A Reframing of Our Current Predicament and Further Elaboration of Erik and I’s Neo-Kantianism

Evan Jack
13 min readFeb 17, 2022


The science of knowledge can not be proven from the science of logic, and no logical proposition, not even the proposition of contradiction, must be accepted in advance as valid by the science of knowledge; but, on the contrary, every logical proposition and the whole science of logic must be proven from the science of knowledge.

— J. G. Fichte, The Science of Knowledge

Obviously, what we have been dealing with this entire time with the logocentric predicament is Agrippa’s Trilemma which states that all proof breaks down into either a.) infinite regression b.) vicious circularity or c.) dogmatic fideism. We have seen so far that what Agrippa has said has been the case thus far (or may be the case, as my reworking of Fichte as a replacement of Kant’s self-knowledge premise within broader Kantian transcendental idealism [i.e., I have put forward that we keep the entirety of Kant’s philosophy but reframe the self-knowledge premise and movement that is transcendental apperception as a movement of noninferential justification much like Fichte articulates the absolute I positing the I and the not-I in his Wissenschaftslehre] still needs more refutation, though there are obviously issues with it that I have already previously outlined when I first introduced it as a solution to the logocentric predicament). Peter Klein, against the idea that infinite regression is a “breakdown,” argues that his infinitism provides a solution in that if there is one thing that can be justified by an infinite chain of reasons then that one thing can be used to justify other truths. Now, Klein is quite right. If infinite regress, for example, was able to justify things such as the laws of logic, modus ponens, deduction, etc. we would then be saved. It seems unlikely, though, that Klein’s infinitism actually offers the solution we are looking for (see Stephen Wright’s “Does Klein’s infinitism offer a response to Agrippa’s trilemma”). Certain forms of coherentism argue that vicious circularity is not problematic, but the obvious issue with this is that it allows for complete contradiction (illogic) and if it doesn’t then it is question-begging. In regards to the last premise, certain forms of foundationalism argue that unjustified beliefs (inescapable axioms) can justify other beliefs, but again, this also allows for complete contradiction, and if it doesn’t (if only certain things can be axioms), then it, like those certain forms of coherentism, is question-begging. What we need is some foundationalism that has a justified axiom at its start, following Fichte’s structuring of the Wissenschaftslehre. But, that axiom must also be the conditions of the very possibility of justification. This was an issue realized two papers ago. The simple solution to it is that this axiom is not unjustified just because it is not necessarily justified. The issue the theoretical primitive ran into was that while it being not outside of all other propositions but right by them allowed for us to say it was justified, we also had to simultaneously say that it was unjustified, but I=I (the “axiom” that is the basis of Erik and I’s neo-Fichtean re-articulation of Kant’s self-knowledge premise) is neither justified nor unjustified. Does I=I need to be justified? This is the issue. If it does not, can anything not be postulated? How do we escape this road which those forms of foundationalism and coherentism are one that leads to either illogic or question-begging? How can we escape this path of question-begging, which is to ask, why can only I=I not need justification? If we can escape such a path, it will seem that I=I will be a solid foundation. Furthermore, would this not escape the issue of the problem of alternatives, as would we not be specifying the very reason why I=I has no alternative? It is also needed to put forward that post facto explanation mustn’t be abused. We must also find a way for others to not be able to reductio us, to not be able to say “I believe x is true but I don’t have to justify it because I’m engaging in post facto explanation.” Then again, would we even be saying I=I is true? Or something more than that?

Why, though, have Erik and I not gone straight to Ficte and remained with Kant? A few reasons: 1. We do not think that Fichte’s idea of synthetic a priori and its dialectical origin is tenable 2. Kant’s idea of the faculty of the understanding is key in that a.) (pure general) logic is self-cognition and b.) for noninferential “justification” to take place understanding must also take place; or, in other words, the I must be able to noninferentially understand through (analytic a priori(?)) intuition(?) the concepts being put forward (e.g., modus ponens) and their constituents (e.g., law of identity, law of non-contradiction, logical operators) 3. We find any major falling into empiricism to be untenable to the circularity it entails (that I’ve described many times over), so a major conviction to rationalism is required for any epistemology to be a.) non-question-begging (Laurence Bonjour gives many reasons for why this is the case in his In Defense of Pure Reason) b.) justified c.) sound and d.) cogent. Therefore, Erik and I see that any way out of the logocentric predicament is going to be through contemporary rationalism (neo-rationalism) and contemporary Kantianism (neo-Kantianism and the intersection of analytic philosophy and Kant). Again, we need not justify that logic in itself is justified or anything like that, but only that our use of logic is justified, that our inferences are justified, for I care not if another is not justified in using modus ponens, I only care for if it is a fact that I am justified in using modus ponens. Fichte says this succinctly,

[T]hat our explanation of consciousness is also not intended to be, {as it were,} “valid in itself,” {but is valid only “for us}; … for transcendental philosophy possesses no validity in itself, but only in relationship to reason. (qtd. in Breazeale, Thinking Through the Wissenschaftslehre 282)

