fd11_fichte and german idealism

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Felsefi Düşün Issue:11 – Fichte and German Idealism / October 2018

Isssue Editor: Türker ARMANER (Galatasaray Üniversitesi)

Please click on the name of any article for abstract and keywords



Fichte’s Critique of Spinoza in The Context of The Theory of Consciousness


This review seeks to approach/address the relation of Johann Gottlieb Fichte, the first great thinker of the German philosophy after Immanuel Kant’s philosophical “revolution”, with Benedictus de Spinoza. The study begins with the influence of the Spinoza’s and Kant’s on the Fichte’s philosophy and its period. Later on, in order to show Kant’s effect upon the thought of Fichte, focuses on the founding ground of Kant’s transendental system, and in particular on how cognition/knowledge (Erkenntnis) and I (Ich) was established in Kant’s philosophy. Thus, Fichte has conveyed the basic remnants of Kant’s heritage as a great opportunity and an obstacle to be overcome. What is this heritage? A practical problem such as how a philosophical attitude can be put on the basis of the concepts of I, consciousness and freedom, and the theoretical difficulties that are manifested in the philosophical aspect of what is the thing in itself (Ding an sich) can be seen as the heritage inherited by Fichte. With the analysis of the concept of I, he refuses to return to Spinoza and enter the way of completing the Kant’s system. Therefore, after this phase the review goes on to describe the establishment of I in Fichte. Then and finally, how Fichte criticized Spinoza in terms of how he was criticized and how critics were evaluated by commentators.

Keywords: Benedictus de Spinoza, Immanuel Kant, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, I (Ich), consciousness, substance, determinism, freedom.


The Problem of ‘The Beginning’ in Fichte and Hegel


Johann Gottlieb Fichte and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel share the conviction that in order to be able to clarify the problem concerning the way in which consciousness represents external objects, it is primarily necessary to answer the question of what kind of a principle of the beginning will be the point of departure. Inasmuch as both thinkers share the opinion that the activity of the consciousness should be explained within the framework of a system, which displays a scientific character being an expression of a conceptual unity, this principle of the beginning would play a determinate role with regard to the foundation of the system in question. The differentiation in their positions corresponds to the role of the principle of the beginning in determining this foundation. In this article, the reason of this differentiation will be compared in terms of the methods they apply in their works, namely Fichte’s Science of Knowing and Hegel’s Phenomenology of Mind and The Science of Logic, within the scope of the concepts of the beginning, foundation and origin which are problematized in common by both thinkers. Following the role played by the distinction between ‘the ordinary consciousness’ and ‘the philosophical consciousness’ that we encounter again in both thinkers as a main axis through the search for an immediate principle which is intended to be rendered as the foundation of consciousness, what kind of a solution does Hegel present will be open into discussion through the criticism he raises against Fichte.

Keywords: Fichte, Hegel, consciousness, self-consciousness, method, beginning, foundation, mediation, origin.


From Fichte’s Monadology to Schelling’s Substance Finitude and History


The transcendental idealism of Immanuel Kant presented as much new problems as its solutions to old problems. Two of the most important philosophers who tried to systematize Kant’s philosophy on its own foundations, namely Johann Gottlieb Fichte and young Friedrich Schelling, aimed to do it by bringing Kant’s distinctions to unity with their systems built on the absolute I. Their systems can also be read as a confrontation between the systems of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz and Baruch Spinoza. On the one hand, we have Leibniz who defends the idea of infinitely many individual substances, and on the other, we have Spinoza for whom there is only one substance which must be called Nature or God. Through the perspective of the movement of Fichte’s and Schelling’s thoughts, the main ideas behind their different systems do not seem as far from each other as one might think at the first instance. Regarding the content, Schelling who tries to go beyond the subject and to ground the unity and separation of subject-object on the concept of the absolute resorts to Spinoza. However, the perspective of the postkantian thought regarding Spinoza will read it differently from the previous century and pave the way to the idea of human historicity.

Keywords: Kant, Fichte, Schelling, Leibniz, Spinoza, monadology, finitude, historicity.


