Fichte, Johann Gottlieb (1762–1814)
FICHTE, JOHANN GOTTLIEB
Johann Gottlieb Fichte was a German philosopher. The most original and most influential thinker among the immediate successors of Immanuel Kant, Fichte was the first exponent of German idealism. He set the agenda for the philosophical work of the generation of Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and exerted tremendous influence on German cultural life in the final decade of the eighteenth century and the first decade of the nineteenth century. Fichte undertook pioneering philosophical work on a number of topics, including the primacy of the practical over the theoretical, the nature and development of self-consciousness, the status and function of one's own body, the original discovery of the other person, the integration of freedom and nature, and the separation of law and morality.
Fichte was born on May 19, 1762, in the village of Rammenau in Saxony (in today's eastern Germany). Through the support of local benefactors, he received an education that would have been beyond the means of his family, who were ribbon weavers. He attended the Princely Latin School at Porta (Schulpforta) (1774–1780), studied theology and law at the universities of Jena, Wittenberg, and Leipzig under difficult financial circumstances and without taking a degree (1780–1784), and served as a private tutor in Leipzig, Eastern Prussia, and Zurich (1785–1793).
In 1790, upon studying Kant's Critique of Pure Reason (1781) and Critique of Practical Reason (1788), he became an enthusiastic adherent and supporter of Kant's critical philosophy. When Fichte's first publication, Attempt at a Critique of All Revelation (1792), appeared, in part, anonymously, it was widely assumed to be a work by Kant, whose public clarification of the authorship launched Fichte's meteoric philosophical career. He was offered a professorship in philosophy at the University of Jena, where he began teaching in the summer semester of 1794. Fichte's widely attended lecture courses and the publications based on them turned German academic philosophy for a brief period into a world-historical movement on a par with the French Revolution and literary Romanticism.
In 1799 Fichte lost his professorship in Jena over charges of atheism, based on his published view that God was nothing but the moral order of the world. He spent most of the remaining years of his life in Berlin where he initially supported himself by giving private and public lecture courses and later received a professorship at the newly founded university (1810–1814), at which he also served as Dean (1810) and Rector (1811–1812). Between 1804 and 1808 Fichte gave several popular lecture series in Berlin, that were also published, in which he presented a scathing diagnosis of the cultural and moral ails of his time along with a fervent call for spiritual and political renewal. The most famous of these works, the Addresses to the German Nation (1807–1808, published in 1808), arose as an act of public resistance against the Napoleonic occupation of Prussia, Fichte's adopted homeland. The work's call for autochthonous culture and politics was repeatedly instrumentalized in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries for nationalist and socialist thought and politics. Fichte died on January 29, 1814, from hospital fever, which he had contracted from his wife of twenty years, who had been working as a nurse during the uprising against Napoleon.
"The First System of Freedom"
From his chance rise out of poverty and obscurity and his vehement early support of the French Revolution, which brought him a reputation as a Jacobin, through his daring breakaway from academic and religious traditions, to his eloquent agitation for liberation from Napoleonic rule, Fichte struggled all his life for freedom from tutelage of all kinds and for radical self-determination. The theoretical counterpart to this unrelenting project of self-liberation is what Fichte himself termed the first system of freedom —a comprehensive account of natural and cultural reality in which the concept of freedom serves to ground and integrate the key aspects of human existence (cognition and volition) as well as their corresponding worlds (the sensible or the natural and the supersensible or the spiritual). Unlike Kant, who had correlated and connected nature and freedom as different but complementary domains, each with its own principles, Fichte subordinates all of nature to freedom, turning the material world into nothing but the arena for the exercise of free self-determination under self-given laws of acting. With nature relegated to a merely instrumental status, the conditions and principles of social and cultural life receive primary consideration. Fichte's systematic treatment of law, morality, religion, history, and politics as the main spheres for the actualization of freedom is grounded in a detailed account of the deep structure of the human subject.
