New Essays in Fichte's Foundation of the Entire Doctrine of Scientific Knowledge by Daniel Breazeale, Tom Rockmore (Humanity Books) is the first volume in English to focus upon Fichte's most celebrated and influential philosophical text, his "Grundlage der gesamten Wissenschaftslehre" (Foundation of the Entire Doctrine of Scientific Knowledge)--an audaciously original effort to recast the Kantian philosophy into a full-blown system of "transcendental idealism." Rejecting all reference to "things in themselves," Fichte described his work as "the first philosophy of human freedom" and as a faithful expression of the true "spirit" of Kant's critical philosophy. For all its deficiencies, the Grundlage played an absolutely pivotal role in the development of German idealism after Kant.
The thirteen essays in this collection address the themes of imagination, time, representation, reflection, deduction, transcendental methodology, the relationship of Fichte's philosophy to Kant's, and`the influence of the Grundlage upon Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi, Friedrich Schelling, and G.W.F. Hegel. Collectively, these essays will be indispensable to scholars and will`provide students with an ideal introduction to the reading of Fichte's notoriously difficult but deeply rewarding work.
Excerpt from Rockmore’s introduction: Fichte's Gnindlages dergesaniteri Wisseiuchaftslehre (1794) is the first of many versions, some sixteen in all, that he published during his lifetime or that were later found in his Nachlass. It is triply interesting as the first major text in the corpus of a philosopher of the first rank, as the first major text of what as the result of Fichte's intervention in the debate was to become post‑Kantian German idealism, and as a work brimming with insights that even today retains much of its original interest.
There is probably no typical scenario for the emergence of an important philosophical theory. The positions of the major philosophers arose in very different ways: for Plato through the reporting of the discussions led by his teacher, Socrates; for Kant through a series of writings composed over many years as a result of which he discovered the central insights of his mature theory; for Berkeley as early as his first important text when he was still in his early twenties, and so on. We know that Fichte's position arose when, while still a young man, he was mistakenly identified as the author of Immanuel Kant's long‑awaited work on religion, which led to him being awarded a professorship at the University of Jena, at the time the most important German‑speaking university.
Fichte's characteristic doctrines were formulated when he was asked to review of book by a little‑known contemporary skeptic, G. E. Schulze, who wrote under the pseudonym of Aenesidemus, the Greek skeptic of the Second Academy. The ideas stated in this review provided the basis for Fichte's rapid subsequent formulation of his position for contingent reasons. At that time Fichte began to teach, it was usual for philosophers to use manuals in teaching their classes. For this purpose, Kant used texts prepared by others. G. W E Hegel wrote his own. The Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences and the Philosophy of Right are manuals he composed for his students.
Fichte, who needed such a text for his teaching, hurriedly composed his own from week to week in the form of handouts to students in his classes. When he learned he was to replace K. L. Reinhold in Jena, Fichte had never taught. On Johann Kaspar Lavater's invitation, Fichte gave a series of lectures from February 24 to April 26,1794, in Zurich before a select audience of about half a dozen pastors and politicians. The rehearsal of the lectures Fichte planned to give in Jena was in fact the original version of the theory, but not its first published version. The first published version of the new position that he was quickly to expound in the Grundlage der gesamten Wissenschaftslehre literally emerged page by page as Fichte frantically wrote the manual he thought he required at the beginning of his teaching career.
Great philosophical treatises, those very few books whose ideas continue to resonate throughout the later debate, are sometimes written quickly, even very quickly. It is often said that Kant, who spent a dozen years thinking out his critical philosophy, wrote the Critique of Pure Reason much more rapidly, in something approaching six months. We know that the initial version of Fichte's Wissenschaftslehre was composed page by page from June 14 until the end of July or the beginning of August 1795. It was originally printed in Leipzig in two installments in 1794 and in 1795. Since Fichte composed his book in great haste, it is not surprising that he was dissatisfied with the published version. Although he remarks in the preface that the book itself was not intended for the public, he allowed the book to reappear in 1802, in the same year that an improved version was also published.
