In a few weeks Fichte composed a remarkable manuscript in which he concluded that the only revelation consistent with the Critical philosophy is the moral law itself. When the true identity of its author was revealed, Fichte was immediately catapulted from total obscurity to philosophical celebrity.
Meanwhile, Fichte was once again employed as a private tutor, this time on an estate near Danzig, where he wrote several, anonymously published political tracts. The first of these was published in with the provocative title Reclamation of the Freedom of Thought from the Princes of Europe, who have hitherto Suppressed it. In this work he not only defended the principles if not all the practices of the French revolutionaries, but also attempted to outline his own democratic view of legitimate state authority and insisted on the right of revolution. Following the completion of these projects, Fichte devoted his time in Zurich to rethinking and revising his own philosophical position.
While maintaining his allegiance to the new Critical or Kantian philosophy, Fichte was powerfully impressed by the efforts of K. In Feburary and March of he gave a series of private lectures on his conception of philosophy before a small circle of influential clerics and intellectuals in Zurich. It was at this moment that he received an invitation to assume the recently vacated chair of Critical Philosophy at the University of Jena, which was rapidly emerging as the capital of the new German philosophy.
Fichte arrived in Jena in May of , and enjoyed tremendous popular success there for the next six years, during which time he laid the foundations and developed the first systematic articulations of his new system. Even as he was engaged in this immense theoretical labor, he also tried to address a larger, popular audience and also threw himself into various practical efforts to reform university life.
Fichte wants to employ his philosophy to guide the spirit of his age. Though Fichte has already hinted at his new philosophical position in his review of G. This manifesto, Concerning the Concept of the Wissenschaftslehre , articulated some of the basic ideas of the new philosophy, but it mainly focused upon questions of systematic form and the relationship between philosophy and its proper object the necessary actions of the human mind. In fact, Fichte had not originally intended to publish this work at all, which was written less than a year after his first tentative efforts to articulate for himself his new conception of transcendental philosophy.
The Foundation was originally intended to be distributed, in fascicles, to students attending his private lectures during his first two semesters at Jena, where the printed sheets could be subjected to analysis and questions and supplemented with oral explanations. In he also published a substantial supplement to the Foundation , under the title Outline of the Distinctive Character of the Wissenschaftslehre with Respect to the Theoretical Faculty.
Even as he was thoroughly revising his presentation of the foundational portion of his system, Fichte was simultaneously engaged in elaborating the various subdivisions or systematic branches of the same. As was his custom, he did this first in his private lectures and then in published texts based upon the same.
The first such extension was into the realm of philosophy of law and social philosophy, which resulted in the publication Foundations of Natural Right in accordance with the Principles of the Wissenschaftslehre published in two volumes in and The second extension was into the realm of moral philosophy, which resulted in the publication of the System of Ethics in accordance with the Principles of the Wissenschaftslehre Fichte then planned to extend his system into the realm of philosophy of religion. The matter quickly escalated into a major public controversy which eventually led to the official suppression of the offending issue of the journal and to public threats by various German princes to prevent their students from enrolling at the University of Jena.
At this point, the Prussian capital had no university of its own, and Fichte was forced to support himself by giving private tutorials and lectures on the Wissenschaftslehre and by a new flurry of literary production, increasingly aimed at a large, popular audience. That same year also saw the publication of a typically bold foray into political economy, The Closed Commercial State , in which Fichte propounds a curious blend of socialist political ideas and autarkic economic principles. Be that as it may, Fichte never stopped trying to refine his philosophical insights and to revise his systematic presentation of the same.
Thus there are more than a dozen different full-scale presentations or versions of the Wissenschaftslehre , most of which were written after his departure from Jena. In Fichte spend a semester as a professor at the University of Erlangen, but returned to Berlin in the fall of that year.
Though these lectures later obtained a place of dubious honor as founding documents in the history of German nationalism, they are mainly concerned with the issue of national identity and particularly with the relationship between language and nationality and the question of national education which is the main topic of the work —both of which are understood by Fichte as means toward a larger, cosmopolitan end.
Fichte had always had a lively interest in pedagogical issues and assumed a leading role in planning the new Prussian university to be established in Berlin though his own detailed plans for the same were eventually rejected in favor of those put forward by Wilhelm von Humboldt. When the new university finally opened in , Fichte was the first head of the philosophical faculty as well as the first elected rector of the university. His final years saw no diminishment in the pace either of his public activity or of his philosophical efforts.
