Hiatus Irrationalis: Lask’s Fateful Misreading of Fichte

European Journal of Philosophy 30 (3):977-995 (2022)
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‘Facticity’ is a concept that classical phenomenologists like Heidegger use to denote the radically contingent or underivably brute conditions of intelligibility. Yet Fichte coins the term, to which he gives the opposing use of denoting unacceptably brute conditions of intelligibility. For him, radical contingency is a problem to be solved by deriving such conditions from reason. Heidegger rejects Fichte's recoil from facticity with his hermeneutics of facticity, supplanting Fichte's metaphor of our always being in reason's hand with the metaphor of our always having been thrown. How does Heidegger inherit and diametrically repurpose Fichte's neologism? Whence the reversed meaning of ‘facticity’ in post-Kantian thought? The answer is Lask's doctoral thesis, which exerts an acknowledged impact on Heidegger's habilitation thesis. Lask interprets ‘facticity’ as Fichte's term for the individuality problem, that is, the resistance of the material particularity of individuals to explanation by the categories genetically deduced from reason. On his interpretation, ‘facticity’ denotes radical contingency in the guise of haecceity, that is, the brute uniqueness of individuals. Lask credits Fichte with registering the problem of individuality, which highlights the world's irreducibly precategorial character. But how is ‘facticity’ transmitted from Lask to Heidegger, given their opposing interpretations of how Fichte understands its meaning? I argue that (1) Lask misreads Fichte as a proponent of facticity, that is, one whose accommodation of radical contingency deflates the Wissenschaftslehre's systematic ambitions, and (2) Lask's misreading, without deceiving Heidegger regarding the sincerity of Fichte's ambitions, encourages Heidegger's own hermeneutics of facticity.

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G. Anthony Bruno
Royal Holloway University of London

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