Throughout, Fichte follows Kant's transcendental or Copernican turn. But he deepens as well as widens his predecessor's dual focus on the conditions of the possibility of experience and the conditions of the possibility of morality into a highly integrated inquiry into the structural requirements of consciousness of all kinds and of all kinds of objects. In order to stress both the rigorous scientific character of his investigations and their merely preparatory status for everyone's own practice of freedom, Fichte abandons the traditional designation, philosophy or love of wisdom, replacing it with the coinage Wissenschaftslehre, or Science of Knowledge. The term is not a reference to epistemology in the modern sense but to the protoscience that is to achieve a metaknowledge of the conditions of the possibility of all object-knowledge and that then refers everyone to their own experience for the contingent content of such formally functioning consciousness. In a wider sense all parts of Fichte's projected and partially executed philosophical system are termed Science of Knowledge. But Fichte preferentially employs the term for his various presentations of the first philosophy, which contains only the basic principles of all knowledge and its objects.
Insisting on the freedom of genuine philosophical thought from any fixed letter and on the need for direct, oral philosophical communication, Fichte worked out some fifteen different presentations of his core philosophy over a period of twenty years, of which he himself published only the first one. As a result of this unique practice of continued production but discontinued publication of his main philosophical work, the full extent and content of Fichte's thinking after 1800 remained, for the most part, unknown to his contemporaries and was recognized and became influential only with the partial publication of Fichte's literary remains in the nineteenth century and their integral edition by the Bavarian Academy of Sciences over almost half a century starting in the early 1960s.
The "i" as the Principle of Philosophy
In the early presentations of the Science of Knowledge, dating from 1794 through 1799, Fichte terms the unitary unconditional ground of theoretical and practical knowledge and of its object domains, the I. The nominalized first person pronoun serves to designate the principle for the derivation (deduction ) of the basic features of the subject and its world or worlds. Fichte's strategy is to elucidate the necessary conditions under which the subject is able to achieve consciousness of itself, or self-consciousness. Among those conditions are the application of a set of categorial concepts (such as cause and effect) that assure the law-governed structure of the objects in space and time and the individuation of the subject as an intelligent being among other such beings. In particular, Fichte aims to show that the subject's practical relation to the world by way of volition and action is a necessary condition, even for its theoretical relation to the world through thinking and knowing. Fichte's defense of the systematic primacy of practice over theory is counterbalanced by the recognition that all practice in turn stands in need of some guidance through the cognition of the ends to be pursued.
In the original presentation of the Science of Knowledge from 1794–1795 (Science of Knowledge with the First and Second Introductions ), the basic distinctions between the subject and the object and between the theoretical and the practical are generated by means of a transcendental dialectic involving the progressive but never completely achieved elimination of the contradictions to be found among the three chief capacities of the I as absolute I, theoretical I, and practical I.
As absolute I, the I is the unconditional ground of everything in the I and for the I, including everything that is not I (Not-I). Fichte employs the term positing for the generic, preconscious, and spontaneous activity of the I in bringing about the most basic structure of the subject as well as the object. He distinguishes the threefold absolute activity of the I's positing itself, positing its other (the Not-I), and positing the mutual determination of I and Not-I. As theoretical I, or as subject of cognition, the I posits itself as determined through the Not-I. The subject thereby conceives of itself as bound by the properties of the object to be cognized. The contradiction between the active nature of the absolutely positing I and the passive nature of the I of theoretical cognition is resolved through the I's third capacity as practical I, which consists in the I's striving to completely determine the Not-I and to have all determination of the I be the I's self-determination. To be sure, for Fichte, the striving of the practical I toward the status of the absolute I—to determine everything and to be determined only by itself—is an infinite process in which the absolute I serves as an unobtainable ideal (idea ).
In Fichte's reconstruction of the principal constitutive features of consciousness, the key factors of Kant's transcendental philosophy (apperception, space, time, categories, imagination, ideas of reason) are gathered into a history of consciousness that stretches from minimal self-awareness in undifferentiated feeling through the workings of the imagination in theoretical understanding to the practical self-consciousness of striving reason. Fichte's completion of Kant's transcendental idealism does away with the existence of unknowable things in themselves and provides a maximally internalist account of the determination and self-determination of the I. The only remaining externalist concession is the appeal to the I's inexplicable experience of being held in check by what is subsequently objectified, according to the I's own laws, as a world of things seemingly existing independently of the theoretical I.