Fichte was dissatisfied not only by the various editions of the published version of his position but also by his original position. Although he tried to improve its formulation, in an agonizing series of basic revisions he sought also to rework his position in a way that better corresponded to his conception of it.
Other philosophers, dissatisfied with the results of even the most painstaking efforts over many years, have later rewritten their books. Kant revised the Critique of Pure Reason in a second edition. Hegel twice revised the Encyclopedia. Yet in comparison, Fichte stands out for his persistent effort to perfect the basic statement of his position in a way that has no known philosophical precedent. From 1794 when the Wissenschaftslehre first began to emerge from the press until he died in 1814, Fichte steadfastly and somewhat obsessively attempted no less than fifteen more times to find a satisfactory way to express his central insights.
Striving is a central Fichtean concept. To the best of my knowledge, the history of philosophy records no better instance of a philosopher striving to philosophize. Fichte's remark in passing that he needs half a lifetime of leisure to work out the Wissenschaftslehre proved to underestimate the difficulty of the task, which he was never able to complete.
The theory Fichte proposes in the various versions of the Wissenschaftslehre is from the beginning determined by two different elements that forever marked his life and thought: his Kantianism, which led him publically to confuse Kant's position with his own; and his equally public enthusiasm for the French Revolution. His Kantianism is a consistent, but easily misunderstood element in his writings from the Attempt At A Critique of All Revelation (Versuch einer Kritik nller Offenbarung, 1792), his first important text, which brought him to the attention of his philosophical contemporaries, throughout all his later writings.
Although deeply influenced by the critical philosophy, Fichte's position, which is never just a restatement of Kant's, is always very much his own. Fichte's identification with Kant, which he proclaimed loudly and endlessly, was personally useful, since it enabled an entirely unknown, obviously gifted, but penniless young man at a tender age to acquire an important position in the leading German university of the period. But it was also absurd by any standard, marked by characteristic hyperbole, for instance in his celebrated remark that "the majority of men could sooner be brought to believe themselves a piece of lava in the moon that the take themselves for a self," which he uses to justify the claim that he is the only one to have understood Kant. Fichte even goes so far as to assert that Kant's system is based on his own principles.
Fichte's Kantianism, even in its most extreme moments, is never uncritical but always critical. Fichte's own theory, as Kant soon recognized, is very different from Kant's. Indeed, it could hardly be otherwise, since Fichte, despite his claims to orthodoxy, is never, even at the beginning of his career, a mere disciple of Kant, any more than Friedrich Schelling, who early proclaimed his orthodox Fichteanism, was ever only a mere disciple of Fichte. Despite the proliferation of these and similar claims, from the beginning each was always a major philosopher, revolving in his own philosophical orbit.
Although imbued with the spirit of Kant, Fichte and the other postKantian idealists are separated from him by the great French Revolution. The impact of this series of events, still the most important political cataclysm of modern times, continues to reverberate throughout modern society, including modern philosophy. When the Revolution broke out in 1789, Kant, who was sixty‑five years old, had nearly finished his life's work. With the exception of the Critique of Judgment, which appeared in the next year, all his major writings had already been published. Although he was personally interested in the Revolution, Kant found no place for it in his theories. On the contrary, Fichte and then later Hegel were profoundly marked by the French Revolution, which is directly reflected in their philosophical theories.
The Revolution was linked to the Enlightenment whose main figures were typically concerned to restrain religion and to emanicipate reason from faith. It is hence no surprise that, among the great German idealists, only Schelling, who atypically tightens rather than loosens the links between philosophy and religion, was less than enthusiastic about it.
