j.g. fichte’s: the vocation of man

November 12, 2013 § Leave a comment

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Presentation notes for: J.G. Fichte’s The Vocation of Man (…including biographical details leading up to the publication of The Vocation of Man in 1800.)

Johann Gottlieb Fichte

May 19, 1762 – January 27, 1814[1]



“The kind of philosophy one chooses thus depends upon the kind of person one is.” –J.G, Fichte[2]

“(Fichtean philosophy is a call to self activity—I cannot thoroughly explain something to someone unless I refer him to himself, unless I bid him to perform the same action that clarified it for me. I can teach someone to philosophize when I teach him to do it as I do it—when he does what I do, he is what I am, is there, where I am.)”—Novalis[3]

“The Fichte of the war of liberation speaks also to us.” –Edmund Husserl[4]


…born in Rammenau, Oberlausitz area of Saxony in 1762 to poor ribbon weavers, Fichte showed an early precociousness enough to have most of his education paid for by a local baron (later on when the rich baron died—i.e. when the funds were cut off—Fichte had to drop out of Jena U.)

…he went to primary school at Pforta (a.k.a.Schulpforta, re: an early monastic education). Incidentally, this is also where the Schlegel brothers, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche also attended (though, of course, not all at the same time). From there, he went on to the Universities of Leipzig and Jena.

…his planned literary career didn’t take off, this forced him into tutoring. A student asked him to tutor on Kant’s new Critical Philosophy, to which he was quickly adept. Fichte said that Kant “occasioned a revolution in my way thinking.”[5]

…it is said that he had an initial meeting with Kant in Köningsberg that didn’t prove fruitful. This inspired him to take to the pen and write his Attempt at a Critique of All Revelation (Versuch eine Kritik aller Offenbarung) (1792). This work set out to suggest that the only revelation in line with the Critical Philosophy was the moral law (a theme that would reappear later). Kant was so impressed that he asked that this work be published by his on publisher. For some unexplained reason (although it’s debatable that this was accidental) Fichte’s name didn’t make it onto the publication. This led many to believe it was Kant’s work (no small compliment). When it was revealed that it was in fact Fichte’s—his philosophical career took off!

…then Fichte publishes: Reclamation of the Freedom of Thought from the Princes of Europe, who Have Hitherto Suppressed it (1793). & Contribution to the Rectification of the Public’s Judgment of the French Revolution (1793/94), it was for these works that Fichte’s reputation was becoming that of a political and philosophical radical.

…when he was in Zurich (for whatever reason), he received news he was invited to fill the recently vacated chair of Critical Philosophy at the University of Jena—a highly coveted position, since Jena was one of the intellectual places-to-be in the German speaking world (next to Weimar and probably Berlin).

…it was during his time at Jena U. when Fichte began work on his philosophical theory known as the Wissenschaftslehre (his “theory of ‘science” or the “Doctrine of Science” or the “Theory of Scientific Knowledge”). This was his word for his philosophy, when we talk of Fichte’s philosophy—we’re talking about his Wissenschaftslehre. Yes, there were books of his with this in the title, but the word is used in reference to his whole philosophy. The Wissenschaftslehre is Fichte’s philosophy. Fichte wanted to, not only reach an academic audience, but also to reach a popular audience. His passion for philosophy was great, although at times undiplomatically polarized. It was a Jena that he began to offer public lectures. Soon he published the Foundations of the Entire Wissenschaftslehre (Grunlage der geamten Wissenschaftslehre, parts I & II in 1794, part III in 1795), this was immediately followed by Outline of the Distinctive Character of the Wissenschaftslehre with Respect to the Theoretical Faculty (Grundiß des Eigenthümlichen der Wissenschaftslehre in Rüchsicht auf das theoretische Vermögen) &c.

…to be sure, there were no less than sixteen (or more) versions (takes and retakes, lectures, publications) of the Wissenschaftslehre due to his desire to clarify his own position and to clear up the public’s misunderstandings. So, it was primarily at his time at Jena U. that he did most of this extensive work on the Wissenschaftslehre. All of this work meant that he was elaborating on the multiple angles, offshoots and side-issues concerning the Wissenschaftslehre including its religious components.