What Did Fichte Mean, What Did Schelling Understand? Seeing The Nature Versus Seeing Through The Nature


Although Kantian Copernican Revolution makes the subject the determinant center of philosophical examination, the transcendental subject, which is the necessary condition for the systematic unity of reason, remained incapable to constitute this unity because of the ambiguity in its definition, i.e. Kantian system with all the dualities that are brought with the gap between theoretical and practical reason like universal and individual, concept and intuition, thought and being, subject and object, ego and nonego and human and nature could not be completed. Since making a claim of being a philosophical system cannot be separated from the success of overcoming the supposed dualities, post-Kantian German Idealists undertook the task to sublate all these dualities, Fichte and Schelling, in particular, argue that this task can be fulfilled by finding the first principle from which all laws can be derived. In this paper, we examine why and on which point these two philosophers dissent with each other. Since this controversy depends on the question of what should be understood by self and not-self and how can their relation be established, this conflict between them also reveals the difference between their conceptions of nature. Hence, while for Fichte, who defends the constituent priority of practical reason and spontaneity of subject, nature is just an instrument for human being, for Schelling, who focuses on the idea of purposive nature, which cannot be demonstrated discursively in Kantian system, human being is a part of holistic nature.  Herewith, we can say that the difference between the conceptions of nature of two philosophical systems one of which favours thought over being, and concept over intuition as its starting point and the other of which asserts that being precedes thought, and intuition precedes concept exhibits a sort of intellectual map through which one can conceive of today’s ecological concerns.

Keywords: Fichte, Schelling, Philosophy of Nature, Organic Unity, Thinking Activity, Being, Intuition, Concept.


A Moment in German Idealism: Political Dimension of Early Romanticism


In this article we will try to put forward the general framework of political thinking of Early Romanticism based on Novalis and Friedrich Schlegel’s views, which are the two important names of the German Early Romanticism which is influenced by German Idealism but cannot be included in German idealism. For this, firstly we will examine the basic point of origin of the philosophical romanticism and to show the basic principles of it. After that, we will attempt to define what the political romanticism is and what the basic arguments of it are.
In the article, romanticism will be considered as a critical approach to modernity in modernity. In this respect, it is seen that the German Romantics have adopted the basic approaches of modernity and in this respect, the French Revolution, which is the political product of modernity, was welcomed with enthusiasm by german Romantic thinkers.  However, their ambivalence towards modernity is also seen in their approaches to the French revolution and  they are seen to have a critical attitude towards the revolution.Within this scope, the political attitudes of Novalis and Schlegel, their approaches and criticisms of the French Revolution, the attitudes towards modernity will be examined and the extent to which they overlap with political romanticism will be studied. The political views of Novalis and Schlegel will be discussed and  in which points their views are overlap with politcal romanticism. Finally, it will be claimed that the ideas about society and politics put forward by German Romanticism is a preliminary introduction to German nationalism.

Keywords: Early German Romanticism, French Revolution, critique of modernity, poitical romaticism, conservative romanticism.


The Principle of Logical Opposition and Counter-Positing (Entgegensetzen) in Fichte


This article examines how Johann Gottlieb Fichte explains the principles of counter-positing and logical opposition in The Science of Knowledge of 1794/95. For a better understanding of Fichte’s explanations, I will expound briefly Immanuel Kant’s distinction between real opposition and logical opposition against Wolffian metaphysics, which regards the principle of non-contradiction as the highest principle of philosophy. After that, I will show the relation of Karl Leonhard Reinhold’s principle of consciousness, which is presented in order to establish philosophy on a single primary principle, to the principle of non-contradiction. Even though Fichte thinks that logic, as a separate science, is based on philosophy, which he regarded as a Science of Knowledge, he used logic to explain the principles of The Science of Knowledge. According to Fichte, the principle of logical identity, which is the first principle of logic, derives from the principle of ‘I am’, the absolute first principle of The Science of Knowledge. Like Kant, Fichte called the principle of non-contradiction as the principle of logical opposition. The logical principle of opposition, which is the second principle of logic and formulated as ‘Not-A not=A’, is derived from the principle of ‘Not-I is counter-posited to I absolutely’. This principle is formally absolute but materially conditioned with an act of counter-positing.  With the help of his approach to the notion of negation, Fichte has been able to elucidate the principle of non-contradiction in more detail than his predecessors and changed the direction of the debate to be the first principle of philosophy about this principle.

