Hegel’s Circular Epistemology by Tom Rockmore

By Tom Rockmore

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Among the most important participants, we find the names of Reinhold and Schulze, Maimon and Fichte, Schelling and Hegel.  Particularly interesting is the paradoxical assertion that Reinhold's contribution to the resolution of the problem of the form of philosophy ultimately can withstand the skeptical objections earlier brought against it by Schulze, although the needed restatement must, following the position proposed in the Critique of Pure Reason, avoid the appeal to a final principle of all form.

Although much of the discussion in this work in fact is concerned directly with Reinhold, Schulze's interest is not in the position as such, but rather with it as representative of the critical philosophy.  which strives in all possible ways to destroy its reliability and steadfastness" (B 451).  For lack of knowledge can never be an end point of the discussion, but is rather the cause of its beginning (see B 786).  It follows that there is a basic disagreement between Schulze and Kant: Schulze holds that it is sufficient merely to endeavor to refute any and all claims to know, as he here tries to do; on the contrary, Kant believes that the task of criticism of other views is not merely a necessary preparation to the formulation of a truly critical position.

Although there are numerous exceptions, it would seem in general that earlier views of systematicity are concerned mainly with the former, whereas more recent thought, especially in the post­Kantian discussion, stresses the latter.  In fact, at the time Kant wrote, there were two different views of system competing for his attention. These two different concepts of system, associated with Wolff and Lambert, provide a conceptual framework for an understanding of Kant's own grasp of systematicity.

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