Volume 44, 2017

Fichte und seine Zeit

George Di Giovanni
Pages 49-63

The Spinozism of Fichte’s Transcendental Argument in the Lecture Notes of 1804

In a transcendental argument, a judgement ≫S is P≪ is unpacked into the two reflective claims: ≫I say that S is P≪, and ≫What I say is indeed the case≪; and the truth of the second is made to rest on the authority of the ≫I say≪ of the first. The argument has all the features of a testimony, where the reliability of the testimony (as in juridical cases) depends on the extent to which, in being rendered, it conforms to stipulated canons of objectivity. As presented in 1804, Fichte’s Wissenschaftslehre can be interpreted as a protracted argument of this kind, inasmuch as, since its avowed subject-matter, the One, is ex hypothesi ineffable, its validity as a narrative about it depends solely on its internal logic as narrative. Such a narrative can only be one which, in constructing any schema about its transcendent subject-matter, at the same time de-constructs it: in the course of this process it methodically and exhaustively uncovers the genesis of otherwise merely accepted facts of experience, manifesting them for what they truly are (a disappearing appearing), and also allowing the necessarily unspoken evidence of the One to shine through (at least, for those willing to freely give themselves over to the discipline of Fichte’s Science). The Wissenschaftslehre 1804 is a type of apophantic theology. It is a Spinozism, but one developed from the standpoint of a finite subject who knows that he exists in a universe where, in truth, there is no explainable room for finitude.