Fichte’s introduction to the Sittenlehre rather strikingly says nothing about Sitten or Sittlichkeit, nothing about Moral, virtually nothing about die Ethik. Aside from one very pregnant promissory note with no immediate bearing on ethical matters, it says nothing about the specific tasks and strategy of the book it introduces. What it provides instead is a concise statement of Fichte’s fundamental philosophical commitments and a powerful illustration of his distinctive combination of transcendental and phenomenological approaches in philosophy in general and to the problems of action in particular. In approaching Fichte’s text we will do well to focus on three points: the systematic place of the text in Fichte’s corpus and in his system; Fichte’s sketch of the phenomenology and transcendental conditions of agency; and the problem of understanding the distinctive normativity of Fichte’s transcendental/phenomenological laws.
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