The dynamics of reason and its elusive object in Kant, Fichte and Schelling

Kant used transcendental reflection to distinguish in judgment what belongs to its form and what to its material. Regarding the form of judgment, Buchdahl's work highlights the analogies between the different levels of judgment in Kant's transcendental ontology. He uses the explicit contingency of judgments of the system of nature to illuminate the contingency of judgments of objects in general. In the Critique of pure reason, Kant had left much of the work of judgment to the unconscious imagination. Fichte and Schelling attempted to make conscious and determinate the work of the unconscious imagination, but found themselves unable to avoid a reflexive regress in trying to objectify and provide a foundation for the activity of the self in judgment. Buchdahl also clarifies the role Kant gave to the object in judgment, as the indeterminate 'thinghood' remaining once all forms of cognition are abstracted. Fichte represented this objective side of consciousness as the not-I, as the limit of the activity of the I, as an unconscious, alien element within consciousness. Schelling struggled to illuminate this unconscious object in judgment, to provide a construction of nature, without dissolving its positive presence into abstract formulations. In pursuing relentlessly Kant's critique of judgment, Fichte and Schelling exposed its opaque points and problematized the ambition to build a complete system of philosophy.
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DOI 10.1016/S0039-3681(02)00090-0
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