Fichte's Original Insight Reviewed

Fichte-Studien (special issue: The Enigma of Fic): 394–415 (2021)
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This paper addresses Fichte’s puzzle of self-consciousness. I propose a new reading of “Fichte’s original insight,” inspired by Pareyson’s general reading, which I call here the “Fichtean metaphysical turn in transcendental philosophy.” Against the mainstream view in Fichte’s scholarship, I argue that Fichte’s and Kant’s views do not concur regard- ing the primary reference of the “I”, namely spontaneous agency in thinking, which Fichte calls “Tathandlung”. Yet, their views do, in fact, concur when Fichte claims that this spontaneous agency in thinking is the “essence” or the underlying nature of the self, which Kant denies. Regarding this, I take the side of Fichte. But how is Fichte’s original insight supposed to solve the puzzle of self-consciousness? At that transcendental level, the puzzle does not arise because there is no need for self-identification in the first place. Transcendental self-knowledge results from the sui generis intellectual Selbstanschauung that everyone has of oneself as sheer spontaneous agency in thinking. But at the empirical level, the puzzle does not arise either and for the same reason. Reference to the embodied self dispenses with any self-identification because it is based on the fundamental metaphysical relation everybody has to their own body, namely identity.

Author Profiles

Roberto Pereira
Universidad de Costa Rica
Roberto Horácio De Pereira
Federal University of Rio de Janeiro


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