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Fichte, Johann Gottlieb (1762–1814)

Subject Philosophy

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405106795.2004.x


German idealist philosopher, born in Rammenku, Saxony, taught at Jena (where he was dismissed in 1799 because of his unorthodox views on freedom and religion), Erlangen, and Berlin. Influenced by Kant, Fichte claimed that the absolute ego and its self-legislating activity are the ultimate subjective reality. Of its two interacting drives, practical and theoretical, the practical is more determining. In positing the non-ego, it makes self-consciousness possible through a dialectical process. Fichte argued that the non-ego is not a thing-in-itself and strongly rejected what he called the dogmatic view that there is an independent external world. For him, the idealist view that conscience alone is the root of all truth is the only doctrine that is compatible with human freedom. Fichte exerted a considerable impact on Hegel's dialectic. His most important work is Foundation of the Science of Knowledge (1794). Other works include Critique of All Revelation (1792), The Foundation of Natural Rights (1796), The Vocation of Man (1800), and Addresses to the German Nation (1807–8). By identifying the ego with the German nation, this last work played a major role in fostering later German nationalism and totalitarianism. ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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