…it was at this time (1798), when he wrote an essay: “On the Basis of Our Belief in a Divine Governance of the World” (Üeber den Grund unsers Glaubens an eine göttliche Welttregierung) and another essay on the same topic, written with a Mr. K.L. Forberg. These provoked an anonymous author to write a pamphlet accusing Fichte of atheism. Recall that Jena U. was quite prestigious, and many royal families had children attending and the thought that having them taught by an atheist wouldn’t do—so they threatened to withdraw their students. During this time F.H. Jacobi accused Fichte of ‘nihilism’ (as Dr. Reid mentioned, Jacobi is credited for coining the term) &c. Fichte was a bit of a hot-head & during the heat of this embroilment, he was arguing on his own behalf via letters and appeals, he wrote to the authorities that if he was, in fact, guilty he should be fired, Duke Karl-August of Wiemar took this brusque over-play as his letter of resignation & Fichte had to step down and leave the university.[6]

…he then moved to Berlin in 1799. Fichte settled in, back to lecturing on his philosophy and writing. Remember that early on Fichte had the impulse to present his philosophy to a wider more popular audience…in 1800 he published The Vocation of Man (Die Bestimmung des Menschen).

The Vocation of Man has to do with issues of determinism, necessity, freedom and the responsibility of morally responsible agents, and by extension, these things are also a few of the primary concerns of his Wissenschaftslehre.[7]

The Vocation of Man

(Die Bestimmung des Menschen)

first published in 1800

Doubt[8]

The Vocation of Man is divided in to three books: Doubt, Knowledge, and Faith. Doubt opens with Fichte asking the seemingly simple question: “But—what am I myself, and what is my vocation?” (1)[9]. As Peter Preuss suggests in his translator’s intro (in our Hackett copy)[10], this chapter (the first book) is dealing with issues of deterministic materialism, which is something that Fichte wanted to move away from.[11]

…In the opening pages we easily see Fichte referring to a kind of ‘hard’ determinism (6). Things seem to be moved by a force. “The expression of each particular natural force is determined […]” (10). Even before we are born, the ways in which we’ll become have been determined, due to various circumstances, even our consciousness seems to be predetermined, given a strict sense of how we understand the events, causes &c. that have led up to who we are. The unification of natural forces is made evident in the human being, this is the “anthropogenic force” (13), which explains how we come to be as individual people &c. as singular expressions of this force (not its entire expression, since we are only a part of the whole force). I am an independent person in that my immediate consciousness does not extend outside of itself (re: subjectivity) (14). Only with respect to my inner-consciousness do I feel free, given the strict laws of this brand of hard determinism (15).

…from here, i.e. from a deterministic universe, we are then able to place our consciousness in nature “[c]onsciousness is here no longer that stranger in nature […]” (15). Being & knowledge have the same common ground: my nature (15). I have consciousness of my self and I have consciousness of things outside myself. These things about me are my nature. “Away then […]” from the Kantian thing-in-itself and instead we can see that this entire world is coming from within (16). This represents Fichte’s subjective turn. At the same time I can think of others as existing in much the same way as I do. Everything must have a reason (principle of sufficient reason).[12] Therefore, my consciousness represents the move from the particular to the general, i.e. from me, to other living beings in general (16). This also extends the movement toward a complete consciousness of everyone combined (perhaps we can see this as an anticipation of G.W.F. Hegel’s spirit/mind/Geist? Let’s not forget that Hegel was influenced by both Kant and Fichte). We are still in the deterministic paradigm of ‘doubt’. Nature is able to see itself through the eyes of man.