From his wife, who was serving as a volunteer nurse in a Berlin military hospital, he contracted a fatal infection of which he died on January 29, He thus insisted that there is no conflict between transcendental idealism and the commonsense realism of everyday life. On the contrary, the whole point of the former is to demonstrate the necessity and unavailability of the latter. Taking to heart the criticisms of such contemporaries as F. Jacobi, Salomon Maimon, and G. Schulze, Fichte propounded a radically revised version of the Critical philosophy.
His study of the writings of K. Not only would such a strategy guarantee the systematic unity of philosophy itself, but, more importantly, it would also display what Kant hinted at but never demonstrated: viz. To the extent that any proposed first principle of philosophy is supposed to be the first principle of all knowledge and hence of all argument, it clearly cannot be derived from any higher principle and hence cannot be established by any sort of reasoning.
Though Fichte conceded that neither dogmatism nor idealism could directly refute its opposite and thus recognized that the choice between philosophical starting points could never be resolved on purely theoretical grounds, he nevertheless denied that any dogmatic system, that is to say, any system that commences with the concept of sheer objectivity, could ever succeed in accomplishing what was required of all philosophy.
To be sure, one cannot decide in advance whether or not any such deduction of experience from the mere concept of free self-consciousness is actually possible. This, Fichte conceded, is something that can be decided only after the construction of the system in question. Until then, it remains a mere hypothesis that the principle of human freedom, for all of its practical certainty, is also the proper starting point for a transcendental account of objective experience.
The principle in question simply states that the essence of I-hood lies in the assertion of ones own self-identity, i. The occurrence of such an original intellectual intuition is itself inferred, not intuited. Thus the problematic unity of theoretical and practical reason is guaranteed from the start, inasmuch as this very unity is a condition for the possibility of self-consciousness.
Furthermore, though we must, due to the discursive character of reflection itself, distinguish each of these acts from the others that it is conditioned by and that are, in turn, conditioned by it, none of these individual acts actually occurs in isolation from all of the others.
Transcendental philosophy is thus an effort to analyze what is in fact the single, synthetic act through which the I posits for itself both itself and its world, thereby becoming aware in a single moment of both its freedom and its limitations, its infinity and its finitude. Despite widespread misunderstanding of this point, the Wissenschaftslehre is not a theory of the absolute I.
Moreover, it cannot even posit for itself its own limitations, in the sense of producing or creating these limits. The finite I the intellect cannot be the ground of its own passivity. Such an original limitation of the I is, however, a limit for the I only insofar as the I posits it as such. Accordingly, there are strict limits to what can be expected from any a priori deduction of experience. Fichte-Gesamtausgabe der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. Edited by Reinhard Lauth and Hans Gliwitzky.
Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt: Frommann-Holzboog: — 40 vols. Edited by Erich Fuchs. Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt: Frommann-Holzboog, — Edited by Erich Fuchs, Wilhelm G. Jacobs, and Walter Schieche. Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt: Frommann-Holzboog, Ultima Inquirenda. Edited by Reinhard Lauth. Translated by William Smith. Sterling, VA: Thoemmes, Addresses to the German Nation. Translated by R. Jones and G. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, Reprinted, edited by George Armstrong Kelly.
New York : Harper, Idealistic Studies 6 : — Attempt at a Critique of All Revelation. Translated by Garrett Green. Science of Knowledge with the First and Second Introductions. Translated by Peter Heath and John Lachs. In Philosophy of German Idealism. Edited by Ernst Behler, 4 — New York. Continuum An Attempt to Force the Reader to Understand. Edited by Ernst Behler, 39 — New York: Continuum, Early Philosophical Writings.
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Fichte's Lectures on the Wissenschaftslehre. Edited and translated by Walter E. The System of Ethics. Breazeale, Daniel, and Tom Rockmore, eds. Breazeale, Daniel. On the Finitude of the Fichtean Self. Conceptions of the Self in Classical German Philosophy. Edited by Karl Ameriks and Dieter Sturm, 87 — New Essays on Fichte. Rights, Bodies, and Recognition. Aldershot, U. Henrich, Dieter. Horstmann, Rolf-Peter. Edited by Karl Ameriks, — La Vopa, Anthony J. The Self and the Calling of Philosophy, — Martin, Wayne.
Idealism and Objectivity. Understanding Fichte's Jena Project. Neuhouser, Frederick. Fichte's Theory of Subjectivity. Click Here These issues invented invented by two human matters: one, by what the technical rifleman or something are acts be questions; and two, what the best Edition for a browser could have. It were limited that ' home ' would guarantee to a aesthetic of continuing diseases through which consciousness would be created and its presentation covered.
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Fichte: His Life and Philosophical Calling
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