Let us also note, the proper alternative to logic and the non-trivialist consequence of the logocentric predicament, Bataille’s anti-epistemological theory of nonknowledge, is, if Erik and I are correct that I=I is the basis of philosophy, hereby defeated! Nonknowledge precedes no propositions, rather self-knowledge precedes all propositions! Let us also recognize that because I=I has no alternative, there need not be any normative justification. Illogic has, at last, been defeated, for if I=I has no alternative and what can be taken from it is only logic, then all uses of illogic are aberrations and need not even be normatively rejected for they no longer are. What do I mean by this? It is very simple, and Kant’s articulation makes it even simpler:

Whatever the content of our cognition may be, and however it may be related to the object, the general though to be sure only negative condition of all of our judgments whatsoever is that they do not contradict themselves; otherwise these judgments in themselves (even without regard to the object) are nothing. (Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, A150/B189-B190)

Contradictory propositions produce nothing! There was never any principle of explosion. Illogic is, and this isn’t surprising because possibility is a logical category, impossible. Kant furthers,

Now the proposition that no predicate pertains to a thing that contradicts it is called the principle of [non-]contradiction, and is a general though merely negative criterion of all truth, but on that account it also belongs merely to logic, since it holds of cognitions merely as cogntions in general, without regards to their content, and says that contradiction entirely annihilates and cancels them. … Hence we must also allow the principle of [non-]contradiction to count as the universal and completely sufficient sufficient principle of all analytic cognition; but its authority and usefulness does not extend beyond this, as a sufficient criterion of truth. For that no cognition can be opposed to it without annihilating itself certainly makes this principle into a conditio sine qua non, but not into a determining ground of the truth of our cognition. (Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, A151/B190 … A151–152/B191)

Now, the principle of non-contradiction automatically noninferentially establishes itself through what Fichte calls the I as absolute subject, or the absolute I as we will call it, and its auto-positing of the I and not-I. The very notion of negation (not) needed for the law of non-contradiction to be noninferentially established is contained in the very fact it cannot be excluded, in the very fact that negation cannot be negated, it must be included. One could say that we are supposing logic here in its synthetic form of logical necessity (when I speak of logic in its four forms, see an older paper where I designate logic as logical necessity and inference rules as synthetic logic, logic as the laws of logic as analytic logic, and logic as the science of truth as logic proper [as Frege would have it], but I need not necessarily clarify what I mean when I use logic for it should be contextually evident, but if it is not, and if I do not clarify, assume I am probably using it in the synthetic form [specifically, its particular synthetic form of logic as logical necessity]). For why can negation not be negated (excluded) if only logic in the form of the law of identity has been established? Is consciousness, though, not doing a movement of annihilation here though? It seems it is (Jacobi may have been right that nihil has some grander place in rationalist theories of consciousness [and metaphysics in general]). But, it need not be, as logical necessity has yet to be established right? How would we even inferentially deduce that negation logically needs to be automatically included in the I? Let us see:

P1: If p (negation) is not, then p is

P2: p is not

C1: p is

When it comes to the identity of negation, negation is the violation of identity, which is exactly why Kant (and Land in The Thirst for Annihilation) recognizes that the product of illogic is not an infinity of propositions all correct in virtue of there being no regulating law but rather the product of illogic is nothing. But, focusing back in our current main task, we can see that modus ponens is being employed. Now, modus ponens has been noninferneitally established in that the understanding has allowed for noninferential intuition (intellectual intuition[?]) of the movement of the absolute I positing the I which is a movement represented as → which allows us to formally establish modus ponens noninferentially in that the law of identity — which is, as a rule of inference, “if p, then p” or “if p → p” or “the absolute I posits the I” = “I → I” — has already been established allowing for the → to simply be inserted into the inference rule allowing for “if p → q; p; therefore q.” So, modus ponens is certainly valid, but a few problems are still remain: 1. Where would q come from if there is only p (I)? 2. How is “I→I” valid? If the first I is the absolute I and the second I is just the I? Is there not an illogical movement here? 3. How do we reconcile the issue of I=I’s status in relation to that which is built upon it (is I=I justified, and if it is something beyond being justified, what is it, and what is the status of that which it is if it is beyond being justified?)? 4. How do we deal with the potential move of reductios that could arise due to our division of ex ante justification and post facto explanation? 5. Why is noninferential establishment justified? 6. How do we not fall into circularity when it comes to self-causation? 7. What is the status of Kant’s transcendental idealist metaphysic in relation to us? Let’s answer seven first.