…insofar as we stay with this deterministic paradigm, we can then see that “[e]ach individual’s consciousness is thoroughly determined […] (17). Then we notice the will as a way to contend with the contrary forces[13] of the universe. One way to contend with this all prevailing force is through our morality (18), virtues, vices and impropriety all morph from this. Conscience is manifested form our fundamental drive (18). Fichte’s desire to know has now been answered in this deterministic way and there’s a strange feeling of helplessness in this, “[…] I don’t make myself at all but nature but nature makes me and whatever I become […]” (19). Fichte is horrified by the hard determinism scenario, but he is able to show man’s grounding in nature and that his goals are a teleological way out of this endless circle of materialism.

…Fichte expresses the desire for man to find within himself the seat of determination (21). “I want to will with freedom according to a freely conceived purpose […]” (21). Freedom does not come from nature it emerges from within me.[14] Fichte writes “[m]y acts are to result from this will […]” (21). “I make myself: my being through my thinking; my thinking simply through thinking” (22). Fichte concludes the “Doubt” chapter (book one) on the fence between the two positions: hard determination or free-will—obviously doubtful of the former and affirmative of the latter.

Knowledge

…the general theme of the second book, “Knowledge,” has to do with the idea that even though we believe that the world is external to us, we should be able to recognize that this external world is only made available via the knowledge of ourselves. The book is set up a dialogue between a spirit and the I. “Spirit: […] In all perception you only perceive your own condition” (29). The Spirit tries to convince the I (Fichte/us) that such things as sensations, color distinctions (&c.) of the physical world are subjectively known to us by means of the I. Soon the Sprit tries to convince the I that he does not just feel things, but rather that there is always something that stands in for that feeling, it’s not just a feeling devoid of sensation (32-33). Color is compared to a mathematical point. (33-33). “Spirit: It may well be that the extension outside of you derives from the consciousness of your own extension as a material body, and is conditioned by it” (34).[15]

…continuing, we find the Spirit explaining the problem of infinite divisibility[16] And, also issues of space and time that are reminiscent of Kant’s intuitions of space and time brought about via the sensations (37).[17] How do we become aware of things outside of us?—by the determinate cause of the object that is outside of us (38). Then the Spirit urges the I to think of a “[…] consciousness (produced by going beyond your actual [immediate] consciousness by means of the principle of causality) of a consciousness of things (which are supposed to exist and be necessary, but which are inaccessible to you)” (40). Then the Spirit speaks of the first consciousness as immediate and the second as mediate, these two moments are brought together in a synthesis of which can be none other then a dialectical positing.[18] The I posits the not-I and is therefore able to see myself with respect to what is not me (i.e. in relation to objects), but also to see others as being like myself.

…and, most importantly we find the Spirit counseling the I “A mental act of which w become conscious as such is called freedom. “An act without consciousness of acting, pure spontaneity [sic]” (41). Spirit now counsels the I into contemplating the idea of causality as supplied by subjective consciousness. Spirit “the particular knowledge which is here at issue, i.e., that your affections must have a cause, is completely independent of the knowledge of things?” (43).[19] It also seems that at this juncture the I is getting wiser and filling in the Fichtian points along with the Spirit. The I suggests “I have always in thought added a cause, and everyone, if he has to think at all, will similarly feel compelled in thought to add a cause” (45). Spirit “all knowledge is only knowledge of yourself […]” (45).

…then the I and Spirit discursively address the question of how we know about things outside of us. (46-47)[20]. Spirit mentions the famous “I am I” (48).[21] Then explicates how the I knows about things outside of itself. Spirit “so, the identity of subject and object would be your essence as intelligence?” (48). The I struggles, while at the same time presenting some of the answers, the I is aware of the subject (me) and the object as a result of intelligence and consciousness, re: “inner laws of my consciousness itself” (49). Issues of force and space come up…leading to a quick summery of the idea on Fichtian subjectivity by Spirit “this presentation [of things outside of you] is not perception; you only perceive yourself. And just as little is it thought; things don’t appear to you as something merely thought. It really is consciousness of being outside of you, and indeed absolutely immediate consciousness of such being, just as perception is immediate consciousness of your condition” (50). This sort way of describing consciousness is intuition (50).[22]

