Korner's objection is to point out that contemporary transcendental arguments proceed. has ever lived can offer an alternative explanation. ~~en the objectivity of some experience is a synthetically necessary condition for there to be any experience whatsoever. 58 If one wished to refute a sceptical doubt about the existence of. in Kant's Transcendental Analytic. can represent to itself the possibility of something in just one way. a parallel to Schulze's objection-henceforth the uniqueness problem-has resurfaced in more recent debates about transcendental arguments. that. even at some future age when it will have acquired greater maturity. rendering what Korner calls 'transcendental deductions' impossible. 1974)· Korner (1967). say. In short. his transcendental arguments refute conventionalism by tracing necessary connections. For It IS hardly uncommon for an event or state of affairs under some descriptions.to the putatively necessary condition are incoherent. In ~rder to argue from t~e actuality of x to the actuality of y as x's ground. one has to make the strong claim that y is the uniquely sufficient reason for x. but may easily be applied to Reinhold's: And just as fallacious as the major of the syllogism by which the Critique of Reason [sic] proves that the necessary synthetic judgements spring from the mind and lie in us a priori. and as originating in the mind. is its minor. The minor premiss and the uniqueness problem Schulze also attacks the minor premisses employed by Kant and Reinhold. the point of transcendental argument is to ground features of the mind's engagement with the world in the mind. it does not follow in principle. then possession of the requisite intuition would only ground the knowledge of the mind's existence in itself. after reading Stroud.
. in all kinds of cognition. but never comprehensibility of the truth in regard to its connection with the grounds of its possibility. But this See Forster (I989: 6) and Guyer (I987: 465 n. if only such a reversal were possible. that which is combined with the conviction of truth and simultaneously with insight into the sources of its truth. which would amount to the claim that y is x's uniquely sufficient condition. Fichte insists that reason demands a progressive procedure that would culminate in the description of the universally acknowledged features of consciousness: Reinhold . Serious engagement with scepticism will show that the grounding of those principles is quite unlike the 62 63 The uniqueness and reality problems raised by Schulze were understood to be serious threats to the project of transcendental argument.. In fact. i. Fichte summarizes the sceptical charge against Reinhold as the accusation 'that he infers that something must be from [the premiss] that he can think sornething. . it seems that. Kant thinks that in philosophy such proofs cannot even show us conclusively that something is true: Apagogic proof. Ibid. but must rather be ostensive: The direct or ostensive proof is.I'" Philosophical proof is called for precisely within the domain proper to dialectical illusion. by ascending from what is founded to its foundation. Niethammer would still face the uniqueness problem. The transcendental attempts of pure reason . Because of the uniqueness problem. or else that both propositions contradict each other only under a subjective condition that is falsely held to be objective. both of them can be false. the subjective which offers itself to or even forces itself upon reason as objective in its premisses. it is precisely because there is no such touchstone that we must confront sceptical challenges to objective reality and groundedness. 64 Kant (I998a: A789-90/B8I7-18). philosophers do not universally acknowledge the actuality of experience in Kant's epistemically rich sense. not that we must think y as the sufficient reason of x. Besides. Hence the latter are more of an emergency aid than a procedure which satisfies all the aims of reason.Paul Franks But this response is not available to those who.62 According to Kant. on the contrary. So an apagogical proof cannot satisfy reason's essential demand for groundedness. Where the latter is the dominant concern.. Thus. Even if this problem could be solved. as Maimon had pointed out. Indeed. 