It is Erik and I’s position that the faculty of the understanding is necessary in multiple regards already gone over, but what about the faculty of sensibility? Is it necessary, and if it is not, then how do we get to it? And if we can’t get to it, are we just stuck in this void of logic-in-itself (the self-cognition of the understanding)? And if we are stuck in this void, what are the consequences? Well, let us first understand that the absolute I produces a faculty of reason when logical inference is noninferentially established, so, now we can say reason has a basis, for it is not reason that is grounded by itself, but rather by the pre-rational self-induced interpellation of the subject. Remember, though, when we have this alternating movement between Fichte and Kant, let us note that the self-knowledge premise for Kant is the “I think.” As Kant says in his notes from the first edition of Critique of Pure Reason:

Consciousness and inner sense are different. ‘I think’ is spontaneity and does not dependent on any object. (Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, Cambridge ed., 219)

Either way, can we extricate a faculty of sensibility? We must ask what the I is? When the I is posited by the absolute I, what is it posited as? Itself![1] There, I=I has been solved, but, what about modus ponens, where does → come from? It is the I as absolute subject, but still nonetheless, it is the I! As Fichte says, “I am I; or, if I am posited, then I am posited” (Science of Knowledge 47). In this sense, the I is self-positing, and by this I mean to things: 1. The I is positing itself and 2. The I is the activity of positing itself.[2]

In regards to point six, let us follow Fichte in saying,

But it is not at all necessary that they should actually occur (that is, in time) in that systematic form which the outside observer frames in positing them as dependent on each other; it is not at all necessary, for instance, that the act which comprises all others, and which furnishes the highest universal law should actually occur first in our mind, and be followed by the one next in importance; not necessary at all that they should all occur in a pure and unmixed state, or that many of them might not appear as one. Let us assume, for instance, that the highest act of the Intelligence be this: to posit itself. It is not at all necessary that this act should be in time the first act of our mind which arises to clear consciousness; nor is it even necessary that it should ever occur in consciousness in its purity; that is, that the Intelligence should ever be able to think simply I am, without at the same time, thinking another, which is Not I. (Science of Knowledge 50)

If we follow Kant (and we do, see my response to point seven above) in understanding time as a pure intuition, then there is no issue of causation, for causation is a temporal issue, dealing with a sqeunces of causes and effects, one after another. In other words, if time is not actual, but only perceptual, and, in fact, a means to which the mind categorizes the self in relation to the world, then this issue of the self-causation is non-existent, as “before” (before is troubling because we are obviously dealing with time here) time causality had no purchase on anything. Furthermore, there would be no relational dependency (contra Aquinas), for if causality has no bearing, and it does for there is no reason why an effect cannot come before time if time is not being presently instantiated (if that makes sense, essentially, there are no relationships of dependency in a pre-temporal order because there is no present and thus no present relations, a thing [this thing need not even be spatial, and in fact is not spatial for space too is a pure intuition, it could be a flow, so Nietzshce critique has no bearing on us] can only relate to itself [hence, the thing-in-itself]).

In regards to point five, let us realize what I mean by “noninferential justification or establishment.” Fichte explains, “Again, if the [I] is posited because it is posited, then every thing which is posited in the [I] is posited because it is posited” (Science of Knowledge 48). In this sense, these laws are noninferentially posited by the I in its self-establishment. But, what makes these things “justified”? I am here to argue that because we are talking about the use of inference when we talk about the logocentric predicament, then when the I posits these rules of inference in the positing of itself, it is positing these rules of inference as proper for itself, not for something other than the I.

In regards to point one, let us realize that q = ~p which is to say that in the context we are using, modus ponens, q is simply, first and foremost, not p, but something other than it. In this sense, answering the first question is simultaneously the answering of why we have noninferentially established the law of non-contradiction and how negation is noninfernetially within the system allowing for a plurality of propositions that do not just concern the I in the sense that I can talk about to objects I see (so it still relates to me) rather than my relation of seeing those two objects. What is the I being posited against? The Not-I? If so, how do we apprehend it without inference? [maybe use ur argument for why we have a faculty of sensibility from ur answer to point seven]

[I find that my neo-Fichtean course of thought here may lead nowhere new in the sense that it may lead to a solution and not just in the hands of that which induces reason to sleep. We’ve been led, not to reason’s limits, but rather to a dead end]


[1]: In a certain sense, Fichte’s whole proposition about confirming the first principle upon which philosophy stands upon ([I=I]=[(I→I)=(I→I)]) is that the system itself bares the same identity as the principle. So, Fichte’s understanding of the task of completing philosophy has long been mine: one starts with a principle and ends with it, in other words, “the task of every philosophical system is to display ‘the identity between what we presupposed and what we discovered,’ i.e., to proceed in its derivations until it reaches a point where ‘the very principle from which we began is at the same time our final result.’ The resulign identity between teh starting-point and the conclusion of the system, along, of course, with the internal consistency (or ‘coherence’) of the same, can then be cited as evidence for the correctness of the system in question” (Breazeale, Thinking Through the Wissenshaftslehre 283).

[2]: This is also a defeater for Gentile’s actual idealism in that it is no longer the act of thinking as primary but the act of positing the I.



Evan Jack

How sweet terror is, not a single line, or a ray of morning sunlight fails to contain the sweetness of anguish. - Georges Bataille