This paper clarifies the significance of the objectivity of Hegel’s idealism on the basis of its relation with Fichte’s transcendental philosophy. Central to Fichte’s Doctrine of Science is the special relation between absolute and concept, and the way Fichte spells out this relation. The relation between absolute and concept is characterized by a margin, an excess of the absolute. Fichte shows how this difference becomes the place for the reflection of knowledge in and on itself. The absolute manifests or reveals itself in knowledge insofar as the latter recognizes and reconstructs its own conditions and presuppositions. This self-knowledge of knowledge is not an immanent reflection, so as to loose that characteristic that preserves it from the dogmatic pretension to reduce the absolute to a concept, and consequently to objectify or reify it. The paper argues that Fichte’s transcendental philosophy does not evade Hegel’s critique of subjectivism. However, the paper argues that the Doctrine of Science provides an ante litteram criticism of Hegel’s absolute idealism. This criticism derives from Fichte’s identification of the risk of overriding the problematic, but also constitutive, relation between absolute and concept. From this point of view this paper discusses the tenability of the conception of philosophy as an objective ‘absolute knowing’ or as a ‘doctrine of science’
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