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Foundation of
Transcendental Philo oph
t \\u'1#'1Ur~) • - ~ (I infH99)

Foundations of
Transcendental Philosophy
(Wissenschaftslehre) Nuua Methodo





Cornell University Press gratefully acknowledges a grant from
the National Endowment for the Humanities, an independent
federal agency, and a subvention from The University of Kentucky,
both of which aided in bringing this book to publication.

Copyright © 1992 by Cornell University

All rights reserved. Except for brief quotations in a review, this book, or parts
thereof, must not be reproduced in any form without permission in writing
from the publisher. For information, address Cornell University Press,
124 Roberts Place, Ithaca, New York 14850.

First published 1992 by Cornell University Press.

International Standard Book Number o-8014-2767-3

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 92-52745
Printed in the United States of America
Librarians: Library of Congress cataloging information
appears on the last page of the book.

e ,The paper in this book meets the minimum requirements

of the American National Standard for Information Sciences-
Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z39-48-1984.
For Rebecca Cecile

Acknowledgments ix
Editor's ·Introduction
Principles of the Edition and Translation 50
German/English Glossary 55
Abbreviations 61
Key to Symbols and Notes 62

The Major Points of the Wissen.schaft.slehre of 1798-1799 65

First Introduction 77
Second Introduction 87
§ I 108
§ 2 121

§ 3 1 39
§ 4 147
§ 5 154
§ 6 167
§ 7 187
§ 8 204
§ 9 224
§ 10 234
§ 11 250
§ 12 258
§ 13 277
§ 14 308
§ 15 332
§ 10 344
§ 17 354
§ 18 420
§ 19 446

VIII Contents

Deduction of the Subdivisions of the Wissenschaftslehre


This translation project was begun in Munich in 1g8,5/86 under the

auspices of a Senior Research Fellowship from the Alexander von Hum-
boldt Foundation and was further facilitated by grants from the Univer-
sity of Kentucky and the Southern Regional Education Board. Final
revisions were made possible by a grant from the National Endowment
for the Humanities, an independent federal agency.
For research assistance and access to original manuscripts, I am grate-
ful to the directors and staff of the J. G. Fichte Archive and the Bavarian
Academy of the Sciences. I also thank Felix Meiner Verlag and Friedrich
Frommann Verlag (Gunther Holzboog), publishers of the two German
editions of Fichte's Wissenschaftslehre nuva methodo, for permission to
translate these texts into English.
Most of all, I would like to acknowledge my personal debt to the fol-
lowing individuals: Reinhard Lauth, who originally encouraged me to
embark upon this project, read the entire first draft of my translation,
and has remained an invaluable source of expert guidance and advice;
Erich Fuchs, who furnished me with essential philological and editorial
information concerning both the manuscripts and the published texts of
Fichte's lectures; Ives Radrizzani, whose outstanding French translation
of the Wissenschaftslehre nova methodo frequently served as a guide to spe-
cific questions concerning the translation and interpretation of the Ger-
man texts; Frederick Neuhouser, who read much of the second draft of
the translation and made many useful suggestions that have been incor-
porated into this final version; Anthony N. Perovich, Jr., for his valuable
corrections to the Editor's Introduction; Robert Rabel, for much-needed
advice on the translation of passages from Latin and Greek; Leonard
Peters, Acting Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies at the
University of Kentucky, for his generous support of the publication of
this volume; Yolanda Estes, for welcome editorial assistance; and finally,

[ ix]
x Acknowledgments

Wolfgang Natter, whose patient and insightful corrections of the final

draft of ~he translation were absolutely essential to the completion of
this project.
The extraordinary generosity with which these friends and colleagues
have shared with me their time, their energy, and their expertise has
been an unfailing source of encouragement and inspiration over the
past five years. It is no exaggeration to say that without the support and
assistance of the above-mentioned agencies, institutions, and individuals
this book would never have seen the light of day.
D. B.
Lexington, Kentucky
Foundations of Transcendental Philosophy
(Wissenschaft.slehre) nava methodo

The Origin and Publication of the First Presentation
of the Basic Principles of the Wisseruchaftslehre
In the spring of 1794 Fichte chose "Wisseruchaftslehre," a word com-
posed ofthe terms for "science" (or "scientific knowledge") and "theory"
(or "doctrine"), to designate his own, radically revised version of the
transcendental or "Critical" philosophy inaugurated by Immanuel Kant.
While conceding that his own version departed in many respects from
the "letter" of the Kantian exposition, Fichte insisted that his new sys-
tem-for all its novelty-was nevertheless true to the "spirit" of tran-
scendental idealism. 1
Fichte arrived at his new philosophical standpoint during the preced-
ing winter, in the course of a full-scale reexamination of the Kantian
philosophy. The occasion for this reexamination was a review he had
agreed to write for the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung of an anonymously
published attack on the Critical philosophy by "Aenesidemus," a self-
described Humean skeptic. The book was widely recognized to be the
work of a former classmate of Fichte's, G. E. Schulze (1761-1833), pro-
fessor of philosophy at Helmstedt. True to its title, Aenesidemw, or con-
cerning the Foundnl.ioru of the Elementary Philosophy Propountkd in Jena by
Professor Reiniwld, includi'1, a Deferue of Skepticism against the Pretensions of
the Grit~ of Pure &ason, this lengthy work examined and criticized not
For Fichu~·s own interpretation of the relationship of his philosophy to Kant's, see,
above all, the "Second Introduction" to An Allempt ala New Pr-smi/Jtion of the Wi.ssm<claajts-
W.n ( 1797). In SW, I: 453-5 18 = AA I, 4: 2og--6g; English translation by John l..achs,
"Second Introduction to the Science of Knowledge," in SK, pp. 29-"85. See list of abbre-
viations, p. 6 1 •
Aenesidemus o&T iiher- die Fundallfi1Jk oon dem Hernt Professor Reinhold in Jena geliejn--
len Elemenlar-Phiiosopllie: Nebsl einer Vn-t/teidjgung des Slupticismus gegen die An111iWtmgen
v.,..,.u~ (n.p.: n.p., 1792). For an English translation of an excerpt from Aenmdemus,
see Betwun Kant and Hegel: Texl.! mthe Developmmt of Post-Kantian lthalism, ed. George di

[ J 1
2 Editor's Introduction

only Kant's own writings, but also the radically revised "system" of tran-
scendental idealism developed by K. L. Reinhold under the name
Elementarphilosophie. 3 Though Fichte had considered himself a Kant ian
ever since his first exposure to the Critique of Pure Reason in the summer
of 1790 and had also been profoundly influenced by Reinhold's project
of recasting the Critical philosophy as a rigorous system based upon a
single first principle, he had nevertheless come to harbor growing
doubts concerning the adequacy of any of the existing presentations of
transcendental philosophy. It was perhaps for this reason that Aenesi-
demus was the first work he asked to review after being invited to become
a regular contributor to the influential Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung: in
order to defend the Critical philosophy against Schulze's attack he
would, as he no doubt realized, first have to confront and allay his own
doubts concerning this same philosophy.
Fortunately for Fichte, the task of reviewing Aenesidemus coincided
with one of the rare periods of genuine leisure that he was ever to enjoy,
the months immediately following his wedding in October •793· Fichte
and his bride spent the following winter and spring in Zurich, in the
home of his new father-in-law, Hartmann Rahn, 4 and it was thanks to
this opportunity that the young philosopher was, for the first time in his
life, able to devote himself solely to philosophical reflection for an ex-
tended period. Accordingly, he turned the task of preparing his review
into an occasion for reexamining his own previous philosophical com-
mitments and for formulating a new systematic strategy of his own. 5

Giovanni and H. S. Harris (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1985), pp. 104-35.
Regarding Schulze's skepticism, see Frederick C. Beiser, The Fau of Reason: German Philos-
ophy from Kant to Fichte (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1987), pp. 266-84.
'Concerning Reinhold's "Elementary Philosophy" or "Philosophy of the Elements," see
Beiser, The Fate of Reason, pp. 226-65, and Daniel Breazeale, "Between Kant and Fichte:
Karl Leonhard Reinhold's 'Elementary Philosophy,'" Review of Mewphysics 35 (1982):
Fichte first met his future wife, Johanna Rahn, while he was employed as a private tu-
tor in Zurich in 1788/89, immediately before he spent three years in Leipzig, Konigsberg,
and Warsaw. It was during the period between his first and second stays in Zurich that he
not only became acquainted with Kant's writings, but also became personally acquainted
with the author himself. By the time Fichte returned to Zurich in the summer of 1793, he
had already begun to establish a literary reputation for himself on the basis of the aston-
ishing success of his first book, the Attempt at a Critique of All Revelation and because of the
controversy surrounding his (anonymously published) writings on the French Revolution
and freedom of thought. For information concerning Fichte's career and writings before
1800, see Daniel Breazeale, "Fichte in Jena," editor's introduction to EPW.
5 Fichte's "Rezension des Aenesidemus" eventually appeared in February 1794 in Allge-

meine Literatur-Zeitung (SW,l: 1-25 = AA l, 2: 41--67; English translation inEPW, pp. 59-
77)- Concerning the significance of this text, see Daniel Breazeale, "Fichte's Aenesidemus
Review and the Transformation of German Idealism," Review of Mewphysics 34 (1981):
Editor's Introduction 3
Thus it was in the context of a detailed, private reconsideration of
Reinhold's system that Fichte first articulated the general outlines of
his own systematic presentation of transcendental idealism. Two of its
most striking features were ( 1) a dear-sighted recognition of the role of
"practical reason" in the constitution of all experience, including its
"theore~ical" portion (that is, the portion that includes our everyday, as
well as scientific, knowledge of the external world); and (2) an insistence
that the sole adequate starting point for a "scientific" system of philos-
ophy could only be the self-positing activity of the I. 6 Not until after he
had arrived at this new standpoint did he find what he considered to be
an appropriate name for it: WissenschafLilehre, or "theory of scientific
know ledge ."7
In the midst of this fruitful engagement with the writings of Reinhold
and Kant, Fichte received an unexpected invitation to succeed Reinhold
atjena, beginning in the summer semester of 1794. His initial response
to this remarkable offer, which he was certainly in no position to decline,
was to request a postponement in assuming the post, on the grounds
that it would be inappropriate for him to embark upon his new career
without first possessing a well-articulated system of his own to "profess."
To be sure, Fichte believed that he had already discovered the starting
point and even the main outlines of such a system; yet, as he confessed
in a letter to Reinhold of March 1, 1794, he also realized that "it is still
far from being clear enough to communicate." When his request for a
postponement was denied, Fichte believed that he had no other choice
but to try to force his new system into some son of communicable
form, no matter how provisional. Thus, barely three months after his

See, above all, the fascinating, unpublished document prepared by Fichle for his own
use during this period, ~Eigne Meditationen iiber ElementarPhilosophie/Practische Phi-
losophie" (AA II, 3: •g--~66}. Concerning its relationship to Fichte's subsequent develop-
ment, see Reinhold Lauth, "Genese du 'Fondement de toute Ia doctrine de Ia science' de
Fichte a partir de ses 'Meditations personnelles sur l'elementarphilosophie,' " Archive.< de
Philosophie 31 ( 197 1}: 5 1-79, a German version of which, "Die Entstehung von Fichtes
'Grundlage der gesammten Wissenschaftslehre' nach den 'Eignen Meditationen iiber El-
ementarPhilosophie,' "is included in Lauth's Transz:mdenlale E:fllwicJdungslinien von Descartes
bU zu Marx und Dostojnvski (Hamburg: Meiner, 1989), pp. 155-79. See too Peter Bau-
manns, Fichta Wissenschaftslehre: Problnne ihres Anfangs (Bonn: Bouvier, 1971), pp. 8o-g7.
Compare this, however, with Fichte's own later account of the "sudden" nature of his
new discovery, as reported by Henrick Steffens and by Fichte's nephew, Eduard F~ehte,
and quoted in FichU im Gespriich, ed. Erich Fuchs, 5 vols. (Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt:
Frommann-Holzboog, 1978-), 1: 63~4; English translation in EPW, pp. 12-13. Note too
that Fichte himself sometimes claimed that the ''basic insight" of the Wissenschaftskhre was
discovered several years earlier, during his brief stay in Konigsberg. See, e.g., the version
of this "di.'!COvery" reported in § 6 of the "Second Introduction to the Wissenschaftslehre"
(SW, 1: 173 = AA I, 4: ~5-26}.
The name first appears in Fichte's March 1, 1791, letter to Karl Bilttiger, in which he
explains that the purpose of this name is to distinguish his system from the mere "love of
knowledge," or "philosophy." Fichte's letters, which are here cited by date and recipient,
are published in Reih.e Ill of AA.
4 Editor's Introduction

comment to Reinhold, he was installed at Jena, where he did his best to

present the basic principles of his new system to his students.
As a result of these events, Fichte had to compress into a few months'
time the work of system building to which he had originally intended to
dedicate several years of "uninterrupted leisure." The first opportunity
to attempt to communicate his new systematic standpoint was not long
in .coming, thanks to an invitation he received to deliver a series of in-
formal lectures to his friends and associates in Zurich. These lectures,
which deserve to be called the first public presentation of the Wissen-
schaftslehre, took place in the late winter and early spring of 1794. 8 He
himself created the next occasion to articulate some of the outlines of his
new position by deciding to write a short book designed to furnish pro-
spective students atjena with a general description of his enterprise and
with an account of how such a philosophy was meant to relate to every-
day life and to other forms of knowledge. This "invitational" work, titled
Concerning tlu! Concept oft.h.e Wissenschaftslehre or of So-called Philosophy, was
published in Jena in May 1794. just before Fichte arrived there. 9
Fichte had originally intended to offer during his first semester at
Jena, in addition to his public lectures titled "Duties of Scholars," 10 two
private courses: 11 one on "theoretical" and one on "practical" philoso-
phy. He immediately abandoned this plan as overly ambitious, however,
and concentrated instead upon presenting the "theoretical" portion of
his new system, along with its first principles.
In planning his lectures on "theoretical philosophy," Fichte was free to
proceed as he pleased. As occupant of a chair devoted to "Critical phi-
losophy," he might well have chosen to base his lectures upon readings
from the published works of Kant or Reinhold. Or he might have dis-
pensed with a text altogether and simply lectured from his own notes.
Instead, he decided to write his own text; or, more precisely, he decided
to have the text of his lectures printed and distributed to his students
No text of the body of these lectures has survived, though the concluding lecture was
published by Fichte himself under the title Uebe-l du Wiirdt des Mtruchen (SW, 1: 412-16 =
AA l, 2: 83--89; English translation, "Concerning Human Dignity," in EPW, pp. 83--86).
Uebe-l den Begrijf der Wi.sseruchaft.slehre oder der sagannkn Philos"/Jhie (SW, 1: 29-
81 = AA l, 2: 107-63; English translation in EPW, 94-135). Note that though the work
itself is aboul the Wi.sseruchaftslehre (rather than a presentation of it), the original edition
concluded with a brief "hypothetical account" of the overall structure of the new system.
The first five of these lectures were published in 1 794 under the title Einige Vorle.sun-
gen abeT die Beslimmung des Gelehrlen (SW, VI: 291--346 = AA l, 3: 25-68; English trans-
lation, "Some Lectures Concerning the Scholar's Vocation," in EPW, pp. 144~).
In contrast with their public lectures, which were free and open to the entire univer-
sity community, professors at Jena (as at other German universities) also offered private
classes, which were open only to officially enrolled, tuition-paying students. By law, pro-
fessors were forbidden from exempting any student from this tuition charge (unless the
student in question had heen officially certified as indigent). Nevertheless, according to an
anonymous report, Fichte routinely violated this law and never turned away a student be-
cause he was unable to pay the honorarium. See Fuchs, ed., FichU im Gesprikh, II: 101.
Editor's Introduction 5
before each class, in order, as he explained, to allow his listeners to give
their full attention to the topic at hand, without having to worry about
making notes. According to the original plan, these printed pages were
to be distributed solely to the students attending Fichte's private lectures
on theoretical philosophy and were not intended to be circulated among
the gen~ral public. 12
Since the events and projects of the spring had left Fichte little time to
prepare his lectures, he found himself in the difficult position of having
to compose them as the semester progressed. Moreover, each portion of
the manuscript had to be delivered to the printer far enough in advance
so that the printed fascicles were available before the corresponding
class meeting. The disadvantages of this method of composition became
apparent to the author almost at once, leading him to complain that "no
sooner had one sheet been read through than another had to appear,
and thus I was forced to let it appear." 13
Indeed, it is difficult to imagine less congenial circumstances for the
preparation and publication of a major philosophical treatise. In the
years to come, Fichte himself frequently referred to these same exten-
uating circumstances to explain various shortcomings in the Foundations
of the Entire Wissenschaftslehre, which is the title he gave to the printed ver-
sion of his 1794'95 lectures. 14 By midsummer of 1794 he was already
apologizing to an old friend:

I am glad that you liked the style in which the invitational work [Concerning
the Concept of the Wissenschaftslehre] was written. Still, it makes me a bit uneasy
that you concentrate so much upon the style. This text, and especially the
preface to the same, was not written all at once; in order to do be able to do
this, one must have made the material entirely one's own, so that one can
simply play with it and can freely bear the chains of the system, as if they
were not chains at all. I have not mastered my own system in this manner,

12 See the previously mentioned letter to Bottiger, March 1, 1794: "I can now see for
myself something I have known for some time: namely, how inconvenient for teacher and
student alike it is to have to lecture without a textbook. This only serves to encourage the
sort of thoughtless note-taking I would like to abolish entirely-at least so far as my own
lectures are concerned. None of the available texts by Kant or Reinhold suits my purpose,
nor can I write a textbook of my own between now and the end of next month. Thus the
following expedient occurred to me: what if I were to distribute my textbook in install-
ments during the course as a maniLScript for the ILSe of my listeners (since I absolutely wish to
delay for a few years any presentation of my system for the public at large)? In any event,
I would like to defy the usual sneers with which printed texts that are supposed to be
treated as manuscripts are greeted. Isn't this the same as when a professor reads from his
own lecture notes? In order to show that I am serious about this, the text should not be pub-
lished in a regular trade edition at all, but should be distributed only on my instructions to my
students and others whom I might designate to receive it."
" Fichte to Goethe, September 30, 1794.
Grundlage der gesamten Wissenschaftslehre [henceforth GWL] (SW, I: 86-328 = AA I, 2:
251-461; translated into English as "Foundations of the Entire Science of Knowledge" by
Peter Heath in SK, pp. 89-286).
6 Editor's Introduction

however, and it will be difficult for me ever to accomplish this, for it is pro-
found. Nevertheless, I will wait for this to happen and will devote effort to
the task. Concerning this same point, you will not be satisfied with the text-
book I am now writing (which you can read when you arrive). To be sure, I
could have written better, but I had to let it go as it stood, since the printer
needed the manuscript and I needed a text for my lectures. 15

For some reason (quite possibly the welcome prospect of income from
sales), 16 Fichte soon abandoned his original resolve not to issue a public
edition of his printed lectures. Accordingly, in September 1794, the first
half of the Foundations of the Entire Wissenschaftslehre (Parts I and II) was
publicly advertised and offered for sale by the Jena firm of Christian Gab-
ler, albeit with a title page that included the note "a manuscript for the
use of his students."
In the winter semester of 1794"95 Fichte offered two private courses:
one in which he dealt with the "practical" portion of his new system
(Part III of the Foundations) and another devoted to "specifically theo-
retical" aspects of the Wissenschaftslehre. 17 It appears that in these courses
he continued his practice of having his text printed and distributed in
installments to his students. In any case, by midsummer of 1795 both
these two new texts (Part III of the Foundations, as well as the Outline of
the Distinctive Character of the Wissenschaftslehre with Respect to the Theo-
retical Faculty) were available for public distribution and sale, 18 though,

"Letter to F. A. Weisshuhn, July •794· The same point is repeated in other letters of
the period. See, e.g., Fichte's letter to Goethe of June 21, 1794, as well as his July 2, 1795,
letter to Reinhold, in which he begs his correspondent to "bear in mind that what you have
received so far is a manuscript for the use of my students. It was hastily written while I was
busy with my lectures (in the winter semester I had three lecture courses, all of which had
to be worked out almost completely) and with a thousand other diverse activities. I had to
see that the written sheets came to an end at the same time as the lectures."
16 See the comment in Fichte's May 26, 1794, letter to his wife, in which, after complain-
ing about his meager income, he went on to express his hopes of earning some additional
money from his writings. After reponing that he was engaged "in writing a book for my
lectures," he added that he had just received from his publisher a payment of "2 •!. louis
d'or = 2 1 Zurich florins" for the first pages. A bit later in the same paragraph Fichte said
he hoped to earn as much as 500 florins from his literary activities during the first se-
mester. By June •4-17, '794• in another letter to Johanna, he had already raised the es-
timate of how much he expected to earn from his textbook to "6oo florins." In this same
letter he also divulged his plans to write two more texts ("uhrbUcher"-Pt. III of the Foun-
dations and the Outline of the Di.ttinctive Character of the Wi.s.seruchaftslehre with &spect to the
Theoretical Faculty) during the winter semester, the income from which would, he antici-
pated, alleviate his precarious financial situation. From these passages it appears, first of
all, that Fichte almost immediately abandoned his original plan not to publish the Grund-
lage, and second, that purely financial considerations played at least some role in this
Grundri{J des Eigentumlichen der Wi.s.seruchaftslehre in RUksicht auf das theoretische Vt'nll(jgen
[henceforth GEWL) (SW, 1: 331-411 = AA I, 3: 137-208; English translation in EPW, pp.
A one-volume edition of the Foundations, including all three parts, plus the preface to
the whole, originally issued along with Pan III, was published by Gabler in September
Editor's Introduction 7
once again, their title pages bore the somewhat unconvincing disclaimer
that they were "manuscripts for the use of his students." This caveat was
repeated in the general preface to the Foundations, in which the author
began with the reminder that "this book was not really intended for the
public" and then went on to confess:

I myself declare this presentation to be extremely imperfect and defective:

in part, because it had to be published in individual fascicles, as I needed it
for my lectures, and for the use of my students, where I could augment it
through verbal presentation; and in part, because I have sought, insofar as
possible, to avoid any fixed terminology-which is the easiest way for liter-
alists to rob any system of its spirit and to transform it into a dried-out skel-
eton. I shall remain true to this maxim in future revisions of the system,
until I have arrived at the final and complete presentation of it. 19

From the very beginning, therefore, Fichte considered the Foundations

nothing more than a provisional exposition of the first principles of the
Wissenschaftslehre and anticipated that it would soon be replaced by a
more adequate exposition.
This point was reinforced by the advertisement (almost certainly writ-
ten by Fichte himself) for the first half of the Foundations, in which the
following passage occurs:

The author believes he owes it to the public to declare explicitly that the
present work, which stems from his lectures, is incomplete in his own eyes..
It will still be several years before he can hope to present this work to the
public in a worthy form. Until then, he requests that the book be considered
no more than a manuscript the author had printed for the convenience of
his students, considering that preferable to having them copy it down as he
lectured. It is for this reason that he is reluctant to see it submitted to public
criticism. 20

Nevertheless, by the fall of 1795 readers all over the German-speaking

world were able to purchase and to study what everyone began referring
to simply as "Fichte's Wissenschaftslehre." Fichte himself, however, never
intended these published lectures to be an adequate presentation of his
entire system; on the contrary, as the very title of the Foundations de-
clares, this work is merely a presentation of the "foundations" or "first
principles" of a much larger system, whereas the Outline (which attempts

•795· Note that Fichte himself always treated the Outline as an integral part of the system
sketched out in the Foundalions. Hence, when a second edition of the latter was finally pub-
lished in 1802, it appeared in a single volume along with the Outline.
19 SW, 1: 87 = AA I, 2: 252.
This advertisement first appeared in the October 1, 1794, "lntelligenzblatt" of the
Allgemeine Literalur-Zeilung and is reprinted in AA I, 2: 183.
8 Editor's Introduction

to derive from these first principles what Fichte took to be the assump-
tions of the CritiiJue of Pure Reason, namely, space, time, and the manifold
of sensible intuition) represents an extension into the narrower field of
"theoretical philosophy." Accordingly, for the next few semesters Fichte
turned his attention almost exclusively to the elaboration of the "prac-
tical" portions of his system-specifically, to an examination and pre-
sentation of its implications for the theory of "natural right" (or natural
law) and for ethics. 21

Fichte's Dissatisfaction with the Foundations of

the Entire Wissenschaftslehre
As we have seen, Fichte's own doubts concerning the published Foun-
dations were apparent from the start, and these personal misgivings were
quickly confirmed by the public criticism-indeed, ridicule-to which
the work was subjected. Fichte's typical response toward any criticism of
his system was to attribute it either to personal animosity or to sheer mis-
understanding, and he seldom hesitated to blame the latter on the pro-
fessional incapacities or moral failings of his critics. Nor did he consider
failures of understanding to be limited to his adversaries; for, as he soon
came to realize, some of the most serious and fateful misreadings of his
philosophy were to be found among the more enthusiastic supporters
and exponents of the Wissenschaftslehre. 22
Fichte always displayed a starkly ambivalent attitude toward his read-
ers and toward what he considered to be the failure of friends and foes
alike to understand and to appreciate his project-if not the execution
thereof. Often, he appeared thoroughly exasperated by what seemed to
him his readers' almost willful failure to understand his writings, which
21 See the two systematic treatises Fichte prepared during the period 1795/97, treatises
that, like the Grundlage, originated as private lecture courses: Grundlage des Naturreclus
nach Principien tier Wissenschaftslehre, published in two parts in 1796 and 1797 (SW, III: 1-
385 = AA I, 3: 313-400 and AA I, 4: 5-165) and Das S,stem der SiUnalehre nach den Prin-
cipien der Wissenschaftslehre (SW, IV: 1-365 = AA I. 5: 19-317). Both these important
works were translated (albeit very inadequately) into English by A. E. Kroeger in the pre-
vious century: The Science of Rights (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1869) and The Science of Ethics
a.< Brued on the Science of Knowledge (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Triibner, 1897).
22 See, e.g., the following passage from an unfinished and unpublished essay written
during the fall of 1800, in which Fichte attempted to take stock of the public reception of
his philosophy: "The Foundatioru of the [Enlire] Wissenschaftslehre [ ... ] is useless, at least for
those who have spoken in public about it. For, as I gather from almost all public judgments
of my philosophy and from the reproaches of opponents who actually want the very same
thing that I do, as well as from the objections to my philosophy and from the new efforts
that are devoted to philosophy, no one yet possesses any knowledge whatsoever of what I
am attempting to do. And anyone who does not already know this and has not learned it from
the previously mentioned writings and treatises must necessarily misunderstand the Foun-
dation.> completely, in which case the approval that this work has received here and there
is an even worse sign than the disapproval it has encountered" (AA II, 5: 438).
Editor's Introduction 9
he defended as perfectly adequate in their own right. Sometimes, as in
the unpublished "Report on the Concept of the Wissenschaftslehre and
the Fate of the Same so far" of 18o6, he defended his first presentation
in just these terms; 23 more often, however, he displayed a more chari-
table attitude toward the readers of thu work and assumed at least part
of the responsibility for what he considered to be the well-nigh universal
failure of readers to understand the Foundations of the Entire Wissen-
schaftslehre. Rather than defend the Foundations, he more often directed
those who raised questions or objections concerning it to his other writ-
ings, even as he continued to chide his critics for failing to heed his
warning that the work in question was "never intended for anyone"
beyond his own students. 24 Ironically, Fichte's published and unpub-
lished writings contain a far greater number of negative comments
about this, his most famous and influential book, than about anything
else he wrote.
In attempting to account for the failure of the Foundations, Fichte
tended to blame certain defects in the manner of presentation he had
adopted in it. For example, in the preface to the first installment of his
AtJ.empt at a New Presentation of the Wissenschaftslehre ( 1797), immediately
after rejecting all public criticism of his system as based upon nothing
more than sheer misunderstanding, he added: "I am willing to bear all
the blame for the Iauer, until such time as people have had an oppor-
tunity to become acquainted with the contents of my system in some
other form, in which case they may find that the original presentation is
not so totally inaccessible after all." 25
Consistent with this self-criticism, Fichte lost no opportunity during
the next several years to rectify the inadequacies of his first presentation
and to deflect attention from the Foundations. In pursuit of this aim, he
directly addressed various criticisms and misunderstandings in a series
of polemical essays, some of which include brilliant summaries of the
overall gist and strategy of the Wissenschaftslehre. 26 Furthermore, he
prefaced each of the two major systematic works he published in the
' "The old presentation [the Foundations] is good and sufficient for the time being."
Berichl Uber den Begriff dtrr Wissmschaftskhre und dU bisherigm Schic/uale dtrrse/bn; (SW, Vlll:
i "What have you found unsatisfactory in my p£e~ious presentation of the Wissm-

schaftslehre? Surely not the principles? If you are dissatisfied with the manner of deduction,
and if you are speaking of the published Foundations, then you are quite right to find much
that is unsatisfactory. This text was never intended for anyone but my own students.
Friend and foe alike have generally overlool<ed this" (Fichte to Schmidt, Man:h 17, 1799).

25 SW, 1: 420 = AA I, 4: 184.
An especially noteworthy example is provided by the Vergleichung de vom Herrn Prof.
Schmid aufgestellten Systems mit dtrr Wissmschaftslehu, which Fichte published in the Phillr in the spring of 1796 (SW, ll: 421-58 = AA l, 3: 235-66; partial English
translation, "A Comparison between Prof. Schmid's System and the Wissmschajhlehre," in
EPW, pp. 31~40).

10 Editor's Introduction

next few years (the Foundations of Natural Right and the System of Ethical
Theory) with succinct reformulations of the basic tenets of his philosophy.
Such essays and passages, however, were never intended to be any-
thing more than provisional measures, temporary means for correcting
the· public's judgment of the Wissenschaftslehre until such time as he could
replace the first, inadequate presentation of the foundations of the same
with a more adequate and less easily misunderstood new presentation.
Thus he frequently announced his intention to provide, at the first op-
portunity, an entirely new presentation in his private lectures. 27
Before turning to these new lectures, however, let us pause to consider
more closely the nature of Fichte's dissatisfaction with his previous pre-
sentation. What did he consider to be defective about the Foundations,
and how did he himself account for these shortcomings?
The chief shortcoming of the first presentation of the foundations of
the Wissenschaftslehre, according to its author, was a lack of systematic
unity. "It gives off sfarks of spirit," he confessed to Reinhold, "but it is
not a single flame." 2 In other words, his complaint concerned the form
rather than the content of the presentation (though, of course, for any-
one who attaches as much importance to "systematic form" as Fichte
did, this is by no means an inconsequential objection).
Fichte offered a variety of explanations for the formal inadequacy of
the Foundations and the defective character of its presentation. First of
all, as we have already seen, he called attention to the (admittedly self-
imposed) external pressure he was under at the time, and specifically, to
the deleterious effect of the deadlines dictated by the printer. And in-
deed, one would expect that a work written under such circumstances,
in which the separate pages went to the printer before the ink had had
time to dry and the first sections were printed and circulated before
the later ones were even drafted, might well display a certain lack of for-
mal unity.
Second, he called attention to the fact that the Foundations was written
at a time when the "discovery" of the Wissenschaftslehre was still fresh (if
not still under way) and when the basic outlines, to say nothing of the
details, of his system were not yet firmly fixed in his own mind. In this
vein, he chastised Reinhold for paying too much attention to the pre-
See, e.g., the following passage from a letter written from Bremen in August 17g6 by
one of Fichte's ex-students, Johann Smidt, to J. F. Herbart, who was then attending Fichte's
lectures in Jena: "Also write me something concerning Fichte's theory of freedom. I do not
know how it looks now, since he has revised it at least three times. The last I heard from
him in Jena was that he was no longer entirely satisfied with his previous ideas on this
topic-though he himself did not at that time know what he would replace them with"
(Fuchs, ed., Fichu im Gesprach, 1: 370).
Letter to Reinhold, March 21, 1797: "Your evaluation of mJ presentation, as it has
appeared so far, is much too favorable. Or perhaps the content has allowed you to overlook
the deficiency of the presentation. I consider it to be most imperfect. Yes, I know that it
gives off sparks of spirit, but it is not a singk flame."
Editor's Introduction I I

sentation of 1794'95 and added: "Concerning the main points I am cer-

tain, but once someone has grasped these he does far better to rely on
himself rather than on this very immature ~resentation. How much
more clearly I understand this science now!" 9 Fichte makes a similar
point at the very beginning of the Halle transcript of the Wissenschafts-
lehre !"OVa metlwdo, where he notes that the new exposition of the first
principles of transcendental philosophy would be presented with "a lib-
erty for which the author was not yet sufficiently self-<:onfident at the
time that he published his Wissenschaftslehre. "30
A third explanation that Fichte offered for the inadequacy of the
Foundations concerns the specific theoretical context within which it was
conceived and elaborated: namely, the context determined by (1) Kant's
Critiques, (2) Reinhold's attempt to reconstruct the Critical philosophy in
the form of a system derived "from a single principle," and (3) Schulze's
skeptical criticisms of them both. Above all, it is the Foundations' close
reliance upon some of the key ideas and even the terminology of the
Elementarphilosophie which Fichte appears to have had foremost in mind
when he later remarked that "my published Wissenschaftslehre bears too
many traces of the time in which it was written and of the manner of
philosophizing which then prevailed. This made it more obscure than a
presentation of transcendental idealism needs to be." 31
An example of what Fichte may have meant by this veiled reference is
provided by Part I of the Foundations, which purports to present the
three "first principles" of the new system. This entire discussion, which
is heavily indebted to Reinhold's account of the nature and starting
point of a philosophical system and, indeed, has its roots in the ratio-
nalism that dominated German philosophy before Kant, 32 is dispensed
with entirely in the new presentation of 1796/99· which completely
abandons all the talk about "first principles" that was so characteristic of
the earlier presentation.
Another example of how the presentation contained in the Founda-
tions may have been unduly influenced by "the manner of philoso-
phizing which then prevailed" is the organization of the work into a
"theoretical'' and a "practical" portion. A sharp distinction between
theoretical philosophy and practical philosophy, which, of course, has
its roots in Kant's distinction between the spheres of theoretical and
Letter to Reinhold, July 4, 1 797.
AA IV, 2: 17. See below, p. 86.
Letter to Friedrich Johannsen, January 31, 1801.
32 As' Heinz Heimsoeth points out, "the demand for the 'supreme first principle' of all

knowledge runs from Wolff to Kant and from Kant to Reinhold"; hence the demand for
a "first principle," which is such a salient feature of the first presentation of the Wissen-
schaftslehre, is, at the same time, the most backward-looking aspect of it. "Fichtes System-
entwicklung in seinen Jenenser Vorlesungen," Blauer fur Deutsche Philosophie 13 (1939):
12 Editor's Introduction

practical reason, was also a feature of Reinhold's Elementarphiwsophie

(though, the latter's treatment of practical philosophy was, as Fichte
noted, perfunctory at best). One of the chief aims of the Wissenschafts-
lehre was to take seriously the celebrated Kantian dictum concerning
"the primacy of practical reason" and to demonstrate not simply the
practical primacy of practical reason, but its primacy within the theoret-
ical sphere as well-to show that willing is a condition for knowing, and
thereby to demonstrate the unity of theory and practice. Indeed, as
Fichte boasted, the biggest advance of the Wissenschaftslehre over the let-
ter (if not the spirit) of the Kantian philosophy was that, by choosing as
its starting point the self-positing of the I, it was able to overcome the
Kantian distinction between theory and practice and thus to unify in a
single presentation speculative, theoretical, and practical reason,
thereby displaying "the unity underlying all three Critiques.''33 The Foun-
dations was intended to display this very unity in a revolutionary new
manner. Unfortunately, however, many readers were prevented from
recognizing this achievement precisely because of its form, more specif-
ically, because of its division into "theoretical" and "practical" portions,
a division obviously influenced by the author's intense engagement dur-
ing 1793/94 with the writings of Kant and Reinhold. Nothing interfered
more with the overall project of presenting "philosophy as a whole" 34
than this theoretical/practical structure of the first presentation.
Yet another way in which the Foundations was indebted to Reinhold's
Elementarphiwsophie was in its method of presentation and in the overall
path of the inquiry, which begins with an "absolute first principle" (that
is, with something purely intelligible, the productive deed or Act of the
I) and then proceeds to the "deduction" of the realm of empirical ex-
perience. Though such a method would present no particular problems
to those familiar with the rationalistic systematic ideal underlying Rein-
hold's enterprise, Fichte discovered that many of his students and read-
ers had great difficulty following the path of his argument; indeed,
many professed to be unable even to locate its starting point. Accord-
ingly, in his new presentation, he chose to follow what he himself de-
scribed as a "much more natural path," one that reversed the direction
of the previous presentation and proceeded from empirical experience

~~ Fichte to Reinhold, July 2, •795·

,... This is emphasized in the paragraph that stands at the head of the Halle transcript of
the Wissenschaftslehre nooo methodo: "In the present lectures, however, the hitherto familiar
division between theoretical and practical philosophy is not to be found. Instead, these lee·
tures present philosophy as a whole, in the exposition of which theoretical and practical
philosophy are united. This presentation follows a much more natural path, beginning
with the practical sphere, or, whenever it would contribute to the clarity of the exposition
to do so, transforming the practical into the theoretical, in order to explain the latter in
terms of the former: a liberty for which the author was not yet sufficiently self<onfident
at the time that he published his Wissenschaftslehre" (AA IV, 2: 17; see below, p. 86).
Editor's Introduction 13

to intelligible conditions-from Tatsache to Tathandlung rather than vice

versa. 35 Rather than having to begin their study of the Wissenschaftslehre
by grappling with an "absolute first principle" asserting that "the I sim-
ply posits itself," readers of the new presentation would simply be asked
to "think about the wall."
To be sure, Fichte's frequent criticisms of the Foundations' form and
manner of presentation were never intended to imply that it was false or
invalid. Instead, he conceded merely that many readers had found his
original presentation obscure and difficult to grasp. Accordingly, he al-
ways viewed the task of composing a new one as that of finding new
wineskins for old wine and not as that of altering the actual content or
principles of his system. In short, his reasons for wanting to replace the
original presentation with a new one were entirely pedagogic.
Finally, in addition to the external circumstances of its composition
and its undue reliance upon outdated principles of presentation, Fichte
sometimes attributed the Foundations' failure to meet with public ap-
proval (or at least understanding) to his own deficiencies as an author.
More specifically, he blamed what he perceived to be his lack of empathy
with his readers: "I am so little capable of placing myself in the frame of
mind of the reading public; I always assume that many things are self-
evident which hardly anyone else finds to be so." 36 To the extent that
this represents a fair description of Fichte's limitations as an author, it is
difficult to see how he could ever hope to remedy them in any presen-
tation of his system, no matter how "new." And indeed, as we shall see,
it was his own growing self-awareness of this "deficiency" which, more
than anything else, accounts for his later decision not to publish any of
the many subsequent versions of the Wissenschaftslehre, but rather to con-
fine himself exclusively to oral presentations, which permitted him
more easily to "empathize" with his listeners and directly to address their
doubts and questions.

Fichte's Lectures on Wissenschaftslehre nova methodo

Fichte did not lecture on the first principles of the Wissenschaftslehre
during the 1795/96 academic year (when he was preoccupied with the
preparation and publication of his treatment of natural right), though
he had "long announced his intention to use a new manuscript as

"'"Prompted by the circumstances of the time, the primary aim of the earlier version
was to show that all our consciousness has its foundation in the eternally valid laws of our
thinking. In addition to this, however, this new presentation also provides us with the in-
telligible world as a solid substrate for the empirical one" (AA IV, 2: 150; see below, p. 314).
Tatsache is the ordinary German word for "fact"; Talhandlung is a word Fichte invented to
designate the (self-)productive deed of the I, and in this volume it is translated as "Act."
' Letter to Reinhold, April 22, •799·
14 Editor's Introduction

the basis for his lectures on the Wissenschaftslehre. " 37 Accordingly, for
the summer semester of 1796 he announced a private course on "the
foundations of transcendental philosophy (or, in the vernacular, Wissen-
schaftslehre).'''"8 In fact, however, he canceled his classes for the summer
semester of 1796 and did not lecture again until the winter semester
of 1796/97. Though the reasons for this cancellation are unclear, at
least one explanation may be that Fichte found himself unable to com-
plete his total revision of the presentation of the first principles of the
Wissenschaftslehre in time for the new semester and was unwilling simply
to repeat his lectures of 1794'95. 39 Therefore, it seems likely that he de-
voted most of his effort during the summer to this "new presentation."
In any event, the course catalog for the winter semester of 1796/97
announced that Fichte would be offering a private course on "the foun-
dations of transcendental philosophy (the Wissenschaftslehre) according to
a new method and in a more expeditious fashion, according to a manu-
script, but based upon his books. [ ... ]During the vacation he will pub-
licly announce the plan of his course on transcendental philosophy." 40
Before the opening of the semester, which officially began on October
17, Fichte wrote to Reinhold that he was busy with "two courses I have
taught before, but which I am working on as if I had never worked them
out before.'-4 1 That Fichte actually accomplished this total revision, at
least insofar as his lectures on the foundations of transcendental philos-
ophy were concerned, is confirmed by another letter to Reinhold writ-
ten at the end of the winter semester (March 1797), in which he re-
marked: "I have completely reworked my presentation, just as if I had
J. F. Herbart to Johann Smidt, July 1, 17g6. The passage from the letter in which this
report is included is worth quoting at length, simply as evidence of how completely
Fichte's beuer students were caught up in the spirit of his enterprise. Thus Herbart writes
to his friend that "this summer I am chiefly occupied with the task of trying to come to
terms once and for all with the WW..nsdtaftslehre-i.e. (though I say this in confidence), to
construct one for myself. For the fact is that, even though I would never have amounted
to anything at all without Fichte, I am unable to recognize the unqualified truth of even
a single page of his book-in the form in which it now srands. I feel that it is permissible
for me to whisper this candidly to a friend, and the best evidence that this is permissible
is surely the fact that Fichte himself has long announced his intention to use a new manu-
script as the basis for his lectures on the Wisseruchajulehre next winter (since the course was
not offered this summer). Hence my desire first to seek my salvation on my own is all the
greater" (Fuchs, ed., Fichlt im Gespriich, I: 36o).
38 In the advance course caralog (ciUalogus proelectiunum), this course was described as

"privalwim.ejundnmeniJJ p!UlosophiLu transcmdmialis (vemacule die Wwenschaftslehre)." For a

complete listing of all Fichte"s lectures at Jena, see EPW, pp. 46-49·
39 This is the explanation proposed by lves Radrizzani in the preface to his French trans-

lation of the Wiuenschaftslehre now met~Jodn.,: La Doctrine de Ia Selena Now Metlwdo, suiui de
ESJai d'une Nouvelle PrlsmJaliLm de Ia DocJjne de Ia Science (Lausanne: Editions de I'Age
d'Homme, •9B9). P· •3· [
40 "privalim: hora III-IV fundnmeniJJ pliilosophiae trans.<eendentalis (die Wissenschaftslehre)

nova m.etlwdo, etlonge o;peditiori, secundum dic141a ad/Ubitis suis Ubris txponet. [ • .. ] Puhlice per
feriaJ rationem lectinnum suarum in philosophiam tranSJcmdmialem reddet.
41 Letter to Reinhold, August ~7. 17g6.
Editor's Introduction 15
never worked it out at aJI and as if I knew nothing about the old pre-
sentation." In this, as well as in each of the two following winter se-
mesters, Fichte lectured on the Wissenschaftslehre nova metlwdo every
weekday afternoon from three to four, from which one can calculate
that the entire course was divided into approximately sixty one-hour
lectures. 42
Before proceeding to discuss the two subsequent series of lectures on
Wissenschaftslehre nova methodo, however, let us pause to address a ques-
tion raised by the course catalog's description of the lectures of 1796/g7:
Why did Fichte continue to describe this profoundly different presen-
tation of the first principles of his system as "based upon his books"?
Two, by no means incompatible, answers suggest themselves. First, it is
possible that by acquainting his students with two different versions of
what he always insisted was only one and the same system, he meant to
demonstrate a point often emphasized in his public and private com-
ments on his various presentations of the Wissenschaftslehre: the impor-
tance of attaching as little value as possible to the "letter" of his system
and of seeking instead to discover its underlying "spirit."43 In Fichte's
estimation, it was by no means a disadvantage for a philosopher to alter
the terminology in which his system was presented; instead, it was a
dear virtue and, indeed, for an author such as Fichte, a virtual necessity.
Hence he often called attention to his own, explicit decision to eschew
any fixed terminology in the presentation of his system and frequently
emphasized the fact that "the Wissenschaftslehre possesses no special ter-
minology of its own." 44 And indeed, to the occasional despair of scholars
and students, each successive version of his system ( 179af94, •7w/95·
17g6/gg, 18oii2, 18o4J'5, etc.) possesses its own distinctive vocabulary
and method of presentation. On the one hand, it is easy to imagine the
extreme confusion that must have been produced in the minds of
students attending Fichte's lectures on Wissenschaftslehre nova metlwdo
when they turned to the Foundations of the Entire Wissenschaftslehre for as-
sistance in unriddling the difficulties of the former! On the other hand,
See the discussion of this point by Erich Fuchs in the introduction to his edition of the
Krause transcript: J. G. Fichte, Wis:senschaftskhr~ '/WOO m11tlwdo. Kolkgnacluchrift Chr. Fr.
Kmu.s~ 1798/gg (Hamburg: Meiner, tg811}, p. xii.
'"This point is emphasized in the brief preface that Fichte wrote in August 1801 for the
second, one-volume edition of the Foundlllions and Oulline: ''The majority of the philo-
sophical public still does not seem so well prepared for this new point of view that they will
find it useless to have the same content available in two very different forms, nor will it be
useless for them to learn to recognize this identity of content for themselves" (SW, I:
85 = AA l, 2: 461; English translation, EPW, pp. 238--39}.
Fichte to Reinhold, July 4• •797· See too the previously quoted remarks on this topic
contained in the preface to the first edition of the FoundatUms and in the preface to the
second edition of Concerning the Canup!., in which Fichte reaffirms his initial decision to
present his system in a «a form that shuns the fixed letter" and «protects its inner spirit"
(SW, I: 36 = AA l, 11: 1611).
16 Editor's Introduction

as Siegfried Berger observed in his pioneering work on the Wil:sen-

schaftslehre nava 111£/hodo, "this difficulty into which Fichte plunged his lis-
teners corresponded precisely with his pedagogic first principle: 'Think
for yourself!' " 45
A second possible explanation for Fichte's surprising decision to em-
ploy his old textbooks in conjunction with his new lectures is less ex-
alted: perhaps he simply wanted the income from the sales of the older
presentation, or perhaps he wished to deplete the existing stock of the
older version to dear the way for the publication of a "new presenta-
tion" of the first principles of the Wil:senschaftslehre. 46 ln the light of
Fichte's undoubtedly sincere conviction that the content of his earlier
presentation remained valid, this explanation is perhaps not as cynical
as it may appear; and many readers of the Foundations and the Wil:sen-
schaftslehre nava 111£thodo have discovered that the two presentations do in
fact complement and illuminate each other-though this is hardly ap-
parent upon a first reading.
For the winter semester of t797/g8, which began on October 16,
Fichte once again offered a private course of lectures on the first prin-
ciples of his system, this time described in the catalog as "foundations of
transcendental philosophy on the basis of his books, The Foundations of
tlU! Wil:senschaftslehre and the Oulline of tlU! Distinctive Character [of the Wis-
senschaftslehre with &spect to the Theoretical Faculty ].'>47 On the basis of this
Siegfried Berger, Uebn nn.. unveriiffenUU:Iut WWenschaftsuhre]. G. FichUs Uman
Kolleghandschrifl der Ha/Wclun Universifiibbib/WlN/r Y g 21.) (Marburg: Noslte, ogo8), p. 4·
In the fall of 1799, Fichte's publisher, Chrinian Ernst Gabler, reminded Fichte (who
was then at worlt on his "New Presentation" of the Wissenscluiftsuhn) that "the original ver-
sion is not yet completely sold out." After politely asking the author to bear this fact in
mind while preparing his "New Presentation," Gabler then went on to suggest that the
projected new boolt should include as many references as possible to Fichte's earlier writ-
ings-to help deplete the publisher's remaining stoclt. See Gabler's November 1 1, 1799,
leuer to Fichte.
Anyone who studies Fichte's correspondence isliltely to be astonished by how much of it
is de•uted to purely financial problems and questions, including lawsuits with publishers,
inquiries about sales and royalties, and so on. To be sure, such a concern is quite under-
standable on the pan of anyone in Fichte's extraordinary personal and financial circum-
stances. What is less understandable is how completely these same circumstances have
been ignored by succeeding generations of Fichte scholars. This is unfonunate, since it is
quite unlikely that one can obtain an accurate understanding of the genesis and evolution
of Fichte's philosophy, and especially of the publication history of his writings, by willfully
ignoring his peculiar personal circumstances. As an example of the possible distonions
produced by such an "ideal" approach to the study of the history of philosophy, consider
the claim made by Berger (and many others) that Fichte's decision in 18o 1 to authorize a
second edition of the F=ndal.ions demonstrates that "despite his closer acquaintance with
all its shortcomings, he must have still considered it to be correct in its fundamental
thoughts" (Uebn eiru unveroffentlic/ue WWen.scluiftsuhTI!, p. 95). Then again, as an unem-
ployed ex-professor trying to earn a living as an author, he may have been more concerned
with the extra income from a second edition of the F=ndluions than with reaffirming the
"correctness" of a worlt whose manner of presentation he himself had criticized so sharply.
47 "privatim: hom III-IV fundamenla philosophiae lran.ucendenlalis ex suit librU (Grundlage der

Wi.tsenscluiftsuhre, et, Grundri~ des Eigrnlhumliclun, etc.)."