…continuing on the questions of how a subjective consciousness has knowledge of the outside world, the I questions the Spirit about the fact that when I am conscious of something, I am not always aware of the act of intuiting the object before me, usually, we only have consciousness of the object itself (51-53). Spirit assuages the I by stating “nevertheless intuition necessarily proceeds from the perception of your own condition” (53). There is an “[…] unnoticed thinking of yourself […]” (53). Later, “estimating”, “measuring” and “considering” are considered and differentiated form intuition and named as judgments (more than likely after Kant’s judgments). Spirit lays out the details of this (54-55). I arrives at an epiphany of realization about the […] presentation of the object outside of me […]” (55).

1. I = I, therefore the I is aware itself/myself/yourself as a practical and intelligent being. First there is sensation, and then there is intuition (a relation to space).

2. The I cannot think of the unlimited (think of Kant’s paralogisms[23], re: the unconditioned) and for this reason the I is limited. The I becomes aware of its own finitude.[24]

3. The concept of space is a matter of my own sensation (55-56).[25]

…Fichte continues with issues of force (57). A definition of this force is hard to pin down, but in the passages, it appears to be dialectical, i.e. the I actively posits the not-I and this creates the necessary force of thinking and about thinking of things in space (57). Then the I and the Spirit review the above concepts (57-60). The second book “Knowledge” concludes with the frustrations of the I with all this talk of subjectivity and knowledge—it just doesn’t seem to be sufficient, nor a comprehensive account of the whole picture. Basically knowledge isn’t everything, as Spirit suggests “[w]hat comes to be in and through knowledge is only knowledge”, and “[b]ut you are looking for something real lying beyond the mere image [namely, that semblance of truth which knowledge proffers], (65).


Faith[26], [27], [28]

…now, the Fichte (as the I addressing the Spirit, yet, now as a monologue) continues to feel unsatisfied with just knowledge, and he wishes to know if there is anything else that will give him the answer he seeks from his queries. One conclusion, that was made earlier, is that (as Fichte addresses the I) “[…] you exist for activity, Your activity, and your activity alone determines your worth” (68). From knowledge we have action. But what directs this? The I desires “[…] independent self activity” (68) The I, for Fichte is the subject and object in one (68).[29] Then Fichte moves to the a few confounding passages about connecting to being, whereby we have freedom and action.[30] Fichte references the ‘sovereign’ I that originates concepts, where he seems to be referring to the a priori, probably after Kant’s concepts of pure understang (69).

…yet, this still seems to be unsatisfactory for Fichte’s I (bound in subjectivity). Fichte also questions the idea of self-determination as arising from something other than thought. Then we have faith. “Faith is no knowledge, but a decision of the will to recognize the validity of knowledge” (71). Faith is not an intellectual activity. This quickly turns into “[…] good will […]” and conscience (which, by the way, are moral/practical concerns) (72). “We are all born in Faith” (73). We don’t have to blindly act in accordance to a naturalistic/materialist hard determinism, if we are, in fact: free, as posited by Fichte. Man’s ‘vocation’ is that he can act in accordance to his will, rather than, by nature (73).

I

…Fichte continues with a few Kantian themes. re: “[…] nature is formed by my own laws […]” (75). And […] it expresses nothing other than my own relations to myself [&c.…]” (75). There’s mention of honoring others as you would yourself (re: as deontological, as is your duty, as you ought to do &c.) (77). Fichte fleshes out his Kantian concept of deontological acting (78). All of this “[…] justifies a consciousness of a reality existing outside of us […]” (79). Moral action is fundamental—from nothingness to morality (79).

