Page:A Brief History of Modern Philosophy.djvu/177
THE PHILOSOPHY OF ROMANTICISM
mental principle (concerning the mutual limitation, i.e. the reciprocity between the ego and the non-ego). All such forms are forms of the activity of the pure, unlimited ego, which forms the basis of the empirical antithesis between ego and non-ego, but which can never manifest itself in experience.
But how is it possible to deduce this antithesis of an empirical ego and a non-ego from the pure ego? How does it happen that this unlimited activity is resisted and broken?—These questions are theoretically unanswerable according to Fichte. Whence this opposition, whence this impetus comes we do not know, but it is necessary to the explanation of actual (empirical) consciousness. And the limitation, as a matter of fact, does not even concern us theoretically, it pertains only to the practical reason! “An object possesses independent reality only in so far as it refers to the practical capacity of the ego.” The only explanation of the existence of a world of non-egos is that we are intended to act: activity and effort as a matter of fact presuppose opposition (resistance) and limitation. Our task consists in realizing our liberty and independence through the successive transcendence of limitations. But the ultimate presupposition forever remains that pure activity which is revealed in us under the form of an impulse to act for action’s sake. This presupposition furnishes the only possible explanation of the unqualified obligation which Kant expressed in the categorical imperative.
This complete subordination of the theoretical to the practical resulted in a complete refutation of fatalism. For the dependence of the whole system of our ideas rests far more profoundly on our volition than our activity on our ideas.