When his initial transcendental account of the I was widely mistaken for referring to an individual person rather than to the set of structural requirements for personhood, Fichte provided important methodological clarifications and doctrinal expansions in his New Presentation of the Science of Knowledge (Foundations of Transcendental Philosophy [Wissenschaftslehre] nova methodo ; 1796–1799). In particular, he stressed the difference between the transcendental, supraindividual I of the Science of Knowledge and the empirical, individual I of ordinary cognition and life; he argued for the reconstructive, experimental, and hence artificial nature of the transcendental account of the I; and he maintained that the ultimate evidence for the transcendental–idealist reduction of everything to the I's clandestine absolute activity was the fundamental, extraphilosophical belief that absolute freedom from all foreign reality and complete self-determination were the essence and end of human existence.
Among the doctrinal additions of Fichte's alternative presentation of the Science of Knowledge are the systematically prominent position of the will and the foundational role accorded to interpersonal relations (intersubjectivity) in the constitution of the subject and its relation to the world. Fichte's transcendental philosophy of the I now presents itself as a theory of the principal forms and conditions of practical activity (willing and doing), into which the main features of cognitive activity and the world of objects to be cognized are integrated. More specifically, Fichte argues that the mutual requirement of willing and knowing threatens to involve the I's theoretical–practical double nature (duplicity ) in a vicious circle: Willing an end requires prior cognition of the object to be willed while knowing an object requires a prior engagement of the will in the course of which objects first come into view. Fichte resolves the circle by postulating a nonempirical, prepersonal, and hence predeliberative willing that comes with its own knowledge of what do—a type of willing modeled on Kant's notion of pure practical reason in which knowing the morally good and willing it are supposed to coincide. This move transposes the I from its embeddedness in the natural world into the moral realm of the pure will and entails its individuation among a community of finite rational agents.
The grounding of the I's theoretical as well as practical activities in original, self-determined volition points to the strictly moral core of human subjectivity in Fichte. What lends reality and objectivity to the I's pervasive activity of positing and determining is not some external physical or metaphysical entity but the I's own unconditional laws for the exercise of its spontaneity and freedom. In Fichte's ethical idealism the physical world has reality as the sphere for the exercise of our moral obligations.
In his most popular and accessible work, The Vocation of Man (1800), Fichte summarizes his philosophy of freedom in a dramatic portrayal of the course of human insight: from initial doubt about how to reconcile the competing claims of freedom and determination in human affairs through the intermediary stage of (merely theoretical) knowledge, for which everything and everyone is but a product of the I, to the concluding stage of practical knowledge and the faith associated with it, which reconciles freedom and determination by reconceiving the latter as moral self-determination.
The i and the Absolute
Fichte's subsequent popular lectures and publications in the philosophy of history, culture, and religion (1804–1808) continued to stress the practical and specifically the moral dimension of human existence. In his continuing work on the Science of Knowledge (1801–1814) Fichte explored in ever-new attempts and with changing terminological and conceptual means the possibilities as well as the limitations of human knowledge and human freedom. In critical distance to the contemporary turn toward an affirmative philosophy of the absolute in philosophers such as Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi, Schelling, and Hegel, Fichte stressed the epistemological strictures of any ascent from the transcendental to the metaphysical. While de-emphasizing the self-sufficiency of the I and abandoning much of his earlier terminology of the I, he nevertheless insisted on the close linkage—and the ultimate identity—of the absolute and the absolute I and on the I's function as the basic mode (I form ) of theoretical and practical subjectivity.
For the later Fichte, the absolute is not some higher being apart from our self-determined existence as knowers and doers but that which sustains and animates our theoretical and practical activities as the unfathomable ground of their dynamics and laws. In order to avoid any objectivist misunderstanding of the subject's origination in the absolute, Fichte replaces the latter's appellation as being with that of life, understood as sheer activity, without a distinct bearer and a resultant product. For the later Fichte, human existence—more specifically, its normative accomplishment of knowledge of what there is and ought to be—is the one and only manifestation (appearance or image ) of the absolute while everything else has being only secondarily, as possible object of cognition and volition. Moreover, the authentic manifestation of the absolute is the absolute's self-manifestation as such. The ultimate knowledge to be achieved is the philosophical or metaknowledge that knowledge is but the appearance of the absolute and that the absolute appears only as knowledge.