II

…”Can I will without willing something? Never!” (79). Purposes should not drive ‘the ought.’ Purposes should not drive the will. The active will ‘ought’ to create the purpose. This “[…] commandment […]” can be the grounds for a better world (81). Fichte is not at home with a deterministic world as it is (or as it’s believed to be). In spite of the sundry calamities (earthquakes, volcanoes, disease, &c.) and turmoil that this world throws upon us there’s still the “[…] power of man […]” (83). Man’s freedom to control others can also be his worst enemy (think exploitation, killing, tyranny, war, &c.). Fichte feels that savages need to become cultivated, he means well, but we now know there is a problem with such thinking (85). Fichte seems to predict a time when we will be intolerant of inequality (87). Suddenly Fichte’s talking about idealistic issues of state power, yet most of what he discusses is prescient, re: abolishing slavery, issues of freedom &c. Most of this feels a bit overly-idealistic, but can we fault him for stating the desire for people to act with a common goal toward the good? It is reason that […] prescribes […]” these goals for us (90).

III

…if there is a time when mankind has reached its goal—then what? (91). Fichte is reiterating the problem of a hard deterministic outlook of which our purpose, our vocation, and our freedom, is not a part of. “Reason is not there for the sake of existence, but existence [is there] for the sake of reason” (91). But what’s the purpose of acting rationally? Fichte then names the rational purpose. “It is never a question of how an act is undertaken, with what intentions and motives, but only what this act may be” (93). “But I am free” and “I am meant to be free” (93-94). Therefore the will is the link to the act. In other words, the will has to be directed by the conscience in order to act. Fichte wants us to be at home in this vocation of the will to act, so our goal should be to preserve this and to promote this as our “[…] highest purpose with all our strength […]” (97). And therefore again, we must also have faith in this as our highest purpose.

…Fichte writes “This therefore, is my whole sublime vocation, my true being. I am a member of two orders. One purely spiritual, in which I exist through the bare will; and one sensible in which I act through my deed” (99). And, also, the will is the living form of reason. The will is the seat of moral goodness, and from this I receive power (100).

IV

…Fichte works to differentiate a law (presumably he means natural laws) from the will (104). The will, my will and the will of others is subject to two points of view: “[…] mere volition […]” and “[…] as a fact […]” (105). Mere volition is an ‘inner’ action of the will and the factual part has to do the factual circumstances of my will in the “[…] sensible world […]” and with the effects our actions have on the world. This includes the so-called “[…] supersensible world […]” a.k.a. the spiritual world (105). This spiritual world has a flavor of the inter-subjective,[31] i.e. the individual will is also made manifest in tandem with the will of others, and this too extends to the eternal (106-107). “This will unites me with itself; it unites me with all finite beings like me and is the general mediator between all of us” (107). Conscience is an act of the will directed in the world as a commandment of a deed (108). Fichte continues on the theme of inter-subjectivity.[32] This must be as simple as recognizing that there are others like me, who have a free will and who act with conscience toward me and the rest of the world, thus, this is also how I can conceive of myself as a free agent. “But the true law of reason in itself is the only practical law, the law of the supersensible world, or that sublime will” (110).

…From here we move into a discussion of the way the infinite is an aspect of the finite.[33] (110-111). “Man is not a product of the sensible world, and the final purpose of his existence cannot be attained it. His vocation goes beyond time and space and everything sensible. He must know what he is to make of himself. As his vocation is lofty, so his thought too must be able to rise entirely above the limits of sensibility” (114).

…&c. (114-123).

______________________________________________________________________________

…in closing, essentially Fichte’s The Vocation of Man is a treatise to establish the intrinsic ‘transcendental’ quality of free-will against a deterministic, strictly causalist world, for man and his actions. At the same time this is also an abbreviated version of his Wissenschaftslehre and it is also his ‘continuation’ of Kant’s Critical Philosophy. Much more work is to be done to expand on the differences and similarities between his predecessor Kant, and Fichte’s successors Schelling and Hegel, then to see if there are ways to consider where his influence lies with contemporary, and continental philosophy including ideas on the self and the phenomenology of Husserl and beyond…& so on…& so on…


[1] Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ed. Edward Craig (New York: Routledge, 1998) s.v. Fichte, Johann Gottlieb.