6). the apagogical proof. and if only one were able. as we have seen. in the hope of gaining genuine insight into the ways in which our epistemic and moral principles of judgement are grounded. to arrive at its ultimate foundation. Whether and how the principles can be demonstrated to have a real ground is a matter of great disagreement between Kant and the post-Kantians. IV. To see this. because experience cannot provide the touchstone of objective reality as it does for empirical (and even mathematical) cognition. we could not infer from the actuality of x to the actuality of y. we may be able only to claim that we can think y as the sufficient reason of x. and that since the condition is false. namely the cognition of what is in the object.. it is helpful to consider why Kant refuses to allow the method of reductio ad absurdum-what he calls the ap agogic method-the central place in philosophy that it has in mathematics. But. even if we could claim that y is x's uniquely sufficient condition. in a marginal note to his Eigne Meditationen.. But their shared view that transcendental arguments are to provide such a demonstration implies that none of them can participate in the apagogical response to the uniqueness problem that has been recommended for contemporary transcendental arguments. like Reinhold and Fichte. however.63 The Origins of Post-Kantianism grounding of judgements given those principles. are all conducted within the real medium of dialectical illusion. can be allowed only in those sciences where it is impossible to substitute that which is subjective in our representations for that which is objective. And. can produce certainty. to be sure. want transcendental arguments to provide grounds. Now here it simply cannot be allowed that assertions of synthetic propositions be justified by the refutation of their opposites..Y? Niethammer's proposed analytic transcendental strategy is supposed to solve the reality problem by starting with experience: a fact of consciousness whose actuality is not in dispute. however. philosophical proofs must never be apagogical. what guarantee is there that a regressive argument will ever reach that absolute ground whose necessity for reason Niethammer has not rejected? Unlike Niethammer. Transforming our understanding of experience might be an important part of responding to scepticism. then it must frequently transpire that the opposite of a certain proposition either simply contradicts the subjective conditions of thought but not the object. without it being possible to infer the truth of one from the falsehood of the other.. as he is well aware. supplementation by apagogical proof is insufficient to show that one has reached a real ground. and. as well as among the post-Kantians. A791-2/B819-20. where the subjective can appear in the guise of the objective. because of the reality problem. begins with facts in order to ascend to the foundation of these facts . . Reinhold's procedure would be the reverse of that of the Wissenschaftslehre.. SCHULZE'S EFFECT ON FICHTE'S STRATEGY An apagogical proof that the negation of p is in some way incoherent cannot show us why P is true-cannot show us the ground of the possibility of p.e.
transcendental philosophy substitutes for that goal the understanding of the mind as autonomous. a tall order-he cannot simply insist that it is uniquely sufficient. then the principle of sufficient reason is at first being employed as merely logically valid. But then this raises the question anew: for whom does Fichte speak? Only for those with pre-philosophical conviction in freedom? In this question-for whom does Fichte speak?-the reality and uniqueness problems reappear.Paul Franks series is endless. but logic cannot determine what will count as the absolute real ground. to the actual. The passages within quotation marks. even if Fichte could provide some sort of Idealist grounding-which is. by necessary steps. Here he obviously is presupposing that these forms require a foundation and is. Can he really mean that the absolute ground 'thereby established exists only as a thought'? Too much pressure in this direction would suggest that we are dealing at best with a necessary fiction.4. 69 Fichte (1964: 1. 