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The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 45, 1998

Theory of Knowledge

Manfred Gawlina
Pages 100-107

Transcendental Philosophy and Its Specific Demands

One needs specific initiation into the classics of transcendental philosophy (Kant’s "Criticism," Descartes’s "Metaphysics," and Fichte’s "Doctrine of Science") because all say farewell to the common sense view of things. The three types of transcendental thinking converge in conceiving rational autonomy as the ultimate ground for justification. Correspondingly, the philosophical pedagogy of all three thinkers is focused on how to seize and make that very autonomy (or active self-determination) intellectually and existentially available. In the concrete way of proceeding, however, the three models diverge. Descartes expects one to become master of oneself and "the world" by methodologically suspending his judgement on what cannot qualify itself to be undoubtable. Kant leads us to the point where we can triangulate universal conditions of the possibility of knowledge through individually acquiring the competence to judge the legitimacy of encountered propositional claims. Finally, Fichte confronts us with the idea of the identity of self-consciousness and objectivity.

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