Volume 44, 2017

Fichte und seine Zeit

Ezequiel L. Posesorski
Pages 223-233

Enlightenment, Historicity, and the Teleological Overcoming of Skepticism

One recently discovered aspect of Reinhold’s early Elementarphilosophie is that it constitutes the last historical step of a teleological activity of reason that ends the history of philosophy. The historical emergence of Reinhold’s system first enables the recognition of the ever-existing laws of the human spirit, and hence, the definitive grounding of philosophy on an unquestionable Grundsatz. According to Reinhold, this also meant that all pre-critical or non-enlightened, partisan assertions, including those of skepticism, lose their raison-d’être. One failure of Reinhold’s approach is its inability to provide a justification of reason’s historical ability to make teleological progress. A Schulzean skeptic might argue that this reveals the inexhaustive character of Reinhold’s Grundsatz, its inability to determine a constitutive aspect of his concept of historical reason. A critical re-articulation of the early Elementarphilosophie after Schulze’s objections required that this issue be reworked. This was one of the tasks that August L. Hülsen, one of Reinhold’s former students who embraced Fichte’s system in 1795 addressed in Preisschrift, his virtually neglected book of 1796. This paper outlines Reinhold’s approach, and shows how Hülsen’s normative reading of the Wissenschaftslehre allowed Fichte’s concept of self-positing activity to become a historical mechanism of teleological striving capable of providing an enlightened or skeptically ›immune‹ alternative to Reinhold’s concept.