For Fichte this ultimate insight, which completes the Science of Knowledge, involves at once the self-limitation of knowledge over and against the absolute, of which knowledge is but an image, and the self-affirmation of knowledge as being the absolute itself in the latter's external mode (existence ). Accordingly, the insight achieved by the Science of Knowledge is not some abstract, rare cognition but results from the lived identification of the subject with its absolute ground and results in a manner of thinking and acting animated by the inner presence of the absolute. Moreover, on Fichte's account, the thinking and acting in light of the absolute does not occur automatically but depends on the subject's free decision and sustained effort to radical reflection and its decision and effort to engage in conduct corresponding to the insight achieved. Thus, the speculative efforts of the Science of Knowledge aim beyond science and knowledge at practical wisdom and at the moral activity resulting from it—an ultimate confirmation of the intellectual and moral freedom of the subject.
Despite some appearances to the contrary, which are due to occasional metaphysically charged terminology (God, being ), the late presentations of the Science of Knowledge, when considered in their entirety, show Fichte arguing for the essentially practical nature of the absolute as absolute will and as the animating principle of the moral order. Thus, the later Fichte exhibits a striking continuity with the ethical orientation of his earlier speculative philosophy and, beyond that, with the moral agenda of Kant's critical philosophy.
Philosophy of Law and Ethics
Given its unique combination of systematic rigor, argumentative concentration, and freely varied presentation, Fichte's foundational work on the Science of Knowledge initially met with incomprehension; soon became marginalized by the work of his followers, Schelling and Hegel; and even in the early twenty-first century, in the context of detailed historical scholarship and extensive textual analysis, defies summary assessment and doctrinal reconstruction. By contrast, Fichte's work on the applied part of the Science of Knowledge, which consists of the philosophy of law and ethics, has always been more widely appreciated and quite influential.
Fichte's Foundations of Natural Law (1796–1797) integrates the theory of right and political authority into a systematic account of the I's individuation and socialization. Fichte argues that a subject can only possess self-consciousness if a number of conditions are met that take the form of the subject's implicit self-ascription (positing ) of increasingly specific nonrelational and relational properties. To begin with, the subject has to ascribe to itself the faculty of free efficacy along with a sphere of objects, the world of sense, in which the efficacy can be exercised by bringing about change in the objects. Moreover, the subject's practical activity in the world of sense requires its self-ascription of a material object (body ), by means of which it can act upon the material word.
In a crucial and highly original next step, Fichte argues that a further requirement for the subject's self-conscious, practical activity in the empirical world is its initiation into the rational standards of knowing and doing, which in turn leads to the presupposition of another, already fully functioning, subject and specifically to the latter's influencing the first subject to discover and engage its potential for theoretical–practical rationality. Moreover, the required influence has to be such that the constitutive freedom of the subject to be influenced is not infringed upon but rather called upon and made to emerge. The required influence is not physical but a determination to self-determination or the encouraging appeal (summons or solicitation ) to act freely and rationally.
Fichte terms the soliciting subject's attitude of acknowledgment and respect toward the solicited subject's full human potential an act of recognition and moves on to inquire into the necessary condition for the possibility of continued mutual recognition between individual subjects. This condition is the relationship of law, in which each subject freely limits the exercise of its free efficacy in the world of sense through the concept of the possible freedom of the other individual subject—under the condition that the latter does the same.
Unlike Kant, Fichte does not subordinate the sphere of law under that of morals but defends a strict separation of law and morality. To be sure, for Fichte, the concept of law—the concept of the mutual recognition of free agency—represents a necessary condition of self-consciousness. But becoming part of a political state and following its laws is not an unconditional command of practical reason, as in the "Metaphysical First Principles of the Doctrine of Right" in Kant's Metaphysics of Morals (Immanuel Kant, Practical Philosophy. Translated and edited by Mary J. Gregor. General introduction by Allen Wood. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1996: 455–456.), which was published only after Fichte's work (1797). In Fichte, the validity of the law and that of its subsequent specifications as state law, family law, and cosmopolitan law is contingent upon the agreed-upon and continued practice of recognitional conduct on the part of all individual subjects involved. Accordingly, Fichte's account of the powers of the state is designed to assure the continued observance of mutual recognitional conduct.
