Volume 49, 2021
The Enigma of Fichte’s First Principles (Das Rätsel von Fichtes Grundsätzen)
Fichte’s First Principle of Right
This paper addresses the following questions: what is Fichte’s first principle of right, how does he argue for it, and how does it function as the first principle of his substantive political theory? To answer these questions, the paper offers an overview of the main steps of Fichte’s derivation of the principle of right, explains its relationship to Fichte’s account of individual personhood, and then specifies some of the senses in which the resulting principle serves as the foundation of the rest of Fichte’s political and economic theory. I focus on the developmental logic of Fichte’s account of the “summons” and the “relation of right.” This developmental logic, I argue, is both recapitulated and completed within Fichte’s political theory and political economy.