Fichte’s Science of Knowing, 1804, Lecture 6:

1) WL must trace multiplicity back to oneness and, conversely, it must deduce all multiplicity from oneness.

2) WL never descends into absolute oneness or into absolute multiplicity (empirical givenness) but stays with both moments equally.

3) No oneness that appears as simple oneness (i.e. as one side of a disjunction, e.g. matter, mind, crude conceptions of God) is or could be the true oneness that we are seeking.

4) The principle of the WL can equally be called the principle of oneness or the principle of disjunction since it is a principle of unity and one of multiplicity and because qua principle, it unites, holds together and grounds the moment of unification and the moment of disjunction.

5) “To put it simple, oneness cannot in any way consist in what we see or conceive as the science of knowing, because that would be something objective; rather it consists in what we are, and pursue, and live”. (p. 56)

6) Only a principle can enter into the WL, never only a principled result which is merely a phenomenal or empirical appearance and can never be used as explanatory ground but as something in need of explanation.

7) “Each principle in which we stand (and we never stand anywhere but in a principle) yields an absolutely self-differentiating oneness.” (p. 57) –> self-differentiating because as principle it opposes itself to its elements, and yet as oneness, it holds these elements together, grounds them and explains their relation.

8) The only questions is whether this oneness is the highest, is it self-grounded or is it grounded in something it has not considered? –> For instance, if we thought the unity of being and thinking was the highest we were wrong since the principle of their unity does not express or explain their being-held-apart. Ascending the spiral of principles, we may rest assured that the principle A = a–x,y,z is the highest principle but again, each of these disjuncts is itself a principle of unity at its own level but at its own level fails to relate itself to the other levels. The WL needs to uncover not just any of these multiple unities but the absolute disjunction in relation to the absolute oneness. This is the general model of the procedure of the science of knowing.

9) The WL always necessarily begins trapped in a one-sidedness. “We find ourselves trapped in the familiar frequently cited inexpressibility: that the oneness is to separate itself at one stroke into being and thinking and into x,y,z both equally immediately. In this actual disjunction there are two distinguishing grounds which are mutually dependent. The distinguishing ground between being and thinking and the distinguishing ground between the sensible and the supersensible. –> this is paralleled in the discussion to come of the principle which makes the moment of appearance distinct from the moment of ground and the moment of ground distinct from the moment of the appearance of appearance.

10) When we postulate a ground as explanans for an explanandum we execute a synthesis post-factum. What we need to achieve in addition is a synthesis in action {im Akte}. –> Kant’s philosophy never quite made it this far, though the notion that practical cognition has the task of presenting the connection between practical and speculative reason certainly flirted with the idea.

11) First, we present something in factical manifestness then we ascend to the genetic insight on the basis of its principles. –> Lather, rinse, repeat. Lather, rinse repeat. This is the methodology of the Wissenschaftslehre. However, this is not the highest point. We ascend the ladder, then we kick it away. But the kicking away is just another invisible wrung on the same ladder.

12) Having perceived the unity between the unity of unity and difference and unity, Fichte is trying to wean us off the holding together in consciousness that makes this unity manifest as a statable fact. “Thus away with all words and signs! Nothing remains except our living thinking and insight, which can’t be shown on a blackboard nor be represented in any way but can only be surrendered to nature.” (p. 60) –> compare to Hume’s current of nature?!

13) In representing the absolute principle as manifest, we negate its truth, since the very form of its representation is wrong. It is only adequately represented (or rather presented, expressed) in life. And yet exposing it as such “is a contradiction which may well be essential and necessary.”

14) “Everything is brought together again when enacted.” (p. 61)


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