The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ed. Paul Edwards (New York: The Macmiliian Co & the Free Press, 1967) s.v. Fichte, Johann Gottlieb.

(…& most of Fichte’s biographical information was found in these two encyclopedias.)

[2] Fichte, J.G. Introductions to the Wissenschaftslehre and other Writings, 1797-1800, ed. Daniel Breazeale (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Co. 1994) 20.

[3] Novalis, Fichte Studies, ed. Jane Kneller (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003) 169. (…& yes, strangely enough, this is a parenthetical sentence in the text.) Novalis, a.k.a. Georg Philipp Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenberg was a friend of Fichte & wrote these notes in admiration & in critique of Fichte’s ideas. Novalis is better known to us as a Romantic writer & poet, but he was also a philosopher, with leanings to the mystical, re: “magical idealism.”

[4] Husserl, Edmund. “Fichte’s Ideal of Humanity” Husserl Studies. (The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1995), 111-133.

[5] Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, s.v. Fichte.

[6] Fichte, J.G. Introductions to the Wissenschaftslehre and other Writings, 1797-1800, ed. Daniel Breazeale.

[7] …but, to be even more precise, freedom was a primary concern. Fichte writes: “Mine is the first system of freedom. Just as France has freed man from external shackles, so my system frees him from the fetters of things in themselves, which is to say, from those external influences with which all previous systems—including the Kantian—have more or less fettered man. Indeed, the first principle of my system presents man as an independent being” (draft of a letter from Fichte to Jens Baggsesen, April/May 1795). “My system is from beginning to end nothing but an analysis of the concept of freedom, and freedom cannot be contradicted within the system, since no other ingredient is added” (Letter to K.L. Reinhold, January 1800). Fichte, J.G. Introductions to the Wissenschaftslehre and other Writings, 1797-1800, ed. Daniel Breazeale. vii.

[8] …by naming book one “Doubt”, Fichte is ‘doubting’ our freedom/free-will as determined by a conventional (materialistic) understanding of the natural world as strictly and nothing but causal &c., re: think positivist science & so on.

[9] …for these page citations, I’m deliberately avoiding footnotes, for ease of in-class reference, and for the simple reason they would end up as a ridiculously long line of ibid, ibid, ibid, ibid, (or something like that) &c.

[10] Fichte, J.G. The Vocation of Man, trans. Peter Preuss (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Co. 1987).

[11] …a.ka. what Fichte calls dogmatism, as opposed to idealism. Breazeale in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy writes “…since dogmatism, as understood by Fichte, unavoidably implies a strict form of determinism or ‘intelligible fatalism,’ whereas idealism is, from the start, committed to the reality of human freedom, it is also practically impossible to reach any sort of ‘compromise’ between two such radically opposed systems.” This places Fichte as a metaphysical libertarian and a incompatibilist (and even as a a so-called ‘agent causalist’) i.e. he denies that free-will and determinism are compatible and that there is an extra factor—freedom/free-will—in humans that can be differentiated from the causation of natural law.

[12] Husserl sees this teleology as all important “[a]nd the only genuine task of philosophy is to be found here. It consists in grasping the world as the teleological product of the absolute I and, in the elucidation of the creation of the world in the absolute, making evident its ultimate sense. Fichte believes he is able to achieve this and to have achieved this.” “Fichte’s ideal of Humanity” 118. (Italics retained from Husserl’s text.)

[13] …now, I’m suddenly reminded of Arthur Schopenhauer’s use of the will in The World as Will & Representation, whereby the will is conflated with Kant’s thing-in-itself, yet still a primary force and so on. Yes, I can’t get enough!

[14] Husserl writes, with respect to the will as a telos “[t]he subject is thoroughly, and nothing else than, what acts.” “Fichte’s ideal of Humanity” 117.

[15] …if you are sensing Fichtian anticipations of phenomenology, you’re in good company, see Fichte and the Phenomenological Tradition. Daniel Breazeale, Tom Rockmore, and Violetta L. Waibel eds. (Berlin: De Guyter, 2010).

