Towards a philosophy of freedom : Fichte and Bergson
Kolkman, Michael (2009) Towards a philosophy of freedom : Fichte and Bergson. PhD thesis, University of Warwick.
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Official URL: http://webcat.warwick.ac.uk/record=b2339633~S15
The thesis asks the following question: If determinism cannot give an adequate account
of freedom, but conversely, an appeal to freedom as such is unacceptable to
determinism, how to formulate an alternative philosophy that would be acceptable to
both? What are the conditions such an alternative would have to meet? It is within this
overall problematic that we situate the though of Fichte and Bergson.
A first step to the solution Fichte finds in Kant’s appeal to a original and
synthetic act of consciousness, something said to be a necessary transcendental
condition of experience. We situate this appeal to something both original and synthetic
as motivated by the perceived failure of a radically reductivist empiricist project (i.e.,
determinism). But Kant was criticised for not having supplied a proof for such a
principle. Fichte takes up this challenge but not in the way his project has ordinarily
been understood. Fichte tries to show that a foundational synthetic act can only ever be
adequately understood when taking the form of an opposition of I and notI.
The I and
in that they must be seen to stand in a relation of reciprocal
determination. We are then able to demonstrate that the three principles of the
opposition and reciprocal determination) are simultaneous
and not successive.
For all their differences and for all his critique of Kant, Bergson is confronted
with a similarly structured problem. Departing from an experience that is said to be
continuous (duration), how now to account for the very real difference of the organised
and the unorganised? Bergson will have to show that, although life/experience is
continuous progress, this can only take the form of an opposition of “that which is
making” and “that which is already made”, between habit and effort.
Fichte and Bergson may be discussed in one thesis because both give a very
sustained account of how to think relationally. They prioritise the question of the
Verhältnis (dynamic relation, reciprocity) of subject and object as something that
precedes the question of the Beziehung (directed relation, intentionality) of subject and
object. The second question already assumes subject and object and is therefore
dependent on the first. For Fichte and Bergson to understand subject and object means
to understand them as different activities, different temporalities, different forms of
organisation, as parts of a relation. Such a relational thought is what ultimately allows
us to mediate the conflict of determinism and freedom.
|Item Type:||Thesis or Dissertation (PhD)|
|Subjects:||B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics|
|Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH):||Free will and determinism, Fichte, Johann Gottlieb, 1762-1814, Bergson, Henri, 1859-1941|
|Official Date:||December 2009|
|Institution:||University of Warwick|
|Theses Department:||Department of Philosophy|
|Supervisor(s)/Advisor:||Ansell-Pearson, Keith, 1960- ; Houlgate, Stephen ; Goddard, Jean-Christophe|
|Sponsors:||St Fundatie van de Vrijvrouwe van Renswoude ; Dr Hendrik Muller's Vaderlandsch Fonds ; De Lancey & De La Hanty Foundation|
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