Page 61 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 9 (1950-1951)

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list of the new philosophical terms invented by Maimon (to which,
by the way, more can be added) is to be found in Hugo Bergmann’s
book on Maimon
p. 168.
The development of Maimon’s philosophy falls into the transi-
tional period from Kant to the rise of German idealism as mani-
fested in the metaphysical systems of the Philosophy of Identity
by Fichte, Schelling and Hegel. Fichte developed his metaphysical
system on the basis of Maimon’s criticism of Kant. Certain in-
consistencies and contradictions in Kant’s
had been
pointed out earlier by Maimon’s older contemporaries Jacobi
and Schulze. Maimon, however, was not satisfied with merely
negative criticism of Kant, but drew certain positive conclusions
which he believed necessarily followed from his criticism. Mai-
mon’s conception of the idea of an infinite mind of which our
mind is a part, and his attempt to overcome the dualism of a
pure subject and the “given” object, in combination with other
doctrines of Maimon, laid the ground for the metaphysical system
of Fichte with his pure ego projecting the non-ego. Fichte recog-
nized his indebtedness to Maimon and held his contribution to
philosophical thought in very high esteem. In a letter to Reinhold,
at that time Kant’s foremost expositor, Fichte writes: “For the
abilities of Maimon I have boundless respect. I am firmly con-
vinced, and am ready to prove, that even the Kantian philosophy
in its totality as it is generally understood, and also interpreted
by you, has been shaken to its very foundations by him.” In
another context Fichte writes of Maimon as one of the greatest
thinkers of our time.
Maimon prophesied the fate and destiny of his own philosophy
in the following words: “A writer who has good
is read. One
who has
expository power
is studied. One who has neither the
one nor the other, supposing him, however, to be in possession
of weighty and new truths, is used. His
, though not his
, is imperishable.” (Cf. S. H. Hodgson,
Philosophy of Reflec-
, London, 1878, p. 17.). Hodgson, a noted English philosopher,
commenting on this quotation, says: “Thy
too, Maimon,
if any words of mine could celebrate it. But he who now writes
has a pen as little potent as thine own.”
As a matter of fact, Maimon was almost forgotten after his
death. Histories of philosophy written in the first half of the
19th century did not even mention his name. The first historian
o f philosophy who gave a very competent presentation of Mai-
mon’s thought was Johann Eduard Erdmann in his
Versuch einer
Wissensehaftlichen Darstellung der Geschichte der neuern Philosophies
Leipzig, 1848. Erdmann deserves the credit for the resurrection