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Matters of Spirit

J. G. Fichte and the Technological Imagination

F. Scott Scribner

Publication Year: 2010

Published by: Penn State University Press

Series: American and European Philosophy

Front Cover

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Title Page

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pp. iii


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pp. iv


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pp. v

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pp. vii-viii

In the course of writing a book I incurred innumerable debts. As gifts they can never be repaid, but only acknowledged. I would first like to thank Max Pensky, Frederick Neuhouser, and Stephen David Ross, all of whom read an earlier version of this project. I would especially like to thank Allen Wood for his extensive critical commentary on an earlier draft. Although the project ...


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pp. ix-x

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pp. 1-4

The monster in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is monstrous because it is an act of blasphemy. By attempting to generate life by means of profane technological innovation, by attempting to generate spirit through profane matter, Frankenstein taints and perverts the sacred. Technology’s attempt to reach the metaphysical level of the god-like is surely hubris. According to Walter ...

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1. An Introduction to the Crisis of Spirit: Technology and the Fichtean Imagination

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pp. 5-29

J. G. Fichte is widely regarded as the first to articulate intersubjective recognition (Anerkennung) as a theory of right, and thus offer the notion of intersubjectivity as a significant social principle.1 While Fichte’s version of a theory of right is complex, the core principles of the notion are that one’s rights end where someone else’s nose begins. While such a gross simplification does ...

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2. Technology and Truth: Representation and the Problem of the Third Term

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pp. 30-50

In the end, Fichte recognized that the success of his philosophical system, and transcendental idealism more generally, would require a mediating third term between spirit and matter. What is at stake in this mediating third term is truth itself: and his search for this term must therefore be developed within the context of his philosophical and historical search for truth. I propose that ...

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3. Spirit and the Technology of the Letter

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pp. 51-67

Late eighteenth-century German thought revived and transformed the classical debate surrounding mimesis and imitation. It did so primarily through the discourse of Darstellung and Vorstellung. Now Vorstellung designated a representation, a product of the reproductive imagination, that like Nachahmung, was a type of copying or a degraded form of imitation. By contrast ...

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4. The Spatial Imagination: Affect, Image, and the Critique of Representational Consciousness

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pp. 68-100

If communication is to take place, the intelligible realm must somehow be communicable across the divide of the sensible world. Spirit must be given a material form. While the discussion of the spirit and letter arose from a predominantly aesthetic paradigm, the issue it engages is certainly not limited to an aesthetic of communication. In fact an investigation of the sensibilization ...

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5. Subtle Matter and the Ground of Intersubjectivity

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pp. 101-129

This book began with the historical observation that the transcendental account of the social sphere (as defined by the transcendental account of intersubjectivity and the intersubjective recognition of right) was profoundly transformed and threatened by a growing predominance of the technology of reproductive media. Reproductive media, I argued, transformed the very ...

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6. The Aesthetic of Influence

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pp. 130-156

Since Fichte claimed he was the only true Kantian, I turn to Kant’s Third Critique and his account of the aesthetic of the beautiful for help in developing the dynamic at work in the phenomenon of subtle matter as a key term in understanding intersubjective influence and its account of intellectual influence as an aesthetic power. Fichte’s account of the ground of intersubjective ...

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7. The First Displacement: From Subjectivity to Being

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pp. 157-179

Fichte references the paradigm of subtle matter as an empirical proof for the last Wissenschaftslehre. The problem is that this empirical proof threatens to overshadow that which it was intended to prove: the social ontology of Fichte’s metaphysics of imaging. Here if the technique of magnetic rapport overshadows the very metaphysics of imaging it was intended to prove, then ...

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8. The Second Displacement: From a Metaphysical to a Technological Imagination

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pp. 180-197

The second displacement of the imagination is marked by a shift from a strict metaphysics of imaging to an account of the imagination in terms of material technique. If the first displacement of the imagination showed a shift in the very site of the productive power of the imagination as a process of externalization, whereby it moved from the transcendental subject (as a faculty) to ...


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pp. 198-202


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pp. 203-206

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780271053431
E-ISBN-10: 0271053437
Print-ISBN-13: 9780271034751
Print-ISBN-10: 0271034750

Page Count: 216
Publication Year: 2010

Series Title: American and European Philosophy
Devoted to the contemporary development of American and European philosophy in the pragmatic and Continental traditions, American and European Philosophy gives expression to uniquely American thought that deepens and advances these traditions and that arises from their mutual encounters. The series will focus on new interpretations of philosophers and philosophical movements within these traditions, original contributions to European or American thought, and issues that arise through the mutual influence of American and European philosophers.