The career of J. G. Fichte, a central figure in German idealism and in the history of philosophy, divides into two distinct phases: the first period, in which he occupied the chair of critical philosophy at the University of Jena (1794-1799); and the following period, after he left Jena for Berlin. Due in part to the inaccessibility of the German texts, Fichte scholarship in the English-speaking world has tended to focus on the Jena period, neglecting the development of this major thinker's mature development. The essays collected in this book begin to correct this imbalance. Concerned in a variety of ways with Fichte's post-Jena philosophy, these essays by distinguished and emerging scholars demonstrate the depth and breadth of Fichte scholarship being done in English.
With an introduction that locates the essays in philosophical and historical terms, the book divides into three related categories: Fichte’s development, his view of religion, and other aspects of his "popular" (or not-so-popular) philosophy. From a wide range of perspectives, the essays show how Fichte’s later development reflects the philosophical concerns of his time, the specific debates in which he engaged, and the complex events of his philosophical career.
The philosophical thought of J. G. Fichte, particularly his later work, is at the very center of the paradigm shift under way in the field of German idealism. Crucial to this reassessment is Fichte's Wissenschaftslehre nova methodo of 1796 to 1799, the manuscript at the heart of this essay colleciton and an articulation of the philosopher's Wissenschaftslehre, or overall system of philosophy, which he discussed in lectures at the University of Jena. Coherent, comprehensive, and edited by two of the foremost Fichte scholars in the world, the essays provide a much needed introduction to the major themes of the most important period of Fichte's philosophical thought—and thus to German idealism itself—and make a persuasive case for the originality and continuing significance of the later Jena Wissenschaftslehre.