1994: 7-35). of course. Fichte endorses what he takes to be the first-personal character of transcendental reflection. and philosophical truth must also be conceived differently after this revolution. he insists. The Wissenschaftslehre descends from the ultimate foundation.53. although Fichte seeks above all to solve the reality and uniqueness problems raised by the new scepticism.. in response to the uniqueness problem. by 1797. In response to the reality problem. his responses to those problems instead have the effect of transforming a scepticism ostensibly about the external world into a scepticism about other minds.' But if one says merely that we are required to seek a foundation for these forms and to place this foundation in our mind (and nothing more is being said). that an entirely different explanatory route at least appears to be conceivable and that no argument can decide between these two routes. Fichte aspires to a progressive development. . Whatever the contemporary merits of such a response.69 Dogmatism takes thinghood as its first principle and seeks to explain the mind accordingly.186-208. the validity of the causal law. once Fichte himself admits that no Grundsatz is really capable of conveying the significance of the Tathandlung to anyone who has not discovered it for him or herself. and that transcendental philosophy cannot hope for universal acknowledgement. Fichte responds in the Aenesidemus review: 'It by no means follows from the fact that we can explain and conceive something in only one way at present that we will never be able to conceive it differently. Besides. Dogmatists and Idealists presumably agree about logic.Kantian rational psychology sought to understand the mind as a thinking thing. already presupposing that which is supposed to be in question. in transcendental philosophy. He presupposes that these forms must have a real ground. Whereas pre. However. from an absolute principle expressing the absolute and non-representational condition of our first-person point of view to the necessary features of ordinary or empirical consciousness. then why should we worry that p is not conditioned by q? Even if it is logically possible that pis not conditioned by q. However. With respect to the reality problem. in accordance with which the transcendental conditions of consciousness need to be demonstrated as real grounds for us qua philosophers. 2. to place this foundation in our mind'. 68 Ibid. as I will indicate.V' But he is forced to admit. So. Who is this 'we'? For whom does Fichte speak? To the uniqueness problem. therefore.66 The Origins of Post-Kantianism thought. which it possesses. in this quotation and the next. but not against an a priori proof from first principles. But since that which is thereby established exists only as a This is parallel to a tempting contemporary response to Stroud's objection: if we truly can't help but think of p as conditioned by q. it becomes very unclear to say that 'we are required . what I have said here should suffice to show some ways in which Fichte's methodological developments are motivated by the uniqueness and reality problems raised by Schulze for proponents of transcendental arguments. to the things which are based upon this foundation: from the absolute to the conditioned elements contained within the absolute-that is. then one might think that the logical foundation same time its real or existential foundation.67 of a thought is at the I cannot discuss here the remarkable development of Fichte's conception and practice of transcendental argument during his Jena period (1794-9). law-governed activity. when he developed a synthetic conception of transcendental argument as construction in intellectual intuition. as I will discuss below. that is not a real possibility for us. a practical one. Fichte seems sometimes to suggest that. there is no room for a gap between necessary thinking and truth: 'Kant says that the mind provides the foundation of certain forms of synthetic judgement. are Fichte's expressions of the sceptic's position to which he takes himself to be responding. 1988: 68). precisely because they differ with respect to the first principle itself.' This would be an appropriate remark to make against an empirical proof. Fichte's view that transcendental argument should demonstrate an absolute makes his formulation of the response troubling. The choice between Dogmatism and Idealism is. true facts of consciousness. Fichte argues that Schulze misses a crucial Kantian point by presupposing that truth is correspondence to things in themselves and specifically that the truth of transcendental philosophy is correspondence to the mind's nature as a thing in itself.. Idealism takes selfhood or freedom as the first principle in terms of which things must be explained. and not with a genuine grounding. not as problems about transcendental philosophy's 67 Fichre (1964: I.
