Inquiry 38 (3):277 – 288 (1995)
I contend that though Pippin argues persuasively that the most trenchant critics of modernity ? Nietzsche and Heidegger ? failed to break free of modernity, it remains unclear whether the unending character of modernity is thereby defended as an unfinished project, or rather is a fate to which we are condemned. The thesis of my paper is that the ambiguity is traceable to Pippin's Hegelian narrative of legitimation. On his view, the demands of modern self?consciousness inaugurated by Kant and radicalized by Hegel prohibit every appeal to a given, even where the given is construed as contingent historical shifts, or perspectives, or Ereignisse. But this rejection of appeals to something outside the narrative of legitimation implies that even the significance of the narrative can only be an effect of the narrative itself. But if this is true, there is on Pippin's own terms no way of establishing the significance of a narrative about modernity and hence no reason for finding it compelling. Thus the very radicalization of the Kantian critique of dogmatism that Pippin claims is the hallmark of modernity renders unavailable the legitimation of modernity
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