Who is Johann Gottlieb Fichte?June 25, 2021
Johann Gottlieb Fichte was a famous German thinker who lived from 1762 to 1814.
Johann Gottlieb Fichte was born the son of a poor weaver in a small village in Oberlausitz (Saxony). He worked as a weaving and shepherd until he was nine years old. A wealthy rancher accidentally noticed his intelligence and took him under his protection and started a school. However, with the death of this person, Fichte, who started to suffer from poverty and trouble again, could hardly finish the university.
While he was trying to earn money by giving private lessons, he was introduced to Kant’s philosophy thanks to a student and since then he has devoted his whole life to developing his philosophy.
Fichte believed that Kant made a beginning and that this beginning should be completed by bringing it into a system. It also looks for an exit point to reach this system. According to him, this starting point is the subject, consciousness.
There are two ways here:
We are faced with the question of taking the object as the starting point, and then how can there be a subject, a consciousness next to the object? According to him, this question is unsolvable and leads people to determinism and mechanism, and in this case, there can be no such thing as freedom.
Taking the subject as the starting point, in this case, we are faced with the question of how consciousness designs the object, and this problem has a solution.
According to Fichte, the essence of consciousness is action. Thus, Fichte proceeds by using the dialectic that Kant calls wrong thinking. According to him, all our knowledge is formed in a three-step dialectical movement.
To reveal and grasp the object as “a is a”.
Distinguish the object by comparing it with other objects, such as “a is not non-a”.
Limiting a and non-a to a concept that includes.
Here is an example he gave:
I can see and recognize the gold.
I distinguish it from copper.
I perceive it as a “mine” limited to one or another quality against copper. Now, if the “I” wants to know its own essence, it must first know and think about itself.
This is an action according to Fichte. Again, with the next action, “I” must oppose “non-me” so that it can distinguish itself. In this “non-me” is nature and the causality of nature. At this point, nature is a means of knowing ourselves. However, according to Fichte, it is essential not to know but to act. Therefore, one cannot stay at this point, the purpose of “me” is action, that is, to realize its free essence.
The basis of moral philosophy in Fichte is the problem of freedom. It is freedom that provides the form of the teaching of the understanding. But this freedom is an action. Man becomes free with this action. The aim of this action must also be freedom, otherwise freedom cannot be realized because the action is directed towards external ends. Consciousness decides the appropriateness of this action.
Conscience has a special place in Fichte. “Act according to a principle which you might want to be a general law” said Kant, Fichte says “Act according to your conscience”. Here, according to Fichte, what is good is the state of action, because taking action is the realization of freedom. What is bad is inaction because it destroys freedom. However, natural necessities or instincts are not taken into account as the state of action here, such actions make people passive. One must transcend the natural side and act out of one’s own “I” so that one can be free. The natural direction is just a tool for this purpose.
Self-realization has three stages. 1. Request. At this stage, the person tries to reach pleasure and happiness, depends on the stimuli of his environment like animals, turns only to the means that will meet the needs, and tries to satisfy his appetite. It is not free. 2. Do not dominate. One’s sole aim is to dominate, only the appetite has given way to domination. 3. In the last step, one wants to be free. In this case, the person knows how to limit his own desire for pleasure and dominance in the face of the rights and freedoms of others spontaneously and freely.
Fichte also bases freedom on the state and law. According to him, law has a universal aspect and this depends on the idea that man has first and natural rights. One’s right to freedom is a natural right, and each person must accept that his or her freedom is limited by the freedoms of others. However, there is a need for a power that maintains this situation. This is where the state emerges. According to him, the person should demand the authority of the state himself and choose the law that the state will force him to. However, Fichte argues that the state should be closed so that citizens in such a democratic state can live on their own labor and share resources fairly. The duty of the state is to raise people who obey the law spontaneously, so that the coercive state will disappear.
Fichte started from Kant’s philosophy. His philosophy was influenced by the Romantics over time, and by creating a source for the German philosophers after him, he provided the birth of a new movement.
Johann Gottlieb Fichte (19 May 1762, Rammenau – 29 January 1814, Berlin), was a famous German thinker. His most important insight in philosophy, his main starting point, is his own understanding of freedom.
According to Fichte, the will or the self is the fundamental reality, free, self-determined.