Editor's Introduction I 7
description, some previous scholars, beginning with Hans Jacob, 48 con-
cluded that in 1797/98 Fichte did not lecture on the Wissenschnft.Ilehre
nava methodb at all, but instead based his course upon the •794'95 pre-
sentation of the foundations of his system. All more recent scholars,
however, agree that it is far more likely that in the winter semester of
1797/98 Fichte repeated his lectures on the Wissenschnft.Ilehre nava met.h-
odo from_the previous year, while at the same time making a gTeater and
more concerted effort to emphasize the relationship between this new
presentation of the foundations of the Wiuenschaft.Ilehre and the older
one. This is also suggested by the following description of the course,
written by Fichte himself and recently discovered among his papers:

Many of my listeners have been unwilling to dispense with the convenience

of a printed textbook for these lectures. In order to satisfy this desire, I will
this time follow more closely my published books concerning the Wis.sen-
sdiaftslehre (Grundlage tkr gesamJen Wmenschfl. u. Grundri{J des Eigentii.mlichen)
than l did in my last lectures on the Wissenschaftslehre, though without dis-
pensing with whatever, as a result of further reflection, I can contribute to
the greater clarity of this science. 49

Fichte offered his lectures on the Wissenschaftslehre nova methodo for

one last time in the winter semester of •798/99, when the course was
described as "foundations of transcendental philosophy (the Wissen-
schnft.Ilehre) according to a new method, but utilizing his book.s." 50
Though the semester officially began on October 15, 1798, Fichte ap-
parently did not begin his private lectures on the Wissenschaft.Ilehre nova
met.hodo until October 25. 51 The course ended on March 14, 1799, at the
very moment when the so-called Atheism Controversy was reaching its
denouement. By the end of the month Fichte had forfeited !'tis position
at the institution that had received him so warmly scarcely five years

48 See Jacob's preface to Fkhte, Nacllg~lasst!fl€ &hriflnl, Vol. II: Schriflnl aus dm jahrm
179o-18oo (Berlin: Junker und Diinnhaupt, 1937), p. xxix. Note, however, that the an-
nouncement of the 1 7g8/99 lectures, which, thanlr.s to the discovery of the Krause tran-
script, we can now be certain were devoted to a presentation of the Wissm.uhaftsW.r• nova
melh«Ui, also mentions that in his lectures Fichte will be "utilizing his boolr.s" ("tamen sui
libris"), though they are not mentioned by name.
AA IV, 2: 5· Commenting on this description, the editors of AA IV, ~ cautiously ob-
serve that it is quite possible that Fichte simply meant "to emphasize that he still adhered
to the fundamental thoughts of the printed Wissmschaftslehr•, so that the latter could still
serve as a textbook for his lectures."
..., "privaJim: horn Il/-JV fundamenla philosophiae tra~lu (di• Wissm.tdllifislehr~)
nova 1n11t.h.o<U>, adhibiJis tamen suu lihriJ, exponet."
~ The evidence for this is a comment in an October ~4. t']g8,letter from Krause to his
father, in which he mentions that the class will begin the next day. The relevant passage is
published by Erich Fuchs in his introduction to the Krause transcript, p. x.
18 Editor's Introduction

Plans to Publish a "New Presentation"

of the Wissenschaftslehre
From the very beginning, Fichte clearly intended to publish his new
presentation of the first principles of his system. This time, however, he
wished to avoid the mistake he had made by his decision to publish the
first version prematurely. Instead, his plan was first to deliver a course of
lectures on Wissenschaftslehre nova methodo and then to revise them for
publication. 52 But rather than publish these revised lectures in a single
volume, he intended to publish them first in installments in the Philo-
sophisches Journal einer Gesellschaft Teutscher Gelehrten, a Journal jointly
edited by Fichte and his colleague F. I. Niethammer. 5 And indeed,
between February 1797 and March 1798 two introductions to this new
version, as well as its first chapter, appeared in four installments in the
Philosophisches journal, under the general title "An Attempt at a New
Presentation of the Wissenschaftslehre. " 54 No further installments ap-
peared, though Fichte did not abandon his plans for the eventual pub-
lication of this new presentation of his system, as he made clear in a
public announcement he included in the preface to the second edition of
Concerning the Concept of the Wissenschaftslehre, published in the fall of
1798. Here he informed his readers:

I will for the present proceed no further with the systematic elaboration of
this system; instead, I will first try to elaborate more fully what has already
been discovered and to make it completely clear and obvious to every im-
partial person. A first step in this direction has already been taken in the
previously mentioned journal, and I will proceed with this project to the
extent that my academic duties permit. I have heard from several sources
that many persons have found these essays illuminating, and if the public
attitude toward the new theory has not been more generally altered, this
might well be due to the fact that the journal in question seems not to have
a very wide circulation. With the same aim in mind, just as soon as time
permits, I intend to publish a new attempt at a purely and strictly systematic
presentation of the foundations of the Wissenschaftslehre. 55

Fichte explicitly reaffirmed this same plan a year later, in his March 17,
•799· letter to J. E. C. Schmidt, where he remarks: "For three years I
have been working on and lecturing from a new version [of the Wissen-
' One should recall that all the major systematic works Fichte published while at Jena
(the Grundlage, the Grundri/3, the Naturrechl, and the SiUenlehre) were first presented to his
students in the form of lectures.
"See Fichte's March 21, 1797, letter to Reinhold, in which he remarks: "I intend to
have this revised version published in our Philosophischesjoumal."
"'Versuch einer neuen Darslellung der Wissenschaftslehre (SW, 1: 419-534 = AA I, 4: 183-
"SW, 1: 37 = AA I, 2: 163.
Editor's Introduction 19

schnftslehre ], the first chapter of which has been printed in the Journal. I
intend to have this new presentation published next winter. If you still
take exception here and there, I would advise you to wait for this new
. . ,,
By the "next winter," however, Fichte had other things to worry about
and was living in Berlin, where he had sought refuge in the wake of the
Atheism Controversy. Since he had no academic appointment in Berlin,
Fichte had to make plans to support himself purely from the proceeds
of his literary activities, and among the literary projects to which he
frequently referred in his correspondence of this period is the plan to
publish the "New Presentation" of the first principles of the Wissen-
schnftslehre. Other, previously unanticipated projects, however-such as
defending himself against the charge of atheism and writing The Vocalion
of Man (two projects that were, in fact, intimately related)-took priority
during his first year in Berlin.
In any case, in August 1799, shortly after he arrived in Berlin, Fichte
wrote to his wife (who had remained behind to settle their affairs in
Jena): "My plans are currently as follows: As soon as the printing of my
Vocation of Man is finished, I shall return tojena, where I will spend the
winter working on my philosophy of religion and, so far as it proves pos-
sible, on the new version of my Wisseruchaftslehre. I will publish the
former by subscription. Even on the wurst scenario, these works should
earn enough for us to be able to live well from them for a few years." 56
In another letter to his wife, written a bit later in the fall of the same
year, he returned to the subject of his literary projects and remarked:
"In addition, I have on hand a fine manuscript, the new version of the Wis-
seruchnftslehre, which can also be made salable with a minimum of effort
and for which I also hope to fetch a good price. Thus there is no reason
at all for you to be concerned about our support." 57
Such remarks indicate that, though Fichte had to postpone his plans
for publishing the new version of the foundations of the Wisseruchnfts-
lehre, he had by no means abandoned them at this point. Furthermore,
it is clear, first of all, that he believed that some revision would be
needed before the text would be ready for the press, and second, that he
did not anticipate that the needed revision of this "fine manuscript"
would require much additional effort.
By the beginning of the next year, however, other projects had inter-
vened, and though Fichte still intended to revise the "New Presenta-
tion" for publication, this project appears last on a list of four he
mentioned in a letter to his publisher,]. F. Cotta.5 8 Here Fichte describes
Letter to johanna Fichte, August 20-24, 1799·
Letter to johanna Fichte, October 28-November 2, '799·
Fichte to Cotta, January 13, 1800. In this letter Fichte lists his current projects in the
following order: (1) a critique of the new French Constitution, accompanied by clearer
20 Editor's lmroducdon

the new version as "a new (much clearer and smoother) presentation of
the Wi.ssenschnftslehre (perhaps as a commentary or something similar, in-
asmuch as a new, generally unaltered reprint of the sold-out first Wis-
senschnftslehre is scheduled to appear). The manuscript has been finished
for years; I used it in my lectures. It is desired by everyone who knows of
its existence. It cannot appear, however, without a proper revision."
From the last comment it appears that, Fichte's earlier assurances to his
wife notwithstanding, he was beginning to have second thoughts about
how much work would be needed to put the "New Presentation" into
publishable form.
As it turned out, Fichte devoted the first half of 1800 to projects not
even alluded to in his January 13 letter to Cotta: an essay for the Philo-
sophisches J{IUrnal, in which he once again stated his views on the rela-
tionship between religion and philosophy, 59 and an entirely new book
on political economy, which was published in November under the title
The Closed Commercial State. 60 Consequently, he was not able to return to
the projected revision of the Wi.ssenschnftslehre noua methodo until the faU
of 1800, though he assured Cotta (in a letter of August 16, 18oo): "This
coming winter I hope to get to work for you on the editing of the new
version of the Wi.ssenschnftslehre, which has been finished for years."
Even then, Fichte did not turn immediately to this oft-postponed
project, but first composed a sharply critical review of C. G. Bardili's
Outlines of Primary Logic, a project to which he was driven by Reinhold's
unanticipated departure from his period of short-lived enthusiasm for
Fichte's Wissenschnjtslehre and conversion to the standpoint of Bardili's
"rational reatism.' 061 By the end of October 18oo, however, Fichte had
finished the Bardili review and was at last ready to set to work in earnest
on the task of revising the manuscript of the Wi.ssenschnftslehre noua
It appears that Fichte's decision to dedicate the winter of 1800 to this
effort was, once again, dictated at least in part by external circum-
stances, namely, by a request to give private lessons on the Wissen-

presenlation o£ his own views concerning the nature o£ a proper constitution; (2) a public
reply to Jacobi's Opm letln lo F~hu; (g) a popular introduction to the Wwerucllaft.slehrt, to
be titled A Crysl41 Clear Report lo the General Publie Concerning the Aclual Essence of My Phi·
losophy; and (4) the new presenlation o£ the Wwerucllaft.slthre. Only the third o£ these
projects ever came to fruition. Fichte's Sonnmklu.rer Berichl an das Grassert PubUAum iiJNr das
We.sen tier neue.slen PhUo.sopi&U was eventually published in the spring o£ t8o 1, albeit by a
different publisher (SW,II: 323-420 = AA I, 7: 185-268; English tr311$lation by John Bot-
terman and William Rasch in Philosophy of Gnman Idealism, ed. Ernst Behler {New York:
Continuum, 1987], pp. 39-115). [
Aur nnem Privatschrtiben (SW, V: 377--g6 = AA I, 6: 36g-8g).

lkr ge.sdaltment HandelstooJ (SW, III: 387-513 = AA I, 7: 37-164). l
'" The issue of the P~ Joumal conlaining Fichte's review o£ Bardili appeared
in November 18oo. "Rezension von Bardilis Grundriss der ersten Logik" (SW, II: 4go-- ,
503 = AA I, 6: 433-5o). -

Editor's Introduction 2I

schaftslehre to a local banker, Salomon Moses Levy. Levy had first

approached Fichte with this idea at the beginning of the summer, but his
business activities took him away from Berlin until the fall. Apparently,
Fichte decided that it would be convenient to his own purposes to com-
bine these private lessons with the task of revising the Wissenschaftslehre.
Moreover, he also appears to have decided at about this same time that
the new version of his system should be a strictly scientific (or, in Fichte's
language, "metaphysical")62 presentation, one that would dispense en-
tirely with the kind of "critical" discussion of the nature of philosophical
reflection and the task of philosophy contained in the published intro-
ductions to the Attempt at a New Presentation. Instead, he decided to in-
clude all such material in a more "popular" companion volume, the
previously mentioned Crystal Clear Report to the General Public, upon
which he apparently continued to work during this same period. Thus,
on October 21, 18oo, he wrote a letter to G. A. Reimer, the publisher of
the Crystal Clear Report, requesting an extension of the deadline for de-
livery of the manuscript and explaining the del'!Y as follows: "Because of
the arrival of someone to whom I am giving a private course on the Wis-
senschaftslehre I am now occupied with the latter. I had intended to spend
this winter preparing a new presentation of the Wissenschaftslehre for the
press. I will gain some time if I can proceed undisturbed with this
project." Perhaps to make the delay more palatable to his publisher, he
then added: "In this way it [the Crystal Clear Report] will also acquire a
certain contemporary interest, since it will provide a practically inseparable
introduction to the new presentation of the Wissenschaftslehre (for which
I will provide no introduction at all, but will instead refer readers to the
Crystal Clear Report)." Similarly, in letters written to Schelling during this
same period, Fichte excused himself from collaborating on a proposed
new "Critical Journal" on the grounds that "I would much rather edit
my new version of the Wissenschaftslehre, which seems to me to put an end
to all doubts and objections on the part of anyone who is not entirely
demoralized." 6 !l
At long last, therefore, in the final months of 1800, after repeated
postponements, Fichte was able to clear his schedule of everything else
and devote himself entirely to the task of presenting the foundations of
his system to the public in a new and more adequate form. That he ex-
pected to complete this task in a timely fashion is apparent from his No-
vember 4, 1800, letter to Cotta, in which he notified his publisher: "I am
once again completely involved with the Wissenschaftslehre, and this time
I promise to deliver to you something that should unquestionably please

See the preface to the second edition of Concerning the Concept (SW, I, 32-33 = AA l,
2: lsg-6o).
Fichte to Schelling, October 22, 1800. See too his letter to Schelling, November 15,
22 Editor's Introduction

you." Fichte then went on to recommend that the publisher make plans
for a large edition of the work and to suggest that it might, at least ini-
tially, be published by subscription. Along with the letter to Cotta, Fichte
included the text of a lengthy public announcement, which he wished to
have published in appropriate journals. This neglected document,
which is of capital importance for an understanding of Fichte's entire
philosophical development, reads (in part) as follows:

The Wissenschaftslehre has been lying before the German public for six
years now. It has received a very mixed reception: for the most part, it has
met with vehement and passionate opposition, though it has also attracted
some praise from inadequately trained people and has even found a few
gifted followers and co-workers. For the past five years, 64 I have had in my
desk a new version of the Wissenschaftslehre, which I have been employing in
my classroom lectures on this science. This winter I am busy revising this
new presentation, which I hope to be able to publish this coming spring.
I wish very much that the public would pruuisionally (that is, until such
time as it becomes possible for them to convince themselves on this point)
accept the following two assurances from me, and I hope that people will
keep both of these points in mind while reading the new presentation: First
of all, with the exception of a few individuals (not counting my own students
and immediate listeners, to whom the present remarks are not directed),
hardly any knowledge whatsoever concerning the Wissenschaftslehre is currently
to be found among the educated public. Second, this science represents a
thoroughly new discovery, the very Idea of which did not exist previously and
can be obtained only from the Wissenschaftslehre itself. This new science can
be judged only on its own terms.
Concerning the first point: The text that appeared six years ago and was
published as a manuscript for the use of my listeners, namely, the Founda-
tions of the Entire Wissenschaftslehre, has, to the best of my knowledge, been
understood by almost no one and has been made use of by hardly anyone at
all, apart from my own students. This is a text that does not appear to be
able to dispense very easily with oral assistance. It seems to me, however,
that in my [Foundations oj] Natural Right and [System oj] Ethical Theory I have
been somewhat more successful in presenting my thoughts concerning phi-
losophy in general as well. Nevertheless, to judge by all the comments I have
heard on this topic since the publication of these two works (including those
comments that concern these very works), it would appear that even these
books have not helped the public to advance much further in its under-
standing of the main point at issue. I am not sure why this is so-whether
it is because people have usually skipped the introductions and the first sec-
tions of these two books, or whether it is because it is simply not really pos-
sible to provide the remote conclusions of my system (taken in isolation
from the premises from which they are derived) with the same degree of
64 Taken literally, this would imply that the manuscript of the WiJsenschaftslehre nova

methodo was first composed in the fall of 1795, a claim that is difficult to reconcile with all
the other evidence in favor of a somewhat later dating.
Editor's Introduction 23

self-evidence one can easily give to the first premises themselves. The only
texts that seem to have been better understood and appear to have suc-
ceeded in raising high expectations concerning the Wi.sseruchaftslehre on the
part of many open-minded people are the two "Introductions" to the Wi.s-
seruchaftslehre, as well as the first chapter of a "New Presentation" of this sys-
tem, which appeared in the Philosophical journal. At best, however, these
essays can do no more than convey a preliminary concept of my project; the
project itself, however, is by no means actually implemented and brought to
completion in these essays. [ ... ]
l have previously stated elsewhere65 that, for my part, l would be willing
to shoulder all the blame for the nearly universal lack of understanding
(concerning the Wi.ssenschaftslehre] that has prevailed in the past, if, by doing
so, I could only move the public to grapple anew with the issues in dispute.
As a result of long practice with the most diverse types of individuals, the
originator of this science believes he has at last acquired the facility to com-
municate his science to others; and he intends to do so in the form of a new
system, one that was not discovered by means of any further elaboration of
the previously existing version of this science, but was discovered in an en-
tirely different manner. [ ... ]
By means of this new presentation, which I guarantee will be intelligible
to anyone who possesses the capacity for understanding science, l hope that
the philosophical public will finally have an occasion to COttkl to terms in all
seriousness with the Wi.ssenschaftslehre. [ •.• ]
ln conclusion, I hope to make this new presentation so clear and so in-
telligible that it will require no further assistance in this respect and no
newer and even clearer presentation will be needed. I will worry later about
such matters as scientific elegance, the strictly systematic arrangement of
the parts and the exclusion of any foreign elements, the adoption of a pre-
cise terminology, and the creation of a symbolic system of pure concepts
(such as that "universal characteristic" which was already sought by Leibniz
and which first becomes possible only subsequent to the Wi.ssenschaftslehre).
That is to say, l will attend to these matters only after I have found that the
age is making some use of this new presentation of the Wi.sseruchaftslehre
and has thereby made itself receptive to a purely scientific presentation of
the same. 66

Fichte continued to work on this new presentation throughout the

winter, as is dear from comments in his letters. 67 At the same time, his
"revision" of the new presentation was proving to be more time-
consuming that he originally anticipated and would, in the author's new
65In the Preface to "An Attempt at a New Presentation of Wweruchaftslehre."
"[Ankundigung: Seit sechs Jarhren.]" (AA l, 7: t 53~4). In a note from the publisher,
which was appended to Fichte's text, Cotta announced that the work in question "will be
published by our firm around the middle of this year" and invited interested parties to
help enroll subscribers. As an incentive, he offered "one free copy for every six subscrip-
See, e.g., Fichte's leuer to Schiller, December 2, 1800, in which he reports; "I am pres-
ently working on a new presentation of the Wweruchaftsuhre, which-so I hope-will be so
dear that anyone with a scientific mind can be expected to unden~tand it." See too the
24 Editor's ImroduClion

estimation, require something more than a simple editorial reworking of

the existing manuscript of his lectures on Wissenschaftslehre nova methodo.

Abandonment of Plans to Publish the

Wissenschaftslehre nova methodo
The first, albeit indirect, hint that Fichte was not progressing as rap-
idly as he had hoped in his revision of the new presentation is a com-
ment in his December 26, 18oo, letter to Cotta, in which he somewhat
tentatively asks his publisher whether it might not be better-allegedly,
for purely commercial reasons (in order to obtain the largest possible ad-
vance subscription)-to postpone publication of the new presentation
until sometime after the Easter book fair, or even to abandon the orig-
inal plan to offer it by subscription. After receiving Cotta's approval for
the delay, Fichte, in his next letter to the publisher (February 14, 1801)
added: "I myself, on account of my work, very much wish that the print-
ing of the Wissenschaftslehre can be postponed." And in fact, as this allu-
sion to "my work" suggests, Fichte was encountering more and more
difficulties in his efforts to revise the text of his lectures on Wissen-
schaftslehre nova methodo; indeed, it appears likely that by this point he
had virtually abandoned his efforts to rework his manuscript of 1796/gg.
In any case, he was increasingly preoccupied with other matters. Accord-
ingly, in the spring of 1801 he directed his literary energies to three
other projects: the completion of the Crystal Clear Report, a polemical re-
ply to Friedrich Nicolai's increasingly vitriolic public campaign against
Fichte, 68 and a public reply to Reinhold's defense ofBardili and criticism
of transcendental idealism.69
A certain amount of confusion is created by the fact that throughout
the next few years Fichte continued, both in his private correspon-
dence70 and in his published writings, to make occasional reference to

remark in Fichte's January 31, 1801, letter to Friedrich Johannsen: "I will soon publish my
new presentation of the Wissensclwftslehre, which has existed in manuscript for four years
and which I used to lecture on in Jena."
68 This work, Friedrich Nicolai~ Leben und sonderbare Meinungen (SW, VIII: 3-93 = AA I,

7: 367-463), was apparently composed during the early spring of 18o1 and was published
in May of the same year.
J. G. Fickle~ Antwortschreiben an Herrn Professor Reinhold (SW, II: 504-34 = AA I, 7:
291-324) was probably written at the beginning of April 1801. It was published at the end
of the same month.
70 In his May g, 1801, letter to Cotta, Fichte suggested postponing publication of the

"New Presentation" until the fall book fair, and then went on to add: "Since the greater
public has no concept of what I actually want to accomplish in this book, they can also wait
for it until after Michael mas •So 1." This ominous predi~tion was made explicit in Fichte's
next letter to Cotta (August 8, t8ot), which began as follows: "I have found so much to do
in the new version-which actually, in many respects, represents a new discovery of the
Editor's Introduction 25

the long-promised "New Presentation of the Wissenschaftslehre." 11 The

"new presentation" in question, however, was no longer the revised ver-
sion of 17g6/gg, but instead an entirely new version, the so-called Wis-
senschaftslehre of I801/2 72-which likewise failed to appear as promised.
Let us now draw some conclusions from the evidence assembled so far
and directly address the question, Why did Fichte first delay and then
abandon his plans to publish the Wissenschaftslehre nova methodo?
The original delay, that is, the suspension of the plan to publish the
Attempt at a New PresentaJion of the Wissenschaftslehre in installments in the
Philosophisches Journal, appears to have been directly connected with the
Atheism Controversy that eru.gted shortly after the publication of Chap-
ter 1 of the New Presentation. !I This is not to suggest that the Atheism
Controversy somehow caused Fichte to reevaluate the philosophical
adequacy of his New Presentation and to suspend publication because
he had become dissatisfied with the new version; instead, it appears
that the public controversy concerning-and misunderstanding of-his
article "On the Ground of Our Belief in a Divine Governance of the
World" 74 caused him to reconsider the wisdom o~. submitting his new

Wweruchafalehre from a variety of middle points-that I cannot, without a certain amount

ofrashness in the presentation and expression of the same, tend to the printing in time for
the Michael mas fair. Therefore, it would be beuer for us to postpone it so that we can ac-
complish it with the rullest ripeness and leisure. It will certainly appear around the end of
the year." This "new discovery" of the Wweruchafauhre is also mentioned by Fichte in his
May 31-August 7• t8o 1, letter to Schelling, where he predicts that it will be published by
the end of the year.
By November 28, 1801, howe.-er, Fichte had once again revised his estimate of the pub-
lication date of the "new .-ersion of the Wweruchafalehre," which he assured Cotta "will be
printed without fail in time for the Easter fair," a promise repeated in his December 29,
tBot, letter to J. B. Shad, his January '5· 1802, letter to Schelling, and his January 23,
18o2, letter to Cotta. But by April 1802 he informed his long-suffering publisher that "the
new presentation of the Wisseruchafalehre can appear only after the fair. I ha.-e lectured on
it, and, though thu new engagement with it should prove useful for the contents them-
selves, it nevertheless prevents me from getting it ready for the printer." Finally, in a letter
of June 3, 18o2, he assured Niethammer that the "new exposition should certainly appear
this summer."
What is apparently Fichte's last public reference to the "New Presentation" occurs in
the new preface (dated "August 1801 ") he wrote for the second edition of the Fountlalionsl
Oulline. This preface begins by confessing that "in the course of preparing a new presen-
tation of the Wissrnschafalehre it has again become dear to the creator of this science that,
for the time being, no new presentation will be able to make thu first presentation super-
fluous" and concludes with the (unfulfilled) promise that "the new presentation will be
published next year" (SW, 1: 85 = AA I, 2: 461).
A heavily edited version of the DarsttUung der WWrnschafalehre aus dem Jahre t8o 1 was
published by I. H. Fichte in SW, II: 3-163. For a reliable text, see AA II, 6: 129-324.
' See Fuchs's introduction to the Krause transcript, p. vii. Chap. 1 appeared in the first
number of vol. 7 of the Phii.osophisclw Journal, which was published in March 1798. The
articles by Fichte and Forberg which provoked the Atheism Contro.-ersy were published
only six months later in the first number of vol. 8 of the same journal.
Uebn den Grund unsers G/auhen an tine goUiiche WeUregierung (SW, V: 177-89 = AA l,
5: 347-57; English translation by Paul Edwards, "On the Foundation of Our Belief in a
26 Editor's Introduction

presentation of the foundations of transcendental philosophy to the

scrutiny of what he increasingly took to be an ill-informed and unsym-
pathetic public. After all, in the preface to the first published installment
of the Attempt at a New Presentation he had begged his readers to put aside
any ideas concerning his philosophy which they may have obtained from
his original presentation of its foundations and urged them to give a fair
hearing to the new presentation, in which he promised "to take the ut-
most pains to achieve the greatest possible clarity." He then added: "I
will continue this presentation until I am convinced that I write entirely
in vain. But I shall be writin~ in vain so long as no one cares to examine
my arguments and reasons." 5 One might, therefore, conclude that the
public Atheism Controversy, when combined with the growing hostility
toward Fichte's philosophy on the part of his professional colleagues,
convinced him that, for the moment at least, he was indeed "writing in
vain" and that this was why he refused to publish any further install-
ments of the Attempt at a New Presentation.
Furthermore, after Fichte (sometime in 1798) originally suspended
his plan of revising the Wissenschaftslehre nova methodo for publication in
the Philosophisches Journal, a series of other, more pressing projects
immediately intervened to occupy all his time and energy for the next
several years-beginning, in 1799. with his various public and private
responses to the accusation of atheism, and continuing, in the following
year, with his work on such projects as The Vocation of Man, The Closed
Commercial State, the Bardili review, and the Crystal Clear Report. In ad-
dition to these literary projects, he was also occupied during the years
1799 and 18oo with various practical arrangements involved in the
move from Jena to Berlin. 76 As a consequence of these projects and
problems, the delay in returning to the work of revision proved to be
much longer than he had originally anticipated, and during this period
his thoughts about the nature of an adequate presentation of the foun-
dations of his system continued to evolve.
This last point proved to be the decisive one, the one that explains why
revision and publication of the Wissenschaftslehre nova methodo was not
merely suspended but was finally abandoned altogether for a completely
new attempt to expound the first principles of transcendental philoso-
phy (in the unpublished "Wissenschaftslehre of 1801/2"). By the time
Fichte was able to return his full attention to the task of revising the Wis-
senschaftslehre nova methodo (that is, by the fall and winter of 18oo) his own

Divine Government of the Universe," in Nimteenth-Century Philosophy, ed. Patrick L. Gar-

diner (New York: Free Press, 1969), pp. 19-26.
'"SW, 1: 420 = AA !, 4: 184.
Fichte left Jena for Berlin in July 1799. In December he returned to Jena to dispose
of his home and household possessions, a process that occupied much more time than he
had anticipated. Thus he was unable to return to Berlin until March 1800.
Editor's Introduction 27
understanding of what should-and what should not-be included in
such a presentation had advanced to the point where it was no longer
possible for him simply to revise the presentation of 1796/gg. Indeed,
the surviving manuscript of his unfinished attempted revision of 18oo, 77
with its much heavier emphasis upon the "intuitive" character of philo-
sophical evidence (a point also stressed in the announcement of the new
presentation, which Fichte wrote in November 18oo) and with its re-
peated new starts and asides, eloquently reveals just how difficult-and
finally, impossible-the task of "revising" the Wissenschaftslehre nova
methodo proved to be. Though this document breaks off abruptly with
the derivation of "feeling" (i.e., at a point corresponding roughly with
§ 6 of the Wissenschaftslehre nova methodo), it clearly demonstrates that
Fichte was no longer satisfied with the overall method of presentation
adopted in his lectures of 17g6/gg. 78 In short, whereas he had originally
predicted that the manuscript of the Wissenschaftslehre nova methodo could
be made publishable "with little effort," 79 this proved not to be the case
at all.
Just what were the changes in Fichte's views which account for his
growing dissatisfaction with the presentation of 1796/gg? Though there
were various minor infelicities, such as the occasional "confusion of ideal
and real activity" that Fichte mentioned in his November 15, 1800, letter
to Schelling, the underlying problem was more serious. It is hinted at in
a letter to Schelling written at about the same time that Fichte was near-
ing his decision to abandon for good any attempt to revise the Wissen-
schaftslehre nova methodo. In this letter of December 27, 18oo, he alerted
his erstwhile colleague to the pressing need "for an even wider extension
of transcendental philosophy, even with respect to the very principles of the
same." He added: "I have not yet been able to work out these more ex-
tensive principles in a scientific manner; the clearest hint concerning
them is found in the third book of my Vocation of Man. As soon as I am
finished with my new presentation of the Wissenschaftslehre, my first
project will be to carry out this task. In a word, what is still lacking is a
transcendental system of the intelligible world." The "intelligible world" is the
Kantian name for the realm of free, moral agents, that is to say, the
realm of "intersubjectivity." And in fact, as many scholars have noted,
the account of intersubjectivity in the Wissenschaftslehre nova methodo,
though consistent with the account given in Fichte's earlier Jena writings,

77 Neue Bearbeitung der Wmenschaftslehre (AA II, 5: 331-402). This manuscript was com-
posed between October and December 1800.
This is also the verdict reached by the editors of the Halle transcript of the Willen·
schaftslehre nova methodo, who conclude that "in his draft of the Wmenschaftslehre of October
1800, [Fichte) had already abandoned the systematic conception of the presentation nova
methodo" (AA IV, 2: 11).
Fichte to Johanna Fichte, November 2, 1799.
28 Editor's Introduction

is incompatible with and superseded by the very different account of in-

tersubjectivity provided in Book I II of The Vocation of Man.
Fichte returned to this same point in another letter to Schelling, writ-
ten shortly after he had decided to make an entirely fresh start in his
efforts to produce a new presentation of the first principles of the Wis-
seruchaftslehre. In this letter of May 31, 18o1, he explained that "the Wis-
seruchaftslehre lacks nothing whatsoever insofar as its principles are
concerned; yet it is incomplete. That is to say, the highest synthesis, that
of the spiritual world, has not yet been achieved. The cry of 'atheism'
was raised just as I was preparing to achieve this synthesis." By "syn-
thesis of the spiritual world" Fichte was referring, as he explained in
Book II I of The Vocation of Man, to the role played within the intelligible
world by the "lawgiver in the kingdom of ends"; that is, he was referring
to God.
What appears to have happened, therefore, is that sometime between
the fall of 1800 and the late spring of 1801 Fichte decided that he could
not simply tack his new "theory of the intelligible world" onto a revised
version of the presentation contained in the Wisseruchaftslehre nova meth-
odo; instead, he concluded that such a theory, and especially its "highest
synthesis," should occupy a central position in any new presentation of
the first principles of his system. 80 This, however, as he apparently re-
alized in the winter of 18oo/18o 1, would require a thoroughly new
method of presentation. From then on, therefore, Fichte presented the
Wisseruchaftslehre as a theory of the absolute and its appearances.
We can merely speculate about what accounted for this change in
Fichte's views. Though it is difficult to resist the thought that the striking
differences between the Jena versions of the Wisseruchaftslehre and the
later versions are somehow connected with the Atheism Controversy, a
close examination of Fichte's published and unpublished writings of the
years 179~18o1 suggests that the decisive turn in his own under stand-
ing of his system was already under way in Jena, and that this had at
least as much to do with the inner, dialectical development of the Wis-
seruchaftslehre as with any external events in the life of its author. 81 Nev-
Though the manuscript of the Neue Bearbeiltmg of 1800 shows that Fichte was still
trying to follow the basic method of presentation of the Wiuenschaftslehre nova methodo, it
includes marginal comments and asides that plainly indicate that he was finding it harder
and harder to avoid introducing his new theory of the intelligible world into his presen-
tation ofthe first principles of his system. Thus he remarks at one point in the manuscript
(AI\ ll, 5: 585) that "the bond that holds together the entire intelligible world is God. Such
an intuition simply must be demonstrated." See too the later, rather plaintive question (p.
400): "Is there not perhaps a pure intuition of God, by means of which my philosophy
could all at once receive assistance?" When developed (as it is, for example, in the Wiuen-
schaftrlehre of 18o1/2), this suggestion becomes the line of demarcation between the jena
Wiuenschaftslehre and all subsequent versions.
81 There is, for example, clear evidence that Fichte had already reached a new under-
standing of the "synthesis of the intelligible world," that is, a new theory of intersubjec-
tivity, by the spring of •799· This is indicated by remarks in his Platner lectures ("Logic
Editor's Introduction 29

ertheless, it seems plausible that Fichte's interest in extending the

Wissenschaftslehre in the direction of the philosophy of religion and the
theory of the intelligible world should have been at least reinforced and
intensified by the controversy over his alleged atheism, and especially by
the criticisms in Jacobi's celebrated Open Letter to Fichte. 82
What is beyond dispute is that Fichte was preoccupied with just such
questions in the period immediately after his departure from Jena and
that, as a result, his understanding of the relationship between the "in-
telligible" and the "empirical" worlds was substantially altered. This is
especially clear in The Vocation of Man, which Fichte began during the
summer of 1799 and finished in November. He himself was well aware of
this change in orientation and alluded to it in a November 5, 1799, letter
to his wife, where he remarked: "In the course of working on my present
book [The Vocation of Man} I have looked more closely into religion than
ever before."
A more striking reference to this change in his views appears in a let-
ter composed almost a year later, where he admits: "l may have erred in
some of the final propositions of my system, that is to say, in the deri-
vation; and I will, no doubt, often do so again in the future. I myself
have already discovered errors here and there and have publicly re-
tracted them before my listeners, and l also retract them in public, to the
extent that I teach something else in my other writings. (As l have, for
example, in the Vocation of Man retracted the superficial argument of the
Sittenlehre, p. 3oo---and I also did this a year and half ago before my
To be sure, other "theoretical" influences were at work on Fichte at
the end of 1800, and they too may well have added to his dissatisfaction
with the presentation of 1796/99· For example, he was growing more
and more alarmed by Schelling's assertions regarding the relationship
between transcendental philosophy and an a priori philosophy of

and Metaphysics") at the end of the winter semester of 17g8/99. As the editors of AA IV,
4 point out, Fichte's lecture notes, and especially his remarks on § g~~ of Platner's book,
provide dramatic evidence of a sudden change in his theory of intersubjectivity in the
spring of 1798: whereas the old theory (similar to the one contained in the System of Ethics)
is expounded in AA II, 4: ~ 12-27, pp. ~a8-3o of the same text introduce the first version
of the new theory (anticipating that contained in Book Ill of The Vocation of Man). Pre-
sumably, it was precisely this new understanding of ~the intelligible world" which Fichte
intended to expound in the lectures on philosophy of religion he announced for the sum-
mer semester of •799· Unfonunately, because of the Atheism Controversy and ensuing
events, these Lectures were never delivered.
}aL:obi an FichU, March 3-a 1, 1799 (AA Ill, ~: 224-81). For a partial English transla-
tion of this document, which played a key role in the development of post-Kantian phi-
losophy, see ~open Letter to Fichte," trans. Diana I. Behler, in Philosophy of German ltka/Um,
PP·85 ''!rl'·
Fichte to Reinhold, September 18, 1Boo. The mention of a "retraction before my stu-
dents a year and a half ago" is presumably a reference to the above-mentioned changes in
the theory of intersubjectivity which Fichte introduced at the conclusion of his lectures on
logic and metaphysics in the winter semester of 1798199.
30 Editor's Introduction

nature, as well as by his claims concerning the allegedly "objective"

character of intellectual intuition, and Fichte was becoming convinced-
however reluctantly-of the need for some sort of direct or indirect pub-
lic exposure of Schelling's errors. Another philosophical motive that
surely influenced Fichte while he was trying to revise his lectures was his
desire to reply to Bardili's rejection of "intuitive evidence," with its at-
tendant call for a philosophy based upon nothing more than "thinking
qua thinking." Indeed, the draft of the Neue Bearbeitung of 18oo clearly
shows how Fichte was trying to integrate a response to these two very
different sorts of "dogmatism" within his new presentation-just as it
also shows how difficult he was finding it to accommodate his existing
manuscript to this purpose.
Nevertheless, the evidence plainly suggests that the most important
external philosophical impetus in the evolution of Fichte's philosophical
conceptions during this period was Jacobi's public criticism, which not
only endorsed the charge of atheism against the Wissenschaftslehre, but
raised a new charge as well: nihilism. Similarly, the most important in-
ternal reason for Fichte's final abandonment of the 1796/gg version ap-
pears to have been that it simply did not lend itself to a revision of the
sort he now thought was required, and specifically, that it could not be
readily modified in such a manner as to be consistent with his new un-
derstanding of the intelligible world-that is, with his new theories of
inter personality and of God.
The history of Fichte's attempts to lay before the public an accurate,
clear, and accessible presentation of the first principles of transcenden-
tal philosophy is a history of failure, a story of one broken promise after
another. As we have seen, he realized at an early date that the struggle
to provide an adequate exposition of his system would be long and frus-
trating, but he nevertheless hoped to make progress toward this goal.
Thus he warned the readers of his first (and, as it turned out, only) pub-
lic presentation of the foundations of the Wissenschaftslehre: "Having
thoroughly reworked this system three times, and having found that my
thoughts concerning individual propositions contained therein are dif-
ferently modified each time, I can expect that as my reflections con-
tinue to develop, my thoughts will always continue to alter and to
develop." 84 This prediction was only strengthened by the public recep-
tion of the Foundations, which convinced the author that a new presen-
tation not only would be a desirable way of keeping the public informed
concerning his "further reflections," but would be necessary to correct
misunderstandings based upon the original presentation.
As the goal of a "definitive presentation" of the Wissenschaftslehre con-
tinued to elude him, Fichte consoled himself with the thought that he
SW, I: Sg = AA l, 2: 254.
Editor's Introduction 31

might be able to achieve his aim by providing the public with several dif-
ferent presentations of his system. Thus, immediately after exclaiming to
Reinhold, in a letter of March 2 1, 1797, "How many more times will I
revise my presentation!" he went on: "Nature has made up for my lack
of precision by granting me the ability to view things in a number of dif-
ferent ways and by endowing me with a fairly agile mind." By this time,
however, he had already come to realize that "the presentation of the
Wissenschaftslehre will require by itself an entire lifetime. The only pros-
pect that is able to shake me is the thought of dying before I have com-
pleted it."85
At the time that he made these remarks, Fichte still hoped to be able
to publish a new presentation-or better, a series of new presenta-
tions-of the Wissenschaftslehre. And as we have seen, he continued to
pursue this goal throughout his first years in Berlin. By 1 8o4, however,
he had reached a momentous decision: to continue his striving for an
ever more adequate, scientific presentation of his system, but to re-
nounce for the foreseeable future any plans to publish these new pre-
sentations. His reasons for reaching this decision are nowhere stated
more clearly and poignantly than in a document he drafted for the royal
cabinet of ministers to the Prussian government on January g, 1804. 86
This document, which testifies eloquently to Fichte's determination to
avoid any possible misunderstanding of his philosophy on the part of
the public, and which also explains how and why he could continue to
revise his presentation of his system until the year of his death, without
any prospect of publishing it, is here translated in its entirety:

Pro memoria:
A system, the external form of which has recently been brought lO com-
pletion, is now available which prides itself on being completely self-
contained, unalterable, and immediately self-evidem and is able lO provide
all the other sciences with their first principles and guidelines. This system
thereby promises lO eliminate forever all conflict and misunderstanding
from the domain of science and to direct the human mind (which obtains its
proper strengthening only within this system) wward the field within which
it can make endless progress toward ever-higher clarity. This field consists
of the empirical world, within which this system promises lO provide the hu-
man mind with an infallible guide.
Despite the fact that, under the name "philosophy," such a science has
been obscurely amicipated and sought since the very beginning of all sci-
entific endeavor, it is nevertheless obvious that such a science has never be-
fore existed nor even been attempted. Indeed, the entire wisdom and
enlightenment of our own day consists in the bold denial of the very possi-
bility of any such knowledge. Thus it is clear that, if this discovery is really
Letter to Reinhold, July 2, •795·
In AA III, 5: 2 22-24.
32 Editor's Introduction

what it claims to be, it paves the way for a rebirth of mankind and of all
human relationships, a rebirth such as has never before been even possible.
By observing the so-called literary public for many years, the discoverer
[of this system] has become sufficiently confident that the conditions nec-
essary for understanding a system of this sort have, for the most part, been
destroyed by the academic method that has prevailed until now, and he is
also convinced that more errors are in general circulation at the present
time than perhaps ever before. Consequently, he has no intention of
publishing his discovery in its present form and exposing it to general mis-
understanding and distortion. He wishes to confine himself to oral commu-
nication, so that misunderstanding can thereby be detected and eliminated
on the spot.
Nevertheless, he does not wish to forego the advantages of the judgment
of experts in such matters. Since he lives and lectures in a city where there
is an academy of science founded by Leibniz, which still preserves among its
members some with an interest in speculation, he cherishes the wish of hav-
ing this same academy serve as his judge. Accordingly, if only so that this
academy will consider the task of sufficient importance and will take it se-
riously, he proposes that it be charged by His Majesty the King with the task
of examining the Wissenschaftslehre. Following the example of another acad-
emy (namely, the Paris Academy), the academy may then appoint commission-
ers to this task; and, in order for these commissioners to become acquainted
with the object of their examination in the only way possible and in the only
way I myself would consider conclusive, they would have to attend my lectures.
I have moved the location of my lectures to my own lodgings, but if the
commissioners-to-be should consider it beneath their dignity as public offi-
cials to come to my home, then I am prepared to hold my lectures in any
appropriate place designated by the academy. In order to protect myself in
advance against any negative judgment concerning the form [of my philos-
ophy], I reserve the right to present, first to the academy and its commis-
sioners, and then, if necessary, to the public, a universally comprehensible
and immediately illuminating report concerning how the Wissenschaftslehre
cannot be judged.

