Volume 49, 2021

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

Quentin Landenne
Pages 377-393

Die gelehrte Bildung nach der göttlichen Idee in Über das Wesen des Gelehrten

The present paper delivers a reconstruction of the speculative foundation, the polemical implications and the rhetorical effects of the passage from the moral point of view to the religious point of view in the lessons Über das Wesen des Gelehrten (1805). First, it shows how the essence of the scholar and the program of an education of scholars are deduced from the original difference between being and existence, between God and his self-exposition in the world. Next, we establish that the controversy with Schelling still plays an important role in the clarification of some important concepts, like the divine idea, the nature, the world, practical knowledge or religiosity. Finally, we claim that the religious point of view of the lectures of 1805 does not involve a renouncement of strong practical engagement, which was clearly expressed in the lectures of 1794 (Über die Bestimmung des Gelehrten), or even a lack of rhetorical attention, but brings a higher interpretation of human action as the work of the divine idea, as well as a new conception of the religious enthusiasm of the scholar.