Logic and logogrif in German idealism : an investigation into the notion of experience in Kant, Fichte, Schelling


In this thesis I investigate the notion of experience in German Idealist Philosophy. I focus on the exploration of an alternative to the transcendental model notion of experience through Schelling's insight into the notion of logogrif. The structural division of this project into two sections reflects the two theoretical standpoints of this project, namely the logic and the logogrif of experience. The first section - the logic of experience - explores the notion of experience provided in Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, Critique of Judgement and Fichte's Science of Knowledge. I argue that Kant's fundamental question about the possibility of synthetic a priori judgements succeeds in thematising the aporia of cognitive experience but results in a subject-oriented, representational model which radically confines the notion of experience to the constitutive laws of the understanding or to the normative precepts of Reason. Experience is founded upon a sharp division between faith and knowledge, will and logic, desire and reflection, absolute and finitude. Fichte's endeavour to articulate a non-representational account of experience, does not succeed in extricating itself from the representational model, so long as experience is reduced to the ever-producing deeds of the self-positing ego. Despite the serious differences between Kant's and Fichte's notions of experience, both accounts, so long as they unfold from a transcendental standpoint, attempt to resolve experience into conceptual laws or determinations of the ego's absolute will. Experience is transformed into an object of the subject's cognitive or volitional faculties. The paradoxes of man's interaction with the world are intended to be accommodated either by the law-giving spontaneity of the understanding and the Architectonic of Pure Reason or by the overpowerful primordial act of the self-positing ego. This implies the conceptualisation of the self in terms of constant identity-through-time, or sheer self-determination. However, this conceptualisation remains at the normative or prescriptive level, which in turn is projected upon the world. The latter, though appears as the subject's property, essentially remains alien and opaque, confirming the radical limitations of the ego rather than its order-giving authority. Moreover, this notion of experience is ultimately founded upon a radical expulsion of the divine from the world, the de-spiritualisation of the sensual and the de-sensualisation of the spiritual, the sharp juxtaposition between absolute and finitude. This results in a self-defeating subjectivity, whose firm identity and rule-giving authority does not rescue it from its perennial unattainability to 'organise the conditioned' or 'conquer the unconditioned'. In Kant's and Fichte's thought, however, I detect elements that potentially transgress their transcendental account of experience. These are found in Kant's concept of spontaneity and free play between understanding and imagination, and Fichte's concept of productivity. I argue that these elements lose their potential dynamism, so long as they are absorbed by the transcendental demands for the solution of the aporias of logic. However, these elements point to the need for a radical re-conceptualisation of the notion of experience. This is provided by means of Schelling's logogriflic approach, which constitutes the theme of the second section. The second section - the logogrif of experience - attempts to articulate a different approach towards the notion of experience, through an exploration of Schelling's versatile and provocative thought. This section focuses on Schelling's original insight into the notion and act of logogrif, which opens the dialogue between logos and mythos, cosmic becoming and human soul, cosmic imagination and human reflection, faith and knowledge. This section attempts to illuminate Schelling's fascinating philosophical investigations and discoveries that have been rather overlooked, possibly, due to Hegel's overwhelming critique. This section, after a brief critical examination of the Identity Philosophy, attempts to elucidate Schelling's notion of experience through his middle works, Of Human Freedom, Ages of the World, The Deities of Samothrace, which are treated as a self-developing trilogy. Schelling re-addresses the aporias of logic not as part of Reason's self-interrogation but as part of the cosmic paradoxes and living experiences. In this way, Schelling resets the scene of the debate on the conditions of possibility for cognitive experience by putting on the stage the enigmas of the cosmos and life rather than the Tribunal of Reason. Logic itself is conceived as a potency in the cosmic becoming, and consequently can no longer attempt to establish the transcendental conditions for the possibility of cognitive experience. Cosmic becoming, in which man is an active part, is conceived as the process of the movement, the interaction, the transformations and transmutations of multiple potencies. These, far beyond any mechanical conceptualisation, appear as self-moving and yet interdependent, unknown yet familiar, inscrutable and yet manifest powers, describing the mystery of life itself. The latter is depicted as an ever-recurrent act of longing for self-expression as active unity. Experience is conceived as the lived process of a network of living potencies, which may not only resist rational powers but may also puzzle and seize them. In this context, reflection acquires a plastic dimension, as opposed to its rigidity in the representational model of experience. Reflection depicts cosmic longing's self-formation, whose man is part. This self-bending formation partially illuminates the nature of longing, and from this standpoint is the logic of the longing. However, this formation is movable, transmutable and mostly ineffable, and from this standpoint is the logic of a riddle: a logogrif. Logogrif is the transitive term that attempts to describe the transition of experience from its enacted phase to its allusive conceptual utterance, and in this sense the term itself participates in both phases, as both form of thought and form of life. The logogrific approach to experience in turn transposes us as from the realm of pure concepts to the realm of the mystery of life, from pure thought to acts of longing, from the Architectonic of Pure Reason to Cosmic Theurgy. The latter term attempts to grasp the paradox and dynamism of cosmic and non-cosmic becoming by means of multiple, vanishing and ever-recurring, transmutable potencies, or in Schelling's terms 'the magic of insoluble life'. Schelling's logogrific account consists in a powerful voice for the re-enchantment of the world, the introduction into the notion of experience of the imminence of the divine. This is not suggested in terms of the adoption of old religious doctrines but by means of the discovery and re-discovery of the theurgy of life, through the intensification of our artistic mood, the creative expansion of our deeds. This notion of experience allows for the reconsideration of the notion of the self, in terms of a dynamic, conflictual process between conscious and unconscious powers and the critical revaluation of the accounts of subjectivity which reduce it to the sphere of self-consciousness. The thesis concludes with the need for an investigation into the relation between logos and mythos, which only tangentially has been introduced by the present project. In this context it will be possible to re-appraise the potential that the logogrific approach opens for an alternative to both logical and traditional mythological patterns of thinking



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References found in this work

The art of judgement.David Bell - 1987 - Mind 96 (382):221-244.
La Découverte de Fichte.Dieter Henrich - 1967 - Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale 72 (2):154 - 169.
Fichte's Contribution.Robert B. Pippin - 1987 - Philosophical Forum 19 (2):74.

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