The debate about the «thing in itself» in the Aetas Kantiana and its significance for the genesis of J.G. Fichte’s The Science of Knowledge. Although it is often seen as obsolete, the post-Kantian debate about the thing in itself has great theoretical and historical relevance, since it shows the continuity of the process leading to Fichte’s reinterpretation of critical philosophy as «science of knowledge». After highlighting Kant’s hesitation between a realistic-transcendent meaning of the concept (it plays no role in his «refutation of idealism») and a truly transcendental one, with regard to the a priori distinction between sensibility and understanding, the Author shows first how the former led most contemporaries to conceive of the Critique of Pure Reason as subjectivism and then the ways in which the latter was restored by Beck, Maimon and Fichte. The widespread thesis of an "elimination" of the thing in itself had accordingly to be revised: while refusing to assign to the dogmatic idea of an "absolute object" any relevance within the critical system, Maimon and Fichte maintain the thing in itself, properly understood, as a fundamental component of finite reason.
Keywords: Thing in itself, transcendental philosophy, Critique of Pure Reason, post-Kantian German philosophy, Fichte, The Science of Knowledge