Thinking Through the Wissenschaftslehre Themes from Fichte's Early Philosophy

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2014-01-28
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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Daniel Breazeale presents a critical study of the early philosophy of J.G. Fichte, and the version of the Wissenschaftslehre or 'doctrine of science' that Fichte developed in Jena between 1794 and 1799. The book is intended to assist serious readers in their efforts to understand Fichte's philosophy within the context of its own era and to orient them in the ongoing scholarly debates concerning the character and significance of the Wissenschaftslehre. Breazeale focuses on explaining what Fichte was (and was not) trying to accomplish and precisely how he proposed to accomplish this, as well as upon the difficulties implicit in his project and his often novel strategies for overcoming them. To this end, the volume addresses a variety of specific themes, issues, and problems that will be familiar to any student of Fichte's early writings and which continue to be fiercely debated by his interpreters. These include: the relationship of the finite human self to the purely self-positing I, transcendental philosophy as a 'pragmatic history of the mind', Fichte's 'synthetic' method of philosophizing, the standpoint of life vs. the standpoint of speculation, the extra-philosophical presuppositions and implications of the Wissenschaftslehre, the different senses of 'intellectual intuition' in Fichte's early writings, the controversial doctrine of the 'check' (Anstoss) upon the free actions of the I, the various theoretical and practical tasks of philosophy, the refutation of dogmatism and the 'choice' of a philosophical standpoint, the relationship of transcendental idealism to skepticism, the interests of reason, and the problematic 'primacy of the practical' in Fichte's thought.

Author Biography

Daniel Breazeale is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Kentucky, where he is also Distinguished Professor of Arts and Sciences. Breazeale has been a frequent recipient of research grants and fellowships from such sources as the National Endowment for Humanities and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. He is a co-founder of the North American Fichte Society and the author of many essays on Fichte, German idealism, and Nietzsche. He is also the translator of numerous volumes of Fichte's writings and the co-editor of a dozen volumes of collected essays on his philosophy.

Table of Contents

1. Wishful Thinking and the Postulates of Practical Reason
2. The Aenesidemus Review and The Transformation of German Idealism
3. 'Real Synthetic Thinking' and the Principle of Determinability
4. 'A Pragmatic History of the Mind'
5. The Spirit of the Wissenschaftslehre
6. The Divided Self and the Tasks of Philosophy
7. Anstoss, Abstract Realism, and the Finitude of the I
8. Intellectual Intuition
9. Skepticism and Wissenschaftslehre
10. Circles and Grounds
11. Idealism vs. Dogmatism
12. The Interests of Reason
13. The Standpoint of Life and the Standpoint of Philosophy
14. The Problematic Primacy of the Practical
Appendix: Fichte's writings in English translation

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