On the concept of thinking in Reinhold’s system of Rational Realism

Revista de Filosofia Aurora 30 (51) (2018)
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Abstract

The paper explores Karl Leonhard Reinhold’s remarkable philosophical turn from 1801, in which he defends a system of Rational Realism centred on the insight that the concept of thinking is the only appropriate starting point for philosophising. Reinhold does not consider the faculty of thinking solely to be distinct from the faculty of intuiting anymore. Rather, he emphasises that thinking is not at all to be understood as representing, which is first and foremost to say: it is by no means based on the relation between subject and object. By introducing this distinction, Reinhold intends to keep thinking free from connotations of the activity of thinking and the thinking subject. Instead, thinking is to be understood in the sense of a structure of thought and as objective thinking. At the same time, this distinction is supposed to express that thinking is not primarily thinking about an object. According to Reinhold, we can only speak of thinking about an object when it comes to the level of the application of thinking, and not at the level of thinking itself. This corresponds with Reinhold’s view that thinking is to be understood as a structure of thought which is more original than the manifestations of thinking in its basic elements “concept”, “judgment” and “inference”.

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Martin Bondeli
Université de Fribourg

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