Volume 49, 2021

The Enigma of Fichte’s First Principles (Das Rätsel von Fichtes Grundsätzen)

G. Anthony Bruno
Pages 177-197

Facticity and Genesis
Tracking Fichte’s Method in the Berlin Wissenschaftslehre

The concept of facticity denotes conditions of experience whose necessity is not logical yet whose contingency is not empirical. Although often associated with Heidegger, Fichte coins ‘facticity’ in his Berlin period to refer to the conclusion of Kant’s metaphysical deduction of the categories, which he argues leaves it a contingent matter that we have the conditions of experience that we do. Such rhapsodic or factical conditions, he argues, must follow necessarily, independent of empirical givenness, from the I through a process of ‘genesis.’ I reconstruct Fichte’s argument by (1) tracing the origin of his neologism, (2) presenting his Jena critique of Kant’s rhapsodic appeal to the forms of judgment, and (3) illustrating the Jena period’s continuity with the Berlin period’s genetic method, while noting a methodological shift whereby Fichte directs his critique against his own doctrine of intellectual intuition in order to eliminate its ‘factical terms.’