Though nothing came of this rather poignant proposal, Fichte con-

tinued to elaborate new presentations of his system in his private lec-
tures. At the same time, he also lectured on more "popular" topics, such
as religion, history, and politics. Meanwhile, his disappointment with the
public reception of his writings grew ever greater, until finally, in the
preface to his published lectures titled Directions for the Blessed Life ( 18o6),
he quite openly confessed his reluctance to publish his lectures and
bluntly expressed his doubts concerning whether there was any longer
any point at all in his attempting to address the public. In the light of the
tangled (non)publication history of the Wissenschnftslehre nova methodo,
there is a note of undeniable pathos in Fichte's candid explanation of
Editor's Introduction 33

why he decided to publish his Blessed Life lectures in an unrevised form:

for, as he explains, "given my way of working, the surest way of never
finishing them would be to revise them again." 87

The Discovery and Publication of Two Student Transcripts
of the Wissenschaft.slehre nova methodo
Given the importance that Fichte himself long attached to the Wissen-
schaft.slehre nova methodo, as well as its obvious significance for any under-
standing of the overall development of the Wissenschaftslehre, it is
certainly regrettable that his own manuscript of these lectures has not
survived (or, in any case, has not been discovered). Nevertheless, we do
possess two different, detailed transcripts of Fichte's lectures, on the ba-
sis of which it is possible to gain a very good idea of the content of his
1796/gg lectures on "the foundations of transcendental philosophy."
Before the era of tape recorders and duplicating machines, carefully
transcribed and bound copies of lecture courses played an important
role in German university life. Indeed, some students and exstudents
amassed large private collections of these so-called KoUegnachschriften.
This was true in Jena during the 17gos, when it was a com-
mon practice for several students to pool their energy and resources by
contributing all of their class notes or transcripts from a particular
course to the production of a polished, continuously written transcript
of the lectures in question. From this final version it was then possible to
make additional copies. Indeed, some students routinely augmented
their income by preparing transcripts of lecture courses and selling
Student transcripts of several of Fichte's courses from the Jena period
(as weU as even more from his later years) were already known to exist in
the nineteenth century, and thus it was not unrealistic of scholars to
Die Anweisung zum seligen Leben odn- auch du &ligionslehre (SW, V: 399-400).
A clear reference to this practice occurs in the August 13, •799, letter of Hans Bostel
to Friedrich Carl von Savigny, who had apparently asked his friend, Bostel, who was then
a student in Jena, to obtain for him a transcript of Fichte's lectures. The relevant passage
in Bostel's letter reads as follows: "I was unable to find a notebook on the Wwenschaftslehre;
therefore, I commissioned a copy of one that is supposed to be very good and accurate. It
will be very long, and thus the cost of copying it is 4 thalers-not including the cost of the
paper. You will not mind that it is rather expensive, since it is so long. Another person, who
also had a copy made by the same man, paid the same amount. I will pay for it out of what
I owe you. Meanwhile, you will receive a portion of the text. More portions will follow on
Saturday, and thus you will receive the entire text, little by little, over the course of the next
three weeks." In Der Brieju>tcluel zwi.Jchen Friedrich Carl oon Savigny und Stephan August
Winkelmann (z8oo-z8o4) mil Dokummlen und Bf'i4en au.s tkm Freufllksk,..i.!, ed. lngeborg
Schnack (Marburg: Elwert, 1984), p. 278.
34 Editor's Introduction

hope that a transcript of his lectures on Wissenschaftslehre nova methodo

might eventually turn up in some library or private collection. And
indeed, early in the present century, one eventually did surface in the
university library at Halle, which had acquired it in 1885 as part
of a bequest from a local professor, Gottfried Moritz Meyer, whose
fame rested largely upon his extensive collection of philosophical
Kollegnachschriften. 89
The existence of this manuscript, titled "Wissenschaftslehre according
to the Lectures of Herr Professor Fichte," was brought to the attention
of the great Fichte scholar Fritz Medicus, who duly reported the infor-
mation in a remark in his six-volume edition of Fichte's Selected Works
and included a few short quotations from the manuscript in his general
introduction to Volume 1. 90 Shortly thereafter, Siegfried Berger devoted
his inaugural dissertation to a description and analysis of the contents of
this "Halle transcript" of the Wissenschaftslehre nova methodo. Berger's dis-
sertation, which included many direct quotations from the manuscript,
was published in 1918. 91
Longer excerpts from the same manuscript appeared in print durin~
the next decade, as appendixes to two works by Emanuel Hirsch. 9
Though these initial reports concerning and excerpts from the newly
discovered manuscript excited a certain amount of interest among
scholars,93 the full text of this transcript was not published until 1937,
when Hans Jacob included it in Volume II (the only volume published)
of his edition of Fichte's literary remains. 94 In part because of the war,
this edition attracted little attention at the time (except in Italy, where
the importance of the Wissenschaftslehre nova methodo has long been rec-

See G. von Goutta, "Gottfried Moritz Meyers Sammlung philosophischer Kolleg-
nachschriften," Kant-Studien 28 (1923): 198-200.
Fichte, Werke. Auswahl in seeks Banden, ed. Fritz Medicus (Leipzig: Meiner, 1908-12).
See vol. I (1911), pp. lxxx n., cxxi, and cxlvi-cxlvii, and vol. VI (1912), p. 627n.
Ueber eine unveroffentlichte Wi=nschaftslehre J G. Fichus.
(1) "Ueberschrift und Schlu~ einer studentischen Nachschrift der WL aus demjahre
1798 (Fichtes System der philosophischen Wissenschaften)," in Emanuel Hirsch, Christen-
tum und Geschichte in Fichus Philosophie (Tiibingen: Mohr, 1920), pp. 62-67. This selection
consists of the opening paragraph of H and the "Deduction of the Subdivisions of the Wis-
senschaftslehre" from H. (2) "Die unmittelbar fiir die Religionsphilosophie wichtigen
Stellen" and "Fichtes Diktate," in Emanuel Hirsch, Die idealistische Philosophie und das Chris-
tentum. Gesammelte (Giitersloh: Bertelsmann, 1926), pp. 291-307. This selection
consists, first, of brief excerpts from§§ 9, 13, 16, 17, 18, and 19 and, second, of the as-
sembled summaries, or "dictata," that occur at the end of each §of the transcript, supple-
mented by a few other passages.
' In addition to the previously cited works by Hirsch, see Heinz Heimsoeth, Fichu (Mu-
nich: Reinhardt, 1923), the first effort to employ the Wissenschaftslehre nova metlwdc as the
basis for an overall interpretation of Fichte's philosophy, and Max Wundt, Fichte-
Forschungen (Stuttgart: From mann, 1929), which devotes an entire chapter to "the Wissen-
sc":Jtslehre of 1797 ."
"Wissenschaftslehre nach den Vorlesungen von Herr. Fichte," in Fichte, Nachgelassene
Schriften, II: 341-611.
Editor's Introduction 35
ognized and where an Italian translation of the Halle transcript was
published in 1959). 95 Finally, in 1978, the entire text was reedited by
Jose Manzana and others and published in Volume IV, 2 of the monu-
mental new edition of Fichte's collected works sponsored by the Bavar-
ian Academy of Science. 96
. There has never been any serious dispute concerning the accuracy
and general reliability of this transcript. Everyone familiar with it has
concurred with Jacob's judgment that it represents "a carefully pre-
pared" and "intelligently produced" fair copy of a transcript of Fichte's
lectures, a transcript that, "with respect to its content and meaning, is a
good and faithful one." Moreover, according to Jacob, the text adheres
so closely to Fichte's own conventions regarding such matters as punc-
tuation and use of emphasis that one can safely conclude that it was pro-
duced by someone intimately acquainted with Fichte's own writings and
philosophy. 97
Since the transcript in question gives no indication of the name of the
student (or students) responsible for its production, it is commonly re-
ferred to simply as the "Halle transcript" of the Wissenschaftslehre nova
methodo and is herein identified as "H." Furthermore, it also fails to in-
clude any explicit indication of the date of the lectures it records. Con-
sequently, scholars have been forced to comb the manuscript for internal
clues to its date-with uncertain results, as we will see below.
Meanwhile, in 1980, while on an exploratory expedition to the
sischen Landesbibliothek in Dresden, Erich Fuchs, a researcher and full-
time member of the editorial staff of the new Fichte edition, discovered
another, hitherto unsuspected transcript of the Wissenschaftslehre nova
methodo. This manuscript was titled "Fichte's Vorlesungen iiber die Wis-
senschaftslehre, gehalten zu Jena im Winter 1798-1799," and its title
page also provided the name of the student responsible for the tran-
scription: Karl Christian Friedrich Krause, who had attended Fichte's
lectures as a student during the winter semester of 1798/99, who later
established a professional reputation of his own,98 and among whose

G. A. Fichte, Teoria delliJ sciema 1798 "nova methodo," trans. Alfredo Cantoni (Milan:
Biblioteca de "II pensiero," 1959). The diclaln to H were translated even earlier by Luigi
Pareyson as "La seconda dottrina della scienza (17g8) diG. A. Fichte," RivistadifiliJsofw 41
(1950): 191-202. See too Arturo Massolo, Fichu e liJ filiJsofw (Florence: G. C. Sanzoni,
1948); Luigi Pareyson, Fichte-Il sisleme delliJ liherlii (Turin: Edizione di Filosofia, 1950;
2d, expanded ed., Milan: Mursia, 1976); Pasquale Salvucci, DialeUica e immaginazione
(Urbino: Argalla, 1963); and Aldo Masullo, La communilii come fondamenta: Fichu Husser[
Sartre (Naples: Libreria Scientifica, 1965).
"Wissenschaftslehre nach den Vorlesungen von Hr. Pr. Fichte," in AA IV, 2, Kolleg·
nachschriften 1796-1804, pp. 1-267, ed. Reinhard Lauth, Hans Gliwizky, Jose Manzana,
Erich Fuchs, Kurt Hiller, and Pete Schneider (Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt: Frommann, 1978).
Editor's "Vorbericht" to Fichte, NachgeliJssene Schriften, II: xi, xxxi.
Krause (1781-1832) began his studies at Jena in the winter semester of 1797/98,
where he remained until 1So 1, studying theology, philosophy, and mathematics. Though
36 Editor's Introduction

literary remains the manuscript was discovered. Because of the extraor-

dinary interest in this discovery, Fuchs published it only two years later
as Volume 336 in Felix Meiner's "Philosophische Bibliothek" series 99
and is currently reediting it for inclusion in the forthcoming Volume IV,
3 of the Bavarian Academy edition of Fichte's works. This second tran-
script, which is customarily called the" Krause transcript," is herein desig-
nated "K." As in the case of the Halle transcript, the general vocabulary
and style of the Krause transcript are unmistakably Fichte's own. No
other transcripts of Fichte's lectures on Wissenschaftslehre nuva methode
have yet been discovered, though there is good evidence that other cop-
ies or versions once existed. 100

Comparison of Hand K
As we have noted, Fichte first prepared his new presentation of the
first principles or foundations of his system for use in his lectures during

he auended lectures by Fichte, Schelling, and A. W. Schlegel, he appears to have been

most profoundly influenced by Fichte, especially during the winter semester of 1798/99
(that is, when he was auending Fichte's Lectures on Wissen.rchafl.slehre now methodo and pre-
paring his transcript). On November 18, 1798, he wrote to his father (who greeted his
son's report with understan<tlble reservations) that he had decided to devote the semester
"entirely to the study of Fichte's philosophy," to which he intended to devote eight hours
every day (quoted by Fuchs in his introduction to the Krause transcript, p. x).
From the time of his arrival in Jena, Krause, who came from a family of very modest
means, seems to have hoped to earn some money by preparing copies of transcripts of
lectures delivered by various professors. Krause was also responsible for preparing (pre-
sumably from notes taken by other students, since he himself did not enroll at Jena until
the winter semester of 1797/98) the first third of the Nach.rchrift of Fichte's lectures
"Logic and Metaphysics" from the summer semester of 1797, which is published in AA IV,
1: 175-450.
Subsequently, Krause became an instructor in philosophy, first atjena, next at Dresden,
then, following Fichte's death, in Berlin, where he tried in vain to become Fichte's succes-
sor, and subsequently in GOuingen and Munich. Krause went on to develop his own system
of philosophy, which was heavily indebted to Fichte. (Krause's Nach.rchrift of the Wissen-
schaf1Jl4hre now methodo contains many marginal, mostly critical, notations, indicating that
KTause made frequent use of this manuscript in conjunction with his own lectures and
writings. Indeed, according to Fuchs, some of Krause's later works reveal a direct debt to
his transcript of Fichte's lectures on Wissen.rchafl.slehre now methodo.)
Today, Krause is perhaps best remembered for his campaign to create a "purely Ger-
man" philosophical vocabulary, as well as for his efforts to establish, within the framework
of transcendental idealism, "a science of the art of living." His most lasting legacy, however,
was his great influence upon progressive thinkers in late nineteenth-<:entury Spain and
Latin America. For further information about Krause's life, philosophy, literary achieve-
ments, and historical influence, see Karl Christinn Friedrich Krause (I7Bt-IBJ2): Studien zu
seinrr Philosop!Ue und zum Krausi.rnw, ed. Klaus-M. Kodalle (Hamburg: Meiner, 1985), which
includes an extensive bibliography of writings by and about Krause.
J. G. Fichte, Wi<senschafo/4hre now methodo. KoUegnachschrift Chr. Fr. Krause 17g8/99
(Hamburg: Meiner, 1982).
100 See, e.g., the previously quoted reference to the copy commissioned for Carl Savigny

(above, n. 88).
Editor's Introduction 37
the winter semester of •7g6/g7, and he used the same text in his lectures
during the the winter semesters of 1797/98 and 1798/gg-though he
may well have revised the entire manuscript, or at least portions of it,
during these later semesters. As was his custom, he planned to publish
the text of his lectures, albeit in a revised form; and he began to do just
this when he published the first four installments of the Attempt at a New
Presentation of the Wissenschaftslehre in the Philosophical journal in 1797/g8.
In the passages in his letters in which he mentions his plan to publish
the new presentation, Fichte often referred to a single manuscript or set
of notebooks ("Heft," or sometimes "Heften") that he employed in his lec-
tures on this topic. Some of Fichte's lecture manuscripts have survived,
and what they reveal is precisely what one would expect: that he did not
always write out his lectures in complete detail and in finished form,
though he sometimes did just that; instead, he often jotted down incom-
plete sentences, key words, abbreviations, and so on, which he obviously
then went on 10 develop in an appropriate, extemporaneous manner
during the actual delivery of his lecture. (This, of course, explains how
equally faithful transcripts of the same course of lectures from two dif-
ferent semesters might differ in many details.) Nevertheless, Fichte's sur-
viving lecture manuscripts are much more than sketches or mere
"notes"; they are full-scale productions, in which, despite occasional syn-
tactical gaps and stylistic lapses, the structure of the overall argument is
always clearly evident, as well as many of its details. (This, in turn, ex-
plains how, for all of their differences, transcripts from different semes-
ters could nevertheless have the same organization and repeat the same
arguments, if not always in precisely the same words.)
There can be no reasonable doubt that H and K are both transcripts
of the same lecture course, and any reader who actua.lly compares the
two texts will reach this conclusion very quickly. The similarities are
striking: Both manuscripts are roughly the same length; moreover, each
is divided into nineteen §§, and each conclud-. with a separate section
titled "Deduction of the Subdivisions of the Wissenschaftslehre." Further-
more, each individual § is divided into the same number of sections in
both transcripts. The vocabulary and manner of expression are also the
same; indeed, the two transcripts occasionally contain virtually identical
passages. This is notably true ofthe important summaries that appear at
the end of each §. Such congruence is not surprising, since these sum-
maries, unlike the main body of the text of the lectures, were carefully
and slowly dictated by Fichte to his students. Hence they are commonly
referred to as the "dictata" to the Wis.senschaftslehre nova meth.odo.
The two manuscripts also exhibit the same range of references. Both
make frequent reference to the "earlier presentation" contained in the
Foundations and the Outline; both include references 10 Fichte's Founda-
tions of Natural Right, as well as to his System of Ethical Theory (and in both
38 Editor's Introduction

cases, these references to the latter works occur only in the second half
of the manuscript). Neither text, however, includes any reference to the
published rcortions of the Attempt at a New Presentation of the Wissen-
schaftslehre. 01 In addition to Fichte's own writings, both transcripts make
reference to the same works by Kant (and usually do so at exactly the
same place in the manuscript). Finally, when one turns to the actual con-
tent of the two transcripts, the impression that they are simply different
versions of the same course (though perhaps not from the same semes-
ter) is strengthened, for the argument is precisely the same in both ver-
Striking as the similarities between the two transcripts are, there are
nevertheless obvious and significant differences between them as well.
To begin with, with the exception of the dictata, the two transcripts sel-
dom correspond word for word, even where the detailed execution of
the argument is exactly the same. Furthermore, in addition to the "sec-
ond introduction" (which corresponds to the introduction to H), K also
includes a "first introduction," for which there is no parallel in H. 102
Second, for the first three §§, K provides, in addition to the same dictata
that appear in H, alternate dictata, which are identified within the body
of the text as "( 1798)" and within the compilation of the summary para-
graphs (titled by Krause "Major Points of the Wissenschaftslehre 1798-
1799") with which K begins as "older versions" of the same. 103 Though
H, unlike K, includes nothing without some parallel in the other tran-

The complete absence of any reference to the AUempt at a New Presentation (which be-
gan to appear in the Phirosophisches journal in April 1797 and which one might have ex-
pected Fichte to mention in his subsequent lectures on this subject) is something of a
mystery. The editors of AA IV, 2 cite this fact as evidence that at least the first portions of
H stem from 1796/97-though this does not necessarily mean H is a transcript of the lec-
tures delivered during that semester, since it is surely possible that Fichte simply used lec-
tures from 17g6/97 at some later date, without bothering to update the references. In any
case, since K also includes no reference to the AUempt at a New Presentation, this lack cannot
be used to date either manuscript in relation to the other.
Concerning this "first introduction" (as well as its puzzling subtitle, "as presented in
public lectures"), I ves Radrizzani plausibly suggests that it did not form a part of Fichte's
actual lectures on "the foundations of transcendental philosophy" (which was, as we have
seen, a private course). Instead, Radrizzani suggests that this "first introduction" is a tran-
scription of the text of a public lecture that Fichte delivered before the beginning of the
winter semester and that, like the earlier Concerning the Concept, he intended as an "invi-
tation" to attract prospective students to his private lectures on the subject. See the catalog
description of the 1796/97 lectures on Wissenschaftslehre nova methodo, which includes the
announcement, "During the vacation he will publicly announce the plan of his course on
transcendental philosophy." Though no such announcement is included in the catalog de-
scription of Fichte's lectures on this subject in subsequent semesters, the content of the
"first introduction" of K corresponds precisely with this description.
In fact, K's two versions of the dictat for§ 3 are virtually identical. Since the text of the
"major points of the Wissenschaftslehre" with which Krause's manuscript actually begins
does not differ substantially from the text of the dictata that appear at the end of each §
within the main body of the transcript, Fuchs did not include them within the Meiner edi-
tion of the text. They will, however, appear in their proper place in AA IV, 3·
Editor's lmroduelion 39

script, the Iauer portions of H do include a great many recapitulations

and summaries that do not appear in K.
As for content, though the argument is the same in each version, the
two manuscripts differ appreciably in the amount of space allotted to
different portions of the presentation. As a general rule, the earlier por-
tions of the Wissenscho.ftrlehre nova methodo (especially §§ 1-6) are pre-
sented more copiously and clearly in K than in H, whereas the later
portions of the presentation (especially §§ 13ff.) are developed in far
greater detail in H. (The overall quality of K deteriorates sharply in the
later sections, indicating perhaps that Krause was finally growing weary
of devoting eight hours a day to the Wmenschaftslehre.) Indeed, this dif-
ferential unevenness in the quality of the two manuscripts is one of the
strongest arguments for producing a combined or conflated edition of
the two, as has been attempted in this English translation.

Dating the Krause Transcript

Since the title page of the Krause transcript of Fichte's lectures on the
foundations of transcendental philosophy clearly indicates their date
(17g8/gg), the only question concerns when the surviving manuscript
was actually composed. Does it represent Krause's actual class notes or is
it instead a more polished "fair copy," cpmposed at some point after the
lectures or even after the end of the semester?
The evidence suggests that Krause himself attended all sixty or so of
Fichte's lectures during the winter semester of 17g8/gg, and he quite ob-
viously took copious notes during each class period. In addition, he
must have had access to transcripts of earlier versions of the same
course, or at least to the dictata from some earlier version (as is indicated
by the appearance within his transcript of "older versions" of the first
three dictata). It is also possible that Krause may have had access to notes
taken by other students attending the same 17g8/gglectures and that he
may have consulted such notes in preparing a final version of his Kolleg-
Though the experts are not in ~mplete agreement on the matter,
it seems virtually certain that K is a fair copy produced at some point
after each of the actual lectures. 104 Thus, the question is not whether the

A small bit of evidence that K is a revised, fair copy of Krause's class notes is provided
by what appears to be an obvious error of transcription in the first paragraph of§ 14 (K,
p. 152), where the word "Erfolgs" occurs instead of the word "Gefiihls," which is dearly
required by the contexL As Fuchs points out (in a letter to the present translator), the
words EifolgJ and GeJUIW are very similar in German script, especially when hurriedly writ-
ten. Hence the most plausible way to explain the otherwise puzzling a,ppearance of the
former at this point in the text is to assume that K is a fair copy, which Krause transcribed
at some later date from notes that he (or someone else) had previously (and hurriedly)
40 Editor's Introduction

transcript was composed after class, but rather, How much time elapsed
between the actual lectures and the composition of K?
On the one hand, Erich Fuchs argues that the preponderance of the
evidence favors his hypothesis that K is a fair copy prepared between the
end of the semester (March 14, 1799) and August 25 of the same
year; 105 lves Radrizzani, on the other hand, questions the force of
Fuchs's evidence and suggests that it is more likely that Krause recopied
his notes from each lecture during the course of the semester and did
not prepare the transcript all at once. (Indeed, Radrizzani wishes to
leave open the possibility that the text of K was transcribed by Krause
during Fichte's lectures-though he fails to offer any explanation of the
presence within Krause's transcript of "older versions" of the first three
In support of his hypothesis that K was completed by August 25,
1799. Fuchs calls attention to the fact that this date occurs in a marginal
note near the beginning of§ •7, where Krause left several blank pages
in his notebook with the explanation that "the missing period was not
skipped. Instead, the text of the .lecture was copied by mistake into an-
other notebook and will be inserted later." In support of the hypothesis
that the transcript was not actually begun until after the end of the se-
mester, Fuchs cites a passage near the end of the "first introduction,"
which reads as follows: "We shall also discuss, in an explicit and thor-
ough manner, the laws of reflection, in combination and in connection
with what proceeds from these laws. (This promise could not be fulfilled
because of a lack of time.)" According to Fuchs's interpretation, the sen-
tence in parentheses represents a comment by Krause and refers to the
"lack of time" available in •798/99, which Fuchs also suggests may be ex-
plained by recalling that the Atheism Controversy was in full bloom at
this point and that Fichte may have had to cut short or even cancel some
of his lectures because of external circumstances. In any event, if Fuchs's
interpretation of this parenthetical remark is correct, then of course
Krause could not have inserted this comment before the end of the se-
mester, and hence one would have to conclude that K was composed at
some point following the end of the winter semester of 1798/99·
In disputing this claim, Radrizzani argues 106 that the reference to the
missing portion of the notes and the decision to leave several pages
blank for its later insertion, far from supporting Fuchs's conclusion, in-
dicate that K, if it is not the actual notebook in which Krause transcribed
Fichte's lectures in class, was at the very least composed during the
course of the semester. After all, one would assume that if Krause had

taken in class. Funher evidence that K was prepared after Fichte's actual lectures is the
ap~arance therein of ahemate dictaJo. for the fir.ot three §§.
"'See Fuchs's introduction 10 K, pp. x-xi.
106 See Radrizzani's introduction to his French translation of the Wwmschaftslehre 11000

metiwdD, pp. 27-32.

Editor's Introduction 41

been making a fair copy at the end of the semester, he would have had
all his notes on hand and thus would not have been forced to leave sev-
eral pages blank for later insertion of the missing lecture. On this inter-
pretation, therefore, the date "August 25, 1799" represents merely the
date when Krause finally got around to inserting the missing section,
not the date he finished recopying the entire manuscript.
As for Fuchs's other piece of evidence, the parenthetical remark about
the lack of time, Radrizzani points out, first of all, that there is no reason
why the uproar over atheism should have interfered with Fichte's lec-
tures on WisseruckaftslehTe naoo metlwdo, since these were presumably
based upon a manuscript prepared several years before the winter se-
mester of •798/g9. Nor is there any indication within the text of K that
Fichte actually canceled or curtailed any meetings of his class during the
winter of •798/99· Radrizzani plausibly suggests that the remark con-
cerning the lack of time might well represent a comment of Fichte's and
not of Krause's. In this case, it would refer not to the 1798/gg lectures,
but rather to the 17941'95 presentation of the "Foundations of the Entire
WissenschaftslehTe." In support of this hypothesis, Radrizzani points out
that the remark occurs in the context of an explicit comparison between
the published Foundations and the new presentation to be developed in
the 1798/99 lectures.
The most plausible conclusion seems to be that K represents a fair
copy that Krause made during the course of the semester, most probably
recopying each lecture directly after each class meeting. This hypothesis
simultaneously explains the presence of the "older versions" of the early
dictata in the manuscript (which surely must have been added after
Fichte's classroom lectures) as well as the blank pages reserved for the
missing lecture (suggesting that at the time of K's composition Krause
did not have convenient access to the missing notebook). 107 Of course, it
still remains possible that the entire manuscript was prepared after the
end of the semester and that, for some unknown reason, Krause had to
wait until ~gust to insert the missing portion.

Dating the Halle Transcript

As we have observed, it is not known who composed H or when it was
written. A comparison with the handwriting of G. E. Meyer, the professor
Funher evidence that K was composed during the course of the semester and not
after the end of it is the fact (alluded to by Fuchs and stres.sed by Radrizzani) that an ex-
amination of the ink and handwriting of K clearly indicates breaks in composition corre-
sponding more or less precisely to the conjectured beginning and ending of each of
Ftchte's individual lectures. In the latter portions of H, a horizontal line is often employed
to mark the end of a day's lecture, and Fuchs notes that the variations in the handwriting
ofK match these breaks perfectly. See Fuchs, introduction to K, pp. xi-xii, and R.adrizzani,
La Doctrine de Ia Scimu N(JI)a Melhodo, p. ~o.
42 Editor's Introduction

in whose collection of Kollegnachschriften H was discovered, reveals that it

was not copied by Meyer himself, who was not a student of Fichte's and
who appears to have acquired his copy of the transcript only in 1836.
The age of this copy, as well as the date of the lectures it transcribes,
thus remain open questions. According to Jacob, the paper and style of
writing are consistent with the hypothesis that H was prepared atjena
during the late 17gos. 108 According to the editors of AA IV, 2, however,
variations in spelling and punctuation suggest that H may have been an
editorial compilation stemming from several different sets of notes, in
which case it might have been composed at any time between the orig-
inal lectures and Meyer's acquisition of it.
The more important question, however, is not when the surviving
copy of H was prepared, but which of Fichte's three sets of lectures on
the foundations of transcendental philosophy it transcribes.
Let us begin by considering the internal evidence. As noted above, H
includes specific references to the System of Ethical Theory, which was not
officially published until March 1798. From this, Hirsch originally con-
cluded that H could stem only from Fichte's 1798/99 lectures. 109 In fact,
however, printed fascicles of this text were distributed to students in
Fichte's course on ethics in the winter semester of 1797/98 and were
therefore available to students in his course on the Wissenschaftslehre dur-
ing the same semester. 110 Accordingly, the presence of references to the
System of Ethical Theory within H eliminates only the winter semester of
1796/97 as the source of the Halle transcript, which is consistent with the
1797/99 dating proposed by Medicus and Berger. 111 Indeed, the fact that

Nachgelassem Schriften, II: xxxi. Jacob also claims that the contents of H, in compar-
ison with those of the published Attempt at a New Presentatian, argue for a later date, since
H gives clearer prominence to the fact of self-consciousness as the starting point of the
Wissmschaft.slehre than does the published Attempt at a New Presentation. In addition, he also
purports to find a significant difference between the vocabularies of the two versions.
Thus he maintains (p. xxx) that a comparison of H and the AUempt at a New Presentation
reveals that the contents of the latter are further removed from the 1794/95 version than
are those of the former. No other student of these texts, however, including myself, has
found Jacob's claims on this matter to be convincing.
Fichus Religionsphilosphie im Rnhmen der philosoph:ischen Gesamtentwicldung Fichus (GOt-

tingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1914), p. 59 n. 3· Hirsch later changed his mind,
however, and admitted that H could stem from either 1 797/98 or 1 798199 (Chr:istentum und
Geschichte, p. 67n).
See editors' introduction to Das System der Sitleniehre, AA I, 5: 7-8.
See Berger, Ueber eine unverliffemlichte Wissmschaftslehre, p. g. Medicus, in the same
note that first called the attention of scholars to the existence of the Halle Nachschrift
(Fichte's Werke, I: lxxx n), asserted that "the notebook stems, at the earliest, from the win-
ter of 1797/gS, but perhaps from the last Jena semester, winter 1798/gg." See too Medicus's
remark in the "Nachtrag" to Vol. VI of Fichte's Werke (p. 617n): "Future editors of Fichte's
works are hereby notified that the university library at Halle [ ... ] has a transcript of a
version of the WL which has not yet been published at all-presumably from the summer
[sic} of 1798 (at the earliest from the winter of 1797/98 and at the latest from the winter
of 1798/gg)."
Editor's Introduction 43
the references to the System of Ethical Theory appear only in the second
half of the manuscript suggests that they were added during the winter
semester of 1797/98 (rather than 1798/99), since Fichte began distribut-
ing sections of the printed text of the System of Ethical Theory to his stu-
dents in December •797 (that is, midway through the semester). 112
The Ipost recent editors of H (the editors of AA IV, 2) insist upon a
narrower dating, however, and conclude that the Halle transcript ''must
stem from the winter of 1798/99• at least in part." 113 As evidence for
this, they call attention, first, to the fact that the technical term Potenz
("power'') occurs in§ 16. According to the same editors, this term, which
is closely associated with the Naturphilosophie of Schelling and J. W. Rit-
ter, "so far as can be determined, was first empior,ed in Jena in a purely
philosophical sense only in the spring of •799·" 1 4 Moreover, they were
unable to find any occurrence of the term Potenz in any of Fichte's pub-
lished or unpublished writings before 1799, and thus they conclude that
H is most probably a transcript of the lectures of 1798/99· Second, they
note an elliptical reference in § 13 to "a Dutch scholar," whom Fichte
praises for having raised a legitimate question concerning the difference
between practical and speculative reason. Speculating that this is an al-
lusion to Paulus van Hemert's Ueber die Existence der Principien eines reinen
uneignutzigen Wohlwollens im Menschen, a work that first appeared in Ger-
man translation in the winter of 1798/gg, the editors of AA IV, 2 take
this reference to confirm their hypothesis that H could not be a tran-
script of lectures delivered before 1798/gg.
Nevertheless, it seems rather more likely that the bulk of H does in
fact stem from 1797/g8, and for the following reasons: First of all, the
evidence purportedly furnished by the occurrence of the term Potenz
has recently been undermined by the discovery that Fichte himself em-
ployed., this term in precisely the same sense in his lectures "Logic and
MetaPftysics" in the summer semester of 1798. 115 Hence one certainly
cannot rule out the possibility that he also employed it a few months ear-
lier in his "Foundations of Transcendental Philosophy" lectures during
the winter semester of 1797/98.
112 On the other hand, references to the Foundalioru of N~uro/ Right, which was certainly
available before the beginning of the winter semester of 1797/98, are also confined exclu-
sively to the second half of both Hand K. In any case, the fact that Fichte's citations from
the Sytem of Ethics begin only in § 14 does not prove that H derives from the 1797/98 lec-
tures, since the same is true of K as well. The only conclusion that one can safely draw
from these references to the System of Ethics is this: they are equally compatible with the
17~i'98 and 1798199 dates, though not with the date of 17g6/97·
1 AA IV, 2:6.
This is reported by Juha Manninen in his research paper, ~Hilijer und Fichte.
Ein Systemprogramm aus dem Jahre 1799," in TmnsUfldemalphilruophie als S,Stem: Die
Au.reinandend:r.ung zwi.Jdun 1794 und 1806, ed. A. Mues (Hamburg: Meiner, 198g). See es-
pecially pp. 2fi9--73.
44 Editor's Introduction

Second, as for the alleged reference to van Hemert's book: if this iden-
tification is correct, then it of course follows that H must stem from
1 798/gg.
116 The allusion is sufficiently vague, however, to leave open the
very real possibility that Fichte may have had some other, as yet uniden-
tified, "Dutch scholar" in mind. 117 In any case, this appears to be a
rather slim reed to cling to in order to defend the later dating of H. (It
is worth noting, incidentally, that the corresponding passage in K-
which certainly does spring from •7g8/gs-does not include any refer-
ence to "a Dutch scholar.")
A final piece in this puzzle is provided by the notation "V g8," which
appears early in§ 11 of H 118 and is written in a different ink and hand-
writing than that of the Nacluchrift itself. The editors of AA IV, 2 suggest,
quite plausibly, that this is a date, "May 1798." 119 If so, then the question
becomes, What does this date represent? The editors of AA interpret it
as evidence in support of their hypothesis that the text of H was com-
posed of transcripts from different semesters, with the earlier portions
stemming from an earlier semester and the later portions from a later
one. Thus, they suggest that the notation indicates when the first por-
tion of the manuscript (that is, up to the point where this date occurs)
was copied, while the rest was added at some later date. According to
their hypothesis, therefore, the first§§ of H might represent a transcript
of the 1797/g8 (or even 17g6/g7) lectures, whereas the latter portions
could be a transcript of the 17g8/gg lectures. 120

As Radrizzani argues, however, even if one does take this vague remark of Fichte's to
be a reference to van Hemert's book, it is still difficult to explain its presence at this point
in H (§ 13). One can readily calculate that Fichte would not have reached this point in his
lectures until the end of January, whereas, as Radrizzani notes, "one can seriously doubt
whether Fichte would at this date have had sufficient time to become aware of the trans-
lation of van Hemert's book."
This is the opinion of Fuchs as well, who now considers the identification of van
Hemert as the "Dutch scholar" in question to be "obsolete" (quoted by Radrizzani, La Doc-
trine de Ia Science Nwa Melhodo, p. 35).
AA IV, 2: 1 16.
As Radrizzani, who also treats this notation as an important due for determining the
date of H, remarks: "One cannot see what else it could be" (Radrizzani, La Doclriru1 de Ia
SciEnct Num Mtlhodo, p. 36).
120 See AA IV, 2: 12. With the publication of K, it is possible to test this hypothesis by

comparing the corresponding portions of the two transcripts. What one discovers thereby
is that there is no difference between the earlier and later portions of the two manuscripts
which would suggest that H is a composite transcript of notes from two different semes-
ters; thus the hypothesis fails. Since K displays the same alleged discrepancies between its
earlier and later portions that H does, these same discrepancies cannot be cited in support
of the suggestion that whoever trarucribed H was working with various sets of student
Even less compelling is the suggestion by the editors of AA IV, 2 (p. 12) that their "com-
posite" hypothesis is supported by the words "nach den Vorlesungen" in the subtitle of H.
The word Vorlesungen ("lectures") can just as easily refer to a set of lectures delivered in a
single semester as to several different sets of lectures.
Editor's Introduction 45
If the notation represents a date at all, however, it could just as well
represent the date at which a particular reader of the transcript had
reached this point in the text. 121 At the very least, the presence of the
date "May 1798" appears to refute the hypothesis that H stems entirely
from 1798/99, while the "composite" hypothesis is seriously undermined
by the fa!=t that K shows a similar difference between its earlier and later
parts. Thus, if one agrees that, on the basis of internal evidence alone,
"the beginning parts appear to reproduce an older version and the later
parts a more recent version," 122 then one also has to concede that the
same could be said of K, which definitely stems in its entirety from 1798/
99· Thus any alleged differences between the "older" and "more recent"
portions of the presentations contained in Hand K would in fact reflect
a difference between those portions of Fichte's own lecture manuscript
which were composed earlier (presumably, 1796/97) and those that were
composed (or revised) at a later date (probably 1797/98). In short, there
is no reliable internal evidence that any portion of the main body of the
text of H can be traced to the winter semester of 1798/99.
Finally, let us consider the evidence of the dictata. As has already been
mentioned, these are virtually identical in the two transcripts, except for
the additional presence of three "older versions" of§§ 1-3 in K, where
they are also labeled by Krause "( 1798)." This date raises several prob-
lems. First, why should the "older versions" of the dictata to the first
three §§.be dated "1798," when this was obviously the date of the "newer
versions" of the dictata for the first three§§ (October-November 1798)?
The most likely hypothesis is surely that these alternate versions repre-
sent the dictata from the "previous presentation" of 1797/98 and that
Krause copied them from someone else's notes, perhaps dated simply
"1798" (which was, of course, when the previous presentation ended). 123
'!tt Of course, it might also indicate the date at which a particular copyist had reached
this point in the transcription. But this would not explain the different ink and handwrit-
inll, though it would support the •797/98 dating of H.
AA IV, •: I ••
' This is the view that Fuchs defends in his introduction to K (pp. xiv-xv). In contrast,
Radrizzani proposes in 1A Doctrine de La Scknu N(J!J(J Mtlhodo (p. 26) that the versions dated
"1798" actually represent the "newer versions" of the first three diclala and that the un-
dated versions are the ~older" ones. It is, however, impossible to reconcile this hypothesis
with the fact that, in the summary of the "Major Points of the Wi.ssenschaftskhrt" with which
K begins, these "• 798" vefllions are explicitly labeled "older versions." Radrizzani addresses
this inconsistency by suggesting that Krause simply erred in identifying these passages as
"older versions." But surely it is at least as likely that he erred when he identified them
within the main body of his text as stemming from 1 798.
To buttress his hypothesis, Radrizzani calls attention to the fact that the two versions of
the dictaJ to § 3, one of which occurs at the beginning of the paragraph and is labeled
"( 1798)" and the other of which OCCUfll at the end of the same §, are virtually identical.
Radrizzani interprets this puzzling fact as follows (p. 27): When Krause added the "older
vefllion" (according to Radrizzani, the version at the end of the §), he simply "failed to
recognize" the striking similarities between the two versions, for "if he had, he would have
become conscious of his error [that is, his error in thinking that these were two different
46 Editor's Introduction

But if one accepts this hypothesis (and also believes that K and H stem
from different semesters), then how can one explain the fact that same
dictata appear in H and in K? If we assume that 1796/97 can be ruled out
as the date of the lectures upon which H is based, then (according to the
above hypothesis) we would expect that Krause's "older versions" of
"1798" would correspond to the versions of the dictata found in H. In
fact, however, the dictata found in H are virtually identical to those
found in K, and H contains nothing similar to the "older versions" in-
cluded in K. How can this be explained?
One possible explanation could be that H and K represent two dif-
ferent transcripts of the same 1798/99 lectures. To accept this explana-
tion, however, one would have to reject all the other evidence in favor of
an earlier dating of H; consequently, anyone who insists that the two
transcripts derive from two different semesters must propose some
other explanation for the appearance of the same dictata in H and in K.
Fuchs, for example, suggests that whoever copied the final version of H
had access 10 the dictLJta from 1798/99 (though, presumably, not to the
Nach.1chrijt of the lectures themselves) and simply substituted these
"more recent" versions for the older ones. 124 Another possibility is that
Krause simply erred in assigning the date 1798 to his "older versions"
of the first three dictata, which might have come from an even earlier
version of the same lectures (those of •796/97), in which case it is quite
possible that Fichte used the same dictatLJ in 1797/98 and in 1 798/9g---
which would explain the otherwise puzzling congruence of the two tran-
scripts on this point. Admittedly, none of these possible explanations is
entirely satisfactory, and there remains a certain amount of mystery con-
cerning the precise provenance of the dicmta in H and of the "older ver-
sions" in K. '
Despite the ultimately inconclusive character of all this evidence, it
seems safe to conclude that H and K represent two different transcripts,
deriving from two different semesters, of Fichte's lectures on Wissen-
schaftslehre nova methodo. The main evidence for this conclusion was un-
available to the editors of AA IV, 2: namely, the many differences
between H and K. Granted, such differences cannot be said to prove that

versions of the dictat to § 3) and would have eliminated the paremhesis [that is, the date
"( 1798)" with which he labels the dictat at the head of§ 3]." Once again, however, this hy-
pothesis is undermined by the text of the "major points," where the two (nearly identical)
versions of the dicto.l to § 3 occur one after the other-making it extremely diiTicult to be-
lieve that Krause could have somehow "failed to recognize" the similarities between the
two versions.
12 4 Jntroduction to K, p. xv. This suggestion is not as far-fetched as it might at first ap-

pear. There is ample evidence that copies of the to Fichte's lectures circulated quite
independently of transcripts of the lectures themselves. See, e.g., Smidt's letter to Herbart,
August 10, 17!)6, requesting a copy of the dicto.Ja from Fichte's lectures on natural rights
(in Fuchs, ed., Fichu im GeJpriich, 1: 370).
Editor's Imroduction 47
the two texts stem from two different semesters; these differences may,
however, be said to establish this beyond any reasonable doubt.
As any experienced teacher can testify, different students can often
produce strikingly different sets of notes from the same lecture; and one
would expect this would be all the more true in the case of a lecturer like
Fichte, w~o was noted for his rapid delivery. 125 Yet these Kolleg-
nachschriften are much more than mere class notes. They at least attempt
to approximate stenographic transcriptions of Fichte's lectures, and
their very length suggests that few of Fichte's words went unrecorded.
Yet when we compare the two manuscripts, we find that, with the ex-
ception of the dictata, they contain virtually no identical passages and
often differ substantially. Not only do the wording and phrasing of the
two texts vary to a greater or lesser degree, 126 but entire paragraphs,
such as the many summaries that occur in the later portions of H, ap-
pear in one text but not in the other. Though the structure of the ar-
gument-both in its general outlines and in its detailed execution-is
the same in the two texts, the examples that Fichte chose to illustrate his
points are not always precisely the same. Nor are the same references
always supplied in the two texts (as was noted above with respect to the
controversial allusion to "a Dutch scholar"). Finally, though both texts
include explicit comparisons between the new presentation of the first
principles of Fichte's philosophy and the older version contained in the
Foundnt.iuns and the Outline, the comparisons in K are more frequent and
more extensive than those in H.
Thus I agree with my fellow editors, Fuchs and Radrizzani, in reject-
ing the hypothesis that H and K represent two different transccipts of
See the anonymous report on Fichte's style as a lecturer in Fuchs, ed., Fich.te im &-
sprach, II: g6: "He never spoke slowly, but was almost always in a hurry." This report, how-
ever, should be compared with other, later ones which appear to conflict with it and which
emphasize the clarity of Fichte's lectures and the deliberateness of his style as a lecturer.
See, e.g., Heinrich Kohlrausch's 1804 report (in Fich.te im Gesprlich, Ill: 217) and the fol-
lowing report, by August Twestan, on Fichte's 1810 lectures ~on the Study of Philosophy":
uHis manner of lecturing is a model for academic teachen, and especially for teachers of
philosophy. He speaks briefly, simply, and clearly, just as in the introduction to Tlw V0€4h\m
of Man; and one can see that he speaks not in order to demonstrate his eloquence, but is
concerned only with the subject matter. His speech is precise and is so well organized that
it is impossible not to follow him. He knows how to make his lectures dear by means of
frequent, but never extraneous, recapitulations and by repeatedly calling attention to how
everything is connected to the overall thread of the argument. Furthermore, he speaks
slowly and with appropriate pauses, so that it possible for e\IC'!ryone to retain an accurate
memory of what he said and to reflect upon it" (Fichu im Gesprlich, IV: 26g).
Though the technical vocabulary of the two presentations is in almost all aues the
same, there is at least one exception worthy of note: In t 17 (H, pp. 194ff.) the term ln-
~grij[ occurs in H in rnany passages where K continues to employ the term ZTWckbegrij[
(~concept of a goal}. The former term is never employed in this Jense anywhere in K:
indeed, the work "lnlwgrij[" occurs only once in K, in the Fint Introduction, where it has
its usual sense of"substance" or vrontent" (K, p. 9). This minor difference is best explained
by the hypothesis that K and H are ba5.ed upon lectures from two different semesters.
48 Editor's Introduction

the same set of lectures. 127 Moreover, since K undoubtedly comes from
17g8/gg, then H must be the earlier ( 1797/98) version-a conclusion
that follows, as Fuchs notes, "despite all the other indications that have
hitherto suggested a later dating for the Halle transcript." 128
At the same time, I also concur with the judgment of virtually all pre-
vious editors and scholars, that H and K can nevertheless be treated as
two, slightly different transcripts of the same ... new presentation" of the
foundations of the Wissenschaftslehre. This conclusion, which is inescap-
ably suggested by a careful study of the content of the two transcripts, is,
in turn, reinforced by the fact that all the evidence clearly indicates that
Fichte himself employed the same manuscript each time he lectured on
Wissenschaftslehre nova methodo, 129 though, like most accomplished teach-
ers, he probably made various revisions, emendations, and new nota-
tions in his manuscript each time he employed it, just as he surely added
different extemporaneous comments on each occasion. Furthermore,
the same evidence plainly suggests that the manuscript was first com-
posed by Fichte in approximately 1796 and subsequently revised here
and there in 1797/98 and possibly in 1798/gg as well. 13 Certainly the °
See Fuchs's introduction to K, p. xiv: "The attentive reader of both transcripts will
conclude from a comparison of the two that both can be traced to a common foundation,
namely the lectures on Wis.senschaftslehre nova methodo based upon 'notebooks'; the same
reader, however, will also conclude that these transcripts themselves stem from two (or
three) different courses of lectures. [ ... ) Despite all the agreement, with which we are
now familiar, between the two versions of the Wis.senschaftslehre nova methodo--agreement
concerning content and structure, as well as concerning the order of tt.main thoughts, all
the way to the occasional agreement of their formulations-one can with great confidence
exclude the possibility that they were transcripts of one and the same set of lectures. The
differences in content, dimension, word order, and execution of details are too great" (p.
xiv). Radrizzani, though he quarrels with some of the evidence Fuchs cites, arrives at the
same conclusion on pp. 35-36 of the introduction to his French translation: viz., that there
is no positive proof that H stems from 1798/99• whereas there is considerable evidence
that at least parts of H stem from 1797/98 and no reason not to assume that the entire
transcript does as well.
K, p. xiv.
Hence the conclusion of the editors of AA IV, 2: "From a careful study of the
Nachschrift, one gains the impression that Fichte's lectures became fixed in a written form
over a long period of time, and also that at least the later portions were later revised" (AA
IV, 2: 7).
" There are, as already noted, minor discrepancies in Fichte's own remarks on this sub-
ject: in the "Public Announcement" (signed November 4, 1800), he reports that he has had
the manuscript on hand for "five years" (i.e, since November 1795!); in his letter to
Schmidt, March 17, 1799, he says he has been working on the new version "for three years"
(i.e., since the spring of 1796); in his January 31, 1801, letter to Johanssen, he claims that
he has had the manuscript "for four years" (i.e., since the beginning of 1797).
See the conclusion drawn by the editors of AA IV, 2: 9: "Most probably, Fichte began the
first drafts in the winter of 1795f96 or in the spring of 17g6. In the first part of 1796,
however, he had so much to do in conjunction with his work on the Ethics that his work on
the Wis.senschaftslehre nova metlwdo did not progress as he had hoped, and thus he had to
cancel the projected course on the foundations of transcendental philosophy [originally
announced for the summer of 1796]. In the fall of 1796 he could, once again, dedicate
himself completely to work on this project. Assuming that he proceeded in his customary
Editor's Introduction 49
dictata were revised, as is confirmed by the presence in K of "older ver-
sions," and the references to the System of Ethical Theory must also have
been added at some point after 17g6/g7.
Consequently, though K is a transcript of the 17g8/gg lectures and H
can be traced back to 1797/98 with a fair degree of reliability, one is nev-
ertheless. entitled to speak of both these manuscripts as transcripts of
the "Wissenschaftslehre of 1796/gg," or simply as two different presenta-
tions of "the Wissenschaftslehre nova methodo." 131 Accordingly, the present
translation treats K and H as two, complementary transcripts of two dif-
ferent sets of lectures deriving from a single manuscript or set of lecture
notes. Though Fichte's own manuscript has apparently vanished, we can
attempt to reconstruct it by combining in a single text the contents of K
and H and, where necessary, emending each in the light of the other.
Though some questions still remain concerning the precise wording of
specific passages here and there, the general style, vocabulary, and man-
ner of argument of these two transcripts are immediately recognizable
as Fichte's own. When appropriately conflated, the two transcripts con-
stitute a complete whole, with no gaps in the argument or any obvious
shortcomings in the presentation-a whole that is, from the point of
view of anyone trying to understand and analyze the Wissenschaftslehre of
1796/gg, clearly superior to either of the two transcripts considered by
itself. The result, I believe, is the closest we are ever likely to come to an
accurate and complete version of Fichte's Jena lectures titled "Founda-
tions of Transcendental Philosophy (Wissenschaftslehre) nuua methodo."

manner, it follows that his composition of the 'notebooks' was preceded by a preliminary
draft, which could be what is referred to by the earliest dates mentioned (winter 179s'96,
spring 1796)." Moreover, these sa~e editors quite plausibly interpret the previously
quoted passage in Fichte's March 17; 1799, letter to Schmidt, where Fichte reports that he
has been working on the new version for three years ("seit drei Jahren Mbe ich eine neiU1
Darstellung bearbeitet"), as evidence that he continued to work on it throughout this period.
"'This was also the conclusion drawn by the very first scholar to make a detailed study
of the Halle transcript, Emanuel Hirsch (see Fichtes Religionsphilosophie, p. 59n). Hirsch
subsequently reaffirmed this conclusion in Christentum und Geschichte, p. 67n, where he
wrote: "From the winter semester 1796/97 on, Fichte's Jena lectures were always based
upon a single notebook; consequently, with respect to its contents, we may treat the tran-
script [H] as representing the Wissenschaftslehre of 1796."

The Wissenschaftslehre nova methodo is a fascinating and important doc-

ument that not only occupies a central role in the development of Fich-
te's philosophy but richly deserves and handsomely repays intensive
study in its own right. Hence it is particularly unfortunate that no copy
of this text in Fichte's own hand has survived. But this misfortune is at
least partially rectified by the fact that we possess two different, though
equally detailed, student transcripts of Fichte's lectures on this subject.
Though each of these transcripts appears to be "complete," neither is
entirely satisfactory, and each contains passages of extraordinary obscu-
rity. Fortunately, the deficiencies of each are, as a general rule, reme-
died in the other. The first half of the Wissenschaftslehre nova meth.odo, for
example, is presented more clearly and in greater detail in K, whereas
H's presentation of the second half is generally preferable to that of K.
Thus anyone who wishes to understand the Wissenschaftslehre nova meth.-
odo is advised to study both texts. For this reason, the present translation
represents a composite or conflated text of the two.
Nevertheless, some readers may object in principle to placing so much
authority in the hands of the editor <~.nd may wish to reach their own
decisions concerning the adequacy or inadequacy of the two transcripts.
Accordingly, the following text provides a complete translation of K,
supplemented by the inclusion, within the main body of the text, as well
as within the notes, of a great many passages from H. 1 Moreover, these
additions from H are all clearly indicated (see below). Thus, with a bit
of effort, any reader who wishes to do so can ignore all the insertions
from H and can concentrate solely upon the text of K.
K has been chosen as the basis for the translation because, of the two transcripts, it
exhibits somewhat greater systematic unity and is, on the whole, beuer written. This is also
the judgment of lves Radrizzani, whose French translation follows a similar strategy of
rendering K in its entirety, supplemented by passages from H. Nevertheless, well more
than half of the entire text of H is included in the present English translation.

Principles of the Edition and Translation 5l
Despite the complexity of the editorial apparatus, every effort has
been made to produce an English text that is as accurate and as readable
as possible (though these two goals are not always readily reconcilable).
For the convenience of readers who may wish to compare the translation
with the German originals, the pagination of both H and K has been
provided in the margins, and in many instances the original German
text is provided in the (numbered) footnotes. The specific principles and
conventions governing this edition are as follows.

Integration of K and H: The basis of the present edition is a complete

and continuous translation of the entire text of K. In addition, a large
number of passages from H have been incorporated within the main
body of the text, where they are always enclosed within scroll brackets or
braces. Additional passages from H are included within the notes. In or-
der to distinguish them from the rest of the editorial apparatus, notes
providing supplementary passages from H are always designated by su-
perscripted capital letters, rather than numbers.
When one carefully compares the two transcripts, it is a relatively easy
task to determine where the insertions from H should be made in the
text of K. Whnl and how often such insertions should be made is a more
difficult question. Since the two texts are very rarely exactly the same,
one must exercise editorial judgment in deciding which passages from H
to translate, as well as which to include within the main text and which
to relegate to the footnotes.
The inserted passages from H include (1) those that have no direct
parallel inK and (2) those that clarify, explain, and expand upon points
that are inadequately or obscurely presented in K. In addition, H con-
tains a few passages that appear to conflW with the text of K. All such
passages are translated in the notes, as are certain passages from H
which merely provide interesting alternate formulations of points pre-
sented in K.

Editorial interpolations: Occasionally, each transcript contains gaps or

ambiguities that cannot be remedied by incorporating material from the
other transcript. In such cases, editorial interpolations have been in-
serted. Such interpolations are always placed within square brackets.

