235

“A man’s philosophy is as his nature, not his nature as his philosophy.”

~ Johann Gottlieb Fichte

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4 thoughts on “235

  1. Then one might ask “what is the point of philosophy”? One particularly might ask that if one had ready fifty or a hundred pages of The Science of Knowledge.

  2. So many activities (sometimes the best activities) have no apparent point, or the actual achievement of their purported goals seems finally impossible. I’ve certainly never read any Fichte myself. I think I came across this quote in Isaiah Berlin’s The Roots of Romanticism. To me, it calls to mind the statement of William James, in Pragmatism, that “the potentest of all our premises is never mentioned” – referring to the individual temperament. I don’t read or speak German, but I wonder if Fichte’s “nature” isn’t better rendered as “temperament” or “character.”

    On that note: https://afieldnotes.wordpress.com/2015/07/21/on-ugly-sentiments-beautifully-expressed/

  3. In section 5 of “The First Introduction to the Science of Knowledge, Fichte writes

    “What sort of philosophy one chooses depends, therefore, on what sort of a man one is; for a philosophical system is not a dead piece of furniture that we can reject or accept as we wish; it is rather a thing animated by the soul of the person who holds it.”

    (Fichte: Science of Knowledge (Wissenschaftslehre): with First and Second Introductions, edited and translated by Peter Heath and John Lachs).

    Whether the quotation you give is freely adapted from that, or is a restatement elsewhere, certainly it accurately conveys Fichte’s belief. However, one must add the qualification that Fichte is quite certain that his own system is the correct one, and that much of mankind is simply incapable of grasping it. The other sentence of the paragraph reads

    “A person indolent by nature or dulled and distorted by mental servitude, learned luxury, and vanity will never raise himself to the level of idealism.”

    1. Thank you for sharing these snippets. Though I appreciate the original quote (whatever its origin), I’m not certain I can see myself as any kind of fellow-traveler with Fichte. My attendance was recorded in a decent number of undergraduate philosophy courses, but I’m suspicious of systematic (or academic) philosophies. It’s symptomatic of my own mental weakness, perhaps, but my sympathies are with Montaigne.

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