With the philosophy of law and its postulation of the transcendental conditions of sociality relegated to an extension of theoretical philosophy, practical philosophy in Fichte completely coincides with ethics or the doctrine of our unconditional moral duties as opposed to our contingent legal obligations. Moreover, Fichte's ethics, published as The System of Ethics in 1798, differs widely in scope and structure from the "Metaphysical First Principles of the Doctrine of Virtue" of Kant's Metaphysics of Morals published in the preceding year. While Kant had focused on the systematic presentation of particular duties and had limited more general considerations to comparatively brief introductory sections, Fichte provides a detailed derivation of the principle of morality along with the basic conditions of its application. The treatment of ethics in the narrow sense, or the presentation of particular duties, is limited to the work's brief concluding section.
Fichte's chief ambition in practical philosophy is to overcome what he perceives to be the emptiness and formalism inherent in a Kantian ethics focusing on the moral criterion (categorical imperative ) of the possible universality of subjective principles of action (maxims ). By contrast, Fichte integrates the formation and execution of moral willing into the overall structure of practical subjectivity. The factual starting point of Fichte's real or material ethics is the subject's original self-experience as willing or as engaged in conceptually mediated efficacy in the world of sense. Its normative end point is the absolute freedom of the subject or radical self-determination. Under conditions of human finitude, this goal can only be approximated. Morality provides the direction and the motivation of the finite subject toward its infinite destination.
In his effort to lend content and specificity to moral obligation, Fichte positions the free will of the practical subject under the influence of a unitary but twofold drive : the pure drive that represents the claims of pure practical reason to radical self-determination and the natural drive that represents the demands of our nonrational nature. Fichte considers the moral drive to be a mixed drive in which the natural drive provides the content and the pure drive contributes the impetus for acting or the motivation. Fichte further argues for a pre-established harmony of sorts between the natural drive and the pure drive such that in each and every situation there is one and only one action that is both proposed by the natural drive and sanctioned by the pure drive. According to Fichte, the specific duties are detected by a non-sensory feeling of immediate practical certainty (conscience ). The principle of morality can therefore be put into the following formula, which is empty by itself and refers everyone to their own conscience for its completion: Do in each case your duty and do it for duty's sake.
Philosophy of History, Education, and Religion
Compared with the unprecedented systematic rigor and highly abstract reasoning pervading the presentations of the Science of Knowledge in its foundational as well as applied parts, Fichte's historically influential contributions to the philosophy of history, education, and religion are popular works conceived and executed with the explicit intent of exercising moral and political influence on listeners and readers—whose abilities, preconceptions, and contemporary experiences have therefore entered into the design of these works. Accordingly, Fichte's popular works call not only for philosophical analysis but also for historical knowledge and exegetical skill in assessing the complex relation between their claims and their contexts.
Fichte's philosophy of history, presented in the Characteristics of the Present Age (1804–1805, published in 1806) and supplemented by the Addresses to the German Nation (1807–1808), constructs the ideal course of history as a linear progress in the governance of humankind in five stages: from blind but clandestinely rational instinct through irrational authority to anarchical intellectual, moral and political freedom—the present age, according to Fichte—on to incipient, freely exercised rationality, and finally to the complete reign of rational freedom. The transition from the present age of complete sinfulness to genuine freedom and true enlightenment is to be brought about by education and specifically by educational reform at all levels—from instituting compulsory public primary schools to a structural and curricular reform of the university, of which Fichte was a major theoretician and practitioner. Fichte's high regard for public education is also reflected in the three lecture courses that he gave on the moral and political role of the public intellectual (vocation of the scholar ) at the beginning, toward the middle, and toward the end of his academic career (1794, 1805, 1811).
Fichte's philosophy of religion, presented as The Way Towards the Blessed Life (1806), recasts the speculative core of the Science of Knowledge in the form of a popular ontology identifying life with love and bliss. Fichte distinguishes five world views, each correlated to a specific standpoint and associated with a specific affect: the standpoint of sensibility and its enjoyments: that of objective legality (merely formal morality) and its love of formal freedom; that of higher morality and the self-satisfaction it affords; that of religion and the blessed life it entails: and that of science (viz., the Science of Knowledge), which adds no viewpoint of its own but unites the preceding ones by lending them clarity and by transforming the mere faith in the absolute into envisioning it through the self-immersion of reflection into the absolute.