Numbering of sections: In his manuscript, Krause experimented with

various different ways of indicating the sections of each of the nine-
teen §§ into which the entire presentation is divided: sometimes
employing letters, sometimes numbers; sometimes placing his sec-
tion numbers at the left margin, sometimes indenting them, and some-
times arranging them as centered headings; sometimes enclosing the
section numbers within parentheses, and sometimes not. H displays
52 Principles of the Edition and Translation

similar inconsistencies. The translation, in contrast, follows a single, con-

sistent scheme of placing the section number in parentheses at the left
margin of the first sentence of each section.

Paragraphing: Whereas the text of H is broken into many short para-

graphs, the paragraphs of K (like those of Fichte's own published writ-
ings) are typically much longer, though occasionally interrupted by
dashes (Gedankenstriche). The translation follows the paragraphing of the
original texts, with the following exceptions: (1) Paragraph breaks have
sometimes been introduced where a dash occurs inK, and (2) new para-
graph breaks have occasionally been introduced into the text of K in
cases where the content (as can usually be confirmed by a comparison
with H) clearly indicates a change of subject matter in the middle of a
paragraph. Every ~aragraph break I have introduced is clearly indicated
by the symbol "•."

Sentence structure: Though the English translation attempts to pre-

serve the style and feel of the original German texts, the canons of En-
glish usage have sometimes made it necessary to break up some of the
longer sentences in both H and K. Again, I have attempted to keep such
departures to a minimum.

Use of emphasis: The manuscripts of H and K are both written pri-

marily in German script, though each employs Latin script on occasion
as well. Though usually employed to transcribe foreign words or Ger-
man words with a foreign root, the Latin script is sometimes used simply
for emphasis. In addition, both K and H also employ underlining (and
double underlining) as a mode of emphasis. 3 The published German
texts of H and K preserve these distinctions by means of elaborate ty-
pographical devices (normal type to indicate normal German handwrit-
ing, italics to indicate terms underscored in the manuscripts, and small
capital letters to indicate words and passages written in Latin script).
Though the translation attempts to follow the originals in their use of
emphasis, no effort has been made to preserve the distinction between
Latin and German script. Thus the words written in Latin script are
2 The paragraphing of K is also interrupted on those occasions when a paragraph break
is included within a passage from H which is inserted within a paragraph from K.
• Neither K nor H is consistent in the use of either Latin script or underlining. For ex-
ample, whereas Krause sometimes transcribed the entire text of a dU:tat in Latin script, on
other occasions Latin script is employed only for the first line of the dU:tat, and sometimes
the entire dU:tat appears in German script. Obviously, here again Krause was simply ex-
perimenting with various ways of composing his transcript. (fhe translation ignores these
experiments and employs normal type for the dU:tata.) Or, to take another example,
whereas the words Jch and Niclu-Ich generally appear within H in Latin script, this con-
vention is not always followed (especially in the latter portions of the text). In contrast,
these same two words are almost always written in plain German script in K.
Principles of the Edition and Translation 53
here printed in italics only in cases where the Latin script seems to have
been employed for the sake of emphasis and not simply to transcribe a
word with a foreign root. Words underlined in K and H are here printed
in italics, except in cases where the context clearly atgues against this or
in cases (such as citation of names or "mention" of terms) where English
employs different conventions from German. In the latter cases, the em-
phasis is either dropped altogether or else replaced with quotation
marks. No new emphasis has been introduced in the English translation.
In short, the translation follows the German originals in the use of em-
phasis, though not slavishly, and is somewhat more consistent in its use
of italics for such things as titles, headings, and so on than either of the
German texts.

Annotation: As already mentioned, lettered footnotes provide sup-

plementary passages from H. Numbered footnotes provide a variety of
different sorts of historical and philological information: ( 1) Some notes
identify or provide further information concerning persons, works, cir-
cumstances, and events that Fichte mentioned or alluded to in the text
of his lectures. (2) Some notes indicate proposed corrected readings of
the text-whether based upon a comparison of the printed text with the
original manuscript, 4 upon a comparison of Hand K, or simply upon
considerations of context and content. (3) Many of the notes address
specific issues of translation and include, wherever it would be helpful,
citations from the German text. (Note that these quotations reproduce
the often eccentric orthography of the originals.) (4) On rare occasions,
the notes include a few words of explanation or commentary, but only
where the ambiguity of the text makes such commentary indispensable.

Page nu,mbers of the German text: The page numbers of the Felix
Meiner edition of the text of K are supplied in the left margin of the
text. Page numbers of H (as published in AA IV, 2) are supplied, within
parentheses, in the right margin. 5 Page references to H are also sup-
plied, again in parentheses, following each of the supplementary pas-
sages translated in the notes.

Translntion: While my goal has been to make these texts of Fichte's

lectures as readable and as accessible as possible to a broad Anglophone
audience, I have also attempted to address the more specialized concerns
4 I am especially grateful to Erich Fuchs for his invaluable assistance in identifying such

errors of transcription in the Meiner text of K.

• Marginal page references to H are supplied only where material from H appears
within the body of the translation. That is, a page reference to H is provided at the point
of the first occurrence within the text of the translation of a passage from that particular
page of H.
54 Principles of the Edition and Translation

of scholars and of readers with some knowledge of the German lan-

guage: hence the large number of citations from the original German
Every effort has been made to preserve as much consistency and uni-
vocity as possible in the rendering of key terms (indicated in the
German-English glossary), though, of course, a sensitive and accurate
translation demands a certain latitude and flexibility in this regard as
well. As a general rule, long-standing conventions for rendering certain
technical, philosophical terms into English (e.g., Vorstellung =
"representation" and Anschauung = "intuition") have been respected,
though there are some exceptions. For example, Ich is here rendered as
"1," rather than as "ego" or "self," and Vermiigen is translated as "power"
or "ability," rather than as "faculty." Furthermore, Wissenschaftslehre,
which means "theory" or "doctrine" of "science" or of "scientific knowl-
edge," and which is customarily-albeit quite inaccurately-rendered as
"Science of Knowledge," is here treated as a term of art and is not trans-
lated at all.
In this case, as in every other, translation remains a matter of com-
promise and interpretation. This fact, however, is as much of an incen-
tive as an obstacle to the philosophically inclined translator, who may
take some comfort in the fact that Fichte insisted that "my theory should
be expounded in an infinite number of ways" and conceded that "ev-
eryone will have a different way of thinking this theory-and must think
it differently, in order to be thinking this very theory. "6 This, therefore, is
the underlying goal and purpose of the present volume: to assist those
who wish to "think" Fichte's Wissenschaftslehre nova methodAJ in a new and
different way-that is, in English.
Letter to Reinhold, July 2, 1795.

abbilden to portray
ableiten to derive
die Absicht intention
der Accident accident, accidental property or feature
afficieren to affect, to have an effect on
die Agilitat agility
der Akt act
anerkennen to acknowledge, to recognize
an hal ten to arrest, to bring to a halt
ankniipfen to attach, to connect, to tie or to hold
anschauen to intuit
das Anschauen intuiting, act of intuiting
das Anschauende the intuiting subject
die Anschauung intuition
die Ansicht view, point of view, opinion, way of looking
at, appearance, aspect, perspective, the
way something looks
auffassen to grasp, to interpret, to construe (to pick
die Aufforderung summons
der Aufgabe task, assignment
aufhalten to bring to a halt, to arrest
aufheben to cancel, to annul
aufnehmen to assimilate, to take up, to absorb, to
aufstellen to present, to exhibit, to display, to set up
die Ausdehnung expansion
(sich) aussern to express
das Beabsichtigte what is intended
die Bedingung condition (for the possibility of)
die Begierde desire
begreifen to comprehend, to grasp, to grasp in or by
means of a concept
56 German/English Glossary

das Begreifen (act of) comprehending, comprehension

das Begreifende the comprehending subject
die Begrenztheit limitation, state of limitation
der Begriff concept
die Beharrlichkeit constancy
das Beruhen (state of) rest
die Beschaffenheit structure, constitution, (set of) properties
die Beschriinktheit limitation, state of limitation
die Beschriinkung limitation
bestehen to subsist (to endure)
bestimmbar determinable
die Bestimmbarkeit determinability
bestimmen to determine, to specify
das Bestimmen determining, specifying, act of deter-
bestimmt determinate, determined, specific
die Bestimmtheit determinacy, determinate state, precision
das Bestimmuein determinate being
beweglich movable, mobile, changeable
die Beweglichkeit mobility
der Beweis proof, argument
beweisen to prove, to demonstrate
das Bewussr.sein consciousness, act or state of consciousness
das Bild image
bilden to form or entertain images, to shape, to
bind en to constrain, to bind
die Causalitiit causal power, causality
der Charakter characteristic feature, feature, character,
darstellen to present, to expound, to exhibit, to
die Darstellung presentation, exposition, portrayal
das Dauerende that which endures
die Denkart way or manner of thinking
denken to think, to conceive of
das Denken thinking, act of thinking
das Denkende the thinking subject
der Denk.zwang intellectual compulsion, feeling of being
compelled to think in a certain way
der Drang impetus
die Einbildungskraft (power of) imagination
die Einschrankung limitation, restriction
einwirken to exercise an effect on
die Einwirkung effect, influence, efficacious action
empfinden to sense, to have a sensation
die Empfindung sensation
der Endzweck final goal
German/English Glossary 57
entgegensetzen to oppose, to posit in opposition
entschlie~n to resolve, to decide
der Entschlu~ decision
entwerfen to construct, to project
erblicken to view, to catch sight of, to observe
ergreifen to apprehend
erkennen to cognize, to recognize
das Erkennen cognizing, cognition
die Erkenntnis cognition
erweisen to demonstrate, to show
die Evidenz self-evidence
flxiert fixed, stabilized, arrested
das Fixiertsein flxedeness
die Folge sequence, consequence, result
die Forderung demand
fortdauern to endure
das Fiihlbare what can be felt
das Fuhlende the feeling subje<:t
fUr sich for itself, by itself
gebunden constrained, bound
die Gebundenheit constraint, constrained state
das GefUhl feeling
das Gefundene what is found or discovered
der Gegensatz opposite, opposition
gegensetzen to oppose, to posit in opposition
das Gegensetzen (act of) opposing, (act of) opposition, (act
of) positing in opposition
der Gegenstand object
das Gehaltene that which is brought to a halt
der Geist mind, spirit
geistJich mental, intellectual, spiritual
das Gemiith mind
das Gesetztsein being-posited
die Gewalt power
der Glaube belief, faith, confidence
glauben to believe, to have confidence in, to trust,
to think
das Glied element, member, term, link
die Grenze limit, boundary
die Grofle magnitude, quantity
der Grund ground, foundation, basis, reason
die Grundeigen:schaften elementary qualities
die Haltbarkeit stability
hal ten to bring to a halt, to arrest, to restrain
handeln to act
das Handeln acting, instance (mode or type) of acting
die Handlung action
hem men to curb, to obstruct, to restrict
58 German/English Glossary

herausgreifen to select, to choose

herausreifkn to wrench out of
hervorbringen to produce, to generate
das Hindemiss obstacle, hindrance
das Ich the I
die lchheit 1-hood
die Idee Idea
die Intelligenz intellect, intelligence
k.ennen to be acquainted with, to
die Korperwelt corporeal world
die Kraft force, energy
die Lehre theory, account (philosophy, system)
leiden to be passively affected
das Leiden passivity, passive state, state of passivity
losreif3en to wrench away, to tear away
mach en to produce, to make
das Machen productive activity, act of producing,
productive act
das Machende the productive subject or agent
man nigfalt ig manifold, multiple
das Mannigfaltige manifold, multiplicity
die Mannigfaltigkeit multiplicity
das Material material, content
die Materie matter, content
das Merkmal attribute, distinctive feature
nachbilden to copy
nachmachen to imitate, to copy
nachweisen to establish, to show
das Nichtdiirfen prohibition
das Nichtich the Not-1
das Objekt object
das Objektive objective (element)
die Praxis practice, practical activity
das Prinzip principle, first principle
rassonieren to argue, to calculate, to reason
das Rassonnement argumentation, argument, line of
realisieren to realize, to make real, to bring into being
das Recht right, law, justice
die Reflexion (act of) reflecting, (act of) reflection
die Ruhe repose, state of repose, passive state,
ruhend in a state of repose, passive, stable
die Sache content, matter, subject
der Satz proposition, principle
schweben to hover, to oscillate
die Selbstandigkeit self-sufficiency
das Selbstgefiihl self-feeling, feeling of self
German/English Glossary 59
die Selbsttatigkeit self-activity. spontaneous self-activity
die Sensibilitat sensibility
setzen to posit
das Setzende the (actively) positing subject
der Sinn sense
die Sinnenwelt sensible world
sinnlidi sensible, sensuous
die Sinnlichk.eit sensibility, sensuousness
die Sittlichk.eit morality
stehend stable
stetig constant, continuous
die Stetigk.eit continuity
die Stimmung mood, disposition
der Stoff matter, material, content, object, stuff
der Stofl impact, stimulus
das Suchen quest
die ·nu deed, act
die Tathandlung Act
das Tatige the active sutMect or being
die Tatigkeit activity
der Trieb drive
das Tun doing, instance or type of doing, act of do-
ing .something
das Uebergehen movement of transition, passage, move-
ment, transition
iibersinnlich supersensible
die Unbestimmtheit indeterminacy, state of indeterminacy
die Verbindung connection, bond
die Vereinigung unification, union
das Verfahren process, operation
verlrniipfen to connect, to tie together
das Vermogen power
die Vernunft reason
versinnlichen to make sensible, to sensibilize
der Verstand understanding
verstandlich intelligible
das Vorbild model, ideal prefiguration
das Vorhandsein presence, being present
vorschweben to hover before, to have (something) in
vorstellen to represent, to have or to entertain repre-
das Vorstellende the representing su~ject
die Vorstellung representation
wahrnehmen to perceive
die Wahrnehmung perception
wechselwirken to interact, to stand in a relationship of re·
ciprocal interaction
6o German/English. Glossary

die Wechselwirkung (reciprocal) interaction

widersteh.en to resist
der Wille will
die Willkiir choice, free choice, power of (free) choice
wirken to act efficaciously, to operate, to have an
effect upon, to affect
das Wirken efficacious acting, accomplishment
wirklich actual
die Wirklichkeit actuality
wirksam effective, effectively
die Wirksamkeit efficacy, efficacious power
die Wirkung effect
wissen to know
die Wissenschaft science
das Wollen willing, act of willing
das Ziel goal, object
(in sich selbst} zuriickgehend self-reverting
das Zusammenfassen act of combining, combination
der Zusammenhang combination, connection
zusammensetzen to combine, to assemble, to posit together,
to compose
zusehen to witness, to observe, to look at
der Zustand state
der Zweck goal, end (aim, purpose)

AA J G. Fichte: Gesamtausgabe der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften.

Ed. Reinhard Lauth, Hans Jacobs, and Hans Gliwitsk.y. Stuttgart-
Bad Cannstatt: Frommann, 1964-. (This definitive edition is pub-
lished in four parts, each of which consists of many separate
volumes. Cited by section, volume, and page number.)
EPW Fichte: Early Philosophical Writings. Ed. and trans. Daniel Breazeale.
Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1988.
GEWL J. G. f"ichte. Grundrif3 des Eigentiimlichen der Wissenschaftslehre in Riick-
sicht auf das theoretische Vermiigen ( 1795). (Cited according to the pag-
ination of the edition in SW, I.)
GWL J. G. Fichte. Grundlage der gesamlen Wissenschaftlehre ( 1794'95).(Cited
according to the pagination of the edition in SW, 1.)
H The "Hallesche Nachschrift" of WLnm (1797/98?). (Cited according
to the pagination of the edition in AA IV, 2.)
K The "Krause Nachschrift" of WLnm (1798/99) =Johann Gottlieb
Fichte. Wissenschaftslehre nova methodo. Kollegnachschrift K. Chr. Fr.
Krause. Ed. Erich Fuchs. Hamburg: Meiner, 1982.
KGS K.ants gesammelte Schriften. Ed. Koniglich Preuf3ischen Ak.ademie der
Wissenschaften. Berlin: Reimer/de Gruyter, 1902-. (Cited by volume
and page number.)
KRV Immanuel Kant. Kritik der reinen Vernunft (First ed. [A], 1781; second
ed. [B], 1787).
SK Fichte: The Science of Knuwledge. Ed. and trans. Peter Heath and John
Lachs. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982 (orig. 1970).
sw Johann Gottlieb Fichtes siimmtliche Werke. Ed. I. H. Fichte. Berlin: Veit,
1845-46. (Cited by volume and page number. The SW pagination is
also indicated in the critical editions of many of Fichte's writings in
AA, as well as in the English translations of Fichte's writings in EPW
and SK.)
WLnm J. G. Fichte. Wissenschaftslehre nova methodo ( 1796/99). (Usually cited
asK or H, above.)

[ 61 l

{} All material enclosed with braces or scroll brackets is inserted into the
text of K from H.

[] Everything within square brackets is added by the editor/translator.

Footnotes marked by a superscripted letter provide additional, supple-
mentary passages from H.

Footnotes marked by a superscripted number provide philological and

other information and are added by the editor/translator.

• This solid square at the beginning of a paragraph indicates a paragraph

break introduced into the text of K by the editor/translator.

The numbers in the left-hand margins refer to the page numbers of the text of
K, as published by Felix Meiner.

The numbers in the right-hand margins (within parentheses) refer to the page
numbers of the text of H, as published in AA IV, 2 (and are provided only where
material from H appears within the main body of the English text).
Foundations of Transcendental Philosophy
(Wissenschaftslehre) N(JlJ(l Methodo
The Major Points of the
Wissenschaftslehre of 1798-1 799

Fichte's Dictata to His

Lectures on the Wissenschaftslehre
Winter Semester 1798-1799
(his last lectures on this topic) 1

§ 1
The Concept of the I. Intellectual Intuition.
(newer version)
Postulal.e: Construct the concept of the I and observe how you accom-
plish this.
It was claimed that if one does what one is asked to do one will dis-
cover that one is active and will discover in addition that one's activity is
directed upon one's own active self. Accordingly, the concept of the I
comes into being only by means of a self-reverting activity; and conversely,
the only concept that comes into being by means of such an activity is
the concept of the I. By observing oneself while engaged in this activity,
one becomes immediately conscious of it; i.e., one posits oneself as self-
positing. As the sole immediate form of consciousness, this immediate
This is Krause's title for the general summary he placed at the beginning of his
Nachschrift. Krause's subtitle notwithstanding, this was not to be the last time that Fichte
lectured on the Wissmsclwftslehre. He began a new series of lectures on the topic in Berlin
only a year after his depanure from Jena and continued to deliver new lectures on the
Wissmschnftslehre at various intervals throughout the rest of his life. This was, however, his
last series of lectures on the topic at Jena.
The following summary of the "major points" or "chief propositions" (Haupts;Uu) of
Fichte's Wissmsclwftslehre, with which Krause's manuscript commences, is simply a compi-
lation of the carefully dictated summaries ("dict4UJ") that occur at the end of each of the
nineteen §§ into which the Wissmschnftslehre nova methodo is divided. For this reason, per-
haps, Erich Fuchs did not include this preliminary section in his published edition of
Krause's transcript. Though there are some minor differences between the versions of the
summaries which appear within the text of the lectures and the transcriptions assembled
here, only those changes that seem to involve some shift of meaning are explicitly noted.
The translation of these "major points" departs from Krause's manuscript in several

[ 6sJ
66 Major Points of the Wi.ssenschaftslehre

consciousness of oneself must be presupposed in the explanation of all

other possible varieties of consciousness. It is called the original intuition
of the I. (The word "intuition" is here employed in both the subjective
and the objective sense. For intuition can mean two different things: (a)
it can refer to the intuition which the I has, in which case the I is the
subject, the intuiting subject; or(~) it can refer to that intuition which is
directed at the I, in which case the intuition is objective, and the I is the
intuited object.)
One will further observe that one is unable to posit oneself as acting
without positing a sto.te of repose in opposition thereto. Whenever a
state of repose is posited, a concept is produced-in this case, the concept
of the I.

(older version of § 1)
All consciousness is accompanied by an immediate self-consciousness,
which is called intellectual intuition, and this immediate self-consciousness
must be presupposed if one is to be able to think at all. Consciousness,
however, is an activity, and self-consciousness, in particular, is the self-
reverting activity of the intellect, or pure reflection. Remark: Everything
follows as a consequence of carrying out the indicated self-observation.
This pure act of reflection, viewed as a concept, is thought of by the I.
Accordingly, I posit myself simply by means of myself, and all other con-
sciousness is conditioned by this act of self-positing.

Relation of the I to the Not- I.
(newer version)
It was claimed that when one constructs the concept of the I one will
also discover that one cannot posit oneself as active without positing this
activity as self-determined, and that one cannot do this without positing
a nwuement of transition from a sto.te of indeterminacy or determinability-

minor respects: (1) The page layout is different. Krause arranged his content headings
(whkh, presumably, derive from Krause himself and not directly from Fichte) in a column
on the left side of his pages and the summaries themselves in a column on the right side
ofthe same pages. (11) As in· the main body of the Nacluchr!fl, two virtually identical versions
of§ 3 are also included in the «major points," and here too only one of these (the "more
recent" version) is translated. (3) The second paragraph of Fichte's summary of§ 17 is not
included in Krause's compilation of "major points" but has been included here. (4) As in
the main body of the text, words and passages are occasionally inserted from the text of
the dictata appearing at the end of each §of H. Such insertions are always enclosed within
braces or scroll brackets.
Major Points of the Wissenschaftslehre 67
which movement of transition is itself the very activity one is here ob-
serving (see sections 1 and 2 above). Similarly, one cannot grasp the
concept {of the I} which comes into being by means of the determinate
activity without determining this concept by means of an opposed Not- I.
What is determinable is the same as what was previously called the state
of repose (§ 1), for it becomes determined precisely by being trans-
formed into an activity. Moreover, that which, in relation to the intuition
of the I, is a concept of the I, is for the Not-I an intuition. More specif-
ically, it is the concept of the act of intuiting (section 4). As a consequence of
this opposition, the Not-1 can be characterized as the {real} negation of
activity; that is, it can be characterized as "being," which is the concept of
canceled activity. The concept of being is thus by no means an original
concept, but is a negative one, derived from activity.

(older version of§ 2)

When this very activity of reflection, through which the intellect pos-
its itself, is intuited, it is intuited as a self-determining agility; and this
agility is intuited as a movement of transition from a state of passive re-
pose and indeterminacy, which is nevertheless determinable, to one of
determinacy. This determinability here appears as the power to think ei-
ther of the I or of the Not-1, and thus the concept of determinability
necessarily involves the concepts of the I and the Not-I, which are pos-
ited in opposition to each other. Accordingly, whenever one engages in
self-active reflection each of these concepts appears as something inde-
pendent of this act, and the characteristic feature of the Not-1 is being,
i.e., a negation.

Actual Consciousness. Freedom.

One will find that this movement of transition (from what is deter-
minable to what is determinate, § 2) possesses its foundation utterly
within itself. The action involved in this transition is called real activity
and is opposed to that ideal activity which merely copies the former, and
the overall activity of the I is thereby divided between these two types of
activity. In accordance with the principle of determinability, no real ac-
tivity can be posited without also positing a real or practical pawer. Real
and ideal activity mutually condition and determine each other. Neither
is possible without the other, nor can one comprehend what either of
them is without also comprehending the other. In this act of freedom
the I itself becomes objective. An actual consciousness comes into being,
and from now on anything that is to be an object of consciousness at all
68 Major Points of the Wissenschaftslehre

must be connected to this starting point. Freedom is therefore the ulti-

mate ground and the first condition of all being and of all consciousness.

The Character of the I as the Identity
of Practical Power and Intellect.

Free self-determination is intuitable only as a determination to become

"something," of which the self-determining or practical {power} must
possess a {freely constructed} concept. A concept of this sort is called
"the concept of a goal." Consequently, for the intuiting subject, the same
subject who possesses practical power at the same time possesses the
power to form concepts, just as, conversely, the comprehending subject, or
{the power of} the intellect, must necessarily be practical. Practical power
and intelligence are inseparable. Neither can be thought of apart from
the other. The {true} character of the I thus lies in this identity.

Intuitability of the Activity of the I by Means of
the Synthesis of Resistance.

For intuition, who.t is determinable becomes an infinitely divisible manifold,

because it is supposed to be the object of a free choice on the part of ab-
solute freedom. This must also be true of what is determinate, since it is a
part of this manifold. What is determinate and what is determinable are,
to this extent, similar. What distinguishes them is this: In the first case,
the action intuited is merely possible, i.e., an action posited by an intel-
lect that is oscillating between opposites; in the second case, the action
intuited is {actual, i.e.,} an action posited by an intellect that is bound to
a determinate series of the manifold. Action 2 is activity that is constantly
resisted, and it is only by means of this synthesis of resistance {with activity}
that an activity of the I becomes intuitable.

Drive and Feeling.

A free action is possible only if it is guided by a freely constructed con-

cept of this action (§ 4); consequently, in advance of all action, the free
Reading "Handlung" for "Hemmung." The summary of§ 5 which appears within the
text of the lectures (in both K and H) reads "action'' (Handlung) instead of "constraint"
(Hemmung), a word that makes litde sense in this context and is presumably an error in
transcription on Krause's part. In fact, the context makes it clear that what Fichte is re-
ferring to here is neither "constraint" nor "action" per se, but rather "constrained action."
Major Points of the Wi.ssenschaftslehre 6g
intellect must be acquainted with the possibilities of action. Such an ac-
quaintance can be explained only by assuming the presence within the I,
prior to all action, of a drive, within which, precisely because it is only a
drive, the inner activity of the I is limited. Since nothing pertains to the
I which it does not posit, the I must also posit this limitation, and an
or_iginallimitation that is posited in this way is called a "feeling. " 5 Since a
free choice or selection is supposed to take place, a manifold of feelings
must be present, and these various feelings can be distinguished from
one another only through their relationship to the general system of
feelings, a system that is likewise originally present.

Feeling of the Object and Intuition of the Ideal.

An intuition is necessarily connected with every feeling; for feeling is

limitntion, but a limitation that is not opposed to an activity is nothing.
That within the I which necessarily remains an activity, however, is its
ideal puwer. The point of union between feeling and intuition is this: even
as the I feels itself to be limited (in its real aspect), it also feels itself to be
engaged in intuiting (in its ideal aspect). To the extent that intuition is
directed at the limitation, this limited state of the I becomes a mere ob-
ject, with no relation to a subject, and the intuition is felt to be con-
strained in the depiction of the object. A feeling of this sort, however, is
impossible apart from an opposed feeling of freedom; consequently, the
intuition is also, in another respect, felt to be free, and to this extent it is
an intuition of the ideal.

§ 8
The Concept of the I and the Concept of the Not- I.

An intuition of the I is necessarily connected with an intuition of the

Not-I, and only through the former does the latter become an intuition
at all. In order to explain this intuition of the I, however, one has to as-
sume an alteration in the state of [the I's] feelings, i.e., a limitation of its
limited condition, through which the I itself becomes limited in the in-
tuition of the Not-1. From this alteration there arises a feeling of this
particular limitation of the ideal activity, from which there then arises
an intuition of the same. The ground of the union of the intuition of the
I and the intuition of the Not-1 is this: no constraint can be posited within the
'"so etwas nennt man ein Gefiihl." The translation interprets K's "so etwas" in the light
of the parallel passage in H: "(so ein setzen der urspriinglichen Beschriink.ung)."
70 Major Points of the Wissenschaftslehre

intuition of the Not-/ without also positing .freedom in opposition to it. All free-
dom, however, pertains to the /, and only by means of freedom does the
intuition of the I become an intuition of the I. But an intuition accom-
panied by a consciousness of the intuiting subject is called a "concept."
Therefore, the concept of the I and the concept of the Not-/ both arise from
the postulated alteration in the system of feeling.

The Thing and the Representation of the Thing.

The act of comprehending is a free act of reflection upon the previ-

ously derived intuition, and it is posited as a free act. The freedom of the
act of reflecting upon intuition cannot be posited, however, unless this
act of reflection 4 is itself posited as such. Accordingly, we obtain a two-
fold view of the act of reflection, and along with this, a twofold view of
the object of the same. (That is to say, the double aspect of the act of
reflection is present for the philosopher, whereas what is present for the
I is the double aspect of the object.) In the first instance, [we are con-
cerned with] the act of reflection as such, without any further reflection
thereupon, and this furnishes the object that is present witlwut any help .from
the I. In the second instance, [we are concerned with] the act of reflec-
tion as a particular determination of freedom, which is itself reflected
upon, and this furnishes the representation of the thing.

§ wa
Acting as Drawing a Line. Space.

The act of comprehending is posited as a freely occurring act; this

means that {it} is posited by the intellect as an act that can either occur
or not occur, and indeed, as a specific mode of acting in general (for oth-
erwise nothing at all would be posited). Consequently, acting as such or
in general is posited, and it is posited as something that can occur or not
occur-though acting is not possible "in general" unless one or another
4 "aber die Freiheit der REFLEXION auf sie kann nicht gesetzt werden, autkr in wiefern
sie selbst iiberhaupt gesetzt ist." The antecedent of the second sie in this clause is uncer-
tain and might be either "the act of reflection" (die Reflexion) or "the intuition" (die
Anschauung), though the context appears to support the former. Indeed, the correspond-
ing passage in H (p. g8) explicidy refers to both and states that "the freedom of this act of
reflecting upon intuition cannot be posited except insofar as these (i.e., the act of reflec-
tion, as well as intuition itself) are already posited as such." It should be noted, however,
that this same passage in H ("autkr er inwiefern die[se] (REFLEXION, Anschauung selbst)
iiberhaupt schon gesezt ist"), with its plural subject and singular verb, also appears to be
Major Points of the WissenschaftslehYe 71
specific mode of acting is posited. Consequently, this "acting in general"
exists for the intellect only as an instance of free acting-but no instance
of "free acting" can be present for the intellect without "acting as such"
or "in general" being present for it [as well]. However, the I intuits its
sheer acting, considered as such, as an act of drawing a line, and hence it
intui~ its indeterminate power to act in this way as space.

§ wb
Matter in Space.

Since the positing of the object and the positing of acting are neces-
sarily united within the I, the former (the object) and the schema of the
latter [i.e., space] must necessarily be united as well. But uniting an ob-
ject with space is the same as filling space; consequently, all objects nec-
essarily occupy space, that is, they are material. The freedom of the
intellect consists in (i.e., expresses itself in) the synthesis of an object,
which is determined by the predicates of feeling, with a place in space,
which is determined by spontaneity; and, in this way, space becomes
continuous, and space, as well as matter, becomes infinitely divisible. The
determinacy of the latter (the intellect), without which the former (free-
dom) is impossible and which is not possible without the former, consists
in this: that the object must be posited in some sface or another, 5 and
that space must be filled with some sort of matter. There is no space with-
out matter, and vice versa. This is a matter of necessity; but it is a matter
of freedom that this object is not situated just in this space and that this
space does not belong just to this object.

§ 11
A Rational Being Posits Itself in Space as a
Practically Striving Being.

Every object obtains its place in space from its relation to the represent-
ing subject, and, apart from this relationship, no determination of place
is possible. Anything that is supposed to determine the position of an-
other thing in space, however, must itself be in space. Accordingly, a ra-
tional being posits itself in space as a practically striving being. This
internally felt striving, which obtains the form of intuition through the
act of intuiting the object (an act that is necessarily united with feeling),
"in einen Raum tiberhaupt": that is, "in space as such or in general."
''mit Materie tiberhaupt."
72 M~or Points of the Wissenschaftslehre

is the original and immediate standard of measure for every determination of

place. It is not possible to posit anything in space without also discovering
oneself to be in space, but one cannot discover that one is in space unless
one posits an object in space.

§ 12
Real External Efficacy.

Our striving, or our practical acting, is, according to the preceding §,

the standard of measure for all spatial determination. Inner or pure force
is the efficacy of willing, as intuited immediately and therefore intellec-
tually. Through such willing, the entire free power of the I is focused
upon a single point. Outer or physical force is this same energy, but ex-
tended by sensible intuition in a temporal series, in which series the man-
ifold of the power of feeling, as determined by the causality of the will, is
brought into a relationship of dependence; and it is only through this
relationship of dependence that this manifold can be assimilated to the
unity 7 of consciousness. A physical force of this sort, however, can be
posited only in [the context of] some real efficacy, from which it follows
that any determination of the place of things-and thus consciousness
itself-is possible only in consequence of some real efficacy.

§ 13
The Intelligible Pure Will. The Feeling of "Ought."
The I as an Individual in the Realm of Rational Beings.

Real efficacy is possible only in accordance with a concept of a goal; a

concept of a goal is possible only on the condition of a cognition; and
such a cognition is possible only on the condition of a real efficacy; con-
sequently, consciousness would not be explained by this circle. There
must therefore be something that simultaneously is an object of cogni-
tion and is efficacious. 8 All these features are united in only one thing:
in pure will, which must be presupposed prior to all empirical willing and
to all empirical cognition. This pure will is something purely intelligible,
but it can express itself through a feeling of "ought," and in this way it be-
comes an object of thought. To the extent that this occurs, pure willing
is assimilated into the overall form of thinking as something determi-
Reading, with the version of this paragraph which appears at the end of§ 12 in both
K and H, "Einheit" instead of "Freiheit" ("freedom").
Reading, with the version of this paragraph which appears at the end of§ 13 in both
K and H, "das Object der Erlc.enntnil} und Wiirlc.samlc.eit"' for "das Object der Erlc.enntnil}
und der Wirlc.samlc.eit" ("an object of cognition and of efficacy").
Major Points of the Wisseruchaftslehre 73
nate in opposition to something determinable. In this way, /, the willing
subject, become an individual, and there comes into being for me a realm
of rational beings, as what is determinable in this case. Consciousness in its
entirety can and must be derived from this pure concept.

§ 14
Willing and Doing.
Unification of Cognition of the Object with the Will.

The pure will is the immediate object of all consciousness and of all
reflection (§ 13). Reflection, however, is discursive; consequently, the
pure will must be a manifold. It is not originally manifold, but first be-
comes so by being related to its own {original} limitation, by means of
which it {first} becomes a will. This relation of the pure will to its own
limitation occurs within the act of reflection itself, which is absolutely
free; and the freedom and entire essence of this act of reflection consist
precisely in this act of relating9 {the pure will to the original limitation}.
The freedom of this act consists, in part, in the fact that such a relation-
ship is established at all and, in part, in the fact that it occurs in this or
that way. Insofar as it is simply thought of, this act of reflection appears
as an act of willing; insofar as it is intuited, it appears as a "doing." This
same act of reflection is the foundation of all empirical consciousness.
In an individual act of such reflection, a rational being views itself in
two different ways or under two different aspects. On the one hand, it
views itself as limited; on the other, it views itself as active in describing
this limitation. The former is its outer aspect, the latter is its inner one;
and, as a result, it ascribes to itself a general organ {(a body)} consisting
of an inner and an outer organ. Feeling is the relation of limitation to
reflection. The source of the limitation is something that exists only for
the ideal activity engaged in thinking about the real activity, and the
immediate union of cognition of an object with the will is thereby

§ 15
The I's Task of Limiting Its Will by Itself.

But a limitation is not a limitation of the I, and does not exist for the
I, unless it is one the I assigns to itself. Accordingly, the original/imitation
of the will can signify nothing but a task for the I: the task of limiting
its own will. The distinctive harbinger of this task within empirical
Reading, with H, "Beziehen" for K's "Beziehung" ("relation").
74 Major Points of the Wissenschaftslehre

consciousness can be nothing other than a concept that demands a spe-

cific self-limitation, and it is by grasping this concept that feeling and
intuition first arise. Consequently, all consciousness begins with the act
of thinking of something purely intelligible.

§ 16
The Summons to Engage in Free Activity,
Coming from a Rational Being 10 Outside of Us.

Viewed from another side, this task of limiting oneself is a summons

to engage in a free activity (for it does not appear to come from the in-
dividual; instead, it appears to come from a rational being outside of us).
We cannot determine ourselves, however, unless our act of self-
determination is accompanied by an actual act of willing; consequently,
consciousness of an actual act of willing is inseparably linked with this
perception of a summons to freedom.

§ 17
In its Activity upon Itself the I
Discovers 11 Itself as a Willing Subject.

As we know, the I is what acts upon itself, 12 and, by virtue of this self-
directed activity, it is a willing subject. "The I discovers itself': this ob-
viously means that it discovers itself to be engaged in acting upon itself.
The I discovers 13 itself to be a willing subject in this self-directed activity,
because its original nature-which cannot be derived from anything
higher, but must instead be presupposed for {the possibility of} any ex-
planation-consists in an act of willing. Every object of {the l's} free re-
flection upon itself must consequently become its own willing.
Every act of reflection is an act of self-determining, and the reflecting
subject immediately intuits this act of self-determining. But it intuits this
act through the medium of the imagination, and, accordingly, it intuits
it as a sheer power of self-determination. By means of this abstract act of
thinking (as a power) the I arises for itself as "something"-something
purely spiritual, 14 something exclusively ideal-and becomes conscious
"einer Vernunft."
Reading, with the text of the summary that appears at the end of§ 17 in H, "findet"
for K's "fiihlt" ("feels").
Reading, with H, "das auf sich selbst thatige" for K's "das durch sich selbst thatige"
("what is active through itself"), a reading that is confirmed by the rest of this paragraph.
" Reading, with H, "findet" for K's "fiihle."
"ein rein Geistiges," i.e., something purely "intellectual."
Major Points of the Wisseruchaftslehre 75
of its own activity of pure thinking and willing, and becomes conscious
of it as such, {that is, as an activity}. This act of reflection, however, is an
act of self-determining; but the previously described act of imagination
is an act of the I, and it is therefore determinate. Consequently, in one
and the same undivided act, pure thinking is made sensible by the imag-
inati9n, and what is made sensible by the imagination is determined by
pure thinking (reciprocal interaction of intuiting and thinking). This
determination produces a self-contained power of the I as a sensible
force, as well as a determinacy of this power 15 (concept of substantiality).
An object is added in thought to the determinacy of this sensible force,
and the Iauer determines the former in an act of thinking (concept
of causality).

§ 18
The I in Opposition to Reason and Freedom Outside of Itself
as well as in Opposition to Things Outside of Itself.

Since the I, when engaged in the act of intuiting its own act of pure
thinking, is at the same time determinate, this same pure act of thinking
(that is to say, the I as a product of this act of thinking, the I as a free
being) necessarily becomes something determinate for the I. But a free
being, as such, can be determined only by the task of freely determining
itself. When the I thinks of this, it proceeds from a general sphere of
freedom as such (as what is determinable) to itself (as what is determi-
nate within this sphere) and thereby posits itself as an individual, in op-
position to a {realm of} reason and freedom outside of itself.
In this determinate act of thinking, the I is at the same time free, and
it thinks of what is determinate only insofar as it does so with freedom;
consequently, it also confers freedom upon what is determinate. But
freedom within mere determinacy (as in nature) is independent being. 16 In
this manner, a being that is independent of the I is attributed to the Not-
1, which first becomes a thing thereby. Insofar as the Not-I possesses this
type of being, it is what endures and is determinable throughout all
the different determinations it receives through the freedom of the I.
The act of thinking of the I as a free but limited being and that of think-
ing of the Not-/ as a self-subsisting thing 11 mutually condition each other.
The I intuits its own freedom only in the objects of its acting, and it in-
tuits these objects only insofar as it freely acts upon them.

"Reading, with H, "denelben" forK's "desselben"("of the 1").

"1ST SEYN DURCH SICH SELBST," More literally: "being through itself' or "se]f-
SUff.?.rted being,"
76 M~or Points of the Wissenschaftslehre

§ 19
Articulated Body. Organized Nature.

When the limitation of the I is made sensible and is perceived, it ap-

pears as a summons to act freely. What is perceived in this case appears to
us as a limitation of our physical force-assuming that we confine our-
selves to ourselves. Accordingly, a physical force outside of us is posited as
what determines this limitation. The physical force in question is gov-
erned (this is to be understood practically, that is, only in the sense of
positing it as engaged in real activity) 18 by the will of a free individual out-
side of us, an individual who is determined and characterized by this will.
(I.e., the individual in question is this determinate will, from which the
existence of a rational being is first inferred.) What is determinable in
this case {(what is determined by the freely determining agent and is, for
us, a determinacy) 19} provides us with the concept and the perception of
an articulated body, a person, outside of us.
This, the body, is a product of nature and consists of parts, which consti-
tute this determinate whole only in their union with one another; there-
fore, nature contains within itself the law that its parts must necessarily
unite to form wholes, which, in turn, constitute one single whole. Nature
is both organized and organizing; insofar as a sensuous, rational being out-
side of me is posited, nature is therefore posited. This exhausts the sphere
of what must necessarily be present within consciousness.
Remark: Nature is {a complete whole and is} explicable {through itself}
only insofar as it is both organized and organizing. Otherwise, one will
be driven further and further afield by the law of causality, {if one as-
sumes this law as one's explanatory rule}.
"(ist praktisch zu verstehen, nur im wirklichen Activitatsetzen)."
"Das Bestimmbare davon (von dem freyen bestimmenden, das fiir uns Bestimmtheit
3 First Introduction
(presented in public lectures) 1

This introduction will address the following three questions:

I. What is philosophy?
II. How will philosophy be dealt with within the context of the system
of the Wisseruchaftslehre?
III. How has the previous version of this system 2 been altered, and how
will the Wisseruchaftslehre be dealt with in this series of lectures?