Keywords: Fichte, logical opposition, the principle of non-contradiction, logic, counter-positing, negation.


New-Kantianism in Russian Philosophy


It is a fact that New-Kantianism in Russian philosophy must be discussed in many ways. The factors that prepared the emergence of New Kantianism in Russia, like in all other places, were also western political and social life of the 19th and 20th centuries. In this article, we will examine unique critical philosophical considerations of philosophers like Aleksander İvanovich Vvedenskiy, İvan İvanovich Lapshin, Georgi Ivanovich Chelpanov, Georgi Davidovich Gurvitch, Hessen Sergey İosifovich, Boris Valentinovich Yakovenko, Fedor Avgustovich Stepun, Lappo Danilevski, Bogdan Aleksandrovich Kistyakovskiy, Boris Mihailovich Hvastov and so on who were pioneers of the emergence of New Kantianism in Russia. In this context, we aim to reveal the analytical approaches of these thinkers on the basis of systematic pursuits on sociocultural problems. Because these analytical approaches have brought many contributions to Russian society. In particular, the personal aspects of life can be seen as a success in the practice of generalizing social consciousness in cases when the problem is that everything has an individual character in social life. In fact, the peculiar synthetic solutions that the Russian New-Kantian philosophers brought to Kant’s criticism were the determinant of Russian philosophy, in relation to the Russian philosophy of religion, in determining its new tasks.

Keywords: Russian New-Kantianism, causality, transcendental idealism, criticism, Kant.


Fichte and Critical Philosophy


This paper deals with the development of Johann Gottlieb Fichte’s reception of critical philosophy through his works realized between 1790-1799.  It aims to discuss first Fichtian reconsideration of religious belief on the basis of moral of duty, secondly the attempt to found transcendental investigation in search of an answer to the question ‘Quid juris?’ on a philosophy of mind accomplished in a genetic approach with a focus on the problem of subjectivity. In the third and final step, it argues that the differences and conflictual relations between philosophical investigations take root in freedom. In accordance with the goals of the paper that considers as its main references Immanuel Hermann Fichte’s “Fichte’s Leben”, Xavier Léon’s “Fichte et son temps” and Fichte’s correspondance, we analysed in the first section “Aphorismen ueber Deismus und Religion”, manuscripts on moral issues and “Versuch einer Kritik aller Offenbarung”, in the second section two introductions to Wissenschaftslehre from 1797, in the third section Kant’s public announcement about Fichtian philosophy in 1799 and correspondence between Schelling and Fichte about this public announcement.

Keywords: Critique, transcendental idealism, dogmatism, moral, belief.


With and Against Kant: Fichte’s Philosophy of Imagination


Johann Gottlieb Fichte is one of the prominent philosophers of German idealism. He was deeply influenced by the works of Immanuel Kant and declared his own philosophy as a Kantian philosophy. However, Fichte did not embrace Kant’s works as they are, and he approached them as philosophical inspirations, since he claimed that there are crucial problems in Kant’s transcendental philosophy to which he aimed to provide solutions by offering a consistent philosophical system. Fichte’s criticisms against Kant can be summarized under two main problems, which are the thing-in-itself and human freedom. Firstly, by leaving the door open to the thing-in-itself, Fichte claimed that it is possible to interpret Kant’s philosophy as a kind of dogmatism, which ought to be eliminated by transcendental philosophy; and secondly, he suggested that Kant’s practical philosophy, although it gives freedom an indispensable place, leaves no room for real human freedom which is a result of the distinction between epistemological and moral subject. The aim of this work is to suggest that Fichte solves these problems by giving a central position to the power of imagination in his philosophy in which he posited a system where theoretical and practical philosophies are interdependent as a result of the functions of the imagination.

Keywords: Kant, Fichte, imagination, thing-in-itself, freedom, morality, ethics.

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