Volume 41, Issue 1/2, Spring/Summer 2011
A System of Freedom? Biographical-Philosophical Reflections
In an analysis of Fichte’s theoretical reflections read in the light of decisive biographical events, the present paper examines the following question: to what extent are we to assent to Fichte’s own assertion that his system is from the very outset a system of freedom? Kant’s philosophy provided the catalyst for the young Fichte because it promised a way out of the impasse of determinism. I will argue that the ultimate goal of Fichte’s lifelong struggle was to furnish a foundation for genuine freedom. In reaction to both Jacobi and Schelling, Fichte’s philosophical and political investigations pursue at once the problem of grounding the “Absolute” and the relationship between individual freedom and reason as a whole.—These tensions are especially visible in Fichte’s path from the Addresses To the German Nation to the virtually unknown “Philosophical Diaries” of the final days of his life.