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(2014) The Palgrave handbook of German idealism, Dordrecht, Springer.

Transcendental idealism and theistic commitment in Fichte

Steven Hoeltzel

pp. 364-385

What does Fichte's philosophy, especially in writings relating to the "atheism dispute [Atheismusstreit]" (1798–1800), actually say about the intellectual basis and philosophical tenability of theistic belief? Fichte found himself at odds with his own audience on exactly this issue,1 and puzzlement on this point persists to this day. In 1798, he published the chapter "On the Basis of Our Belief in a Divine Governance of the World." This text's derivation of pre-philosophical religious conviction from ineluctable acts of ideation, coupled with its identification of God with the moral world order, can give the impression (and prompted the objection) that Fichte philosophically accounts for belief in God in a way that proves to be completely corrosive of any genuinely theistic commitment. And his attempts to rebut that objection, especially in Book III of 1800's The Vocation of Man (hereafter, "VM III"), depict and defend properly philosophical belief in a supreme being in a way that has perplexed and divided scholars right down to the present, and so seriously as to raise doubts about how well we have understood the essential content of his Jena-era transcendental idealism — from which, according to Fichte himself, The Vocation of Man does not radically depart.2

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-1-137-33475-6_19

Full citation:

Hoeltzel, S. (2014)., Transcendental idealism and theistic commitment in Fichte, in M. C. Altman (ed.), The Palgrave handbook of German idealism, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 364-385.

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