Idealistic Studies


published on May 21, 2014

G. Anthony Bruno

Freedom and Pluralism in Schelling’s Critique of Fichte’s Jena “Wissenschaftslehre”

Our understanding of Schelling’s internal critique of German idealism, including his late attack on Hegel, is incomplete unless we trace it to the early “Philosophical Letters on Dogmatism and Criticism”, which initiate his engagement with the problem of systematicity—that judgment makes deriving a system of a priori conditions from a first principle necessary, while this capacity’s finitude makes this impos­sible. Schelling aims to demonstrate this problem’s intractability. My conceptual aim is to reconstruct this from the “Letters”, which reject Fichte’s claim that the Wissenschaftslehre is an unrivalled system. I read Schelling as charging Fichte with misrepresenting a system’s livability or commensurability with our finitude. My historical aim is to provide a framework for understanding Schelling’s Freiheitsschrift, which argues that a system’s liveability depends on its incompleteness or limitation by our finitude. On my reading, Schelling is early and continually committed to systematicity within the bounds of human finitude.

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