The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 7, 2000

Modern Philosophy

Manfred Gawlina
Pages 45-56

Transcendental Philosophy and the Specific Demands of Paideia
The Models of Descartes, Kant, and Fichte

The classics of transcendental philosophy (Kant’s “Criticism,” Descartes’s “Metaphysics,” and Fichte’s “Doctrine of Science”) all conceive of rational autonomy as the ultimate ground for justification. Correspondingly, their philosophical pedagogy is focused on seizing and making that very autonomy or active self-determination intellectually and existentially available. But in the concrete way of proceeding, 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 where we can triangulate universal conditions of the possibility of knowledge through individually acquiring the competence to judge the legitimacy of encountered propositional claims. Fichte confronts us with the idea of the identity of self-consciousness and objectivity.