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date: 30 March 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The chapter presents Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1762–1814) as an eminently political philosopher whose work centers around the theoretical validation and practical vindication of freedom as the ultimate origin and the final end of human existence. The chapter begins with Fichte’s path-breaking transformation of Kantian epistemology and metaphysics into a unified meta-theory of the principles and objects of knowing and willing that is based on the absolute spontaneity of human cognitive and conative agency. It then turns to Fichte’s philosophy of law with its transcendental derivation of the liberal state and his concrete ethics of embodied social existence. A further focus is on Fichte’s later account of the human self and its world as the lawfully determined (“free”) manifestation (“appearance”) of some inscrutable ground (“absolute”). Special consideration is given to Fichte’s account of political history as a long-term process of advancement in civic freedom and human rights.

Keywords: Johann Gottlieb Fichte, freedom, will, Wissenschaftslehre, transcendental philosophy, I, self-consciousness, right, drive, ethics

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