The immediate, immense, but short-lived influence that Fichte had on the course of German culture and philosophy around 1800 is augmented by the long-term and more clandestine effects that his original thinking on the nature of subjectivity and the relation between theory and practice exercised on such diverse philosophers as Arthur Schopenhauer, Karl Marx, Martin Heidegger, and Jürgen Habermas. With several of his later works only now available for the first time, Fichte is very much a philosopher still to be discovered. His early work on the system of freedom is a tour de force in radicalized Kantianism while his later work on the absolute and its appearance as knowledge and will is a serious competitor to Schelling's and Hegel's claims of having brought to completion German idealist philosophy.
See also Copernicus, Nicolas; Epistemology; Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich; Habermas, Jürgen; Heidegger, Martin; Jacobi, Friedrich Heinrich; Kant, Immanuel; Marx, Karl; Schelling, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph; Schopenhauer, Arthur.
works by fichte: german editions
Johann Gottlieb Fichte's nachgelassene Schriften. 3 vols. Edited by Immanuel Hermann Fichte. Bonn: Adolph-Marcus 1834–1835. Reprinted as Fichtes Werke. 11 vols. (vols. 9–11). Berlin: de Gruyter, 1971.
Johann Gottlieb Fichte's sämmtliche Werke. 8 vols. Edited by Immanuel Hermann Fichte. Berlin: Veit, 1845–1846. Reprinted as Fichtes Werke, 11 vols. (vols. 1–8). Berlin: de Gruyter, 1971.
J. G. Fichte-Gesamtausgabe der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. Edited by Reinhard Lauth and Hans Gliwitzky. Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt: Frommann-Holzboog: 1962– (40 vols. planned; to be completed by 2010). Series I: Published Works ; series II: Unpublished Works ; series III: Correspondence ; series IV: Lecture Transcripts.
Fichte im Gespräch: Berichte der Zeitgenossen. 6 vols. Edited by Erich Fuchs. Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt: Frommann-Holzboog, 1978–1992.
Fichte in zeitgenössischen Rezensionen. 4 vols. Edited by Erich Fuchs, Wilhelm G. Jacobs, and Walter Schieche. Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt: Frommann-Holzboog, 1995.
Ultima Inquirenda. J. G. Fichtes letzte Bearbeitungen der Wissenschaftslehre Ende 1813/Angang 1814. Edited by Reinhard Lauth. Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt: Frommann-Holzboog, 2001.
works by fichte: english translations
The Popular Works of Johann Gottlieb Fichte. 2 vols. Translated by William Smith. London: Trübner, 1889; 4th ed, introduction by Daniel Breazeale. Sterling, VA: Thoemmes, 1999. (Contains The Vocation of the Scholar, The Nature of the Scholar, The Vocation of Man, The Characteristics of the Present Age, The Way towards the Blessed Life or the Doctrine of Religion, and Outlines of the Doctrine of Knowledge.)
Addresses to the German Nation. Translated by R. F. Jones and G. H. Turnbull. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1922. Reprinted, edited by George Armstrong Kelly. New York: Harper, 1968.
"The Science of Knowledge in Its General Outline." Translated by Walter E. Wright. Idealistic Studies 6 (1976): 106–117.
Attempt at a Critique of All Revelation. Translated by Garrett Green. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1978.
Science of Knowledge with the First and Second Introductions. Translated by Peter Heath and John Lachs. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1982.
"Some Lectures Concerning the Scholar." Translated by Daniel Breazeale. In Philosophy of German Idealism. Edited by Ernst Behler, 4–38. New York. Continuum 1987.
The Vocation of Man. Translated by Peter Preuss. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett, 1987.
"A Crystal Clear Report to the General Public Concerning the Actual Essence of the Newest Philosophy. An Attempt to Force the Reader to Understand." Translated by John Botterman and William Rash. In Philosophy of German Idealism. Edited by Ernst Behler, 39–115. New York: Continuum, 1987.
Early Philosophical Writings. Edited and translated by Daniel Breazeale. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1988.
