Volume 49, 2021

The Enigma of Fichte’s First Principles (Das Rätsel von Fichtes Grundsätzen)

Laure Cahen-Maurel
Pages 219-247

The Monogram of the "Sweet Songstress of the Night": The Hovering of the Imagination as the First Principle of Fichte’s Aesthetics

This article presents a new reading of Fichte’s aesthetics that differs from a primarily functionalist interpretation of the imagination and art. It demonstrates that the “hovering” (Schweben) of the creative imagination should be viewed as the first principle of Fichte’s aesthetics, in which the latter consists of a triad of the pleasant, the beautiful and the sublime. Moreover, it argues that in the text Ueber Geist und Buchstab in der Philosophie (1795/1800) Fichte created a real and original monogram of the hovering creative imagination, a monogram whose theoretical basis stems from Kant’s concept of the monogram in the 1st Critique as a “wavering sketch”. It contends that this overlooked but key artistic and practical example of a monogram opens up new perspectives for Fichtean aesthetics, further confirming that its first principle should be explicitly identified with the theory of the hovering imagination in the Grundlage der gesammten Wissenschaftslehre of 1794/95.