Daniel Breazeale presents a critical study of the early philosophy of J. G. Fichte, and the version of the Wissenschaftslehre that Fichte developed between 1794 and 1799. He examines what Fichte was trying to accomplish and how he proposed to do so, and explores the difficulties implicit in his project and his strategies for overcoming them.
IN 1792 there appeared anonymously a book entitled, Aenesidemus, or Concerning the Foundations of the Elementary Philosophy Propounded in Jena by Professor Reinhold, including a Defense of Skepticism against the Pretensions of the Critique of Reason. This curious work, which takes the form of series of letter exchanged between an enthusiastic champion of the new transcendental philosophy and a skeptical critic of this same philosophy, created something of a sensation, appearing as it did at the height of the first wave (...) of general enthusiasm for the Critical Philosophy. Though by no means the first published attack on Kantianism, Aenesidemus was distinguished from most of the other early criticisms by the detailed character of its scrutiny as well as by its willingness to examine the Critical Philosophy not only in its original form, but also in the more "advanced" version represented by K. L. Reinhold’s Elementary Philosophy. Aenesidemus claimed to be nothing less than a demonstration of the untenability of the new philosophy, specifically, of its failure to refute what the anonymous author called "Humean skepticism.". (shrink)
Salomon Maimon argued forcefully for the indispensability of what he called “the method of fictions” in mathematics and physics, but also in philosophy. This last claim provoked critical responses from G. E. Brastberger, G. E. Schultze, and K. L. Reinhold. This paper offers a brief exposition of Maimon's “method of fictions” and an analysis of his response to critics of his claims concerning the employment of this method within philosophy.
IN 1787, six years after the publication of the Critique of Pure Reason, one year before the publication of the Critique of Practical Reason, and three years prior to the appearance of the Critique of Judgment, Duke Karl August of Sax-Weimar was persuaded to establish at the University of Jena the world's first university chair designated for the promulgation and explication of the new Critical Philosophy associated with Immanuel Kant. The first occupant of this chair was Karl Leonhard Reinhold, an (...) Austrian ex-monk, whose main qualification for the new position was his fame as the author of a series of well-received magazine articles promoting the new philosophy. At Jena, however, Reinhold's own "Kantianism" underwent an interesting metamorphosis; in the books and lectures that he wrote during his seven year tenure there he profoundly revised the Kantian system and produced a new version of it which he called "Elementary Philosophy." It is altogether appropriate that when Reinhold finally left Jena his successor should have been an even more innovative follower of Kant and admirer of Reinhold's Elementary Philosophy, J. G. Fichte. Fichte arrived in 1794 and immediately began constructing and laying before the public what is perhaps the most imaginative and remarkable of all the great post-Kantian speculative systems: his Wissenschaftslehre, or "Theory of Scientific Knowledge." Concurrent with the widespread revival of interest in German Idealism generally, interest in Fichte's Wissenschaftslehre has increased remarkably in recent years. Often viewed as the first step "from Kant to Hegel," Fichte's system was in fact not the first attempt to convert Kant's philosophy into a more consistent and thoroughgoingly speculative system. The honor--or onus--of making the "first step" in this direction belongs to Reinhold, and the aim of this essay is to indicate why this is so by surveying the Elementary Philosophy and examining those of its features which most influenced other philosophers, most notably Fichte. Though it may be claiming too much to say that one cannot properly understand Fichte's early presentations of his system without some acquaintance with Reinhold's Elementary Philosophy, it is certainly true that a familiarity with the latter is a tremendous aid to anyone trying to penetrate the former. Though the chief purpose of this survey is to emphasize Reinhold's contributions to the development of German Idealism, an ulterior aim is to introduce contemporary readers, especially English-language readers, to Reinhold's Elementary Philosophy and to suggest reasons why this neglected and all but forgotten system might still merit serious study. (shrink)
Though the seminal importance of Karl Leonhard Reinhold for the development of German philosophy in the immediate aftermath of the Kantian revolution has never been in question, his actual writings have generally remained out of print and unread. Recently, however, this situation has begun to change dramatically, first, with the publication of new Felix Meiner “Philosphische Bibliothek” editions of the first and second volumes of Beiträge zur Berichtigung bisheriger Mißverständnisse der Philosophen (1790/1794), expertly edited by Faustino Fabianelli, and then with (...) the first installment of a new multi-volume edition of Versuch einer neuen Theorie des menschlichen Vorstellungsvermögens (1789),edited and with a .. (shrink)