arguably for the first time. or dramatic.: II. and "quietly" are thought to be justified. "at the same time". and about its emergence precisely in the form of scepticism about other minds? The answer to that question will partly depend upon one's answer to another: to what extent is Fichte's vulnerability to sceptical problems concerning other minds a function of his demand that transcendental argument supply an absolute grounding. but is placed at the very heart of philosophy's concerns. on which the discussion turns. To prove that he is neither-that he is not alienated from himself and that he does not arrogate an inappropriate authority-is the form that the reality problem takes for Fichte. 3.:" Fichte (1964.Paul Franks relation to mind-independent reality.' Cavell raises essential questions about this formulation in (1979: 47): 'we should be able to ask usefully [after Part Two of Cavell's own investigation] how the descriptions "pretends". the relationship between whose conception of philosophy as systematizing 'the facts of consciousness' and contemporary transcendental arguments deserves consideration. without loss of cognitive content) have said?: The sceptic accepts a conceptual scheme but rejects one of the 72 74 . and (hence) dispensable.311-14 n. is such an agreement possible? Is the investigation demanded by Aenesidemus possible. 1988: 334-5)· 7 71 0 and addresses another as a goose. perhaps as God? (Plenty of his contemporaries thought he was doing just that. Schmid. an account of the minimal conditions for recognizing another as a person and an account of the ways in which rational beings can become alienated from themselves to such a degree that they become incapable of acknowledging the universal validity of the Grundsatz: I have emphasized the differences. as explorations of 'our conceptual scheme'. 23-4)· c. 264-6. It is as though Fichte suppresses a bump in an ill-fitting carpet. He declares one of his colleagues null and void. See Fichte (1964. corresponding to the reality and uni_queness problems.' This something. 3. E. One can already detect this reappearance of scepticism in the marginal note to Fichte's Eigne Meditationen cited earlier: These considerations expose the false appearance of Maimon's accusations against Reinhold: 'that he infers that something must be from [the premiss] that he can think something. their selves heteronomously under the sway of things. The discussion does not concern things outside this representing.: I. Shall we say that they are merely literary. and it remains obscure whether that scheme is itself supposed to be fully conceptual and analysable. Second. only for another bump to appear elsewhere in the room. then. 73 See Franks (1996) and (forthcoming a). how and how far is it possible to trace the constitutive parts of our faculty of knowledger?" The Origins of Post-Kantianism 143 Even if Schulze is confused to ask about the agreement of transcendental argument with something in itself.).e.?" Dogmatists do not just philosophize differently. for the 'actions of the spirit' or Tathandlung or whatever it is that is the real ground of himself? How can he be sure that he is not speaking merely for some idiosyncratic fantasy of himself. they exist differently. First. Fichte is hard pressed not to draw the conclusion that some professors of philosophy are not rational beings. but also the parallels. supposing the first problem can be addressed. how can Fichte demonstrate that he is speaking for anyone else. that he and they have minds in the same sense. is indeed only facts of our spirit [Thatsachen unsers Geistes]. a present-day Schulze could argue that Strawson has vindicated scepticism despite himself. This Reinhold thinks.r" These reformulated versions of the reality and uniqueness problems are among the considerations that led Fichte to carry out one of post-Kantian Idealism's most remarkable transformations: scepticism about other minds is not only raised as a problem. Fichte needs. and to what extent is it a function of his emphasis on the first-personal character of transcendental argument? There is certainly reason to think that Strawson's transcendental arguments. so that Strawson could as well (i. This question divides into two. but rather as problems about transcendental philosophy's relation to the mind and about the transcendental philosopher's relation to other minds. and having acquired from bitter experience the minor premiss 'Many professors of philosophy do not acknowledge the validity of the Grundsatz and never will'. See Strawson (1959: 35): '[The sceptic] pretends to accept a conceptual scheme. Strawson's charges against scepticism-that it must either pretend to cohere with a description of our conceptual scheme when it does not. but at the same time quietly rejects one of the conditions of its employment. and develops. But how do his thoughts agree in general with the actions [Handlungen] of the spirit. how may such an agreement be demonstrated? That is really the question: for the object of his philosophy is not the thing in itself. how can Fichte demonstrate that he is genuinely speaking for himself-that is. Fichte is therefore responding to a pressing practical problem when he tries to show the grounds for his conviction that these uncomprehending creatures are of his kind. between eighteenth-century and twentieth-century debates about transcendental arguments.) Such a fantasy might render him mad. What relevance for contemporary debates is to be found in these last considerations about the re-emergence of scepticism within Fichte's synthetic conception of transcendental philosophy. there is still a genuine question about how progressive. that he is not the only one for whom he speaks? Equipped with the major premiss 'Every rational being ought to acknowledge the validity of the Grundsatz'. have a first-personal character. in Fichte's view. c. synthetic transcendental argument may be shown to agree 'in general with the actions of the spirit'. How. it would certainly render him insufferably arrogant.: I. but rather the representing of the thing.?" or that it is 'idle' because it Fichte (1964. or whether Straws on's arguments are synthetic. In any event. 4.
