The Thought of a Principle: Rödl’s Fichteanism

In Marina Bykova (ed.), The Bloomsbury Handbook to Fichte. Bloomsbury (2020)

G. Anthony Bruno
Royal Holloway University of London
Sebastian Rödl portrays much of his work as attempts at articulating a German idealist view of self-consciousness. Although he rarely engages directly with German idealist texts, his accounts of first-person and second-person knowledge arrive at strikingly Fichtean theses regarding the necessary identity of subject and object in the former and the necessary reciprocity of subject and other in the latter. Despite this affinity, I argue, Rödl's accounts lack a feature that is essential to Fichte's and, indeed, to German idealism's distinctive orientation: the thought of a first principle. I show that while second-person knowledge between subjects is genetically prior to self-consciousness—for Fichte as for Rödl—first-person knowledge of the I as first principle is systematically prior to self-consciousness—a point of architectonic and anti-nihilistic importance for Fichte, but which goes missing on Rödl's accounts, thereby obstructing their intended German idealist articulation.
Keywords first-person knowledge  second-person knowledge  intellectual intuition  reciprocal recognition
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