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.
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)
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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
Seit vielen Jahren schon behaupte ich gelegentlich vor Freunden, Kollegen und Studenten, daß die frühe Wissenschaftslehre und Sartres Existentialismus, ungeachtet ihrer offensichtlichen Unterschiede, viele Gemeinsamkeiten aufweisen und daß es möglich sei, von der ersteren zur letzteren auf mehr oder weniger direktem Wege zu gelangen: »Direttissima« sozusagen. Die folgenden Bemerkungen stellen nun den Versuch meinerseits dar, die Gründe für diese eher oberflächlichen Behauptung nachzugehen. Mit diesem Ziel im Sinn werde ich so viele Punkte etwaiger Übereinstimmung untersuchen, wie es die Zeit erlaubt. (...) Dies bedeutet, daß es mir unmöglich sein wird, eine vollständige Übersicht aller Vergleichspunkte zu bieten und daß ich jene, die ich herausgreife, nicht mit der Sorgfalt behandeln kann, die sie verdienen. Keinesfalls aber werde ich Indizien unterschlagen, die meine These widerlegen mögen; vielmehr werde ich versuchen, zu einem ausgewogenen Schluß zu kommen, zumindest was die fraglichen Punkte anbelangt. (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)
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)
Each successive tide of Anglo-American interest in German idealism has been accompanied by a wave of translations. The present boom of interest promises a flood of fresh English renderings of the writings of Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel. It is not, however, generally realized how many translations from the writings of these three authors already exist, nor has there been available to the interested student, teacher, scholar, or translator a reliable guide to this field: hence, this bibliography.
Karl Ameriks has recently devoted an entire volume to defending what he calls "orthodox" Kantianism against what he judges to be the "errors" of such post-Kantian idealists as K. L. Reinhold and J. G. Fichte and to exposing what he claims is the frequently unnoticed but always deleterious influence of post-Kantianism upon certain prominent strands of contemporary philosophy. In response, this paper challenges Ameriks' interpretation of Kantianism itself and of the "post-Kantian project", as well as his construal of transcendental idealism. (...) This is followed by some remarks concerning Reinhold's and Fichte's actual "arguments" for transcendental idealism and a rejection of Ameriks' characterizations of the same. Ameriks' interpretation of "the primacy of the practical" within Fichte's philosophy is also analyzed and criticized, as are his unsubstantiated claims concerning the powerful "indirect" influence of the writings of Reinhold and Fichte upon contemporary philosophy. (shrink)
The title of this volume is intended to emphasize that, in comparison with more westerly varieties, there was something particularly "consoling" or "comforting" about the German Enlightenment: e.g., its deep sympathy toward the religious aspirations of mankind and its abiding respect for the authority of "healthy common sense." Ample evidence for this assertion is provided by the contents of this volume, which is a collection of twelve previously published essays, plus a previously published ceremonial address. Of the thirteen selections, five (...) are in English and the rest--including those of most interest to philosophers--are in German. (shrink)
The summer of 1989 was an especially eventful one for Poland, but in the midst of all the political ferment some two dozen scholars from 10 countries —including the Federal Republic of Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Poland, the German Democratic Republic, China, Bulgaria, Italy, Israel, and the USA—spent five days together in a guest house owned by the Polish Academy of Sciences in the tiny village of Mogilany, a half-hour’s drive from Krakow. They were assembled for a conference organized by Prof. (...) Marek Siemek, Director of the Philosophical Institute of the University of Warsaw. Though the conference bore the general title, “Transcendental Philosophy and Dialectic,” almost all of the contributions were specifically concerned with aspects of the philosophy of J. G. Fichte. This was only fitting, since the ostensible occasion for the conference was to celebrate the 70th birthday of the world’s best-known Fichtean, Prof. Reinhard Lauth of the University of Munich. Since the majority of the participants had also participated in the two International Fichte Conferences held in Austria in 1977 and 1987 there was something of an air of a class reunion about the gathering, which made for an especially congenial conference. (shrink)
True to its title, this is a book with a plot. True to its subtitle, it is also a tightly focussed scholarly monograph, one which will undoubtedly serve as an authoritative reference work in its field for many years to come and which deserves to be read by anyone interested in the history of German philosophy “after Kant.” As readers of The Owl of Minerva are well aware, recent decades have witnessed an explosive revival of interest in classical German philosophy. (...) Kant and Hegel studies now constitute full-scale cottage industries, and even long-neglected figures like Fichte and Schelling have recently become objects of new interest. What has remained lacking is any general appreciation or even awareness of the quite specific philosophical milieu out of which the “giants” of post-Kantian philosophy arose. Beyond a familiarity with Kant’s Critiques, contemporary readers, especially English language readers, have remained almost entirely ignorant of the theoretical context within which the great systematic works of Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel first appeared. Nor has this ignorance been unexpected or inexcusable, since it concerns an unusually confused and confusing period in the history of philosophy and since the obscure texts involved have seldom been reprinted and almost never translated. (shrink)