[16] …& who does this sound like?—none other than Immanuel Kant in the second Antinomy (A436 / B464) see footnote b stating that in the first edition Kant wrote: “In the intellectual, if all divisions is brought to an end, the simple remains. In the sensible it can never be brought to an end, in thoughts, if it is cancelled, nothing remains” (E CLXVII, p. 50; 23:40). Critique of Pure reason. Translated and edited by Paul Guyer and Allan W. Wood (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 476.

[17] …see Kant’s “Transcendental Aesthetic, First Part,” (A 20 / B34).

[18] …for years it has been arrogantly said that it was (only) Fichte, and not Hegel, who made use of the actual dialectical triad ‘thesis, antithesis, synthesis’. Although Fichte does make use of it, as it seems to be referenced here, it was also used extensively by Hegel. See: Leonard F. Wheat, Hegel’s Undiscovered Thesis-Antithesis-Synthesis Dialectics: What Only Marx and Tillich Understood (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2012). And, it should be noted here that Fichte is said to have initiated the use of the dialectic as Hegel uses it (instead of how Kant used it). See: “Fichte’s Discovery of the Dialectical Method.” Fichte: Historical Contexts, Contemporary Controversies. Daniel Breazeale and Tom Rockmore eds. (Boston: Brill Publishers, 1994).

[19] Recall Kant’s second analogy “Principle of temporal sequence according to the law of causality” (A189/ B233 – A211/ B256) from the third category “Analogies of Experience” from the “System of all Principles of Pure Understanding” from the Critique of Pure Reason.

[20] In the “Second Introduction to the Wissenschaftslehre” Fichte writes “’to think’ and ‘to determine an object’…these are one in the same act. The two concepts are identical. Logic furnishes us with the rules that govern the act of determining the object; therefore, I should think, logic presupposes, a s a fact on consciousness, this act of determining as such. That every act of thinking has an object is something that can be shown only within intuion.” Fichte, J.G. Introductions to the Wissenschoftslehre, Daniel Beazeale trans. (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 1994), 83.

[21] In the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Breazeale calls this aspect of Fichte’s Wissenschaftslehre “The ‘Foundation’” Breazeale writes “the published presentation of the first principles of the Jena Wissenschaftslehre commences with the proposition, ‘the I posits itself’; more specifically, ‘the I posits itself as an I.’ Since this activity of ‘self-positing’ is taken to be the fundamental feature of I-hood in general, the first principle asserts that ‘the I posits itself as self-positing.’” Breazeale, Dan, “Johann Gottlieb Fichte”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2012 Edition), Edward N. Zalta  ed., http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/johann-fichte/#4.1 .

[22] …apparently, intuition is linked to acting and comprehending, the act of comprehending is also the act conceptualizing. “[…] intuition is a specific kind of acting […].”See “Second Introduction to the Wissenschaftslehre,” Fichte, J.G. Introductions to the Wissenschoftslehre, 44.

[23] …see Kant’s “Second Book of the Transcendental Dialectic, The Paralogisms of Pure Reason,” (A341/ B399 – A405/ B432), Critique of Pure Reason.

[24]In the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Breazeale elaborates on this confrontation of the I with its own finitude, a.k.a. the Anstoß (Anstoss: adjoining, impetus, initiation, trigger, offense, soccer kick-off, etc.) “The Anstoß thus provides the essential occasion or impetus that first sets in motion the entire complex train of activities that finally result in our conscious experience both of ourselves as empirical individuals and of a world of spatio-temporal material objects. Though this doctrine of the Anstoß may seem to play a role in Fichte’s philosophy not unlike that which has sometimes been assigned to the thing in itself in the Kantian system, the fundamental difference is this: the Anstoß is not something foreign to the I. Instead, it denotes the I’s original encounter with its own finitude.” http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/johann-fichte/ Also see David Vessey’s “The Body as Anstoss in Sartre’s Account of Constitution” which goes into the explication of the Anstoß, http://www.bu.edu/wcp/Papers/Cont/ContVess.htm

[25] …see Kant’s “Transcendental Aesthetic, First Section, On Space” (A23/ B38 – A30/ B45), Critique of Pure Reason.

