Fichte and German Idealism ll


Fichte was the first to posit the Absolute ‘I’ in opposition to the Kantian ‘‘I’ think’’, which is primarily a logical entity. The first one is the result of a self-affirmation, since there is something more in a subject than the thinking capacity, namely, the moral and esthetic dimensions. That ‘I’ would become the foundation of the new philosophy, which for Fichte and those who followed him, would have a significant consequence in as much as all action, and the liberty and autonomy of the individual himself are to be derived from it. Hence the proposal or understanding that the state has to occupy a secondary position as an arbiter between free men. It is at the same time a rebellion against Newtonian man, since that physical system does not satisfy the creative spirit, another characteristic of German Idealism. Its spirit is a self-sufficient one, which must not look outside itself for either God or immortality. All these ideas were propounded by the three signatories of a document establishing the basis for a new science (Das älteste Systemprogramm  des deutschen Idealismus), Hegel, Schelling and Hölderlin.

Concerning the Absolute ‘I’, posited first by Fichte, Hölderlin began to have some doubts almost from the beginning, and in a letter to Hegel he confides: “… his [Fichte’s] Absolute ‘I’ (Spinoza’s substance) contains all reality: it is itself all and nothing exists outside it; for this Absolute ‘I’ there is accordingly no object whatsoever, since otherwise there would not be contained in it all of reality: but a consciousness without an object is unthinkable, and since I myself am that object, I am it necessarily in a limited way in time, and consequently not absolutely so. I have no consciousness in the Absolute ‘I’, I am nothing (to myself), and thus the Absolute ‘I’ is (for me) nothing.”*

*El Héroe y el Único, Rafael Argullol

       (To be continued)

About amartingarcia

General surgeon (retired). Studied Western philosophy at U of Toronto. Afterwards interest turned to advaita vedanta and non-duality for past 20 yrs, plus a long interlude in Sufism coinciding with that period. Now contributing in ’Advaita Vision’ with regular posts and discussions.
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