like Fichte. To be sure.144 Paul Franks The Origins of Post-Kantianism 145 must be urging a revision of our scheme which we could neve~ lm~ertake75-depend on his assumption that philosophy can only be senous If It is either descriptive or revisionary. when one's everyday practices of reasoning are turned upon themselves in ph~losophical reflection. One lesson that may be learned from eighteenthcentury debates about transcendental arguments is that no transcendental philosophy can afford to dispense with an account of the conditions for the possibility of scepticism. neither as a component of descriptive nor as a component of revisionary philosophy. And that capacity must be intimately connected-is perhaps even identical-to our capacity to recognize humanity. but rather on our first-personal ability. One continues to participate in everyday practices.Then we might be willing to ask. IS livedr).pecially? That it might is suggested by the dependence of the truth of claims about 5trawsonian 'human nature'. beliefs are subject to a groundless. our conceptual scheme-what other. Strawson does not. this charge comes to the fore in Strawson (I985)· . such a discovery IS a~t to drain one's conviction. then either the sceptic is excluded from humanity. then wouldn't we be curious to know why anyone would do such a thing. Might such a post-Strawsonian scepticism concern other minds es. but rather as a disturbing discovery arrived at through reflection: the discovery that. But if that is the way the case is put.76 Here the validity of transcendental arguments depends upon our capacity to recognize whether a putative world-view is human. The discovery :hat one's. Should a person in such a mood be said. or merely to go through the motions of accepting it. So much of a constant conception. of what. but in the awareness both that such practices are incapable of withstanding philosophical reflection and that one has no alternative. Responding to a version of the uniqueness problem. is 'not subject to alteration or only to an imperceptible one. for example. 50 the problem of other minds is not merely one among several problems that transcendental arguments might illuminate. accuse his colleagues of spiritual blindness and subhumanity. WIth moans of delirious terror. But if transcendental arguments articulate the essential features of that self-knowledge that is available to any human merely in virtue of being human. not on the character of some substance that scientists might study.' is given along with the very idea of historical alteration in the human world-view. The s~eptlc possesses a conceptual scheme (i. or some account is needed of how human beings can become alienated from humanity. ~s humans. to 'accept our conceptual scheme'. But scepticism has someti.' 75 to be found in nature. the basis of its employment. in ourselves and in others. Such a discovery need not produce a demand for revision. while harbouring-shall we say-reservations? If scepticism is neither part of an attempt at description. natural compulsion may be Just what ittakes for one's conviction in those beliefs to drain away. then it may reappear precisely because of Strawson's 'naturalist' view that the upshot of transcendental arguments is that it is a fact of human nature that we cannot dispense with certain groundless beliefs. 7 6 Strawson (I985: 27). and what accepting or rejecting have to do with the matter.m~s presented itself to those moved by it. But it remains a human world-picture: a picture of a world of physical objects (bodies) in space. And one may therefore ask for whom 5trawson's arguments speak. nor part of a recommendation of revision. but 111 the resolve and the intensity of his meditation he discovers that he must relinquish. since sceptical doubt does ~ot Itself. but rather part of a reflective discovery of this kind. suggest any alternative to our everyday practices. Strawson writes: The human world-picture is of course subject to change. even to know how he could? And suppose I claim that the real drama of the position is better expressed as foll?ws. or whether the inhabitants of a putative world are human. and if scepticism doubts those features. what it means to "possess" a concept. they show themselves to be groundless.e. in Wittgenstein's phrase. but is inseparable from the problematic status of transcendental arguments as such. in Strawson's language. Already mentioned in Strawson (x959). to recognize the necessary conditions and limits of our possibilities. or scheme of concepts. and tl~le including human observers capable of action and of acqumng and irnpar tmg knowledge (and error) both of themselves and each other and of whatever else is conditions of its employment. Instead.
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