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date: 28 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Kant set the tone for nineteenth-century idealism, claiming that traditional metaphysics was impossible since we could know nothing of “things in themselves.” Although we could know nothing “transcendent” to our experience, we could nonetheless construct a “transcendental” idealism, which would restore the possibility of faith and save human freedom from a devastating critique of its very possibility. Fichte rejected the concept of the thing in itself, claiming that the very idea of it was only an explanatory posit to account for experience, and he proposed instead a "science of science” (Wissenschaftslehre). Schelling insisted that Fichte’s view presupposed that the only alternatives were (Kantian) idealism and materialist dogmatism. As a third possibility, Schelling proposed an idealist Spinozism where the ideal substance of the world progressively embodied itself first in matter, then in chemical formations and organic life, and finally in self-conscious organisms. Hegel offered a more Kantian-Fichtean alternative that incorporated Kant's dialectic without ruling out knowledge of things in themselves.

Keywords: transcendental, idealism, metaphysics, self-consciousness, receptivity, spontaneity, the absolute, Naturphilosophie, infinity, representation

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