19th Century German Philosophy:  Fichte

Spring, 2012



Core Readings



Fichte, Attempt at a Critique of All Revelation (1792/3)

We will be particularly concerned with the opening

section, and with the section called “Deduction of Religion in General.”

An English edition is published by Cambridge University Press.



Fichte, Attempt at a New Presentation of the Wissenschaftslehre (1797/98)

This is a fragment.  We will be particularly concerned with the first chapter,

but participants should also read the first and second introductions.

An English edition is published in a collection by Hackett.

If you are going to buy one book, this would be the one.



Fichte, Grundlage der gesamten Wissenschaftslehre (1794/95)

This was Fichte’s first published version of the Wissenschaftslehre.

We will only really be concerned with the famous opening sections (§§1-3).

An English translation is available from Cambridge University Press.



Fichte, “Some Lectures Concerning the Scholars Vocation” (1794)

This is one of Fichte’s most accessible introductory texts.

An English translation is published in

Fichte, Early Philosophical Writings (Cornell University Press)

This may now be a hard book to find, but a copy is on short reserve at Sloman Library.

There is also an old translation available online here.



Fichte, The Foundations of Natural Right

This is Fichte major work of political philosophy in the Jena period.

We shall be particularly concerned with §§9-12.

An English edition is available from Cambridge University Press.



Fichte, The System of Ethics (1796)

We are not going to work directly on this text, which is Fichte main

work of moral philosophy during the Jena period, but the Introduction

provides a concise overview of the Jean system.

My (unpublished) commentary on that Introduction

is available here.




Some Useful Secondary Material



Relevant to Lectures 1&2:   Fichte’s Philosophy of Religion

Martin, Wayne M.  2008.  “Transcendental Philosophy and Atheism”; European Journal of Philosophy 16:1, 109-130.

Penultimate author’s MS of this paper is available here.



Relevant to Lectures 2&3:  From ElementarPhilosophie to Wissenschaftslehre

Breazeale, Daniel.  1981.  Fichte’s Aenesidemus Review and the Transformation of German Idealism”; Review of Metaphysics XXXIV; pp. 545-68.

Breazeale, Daniel.  1982.  Between Kant and Fichte: Karl Leonhard Reinhold’s ‘Elementary Philosophy’”; Review of Metaphysics XXXV; pp. 785-821.




Some Loose Ends



What is the difference between Deism and Natural Religion?


Fichte’s Simile of the Sower


Powerpoint Slides from 5 March Lecture (pptx download)



Documents Pertaining to Writing Assignments



Essay Questions (see Module Description)

Saxon Letter of Requisition to the Weimar Court

A Moore, “Fichte: Transcendentalism versus Naturalism,” from