Re. 1: No mere definition of philosophy will be provided, no mere for-

mula that would simply stand in the way of any further thought. In-
stead, we will show what philosophy is by proceeding in a genetic
manner. That is to say, we will describe how it happens that the human
mind begins to philosophize.
We will take it for granted that one assumes that things exist outside
of oneself. In support of this assumption one appeals to one's own inner
state. It is from within oneself that one obtains this conviction: one is
conscious of an internal state from which one infers the existence of ob-
jects outside of oneself. But of course, one is conscious only insofar as
Fichte's coune of lectures on the Wwmschafokhre nooo fnl:tlwdo [henceforth WLnm! was
a private course, i.e., one open only to officially enrolled (and paying) students. Public lec-
tures, in contrast, were free and open to the entire university community. Fichte obviously
intended this .. public introduction" to the Wwenscll4jtJ/.ehn to allract prospective students
to his coune of private lectures and to provide them with some idea ofwhatto expect. The
numbers in the left margin of this translation refer to the page numbers of the German
text of Krause's typescript as edited and published by Erich Fuchs (K).
GWL and GEWL Together, these two published works constitute the "previous pre-
sentation" to which Fichte makes frequent reference throughout the present text. Fichte's
own page references are to the first editions of these two works, but the translation sub-
stitutes references to the texts contained in the fiTSt volume of the readily available SW.
The translations of GWL in SK (pp. Sg-~86) and GEWL in EPW (pp. 24!1-!lo6) provide
marginal page references to SW, I, as do the editions of GWL and GEWL included in AA
I,~ and I, !I·

[ 77]
78 First Introduction

one entertains representations; 3 hence all one can say is that one is con-
scious of representations of things outside of us, and in fact, one really
asserts no more than this when one says that there are objects outside of
us. No person can immediately affirm that he has senses, but merely
that he is compelled to assume something of the sort. Consciousness is
concerned only with what can be found within consciousness-and
these are representations.
• Nevertheless, we do not content ourselves with this, but quickly in-
troduce a distinction between the representation and the object; and we
assert that beyond the representation there lies something else, some-
thing real or actual. 5 As soon as we become aware of this distinction be-
tween the representation and the object, we say that they both exist. All
rational beings (even idealists and egoists, so long as they are not stand-
ing behind a lectern) continuously affirm the existence of an actual
world. Any person who has raised himself to the level of reflecting upon
4 this phenomenon occurring within the human soul must be astonished
at the inconsistency this appears to involve. Hence one poses the follow-
ing question: Why do we assume that actual things exist, beyond and
in addition to our representations? Many people do not raise this ques-
tion, either because they do not notice the distinction between represen-
tations and things, or simply because they are too thoughtless to raise
such a question. But anyone who does pose this question has thereby
raised himself to the level of philosophical inquiry. The aim of philo-
sophical inquiry is to answer this question, and the science that answers
it is philosophy.
Whether there actually is such a science is a question that must remain
undecided for the moment. It is, however, well known that much effort
has already been devoted to attempts to answer the previously indicated
question; for this has always been the task of philosophy. In trying to
answer this question, however, most philosophers have proceeded in a
one-sided manner, and hence their answers had to be one-sided as well.
They thought, for example, that all they had to do was to inquire
' What Fichte actually says is that insofar as one is conscious, one is a "representing
creature" or a "representing being" (ein vorstellendes Wesen). Throughout this translation,
all technical occurrences of the term VorsteUung have been rendered as "representation."
Fichte's employment of this term is derived from Kant (and Reinhold), for whom it des-
ignates the immediate object of consciousness, i.e., that which is "placed before"--vorge-
stellt-the mind (cp. Locke's "ideas" or Hume's "perceptions of the mind"). Thus the verb
vorstellen, which is somewhat awkwardly rendered here as "to represent" or "to entertain
representations," means no more than this: to have something "on one's mind," i.e., to be
conscious of anything at all.
AII paragraph breaks that I have introduced into the text of K are marked by the sym-
• "liege noch etwas wiirkliches." The adjective wirklich, which is often rendered as "real"
but is normally translated in this volume as "actual," derives from the verb wirken, the root
meaning of which is "to have an effect." Fichte fully exploits this intimate etymological con-
nection between efficacy and reality ("actuality").
First Introduction 79
whether God, immortality, and freedom exist, i.e., whether there is any-
thing actual outside of these representations and corresponding to
them. But the question philosophy has to answer is not whether these
particular representations possess any reality, but rather whether any of
our representations possess any reality whatsoever.
In ~aintaining that something else exists in addition to a particular
representation, one asserts the objective validity of that representation.
Thus, to inquire concerning the objective validity of the Deity means to
investigate whether God is merely a thought, or whether there is some-
thing else, beyond this thought, which corresponds to it. The question
concerning the objectivity of the world is every bit as interesting as those
concerning the objectivity of the Deity and of immortality, and if one
has not answered the former question one cannot answer the Iauer ones.
Philosophy is thus something that is at least conceivable; that is to say,
it is conceivable that one might ask about the objectivity of our repre-
sentations, and it is worthy of a rational being to ponder the answer to
this question. The Idea of philosophy 6 is thereby demonstrated, but the
only way in which its reality can be demonstrated is by actually construct-
ing a system of philosophy.
Just as the human mind can pose these questions, so can it also pose
many other ones, which it can then proceed to answer or to attempt
to answer. If this occurs in conformity with specific laws it is called
"reasoning,''7 and a science comes into being thereby, but not yet phi-
losophy, which is devoted solely to answering the previously indicated

Re. II: To be sure, people also philosophized in former times, but only
in an obscure manner, not yet based upon any clear concept. The ques-
tion concerning the objective validity of our representations has been
particularly insisted upon by the skeptics. It was one of the greatest of
these skeptics, Hume, who awoke Kant. 8 Kant, however, constructed no
"Die Idee der Philosophic." "Idea" (or "transcendental Idea") is a term Kant employed
to designate a "necessary concept of reason to which no corresponding object can be given
in sense-experience" (Krilik tier Tti71en Vernunfl, A3271B383 [henceforth KRV and cited ac-
cording to the pagination of both the first ( 1781 = A) and second ( 1787 = B) editions;
English translation by Norman Kemp Smith, Criliqw afPurt R:uuon (New York: Macmillan
Press, 1g63)]). Kant's examples indude the concepu ("Ideas") of God, freedom, and im-
mortality. In order to remind readers of the technical, Kantian background of this term,
"Idea" is capitalized throughout this translation.
"so wird RA.ESON'N'IRT."
See Kant's famous remark in the Preface to his Prali!grmlt'1llJ zu eiMT jedm kii.nfligm Mt/4-
physik ( 1783) about being aw-dkened from his "dogmatic slumbers" by his reading of Hume.
In Kant's Gesammelle &hriflen, ed. Konigliche Preu~ischen Akademie der Wissen-
schaften (tgo:z-to; rpt., Berlin: de Gruyter, 1g68) [henceforth KGS], IV: 200. English
translation by Lewis White Beck, Prolegomena lo AfiJI FUluTe Melaphysia (Indianapolis:
Bobbs-Merrill, 1950).
80 First Introduction

system, but only wrote Critiques, i.e., preliminary inquiries concerning

philosophy. 9 Yet when one grasps in a systematic matter what Kant says,
especially in the Critique of Pure Reason, one can see that he correctly con-
ceived the question philosophy has to answer, which he expressed as fol-
lows: "How are synthetic judgments a priori possible?" 10 His own answer
was that, in producing representations, reason acts with a certain neces-
sity and in accordance with certain laws, and whatever is brought about
by means of this necessity and through these laws possesses objective va-
lidity. Kant, therefore, is not concerned with things in themselves, with
some sort of existence possessing no relation to a representing subject.
• It was a great misunderstanding to think that what Kant presented
in his Critiques constitutes a system. The following objections may be
raised against those who believe this:
( 1) All the human mind's modes of acting, 11 as well as the laws gov-
erning the same, are not systematically established by Kant, but
are merely picked up from experience. Consequently, one cannot
be certain:
(a) that Kant's list of the laws governing the human mind's nec-
essary modes of acting is exhaustive, since he has not proven
(b) how far their validity extends.
(c) According to Kant, the most remarkable expressions of the
human mind-namely, thinking, willing, and feeling pleasure or
pain-cannot be traced back to a first principle, but are merely
(2) The most important task of all, namely, to prove that and how our
representations obtain objective validity, has not been accom-
6 plished. Kant proves his philosophy only by means of induction
and not through deduction. His philosophy states that conscious-
ness would be explained if one were to assume the operation of
this or that law, and thus it possesses only hypothetical validity.
To what extent may one acquiesce in such a philosophy, and to what
extent should one refuse to be content with it? Why must one go any
further? A person who ingenuously surrenders himself to the dictates of
his own reason has no need of philosophy. Would it not then be better to
dispense with philosophy altogether, and indeed, to advise anyone who
no longer surrenders himself in this naive manner to his own reason to
retain his faith in the truth of his own consciousness?
For Kant's own affirmation of precisely this point, see KRV, Att/B25.
See Kant, KRV, Btg.
"Das gesammte Handeln des menschlichen Geistes." In order to preserve the distinc-
tion between "das Handeln" and "die Handlung," the former is normally translated as
"acting" (or occasionally, as here, "mode[s] of acting" or "instance[s] of acting"), whereas
the latter is always rendered as "action."
First Introduction 81

• It is a good thing to have an ingenuous confidence in the dictates of

one's own consciousness, but such is not the vocation of mankind; in-
stead, it is mankind's destiny to strive constantly for well-grounded
cognition. 12 We are ceaselessly driven to seek well-grounded conviction;
and anyone who has arrived at the point of philosophical doubt cannot
be sent back along the path he has already traversed, but will always seek
to ·resolve his doubts on his own. Such a person finds himself in a painful
state, which not only disturbs his inner peace, but also interferes with his
external acting; for him, therefore, such a state is practically harmful.
The idealist who denies the reality of the corporeal world nevertheless -
never ceases to rely upon this world just as much as the person who be-
lieves in its reality. Although the idealist's doubt has no immediate effect
upon his life, the contradiction between his theory and his practice is
still unseemly. Skepticism can also lead one astray concerning belief in
God and immortality, and this has an effect upon one's peace of mind
and disposition. One may indeed take some temporary comfort in an
incomplete and superficial philosophy; but as soon as one discovers the
inadequacies of such a philosophy, one then comes to doubt the very
possibility of philosophy itself, and this doubt transports one into a state
of even greater distress.
The practical goal now is to resolve these doubts and to bring man
into harmony with himself, so that he can trust his own consciousness
from conviction and on the basis of good reasons-just as he previously
trusted it from the instinct of reason. (The overall goal of human edu-
7 cation and cultivation is to employ labor to make man what he previ-
ously was without the need of any labor at all.) This [practical] goal has
been completely achieved by the Kantian philosophy. It is a proven phi-
losophy, and everyone who understands it must admit that it is true. But
it is not our vocation to be satisfied with this. We are destined for com-
plete and systematic cognizance. It is not sufficient that our doubts be
resolved and that we be consigned to tranquility; we also want science.
Human beings have a need for science, and the Wwenschaftskhre offers
to satisfy this need. The conclusions of the Wwenschaftskhre are there-
fore the same as those of Kant's philosophy, but the way in which these
"die Bestimmung der Menschheit ist es nicht, sie geht unaufhi:irlich fort auf gegriin-
dete. Erlr.enntnil\." The word Grund means .. ground" or ..basis" or "foundation" or "rea-
son." (The German name for the "principle of su£r.cient reason," for example, is Satz. tk>
Gruntkl.) A well-grounded cognition is thus one that has its basis or foundation in some
pre\fious one, whereas the ultimate Grund of all lmowledge cannot be deri"ed from any-
thing higher, but must be somehow self~videnL The task ohhejena Wi.ssenscMft.suhr~ is to
demonstrate, via a genetic deduction or .. derivation," the connection between ordinary
experience and its ultimate "ground." Thus it is the aim of Fichte's philosophy finally to
satisfy the perennial human quest for "well-grounded knowledge." For a detailed discus-
sion of the vital connections among "philosophy,"," "system," and "ground," see
Fichte's important "programmatic" work of 1794, Ueber dm &griff tier Wwt:nJchajt.sUhr~
(SW, 1: 27-81 : AA I, 2: 107-63; English translation in EPW, pp. 84-135).
82 First Introduction

results are established is quite different. Kant does not derive the laws of
human thinking in a rigorously scientific manner. But this is precisely
what the Wissenschaftslehre is supposed to do. It provides a derivation of
the laws that apply to any finite rational being whatsoever. Because it is
based merely upon experience, the Kantian system merely asserts the
laws of human reason, but the Wissenschaftslehre proves these laws. "I
prove something to someone" means that I lead him to the point where
he recognizes that he has already conceded the truth of some proposi-
tion simply because he has previously conceded the truth of some other
proposition. Every proof thus presupposes that the person to whom one
wishes to prove something accepts something else as already proven, and
two people who can agree on nothing are unable to prove anything to
each other. Accordingly, since the Wissenschaftslehre wishes to provide a
proof of the laws in accordance with which a finite, rational being gen-
erates its cognitions, it must base this demonstration upon something.
And since it wishes to provide a foundation for our knowledge, 1 ~ it must
begin with something that every person will concede. If there is no such
thing, then systematic philosophy is impossible.
The Wissenschaftslehre calls upon every person to reflect upon what he
does when he says "1." According to the Wissenschaftslehre, what happens
when one says "I" is this: one supposes that one posits oneself, and that
one posits oneself as a subject-object. One cannot think "I" without do-
ing this. The identity of the positing subject and the posited object 14
completely .exhausts the concept of 1-hood, 15 insofar as this concept is
8 postulated by the Wissenschaftslehre. We do not here import into this con-
cept anything else that one might otherwise think of in conjunction with
self-positing. The Wissenschaftslehre can do nothing with a person who
will not concede this identity. This is the first thing that the Wissen-
schaftslehre demands of everyone. In addition, it asks one to consult one's
own consciousness once again; and it claims that if one does so, one will
discover the following: that one not only posits oneself, but also posits
something else in opposition to oneself-i.e., that one opposes some-
" Reading, with Krause's MS, "Wijkn" forK's "Wesen." Thanks to information supplied
by Fuchs, I have been able in this English edition to correct some mistranscriptions that
apr.;ar in the Meiner edition of the German text.
"die Identitiit des Setzenden und Gesetzten": i.e., the identity of the actively positing
subject and what is posited by means of this act. This is the same identity that, in the 17941
95 version of his system, Fichte tried (rather unsuccessfully) to convey by the term
The verb setz.en (here translated throughout as "to posit") is a basic term in Fichte's philo-
sophical vocabulary and is employed to designate the act of being aware or conscious of
anything whatsoever. The root meaning of setzen is "to place" or "to put," and thus it des-
ignates the reflective act in which the I "places" something before itself and thereby at-
tends to it. Though this term does indeed call attention to the action involved in all
consciousness, it does not, taken by itself, imply that the conscious subject somehow "cre-
ates" the object of which it is conscious.
" "Ichheit."
First Introduction 83
thing to oneself. 16 What is thereby posited in opposition is called "Not-
I," for the only thing said about it is that it is posited in opposition to the
I. One cannot yet call it "an object" or "the world," because, before one
can do so, one must first show how it becomes an object and a world.
Otherwise, ours would be nothing more than yet another variety of Pop-
ular Philosophy. 17
Everything else is derived from these presuppositions. Reason lies
within the I, finitude in the Not-1. The Wissenschaftslehre maintains that
everything that follows from this is valid for all finite, rational beings.
The Wissenschaftslehre then proceeds to exhibit the conditions that
make it possible for the I to posit itself and to oppose a Not-Ito itself, and
this is what proves its correctness. These conditions are the human mind's
original ways of acting. Whatever is required in order for the I to be able
to posit itself and to oppose a Not-I to itself is necessary. The Wissen-
schaftslehre demonstrates these conditions by means of a deduction.
A deductive proof proceeds as follows: We can assume that it is the
very nature of the human mind to posit itself and to oppose a Not-I to
itself; but if we assume this, we must also assume much else as well. This
is called "deducing," i.e., deriving something from something else. Kant
merely asserts .that one always proceeds in accordance with the cate-
gories, 18 whereas the Wissenschaftslehre asserts that one must proceed in
accordance with the categories-just as surely as one posits oneself as an
I. The conclusions are the same, but the Wissenschaftslehre connects them
to something higher as well.
( 1) Thus the Wissenschaftslehre seeks to discover within the inner work-
ings of finite, rational being as such 19 the foundation of all the thinking
that exists for us. This can be briefly expressed as follows: The essence of
reason consists in my positing myself; but I cannot do this without pos-
iting a world in opposition to myself, and indeed, a quite specific world:
"dap man sich nicht nur selbst setze, sondern claP man sich auch noch etwas entge-
gensetze." The reader should keep in mind that when the verb "oppose" occurs in this
translation, it always means enlgegensetz.en, "to posit in opposition" (hence the term "coun-
terposit"' coined by Peter Heath and John Lachs in their translation of TilL Science of Knqw[.
edge). By "opposition," therefore, Fichte does not always (or even usually) mean formal,
logical opposition. Indeed, the meaning of "opposition" in this text is often closer to sim-
ple "difference," in the sense that, in order to posit or to recognize a difference between x
andy, we must oppose them to each other.
The so-<a.lled Popular Philosophers formed a distinct movement in late eighteenth·
century German intellectual life and were frequent objects of Fichte's derision. "Popular
Philosophy" of this sort was characterized by a distrust of formal rigor, an inclination to
cultivate philosophy as a form of belles-lettres, and frequent appeal to the tribunal of
"healthy common sense." For information concerning this long-forgotten (though, in an-
other sense, perennial) philosophical movement, see chap. 13 of Lewis White Beck, Early
German Philos"flhy (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1g6g), and chap. 6 of
Beiser, TilL Fate of Reason.
See, e.g., Kant, KRV, ABoiB 1o6.
"in dem inneren Verfahren des endlichen Vernunftwesens iiberhaupt."
84 First Introduction

a world in space, within which appearances follow one another sequen-

tially in time. This all occurs in one single, undivided act. When this first
act occurs, all the others occur simultaneously. But philosophy, and es-
pecially the Wissen.schaftslehre, wishes to become minutely acquainted with
this single act. One never becomes acquainted with anything exactly and
in detail, however, except by disassembling and dissecting it, and this is
also how the Wissenschaftslehre deals with this single action of the I. We
thereby obtain a series of interconnected actions of the I; for we are un-
able to grasp this single action all at once, since a philosopher is a being
who must do his thinking within time.
In this manner, the need for science is satisfied, and we then obtain a
cognition that is not merely discursive and pieced together from expe-
rience, but systematic, in the sense that it all can be derived from a single
point to which everything else is connected. The human mind strives for
systematic cognition, and hence it should follow the promptings of this
striving. Anyone who says it is impossible to obtain this says no more
than that it is impossible for him personally to obtain it. The method
followed in the Wissenschaftslehre also has advantages in respect of clarity,
since what hangs together in such a way that everything can be easily
surveyed from a single point is always clearer than a diverse aggregate of
things, each of which must be perceived separately.
(2) Kant did not answer the question, How is it that we come to ascribe
objective validity to certain representations? But the Wissenschaftslehre
succeeds in answering just this question. We attribute objective validity
to a representation whenever we affirm that, in addition to the represen-
tation itself, there also exists some thing that corresponds to the represen-
tation but is independent of it. What distinguishes the representation
from the thing is that I have produced the representation, but I have not
produced the thing. The Wissen.schaftslehre asserts that, when we are
dealing with representations that are supposed to be present within us
necessarily, we are simply forced to assume that something external cor-
responds to them; and it demonstrates this in a genetic manner.
There are two fundamental actions of the I: one is that act by means
of which it posits itself, along with all that is required in order to do so-
namely, the entire world. The other action is a reiterated positing of
what has already been posited by the first act. Thus there is an original
10 positing of the I and of the world, and, in addition to this, there is a pos-
iting of what has already been posited. The first action makes conscious-
ness possible in the first place, and thus it cannot itself occur within
consciousness. The second, however, is consciousness itself. Thus the
second action presupposes the first one; and accordingly, in the second
action something is found to be present without any assistance from the
I, which then reflects upon what it has found. The thing, which is the
First Introduction 85
result of the first act and which is thus actually a product of the I, makes
its appearance in this second act. 20
Consequently, we must distinguish the original thesis, or rather syn-
thesis (since a manifold is posited in this original thesis), from the anal-
ysis of this synthesis, which occurs when one reflects upon what is
contained in the original synthesis. Experience in its entirety is thus
nothing but an analysis of this original synthesis. We can never actually
be conscious of the original act of positing, for it is itself just the condi-
tion for the possibility of all consciousness.
Such, in brief, is the substance, the essence, and the distinctive char-
acter of the Wissenschaftslehre.

Re. III: (1) The investigations that make up the Wis.senschaftslehre will
here be conducted in a new manner, just as if they had never been con-
ducted before. This revised version will profit from the fact that, since
the time of the original version, the first principles have been further
developed and extended, and this facilitates a clearer understanding of
those principles themselves. 21 Moreover, from his conversations on the
subject with various people, your instructor has discovered the reason
why many still find his earlier statements to be unclear. All the same,
consideration will be given to the first presentation as well.
(2) The first presentation was made somewhat awkward by the fact
that the discussion of the conditions for the possibility of the principles
did not present these conditions in their natural order, but was instead
divided into a "theoretical" part and a "practical" part. As a result of this
division, many directly related issues were separated too widely from
one another. This will no longer occur in the present version, [which will
follow] {a method of presentation that is just the opposite of that fol- (17)
lowed by the author in his compendium of 1794, where he proceeded
from the theoretical portion of philosophy (i.e., from what had to be ex-
plained) to the practical part (i.e., to what was meant to serve as the basis
for explaining the former). In the present lectures, however, the hith-
erto familiar division between theoretical and practical philosophy is not
to be found. Instead, these lectures present philosophy as a whole, in the
2<l "Das erste dessen Resultat das Ding ist; dadurch zeigt sich, was eigentlich das Product
des Ich ist." This sentence, which is incomplete or incoherent as it stands, is construed by
Radrizzani to read: "The first act [that is, the act of self-positing], the product of which is
the thing, reveals what is really the product of the I."
This is presumably an allusion to Fichte's two major works that intervened between
the original•794f95 presentation of the first principles of his system (in GWL and GEWL)
and the present, revised version: the Grundlage des Naturrechls 1UJCh Principim tier Wiuen-
sdaaftslehre ( 1795"96) and the S,sl£m tier SiUenlehre nach den Prinupim der Wiuenschaftslehre
( 1798), in which (as the full titles of the two books declare) the principles of Fichte's phi-
losophy are "extended" into the fields of natural right (or natural law) and ethics.
86 First Introduction

exposition of which theoretical and practical philosophy are united.

This presentation follows a much more natural path, beginning with the
practical sphere, or, whenever it would contribute to the clarity of the
exposition to do so, inserting the practical into the theoretical, in order
to explain the latter in terms of the former: a liberty for which the au-
thor was not yet sufficiently self-confident at the time that he published
his Wissenschaftslehre. }22
We will also discuss, in an explicit and thorough manner, the laws of
reflection, in combination and in connection with what proceeds from
these laws. (This promise could not be fulfilled because of a lack of
time.) 23 "To reflect" means to direct the ideal activity of the mind at
11 something; this can occur only in accordance with certain laws, and this
determines the specific character of the object of reflection.
In the course of these lectures, your instructor will be following a cer-
tain path of inquiry, and those who do not think along with him will ob-
tain nothing at all from these lectures, which can be of use only to
persons able to think along with them. For those who do not make such
an effort to think along with him, the instructor might just as well de-
liver his lectures in Arabic.
22 Though H contains nothing comparable to the "first introduction" to K, and begins

instead with what, in K, is the "second introduction," this introduction is preceded in H by

the short paragraph here translated. The first page of H begins with the title, "WISSEN-
SCHAFTSLEHRE, according to the lectures of Prof. Fichte," which is immediately fol-
lowed by the paragraph translated above, the first words of which are "N.B. And
moreover, according to a (.... I"
Page references to the text of H (as published in AA IV, 2) are henceforth supplied,
within parentheses, in the right margin of the translation.
There is some controversy concerning the author of this parenthetic remark. See
"Dating the Krause Transcript" in the Editor's Introduction.
II Second Introduction

(1) These lectures will be concerned with the first and deepest foun-
dations of philosophy. {Wissen.schaftslehre and philosophy are one and (17)
the same.}
Philosophy is not a collection of propositions that can be studied and
memorized as such; instead, it is a certain way of looking at things,
{a way of viewing things in accordance with certain principles,I} a par-
ticular way of thinking, which one must generate-within oneself. Anyone
who is not yet able to state correctly what philosophy is concerned with
still lacks a correct concept of philosophy.
As Kant said, it is an advantage for a science when its task can be ex-
pressed in a single formula. Kant himself reduced the task of philosophy
to answering the question, "How are synthetic judgments a priori pos-
sible?" {(Synthesis occurs when we go beyond our representations and (18)
connect something to them: what has to be shown is that one is impos-
sible without the other.)} Your instructor phrases the same question as
follows: "How do we come to assume that something external to us
corresponds to the representations within us?" These two questions are
the same.
I know that I am conscious of a representation of something. In ad-
dition to this, I also maintain that there exists a thing corresponding to
this representation, a thing that would exist even if I did not entertain a
representation of it. Yet the connection between the representation and
the thing is itself, in turn, nothing more than a representation, i.e.,
something within me. Nevertheless, we do not merely assert that we en-
tertain representations; we also maintain that things outside of these
representations correspond to these representations themselves. Ac-
cordingly, the representation of the connection between representations
and things would be a necessary representation. In this case, therefore,
12 a connection has already been made; and even though we are not yet
aware of the act of connecting, such an act is necessary nevertheless.
"Geschichtspunkt nach gewissen Principien."
88 Second Introduction

This process, by means of which I go beyond the mere representation to

the representation that there actually are existing things, is something
that occurs necessarily. All rational beings proceed in this way.
Necessary representations are therefore present within a thinking be-
ing. Philosophy inquires concerning the basis or reason for these neces-
sary representations within the intellect. 2 ·A

(2) Not philosophy itself, but the philosophical task, the tendency toward
philosophy, has its origin in the fad1 that we are conscious, {which can-
not be and does not need to be proven}. 8 Among those determinations
and states of our consciousness, which we designate under the general
name "representations," there are some that are accompanied by a feel-
ing of necessity, while others depend purely upon our own free choice. 4
{This is equally undeniable.}
( 1) No one doubts this fact. There can be no question whatsoever
about it, and anyone who still demands a proof of it does not know what
he is asking. (Example: Tiedemann, 5 who, in his Theaetetus, wishes to
prove that he entertains representations.)
(2) Pay careful attention to how this fact is stated: It is asserted that
there are representations accompanied by a feeling of necessity, that {we
are compelled to assume that} there are things that correspond to these
representations. It is not claimed that things {are or that they} exist. We
can be consciOtLS only of the objects of our consciOtLSness.
(3) Something else is now attached to this indubitably certain fact,
namely, the Idea of a ground or foundation. 6 The philosopher asks the
following question: What is the foundation of those representations of
mine that are accompanied by a feeling of necessity? That there is some
foundation is taken for granted. The question is simply, What is this
"fragt nun nach dem Grunde dieser nothwendigen Vorstellungen in der INTELUGENz:•
A The task of philosophy as a whole may be expressed in the following question: What is
the basis of what occurs in consciousness accompanied by a feeling of necessity? (Or, what is the basis
of the necessary representations within the intellect?) (p. 18). [Lettered footnotes supply
supplementary passages from H. Unlike the passages enclosed within scroll brackets in the
text itself, which generally go beyond or clarify the text of K, these supplementary pas-
sages represent alternative-and sometimes conflicting-formulations of points and argu-
ments elaborated in K.]
Philosophy begins with the fact that we are conscious of ourselves, which cannot be and
does not need to be proven (p. 18).
• "Willkiihr."
Dietrich Tiedemann (1748-1803) was a professor of philosophy at Marburg and au-
thor of a work entitled Theiitet, oder iiber des menschliche Wissen, ein Beytrag zur Vemu,Yt-
Kritik, which appeared in 1794, the same year as the first part of Fichte's Grundlage der
gesamten Wissenschaftslehre. Tiedemann's work remained a favorite target of Fichte's scorn
throughout his Jena period, though, as Radrizzani has pointed out, Fichte's criticism of
Tiedemann in this passage appears to be based upon a distorted reading.
"die Idee eines Grundes."
Second Introduction 8g

{For example, a blow from behind (fact) forces me to look. around for (19)
the cause (necessary representation) (since it is possible that I might not
have received this blow or that I might have received a weaker or a stron-
ger one). What, however, is the reason that I act in this manner? Why am
I forced to in fer that there is something lying beyond and corresponding
to these necessary representations of mine? Why does what is contingent
appear within my consciousness in just the way that it does and not in
some other way? This indicates and is the foundation.}
A synthesis is already contained in the very task. that all philosophy
assumes, for philosophy proceeds from a fact to its foundation. {Now,
however, one can raise a second question:} But how do I ever arrive at
the point of proceeding from a fact to its foundation? {Or, how is phi-
losophy possible?} This is an important question, for philosophical in-
quiry consists precisely in posing and in answering just such questions;
and, since this question lies at the foundation of philosophy itself, in or-
13 der to answer it one has to philosophize about philosophy. The question
concerning the possibility of philosophy is thus itself a philosophical
question. Philosophy provides an answer to the question concerning its
own possibility. Accordingly, one can demonstrate the possibility of phi-
losophy only by arguing in a circular fashion, or, philosophy requires no
proof and is simply and absolutely possible.
We must now ask. how one arrives at the previous question. What is
one doing when one raises 7 this question [concerning the foundation
of representations accompanied by a feeling of necessity]? The ques-
tion concerning the foundation 8 is itself one of our necessary repre-
sentations. c
One seeks a foundation only for contingent things. Philosophy as
such, however, seeks the foundation of necessary representations; there-
fore, it must consider such representations to be contingent. It would be
absurd to 'inquire concerning the foundation of something one did not
consider to be contingent. "I consider something to be contingent"
means that I am able to think. that it might not have existed at all or that
it might have been altogether different than it is. Our representations of
the universe are contingent in this sense; we think. that the earth might
very well have been different than it is, and we can imagine ourselves on
7 Reading, with Krause's MS, "aufwirf" for K's ustreift.~

• unie Frage nach dem Gmnde." This might be betteT translated as "the demand for a
reaS(m." Thmughout this entire section, Fichte capitalizes on the multiple senses of the
wont Gnmd (both "foundation" and "reason"). Thus, in a previous passage discussing the
presence within us of representations accompanied by a feeling of necessity, when he asks
"welches ist dieser GTUnd?" his question might just as easily (and more natun.lly) be ren-
dered, "Why do we have such representations?" Once again, it might be helpful to recall
that the German name for "the principle of sufficient reason~ is Salz d6 Gn.ndts.
c But this very question already belongs to the domain of what appears [within con-
sciousness] accompanied by a feeling of necessity (p. 19).
go Second Introduction

another planet. 0 Whether we might still be able to exist without such

representations is a question to be answered by philosophy; in any case,
it is certain that we consider the universe to be something contingent,
for otherwise we could not ask about its foundation, that is, why it is as
i I it is. 9
I I Experience in its entirety is such a fact. To proceed beyond the facts,
i.e., to go beyond experience as a whole {and to connect something
thereto, something that by no means lies within the domain of facts or of
experience-that is, to specify the ground of experience}: this is philos-
ophy and nothing else, {or it is metaphysics, which is the same thing as
A ground or foundation does not lie within what it establishes. Thus
the ground of experience lies outside of experience, and philosophy,
which establishes the ground of experience, raises itself above experi-
ence. Physics encompasses all experience. Philosophy, which goes be-
yond experience, is therefore metaphysics. Philosophy adduces not a
single fact or experience. This assertion has recently been contested by
those who talk about basing philosophy upon facts. Philosophy, along
with everything that occurs therein, is a product of the pure capacity for
thought. Philosophy itself is not a fact; instead, its task is to provide a
foundation for the fact of experience.E {Philosophy is a product of the
power of free thought, or is the science of experience, which everyone
has to produce within himself.}
It is doubly unfortunate that some of these philosophers who appeal
to facts style themselves "Kantians,'' 10 for Kant said, "I ask about the
possibility of experience."ll To be sure, before I can ask about the pos-
sibility of something, I have to be acquainted with it; but the basis for the
possibility of the thing in question lies beyond the thing itself. That phi-
losophy should raise itself above the level of experience is, therefore,
something that has already been explicitly asserted by Kant himself.
To ask how we are able to raise ourselves beyond experience to the
level of philosophy is to call into question the very legitimacy of philo-
Our representations of the world and of the things around us are, of course, contin-
gent, and yet they are nevertheless necessary. This apparent contradiction can be ex-
plained as follows: An individual representation, e.g., my representation of the table
standing before me, is accompanied by a feeling of necessity; but it is a contingent fact that
precisely this representation should be generated within my consciousness. Something
other than precisely this table might have stood in this place (p. 19).
"denn nur darum konnen wir nach dem Grunde def!elben fragen."
E Facts and experience have no place, as such, within philosophy, for what is to be pro-
vided with a foundation is not itself the foundation (p. 19).
E.g., Fichte's colleague at Jena and bitter philosophical opponent, Christian Erhard
Schmid (1761-1812). For Schmid's system and Fichte's devastating critique thereof, see
Fichte's 1796 polemic, Vergleichung des vom Herrn PTof Schmid aufgestellten Systems mit dem
der Wissenschaftslehre (SW, II: 42o-58 = AA 1, 3: 235-66; translated in EPW, p. 316-35).
See, e.g., KRV, A158/B197·
Second Imroduction 91

sophical inquiry; i.e., it is to call into question the entire process 12 of rea-
son which makes us search for a foundation for everything contingent.
Philosophy itself is supposed to provide an a~swer to this question, and
to this extent philosophy is self-grounding.
{Corollary to this section: What is present within consciousness and ac- (:
co!Dpanied by a feeling of necessity is experience in its entirety. Insofar
as we inquire about the foundation thereof, we assume the existence of
something lying beyond all experience, something that is only produced
by pure thought for the purpose of providing a necessary foundation
for experience. The legitimacy and necessity of seeking such a founda- -
tion has its original roots within reason itself, and this is first deduced
within philosophy.}
Thus the first and highest condition for all philosophical inquiry is to
bear in mind that one will encounter absolutely nothing at all within
philosophy unless one produces from within oneself everything about
which one reasons. Philosophical ideas cannot be given to anyone; they
have to be generated within one's own mind.

(3) {The question just raised can be answered in two diametrically op-
posed ways:
(A) One can treat the representations accompanied by a feeling of ne-
cessity as products of presupposed things in themselves: dogmatism.
(B) One can treat them as products of a presupposed representing
subject: idealism.}
The dogmatist assumes that there are things that exist in themselves;
he postulates their existence, for they are not contained within the fact
of my consciousness. No dogmatist claims to be immediately conscious of
things in themselves, {which are not supposed to be facts of conscious-
ness}. The dogmatist merely claims that one cannot explain the facts of
consciousness without presupposing the existence of things in them-
selves. Neither dogmatists of the old-fashioned variety, nor those Critical
dogmatists who consider the material of representations to be some-
thing given, l!l seem to appreciate this fact about their own position; for
they inveigh loudly against any attempt to go beyond consciousness,
even though this is just what they themselves are doing.
The idealist accounts for representation on the basis of a representing
subject, whose existence he presupposes. This representing subj~ct is
not an immediate object of consciousness either, {for' the representations
of which we become conscious are mere determinations or states of con-
sciousness (that is, of the representing subject) and are not the repre-
senting subject itself}. Ordinary consciousness is always preoccupied
Reading, with Krause's MS, "Verfahren" for K's "Verstehen."
'" "die sich noch Stoff geben lajkn." "Critical dogmatism" is Fichte's name for the kind
of "Kantianism" that explains representations as products of things in themselves.
92 Second Introduction

with representations of things outside of us. If a representation of the

representing subject is to arise, this must first be produced by an act of
self-reflection. I am conscious of nothing but consciousness and its de-
15 terminations, and these too are representations. All that can appear
within consciousness is a representation of the representing subject, not
the representing subject itself.
• Consequently, both idealism and dogmatism go beyond conscious-
ness. The dogmatist begins with a lack of freedom and ends with the same
thing. For him, representations are products of things, and the intellect
or subject is something merely passive. F Freedom of acting is sacrificed
as well, and a dogmatist who affirms free will is either inconsistent or
else a hypocrite. {(The instructor does not know whether any dogmatist-
even Spinoza-was ever consistent.)} For my own free acting is some-
thing I am conscious of by means of representations: but if representa-
tions are impressions produced within us by things, then it follows that
my representation of myself as acting freely is likewise dependent upon
some thing.
{Dogmatism is equally irrefutable from the side of speculation (objec-
tively) and from the side of innermost feelings (subjectively). It rejects
out of hand all the idealist's principles and postulates.}
One cannotget at the dogmatist by speculative means, for he rejects
out of hand all the principles by means of which one might be able to
refute him. One has to refute him on the basis of those principles with
which he himself begins.
The idealist begins with the consciousness of freedom, which the dog-
matist interprets as a delusion. The only objections one can raise against
the dogmatist, and in respect of which the idealist has an edge on him,
are these: The dogmatist does not explain everything he is sup/.:osed to
explain. Moreover, one can also say that he is indeterminate; 4 for he
cannot deny that we are conscious of freedom, and therefore he has to
explain this as an effect of things-which is impossible. Finally, he is un-
able to offer a clear account of how representations could be produced
within any sort of creature by the influence of things. He is unable to pro-
vide a genetic account ofthe intellect, whereas the idealist can do just this.
{Hence dogmatism is a very arbitrary and problematic way (21~
Dogmatism is equally irrefutable from the side of innermost feeling
(subjectively); for there is no arguing with anyone who, as a person, has

.. Since, according to this system, our soul operates in a purely passiVt! manner, there is no
place for freedom within the dogmatic system, so long, that is, as the dogmatist wishes to be
consistent (p. 20}.
14 .. unbestimmt."'
G Dogmatism is also indeterminale It cannot explain what is supposed to be explained:
What is an intellect? It presupposes something that does not appear within consciousness
at all, namely, a thing in itself. Moreover, it cannot explain how a representation can be
understood as an "effect" of something (p. 21).
Second Introduction 93
not yet been cultivated to the point where he has come to feel that our
representations are products of our I or who denies this feeling.}
Thus the place to begin a confrontation with dogmatism is not from
the side of speculation, but rather from that of innermost feeling. Dog-
matism is intolerable to a noble and superior soul, for whom the most
lo~ty and important thought is the thought of self-sufficiency and free-
dom. {This is the aspect of dogmatism which respectable persons find
most shocking: that it denies the feeling of freedom or spontaneous self-
Our consciousness includes the feeling of freedom as well as the feel-
ing of constraint. The former is the consequence of our infinitude; the
latter is the consequence of our finitude. The former leads us back into
ourselves, whereas the latter directs us toward the world. A person who
confounds these two feelings is inconsistent.
16 The human species, as well as the individual, begins with the feeling
of constraint. We all begin with experience, but then we are driven back
into ourselves, where we discover our own freedom. Everything depends
upon which feeling is predominant ina particular person, upon which
he will refuse to allow to be taken from him {- the feeling of depen-
dency and constraint (as in the case of dogmatism) or the feeling of free-
dom and self-sufficiency (as in the case of idealism)}." The conflict
between dogmatism and idealism is, in fact, not a proper philosophical
conflict at all, for the two systems share no common ground whatsoever.
If they remain consistent, each denies the principles of the other, and a
philosophical conflict can arise only when both parties agree upon the
same principles, while disagreeing merely about what these principles
imply. Instead, we have here a struggle between two different ways of
thinking. The consistent dogmatist provides himself with his own anti-
dote, for he cannot endure this way of thinking for very long. {The best
way to cure a dogmatist and to win him over is to let him remain con-
sistent with himself; for his system must eventually lead him to fatalism,
and thereby he will finally be won over to idealism and will transfer his
allegiance to the side of the latter.}

(4) {According to the preceding section, the system of idealism begins by

presupposing the activity of the representing subject; whereas dogma-
tism considers the behavior of this same subject to be passive. Idealism
begins with the representing subject; dogmatism begins with the thing.
Granted, the idealist does not discover the feeling of the freedom and
self-activity of his I to be immediately present within his consciousness;
H Depending, therefore, upon which of these feelings is dominant in a particular per·
son-the feeling of dependency and constraint (as in the case of dogmatism) or the feeling
of freedom and self-sufficiency (as in the c::ase of idealism)-one will be attracted to one of
these two systems and will silence the other, opposed feeling (p. u).
94 Second Introduction

nevertheless, he knows how to locate this feeling within himself and how (22)
to produce it through a free act of self-positing. The dogmatist, on the
other hand, explains this same feeling as illusory and thereby denies the
reality of freedom itself.}
The dogmatist's presupposition [the thing in itself} is nothing but a
mere thought. Moreover, his presupposition cannot be justified, for it f
does not even explain what it is supposed to explain. As soon as there
appears another system that does explain everything, then there can no
longer be any place for the dogmatist's presupposition.
The idealist says: Think about yourself, and pay attention to how you
accomplish this. You will thereby discover a self-reverting activity. 15 {I.e.,
you will discover that you determine yourself through your own activity.
The idealist starts with this determination of self-activity.} The idealist
thus adopts as his foundation something that actually occurs within con-
sciousness, whereas the dogmatist's foundation is something { = the
thing in itself} that one can merely think of as lying outside of all con- ~·,
To this one could object as follows: Everything the idealist demands
from me is nothing but a representation of my self-reverting activity; it
is therefore not a self-reverting activity "in itself," which occurs apart
from my representation of it. {This objection is raised by Aenesidemus. 16}
Response: We are not talking about anything more than the occurrence of
this representation! 1 It would be futile to try to introduce a distinction
between a self-reverting activity and a representation of the same. For
an activity of representation apart from representing would be a
contradiction. 17 Every active substance should be treated as substance;
philosophy has to show where this substrate comes from and where it
occurs. Here we are dealing with nothing but an immediate positing of
the I, and this is a representation.

"eine in dich zuriickgehende Thatigkeit."
16 A reference to G. E. Schulze (1761-1833), professor of philosophy at Helmstiidt, who
raised this objection against Kant and Reinhold in 1792 in his anonymously published
work entitled Aenesidemus oder uber die Fundament£ der von dem Herrn PTofessur Reinhold in
}1!114 geliifertm El.emento.r-Philosophie. Nebst ei~r Vertheidigung tU1 SkEpticismus gegm die An-
maasungen der Vernunftkritik. Fichte responded to Schulze's criticism in his own "Review of
Aenesidemus" (1793) (in SW, I: 3-25 = AA I, 2: 41-67; English translation in EPW, pp. 59-
77· An excerpt from Schulze's Amesidemus is translated by di Giovanni in Between &n1 and
Hegel, pp. 104-35). For further information concerning Schulze/Aenesidemus, see chap. 9
of Beiser's Tlu Fate of &ason.
&spunse: We are not and could not be speaking of any such self-revening activity in
itself and apart from all representation. All representation ceases at this point. What, for
example, could "writing" mean if I were to abstract from everything that is required in
order to write? (p. 22).
"Denn eine Thatigkeit des Vorstellens auser dem Vorstellen ware ein Widerspruch."
The text of K appears to be corrupt at this point. A possible emendation, suggested by the
parallel passage in H, is to substitute "des Vorstellendes" for "des Vorstellens," in which
case the sentence would read: "An activity of the representing subject other than an act of
representing would be a contradiction."
Second Introduction 95
The idealist's principle is present within consciousness, and thus his
17 philosophy can be called "immanent." But he also finds that his princi-
ple does not occur within consciousness on its own; instead, it occurs as
a result of his own free acting. In the course of ordinary consciousness,
one encounters no concept of the I, no self-reverting activity. Neverthe-
les~, one is able to think of one's I when a philosopher calls upon one to
do so; and then one discovers this concept by means of free activity, and
not as something given}
Every philosophy presupposes something, something that it does not
demonstrate and on the basis of which it explains and demonstrates ev-
erything else. This is also true of idealism. Idealism presupposes the pre-
viously mentioned free activity as its first principle, on the basis of which
it must then explain everything else; but this principle itself cannot be
explained any further. {To be sure, each of these two systems postulates
something. But the idealist does not presuppose anything outside of his
own consciousness; he merely postulates that this free activity of his I is
that principle that cannot be derived from anything else. The first, im-
mediate principle with which he begins is his consciousness of freedom.}
Dogmatism is transcendent; it soars beyond consciousness. Idealism is
transcendental; for though it remains within consciousness, it shows how
it is possible to go beyond consciousness. That is to say, it shows how we
come to assume that there are things outside of ourselves which corre-
spond to our representations. Whether one embraces or rejects such a
philosophy is something that depends upon one's inmost way of think-
ing and upon one's faith in oneself. A person who has faith in himself
cannot accept any variety of dogmatism or fatalism. This is what Kant
often refers to as "the interest of reason." He speaks of an interest of
speculative reason and of an interest of practical reason and opposes
these two to each other. 18 From the perspective of Kant's philosophy this
is correct, but it is not correct in itself; for reason is always one and has
only one interest. The interest of reason lies in confidence in one's own
self-sufficiency and freedom, and reason's interest in unity and coher-
ence is a consequence of this prior interest. One could call the latter "the
interest of speculative reason," because it demands that the whole be
constructed upon a single foundation and be connected therewith. K
Idealism is more compatible with this interest than is dogmatism.

J His [the idealist's] principle is not something given, but is discovered through a free
exercise of activity, in the free action of self-positing (p. 2 2 ).
See, for example, KRV, A462/B4goff. and A8o4ffi832ff.
K The idealist's system thus rests upon his faith in himself or in his own self-sufficiency,
or upon what Kant called "the interest of reason." That is to say: for which of these two
systems will reason decide when they are weighed against each other? For our reason-
theoretical as well as practical-has but a single interest, and this is unity. Thus, when Kant
speaks of "two interests," these are merely different modifications of one and the same
interest (p. 23).
g6 Second Introduction

(5) {The idealist indicates within consciousness that activity of the rep- (23)
resenting subject which he will use to explain representations. But it
goes without saying that he accomplishes this not by referring to a rep-
resentation that is necessary and therefore discovered within conscious-
ness, but rather by means of a representation that has to be freely and
actively generated within consciousness. (It would be contradictory for
this free act of self-representation and self-positing to be somehow
given.) Against the dogmatist, who treats this same activity as derived
from something else (and thus, not as an activity at all), the idealist can-
not prove that this activity of the representing subject should be treated
as the ultimate foundation of consciousness, nor can he prove that this
activity cannot be derived from something higher and that it must in-
stead be treated as the highest principle from which everything else
must be derived. On the contrary, the necessity of making this assump-
tion is based upon nothing beyond the idealist's own manner of
If one is ever willing to concede the truth of idealism's claim and to
accept this assertion as one's principle {(i.e., as something that is certain
in itself, and not merely as something that is true),} then everything that
18 occurs within consciousness can be strictly derived therefrom. But whether
one will, in fact, concede this principle is something that depends upon
one's own manner of thinking.
[fhis demonstration of the idealist's system or derivation of the con-
tents of consciousness proceeds as follows:] {The representing subject
(or I) is a consciousness of many different representations, including
representations accompanied by a feeling of necessity (this is the fact in
question). But whatever the representing subject may be, it is so only by
means of its own self-activity (this follows from the principle); hence it
likewise follows that it is also only by means of self-activity that it (the
representing subject) is a consciousness of representations accompanied
by a feeling of necessity; that is to say, all representations, and specifi-
cally, those representations that are accompanied by a feeling of neces-
sity, are products of this representing subject.
Insofar as the propositio major (that the representing subject is a con- (24)
sciousness of manifold representations) is concerned, it is simply a mat-
ter of differing linguistic usage whether one says "is a consciousness" or
"possesses consciousness." The latter, however, is a consequence of dog-
matism; for "our I" or "the representing subject" or "consciousness" are
all one and the same. Our I is nothing other than consciousness itself.
The most important thing is not to misunderstand the propositio minor:
"the representing subject is whatever it is only by means of self-activity." This
proposition should not be taken to suggest any creation of representa-
tions, or the presence of some sort of substrate; it asserts merely that the
I posits itself, i.e., that a self-reverting activity is the essence of the I.
Second Introduction 97
This activity produces the concept of the I. The I is all that it is only
because it posits itself.}
One says, "I possess consciousness"-as if consciousness were an acci-
dental property of the I. This distinction between consciousness and the
I is introduced rather late, and philosophy must explain the basis for
making such a distinction. It is true that I must ascribe to myself other
determinations or predicates in addition to consciousness, but still, it is
only by means of representations that we become conscious of any ac-
tions. Therefore, nothing can exist for us except insofar as we possess a
consciousness of it. 19 One can see at first glance that it is correct to say,
"My consciousness is I, and I am my consciousness." To be sure, con-
sciousness includes representations accompanied by a feeling of neces-
sity; or rather, the representing subject is conscious of what is present
accompanied by a feeling of necessity. But whatever the representing
subject might be, it is such only by means of its own spontaneous self-
activity,20 and thus, even those representations that are accompanied by
a feeling of necessity are products of self-activity.
It is not correct to think that the I becomes conscious by means of
something else. The I is nothing but its own activity. The representing
subject is identical with its own self-activity, which constitutes its very es-
sence; and thus, in every specific situation, its essence consists in a cer-
tain, specific self-activity. The I posits itself: this means that it is a self-
reverting activity. A person who cannot abstract from all objects is
incapable of ever becoming a philosopher who can penetrate to the
foundation of things. Later on we shall see that one must also add [to the
I] the thought of a substrate; but until then, we must abstract from this.
Since everything the representing subject is supposed to be has to owe
its existence solely to self-activity, it follows that those representations
that are accompanied by a feeling of necessity are also produced by the
representing subject.

(6) The foregoing demonstration would be quite sufficient to justify a

categorical assertion that those representations that are accompanied by
a feeling of necessity are products of the activity of the I, but it does not
provide us with a detailed understanding of how this occurs. A sufficient
19 "aber aile Handlungen gehen doch durch die Vorstellung hindurch. Alles was fiir uns

sein soli, ist doch nur ein Bewustsein." More literally: "but still, all actions pius through
representation. Everything that is supposed to exist for us, therefore, is only a conscious-
"nun aber ist das Vorstellende ... durch Selbstthlitigkeit." Though normally trans-
lated simply as "spontaneity" or "spontaneous activity," SelbsuMtigluil is here usually ren-
dered, more literally, as "self-activity" (or ~spontaneous self-activity") in order to emphasize
its quite special significance within the context of the Wissmsclw.ftslehre. Note that Fichte's
claim in this passage is not that the I "makes the world," but rather that all consdowness
involves and springs from an element of free spontaneity.
gS Second Introduction

explanation of this would have to display in its entirety that previously

postulated act by means of which representations are produced. If ide-
alism is to be a science, then it must be able to accomplish just this task
{of explaining how the act of representation occurs}. Let us here con-
Ig sider, in a preliminary manner, how idealism might be able to accom-
plish this task successfully.
Philosophy is concerned, above all, with those representations that are
accompanied by a feeling of necessity. Unlike dogmatism, which explains
such representations in terms of passivity, idealism explains them with
reference to the acting of a free being. And this must be a necessary
mode of acting, for otherwise it would be of no use for explaining the
representations that need to be explained.
At first, one doubts whether such representations could be products
of a self-activity, because one is not conscious of any such activity. When
most people hear the words "activity" or "acting," they think of an in-
stance of free acting. But there can also be a necessary mode of acting.
But should necessary acting still be considered "acting" at all? Would it
not be better to call it a state of passivity?
(The true dogmatist, who must also be a fatalist, is unable to deny our
consciousness of freedom, but he explains this as a delusion. For him,
acting occurs only in consequence of some external influence. See Alex-
ander von Joch's-i.e., Hommel's--discussion of the Turkish laws con-
cerning reward and punishment.) 21
The necessity of the necessary mode of acting is conditional on the
occurrence of an instance of free acting. It is not necessary as such, for
then it would be indistinguishable from a state of passivity.
The first, absolutely free and unconditioned instance of acting
{considered within idealism} is the self-positing of the 1. 22 Another type
of acting might then follow as a necessary consequence of this first act-
ing; and if so, one could then say that this second type of acting is "nec-
essary"-not absolutely necessary, to be sure, for its necessity would
be conditioned. L
21 Karl Ferdinand Hommel (17~~-81) was a jurist and professor of law at Leipzig. In
1770, under the pseudonym Alexander von Joch, Hommel published a book entitled
AlexandeT von joch be-Jdn RechU Doctur Uber Belohnung und Strafe 711JCh TUriWchen Gmun, in
which he not only defended metaphysical determinism, but also denied that he had any
personal feeling of his own freedom. In 1793 Fichte included a criticism of Hommel's "fa-
talism" in the second edition of his own einer Krilik aller Offenbarung (SW, V:
45 = AA l, 1: 139; English translation by Garrett Green, AllemfJI al a Critique of All RnH-
lalion [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978], p. 45).
22 "das Sezen des lch durch sich selt>St."
LAs a science, idealism has the additional tasli. of explaining how the act of repre5t:nta·
tion occun. Philosophy as a whole is concerned with necessary representations, which are
to be explained on the basis of a type of acting-which must. therefore, be viewed as nec-
essary. To be sure, idealism does not consider the necessary acting of the representing sub-
ject to be unconditionally necessary. Its necessity is only conditional; insofar as the first act
Second Introduction 99
Freedom and necessity are already present in the first type of acting,
that is, in the act of self-positing. It is possible for one to reflect upon
objects rather than upon oneself. I am free to do either, but when I do
reflect upon myself, I can do so only by means of a self-reverting activity.
{When I posit myself, which is possible only by means of an activity that re-
verts.back upon myself, there arises, purely from this, the concept of the I
and no other concept. Hence this concept is necessary, even though it is
also free, because the act through which it arose, which preceded it and
was therefore first, is a free act. (In contrast, many concepts arise
through an outwardly directed activity: e.g., the concept of the world, of
heaven, of the earth, of the wall, of the stove, etc.)} This much is already
contained in the principle; and thus it might well happen that we will
encounter an entire series of necessary actions, all of which are condi-
tioned by the positing of the I. If so, then the proposition, "the I is what
20 it is through and by means of itself," which heretofore has been treated
as a merely formal condition, would obtain objective validity as well.
{Through this proof that all representations are products of the rep-
resenting subject23 idealism has not yet done enough to satisfy the well-
founded demands made upon it by science, namely, the demand that it
show how, through the acting of the representing subject, precisely these
determinate representations appear within consciousness. If it presents
itself as a science, then it must show how this can be explained from the (25
principle it presupposes. It can do this only by means of the following
inference: The representing subject can posit its own self-activity only in
a certain manner, which is demonstrated within consciousness (namely,
only through a self-reverting activity). The other (necesssary) represen-
tations follow from this.
All the necessary actions may be deduced in this way, and the manner
in which the representing subject acts is thereby subjected to laws. Ide-
alism thereby becomes Critical or sound idealism, 24 in contrast with that
completely groundless variety of idealism which begins with free and
lawless acting.
Accordingly, this section [ = (6)] would contain within itself the entire
system of idealism; and once one has conceded the idealist's principle or
major premise, then all that has to be proved is the minor one: that the
I cannot posit itself without also engaging in other actions as well.

of the representing subject is an instance of free acting, then the entire series of its actions
or representations is also free--even if it is at the same time conditioned. These acts and
representations must indeed occur in the sequence in which they do occur, because they
proceed from the first act. But they are nevertheless free acts, because the first act is free
(p. 24).
25 "Durch diesen Beweis, da{J iiberhaupt es so sey." The translation supplies the missing

description of the general conclusion that is already supposed to have been established.
l 00 Second Introduction

This proof is based upon on one's own intuition of oneself: Observe all
the conditions of your self-reverting activity, and you will discover that
many other activities are necessary in addition to the first one-namely,
a second, a third, etc.}
The I is what it is, because it posits itself through itself. This act of
self-positing is possible only in a certain way; and thus this act of self-
positing presupposes another [act of positing], which, in turn, presup-
poses another, etc.
In order to talk about anything mental or spiritual one has to make
use of sensible expressions, which gives rise to many misunderstandings,
for the signs employed are often arbitrary. Therefore, when one em-
ploys a sign, one must first provide an explanation of it. But when one
has to explain something for which the words are lacking, one then has
to explain the thing itself, i.e., one must explain it genetically. I posit my-
self, and, in doing this, I pay attention to the fact that I posit myself in
a particular manner and that I can posit myself only in this way. Per-
haps, however, there are also many other things I can accomplish only in
this particular way, in which case we can speak of a "law"; and this is the
sense in which one speaks of "laws of intuition," "laws of thinking," etc.
Such necessary ways of thinking are the same as laws of thinking. In fact,
laws really apply only toan active being, whom we normally consider to
be free; and just as we say [to the latter] "you must behave in such and
such a manner," so, in an analogous way, we say that a rational being
must behave in this way or that, and these constitute the laws of reason.
{"This is the manner in which our reason necessarily operates"; in
other words, "these are the laws of thinking," and, if this is true, then the
results of these laws must agree with experience. For example, the re-
sults of these laws of thinking must be that objects are in space, appear-
ances are in time, etc.}
The broader task of idealism may thus be described as follows: We
have already seen that the positing subject and what is posited are one
and the same. I can posit the I only in a certain way; but I cannot do this
without also positing a second thing, which, in turn, I cannot posit with-
out also positing a third thing, etc. In this manner we might be able to
derive from the first act all those laws that explain how there comes to be
a world for us. This is what idealism has to demonstrate.