Daniel Breazeale - All or Nothing: Systematicity, Transcendental Arguments, and Skepticism in German Idealism - Journal of the History of Philosophy 45:4 Journal of the History of Philosophy 45.4 665-667 Muse Search Journals This Journal Contents Reviewed by Daniel Breazeale University of Kentucky Paul W. Franks. All or Nothing: Systematicity, Transcendental Arguments, and Skepticism in German Idealism. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005. Pp. viii + 440. Cloth, $49.95. Paul Franks' All or Nothing is in no sense an introduction to (...) or history of German idealism, but an immensely sophisticated philosophical engagement with a specific complex of problems that occupied Reinhold, Fichte, Schelling, Hegel, and others—problems they believed themselves to have inherited from Kant's transcendental philosophy, as well as from its criticism by Jacobi, Maimon, Schulze, and others. According to Franks, these thinkers were involved in a common systematic project of "ultimate" or "absolute" grounding, while adopting various strategies to avoid "the Agrippan Trilemma," according to which any effort to justify an ultimate first principle must involve either the purely arbitrary assertion or stipulation of the principle in question, an infinite regress of explanatory principles, or a viciously circular justification of the principle in.. (shrink)
If it is true, as Prof. Seidel contends, that “Fichte is a philosophical genius of the first water”, so too is it true that he remains for contemporary readers one of the more inaccessible philosophical authors and that even his most important and celebrated work, the Grundlage der gesamten Wissenschaftslehre of 1794, “cries out for a commentary”. No one who has struggled to come to terms with this fabulously abstract and frequently impenetrable text is likely to disagree with this judgment, (...) and hence the appearance of an English language commentary on it is certainly a cause for celebration. (shrink)
This volume is a collection of previously unpublished papers dealing with the neglected "phenomenological" dimension of the philosophy of Johann Gottlieb Fichte, which it compares and contrasts to the phenomenology of his contemporary Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and to that of Edmund Husserl and his 20th century followers. Issues discussed include: phenomenological method, self-consciousness, intersubjectivity, temporality, intentionality, mind and body, and the drives. In addition to Fichte, authors discussed include: Hegel, Brentano, Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, Levinas, and Ricur.
In his recent All or Nothing: Systematicity, Transcendental Arguments, and Skepticism in German Idealism, Paul Franks defends Maimonian skepticism and explicitly criticizes Fichte’s response to the same. I argue that Franks’ interpretation of Fichte’s response to skepticism is fundamentally flawed in that it ignores or misinterprets the critically important practical/moral dimension of Fichte’s response. I also challenge Franks’ interpretation of the Jena Wissenschaftslehre as a »derivation holistic monism« and argue for a more modest interpretation of the same and one more (...) in keeping with Fichte’s appreciation of the force of philosophical skepticism and the limits of transcendental philosophizing. (shrink)
Daniel Breazeale - Fichte: The Self and the Calling of Philosophy, 1762-1799 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 40:2 Journal of the History of Philosophy 40.2 268-270 Book Review Fichte: The Self and the Calling of Philosophy, 1762-1799 Anthony J. La Vopa. Fichte: The Self and the Calling of Philosophy, 1762-1799. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001. Pp. xiv + 449. Cloth, $54.95. Few philosophers have led more dramatic lives than J. G. Fichte, whose serendipitous ascent from rural poverty to (...) academic celebrity was only the beginning of a career filled with conflict and punctuated by moments of public triumph and failure. Though Fichte's philosophical writings are among the most abstract and difficult in the history of modern philosophy, it is nevertheless possible to observe certain parallels between his technical "philosophy of striving" and his personal striving to establish himself financially and professionally, to win an audience for... (shrink)