Foundations of Transcendental Philosophy (Wissenschaftslehre) nova methodo 1796–1799. Edited and translated by Daniel Breazeale. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1992.
"Reclamation of the Freedom of Thought from the Princes of Europe, Who Have Oppressed It Until Now." Translated by Thomas E. Wartenberg. In What Is Enlightenment? Eighteenth-Century Answers and Twentieth-Century Questions. Edited by James Schmidt, 225–232. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996.
Introductions to the Wissenschaftslehre and Other Writings. Edited and translated by Daniel Breazeale. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett, 1994.
Foundations of Natural Right. Edited by Frederick Neuhouser and translated by Michael Baur. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2000.
"Annotated Translation J. G. Fichte's Review of L. Creuzer's Skeptical Reflections on the Freedom of the Will (1793)." Translated and edited by Daniel Breazeale. Philosophical Forum 32 (2001): 289–296.
"Annotated Translation of J. G. Fichte's Review of F. H. Gebhard's On Ethical Goodness as Disinterested Benevolence (1793)." Translated and edited by Daniel Breazeale. Philosophical Forum 32 (2001): 297–310.
"Annotated Translation of J. G. Fichte Review of I. Kant's Perpetual Peace (1796)." Translated and edited by Daniel Breazeale. Philosophical Forum 32 (2001): 311–321.
The Science of Knowing. J. G. Fichte's 1804 Lectures on the Wissenschaftslehre. Edited and translated by Walter E. Wright. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2005.
The System of Ethics. Edited and translated by Daniel Breazeale and Günter Zöller. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2005.
works on fichte
Breazeale, Daniel, and Tom Rockmore, eds. Fichte. Historical Contexts/Contemporary Controversies. Atlantic Heights, NJ: Humanities Press, 1994.
Breazeale, Daniel. "Check or Checkmate? On the Finitude of the Fichtean Self." In The Modern Subject. Conceptions of the Self in Classical German Philosophy. Edited by Karl Ameriks and Dieter Sturm, 87–114. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1995.
Breazeale, Daniel, and Tom Rockmore, eds. New Essays on Fichte. Atlantic Heights, NJ: Humanities Press, 1996.
Breazeale, Daniel, and Tom Rockmore, eds. New Essays in Fichte's "Foundation of the Entire Doctrine of Scientific Knowledge." New York: Humanity Books, 2001.
Breazeale, Daniel, and Tom Rockmore, eds. New Essays on Fichte's Later Jena "Wissenschaftslehre." Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 2002.
Breazeale, Daniel, and Tom Rockmore, eds. Rights, Bodies, and Recognition. New Essays on Fichte's Foundations of Natural Right. Aldershot, U.K.: Ashgate, 2005.
Henrich, Dieter. "Fichte's Original Insight." Contemporary German Philosophy 1 (1982): 15–53.
Horstmann, Rolf-Peter. "The Early Philosophy of Fichte and Schelling." In The Cambridge Companion to German Idealism. Edited by Karl Ameriks, 117–140. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2000.
La Vopa, Anthony J. Fichte. The Self and the Calling of Philosophy, 1762–1799. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2001.
Martin, Wayne. Idealism and Objectivity. Understanding Fichte's Jena Project. Stanford, CT: Stanford University Press, 1997.
Neuhouser, Frederick. Fichte's Theory of Subjectivity. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1990.
Pippin, Robert. "Fichte's Contribution." Philosophical Forum 19 (1988): 74–96.
Williams, Robert. Recognition. Fichte and Hegel on the Other. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992.
Wood, Allen W. "Fichte's Philosophical Revolution." Philosophical Topics 19 (1992): 1–28.
Zöller, Günter, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Fichte. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press (in preparation).
Zöller, Günter. Fichte's Transcendental Philosophy. The Original Duplicity of Intelligence and Will. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1998.
Zöller, Günter. "German Realism: The Self-Limitation of Idealist Thinking in Fichte, Schelling and Schopenhauer." In The Cambridge Companion to German Idealism. Edited by Karl Ameriks, 200–218. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2000.
Zöller, Günter, "The Unpopularity of Transcendental Philosophy: Fichte's Controversy with Reinhold (1799–1801)." PLI: The Warwick Journal of Philosophy 10 (2000): 50–76.
Günter Zöller (2005)