Fichte's interest in the Revolution was deep and deeply linked to his philosophy. The terror refers to the period running from the fall of the Girondins at the end of May 1793 until the fall of Robespierre in July 1794. The difference between the reactions of Fichte and Hegel in this respect are interesting. In 1793, namely during the terror, Fichte, who perceived in the Revolution the advent of political freedom`in Europe, published two texts defending the French Revolution and warning against interference with the growth of freedom of thought.? He remained concerned with the Revolution in later writings. So in the Letters to the German Nation in 1807, he sharply criticized Napoleon, whom he regarded as a counterrevolutionary figure. Ever more moderate, Hegel also thought of the Revolution as marking a historical turning point, and as representing an opportunity for basic changes, although he later thought the moment in which such change was possible belonged to the past. Yet Hegel, who was less enthusiastic about the Revoltuion than Fichte, criticized it sharply in the Phenomenology for failing to achieve its goals.Introduction by Tom Rockmore PART 1. An Overview of Fichte's "Grundlage" 1. Inference, Intuition, and Imagination: On the Methodology and Method of the First Jena "Wissenschaftslehre" by Daniel Breazeale PART 2: Deduction in the "Grundlage" 2. Fichte's Deduction of Representation in the 1794-95 "Grundlage" by Steven Hoeltzel 3. Fichte on Deduction in the Jena "Wissenschaftslehre" by Tom Rockmore PART 3. Special Issues in the "Grundlage" 4. Self-Measure and Self-Moderation in Fichte's "Wissenschaftslehre" by Michael Bauer 5. Reflective Judgment and the Boundaries of Finite Human Knowledge: The Path Toward Fichte's 1794-95 Wissenschaftslehre" by Arnold Farr 6. Imagination and Time in Fichte's "Grundlage" by C. Jeffery Kinlaw 7. Positing and Determining in Fichte's "Foundation of the Entire Wissenschaftslehre" by Gunter Zoller PART 4. Comparative Studies 8. "Satz" and "Urteil" in Kant's Critical Philosophy and Fichte's "Grundlage der gesamten Wissenschaftslehre" by Jere Paul Surber 9. The Paradox of Primary Reflection by Pierre Kerszberg 10. Schelling's "Vom Ich als Princip der Philosophie" as a Reading of Fichte's "Grundlage der gesamten issenschaftslehre" by Michael G. Vater 11. Between Kant and Fichte: Fichte's "Foundations of the Entire Science of Knowledge" by Vladimir Zeman 12. Jacobi's Philosophy of Faith and Fichte's "Wissenschaftslehre" of 1794-95 by Curtis Bowman PART 5. On the Reception of the "Grundlage" 13. The Early Critical Reception of the 1794 "Wissenschaftslehre" by Dale Snow 14. Hegel's Early Reaction to the "Wissenschaftslehre": The Case of the Misplaced Adjective by George Seidel Contributors
New Essays in Fichte's Foundation of the Entire Doctrine of Scientific Knowledge edited by Daniel Breazeale, Tom Rockmore (Humanity Books) This is the first volume in English to focus upon Fichte's most celebrated and influential philosophical text, his "Grundlage der gesamten Wissenschaftslehre" (Foundation of the Entire Doctrine of Scientific Knowledge)--an audaciously original effort to recast the Kantian philosophy into a full-blown system of "transcendental idealism." Rejecting all reference to "things in themselves," Fichte described his work as "the first philosophy of human freedom" and as a faithful expression of the true "spirit" of Kant's critical philosophy. For all its deficiencies, the Grundlage played an absolutely pivotal role in the development of German idealism after Kant.
The thirteen essays in this collection address the themes of imagination, time, representation, reflection, deduction, transcendental methodology, the relationship of Fichte's philosophy to Kant's, and the influence of the Grundlage upon Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi, Friedrich Schelling, and G.W.F. Hegel. Collectively, these essays will be indispensable to scholars and will provide students with an ideal introduction to the reading of Fichte's notoriously difficult but deeply rewarding work.
insert content here