“Transcendental Philosophy and Atheism”
Wayne M. Martin
This paper is now in print in
The European Journal of Philosophy
Vol 16, Number 1 (April, 2008), 109-130
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wmartin –AT– essex.ac.uk
ABSTRACT: Engineers test materials by subjecting them to stress: once a beam has been broken one can specify exactly how strong it was. The same method can be used in philosophy. In the Autumn of 1798 and the Winter of 1799, Fichte’s philosophical position was submitted to extraordinary stress in the extended episode known as the Atheism Controversy, culminating in his forced dismissal from his university post at Jena. The disputed issues explicitly concerned matters of religious faith and philosophical theology, but the stress of the controversy exposed fundamental tensions in Fichte’s broader philosophical position and provoked him to formulate a novel, proto-phenomenological account of the scope and structure of transcendental investigation.