[26] …note that as Dr, Reid reminded us, the German word Glaube straddles the meanings of the English words ‘faith’ and ‘belief.’

[27] …also see Kant’s Critique of Practical Reason, which is in large part what Fichte was inspired by. Recall that Fichte thought of his project as a way to bring together Kant’s theoretical philosophy and Kant’s practical philosophy. The Wissenschaftslehre was not so much a full critique of Kant, rather a refinement—in Fichte’s eyes anyway.

[28] …also recall footnote 11, (again) Fichte is a metaphysical libertarian and a incompatibilist (and even as a so-called agent causalist) i.e. he denies that free-will and determinism are compatible. and that there is an extra factor—freedom/free will—in humans that can be differentiated from the causation of natural law.

[29] ….Fichte writes in the Second Introduction to the Wissenschaftslehre “Self-consciousness is therefore immediate; what is subjective and what is objective are inseparably united within self-consciousness and are absolutely one and the same. … This immediate consciousness is the intuition of the I … at once subjective and objective … The I should not be considered as a mere subject, which is how it has nearly always been considered until now; instead, it should be considered as a subject-object in the sense just indicated. … I am this intuition and nothing more whatsoever …” Introductions to the Wissenschaftslehre, 113-4. Also see Andy Blunden’s “The Subject, Philosophical Foundations. Johann Fichte: The Subject as Activity” at http://home.mira.net/~andy/works/fichte.htm

[30] …Fichte writes in the First Introduction to the Wissenschaftslehre “…idealism explains the determinations of consciousness by refereeing to them to the acting of the intellect, which it considers to be something absolute and active, not something passive, because, according to the postulate of idealism, it is what is primary and highest and is preceded by nothing that could account for its passivity. For some reason, no real being, no substance or continuing existence, pertains to the intellect, for such a being is the result of a process of interaction, and nothing exists or is assumed to be present which the intellect could be posited to interact. Idealism considers the intellect to be a kind of doing and absolutely nothing more.” Introductions to the Wissenschaftslehre, 25-26.

[31] See Allen Wood’s paper on Fichte’s inter-subjectivity: “Fichte’s Intersubjective I” http://www.stanford.edu/~allenw/webpapers/FichteIntersubjective.pdf

[32] Allen Wood writes: “There the transcendental ordering of thoughts begins with the I’s self-positing (or as he also calls it, “self-reverting” activity) and argues that forming a concept of this activity requires distinguishing it from an opposed activity, that of the object or “not-I” (SW 1:492; cf. SW 3:17-28, 4:89-93). …But the I’s awareness of itself as active is also an awareness of its activity as the determinate activity of this I. And it is at this still very fundamental point in the transcendental deduction of the conditions for the possibility of being an I that Fichte regards it as necessary to form the concept of other I’s besides ones own, and to expect to encounter them in experience. For it is only through the experience of a certain kind of object, which is essentially distinguished from all merely material objects, that the self-consciousness of the I as a determinate form of activity can be thought of as possible at all.” “Fichte’s Intersubjective I”

[33] …this point is touched on by G.W.F. Hegel in his Encyclopædia Logic, in §95 from the chapter on “Quality” Hegel writes “But the truth of the finite is rather its ideality. In the same way the infinite of the understanding, which is put beside the finite, is itself also only one of the two finites, something-untrue, something-ideal. This ideality of the finite is the most important proposition of philosophy, and for that reason every genuine philosophy is Idealism. Everything depends on not mistaking for the infinite that which is at once reduced in its determination to what is particular and finite.” In other words the finite is not an opposition to the infinite, instead the infinite contains the finite, i.e. the finite is ‘sublated’ into the infinite. Of course it is not clear is Hegel was influenced by Fichte on this point, but Fichte does seem to be alluding to this in these passages

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