(7) Most idealists before Kant claimed that representations lie within us
because we produce them within ourselves. As they understood the mat-
ter, representations were something they could either produce or not pro-
duce. This sort of idealism is groundless.
One can imagine two different paths along which one's reasoning
21 might proceed. One path starts with the familiar structure of the world,
i.e., with those necessary representations that occur within conscious-
Second Introduction 10 1

ness. This way of proceeding amounts to no more than feeling one's way
by trial and error. This is not a satisfactory method, since the results are
always undecided and merely pending, even in one's own eyes.
The other path starts with a description of the way in which a repre-
senting being acts, and then proceeds to show how certain representa-
tion.s come into being in accordance with the laws that govern the acting
of such a being. In this case, all one is observing is the manner in which
something comes into being. When one proceeds in this manner, one ab-
stracts from everything actual. If one has the correct first principle and
if one has inferred correctly from this principle, then the results of one's
deductions must agree with ordinary experience. If they do not, this
failure does not directly imply the incorrectness of the entire enterprise,
but indicates only the presence of a faulty inference somewhere
therein-which one must then try to discover. What has to be shown is
that the I could not posit itself without also positing much more as well.
Uk.e the first law, which established that I can posit myself only in that
specific manner, these additional conditions must be established exclu-
sively within self-intuition. This is the path our system will follow.
Remark: The system can only call upon everyone to look. within him-
self while observing how this is accomplished. Nevertheless, it lays claim
to universal validity and asserts that every rational being must behave in
the manner it describes. This claim is justified; for if one supposes that
the essence of reason really does consist in self-positing, then all of those
actions whose necessity is established by showing that they follow from
this act of self-positing can equally be said to follow from the nature of
reason itself, and therefore, every rational being must acknowledge the
correctness of the system. M
Moreover, in order to understand this system, one has to reproduce
within oneself all the actions examined here. For the system· does not
enumerate a series of facts, which are simply given as such; instead, it
presents a series of actions, while at the same time observing that upon
which this series depends.
The philosopher is not a mere observer; instead, he conducts exper-
iments with the nature of consciousness and turns to himself for answers
to his specific questions. This is a system for persons who are able to
think. for themselves. {One of the features of this system is that it cannot
be learned in a historical manner.} It cannot be grasped merely by read-
ing and study. Every person must produce it within himself, particularly
22 since no fixed terminology will be introduced. Kant produced so many
tl mere imitators precisely because he did adopt a fiXed terminology. {Un-
like Kant's, this system does not have any special terminology of its own,
·i M This system possesses universal vaJidity; it is based upon the nature of all ntionat be-
I; ings, and it is absolute-possessing its foundation within itself-Co~ it is founded upon ou~
~ self-activity (p. ll5).


102 Second Introduction

and thus it does not encourage mere imitation. Instead, one can grasp
the truth of this system only by reproducing these actions for oneself
and producing these self-observations within one's own consciousness.
Consequently, it is a system suited only for independent thinkers-
though it can also serve to promote independent thinking, especially
among young men.}
Not that a person already has to be an independent thinker in order
to gain entrance into this system: all that is required is an admiration for
independent thinking. It is unlikely that young people will already have
fallen into those mental ruts that make one incapable of thinking for
oneself. One can encourage independent thinking in others by provid-
ing them with material for thought. By thinking things throu~h in ad-
vance, one may be able to lead them to reflect for themselves. 5

Relation of This System to Experience.

Within experience, which this system is supposed to deduce, one

encounters objects and the various properties of the same; within the
system, however, one encounters the actions of rationality itself! 6 and
those modes of action which are involved in the production of objects,
for idealism shows that no other means of arriving at objects makes any
sense. The philosopher asks how representations of things outside of us
arise-as well as how the representations of duty, God, and immortality
originate. This amounts to asking how we arrive at those objects that
are supposed to correspond to these representations. One could thus
call necessary representations "objective representations," for necessary
representations are representations that are referred to objects. This ap-
plies to the representations of duty, the Deity, and immortality as well.
One can in this way inquire concerning the origin of an object for us.
Accordingly, philosophy encompasses a system of those actions by means
of which objects come into being for us. But do these actions described
by idealism actually occur? Do they possess reality, or are they merely
invented by philosophy?
To begin with, idealism only postulates a series of original actions. It
does not affirm that such a series actually exists. To do so would be in
violation of the system, which asserts merely that the first action cannot

"Man kann zum Selbst[denken] anfiihren; [dadurch] daJl man Stoff giebt woriiber ge-
dacht werden soli, daJl man vordenke, and dadurch zum Nachdenken erwecke." Unfortu-
nately, most of the virtuoso wordplay in this sentence has been lost in translation.
"die Handlungen des Vernunftwesens." The term Vernunftwesen refers not to any con-
crete, rational individual, but rather to "rationality as such," that is, to the essence or struc-
ture of rationality, which is shared by all self-conscious subjects.

Second Introduction 103

exist without a second one, etc. The actions in question thus do not oc-
cur separately; for the one action is not supposed to exist without the
other. In a single stroke, I exist and the world exists for me. Within the
23 system, however, what is really only one action has to be treated as a se-
ries of actions, for this is the only way in which we are able to think about
it at all; for we are able to grasp only parts, and indeed, only quite spe-
cific parts.N If a rational being experiences things in accordance with
certain laws, and if he must proceed in this fashion, then he must also
proceed in this fashion within the domain of philosophy as well. One
thought must be linked to another. One must therefore request a person
who asks the above question concerning the reality of the actions de-
scribed by idealism to consider what he is really asking thereby. What
does he mean by "actually"? What does "reality" mean to him? Accord-
ing to idealism, these terms designate whatever necessarily occurs within
consciousness. The question then is, Do these actions occur? Where? How?
Not within the realm of experience; for if they did, then they would
themselves be items of experience, and, as such, they would not belong
within philosophy, which is supposed to display the foundation of expe-
rience. Therefore, these actions do not possess the sort of actuality that
experience does; nor can one say that they occur within time, for only
appearances have temporal reality.
{The series of necessary actions of reason disclosed by Critical idealism (2·
possesses no reality except this: if one is to succeed in explaining what
one is trying to explain, then one necessarily has to assume that these
actions do occur. But they require no other sort of reality, for in this sys-
tem there is no other sort of reality at all except for reality of the sort
indicated (i.e., necessity of thinking).}
Professor Beck, 27 who has understood the Critiqlu of Pure &ason, still
does not want to go beyond experience. But in this case, all philoso-
phy-including his own-would be abolished. Kant, however, does not
share Prof. Beck's opinion on this matter; for Kant asks how experience
is possible, and with this question he raises himself above experience.
{The question has been raised whether the system of Critical idealism (21
also possesses actual reality, that is, whether the actions of reason it de-
scribes actually exist.

"' On account of our limiLation, the idealist's cognition is, and can never be anything but,
discursive; that is to say, he develops his concepts little by little and infers one from the
other. Thus he develops his system step by step, even though this constitutes but a singu act
within our consciousness. I pruit myself and a world at the same time-in a single stroke
(Pf· ~6-~7).
'J. S. Beck ( 1761-1841) was professor of philosophy at Halle and author of the cele-
brated, three-volume Erliiut.erndm Awwg.< aw d.m critischm Schriften iks HeTTJJ Prof Kant
( 1793-96). An excerpt from Vol. I I I, Till Standpoint from which tJu CriticDI Philosophy is to B•
Judged, is available in an English translation by di Giovanni, in B•twen Kant and Hegel, pp.
104 Second Introduction

In answering this question, we must distinguish two different senses of

the phrase "actually to exist." If one thereby means to refer to a being
within experience, an occurrence in space and time, then the answer to
the question is no. Reality of this sort by no means applies to the actions (26)
described within philosophy, for the foundation or ground, i.e., what I
connect with experience (which is what is here provided with a ground),
is not itself identical with what is grounded thereby. The philosopher
does indeed go beyond all experience.}
What does not lie within the realm of experience possesses no actu-
ality in the proper sense of the term; it cannot be considered to be in
space and time. Instead, it must be thought of as something that is nec-
essarily thinkable, as something ideal. The pure I, for example, is, in this
sense, nothing actual. The I we encounter within experience is the per-
son. Thus anyone who objects to the philosophical concept of the pure
I on the grounds that it does not occur within experience does not know
what he is demanding.
{The question can be truly answered yes only in the sense that the as-
sertions of the idealist possess reality for the philosopher and are them-
selves the results of necessary thinking.} These actions do possess reality
for the person who raises himself to the philosophical level; that is, they
possess the reality of necessary thinking, and it is for necessary thinking
that reality exists. 28 Experience possesses this sort of reality as well. As
certainly as we exist and live, there must be experience. As certainly as
we engage in philosophical inquiry, we must think of these actions. Some-
24 thing that does not occur as such within ordinary consciousness is thus
present within the consciousness of the philosopher. {The philosopher
may and must elevate his consciousness above all experience. (Did not
Kant, and, along with him, Prof. Beck himself, engage in rational inquiry
concerning the possibility of experience?)} The philosopher's conscious-
ness expands, and {the system of idealism} thereby becomes comprehen-
sive and complete. 29 His thinking extends just as far as thinking can go.
One can ask questions that go beyond experience; and indeed, we do ask
such questions. But one cannot rationally ask questions that go beyond
philosophy; {that is to say, one cannot adduce any reasons or grounds in
abstraction from all reason. Such a demand is self-contradictory.} For
example, a question such as, "What is the foundation of limitation in

'"Wer sich zur Philosophie erhebt, fiir den haben diese Handlungen Realitat, nehm-
lich die des nothwendigen Denkens und fiir dieses ist Realitat."
What the text of K actually says is that '"the philosopher's consciousness thereby
becomes comprehensive and complete [ein vollstiindiges, vollendetes]." The text of H, how-
ever, makes it clear that by expanding his consciousness to the limits of thinking, the ide-
alist '"finishes and completes" his system and not his own consciousness: '"dadurch sein
Bewu~tseyn erweitern, soweit als das denken nur irgend gehen kann, und damit w. das
system des ld. geschlo~n und vollendet."
Second Introduction 105

itself?" 30 is self-contradictory, and thus is an absurdity. A question of this

son requires an application of reason in abstraction from all reason.
Human beings naturally progress from reality to reality, from one
level of consciousness to another, and here we may recognize the follow-
ing three levels:
( 1.) One connects the objects of experience with one another in accor-
dance with laws, but without any conscious awareness of doing this. Ev-
ery child and savage searches for a reason for every contingent event,
and thereby judges it in accordance with the law of causality, though he
is not conscious of this law.
(2) One reflects upon oneself and notices that one proceeds in accor-
dance with these laws, and one thereby becomes conscious of these con-
cepts. At this second level it often happens that one takes the results of
these concepts to be properties of things. Accordingly, one says things
like "things in themselves are in space and time" {-origin of dogmatism}.
(3) The idealist observes that experience in its entirety is nothing but
an acting on the part of a rational being. 0

(8) Idealism begins with the self-positing of the I, or with finite reason
as such {and proceeds from there to the individual}. But when we talk (27
about anything "as such," we are employing an indeterminate concept.
Thus idealism starts with an indeterminate concept. The idealist then
observes the way in which reason becomes determinate when it is lim-
ited; and, by means of this act of determination, he allows a rational
individual to come into being-an actual rational being, which is some-
thing quite different from the indeterminate concept of the I. This in-
dividual also observes the world and the things in it, and as he does so,
25 his way of viewing the world is itself observed from the viewpoint of ide-
alism. The idealist observes how there must come to be things for the
individuaL Thus the situation is different for the [observed] individual
than it is for the philosopher. The individual is confronted with things,
men, etc., that are independent of him. But the idealist says, "There are
'""was der Grund der Beschranktheit, an sich sei." The reason such a question is "ab-
surd" is because something can-by definition-be "limited" only by something else. And
thus it is an analytic truth that limitation can never possess its foundation "in itself."
The reason for the different points of view and for the differing opinions and systems
that thereby ensue is contained in the following gradations in the progress of our reason
and in the development of our consciousness.
FirJJ. U:vel: Mankind acts in conformity with the laws of theoretical reason that govern
thought, but without being conscious of these laws: e.g., the child, the savage-the com-
mon man~

Second U:vel: Men reflect upon themselves and become conscious of themselves in accor·
dance with universal rules. They construct concepts, but they take the results of these con-
cepts to be things in lhmuelllt'J-origin of dogmatism.
Third U:vel of consciousness, at which consciousness represents its own representations
and concepts to itself as an acting of the representing subject, which acts in accordance
with specific rules---<.Ualirm (p. 26).
1 o6 Second Introduction

no things outside of me and present independently of me." Though the

two say opposite things, they do not contradict each other. For the ide-
alist, from his own viewpoint, displays the necessity of the individual's
view. When the idealist says "outside of me," he means "outside of rea-
son"; when the individual says the same thing, he means "outside of my
The viewpoint of the individual can be called "the ordinary point of
view," or "the viewpoint of experience." Considered from an a priori
perspective and within the context of its place within a genetic account,
this same ordinary viewpoint is found to arise in the course of acting,
and thus it can also be called "the practical point of view." No abstraction
occurs in acting; but philosophical speculation is possible only insofar as
one engages in abstraction. Thus the philosophical viewpoint can also be
called "the ideal point of view." The practical viewpoint lies beneath the
idealistic viewpoint.
{Hence one must distinguish the idealistic or transcendental viewpoint
from the ordinary or practical viewpoint, which appears within the course
of ordinary life or in acting. The former commences with the I and takes
as its object nothing but the I;~ll in contrast, the world remains present
for the ordinary standpoint, which concerns itself with a rational indi-
vidual. Viewed from the idealistic standpoint, the practical standpoint
appears to be subordinate, and this enables one to see why and to what
extent the ordinary view is true and why one has to assume that a world
exists. Speculations do not disturb the idealist within the course of his
active life and do not cause him to commit errors. He is a man like any
other; he feels pleasures and he suffers like anyone else, for he possesses
the proficiency to transport himself from the speculative viewpoint to that of
life. One has not yet achieved a clear understanding, has not yet obtained
the true philosophical view of things, and has not yet reached the cor-
rect standpoint so long as one continues to think and to expect that daily
life is something altogether different [from the standpoint of life as it is
characterized from the speculative standpoint].}
When the philosopher adopts the practical point of view, he behaves
just like any other rational being and is not disturbed by doubt, for he
knows how he arrived at this point of view. Only someone who has just
begun to speculate, but has not yet reached the point of clarity in his
speculations, can be disturbed by speculation. This cannot happen to
the Critical philosopher, for the results of experience and speculation
are always in harmony. But in order to shift back and forth from one
point of view to the other, one needs proficiency; 32 and this is precisely

" "Beym ersten fangt das IcH an u. ist bios das lch der Gegenstand."' literally: "The I
commences with the former, and only the I is the object."
Reading, with H, "Fertigkeit" for K's "Festigkeit'" ("stability").
Second Introduction 107

what the beginner, whose speculations are disturbed by realistic doubt

and whose acting is disturbed by speculative doubt, often lacks.
{It is by no means the case that idealism disturbs any actual person's
belief in the reality of external things. On the contrary, idealism is much
more likely to strengthen this belief against all doubt engendered by
conf~sed speculation; for idealism indicates the point of view from
which one believes in the reality of things and shows why such a belief is
necessary so long as one occupies this viewpoint.}

{So much for the prolegomena.}

§ 1

Preliminary Remarks

(1) The attempt to establish a first principle within philosophy has re-
cently encountered strong objection. 1 Some base their objections upon
arguments of their own, while others are simply going along with cur-
rent fashion.
Those who maintain that we should not seek any first principle might
mean by this that one should not attempt to philosophize in a systematic
manner at all, because it is impossible to do so. {[That is, they might (28)
mean that] no systematic connection is possible in philosophy; instead,
one must here and there accept an unproven proposition. Philosophy is
nothing but an aggregate of individual propositions.} The way to remove
this objection is by actually constructing a system.
Or else they might mean something like this: Every proof begins with
something unproven. What does it mean "to prove" something? Anyone
with a clear concept of what is involved in a proof will admit that to
prove something means to connect the truth of one proposition with
that of another, and to do so in such a way that I transfer the truth of
some previously known proposition to another one. But if this is what
"proof' means, then human beings must possess some truth that neither
can nor needs to be proven and from which all other truths can be de-
1 At the time these lectures were first delivered, the attempt to establish a philosophical

first principle had recently been subjected to harsh criticism in two essays that appeared
almost simultaneously in the Philosophisches journal einer Gesellschaft Teutscher Gelehrten (to
which Fichte himself was a regular contributor and of which he was soon to become co-
editor). Presumably, these are the two "recent objections" that Fichte has in mind, though
neither is mentioned by name anywhere in these lectures: (1) Paul johann Anselm Feuer-
bach, "Ueber die Unmaglichkeit eines ersten absoluten Grundsatzes der Philosophie" Phil-
osophisches Journal 2, 4 ( 1795), and (2) Karl Christian Erhard Schmid, "Bruchstiicke aus
einer Schrift tiber die Philosophie und ihre Principien," Philosophisches journal 3, 2 ( 1795).

[ 108]
§I 109

rived. If not, then there is no truth at all, and we are driven into an in-
finite regress. 2

(2) Neither of these opinions seems to have been shared by the better
thinkers who reject [this attempt to discover a first principle].~ Prof.
Beck also lashes out against the attempt to discover a first principle and
contends instead that philosophy must begin with a postulate. 4 But a pos-
tulate is also a starting point, which is not further proven, and thus it is
a first principle. A first principle is any cognition that cannot be further
proven. Thus anyone who states a postulate also states a first principle.
Within the expression "first principle;" Prof. Beck places the emphasis
upon the word "principle"; accordingly, he declares that a first principle
28 has to be something objective, something that simply has to be "discov-
ered" and then can subsequently be analyzed. But who called upon him
to explain the meaning of a "first principle" in this manner? Philosophy
cannot be established by attending to what is simply "given"; instead, it
can be established only by proceeding synthetically. According to Rein-
hold, the "principle of consciousness" states a fact, and he claims that
philosophy in its entirety should be generated merely by analyzing what
is contained within this principle. 5 It is appropriate to find fault with
such a procedure.
The Wissenschaftslehre begins with an I. But the point is not to analyze
this I, for this would produce a purely empty philosophy. Instead,
the Wissenschaftslehre allows this I to act in accordance with its own laws
and thereby to construct a world. This is no analysis, but instead a
"wir werden ins Unendliche getrieben."
'"Keine von beiden Meinungen scheinen die belleren die sich dagegen auflehnen zu
An insistence that every systematic philosophy must begin by "postulating" something
is a central feature of J. S. Beck's "Theory of the Standpoint," as developed most fully in
the third volume of his Er{jjutermden Awzugs, entitled Ein:Ug-mOglicher Standpunct, aw
welchem die critische Philosophie beurtheilt werden mull ( 1796). In English, see the excerpt
translated in Giovanni and Harris's Between Knnl and Hegel, pp. 2o6-4g.
'Karl 'Leonhard Reinhold (1758-t823), Fichte's immediate predecessor atjena, was an
influential early popularizer of Kant's philosophy who also developed his own, highly orig-
inal systematic reformulation of transcendental idealism. Reinhold called his system "El-
ementary Philosophy" or "Philosophy of the Elements." He first expounded it in 1789 in
his Versuch einer neuen Theorie tks menschlichen VorstellungsvermOgens and subsequently elab-
orated it in Vol. I of his Beitriige zur Berichligung bisheriger Mi{Jverstiindnisse tier Philosophen
( 1790) and Ueber das Fundnmenl des philosophischen Wissens ( 1794). (In English, see the ex-
cerpt from the latter, The Foundations of Philosophical Knowudge, translated by di Giovanni in
Between Knnl and Hegel, pp. 52-103.) The "principle of consciousness," the "first principle"
of Reinhold's system (i.e., the principle from which all the other propositions of his system
are to be derived), states that "in consciousness, the subject distinguishes the representa-
tion from the subject and the object and relates it to them both." For further information
about Reinhold's "Elementary Philosophy" and Fichte's criticism of it, see chap. 8 of Beiser,
The Fate of Reason, as well as Breazeale, "Between Kant and Fichte."
110 §I

continually progressing synthesis. It is thus correct, after all, that phi-

losophy must begin with a postulate, {but one that is grounded in an Act6 (29)
and not in a fact. (An "Act" is what occurs when I let my I act within itself
and observe what happens. A "fact," in contrast, is present within con-
sciousness as something already given or discovered, which can only be
analyzed subsequently.)} The Wissenschaftslehre proceeds in this manner
as well, and it employs the term "Act" to designate its postulate. This
term was not understood; but it means no more-and is meant to mean
no more-than this: one is supposed to act internally 7 and observe what
one is doing. This means that if one wants to communicate this philos-
ophy to someone else, one has to ask the other person to perform the
action in question. In this sense, one does have to postulate something.
A fact is something that is simply found to occur in a certain way
within experience, where it is accompanied by a feeling of necessity. 8 All
one can do with such a fact is to begin to analyze it-if, that is, one
wishes to remain consistent and does not wish to assume something else
as well (as Reinhold does with his "principle of consciousness"). 9
• The first principle is a postulate. Just as geometrical instruction be-
gins with the postulate that one describe space, so too must the reader or
student of philosophy begin by doing something. Anyone who under-
stands the first proposition is put into the proper frame of mind for

Think the concept "I" and think of yourself as you do this. Everyone
understands what this means. Everyone thinks of something thereby;
one feels one's consciousness to be determined in a particular manner,
29 and it is by virtue of this that one is conscious of something specific. Now
one must observe what one does when one thinks of this concept.
Think of any object at all-the wall, for example, or the stove. The
thinking subject is a rational being; 10 but, in thinking of this object, this
freely thinking subject forgets about itself and pays no attention to its
own free activity. But this is just what one has to do if one wishes to lift
oneself to the viewpoint of philosophy. In thinking about an object, one
"Thathandlung." This is a word of Fichte's own coinage and is a key term for under·
standing the 1 794'95 version of the Wissenschaftslehre. It is, however, virtually absent from
the Wissenschaftslehre nooo methodo (it appears only once in K and three times in H).
7 "man soli innerlich handeln."
8 "Eine Ursache ist etwas nur so gefundenes in der Erfahrung mit Nothwendigkeit

vorkommendes." Reading, with H, "Thatsache" ("fact") forK's "Ursache" ("cause").

9 In his 1794 review of Aenesidnnus Fichte criticized Reinhold for assuming (without any

argument) that every representation must consist of two elements: form and matter (or
content) (SW, 1: 17-18 = AA I, 2: 58-59; English translation in EPW, pp. 59-'77· See Brea-
zeale, "Fichte's Aenesidnnus Review."
10 "Das denkende ist das Vernunftwesen."
§ l 111

disappears into the object; one thinks about the object, but one does not
think about oneself as the subject who is doing this thinking. For exam-
ple, when I am thinking about the wall I am the thinking subject and the
wall is the object of thought. I am not the wall, nor is the wall I. The
thinking subject and the object of thought are thus distinguished from
one another. But now I am supposed to think about the I. When I do
this, as when I think of anything at all, I am an active subject. {From this
we can see that, whether we are concerned with a representation of an
object or with a representation of the I, we are active in both cases. With-
out engaging in the activity of thinking we cannot entertain any thought
at all. This is what these representations have in common.} With the same
freedom with which I think about the wall, I now think about the I.ll I
am also thinking about something when I think about the I; but in this
case the thinking subject and the object of thought cannot be distin-
guished from each other in the way they could be while I was still think-
ing about the wall. The thinking subject and the object one is thinking
of, the thinker and the thought, are here one and the same. When I think
about the wall my activity is directed at something outside of myself, but
when I think about the I my activity is self-reverting; i.e., it is directed
back upon the I. (The concept of activity requires no explanation. We
are immediately conscious of it; it consists in an act of intuiting.)A
Henrick Steffens, who was present as a student for some of Fichte's lectures during
the winter semester of 1798/gg, included in his memoin the following amusing account of
the listenen' reaction to these instructions:
"I cannot deny that I was awed by my fint glimpse of this short, stocky man with a sharp,
commanding tongue. Even his manner of speaking was sharp and cutting. Well aware of
his listenen' weaknesses, he tried in every way to make himself understood by them. He
made every effort to provide proofs for everything he said; but his speech still seemed
commanding, a.s if he wanted to dispel any possible doubts by means of an unconditional
order. 'Gentlemen,' he would say, 'collect your thoughts and enter into younelves. We are
not at all concerned now with anything external, but only with ounelves.' And, just as he
requested, his listenen really seemed to be concentrating upon themselves. Some of them
shifted their position and sat up straight, while othen slumped with downcast eyes. But it
was obvious that they were all waiting with great suspense for what was supposed to come
next. Then Fichte would continue: 'Gentlemen, think about the wall.' And as I saw, they
really did think about the wall, and everyone seemed able to do so with success. 'Have you
thought about the wall?' Fichte would ask. 'Now, gentlemen, think about whoever it was
that thought about the wall.' The obvious confusion and embarrassment provoked by this
request was extraordinary. In fact, many of the listenen seemed quite unable to discover
anywhere whoever it was that had thought about the wall. I now undentood how young
men who had stumbled in such a memorable manner over their fint attempt at specula-
tion might have fallen into a very dangerous frame of mind as a result of their further
efforts in this direction. Fichte's delivery was excellent: precise and clear. I was completely
swept away by the topic, and I had to admit that I had never before heard a lecture like that
oneH (Fuchs, ed., Fichu im Gcpriich, 11: 8).
" What distinguishes them [the representation of the I and that of an object} is that, in
the case of the representation of my I, the thinker and the thought are one and the same-
in the concept of the I. I am the object of thought as well as the thinking subject. In the
case of other representations, the activity is directed outside of me, but in this case it is
directed back upon myself.
112 § I

The concept or thought of the I arises when the I acts upon itself, and
the act of acting upon oneself 12 produces the thought of the I an'"d no
other thought. The two expressions mean exactly the same: The I is
what it itself posits, and it is nothing but this; and what posits itself and
reverts into itself becomes an I and nothing else. {Thus it is [only] insofar
as I act upon myself and posit myself, [only] insofar as my activity reverts
back upon me, that the I arises and that I think about my I. "I am 1," and
"I posit myself as 1": these two propositions mean exactly the same
Self-reverting activity and the I are one and the same. These two ex-
pressions have precisely the same meaning. This assertion could present
difficulties only if one were to understand more by the term "I" than it
is supposed to mean in the present context.
{Here it is to be noted that we are concerned only with the I for. me, or
with the concept of the I for me, insofar as I form it through immediate
consciousness. We are not at all concerned here with any other sort of
being the I might have-as a substance, a soul, etc. Here we must ab-
stract from all other sorts of being, without presupposing any of them.
We are here concerned solely with the concept of the I.}
The I is not the soul, which is a type of substance. In conjunction with
the thought of the I, everyone surreptitiously thinks of something else
as well. One may think, "Before I can do anything at aU [for example,
before I can think of the I], I first have to exist." But this notion must be
discarded. Anyone who makes such a claim is maintaining that the I ex-
ists independently of its actions. Or one may also say, "Before I could act,
30 there had to be some object upon which I could act." But what could
such an objection really mean? Who makes this objection? It is I myself.
I thereby posit myself as preceding myself. Thus this entire objection
could be rephrased as follows: "I cannot proceed to posit the I without
assuming that the I has already posited its own being." 13
The concept of the I arises through my own act of positing myself, by
virtue of the fact that I act in a way that reverts back upon myself. What
has one done when one has acted in this manner, and how did one man-
age to do this?
{Hitherto, people reasoned as follows:} I am conscious of some object, (3o)
B. But I cannot be conscious of this object without also being conscious
of myself, forB is not I and I am not B. But I can be conscious of myself

This activity cannot be defined; it rests upon immediate intuition and consists in my be-
in~ immediately conscious of myself (p. 29).
2 "ein Handeln im Handeln auf sich selbst."

IS "Ich sezte mich also vorher selbst, und der ganze Einwurf lie!k sich so ausdriicken:
ich kann das Setzen des Ich nicht vornehmen, ohne ein Gesetztsein des Ich durch sich
selbst anzunehmen." Unfortunately, Fichte's play on vornehmen and annehemen is lost in
§ I 113

only insofar as I am conscious of consciousness. Therefore, I must be

conscious of this act of consciousness; i.e., I must be conscious of this
consciousness of consciousness. 14 How do I become conscious of this?
This series has no end, and therefore consciousness cannot be explained
in this manner. The chief explanation for this impossibility is that con-
sciousness has always been treated as a state of mind, 15 i.e., as an object,
for which, in turn, another subject is always required. 8 {Until now, this
piece of sophistry has lain at the foundation of every system-including
Kant's.} Had previous philosophers only realized that they were reason-
ing in this manner, then perhaps this realization would have helped
them arrive at the correct point.
The only way to avoid this objection is to discover some object of con-
sciousness which is at the same time the subject of consciousness. One
would thereby have disclosed the existence of an immediate conscious-
ness, i.e., an object to which one would not have to oppose a new subject.
We can now answer the previously raised question concerning how we
become conscious of acting. We observed ourselves and became con-
scious of doing so, even while we were acting. While I was acting, I be-
came conscious that I was acting. Through immediate consciousness,
the self-consciousness of the acting subject is identical with its conscious-
ness of acting. {I posited myself as positing-this is intuition; I repre-
sented myself as engaged in the act of representing; I acted and was
conscious of my acting: these were one and the same.} While I was think.-
ing, and along with my thinking, I became conscious thereof; that is to
say, I posited myself as an actively thinking subject. Thus, in this very act
of consciousness, I posited myself as both the subject and the object of
consciousness, and we have thereby discovered the immediate conscious-
31 ness we have been seeking. I simply posit myself. 16 Such consciousness is
"lch mu~ mir also bewust sein des Actes des B, des Bewustseins vom Bewustsein.''
Though "B" could refer to the previously mentioned object {B), it makes more sense to
assume that here, as elsewhere in K, it is an abbreviation for Bewusstscin {consciousness).
"als Zustand des Gemiiths."
Hitherto, people reasoned as follows: We cannot be conscious of things posited in op-
position to us, that is, of external objects, unless we are conscious of ounelves, i.e., unless
we are an object for ourself. This occurs by means of an act of our own consciousness, of
which we are able to become conscious only insofar as we, in turn, think of ounelf as an
object and thereby obtain a consciousness of our own consciousness. But we become con-
scious of this consciousness of our consciousness only by, once again, turning it into an
object and thereby obtaining a consciousness of the consciousness of our consciousness,
and so on ad infinitum. Our consciousness, however, would never be explained in this
manner. Or else one would have to conclude that there is no consciousness at all-so long,
that is, as one continues to treat consciousness either as a state of mind or else as an object;
for in proceeding in this manner one always presupposes a subject, which, however, one
can never discover {p. 30).
"lch setze mich schlechthin." This recalls the famous, oft-quoted formula with which
the 1 794"95 Grondlage der gesamkri Wwenschaftslehn begins: wdas lch setzt sich selbst
schlechthin." Though commonly {and misleadingly) translated "the I posits itself abS(r
lutely," this sentence does not imply that the I posits itself in a special (and mys1erious)
114 §I

called "intuition;" 17 and intuition is an act of positing oneself as posit-

ing, not a mere act of positing. 18
Every act of representing is an act of self-positing. Everything begins
with the I. The I is not a component part of the representation; instead,
all representation proceeds from the I. All possible consciousness pre-
supposes immediate consciousness and cannot be comprehended in any
other way.
The identity of the posited object and the positing subject is absolute
{and is what makes all representing possible in the first place}. It is not (3 1)
learned; it is not derived from experience. Instead, it is what makes all
learning and all experience possible in the first place. The I is by no
means a subject; instead, it is a subject-object. If it were a mere subject,
then consciousness would be incomprehensible. If it were a mere object,
then one would be driven to seek a subject outside of it-which one will
never find. "I," "subject," "soul," and "mind": these are not the same.
The I is a subject insofar as it posits something in a representation. {The
I becomes an I only by means of an act of self-positing. It is not already
a substance in advance of this act of self-positing; instead, its very es-
sence is to posit itself as positing. These are one and the same. Conse-
quently, the I is immediately conscious of itself}
The I simply posits itself, {that is to say, without any mediation at
all. It is at once subject and object}. In other words, that the I posits
itself within immediate consciousness as a subject-object is itself
something that occurs immediately, 19 and no reasoning can go beyond
this. Reasons can be provided for all the other specific determinations
that occur within consciousness, but no reason can be given for imme-
diate consciousness. Immediate consciousness is itself the ultimate rea-
son or foundation upon which everything else is based and to which
everything else has to be traced back, if our knowledge is to have any
We must possess some knowledge of this ultimate ground, for we are
able to talk about it. We obtain this knowledge through immediate in-

"absolute" manner. Instead, the force of the adverb schlechthin is to emphasize ( 1) that the
sole, or distinctive, activity of the I qua I is to posit or be aware of itself ("the I is Mthing but
this act of self-positing"), and (2) that this activity is immediate or unconditioned, in the
sense that it occurs spontaneously and cannot be inferred from anything else ("the I simply
posits itself').
17 "Anschauung." This is one of the most common terms in Fichte's technical vocabulary,

and, like his use of "representation," it is directly derived from Kant. In the first Critique,
Kant defines "intuition" as the means by which objects are "given" to us and thus the
means by which a cognition is "immediately related to objects" (see KRV, A1g/B33). Like
Kant, Fichte employs the term Anschauung to designate both the mental activity (or power)
by virtue of which such "immediate" representations are possible and the "content" of such
acts: "intuitions."
18 "ein sich selbst setzen als solches, kein blofks Setzen."
19 "daj3 es sich im unmittelbaren Bewustsein als Subjectobject setze, ist unmittelbar."
§ I 115

tuition, and, in turn, we immediately intuit our immediate intuition it-

self. I.e., we have an immediate intuition of intuition. Pure intuition of
the I as a subject-object is therefore possible. Since pure intuition of this
sort contains no sensible content, the proper name for it is "intellectual
Kant rejected intellectual intuition, 20 but he defined the concept of
intuition in such a way that intuitions could only be sensible; and there-
fore he said that these sensible intuitions cannot be intellectual. Against
32 those, such as Platner, 21 who claim to intuit the I as a thing, or against
those who believe they can intuit an immediate revelation within them-
selves, Kant is correct. What is intuited in sensible intuition is fixed, pas-
sive, and ordinarily in space; but all that is intuited in our intellectual
intuition is an acting. Kant too had such an intuition, but he did not re-
flect upon it. Indeed, his entire philosophy is a product of this intuition;
for he maintains that necessary representations are products of the act-
ing of a rational being and are not passively received. But this is some-
thing he could have come to realize only by means of intuition.c Kant
recognizes that self-consciousness occurs, i.e., a consciousness of the act
of intuiting within time. 22 How could he have arrived at such a recog-
nition? Only by means of an intuition-and such an intuition is certainly
Less rational than Kant's denial of the possibility of intellectual intu-
ition is the behavior of those who have continued to reject intellectual
intuition even after its reality has been deduced (e.g., the author of the
review, published in 1796 in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeilung, of Schell-
ing's On the 1). 23 People of this sort will never become conscious of their
own freedom of thinking.
Anyone who has ever thought of the I has also had a concept of it.
How does this concept of the I come into being?
2 For Kant's denial of the possibility of "intellectual intuition," see, e.g., KRV, Bxlff.n.,
868, B72, 8158, and 8307.
21 Ernst Platner (1744-1818), a professor of philosophy and medicine at Leipzig, is best
remembered for his critique of Kantianism and for his defense of a skeptically tinged va-
riety of "common sense" empiricism. Fichte chose Volume I of Platner's Philosophische Aph-
orismen ( 1793) as the text for his introductory course "Logic and Metaphysics," which he
first taught in the winter semester of 17!)4195 and subsequently offered every semester he
remained at jena. In relation to the present point, see Fichte's comment in his lectures on
Platner (as transcribed by Krause): "In consciousness I appear to myself not as a real thing,
but rather as really acting" (AA IV, 1: 225).
c Kant, in his system, merely failed to reflect upon this type of intellectual intuition. His
system, however, does contain the result of this intellectual intuition: [in the recognition]
that our representations are products of our self-active mind (p. ~~~ ).
22 "Bewustsein des Anschauens in der Zeit."
2s The author of this anonymously published review was Johann Benjamin Erhard
(1766-1827), a physician-philosopher from Niirnberg who had been one of Fichte's ear-
liest supporters. Erhard's highly critical review of Schelling's (utterly Fichtean) treatise of
1795, Vom Ich als Prinzip tkr Philosoph~ IXkr Uber das Unbedingte im menschlichen Wissen, ap-
peared in the October 1 1, 1796, issue of the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeilung.
116 § I

In order to be able to perceive myself as positing myself, I must pre-

suppose that I have already been posited. 2 I transport myself from a
state of repose and inactivity to the activity of self-positing, and I oppose
this activity to my previous state of repose and inactivity. Otherwise, one
would be unable to notice the representation of activity, which is a
wrenching away from a state of repose and a movement of transition to
activity. 25 {It is only by wrenching ourselves away from a state of repose
and transporting ourselves into the opposite state that we are able to ob-
tain any consciousness (i.e., any intuition) of our activity. Only through
this opposite state do we obtain a clear awareness of what "acting" is (for
this is something we are quite unable to define). We are able to think about
activity only by means of what is fixed, only by means of a state of re-
pose; and conversely, we are able to think about stability only by means of
activity.} Consequently, it was only by means of opposition that I was able
to become clearly conscious of my activity and to obtain an intuition of it.
Acting is, so to speak, "agility," a movement of inner or spiritual
passage. 26 Within consciousness, this agility is opposed to a passive state
of stability or rest. On the other hand, I can be conscious of this state of
repose only to the extent that I am conscious of activity. One must,
therefore, observe acting and repose simultaneously in order to be able
to observe either of them individually. Indeed, it is only through oppo-
sition that it is possible to obtain a specific and clear consciousness of
anything whatsoever. 27 Here, however, we are concerned not with this
proposition in its general form, but only with the specific, individual
case before us.
Let me now turn my attention to the state of repose, within which
33 what is really an activity becomes something posited. 28 It no longer re-
mains an activity; it becomes a product, but not, as it were, a product
"Urn mich selbst als mich selbst seuend wahrnehmen zu konnen, muflte ich mich
schon als gesezt vorausseuen." This sentence provides a good example of some of the fea-
tures of Fichte's presentation which are lost in translation. Though "presuppose" is, for
most purposes, the best and least problematic way of rendering voraussetzen, it fails to dis-
play the connection between "positing" (setzen) and "presupposing" (voraussetzen, i.e., "pos-
iting in advance"). Yet it is just this connection that one must appreciate in order fully to
understand the point of Fichte's claim in this sentence.
"sie ist ein Loflreiflen von einer Ruhe, von welcher zur Thatigkeit ubergegangen
26 "AGIUTAET, Uibergehen im geistigen Sinne."
27 Though this principle of "determination through opposition" has its roots in the di-

alectical tradition, Fichte acquired his understanding of it through his careful study of the
writings of Salomon Maimon. Elsewhere Fichte refers to it as "the law of reflective oppo-
sition" (§ 2) or "the principle of determinability" (dictat to§ 3). Maimon (1752-1800) was
one of the most acute critics of Kant's Critical undertaking-as well as one of its most orig-
inal interpreters. For more information concerning Maimon's skeptical Kantianism, see
cha,p. 10 of Beiser's The Fale of Reason.
2 "in dieser Ruhe wird das was eigendich ein Thatiges ist, ein Geseutes." The ordinary

meaning of the adjective gesetzJe is "calm," "composed," or "steady," and this is certainly
part of the meaning of the term in this sentence. But gesetzJe is also derived from the past
§ 1 117

separate from the activity itself. It does not become any son of matter29
or thing that could precede the l's representation [of it]. What happens
is simply that acting, by being intuited, becomes fixed. Such [an instance
of stabilized acting] is called a "concept," in opposition to an intuition,
which is directed at the activity as such.
The subject and the object collapse into each other within this self-
reverting activity when it is intuited as a state of repose, and this pro-
duces something positive and stable. Neither this coincidence of subject
and object, nor the manner in which an intuition is thereby transformed
into a concept can be intuited; this is sumething that can be grasped only by
71Uiaru of thinking. Only intuition can be intuited rather than thought.
Thinking can only be thought; it cannot be intuited. Indeed, every ex-
pression of the mind can be grasped only through itself. This confirms
the theory of consciousness we have just been discussing.
Being conscious of intuition is what is meant by "philosophical ge-
nius." All thinking begins with intuition; accordingly, all philosophizing
must also begin with intuition.
Kant calls philosophy "rational cognition by means of concepts.''w But
this cannot be right, even according to Kant himself; for he says that ev-
ery concept without intuition is empty.s 1 In addition, Kant also talks
about transcendental imagination, and this is something that can only be
The concept arises in one and the same moment with the intuition
and cannot be separated from it. It seems to us as if the latter would
have to precede the former,s 2 but it seems this way to us only because we
refer the concept back to an intuition. n

participle of setun, "to posit," and as such it means "that which is posited." Both senses are
combined in Fichte's use of das GesetzJes: in contrast to the activity of positing, what is pos-
ited within this activity becomes fixed and passive. Note too the relationship between these
terms and the usual German word for "law," das Gaelz-again, "that which is posited."
KRV. A7 t3fB7ofL
KRV. A51iB75· What Kant actually says in this celebrated (and frequently misquoted)
passage is that "thoughts without content are empty, and intuitions without concepts are
32 The text of K reads: ~Der Begriff entsteht mit der Anschauung zugleich in demselben

Moment, und ist von ihm unzertrennlich. Es scheint uns als ob der erste eher hatte sein
miifkn." This passage appears to be corrupt, and thus two corrections have been intro-
duced in the translated text: (1) ~on ihr" ("from the intuition") is substituted for "von
ihm" ("from the moment" or, even less plausibly, .. from the concept"); and (2) "der letzte"
("the latter") is substituted for "der erste" ("the former").
D Applying this [general principle of determination via opposition] to the self-positing
or internal ac1ing of the I, we oblain an innn intuition of the stability or slaU of repose of the
same and, at the same time, an inner intuition of its activity-an intuition of it as both ac~d
upon and acting. These coincide. Within this state of repose, however, the positing of the
activity is transformed for us into somelhing pruiled, into a product, into a concept. That is
to say, when one considers this very same activity, first of all, not as an instance of acting,
118 § 1

Cf. § 1 of the printed Wissenschaftslehre, 88 where the same thing is said

in a different manner; for there we proceeded from the concept to the
intuition, whereas the path followed here is just the reverse.

{Comparison with the instructor's book, (32)

Foundations of the Entire Wissenschaftslehre ( 1794):

§ 1. The absolute first principle can only be sought out; it can be nei-
ther pr()Uen nor determined.
Within the context of the Wissenschaftslehre, to "determine" something
means the same as to limit it, and indeed, to restrict it to a' certain region
or sphere of our knowledge. But the absolute first principle embraces (33)
the entire sphere of our knowledge. This principle is always valid in re-
lation to any consciousness whatsoever.
"I posit myself as positing myself." This presupposes that something
has already been posited, which can only be inferred and grasped by
means of thinking. But this is immediate consciousness, and the I itself
consists in just this harmony.
"I simply posit myself." This means: "I am conscious of myself, first as
the object of consciousness, and then again as the subject, i.e., the sub-
ject who is conscious." The discovered and the discoverer are here one
and the same. The I is identical with immediate consciousness.
"I am." In this context, "to be" means "to be the object of a concept."
In contrast to this, "becoming" signifies an acting. When considered as
a state of repose, this acting, this activity, is a concept, a being, indeed, a
specific being, which the I portrays as a fact-a concept, something sim-
ply found.
Here we began with the Act and arrived at the fact; but the method of
the book is just the reverse.
By the expression "in a state of repose" I mean that I find the I to be
something posited, a product, something discovered.

but as something stable and fixed, and glimpses and intuits it accordingly as a state of re-
pose (since otherwise we would be unable to intuit it as engaged in acting, as active), this-
produces a product, namely, the cuncept of the I. The concept of the I can only be thought
of and cannot be intuited, since only activity that is engaged in acting is intuition. Such an
intuition, however, is impossible without simultaneously thinking of its opposite-that is,
without thinking of the same activity as previously in a state of repose, i.e., without a con-
cept. Consequently, both are always connected with each other; concept and intuition co-
incide (pp. 31-32).
33 GWL See SW, I: 91-101.
§ I 119

One has to begin with being and infer self-positing therefrom, and
vice versa. Similarly, one must infer the intuition from the concept, and
vice versa. Both must be present together. A state of repose must be con-
nected with the intuition of activity. I obtain the concept only by means
of intuition and I obtain intuition only by means of the concept, for both
occur simultaneously in the free act of the self-reverting activity. Noth-
ing precedes this act; no "something in itself' is presupposed as the
foundation of this act.}

34 § 1

Construct the concept of the I and observe how you accomplish this.
It was claimed that if one does what one is asked to do one will dis-
cover that one is active and will discover in addition that one's activity is
directed upon one's own active self. Accordingly, the concept of the I
comes into being only by means of a self-reverting activity; and con-
versely, the only concept that comes into being by means of such an ac-
tivity is the concept of the I. By observing oneself while engaged in this
activity, one becomes immediately conscious of it; i.e., one posits oneself
as self-positing. As the sole immediate form of consciousness, this im-
mediate consciousness of oneself must be presupposed in the explana-
tion of all other possible varieties of consciousness. It is called the
original intuition of the I. (The word "intuition" is here employed in
both the subjective and the objective sense. For intuition can mean two
different things: (a) it can refer to the intuition that the I has, in which
case the I is the subject, the intuiting subject; or (~) it can refer to the
intuition that is directed at the I, in which case the intuition is objective,
and the I is.the intuited object. Here the word is employed in both senses
at once.) One will further observe that one is unable to posit oneself as
acting without positing a state of repose in opposition thereto. When-
ever a state of repose is posited, a concept is produced-in this case, the
concept of the I.

§ 1 (dictated 1798)

All consciousness is accompanied by an immediate self-conscious-

ness, which is called "intellectual intuition," and this immediate
' Every§ in K concludes with a paragraph of recapitulation and summary, indicated (as
in the preceding summary paragraph) by a repetition of the § number. These summaries
120 §I

self-consciousness must be presupposed if one is to be able to think at all.