Fichte’s Ethical Thought follows a format familiar to those who have read Allen Wood’s books on the ethical thought of Immanuel Kant and G. W. F. Hegel: Wood integrates Johann Gottlieb Fichte’s work into topical chapters, each discussing an important component of Fichte’s ethical system. The text he focuses on, of course, is Fichte’s 1798 System of Ethics, but Fichte scholars will likely be pleased to find that Wood discusses a wide range of Fichte’s Jena-era writings. Wood makes use of (...) Addresses to the German Nation, The Closed Commercial State, and earlier works such as Some Lectures Concerning the Scholar’s Vocation, especially in the final two chapters, which cover Fichte’s thought on public life, the... (shrink)
As the author explains, the title of this work is intended to distinguish it from ordinary, Whiggish accounts of the development of German philosophy “from Kant to Hegel.” Instead, Heinrich treats the positions of Kant, Fichte, and Hegel as potentially viable alternatives, none of which must be viewed as aufgehoben by those that followed, and all of which deserve reconsideration by contemporary philosophers.Dieter Henrich is known for two things: first, for championing a minutely-detailed, revisionist approach to the history of post-Kantian (...) philosophy; and second, for his insistence that the central problem of German idealism is that of self-consciousness. Both elements are well represented in this book, which is a revised version of a series of lectures delivered at Harvard in 1973. The text thus antedates many of the more recent discoveries and claims of Henrich and his student collaborators in the “Jena project,” though some of the results are alluded to in the useful footnotes and apparatus provided by David S. Pacini, who attended the original lectures and has expert knowledge of Henrich’s more recent work. (shrink)
First in the Phenomenology and then in the Elements of the Philosophy of Right, Hegel rejects Fichte’s notion of conscience on the grounds that it leads to despair. He also criticizes Fichtean conscience as purely “formal” and “abstract” and compatible with any content, which it can obtain only arbitrarily from the manifold of one’s natural drives and inclinations. For Hegel, there is an unresolvable tension between the claimed “universality” of a conscientious deed and the natural particularity of every moral agent, (...) which ultimately leads to ethical egoism and hypocrisy. The aim of this paper is to show, first, that Hegel misrepresents key aspects of Fichte’s position and, second, that Fichte possesses the resources to respond successfully to most of Hegel’s criticisms. In order to grasp this one must closely examine Fichte’s subtle and often misunderstand account of moral deliberation and conscientious decision-making and the relation of the same to his larger account of I-hood. (shrink)
The selected proceedings of a meeting on the German idealist philosopher (1762-1814), held at Duquesne U., Pittsburgh, in February 1992. Among the topics in 13 papers: Fichte's dialectical imagination; Fichte and the typology of mysticism; Leibniz and Fichte; and Fichte and the relationship between right and morality. Includes an excellent 29-page bibliography. Annotation copyright by Book News, Inc., Portland, OR.
Fichte's System of Ethics, published in 1798, is at once the most accessible presentation of its author's comprehensive philosophical project, The Science of Knowledge or Wissenschaftslehre, and the most important work in moral philosophy written between Kant and Hegel. Fichte's ethics integrates the discussion of our moral duties into the systematic framework of a transcendental theory of the human subject. Its major philosophical themes include the practical nature of self-consciousness, the relation between reason and volition, the essential role of the (...) drives in human willing, the possibility of changing the natural world, the reality of one's own body, the reality of other human beings, and the practical necessity of social relations between human beings. This volume offers a translation of the work together with an introduction that sets it in its philosophical and historical contexts. (shrink)
Kant, Fichte, and the Legacy of Transcendental Idealism contains ten new essays by leading and rising scholars from the United States, Europe, and Asia who explore the historical development and conceptual contours of Kantian and post-Kantian philosophy.
The philosophical thought of J. G. Fichte, particularly his later work, is at the very center of the paradigm shift under way in the field of German idealism. Crucial to this reassessment is Fichte's _Wissenschaftslehre nova methodo_ of 1796 to 1799, the manuscript at the heart of this essay colleciton and an articulation of the philosopher's _Wissenschaftslehre,_ or overall system of philosophy, which he discussed in lectures at the University of Jena. Coherent, comprehensive, and edited by two of the foremost (...) Fichte scholars in the world, the essays provide a much needed introduction to the major themes of the most important period of Fichte's philosophical thought--and thus to German idealism itself--and make a persuasive case for the originality and continuing significance of the later Jena _Wissenschaftslehre._. (shrink)