The creative spirit in Fichte or, the metaphysics of modernity

Sutherland, Thomas (2013) The creative spirit in Fichte or, the metaphysics of modernity. In: Liberty and Limits 1789-1920, 5 -6 December 2013, Macquarie University.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Paper)
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J.G. Fichte tends to be regarded, perhaps somewhat unfairly, as a relatively minor footnote within the history of philosophy: notable as the instigator of German Idealism, and influential amongst the writers and poets of German romanticism, but intellectually meagre in comparison with his immediate predecessor Kant, as well as with the later, more rigorous Idealism of Schelling and Hegel. What I wish to discuss in this paper, however, is the way in which Fichte’s Wissenschaftslehre - produced primarily in the final decade of the eighteenth century - both reflects and reenacts, in metaphysical terms, the tropes of a developing modernity, even whilst framed within a discourse of romanticism seemingly opposed to such values. Whereas Kant’s philosophy in the first two Critiques seeks to understand the rational self in relation to an unknowable alterity that it aims to colonize in the name of that very same rationality, resulting in a paradoxical account that claims to name in a priori terms that which by definition it cannot know, Fichte attempts to suture this aporia by transforming Kant’s transcendentalism into a philosophy of productive appropriation: one in which the rational self can only be understood in relation to its confrontation with a finitude that represents the absolute horizon of knowledge. Self-consciousness becomes synonymous with self-comprehension: the creative imagination is inherently active, constantly seeking to extend its own boundaries, and in doing so, is able to infinitely expand its realm of influence, whilst still positing itself as absolute. The creativity and productivity emphasized by Fichte becomes synonymous with domination.

Keywords:continental philosophy, modernity, J.G. Fichte
Subjects:L Social studies > L200 Politics
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V500 Philosophy
Divisions:College of Arts > Lincoln School of Film & Media > Lincoln School of Film & Media (Media)
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ID Code:26940
Deposited On:10 Apr 2017 09:02

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