Consciousness, however, is an activity, and self-consciousness, in partic-
ular, is the self-reverting activity of the intellect, or pure reflection.
Remark: Everything follows as a consequence of carrying out the in-
dicated self-observation. This pure act of reflection, viewed as a con-
cept, is thought of by the I. Accordingly, I posit myself simply by means
of myself, and all other consciousness is conditioned by this act of self-
In this course we will be conducting experiments. I.e., we will compel
reason to provide us with answers to specific, systematically calculated
35 questions; then, for the purpose of science and as an aid to memory, we
will formulate the results of our experiments in concepts.

or dictata were apparently, as the name indicates, carefully "dictated" to the class by Fichte
himself, so that the students could transcribe them as accurately as possible. Consequently,
though the text of H differs in many respects from that of K, the summary paragraphs are
virtually identical in the two versions (though H customarily places the dictata at the be-
ginning rather than at the end of each §). § 1 and § 2 of K each include, in addition, a
second summarizing paragraph, with the heading "dictated 1798." Presumably, Krause
obtained these alternate dictations from someone who had attended one of Fichte's two
earlier courses of lectures on the WLnm, most probably that of the winter semester 1797/
g8. These additional, earlier summaries do not appear in H, nor do they continue in K
after § 2 (though § 3 repeats the same summary-it appears once at the beginning and
once at the end of the §).
35 § 2

From the moment we began the Wissenschaftskhre, we have been trying

to characterize the I solely in terms of activity and to see how this can be
accomplished; for idealism appeals to the acting of the I in order to ex-
plain everything that is present within consciousness, and Critical ide-
alism explains this in terms of law-governed, necessary acting. Our
present goal is to show as dearly as possible that the activity character-
istic of the I is not just any sort of activity, but must be a self-reverting
activity. Thus we did not say that the concept of the I comes into being
by means of any acting whatJoever, but only by means of a quite specific
mode of acting.
{The question with which we are concerned remains, How was this (33)
process of self-intuition constituted? If A came into being by means of B,
then what is the foundation of B, etc.? Thus we always proceed geneti-
cally, i.e., by self-observation of the "how."}
Let us now reflect upon this.

(1) Something else needs to be noticed concerning what was postulated

in § 1. We were there concerned with a specific mode of acting, in con-
trast with or in opposition to another, quite conceivable one. We focused
our attention upon that act by means of which the concept of the I is
brought into being-and upon no other act. We took note of this restric-
tion, and only insofar as we did so were we conscious of the activity in
question. Indeed, the act we were concerned with was itself this very act
of turning away from all other possible objects and concentrating upon
one specific one. Accordingly, all acting can be thought of as a kind of
restricting or limiting to a specific sphere. All consciousness of spontaneous
self-activity u a consciousness of our own restricting of our own activity; but I
cannot intuit myself a.o; restricting my activity in this way without also positing a
transition from indetermi~ to determinacy, and thus without at the same time
positing this state of indetermi~ and opposing it to the determinate
[ 121 ]
122 § 2

condition. 1'A {Nothing determinate is possible apart from what is deter- (34)
minable, i.e., without intuiting the one along with the other.} Much de-
pends upon this point.
Limiting ourselves to the thinking of the I, what is determinate is pos-
ited as an activity and is present to consciousness as such, and thus it is
only by means of activity that we become conscious of what is indeter-
minate as well. Since what is indeterminate is posited in relation to and
36 along with what is determinate, let us call it "what is determinable." 2 As
noted above, activity cannot be intuited apart from stability or a state of
repose. Nor can activity be intuited except as a determinate activity; but
the concept of a determinate activity is impossible without intuiting a
determinable one.
• The following objection might occur to someone: Granted that it has
been shown that the I can be posited only by means of a self-reverting
activity, and granted too that an activity can be posited only in opposi-
tion to a state of repose and that a determinate activity can be posited
only by positing something determinable: it is still fallacious to infer
from this the general principle that there can be nothing determinate
apart from something determinable, for one cannot derive a universal
from a particular. [Reply:] All consciousness is mediated by the self-
positing of the I, and everything that occurs [therein] is a product of the
I's activity. Therefore, whenever a determinate product is encountered,
it must be the product of a determinate activity of the I. And thus, since
no determinate activity of the I can be posited without positing a de-
terminable activity, the above principle does indeed possess universal

(2) {Here too one must avoid that rashness which is such a temptation
within a transcendental philosophy, and must not become transcendent.
"Alles Bewustsein der Selbsuhatigkeit ist ein Bewustsein unseres Einschriinkens unserer
Thiitigkeit, nun kann ich mich nicht anschauen als beschriinkend, ohne ein Uibergehen von der
Unbestimmtheit zur Bestimmtheit zu setzen, also ohne die Unbestimmtheit mit zu setzen, und dem
Bestimmten engegenzusetzen."
A We abstracted from all [other] possible ways of operating and focused our reflection
upon a single point: namely, upon ourselves. We restricted our activity to our own I. Thus
it was by means of this passage from what is undetermined-in other words, from what is
determinable to what is determinate, from what is unlimited to what is limited-that we
became conscious of our own activity and obtained an intuition of it.
Just as we found above that no intuition of the activity of our I was possible without also
intuiting the I in a state of passive repose, so here as well: the movement of transition from
what is determinable to what is determinate is not possible unless one also and at the same
time intuits or posits something determinable. No intuition or concept of our own activity
is possible unless these two spheres are posited in opposition to each other: the sphere of
what is limited and the sphere of what is unlimited. The two must be connected with each
other (p. 34).
2 "welches wir, weil es in Beziehung auf das Bestimmtsein und mit ihm zugleich gesezt

wird, das Bestimmbare nennen wollen."

§ 2 123

More specifically, one must not presuppose the existence of any "activity
in itself," and then imagine that one is able to think of this "activity in
itself' only in the modified form produced by the colored glass of rep-
resentation. Instead, the activity that concerns us here is nothing but the
transition from determinability to determinacy. The "activity in itself' is
simply the concept, which, however, is not presupposed; instead, this
concept arises merely by means of and along with the intuition of the
activity. This activity itself is both concept and intuition.}
Moreover, this determinate activity is not a determinate activity as
such or in general (which would be self-contradictory); instead, it is a
particular determinate activity. (Nothing can be anything at all without
being determined in a certain way. In an abstract context one may well
talk as if this were not so, but here we are dealing with intuition, not with
abstraction.) This act of limiting oneself, positing oneself, immediately
intuiting oneself, and becoming conscious of oneself is one single act:
the act of intuiting oneself.
But the determinate activity ·may not be posited unless the opposed
activity, from which the determinate activity is extracted, is also posited
along with it. An act of self-positing can [not] be understood unless an
act of non-self-positing is posited along with it. This follows from what
was said above; but it is also a consequence of the nature of intuition
itself. One does not and cannot think clearly of anything at all without
also thinking at the same time of its opposite, {i.e., without negating its
opposite by thinking "it cannot and should not be this." (To be sure,
within everyday life this usually occurs only tacitly. But when we are
dealing with difficult objects and are engaged in sublime and abstract
meditations, this [explicit] way of proceeding promotes uncommon
clarity.)} This will not be proven here, but anyone who thinks clearly of
anything will discover this truth within himself. Therefore, in connec-
tion with the act of positing the I, one necessarily has to think about the
act of not positing the I as well.
37 In accordance with our postulate, the activity that previously had to be
posited as determinable activity in general has now been posited as Not-
1, i.e., as an activity directed at what is opposed to the I. {An act of non- (35)
self-positing is therefore posited in opposition to the act of positing the I;
a Not-I is opposed to the I -A minus A. In the case of the act of self-
positing, the activity is directed back upon itself. This act of positing the
Not-/ is determined by opposition. In the former case, the activity is di-
rected at the subject that actively posits itself as positing, i.e., at what is
active (subjectively and objectively). In the latter case, the activity is di-
rected not at a self-positing subject, but rather at something posited-
something stable, in a state of passive repose-which is present without any
assistance.} Thus, as surely as the I is posited at all, a Not-I must be pos-
ited along with it. The character of the Not-I emerges directly from this
124 § 2

opposition, for the activity by means of which I arrive at the Not-1 is the
sole means I possess for characterizing it.
Let us note, first of all, that the activity that posits the I and that which
posits the Not-1 are similar, inasmuch as activity of the I is present from
start to finish [in both cases]. 3 I am the thinking subject in each case. But
they are different in that, in the first case, the I's activity is directed
within itself and has as its object that self whose act is this very activity;
whereas, in the second case, the activity of the thinking subject must
have as its object something in a state of repose, something that does not
posit itself (at least not in the same sense in which the I posits itself).
(Whether self-positing might still pertain to it in some other sense is not
a question that needs to be addressed at this point.) 4 This object is some-
thing that is present for the self-positing I we are currently considering.
The self-positing I simply encounters it. It does not find it to be a prod-
uct of its own activity. Instead, the I finds this object to be a product of
necessity, though the necessity in question is itself conditional, since it
arises only because the I has first posited itself.B (In order to think
clearly about the I, I require something to be the Not-1.)
{This necessary opposition of spheres, without which no clear intu-
ition-[and hence no clear] thought-is possible, is what Kant calls "syn-
thesis." This is the process of going beyond intuition and connecting
concepts thereto. Accordingly, we here proceeded beyond the !-consid-
ered as self-positing-and beyond the intuition of its spontaneous self-
activity. By means of this act of opposing, we obtained the concept of the
I--considered in a state of repose, as something posited.}
The concept of the Not-1 is not a concept derived from experience. It
can be derived only from the very action through which it is con-
structed. The Not-1 is something merely posited, and "being" is its sole
determination. (The concept of being will later5 be derived from the
concept of activity, which itself admits of no further explanation.)

(3) Let us now reflect a bit upon what we have just discovered and con-
sider how we were able to do this. Every act of connecting something
with the I, i.e., all synthesis, depends upon something posited in oppo-
sition thereto (as we saw in this and the previous §). Before I can intuit
"ZufOrderst, da~ die Thatigkeit des lch durch gehe, darin sind beide gleich." Krause
later emended this passage by replacing durch gehe ("permeates" or "is present from start
to finish") with d.araufgehe ("is directed at").
4 See below, § g, where a variety of (unfree) "self-positing" is attributed to nature itself.
To be sure, activity is present in the Iauer case [that is, when the Not-I is posited] as
well, since the activity of the I relates itself to it; and, in this respect, they are similar. The
I is [in this latter case]the representing subject, but it is not at the same time what is rep-
resented (the object). Accordingly, this second, opposed activity is a product not of free-
dom, but rather of necessity-albeit a condit.itmal necessity, since it is conditioned by the
fact that the I is posited. It has the character of a being and not of a becoming (p. 35).
5 In sect. 4 of the present §.
§ 2 125

or think anything, I must posit something in opposition to it. This act of

opposing6 provides the basis for all instances of going beyond the I,
whether this is a matter of going beyond intuition (as in the previous §)
or of going beyond the I itself (as in the present §). In the previous § we
began with intuition and then connected the concept to it; in this § we
began with the posited I and then went beyond it to posit a Not-1.
38 The question now arises, Does our argument to this point constitute a
deduction, or has something once again, as in the previous§, been pre-
supposed? Have we demonstrated that a Not-1 must be united with the
I? Or have we once again presupposed something; and if so, what? We
reached this conclusion by means of the law of reflective opposition,'
and we established this law within intuition.c Thus it could not have
been this law that we have presupposed. Instead, we have presupposed
the following: We began with the thought that if the I itself is to be, in
turn, an object of our consciousness, then a Not-1 must be posited. But
does the I have to become an object of consciousness? This has not been
proven. {The only thing we have provisionally postulated is that we are
conscious of something. Thus it remains undecided whether immediate
consciousness must itself be represented, i.e., whether it must be viewed
as an object in turn, i.e., whether a transition from the posited I to the
pure I is required. This will be dealt with at the appropriate time.} In
the previous § we proved that all consciousness must be preceded by im-
mediate consciousness; this immediate consciousness, however, is never
something objective, but is always the subjective factor 8 within all con-
sciousness. The consciousness upon which our present argument is
based is therefore not immediate consciousness; it is a representation of
immediate consciousness, but it itself is not immediate consciousness.
Immediate consciousness is an Idea9 and does not appear within con-
sciousness.0 {[It is present] only in the reciprocal interaction of opposed (36)
activities-where it is simultaneously subject and object.} The first act of
"Dieses Entgegensetzen," that is, this act of positing something in opposition to what·
ever I posit.
''das Reflexionsgesez des Entgegensezens."
c The reality of this law was demonstrated in intuition (p. 35).
"ist nie ein objectives, sondern immer das Subjective."
"Es ist IU:PRAESENTATION des unmittelbaren, aber es selbst nicht. Das unmittelbare ist
Idee." For the term Idee ("Idea"), see n. 6 to the First Introduction.
When the I in a state of repose becomes, in turn, an object of consciousness-that is
to say, insofar as the I has passed into a passive stau and is thought of as a mere object-
then it is at the same time the Not-1 as well; neither can exist without the other. But this
consciousness is not immediate; it is tni!diated or indirect. An immediate consciousness is
never present as an object. The I as an object is a mere Idea 10 and is never present within
consciousness (p. 35).
Note the conflict between this assertion and the corresponding passage in K, accord-
ing to which it is the imtni!diate I that is an Idea, not the "I as object." Surely the text of H
is either corrupt or in error at this point, since the I, as we will see, can certainly be an
object of consciousness (albeit not insofar as it is "immediate").
126 § 2

thinking of the I was an instance of free acting, but a 11 necessary mode

of acting follows from this. We have proven that there is no conscious-
ness of the I without consciousness of the Not-1. We could indeed intro-
duce a postulate at this point [that is, we could simply postulate that the
I has to become an object of consciousness], but if we were to do so, we
would also have to announce that it is a postulate, in which case it would
become part of the first principle we are presupposing. When we have
ascended higher 12 we will learn whether it is necessary to introduce such
a postulate. [So far] we have neither established nor proven the existence
of the Not-1. What we have demonstrated is the reciprocal interaction of
the I and the Not-1.

(4) We must now compare the new synthesis with the previous one and
attach this new link to our chain of inferences.
In the previous § we remarked that one is unable to posit an activity
without opposing thereto a state of passivity. In the present § we have
observed that one cannot posit a determinate activity without opposing
thereto a determinable one. Thus the procedure by means of which we
accomplished the transition from one term to the other was the same in
both inquiries. The action we have now deduced is the same as the pre-
39 vious one; we have simply become better acquainted with it. {By com-
paring this synthesis with the previous one, we can see that the same
thing happens over and over again. The action that occurs is always
the first action; indeed, at bottom there is only one action. Only within
the system of a Wissenschaftslehre is this single action presented as a series
of actions.} And if the action is the same, then that to which the transi-
tion is made must also be the same; i.e., the state of repose must be the
same thing as determinability, and the latter must be included in the
former; for it is precisely when an activity is still determinable as such
that it can be characterized as a state of repose and not as an activity.
One could call this state of repose or this determinability an "ability" or
"power." 13 A power is not the same as that which possesses it; i.e., it is not
a substance. We say that a substance possesses a certain power, which is
Reading "daraus folgi ein nothwendiges'" for K's "daraus folgi kein nothwendiges.'"
What the text actually states is that no necessary acting is implied by the occurrence of the
first, free act of self-reflection, but this contradicts the entire argument of this section. But
perhaps the text is not corrupt and should be interpreted to mean merely that we have not
yet demonstrated that some other act must necessarily occur in order for the I to posit itself-
specifically, that it must become conscious of itself.
12 Fichte frequently employs metaphors of ascent and descent to describe the overall

structure of the WLnm. §§ 1-12 constitute the "ascent'" to the axial point of the entire pre-
sentation, from which all the subsequent §§ "descend.'"
""Man konnte diese Ruhe oder diese Bestimmbarkeit Vermogen nennen.'" Verm0gen
(rendered here as '"power'") is an important term in Kant's philosophical vocabulary, often
(albeit misleadingly) translated into English as "faculty" (e.g., by Norman Kemp Smith in
his influential translation of the Critique of Pure Reason).
§ 2 127

thus one of its accidental properties. 14 Nor is a power the same as an

activity. A power is not an action; it is that by means of which action
first becomes possible. When an activity is grasped by means of concepts
it is transformed into a state of repose. Power, repose, and determin-
ability are one and the same. {The I in a state of repose is the same thing
as .(activity considered as) determinability, for a passive state of repose
has the same character as a determinable activity. If one removes what
is determinate from an activity, then it remains merely determinable;
in other words, it is a power-that is to say, that which makes an action
possible-or an activity in a state of repose that cannot be further ex-
plained but can only be grasped conceptually. This is how activity be-
comes a state of repose or a power or determinability.} Thus the positing that
occurs in the first act [that is, the act of positing a state of repose in op-
position to an activity] is the same as the positing that occurs in the sec-
ond [that is, the act of positing a determinable activity in opposition to
a determinate one]. When an activity is intuited in a state of repose it
becomes a concept. One could also express this the other way around
and note that the situation is the same with determinability. But in this
case one must note that this concept [of a determinable activity] is a con-
cept only in relation to the intuition of the I; in relation to the Not-I, it
is itself an intuition. 15 In the intuition the activity is in action, whereas in
the concept it is not in action; there it is a mere power. 16 When this
activity in the form of a concept is related to the Not-I, however, it is
then an intuition.E Thus we may obtain two sorts of intuition: inner
and outer, that is, intellectual intuition and another sort, which refers to
the Not-1.
The state of mind with which we are presently concerned contains two
separate spheres: the sphere of what is intended and the sphere of what
is necessarily {conjoined with this, or a sphere of what is} found, which
we will call the sphere of "the given." 17 {Remark: In this context "given"
"die Substanz hat Vermogen; es ist Acc1~ENS." Fichte uses this Latin term in the sense
in which it was employed within Scholastic philosophy, to designate what has no indepen-
dent existence of its own and can exist only within (or as a modification of) something else,
namely, a substance. The English reader should resist the temptation to read this term as
implying contingency. Some "accidents" (or "attributes") are indeed contingent, but others
are necessary (or, as the Scholastics called them, "proper").
~ As a comparison with the corresponding passage in H reveals, this sentence is mis-
leading. It is not the concept of the determinable activity that is an intuition in relationship
to the Not-I, but rather the determinable activity itself.
16 "In der Anschauung ist die Thatigkeit in ACTION, im Begriff nicht, sondern da ist sie

blofks Vermogens."
E This determinable activity is therefore something passive, something that can be
grasped only conceptually; and thus, insofar as it is opposed to intuition, it is an act of
comprehending or a concept. In relation to the Not-I, on the other hand, it is an intuition
(p . .p6).
"die eine ist die des Beabsichtigten, die andere die des nothwendig gefunden, welches
wir nennen wollen das Gegebne." The clause inserted from the parallel passage in H
128 § 2

means not "given from outside," but rather "encountered by means of

the laws of reflection that govern our reason."} Our intention was to
posit an activity, and this activity was found to be accompanied by a state
of repose. Moreover, our intention was to posit a determinate activity,
and this was found to be accompanied by a determinable one. The first
sphere thus includes (1) real, self-reverting activity = A, and (2) that
which has come into being by means of this activity = B. The sphere of
the given likewise includes (1) determinable activity (i.e., activity that is
determinable, in the sense that it can turn into actual acting, though it
may itself be determined in other respects) = C, and (2) the Not-1 that
is produced by means of this determinable activity = D. F {Our terminol- (37)
ogy is thus as follows:
A. The real determinate activity
B. The concept of the I } Both as intended.
C. The determinable activity
D. The Not-1.} } Both as given.
Let us now investigate these in the light of the above account of intui-
tions and concepts.
All consciousness begins with the previously indicated immediate con-
sciousness (see § 1). {Immediate consciousness is the foundation of all
consciousness. We have postulated this, since immediate consciousness
never appears as an object of consciousness. Instead, it is the subjective
factor in all consciousness, the factor that constitutes the conscious sub-
ject. It is merely the representing subject 18 of consciousness.} The A that
posits itself in and by means of this consciousness is a representation of
immediate consciousness, a representation that we who are engaged in
philosophical inquiry have freely chosen to produce. (This immediate
consciousness is the conscious subject in every act of consciousness, but
it is not the subject of which we are conscious. {Nothing that we can be
conscious of is immediate consciousness itself; instead, it is presentwithin
all consciousness and lies at its foundation, but only as the sub-

NEN") helps to clarify the meaning of "necessarily" in this sentence.
F To the sphere of whnl is intended To the sphere of whnl is given
(subjective) pertain: (objective) pertain:
Activity Repose
Determinate activity What is determinable
The concept of the I The concept of the Not-1

Let us call the real, determinate Let us call the determinable activity in
activity that lies within this sphere, i.e., a state of repose that lies within this
the activity in agility, "A." And let us sphere "C." And let us call the Not-1
call what comes into being thereby, i.e., that is produced thereby "D."
the concept of the I, "B."
§ 2 129

jective factor, the Idea, something posited in accordance with the laws of
reflection.} What the eye sees in this case is the seeing of the eye. {The
eye looks at seeing: the eye is immediate consciousness, and seeing is all
other consciousness. Consciousness is no more the same as immediate
consciousness than is the eye the same as seeing.}) We freely chose to
gef)erate this representation, and, if we had wished, we could have con-
cerned ourselves with something else; thus we have left to one side the
question of whether there might be some other respect in which such a
representation might be necessary.
• This A, this observing of the act of self-positing, is an intuition; more ~
precisely, it is an inner, intellectual intuition {or intuition of the I acting
within itself-of the A-[an intuition] of the intuited act of self-positing
or of self-reverting activity-A}. We have already discovered (in the first
§) that no intuition-including intuition A-is possible apart from a
concept. What concept must be connected with intuition A? Could it be
[the concept of] what is intended ( = B)? Obviously not, {for this in-
tended I is supposed to present itself within consciousness as active, as
engaged in intuiting, and thus as self-positing and produced by A,}
[and,] since the concept we are seeking must lie within the sphere of
what is given, {which is not produced before my very eyes, it must lie in
C}. Accordingly, the concept we are seeking must be the one that con-
ditions intuition A; i.e., it must be C = what is determinable, or the ac-
tivity in a state of passive repose. {The determinable activity, or activity
in a state of repose, is thus the concept that lies at the basis of all intu-
ition, for repose can be grasped-can be thought or posited-only in
relation to activity. Thus what is given to me by means of Cis the concept
of the I, for in order for me to be able to posit myself, a movement of
transition from repose to activity must occur.} Thus, in relationship to
intuition A, C is the concept that determines A. But in the context of a
different relationship, this same concept C can also be called an intu-
ition. {But where does this concept C come from?} It is immediate con- (;
sciousness itself, which is not intuited but is comprehended or grasped
through concepts-and comprehended not as an activity, but as a state
of repose. {For activity in a state of repose is a mere concept, which can
never appear in intuition and can never be an object of intuition; in-
stead, as a concept or a power, i.e., as something posited, C is based upon
immediate consciousness, or rather, C is itself immediate consciousness
and therefore is an immediate concept. In this concept the I discovers itself
as substance, as something posited, as the determinable, active C, which
lies at the foundation of every determinate activity and of every conscious-
ness.} This concept is what is copied in intuition A. (Every act of intuition
is an act of copying.) This concept is the most immediate and highest
concept, and it is grounded upon intellectual intuition, which, as such,
never becomes an object of consciousness, though it does become an
130 § 2

object of consciousness in the form of a concept.G In and by means of

this concept the I discovers itself and appears to itself as something
given. I can conceive of myself [that is, I can grasp myself conceptually]
in no other way than as an I, i.e., as self-positing, and thus as intuiting.
The concept in question is thus the concept of an act of intuiting, and
this is the sense in which this concept itself can be called an "intuition."
The I is self-positing (a self-positing eye), 19 and it is comprehended as
41 such; i.e., it is conceptually grasped as an intuition. Thus, in relation to
A, C is a concept; but it is an intuition in relation to some possible X. I
discover myself to be intuiting inasmuch as I discover myself to be intu-
iting something = X. (For Kant, both outer and inner intuition are
merely sensible. Thus, according to him, the I appears to itself only as a
determinate object, but I maintain that it appears to itself as a determin-
ing subject.)
{Accordingly, the I is both a concept and an intuition. This is precisely the
point that distinguishes this system from others-including the Kantian
In the previous §, C was only a concept; here it is both a concept and
an intuition. Later on it will be an intuition. Thus it can mean different
things, depending upon the different contexts within which it is posited.
In C, the I was found to be self-positing, but it was not found to be
active; instead, it was there found to be in a state of repose, something
posited as self-positing. Its activity is canceled as such; it is an activity in
a state of repose, which nevertheless is and remains an intuition. Since it
is always true that an intuition stands over against a concept and is pos-
sible only by means of this opposition, this is the case here as well. What
is posited in opposition to C is what we previously called D. The char-
acteristic feature of all concepts is repose; but C, considered as an intu-
ition, is already in a state of repose. Thus, since Dis now supposed to be
a state of repose in relationship to C, D must be a state of repose in a
state of repose.H What then is D?

G This immediate concept of the I ( = C) becomes an intuition only insofar as it is com-

prehended or grasped conceptually. That is to say, the I cannot comprehend itself without pos-
iting itself as an intuiting subject. What is comprehended is thus an act of intuiting. In
order to arrive at the concept of the I-indeed, in order to arrive at any concept at all-an
activity has to be opposed to the I's state of repose; this is thus necessary if the I is to be
discooered through intellectual intuition, if it is to be grasped dearly and perspicuously, i.e.,
if it is to be comprehended. The concept itself, however, can be grasped only through
thought (p. 38).
"eine sich selbst sezendes Auge." Radrizzani plausibly suggests that "sezendes" may
well be a mistranscription of "sehendes," in which case the phrase could be rendered "an
eye that sees itself." This emendation is supported by the corresponding passage in H.
H Although C, in relationship to A, is an activity in a state of repose, it nevertheless is
and remains an act of intuiting, and indeed, a passive intuiting: namely, in relationship to
what is opposed to it ( = D). This concept D also possesses the character of passive repose,
for it is something given.
§ 2 131

Insofar as C is opposed to D, C is, to be sure, an activity [in a state of

repose], one that can be summoned into actual activity by means of free
self-determination. In its essence it is an activity. (C is the activity of the
I, considered as a substance. We will explain this in more detail below; at
this point it is nothing more than a figure of speech.) {As activity in re-
pose, C is the concept of the I as a substance. But it is only relatively
passive; i.e., it is passive only in relation to A. Thus C can also be con-
sidered to be active in relation to X. But if this occurs, then a passive
state of repose must again be opposed to C. This state of repose which is
posited in opposition to what is already a state of relative repose cannot
itself be relative, i.e., a mere privation or denial of activity.} D, which is
the opposite of this activity, would thus have to be the real negation of
activity, not merely the absence or privation of the same. It would have
to cancel and annihilate activity; thus it is not zero, but is instead nega-
tive magnitude, 21 {something more than nothing}. This is the true char-
acter of actual being, the concept of which has incorreclly been
considered to be a primitive, immediate concept; for the sole immediate
concept is the concept of activity, {and this concept cannot be explained.
In contrast, [the concept of] being can be derived. Being is a negative (3!
concept:} In relation to an active subject that is posited as lying outside
of being itself, being negates; being cancels productive activity: What is
cannot be produced or made. 22 {lt must frrst be annihilated, for positive
productive activity presupposes negative productive activity, i.e., an act
of annihilation. Thus being also negates whau;ver exists; 23 it negates be-
coming. Before anything can become, it must cease to be.} In relation to
the positing subject, being negates goals: l cannot become what I am.
42 Without realizing it, ordinary common sense has always understood
this point: Refusing to be content with the existence of the world, it as-
cended to [the thought of] a creator.
Being is the characteristic feature of the Not- I. Activity is what char-
acterizes the I. Dogmatism begins with being, which it interprets as
something primitive and immediate.
Insofar as the activity of the I is in a passive state of repose in C, the
l's activity is annihilated by the Not-I. This activity within C, which is not
real activity, but which can be called the "substance" of the I, shows itself
to be an activity at least to the extent that it is an intuition. In contrast,

Even .as an intuition, Cis already in a state of repose, for it has been posited in oppo-
sition to A; and D is also in a State of repose, because it is something given. Therefore, to
the extent that Dis the product of C. it is a state of repose in a state of repose."" (p. 38).
20 ~Ruhe der Rube." ·
22 ~Sein NEGIRT in
Beziehung auf ein a user dem Sein geseztes Thatiges; durch Sein wird
Machen aufgehoben. Was ist kann nicht gemacht werden."
~ "Das SEYN negirt also auch das SEYENDE.M
what is opposed to C [ = D] could not be an intuition, but would have to
be the real negation of intuiting; i.e., it would have to be something in-
tuited-and this would have to be true of the Not-I as well. {This is the
true character of the Not-I: as what is intuited it must always be related
to an intuiting subject (namely, to C).} This is why it is absurd to treat the
Not-I as a thing in itself. It must always be related to an intuiting subject.

(5) We saw above how the entire mechanism of the human mind is based
upon the necessity of positing one thing in opposition to another. But
these opposing terms are one and same, merely viewed from different
sides. The I, which lies within the sphere of what is intended, and the
Not-I, which lies within the sphere of what is discovered, are one and the
same. These simply represent two, inseparably linked, aspects or ways of
looking at the same thing, for the I must be a subject-object. Everything
follows from this last claim. Two series arise from the original intuition:
the subjective series, or the series of what is intended, and the objective
series, or the series of what is found. These two series cannot be sepa-
rated, for neither can exist without the other. To say that these are both
aspects of the same thing, i.e., to say that the subjective and the objective
[series] "coexist," is to say that they are not merely inseparably linked
within reflection, but that they are also one and the same object of re-
flection. The activity that reverts into itself and determines itself is none
other than the determinable activity. These are one and the same and
are inseparable. 1
{Thus, for example, B and Care one and the same. B is the concept of
the I produced by A. C is the concept of the I, considered as something
given; for in order to be able to posit myself as active ( = B), I have to
presuppose a transition from a state of repose to one of activity, and this
presupposes an activity in a state of repose as such, i.e., a power to be-
come active in one way or another, and this passive, determinable activ-
ity is the concept of the I in C. The difference between B and C is simply
this: B is the concept of the I which A produces in consciousness before
our very eyes; in contrast, C is the concept of the I which is discovered by
intuition to be present within consciousness, and hence C belongs to the
sphere of what is "given" or "objective."
Accordingly, B is produced through freedom, whereas C is produced
through original intuition. 24}
1 One can call what is intended "subjective" and what is given "objective," since both are
originally present within consciousness. Not only are they always together within reflec-
tion, but they are also inseparable as an object of reflection, or as what is reflected upon.
There can be no determinate activity without a determinable one, no activity of the I as
I without the same as a state of repose, as Not- I. This is always one and the same activity
(p. pg).
2 The translation of this sentence corrects what appears to be an error in the transcrip-
tion of H, which reads: "Eben so ist A durch Freiheil hervorgebracht, B hingegen durch die
urspriingliche Anschauung." In the translation, B is substituted for A, and C for B.
§ 2 133
The Not-1 is thus nothing other than another way of looking at the I.
When we consider the I as an activity, we obtain the I; when we consider
it in a state of repose, we obtain the Not-1. One cannot view the I as ac-
43 tive without also viewing it in a state of repose, i.e., as Not-1. This is the
reason why the dogmatist, who does not think of the I as engaged in
activity, has no I at all. His I is an accident of the Not-1. Idealism has no
Not-1; for the idealist, the Not-1 is always simply another way of looking
at the I. Within dogmatism, the I is a particular type of thing; within
idealism, the Not-I is a particular way of looking at the I.
{In idealism, therefore, the Not-1 is nothing but an accident. Actually, -(,
idealism recognizes no Not-I; its Not-1 is only a particular way of looking
at its I. That is to say, it first views its I in intellectual intuition as active,
and this furnishes idealism with its I. However, it also views the I in in-
tellectual intuition as passive, and this furnishes idealism with its Not-1.
Remark: This is only one way of looking at the Not-1. There is, how-
ever, also another way of looking at it, which we will examine later.}

§ 2 (Dictated 1 798)

When this very activity of reflection, through which the intellect pos-
its itself, is intuited, it, is intuited as a self-determining agility; and this
agility is intuited as a movement of transition from a state of passive re-
pose and indeterminacy, which is nevertheless determinable, to one of
determinacy. This determinability here appears as the power to think ei-
ther of the I or of the Not-I, and thus the concept of determinability
necessarily involves the concepts of the I and the Not-1, which are pos-
ited in opposition to each other. Accordingly, whenever one engages in
self-active reflection each of these concepts appears as something inde-
pendent of this act, and the characteristic feature of the Not-I is being,
i.e., a negation.

§ 2

It is claimed that when one constructs the concept of the I one will
also discover that one cannot posit oneself as active without positing this
activity as self-determined, and that one cannot do this without positing
a moVement of transition from a state of indeterminacy or determinabil-
ity-which movement of transition is itself the very activity one is here
observing (see sections 1 and 2 above). Similarly, one cannot grasp the
concept {of the I} which comes into being by means of the determinate
activity without determining this concept by means of an opposed Not-I;
and what is determinable is the same as what was previously called. the
state of repose (§ 1 ), for it is determined precisely by being transformed
134 § 2

into an activity. 25 Moreover, that which, in relation to the intuition of the

I, is a concept of the I, is, in relation to the Not-1, an intuition. More
44 specifically, it is the concept of the act of intuiting (section 4). As a con-
sequence of this opposition, the Not-I can be characterized as the {real}
negation of activity; that is, it can be characterized as "being," which is
the concept of canceled activity. The concept of being is thus by no
means an original concept, but is a negative one, derived from activity.

{A few more words of explanation:

The concept of activity which occurs here and which underlies all that
has been said consists in nothing but the of transition fmm what
is undetermined to what is determinate; i.e., it consists in an act of
wrenching away from a state of repose and a transition to acting. But just
as soon as this activity acts in some determinate manner-i.e., once it is
"in action"-it is no longer an activity, but is instead the I. This is where
the concept of the I enters the picture. For this reason, this activity does
not permit of any explanation, but has its foundation entirely within
consciousness and must be copied in intuition.
Furthermore, concerning the law of reflection which governs all our
cognition (namely, the law that states that we cognize nothing-in the
sense of knowing what it is-without at the same time thinking of what
it is ?Wt): this law was not a postulate that we proposed, but was instead
a matter of intuition.
And it is precisely this son of cognition, i.e., cognizing something by
means of opposition, that is called "determining" something.
To be sure, the system still rests upon a postulate, and this is certainly
something that should be noticed. What we have postulated is our cog-
nition as such, insofar as this is grounded in immediate consciousness,
considered as an object. In shon, what we have postulated is the move-
ment of transition fmm the posited I to the pure I. We will discuss this
at its proper time.}

Comparison with §§ 2 and 3 of the compendium. 26

Had we postulated anything here, it would have been a general cog-

nition of the transition from the I to what is represented. That this cog-

"weil es eben zur Thatigkeit bestimmt wird."
l.e., §§~and 3 ofGWL (see SW, 1: 101-~g). As always, K and H cite the first, 1794>'95
edition of GWL, for which this translation substitutes page references to the text in SW, 1.
§ 2 135
nition must be determined objectively is something that is established
within intuition. 27 From this necessary determinacy we deduced deter-
minability, and from determinability we deduced the Not- I. The portion
of the compendium corresponding to this section proceeded in the di-
ametrically opposite direction. It began with the act of opposing 28 the
Not-I [to the I], and this opposition was posited as absolute(§ 2). The act
of determining was then derived from this act of opposing (§ 3). Both
paths are correct, since the necessary determinacy of the I and the nec-
essary being of the Not-I bear a reciprocal relation to each other. One
can proceed from either to the other. Either path is possible. But our
present path has this advantage: that the determinacy of the I is also
what links the I with the Not-IJ What we have here spoken of as the
"relationship between determinacy and determinability" is called "quan-
tity" (or sometimes "quantifiability") in the book. 29 This has given rise to
some misunderstandings, for many have taken this to imply that the I is
something extended. In fact, all that rea11y possesses quantity is the pos-
iting subject itself.K But here we are not yet concerned with this. The
third § of the previous exposition would thus correspond to the second
§ of this one, and vice versa. Another path has a1so been pursued here
with respect to the Not-1, which is no longer postulated immediately, but
is instead postulated indirect1y.
{The Not-1 is also derived in a different manner in § 2 of the book, in (42)
which the absolute opposition is supposed to be established by means of

Note that the pagination of SW, I is also provided in the critical edition of the same text
included in AA l, ~. as well as as in the English translation included in SK.
uHauen wir hier etwas postulin, so ware es das [sic] Erkennlnifl ilberhaupl des
Uibergehens vom Ich zum Vorgestelhen[.] Dajl diese Erkennlnif\, di~ objective bestimmt
sein miljk, isl in der Anschauung nachgewiesen." This obscure passage demands some
emendation, which is only marginally facilitated by the parallel passage in H: "Zwar
beruhl das System auf einem PoSTUlATE [ •.• ] nehmlich; unsere[r] Erkenntifluberhaupl,
in sofern sie sich auf dem unmiuelbaren Bewufltseyn als Objekl betrachtet-grilndel-
kurz der Obergang von dem gesezten lcH zum reinen lcH." ("To be sure, this system rests
upon a postulate [ ... ], namely: our knowledge as such, insofar as this is grounded upon
immediate consciousness, considered as an object-in shon, [what we have postulated is]
the transition from the posited I lo the pure 1.")
Reading, with Radrizzani, "Entgegensetzen" for K's "Entgegengesezlen" (uwhal was
I The path followed in the compendium is the opposite of the one we are presently fol-
lowing. In § ~ of the book we started with the Not- I, and from § 3 on we progressed to
what is determinable, and finally lO what is determinate.
Each of these two methods is correct in itself, since they are reciprocally related lo each
other. Nevertheless, the present method is preferable since it doubles the connection. The
determinacy of the I, with which we begin, is also at the same lime what connects the I and
the Nol-l (p. 41 ).
See SW, 1: 108-g.
K What§ 3 calls "quantity" is the relationship between determinacy and determinability,
and refers to the necessary conjunction of two opposites, which must nevertheless be
viewed as opposed to each other. Thus "quantity" designates the entire range of activity-
including both determinable and determinate activity (pp. 41-4~).
the logical principle "-A is not = A." Everyone will concede this princi-
ple itself at once, but how do I know that it is true?
From experience? This is insufficient, for how could this be known
from experience? Instead, this [logical] opposition is I
posit something in opposition and must do so. SDJ
p. 1o1, no. 1. This proposition establishes the absolute act of opposing
as such.
p. 103, no. 6. "The act of opposing [etc.]." One cannot posit acting
45 without also positing a state of repose, nor something determinate with-
out something determinable, nor an I without a Not-1. This is the origin
of the unity of acting as well as of the unity of consciousness.
p. 104, no. g. The act of absolute opposing is here demonstrated. If
this act were impossible, then how could anything be opposed to any-
thing? The I is posited absolutely; hence what is absolutely posited in
opposition is the Not-L
{If something is supposed to be absolutely opposed, then the question
arises, opposed to what? To nothing else but the I, for this is what is im-
mediately posited. Thus the only possible immediate act of opposing is
an act of positing something in opposition to the I. This absolute act of
positing in opposition is absqlute; thus it cannot be learned from expe-
rience, but first appears within experience in the form of something
that is opposed [to the l's self-positing], and only then does experience
become possible.}
p. 105, § 3· "with every step, etc." This is meant simply as a clarifica-
tion of what occurs within us. {"To prove" means the same as "to estab-
lish within intuition." We can analyze only what occurs within us, what is
already in us.} The older method continued in this manner and then
merely analyzed what occurs.
p. 106, no. 1. "insofar as [etc.]." This "insofar as" already includes
within itself what is to be derived. To this extent, "insofar as" means
"quantity" or "sphere." One could say that if the Not-1 is posited, then
the l is not posited. Yet both the Not-1 and the I have to be present
within one and the same consciousness, for without an I, the Not-I posits
nothing. One cannot understand an opposite without positing its oppo-
site as well. {Instead of "insofar as, [etc.]" it would have been better to
say: "if the Not-I is posited," etc.
The Not-1 is supposed to appear as a certain quantity or sphere of our
activity. But this is not possible unless its opposite, the I, also appears
within consciousness at the same time; and within this identity, the I
must be simultaneously posited [along with the Not-1], for the Not-1 is
nothing at all. But what is posited and what is posited in opposition
thereto cancel each other out, and this is therefore a contradiction.
"" "dieses entgegensetzen ist absolut---weil ich entgegensetze, und entgegen setzen mufl."
§ 2 137

pp. 1 07-g. Resolution of this contradiction.}

p. 107, no. 1. If opposites are now to continue to exist alongside each
other, the I must possess the power to posit opposites together in one
and the same {state or} act of consciousness, {namely, in intuition,} for (43)
neither is possible without the other. {No I without a Not-I, no activity
apart fro.m repose, etc. This is one and the same act. Neither term is a
part of the act, but both originate at the same time and accompany each
other.} The I thus possesses the power to proceed synthetically.
"To synthesize"31 means "to posit together" or "to combine." But only
things posited in opposition to each other can be posited in
combination. 32 {In order for an act of combining to occur, opposites
must be able to occur alongside each other in one and the same act of
consciousness.} Thus, if these terms are to be combined in a single act,
then the I must be able to bring opposites-and hence, a manifold-
into being within a single act, and such an act must therefore possess a
certain scope or range. 33 {Therefore, insofar as we assume that our ac-
tivity possesses a certain range or scope, a unified manifold has to
exist. 34 For, as the conscious subject, l have to discover that I am active;
but this is impossible unless I think of myself as engaged in a movement
of transition from repose to activity.} This range of this act within which
a manifold is combined and through which the manifold becomes pos-
sible is called "the capadty for quantity" in the book.
Consciousness of this mode of acting includes that from which the
transition is to be made and that to which it is to be made, as well as the
acting itself. {The activity consists in this very movement. I thereby ob-
tain both ( 1) what is discovered, i.e., that from which I make a movement
of transition, and (2) that which is, as it were, produced before my very
eyes, i.e., what is intended. The activity binds together both of these,
what is discovered and what is intended; and in this way makes them
both immediate objects of consciousness. To be sure, they are only in-
directly glimpsed within the activity; both are included within the same
action, which, as such, is merely their vehicle, as it were. Consciousness,
however, includes all three: that from which the transition is made; that to
which it is made; and the movement oftransitiorl, or the activity itself.} Con-
sciousness is not an act; it is a state of repose and includes a multiplic-
ity-at the same time that it is led to go beyond it. Within consciousness,
everything is simultaneously united and separated. This is the meaning
of "limits," "divisibility," and the "capacity for quantity," p. 108, no. 8.

~~Reading, with Krause's MS, HSynthesiren" for K's "Synthesis."

·'" "Synthesis soli heifk:n zusammensezen; nun kann aber nur zusammengesen werden,
was [et}was entgegengesetzt ist." Rather than emend the fi~t "was," as Fuchs does, Radriz-
zani suggests that the second wwas" represents merely a careless repetition of the fi~t.
~ "einen Umfang haben."
"Es muiJ also ein Mannigfaltiges daseyn, das in Einem beisammen ist."
46 p. JOg, no. g. "I as well [as Not-1], etc." This might give rise to some
misunderstanding. I and Not-1 are only parts of the manifold. They lie
within the same consciousness and are not separable from each other;
they are partes integrantes. 35 The act of limiting is based upon this: what
the one is, the other is not. But this does not mean that either the I or
the Not-1 is to be further divided. What this passage should say is that
consciousness is divisible into an I and a Not-1.
p. JOg. "Only now ... something." To say that the I and the Not-I are
now both "something" means that we can now ascribe predicates to
them, which occurs only by means of opposition. The only way that any-
thin~ can be "something" is by being posited in opposition to something
{p. JOg. "Consciousness contains all reality": I.e., consciousness is that
which witnesses acting. All determinability, everything that can subse-
quently be posited, is included within this act.}
pp. JOg-•o, D. All that has been proven is that if the I is to attain con-
sciousness, then it must posit a Not-1; but it has not been proven that the
I must attain consciousness.
{Concerning this remark, there remains a gap that needs to be filled:
namely, we have to provide a deduction of the postulate upon which ev-
erything that has been established so far rests.
The postulate states: The I appears outside of itself, as it were, and makes (44)
itself into an object.
Why should and why must the I do this?} (p. 36)
""integral parts."
L For anything to "be something" means that one can ascribe a predicate to it, albeit only
by means of opposition: What is I is not Not-I (p. 43).
§ 3

The I's action of self-positing is a movement of transition from inde-

terminacy to determinacy. 1 We must now reflect upon this action in or-
47 der to discover how the I passes from indeterminacy to determinacy. (4~
{What is it that mediates this action of self-positing, that is, this movement
of transition from what is determinable to what is determinate?}

( 1) No grounds can here be adduced for this action, for we have reached
the limit of all reasons. 2 All one has to do at this point is to observe what
is there to be seen. Everyone will see that nothing mediates [this move-
ment of transition from indeterminacy to determinacy]. The I under-
takes this movement of transition because it undertakes this movement
of transition; it determines itself because it determines itself. It accom-
plishes this transition by means of a self-grounding act of absolute free-
dom, and this is a creation out of nothing, an act of producing
something that did not exist before, an absolute beginning. {The I passes
from what is determiruJJle to whai is determinate in, as it were, a single
bound.} The state of indeterminacy does not contain within itself any
foundation or reason for the ensuing determinacy, for each of these two
states cancels the other. At moment A, I was undetermined, and this in-
determinacy constituted my entire nature. !I At moment B, I am deter-
minate; something new is present, and it has arisen from me. This
passage [from indeterminacy to determinacy] is accomplished by means
of a self-grounding act of freedom.
1 InK,§~ begins with a summary paragraph under the heading"§ 3 (1798)." Since this
paragraph is virtually identical to the summary paragraph that concludes § 3, it has been
omitted from the translation. See below, n. 24.
2 "'Hier giebt es keine Griinde; wirsind an der Grenze allerGriinde."There can, in prin-

ciple, be no Grilntk (reasons) for the ultimate Grund (foundation).

' "denn beide heben sich auf. lm Moment A war ich unbestimmt, mein ganzen Wesen
wurde in dieser Unbestimmtheit aufgehoben." The last clause could also be rendered "and
this indeterminacy canceled my entire nature."
140 § 3

(2) The activity that expresses itself in this freely initiated movement of
transition is called "real activity," {for it is an act of generating or creat-
ing something on its own. Unlike its opposite, namely, that act of intuit-
ing, which we will call "ideal activity," this real activity was not produced
from the preceding state of indeterminacy. This act of absolute freedom
is not the content, but rather the form of the act of transition from de-
terminability to determinacy.} The act in which this transition is accom-
plished is called a "practical act"; and the field within which it expresses
itself is called "the field of the practical." We observed this act and are
continuing to do so. The activity in which such observation occurs is
called "ideal activity."
As an idealiter4 active, intuiting subject, I now discover this act of ab-
solute freedom. But I can neither discover nor describe it without pos-
iting something in opposition to it. "I determine myself': this means
that I transform a possibility into a reality, a power 5 into an activity. I
accomplish this absolutely free act of self-determination by means of a
{practical} power to determine myself through absolute freedom. A The
term "power" signifies the possibility of activity. But one cannot under-
stand this unless one sets forth the law of reflection through which the
concept of power originates. Power is nothing but another way of look-
ing at activity. Any particular act can be intuited only when it is ex-
plained with reference to a power, and this also applies to the act of
absolute freedom. There is no power apart from activity and no activity
apart from power. They are one and the same thing, simply construed
from two different sides: construed as an intuition, it is an activity; con-
strued as a concept, it is a power.
{Something can be said to possess a "practical power" if it possesses the
possibility of becoming something else-insofar as this possibility is
thought of as in a state of repose, apart from activity. The power we are
here concerned with would thus be the concept of absolute freedom, or
the very act of intuition. This concept and this act determine each other

48 (3) The sharp difference between ideal and real activity can be easily
stated. Ideal activity is an activity in a state of repose, an act of positing

4 '"mEALITER." Fichte employs the Latin terms idealiter ("in an ideal sense") and realiter
("in a real sense") to designate actions, respectively, of the "ideal" and the "real" powers
discussed in the previous section. To act realiter is thus to engage in practical, efficacious
action. To act itkaliter is to become aware of the previous sort of action realiter.
~ "ein VermOgen."
A Since no act can be clearly intuited unless something is posited in opposition to it, we
will posit in opposition to this act of absolute freedom a practical power of absolule freedom
(p. 44>·
in a state of repose, an act that loses itself in the object, an act of intu-
iting, which is fixed in the object. 6
Real activity is true activity, which is an instance of acting. {Real ac-
tivity consists in agility, in the transition to acting, and contains within
itself the reason why it is determined in a particular way. Thus it is not
anythiQg fixed, but is self-determining.} Ideal activity can also be in mo-
tion and can also be a movement of transition; indeed, when engaged in
intuiting freedom, the ideal activity really is such a movement of tran-
sition, but what makes an act of intuiting a movement of transition is not
anything that lies within the act of intuiting itself, but is instead derived
from the object intuited, which, in this case, is freedom. The intuiting
subject obtains only an image or copy [of its object]. Unlike real activity,
ideal activity does not possess within itself the ground of its determinate
being, and this is why it is in a state of passive repose. The ideal activity
has its foundation in the reality 7 that lies before it.
{The real activity produces something rea1 8-it is the condition for the
possibility of all intuiting. The ideal activity is only an act of mirroring or
copying, an act of observing the productive act-an act of representing-
of grasping something through concepts. It is not our real goal.}
These two activities can be comprehended only in opposition to each

(4) Let us specify more dearly the nature of the ideal and real activities
by contrasting them with each other.
(A) There can be no real activity of the I apart from ideal activity, for
it is the essence of the I to posit itself. In order for the l's activity to be
real, it must be [posited] by the I,9 but it is posited by means of the ideal
activity. 8
We ascribe force to a natural object; but, since such an object lacks
consciousness, we do not say that it possesses this force "for itself." Only
the I possesses force for itself.
(B) Conversely, there is no ideal activity of the I apart from real ac-
tivity. An ideal activity is a [real] activity that has been posited by the I
"eine i.;_ die Ruhe sezen, ein sich im Objeae verlieren, ein im Objecte fixirtes An-
schauen." The translation follows Fuchs's alternate reading of this passage, which substi-
tutes "in der Ruhe" for "in die Ruhe."
"in dem realen:•
"Die REALE bringt etwas R.EEu.ES hervor."
"so mull sie duoch das Ich sein." It appean likely, especially in the light of the next
sentence, that the word g.saJ ("posited") should be inserted in this sentence, between "Ich"
and "sein." Without this interpolation, the sentence could be translated: "In order for the
l's aaivity to be real, it must be produced by the I."
8 There is no real activity (qua activity of the I) without ideal aaivity; for the self-

positing of the I is impossible without ideal activity, and the aa of self-positing is precisely
the I-hence the I too would not exist if the ideal activity did not exist (p. 45).
and has then itself become an object of reflection and is, in turn, rep-
resented by means of ideal activity. Otherwise, the I would be like a mir-
ror, which indeed "represents" things, but does not then turn around
and represent itself.
• That the ideal activity itself becomes an object in turn is something
postulated along with the I. But it is made into an object by real activity.
Thus if there is no real activity, then there can be no self-intuition of the
ideal activity. Without the real activity, the ideal activity would have no
object, nor would it be anything if the real activity had not placed some-
thing before it.c {Thus, without real activity, there would be no activity (45)
of the I as an object. Ideal activity is the product of the practical power.}
49 (C) Without noticing it, we have already {filled the gap} indicated
above; 10 that is, we have shown that immediate consciousness is no con-
sciousness at all, but is a hollow self-positing that produces nothing, an
intuition in which nothing is intuited. Thus we have discovered the an-
swer to the question, How is it that the I goes beyond immediate con-
sciousness and forms consciousness within itself? 11 For if the I is to exist
at all, then immediate consciousness must, in turn, be posited through
absolute freedom. 0 This act of placing oneself before oneself through
absolute freedom is a free act; but, if the I is to exist, this same act is also
Accordingly, the ideal activity would be a product of the practical
power, and the practical power would be the existential foundation of
the ideal activity. Nevertheless, one should not think of these as sepa-
rated from each other. The ideal is the subjective aspect of the practical;
it is that which witnesses the practical; and, since nothing exists for the
I except what is observed by the I, it is therefore only thanks to the ideal
activity that anything exists for the I.
{In §§ 1 and 2 the task was to produce the I. The task of§ 3 is to dis-
cover the basis for the I's movement of transition from what is determin-
able to determination. The former task was based upon the ideal
activity, the latter upon the real activity. The former witnessed the pro-
ductive activity; the latter is the productive activity itself. This real ac-
tivity is thus the condition for the possibility of all intuiting, for there is
no intuiting without acting. Real activity is therefore the foundation of
c Conversely, there is no ideal activity apart from a real activity of the I. It is by means
of the real activity that the I itself, in turn, becomes an object for itself (p. 45).
The "gap" left open by our previous failure to answer the question, "Why must the I
apr.;ar to itself as an object?"
"wie k.ommt das Ich dazu aus dem unmittelbare Bewustsein herauszugehen, und in
sich das Bewustsein zu bilden."
How then can the I proceed beyond immediate consciousness? It does this by positing
itself, which occurs when immediate consciousness becomes consciousness. This occurs
through the act offreedom, that is, through an act in which consciousness places itself before
itself and produces itself out of itself- i.e., by means of spontaneous self-activity, which
constitutes the essence of the I (p. 45).
§ 3 143
ideal activity. The ideal activity is the product of the practical power. At
bottom, however, these are but one and the same action, simply consid-
ered from different points of view. Therefore, if one is what is grasped
conceptually, 12 the other is what is intuited, and vice versa. Neither can
exist apart from the other, without which it is nothing at all.}
1, the subject who acts realiter, 1 ~ affect myself. First I am undeter-
mined, and then I become determinate. I accomplish this by myself. I
grasp and lay hold of myself realiter. Since this is an act of a self-affecting
I, this act of [self-]affecting is accompanied by an ideal activity, by an act
of intuiting-in short, by consciousness. Precisely because it becomes
consciousness, this consciousness becomes an intuition of itself.
{An image of this real activity is that of a river that continues to flow
even while it mirrors itself in our eye. What our eye does when it ob-
serves the river corresponds to the ideal activity.
Real activity is also what in ordinary life is called "exerting oneself'-
i.e., generating, from out of ourselves, as it were, a new effort that ex-
ceeds our customary effort.}
To say that self-intuition is a product of the practical power means:
insofar as I affect [myself] realiter, I observe myself; and this act of ob-
servation constitutes self-intuition.

(5) It is here taken as established that there is nothing except what is in

consciousness. We have seen that there is no consciousness apart from
real activity, i.e., without absolute freedom. Everything that can exist ex-
ists only in conjunction with and by means of absolute freedom. Without
absolute freedom there is nothing.
{We began with the proposition, "nothing exists except what is within
consciousness." But there is no consciousness without freedom; there-
fore, freedom is the standpoint of all philosophy, as Kant correctly re-
marked somewhere, 14 although he does not call attention to this within
his own system.} Thus freedom is the ground of all philosophizing, as
well as the foundation of all being. Take your stand upon your own self,
upon freedom: you will then possess a firm standpoint.
Consciousness is immediately connected with freedom; indeed, there
is nothing else with which it could be connected. Freedom is the first and
immediate object of consciousness. All consciousness reverts into itself.
50 Ordinary common sense recognizes this when it says, "I am conscious of
"das Begriffene." ,
·~ "lch afficire mich selbst, ich der realiter thatige." See above, n. 4 of this §.
See Kant's description of the concept of freedom as "the keystone of the whole archi-
tecture of the system of pure reason and even of speculative reason" in the Preface to his
Krilik der prnJUischm Vemtmfi ( 1786, KGS, V: 3-4; English translation by Lewis White Beck,
Critique of Practical Reas011 [Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1956], pp. 3-4), as well as his char-
acterization of the Idea of freedom as the "Archimedean point" of reason in his 1796 essay,
"Von einem neuerdings erhobenen vornehmen Ton in der Philosophie" (KGS, VIII: 403).
144 §3

something for me. " 15 Nothing is explained if we think of the I as a mere

subject, for we will then have to seek a new subject for this subject, and
so on ad infinitum. Consequently, we must think of the I as a subject-
Such an ideal subject-object, however, does not explain anything ei-
ther; something else must be added, something that, in relation to this
subject, can be a mere object, the object of which I am consciousness.
But from where can such an object come? The dogmatist says that the
object is "given." Or, if he wishes to combine criticism with dogmatism,
he says that the material content 16 is given. But this explains nothing; it
is a mere empty word rather than a concept.
The idealist says that the object is "produced." Stated in this way, how-
ever, this answer does not explain anything either. For even if it is true
that the object is the product of the I, insofar as the I engages in real
activity, it is equally true that, insofar as the activity in which the I
engages is "real" activity, 17 the I is not an ideal being at all, and hence
the product produced by the efficaciously acting 118 would have to be
"given" to the representing subject-and we would thus be back with
the dogmatism with which we began.
• Our question can be answered only as follows: The intuiting subject
and the productive subject are immediately one and the same. {Above, (46)
we have deduced this identity as a product of our ideal power, by virtue
of which our I is for itself an immediate subject-object, and thus, we have
exhibited an immediate consciousness, which cannot, in turn, be made
anew into an object-which is how the dogmatist becomes entangled in
an endless circle. Instead, our I, as an immediate subject-object, is the
fixed point beyond which philosophy cannot and may not go. I act be-
cause I act. I am immediately aware that I am conscious because I am
aware that I am conscious-so here as well: We must have something
that is the immediate object of this ideal [power], for otherwise such ideal
activity would be an empty Idea; and the object in question is freedom,
productive activity, the intuiting subject, /-hood in its entirety.} 19 The intuit-
ing subject witnesses its own productive activity. The immediate object of
consciousness is no object as such, but is rather the productive activity
"Ich bin mir etwas bewu~t." Unfortunately, the point of this sentence depends upon a
particularity of the German language (or is it a particularity of German common sense?):
that the verb "to be conscious" always takes a reflexive, dative object.
16 "Stoff." A feature of K. L. Reinhold's "Elementary Philosophy" is its distinction be-

tween the "content" (given) and the "form" (produced) of experience. For Fichte's critique
of Reinhold's way of making this distinction, see his 1794 review of Aenesidemus (SW, 1:
17-18 = AA l, 2: s8-6o; English translation in EPW, pp. 71~2). ,,
17 "in wiefern es REALth3tigen Wesens ist."
"das wirkende Ich."
19 "Ich bin mir daher unmittelbar bewu~t. wei! ich mir bewu~t bin.-so auch hier. Wir

mii~n etwas haben, das in Beziehung auf dieses IDEALE UNMITI'ELBARES OBJEKT ist weil
sonst jene IDEALE Thatigkeit LEERE IDEE ist-u. dieses ist die Freiheit, das MACHEN-das
§ 3 145
itself-i.e., freedom. The sentence, "the I posits itself," thus has two
inseparably linked meanings: an ideal and a real meaning, which are
simply united in the I. There is no ideal positing without real
spontaneity, 20·E and the converse is also true. There is no self-intuition
without freedom, and vice versa. Nor is there any consciousness without
Prior to the act of freedom, there is nothing; everything that exists
comes into being along with this act of freedom. But the only way we are
able to think of this act is as a movement of transition from a preceding
state of determinability to one of determinacy. Thus, from whichever
side we look, we are always speaking of the same thing, though we view
it in two different ways, and the axis around which everything turns is
the act of freedom. But this free act itself is not possible unless it is ac-
companied, on the one hand, by determinability or immediate conscious-
ness and, on the other, by what is supposed to be produced, i.e., the
intuited 1. 21 Neither of these two is separable from the other, and both
depend upon absolute freedom.
51 No person can point to the first act of his consciousness, because every
moment [of consciousness] is a movement of transition from indetermi-
nacy to determinacy, and thus every moment always presupposes an-
other one. 22
{Accordingly, this act of freedom lies originally at the foundation of
everything that exists. All that exists does so by means of this act. But if
this is so, then why are we only now calling attention to this origin?
Should this not have been presented in § 1?
Reply: As finite intellects we are able to think only discursively; and
therefore, in order to describe and to intuit this act of freedom, we had
to employ the help of something determinable. We could make our im-
mediate consciousness into an object only indirectly-i.e., by means of
determinacy-and therefore we had to discuss this first.}
"REALES Selbstanfangen."
E No ideal self-positing a pan from a real act of affecting or limiting oneself (p. 46).
The translation here represents a rather free rendering of the German text, a more
literal version of which would be: "Thus, whether we go forward or backward, we are al-
ways speaking of the same thing, though we view it in two different ways, and the axis
around which everything turns is the act of freedom. The act of freedom, however, is itself
impossible if there is nothing on the right (determinability, immediate consciousness) and
nothing on the left (what is supposed to be produced, the intuited 1)." Radrizzani plausibly
suggests that Fichte, in this passage, was referring to a diagram drawn on the black-
board-which would explain the otherwise puzzling references to "left," "right," "forward,"
and "backward."
See Fichte's announcement of this conclusion in his letter to Reinhold of july 2, 1795:
'The surprising result is now revealed [ ... ): namely, there is no A that is absorbed
into consciousness first, nor can there be. Instead, however high one ascends, something
higher is always presupposed. For example, every intuition is necessarily posited in the
presem point in time; but there is no presenJ point in time without a past one. Hence there
is also no present intuition without a past intuition to which it is joined. and there is no first
moment, no beginning of consciousness."
What is actually first, realiter, is freedom. But freedom cannot come
first in the order of thinking, and that is why we had to begin with the
investigations undertaken so far, which lead us to [an investigation of]

One will find that this movement of transition [from what is deter-
minable to what is determinate] 2 .'1 (§ 2) possesses its foundation utterly
within itself. 2'~ The action involved in this transition is therefore called
"real activity" and is opposed to that ideal activity which merely copies
the former, and the overall {activity ofthe} I is thereby divided into these
two types of activity. In accordance with the principle of determinability,
no real activity can be posited without also positing a real or practical
power. Real and ideal activity mutually condition and determine each
other. Neither is possible without the other, nor can one comprehend
what either of them is without also comprehending the other. In this act
of freedom, the I itself becomes an object for itself. An actual conscious-
ness comes into being, and from now on anything that is to be an object
of consciousness at all must be connected to this starting point. Freedom
is therefore the ultimate ground and the first condition of all being and
of all consciousness.
" These bracketed words appear in the copy of this paragraph which Krause included
in the summary of the "Major Points of the WisseruchafLslehTe of •798/gg," with which the
manuscript of K commences.
•• The otherwise nearly identical, alternate version of the summary paragraph for § 3
begins somewhat differently; "This movement of transition, as such, is intuited as possess-
ing its foundation ullerly within itself" (K, p. 46).
§ 4

Through absolute freedom, which has just been described, I deter-

mine myself to become "something." 1 I engage in an act of positing, and
in this condition of determinacy I have a concept. Acting is always2
guided by some concept; thus I act freely whenever I spontaneously con-
struct for myself a concept. Our present task, however, is to obtain a
clear understanding of the foundations [of this process].

52 ( 1) In the previous § the act of mere self-affection was construed as real

activity.!! This activity was then intuited and was seen to include the
proper act of the real activity. The ideal activity is now supposed to wit-
ness the I engaged in this act of self-affection; but, at least according to
what we know about it so far, it is unable to do this. The real activity of
the I could be viewed only as a movement of transition from determin-
ability to determinacy-i.e., [what is observed isJ not an act of pure self-
affection, but determinability and determinacy, and both at the same
time. What is determinate allows itself to be cognized only as follows: it
is not what is determinable. 4
What is determinate must be intuitable; for only if it is intuitable is
freedom possible, and freedom is the condition for the possibility of
{Absolute freedom-self-determination, practical power-must be (4
intuitable; for, as real activity (i.e., as practical power in action), it must
produce something real-a "something," a "being"-and, therefore,
"bestimme ich mich zu etwas." That is, I determine myself in a certain way.
• Reading, with Krause's MS, "immer" for K's "nur."
s "REALE Thatigkeit."
• "Das Bestimmte laflt sich nur so erkennen, dafl es das Bestimmbare nicht ist." The
translation of this obscure sentence-indeed, of this entire paragraph-is conjectural. As
Radrizzani remarks, the attention of the student transcribing Fichte's lecture appean to
have wandered somewhat at this point.

[ 1471
q8 § 4

something intuitable. In the following § we will examine what this "some-

thing" might be. For the time being, let us call it "X." I affect myself; I
take hold of myself; I wrench myself away from a state of indeterminacy
and transform myself into something determinate = X: I am really ac-
tive precisely thereby, and it is through this product = X that the real
activity can itself be intuited.}
The ideal activity is, by its very character, however, constrained and
arrested and can occur only subsequently to a real activity. Something
must be posited in opposition to this ideal activity, something that brings
it to a halt; this is something real, 5 and, to this extent, something deter-
mined as such.A (This is not yet the place to explain how what is deter-
minate becomes "something.") Let us call this "something" "X," which
designates a being, which the ideal activity merely copies, something
that annihilates true activity. {Nevertheless, this ideal activity is neces-
sary; for without it, I would not be conscious of the acting of the real
activity. The ideal activity is the subject; the real activity is the object. But
both acts have their foundation in a single subject, the I; indeed, the
identity and the essential character of the I consists precisely therein:
namely, in the fact that it can be, for itself, subject and object at the same
time, that it posits itself.)
It will become apparent that this being [which is copied by the ideal
activity] has to be taken in some sense other than as what cancels real
activity. Thus we obtain two different senses of "being," and the sort of
being with which we are here concerned will turn out to be the sort of
being possessed by the concept of a goal.
{This operation of the practical power, by means of which what is es-
tablished becomes an I, 6 presupposes the concept of a goal, which the
practical power must construct for itself before it can engage in real ac-
tivity. The subject of the practical power is thereby transformed into a (48)
pawer to form concepts. 7}

(2) This X is itself a product of absolute freedom. That is to say, spon-

taneous self-activity must contain within itself the ground that explains
why, on the one hand, there is anything at all that exists with this connec-
tion to consciousness, and why, on the other, what exists is precisely "X''
and is not "-X."
"eine REELLES.,
AJn observing the acting of my real activity, the ideal activity is purely passive; it is thus
constrained and fixed, and it vanishes into this observation, that is, into its object (p. 47).
"wodurch das begriindete zum lch wird." Note that the corresponding passage in K
replaces das begrilndete ("what is established") with das begrilndende ("the grounding sub-
ject"), which seems to make better sense in this context.
"zu einem Vermiigen tier Begriffe."
§4 149
(The term "ground" must here be explained only to the extent that
its meaning becomes clear. Later on, the meaning of this term will be
The ideal activity is constrained in two ways: first of all, by the fact that
any X at all exists for it, 8 and second, by the fact that this X is determined
in a specific way. To this extent, the ideal activity is passive. 9 [Thus]
something else needs be thought of in addition [to the ideal activity and
X]: something that constrains or binds the ideal activity and, specifically,
53 binds it to X. This is not X itself, but is freedom. It is freedom that has
produced X itself; this means that freedom contains within itself the
ground of X. Why is it then that, in this case, the grounding subject 10 is
posited as an I? It is the ideally active [power] 11 that engages in this act
of positing and that posits the practical [power] as itself. The ideally ac-
tive [power] must operate in this way because it is acquainted only with
what lies within itself. Since it is engaged in forming images, it must posit
the practical [power] as similarly engaged. It, as it were, "projects" an
image-forming activity into the practical [power], and it is by means of
this image [thereby attributed to the practical power] that the ideal dis-
covers itself in the latter. 12 This attribution of intuition [to the practical
power] is the point that unites them. I!! The practical [power], however,
insofar as it is freely able to initiate action, is not engaged in any activity
of mere copying. Consequently, the image formed of the practical
[power] is not a copy; it is a prefiguration or model. 14
{To prove this, one need only examine the meaning of freedom. "I act
freely": that is to say, "I spontaneously construct for myself a concept of my

Although Krause's MS reads "da~ sie fiir ein X da ist," the translation here follows the
published text of K ("da~ fur sie ein X da ist"), which seems to make more sense in this
"leidend." I.e., it is affected by something else.
"das Begriindende." I.e. the freely active subject, here considered as providing the
"ground" or "foundation" for the constraint (and hence for the determinacy) of the ideal
"das ideale ist [es]." Throughout this entire paragraph, Fichte refers repeatedly to
"das ideale," "das praktische," and "es," without ever specifying precisely how these terms
are to be taken. Though diJs ideale might here refer to the 1 itself (das Ich), i.e., to the
"ideal 1," the corresponding passage in H clearly suggests that the reference is to the "ideal"
(and "practical") puwer (diJs Vermiigen) of the I, a reading that is confirmed by the dictn.t to
§ 1 in H.
"Es ist bildend, es mu~ das praktische sonach auch sezen als bildend. Es sieht gleich-
sam ein Bilden in das praktische hinein, und die~ Bild ists, wodurch das praktische dem
idealen zu sich selbst wird."
Reading "sie" for K's "es."
"Nun aber ist das praktische als frei anfangend kein nachbilden, jenes Bild des prak-
tischen ist daher kein Nachbild sondern ein Vorbild." Though the term VtWbild is usually
translated here as "model," this translation obscures the connection among Bild ("image"),
Nachbild ("copy"), and VtWbild. The last-named designates an image that is not copied from
some previously existing reality, but instead precedes it.
150 §4

action." Therefore, the concept of a goal must always underlie every free
action. The product ( = some X) is what I am supposed to achieve by
means of my own free action. My I, considered as the subject of my prac-
tical power (i.e., as forming an image of itself and developing itself
accordingly, 15 as self-initiating, and as consciously acting), must there-
fore always construct for itself in advance the concept of this goal. It re-
quires, as it were, a "model," 16 the realization of which is the goal of the
real activity.}
The intuiting subject is constrained by its very nature; i.e., it can act
only in consequence of something else. The subject that acts realiter
is absolutely free; it cannot be a consequence of anything else, but
must, with absolute freedom, construct a concept for itself, and such a
concept is "the concept of a goal" 17 or "an ideal." One does not claim
that anything corresponds to such a concept; instead, one claims that
something should be produced in consequence of it. The only way we
can think of an instance of free acting at all is to think of it in this
way, that is, as an acting that occurs in consequence of a [freely] con-
structed concept of acting; and when we think of it in this manner, we
ascribe intelligence to the practical power. Freedom cannot be thought
of apart from intelligence; freedom cannot exist without consciousness. 8
To deny consciousness is to deny freedom, and similarly, to ascribe
consciousness is to ascribe freedom. The ground of one's ability to act
freely lies within consciousness. {For without consciousness no sponta-
neous movement of transition to an opposed condition is possible. Ab-
solute spontaneity or freedom is present only in such a movement, which
simultaneously-and consciously-serves as the foundation for one be-
ing and, at the same time, as the foundation for another.
In nature we also find movements of transition from one state to an-
other, opposed state: e.g., a tree in winter and in spring. But such tran-
sitions are necessary and have their foundation in the laws of nature;
they occur without consciousness and therefore without freedom.
Thus consciousness contains within itself the reason why we are able
to think of freedom. No acts of self-affecting are to be found among the
operations of external nature-which includes nothing that interacts
with itself in order to become its own opposite, no self-reverting activity,
no self-determination. Why then does this occur within the I?}
The I determines itself. The little word "self' refers to "the 1." The I
determines itself; in determining itself it already possesses an awareness

"als selbst bildenden."
"ein Vorbild."
"ein Zwekbegriff."
8 Without intellect-i.e., without something that has a concept, a consciousness, of its

own activity.....u.ere is therefore no freedom (p. 48).

of itself. Anything that is to determine itself must possess an awareness
of itself, and what possesses an awareness of itself is an intellect. 18
The I is aware of its own existence. Here the I appears as something
double-and indivisibly so. Such indivisible duality, however, is precisely
what constitutes subject-objectivity, or consciousness. Consciousness
alone originally possesses synthetic unity. Everything else is synthetically
unified 'only {through it}.c A self-determining being exists for itself, and
therefore we ascribe freedom to the intellect.
{Therefore, "I determine myself' means the same thing as "I am, for
myself or in relation to myself, an intellect [aware of] of my pract-
ical power."
Conversely, it also means the same as "no consciousness or ideal ac-
tivity or intellect can be thought of apart from freedom or real activity."}
54 Intelligence cannot be separated from the practical [power], but the
intellect too must be practical. There can be no consciousness without
real freedom. The unity of intellect and practical power is a necessary
unity. Consciousness (see § 1) is an act of positing itself idealiter. 19 The
term "ideal" simply refers to "an act of positing." All positing is self-
positing; all positing begins with and is mediated through self-positing.
The I, as described by previous philosophers, is a mirror. But a mirror
does not see, and this is why these philosophers are unable to explain
"seeing" or intuition. All they posit is the concept of mirroring. {This
remark reveals the basis of all the errors of other philosophical sys- (49)
terns-the Kantian system included.} This error can be rectified only
by mearis of a correct concept of the I. The I of the Wissenschaftslehre is
not a mirror; it is an eye. (We can always find some external image to
il.lustrate everything that occurs within our mind.) A person who is un-
acquainted with the I also lacks knowledge of what an eye is. The tradi-
tional view makes it impossible to understand how the eye is able to see
anything at all. The eye, however, is a self-mirroring mirror. 20 It is the
"das sich bestimmen soli, muj3 sich selbst haben, and was sich selbst hat, eine In-
telligenz.." To make sense of this sentence, one must insert the word uw between da.s and
sich. The verb translated here as "to be aware of its own existence" (sich haben) might be
more literally rendered as "to possess iiSelf."
cOne need only analyze what is involved in saying "the I determines itself': In this
phrase the I is tloubkd. It appears as "I" and as "iiSelf." Only what is aware of its own existence
can be "for itself."' And whatever is aware of its own .existence also possesses consciousness;
it is an intellect. I (the determining subject) determine myself (the I); thus I determine 1.
These two aspects are therefore indivisibly linked: the 1 is subject-{)bjectivity, or conscious-
ness. This unity is synthetic; everything else is unified only through it (p. 48).
"Die Vereinigung zwischen lntelligenz und praktischem Vermogen ist nothwendiges
BewWitsein (§ 1) ist ein sich selbst idealiter sezen." This sentence requires some additional
punctuation. Fuchs and Radrizzani both insert a period after Brorwtein. The translation,
however, guided by the corresponding passage in H, puts the period after notwendige.r (and
also alters its ending, so that It can modify die Veninigung).
"In der gewohnlichen Ansicht soli das Auge nicht sehen, etwas d[ur]ch das Auge ist
ein sich selbst abspiegelnder Spiegel." This sentence demands some emendation. The
152 §4

very essence of the eye to be an image for itself, and to be an image for
itself is also the essence of the intellect. By means of its own seeing, the
eye itself-like the intellect itself-becomes an image for itself. An im-
age is reflected in a mirror, but the mirror cannot see the image. The
intellect, in contrast, becomes an image for itself. What is in the intellect
is an image and nothing else. But an image refers to an object: wherever
there is an image, there must also be something that is portrayed [by this
image]. 21 {An image is something that is only subjective. The ideal ac-
tivity therefore requires an object, something that it copies; and this is
the real activity.} The ideal activity has also been described, therefore, as
an act of imitating or copying. Whenever a consciousness is assumed, an
object of consciousness is also assumed. This object can be nothing but
the acting of the I, 0 for the acting of the I is the sole, immediately
intuitable object of consciousness; everything else is intuited only indi-
rectly.22 Everything we see, we see within ourselves. We see only our-
selves, and we see ourselves only as acting, only as passing from what is
determinable to what is determinate.
The I is neither the intellect nor the practical power; instead, it is both
at once. {The I becomes a real I by acting and observing its own acting,
thereby providing the practical power itself with a basis for intuition;
that is, the I becomes a real I insofar as it is simultaneously subject and
object and simultaneously possesses both ideal and real power.} If we
want to grasp the I, we have to grasp both of these; separated from each
other, they are nothing at all.
{That to which self-activity determines itself-the freely constructed
concept of its goal-is thus a "something" = X. Otherwise it would not
be possible to intuit the self-determination.}
Everything is thus included within the practical I-practical activity23
as well as intuition. We now have a real I and a mere Idea [that is, the
concept of a goal]. We must begin with what is real, and thus from now
on we will be observing the actual acting of an actual I. This is an actual
fact: the I determines itself by means of its concept. Both practical power
and intelligence are to be ascribed to the I.

translation inserts a period after etwas and simply ignores the next word (the reading of
which is only conjectural anyway, as Fuchs notes).
"wo ein Bild ist, mufl etwas sein das abgebildet wird."
Thus the opposite inference is also correct: There can be no ideality of reality, no ideal
activity (consciousness or intellect) apart from practical power or real activity; for the im-
mediate object of the intellect (or ideal activity) is the acting of the I, namely, the move-
ment of transition from determinability, etc. This mode of acting, however, is a product of
the practical power; that is, it is a real activity (p. 49).
22 "alles Handeln des Ich ist nur unmittelbar anschaubar, alles iibrige nur mittel bar."
The meaning of this sentence is clarified by the parallel passage in H: "Nur dieses is UN-
MI'ITELBAR anschaubar," etc.
25 "PRAXIS."
Free self-determination is intuitable only as a determination to be-
come "something," of which the self-determining or practical {power} (4'
must possess a {freely constructed} concept. A concept of this sort is
called "the concept of a goal." Consequently, for the intuiting subject,
the ·same subject who possesses practical power must also possess the
power to form concepts, just as, conversely, the comprehending subject,
or {the power of} intellect, must necessarily be practical. 24 Practical
power and intelligence are inseparable. Neither can be thought of apart
from the other. The {true} character of the I thus lies in this identity.
"Sonach werde dem Anschauenden das Subjea des prak.t[ischen] Verm[ogens] zu-
gleich zu einem Vermogen der Begriffe, so wie umgek.ehrt das Subject des Begriffs oder
die lntelligenz nothwendig prak.tisch sein mu~."
55 § 5

Anything that can be intuited is "something." "Something" and intu-

ition are reciprocal concepts.A What spontaneous self-activity deter-
mines itself to become is "something." What kind of "something" is this?
This will be the object of our present investigation.

( 1) Up to this point in our inquiry we have been reflecting upon a par-

ticular state of the intellect, {namely, upon an intuition of the movement (49)
of transition from determinability to determinacy}. Determinability,
movement, and determinacy: all these were contained within this simple
fact. 1 But how does it happen that what is determinable and what is de-
terminate are intuitable? Such a question could not even be raised
within the context of that state of mind with which we were previously
concerned; there they were simply intuitable. When I now ask about the
possibility of this fact, I thereby go beyond it; I raise myself above it and
make what was previously an act of reflection into the object of a new
reflection. {Thus this intuition provides us with the object of a new
At this point, certain questions still remain open: for example, the
question concerning how it is possible to raise oneself above the first act
of reflection will remain open. Here we will freely execute this [second,
higher-order] act of reflection, 8 and if this provides us with [further in-

A "Something" designates whatever can be related to an intuition-what is intuitable

(p. 49)-
1 This represents a somewhat free rendering of the text of K, which is defective at this
point and contains several short illegible words (''Es [ ... ] war Bestimmbarkeit, Uiberge-
hen und Bestimmtheit, diefi lag im einfachten FACTUM"). Presumably, the "simple fact" in
question is the state of the intellect upon which we have been reflecting = the intuition of
the movement from determinability to determinacy.
B We will leave unanswered the question of whether this apparently free operation may
not also be at the same time necessary--as it may well prove to be in what follows. Here
again, in the meantime, a gap will remain (pp. 49-50).

[ 1541
§5 155
formation concerning] the necessary conditions for consciousness, then
we will have obtained a great deal. But how are we able to do this? Even-
56 tually, we will have to establish the foundation of the act of reflection we
are now going to describe, for otherwise our act of understanding would
be of no use. Here we will proceed just as we did above {in§ 1 and§ 2},
where we began with a description of original consciousness as an ideal
act of self-positing. We then posited the I in this state of self-positing;
and though it seemed that all this occurred with complete freedom, we
showed that these actions had to occur if an I was to be possible at all. -

(2) The question now is, How can something that is generated through
absolute spontaneity nevertheless become intuitable? That is to say,
what is it really?
We saw above that the question "what?" always signals an opposition.
When I ask "what is X?" I have in mind a sphere containing a manifold,
any one of the elements of which might be X. I want to know which of
these is X, and thus [before we can answer our present question] we first
have to know what is supposed to be posited in opposition to what is pro-
duced through self-determination.
Determinability and determinacy are related to the ideal activity,
which is constrained, and thus is not a deed, 2 but is instead a state of the
I. Consequently, what is intuited in this case can be characterized as
something that restrains [the ideal activity] or brings it to a halt~ and can
be related to the intuition. Perhaps it will turn out to be the case that
everything intuitable is something restraining, because ideal activity is
the sort of activity which can occur only as a result of something else.
The sole thing to which ideal activity is immediately related is real ac-
tivity. Consequently, whatever it might be that restrains ideal activity, the
ideal activity can surely be related to it only indirectly. Accordingly, if the
ideal activity is to be explained, then the practical activity has to be con-
strained; therefore, all limitation that appears within consciousness must
spring from the practical activity. Thus, in order to explain the con-
strained state of the ideal activity, we have to examine the real activity.c

"ist nicht That." As Fuchs notes, this might also be an abbreviation for Thiitigkeit, ("ac-
'"sonach ist der Cha[rak]ter des hier angeschauten ein haltendes."
c What is delerminable is refi!TTed to the ideal activity, though this occurs indirectly and by
means of real activity (for the ideal activity is directly and immediately directed at the real
activity, and by means of this it is also directed at what is determinable, that is, at the
sphere of real activity). Ideal activity is therefore constrained or halted as such by what is
determinable; thus, this activity is not a deed, but is merely a state of the I. Hence what is
determinable is what stands in opposition to the product of the ideal activity. What is de-
terminable is what brings the intuition of the ideal activity to a halt or restrains it, and ideal ac-
tivity is what is restrained or halted thereby. Ideal activity is Hxed, brought to a halt, and
constrained by the acting of the real activity within the sphere of what is determinable;
(A) As was previously shown, 4 the practical I constructs for itself a
concept of its own activity, and such a concept is called "the concept of
a goal." 5
The {real} activity of the I is a passage from pure determinability to (5o)
determinacy. The latter is wrenched out of the total sum of the former,
57 and this part that is wrenched out is the part that is comprehended or
grasped through a concept. 6
"The I determines itself": this means that it makes a selection or
choice from what is determinable, and this choice is guided by the con-
cept; and to this extent, the I (considered as an intellect) was not free.
Let us think of what is determinable as "something." This is an ap-
propriate predicate, ,since what is determinable is intuitable. Absolute
freedom makes its selection from this "something" lying within the
sphere of the determinable. It cannot be constrained in making this
choice, for then it would not be freedom. It can go on like this end-
lessly-choosing more or less [of this "something"]. No part is pre-
scribed to absolute freedom as the last. This infinite divisibility will have
many consequences (concerning space, time, and things). Everything
[within this sphere] is infinitely divisible, because it is a sphere for our
freedom. 0
The practical activity is not constrained in making its selection, for
then it would cease to be freedom; it is constrained in this sense, however:
i.e., in that it has to make its selection exclusively from what is deter-
minable. What is determinable does not appear as something that has
been produced, either by ideal or by real activity; instead, it appears to
be something given for our selection. To say that it is "given" does not
mean that it is given to the I as such or in its totality, but rather that it is
given to the choosing, practical I. We have seen above7 that what is de-

consequently, the ideal activity is related to this sphere purely passively-as a product, a
mere observing, an intuition-not as something real.
But this intuition would not occur if there were not something to bring the intuition to
a halt, i.e., a sphere within which the real activity could show itself to be effectively active;
and this sphere, this "something" that restrains intuition, is what is determinable.
But precisely because the general character of what is determinable is to be something
that fixes the ideal activity and brings it to a halt, it is intuitable--i.e., it is ftsomething." A
"something," therefore, is what stands opposed to the ideal activity, what brings it to a halt
and constrains it (p. 50).
• See sect. 2 of § 4·
5 "wekher der Zweckbegriff hei~t."
"der herausgeri~ne Theil is der der begriffen wird.''
What is determinable is therefure infiniuly divilible. It is a sphere that contains a mani-
fold and cannot be simple, precisely because a selection is supposed to be made from it;
and, since this selection is supposed to occur with absolute freedom, this manifold must be
infinite. If what is determinable were to contain even a single part that could not be fur-
ther separated or divided, then there would be no alnoluli! freedom. [The character of]
what is determinable is therefore entirely and unconditionally dependent upon freedom
(p~. 5<>-5•).
See sect. 1 of§ 2.
§5 •57
terminable arises from the laws of ideal activity. Thus one could say that
it is given by virtue of the nature of reason. E
Freedom consists in this: that one can choose from among everything.
Constraint consists in this: that the selection must be made from this to-
tal sum. Here we obtain the concept of a determinate sum from which
fre~dom makes its selection. A fart of this total sum is called a "deter-
minate activity" or an "action."
Remark: (1) We here obtain [the concept of] the total sum of what is
determinable. We obtain this by reflecting upon our previous act of re-
flection, which is now construed as a determinate state of mind; but ev-
erything that is included therein thereby constitutes a complete whole.
In § 1 there was no mention of the tolality of what is determinable; nor
could there have been, since the intuiting subject there lost itself in the
sphere of what is determinable.
58 (2) We have here obtained the concept of an action. The act of self-
affection (as described in § 3) was possible in only one way. But now that
this act is posited as a passage from determinability to determinacy, it
must be possible for this act to occur in a variety of different ways. Self-
affection is an act that has an impact upon itself, 10 and if any diversity is
present therein, then something must be posited in consequence of this.
Self-determination is supposed to be posited as something manifold;
consequently, something has to be posited by means of which it appears
as a manifold, and this is acting.F
(B) Let us call the action that is selected "X," X is a part of the total
sum just discussed, and thus the predicate that applies to this total
sum must apply to X as well: action X must be infinitely divisible. But,
as always, this chosen part X is characterizable and intuitable only inso-
far as it is something determinate. X must thus be opposed to what is

E But what is determinable is, by virtue of the namre of reason, given to freedom;
therefore, freedom,• which is thereby dependent only upon itself, constructs for itself the
concept of its own mode of action, and is thus free (p. 51).
"sie." Though it is here construed as referring to ~freedom" (dU Frriheil), this pronoun
could also refer to "reason" (dU Vtmrnifl).
"eine bestimmte Thatigkeit oder eine Handlung."
"Die Selbstaffection ist Stojl auf sich selbst."
F Remark: (a) Where do we obtain this concept of a total sum? In reflecting upon our
previous act of reflection, we construed it as a completed 11 state of our mind, and thereby
the preceding determinability and determinacy became complete for us as well-became
a Wllllily for us. This does not mean [that we construe this state as] something (absolutely)
infinite, as if I could determine myself in only OTll! way; instead, it means that what must
occur as a consequence of this act of self-affection, i.e., acting, is infinitely manifold and is
possible in an infinite number of ways.
((!) For heaven's sake, one certainly should not think of what is infinitely divisible as any
sort of matter, space, etc. I
(y) The great advantage of placing absolute freedom at the apex of theoretical philos-
ophy as well [as at the apex of practical philosophy] is now evident (p. 51).
11 "vollendeten." That is to say, it was construed as a self-<:ontained or "complete" state

of consciousness, one that was not dependent upon any other state; and thus, in this sense,
it could be called a "totality."
determinable, for only on this condition is everything that has been re-
quired up to this point possible. 12
{The action of the I is the whole, and this is infinitely divisible. X is a (51)
part of this whole; it is what is determinate and is intuitable as such, in
opposition to what is determinable. What is determinate is thus distin-
guished from what is determinable in that the whole ( = what is deter-
minable) is intuitable only on the condition that what is determinate is
intuitable. What they have in common must thus be that both are divisible.
Therefore, if what is determinate ( = what is intuitable) is divisible, then
it is also "something."}
What now is the overall character of what is determinate? What dis-
tinguishes it from what is determinable? The real activity determines it-
self to act, and this real activity cannot be intuited: it is not "something";
it is not divisible; it is absolutely simple. {Only acting can be intuited; what (52)
is determinable cannot be intuited.} Accordingly, that to which the I de-
termines itself when it affects itself-i.e., acting-must be intuitable.
This, however, is not possible unless freedom is constrained in the course
of the acting of the practical activity. Yet this freedom must not simply
be canceled; it must be and must remain an activity, and thus it must be
simultaneously constrained and not constrained; both must occur.C
An instance of acting, 1g therefore, would be something within which
the real activity would be both constrained and not constrained. What is
constrained in this case is the real activity itself, and this passivity on its
part indicates the presence of something that arrests its activity and
brings it to a halt. Intuition becomes 14 possible only insofar as freedom
is arrested.
Let us call this action "X." This X must be intuitable; but since acting
is freely determinable, it possesses infinite divisibility, 15 and therefore X
can be divided into [parts] A and B, each of which can be further di-
This conclusion follows from the aforementioned "principle of determinability":
something (in this case, the determinate state or action of the I) can be "determined"
or "specified" only by being "opposed" or "posited in opposition" to something else-that
is, it can be defined only with reference to its "opposite" (in this case, to "what is deter-
G Acting (or the movement of transition [from what is determinable] to what is deter-
minate, to "something") cannot be intuited freedom is constrained. But this does not
mean that freedom is thereby canceled, nor does it mean that (like the ideal activity) it [the
real activity] will turn out to be nothing more than an act of imitating something else. In-
stead, in order for the real activity to be an object of the ideal activity, i.e., in order for the
acting of freedom to be intuited, it must limit itself to some portion of the whole. But this
constrained freedom must also still remain an activity (pp. 51-52).
•~ "ein Handeln."
•• Reading, with Krause's MS, "wird" for K's "ist."
15 The translation here follows Radrizzani's proposed emendation and substitutes Teil-

barkeit for K's Bestimmbarkeil ("determinability"). This substitution not only makes more
sense in the context, but is supported by the parallel passage in H and by the summary
paragraph at the end of this § of K. :'

§ 5 1 59
vided, and so on, ad infinitum. Even if one were to continue this process
of division forever, one would never encounter a single point that would
59 not contain both activity and a hindrance to activity. This is what consti-
tutes continuity, 16 a continuous line of acting; and whatever progresses
in a continuous line is called "acting."H (We are not yet concerned with
time.) 1
Freedom is absolute self-affection and nothing more; but freedom is
not something manifold, and therefore it cannot be intuited. A product
of freedom is here supposed to be intuitable, however, and thus, in this -
manner, freedom itself is supposed to be indirectly intuitable. This can
occur only if several different acts of self-affection are posited, and these
various acts of self-affection would be distinguished from each other
only by the multiple forms of resistance posited in opposition to them.
But a resistance is nothing apart from an activity; and to the extent that
a resistance is overcome, it is absorbed into the I. 18 The I can see nothing
but itself, but it can see itself only insofar as it is engaged in acting. But
when the I acts it is free; i.e., it is engaged in overcoming resistance}

H Constraining 17 is a real arresting of activity, and thereby we obtain an intuition of what
is constrained (B), that is, of freedom, as well as an intuition of what constrains it (A).
(A) What constrains ( = X) must be something intuitable, since, as an action, it is surely
a part of what is determinable. It is a quantum, a manifold, and must, like the totality of
which it is a part, be infinitely divisible. That is to say, I can divide part X into A and B, A
into C and D, C into E and F, etc. When I proceed in this way I am, to be sure, self-active,
but my self-activity is restricted by A and B, and then by C and D, etc. I always proceed
from one point to the next. Each of these points arrests my self-activity somewhat and hin-
ders it in its forward progress, but none of them halts it once and for all and in its entirety;
instead, my self-activity overcomes the resistance of A, and then moves on to B, etc. Thus
there is no point within X which does not include both activity and hindrance-i.e., in
which constrained and unconstrained freedom are not simultaneously present. Every pos-
sible point contains both. Acting is thus what progresses in a continuous line-<ontinuity (p. 52).
In discussing this forward motion, one should abstract from any concept of time, for
the latter arises only as a result of connecting several different points, one after another,
to form a series. But no particular points are present in the case of a continuous line; in-
stead, such a line is the schema of the contents of time. Continuous activity does not progress
in fits and starts, that is, in a series of individual surges, through which the activity is, as
it were, repeated and carried forward; instead, such activity continues without any inter-
rup,tion (p. 53).
"kommt er ins Ich." More freely: "the I becomes aware of it."
1 (B) Freedom is supposed to be posited, i.e., intuited. But it cannot be intuited; for, as
an act of self-affection, it is not a quantum, not a manifold. I can affect myself in only one
way. Thus it must be intuitable as an action indirectly, through its product. This can occur
only on the condition that several acts of self-affection are posited, but these various acts
can be distinguished from one another only through the resistance that freedom over-
comes; consequently, the I becomes free 19 only if some resistance is posited in opposition
to freedom and only if freedom overcomes this resistance. Only in acting does the I see
itself. Freedom becomes intuitable by the I through acting, since it is only by overcoming
resistance that acting only in this way do we become conscious of our own free-
dom (p. 52).
"kommt diese ins IcH."
160 § 5

• Freedom extends its influence continuously, while resistance contin-

uously gives way before it20-granted that some resistance must always
remain. (The forward thrust of a movable body in space provides us with
an image of this.) Every moment includes both resistance and acting.
This acting does not proceed in fits and starts, but continues as a single,
constant motion. 21 It remains one and the same act of self-affection,
which extends itself further and further by means of intuition. When
the act of self-affection is intuited, the simple point of self-affection is
extended to a line.K
• In following this line, we obtain a sequence of determinate parts.
The reason these are "parts" and are construed as such is to be found in
the act of reflection, i.e., in the fact that A, B, C, D, etc., were posited in
this line, {for the act of dividing depends upon reflection}. But the rea- (53)
son they were grasped in this particular order and not in the reverse
order is not to be found in the act of reflection, for this can occur only 1
as a consequence of an act of the subject that acts realiter. Nor is the rea- [
son to be found within the real activity, for this multiplicity is precisely
what hinders and opposes the real activity. Thus the real activity is con-
strained in relation to this sequence, and this is what distinguishes what
is determinable from what is determinate.
• In constructing a concept of its own efficacy, 22 the practical I (which
is the sole 23 basis of our explanation) appears to be free in regard to the
6o ordering of the manifold: this constitutes the freedom of the choice. But
once this concept has been constructed and has been employed to guide
acting, then the sequence [of determinate parts of the manifold] no
longer depends upon the practical I, which is itself now constrained in
relation to this sequence. In the first case (that is, while the concept is
still being constructed), the intuition-which is constrained by its very
nature-is set into motion by the practical I and oscillates between op-
posites, between being and not-being. In the second case (that is, when
acting is occurring), the intuiting subject is constrained by the fact that
the practical I is itself constrained, and thus it is itself constrained as
well. The determinacy of the intellect has its foundation in the deter-

"die Freiheit wirkt ununterbrochen fort; der Widerstand giebt ununterbrochen
Reading, with H, "ruckweise" forK's "riickwarts" ("backward"): "Dieses Handeln geht
nicht [ruckweise] sondern in einem fort."
K This acting of the real activity is "continuity": i.e., self-affection proceeds from only a
single point; it encounters resistance, which then gives way. Freedom always proceeds for-
ward without interruption, although it is always accompanied by some resistance-which
it constantly overcomes. The whole is therefore a constant progression of acting, always
one and the same act of self-affection, which is extended by intuition into a continuous line
(pp. 52-53).
~ 2 "Wiirksamkeit."
"Reading, with Krause's MS, "all<ein> forK's "alle<s>."
§ 5 161

minacy of the practicali.L In the first case, {that is, so long as the prac-
tical power is still engaged in choosing,} we are concerned with the
concept of a merely possible action; in the second case, {that is, to the
extent that the practical power is constrained and the sequence is
determined,} we are concerned with the concept of an actual action. The
que:;tion "What is X?" has now been answered. X is an actual action, in
opposition to one that is merely possible.

( 1) These concepts {of possibility and actuality} are particular deter-
minations of the intellect in relation to the practical power that must
necessarily be thought of in connection with the intellect. When the
practical power is posited as itself engaged in creating concepts {of a (5•
goal, and hence, as free}, then the intellect itself is free as well, and from
this there arises the concept of "the possible." When the practical power
is posited as actually acting, then it is constrained in relation to the se-
quence of the manifold; and the intellect is constrained along with it,
{and thus there arises the concept of "the actual"}.
(2) Everything actual and possible is actual and possible only in rela-
tion to the action of the I, for we have derived these concepts of actuality
and possibility from the intuition of acting. All intuition-and thereby
all consciousness-is conditioned by the intuition of what is actual.
Consciousness-or intuition-of what is actual is called "experience";
therefore, all thinking begins with experience and is conditioned
thereby. Only through experience do we become something for our-
selves; subsequently, we can abstract from experience.
Intuition of what is actual is possible only through an intuition of an
actual instance of acting on the part of the I; therefore, all experience
begins with acting, and only thereby is experience possible at all. 24 If
there is no acting, then there is no experience; and if there is no expe-
rience, then neither is there any consciousness.
How are objects, which are supposed to be external to us, simulta-
neously supposed to be within us? The Wissenschaft.slehre answers this
L The pr-dctical I or real «tlivity «ppears as free only while it is-through a<;ting,
through ordering [the manifoldJ--busy constructing a concept of iu goal, which pertains
to the sphere of what is determinable. The practical activity, in cooperation with the in-
tellect, arranges those parLS it wishes to remove from the sphere of what is determinable,
and [while it is engaged in doing this it] oscillates between being and not-being. But once
it has affected itself, the sequence of acting is then determined for it in the concept of the
manifold: things must now proceed in a certain order. The practical activity is then con-
strained to a fixed series of paru-and the intuition of the intellect is similarly constrained
along with it (p. 53).
•• "also aile Erfahrung geht a us vom Handeln, es ist nur durch sie moglich." The pro-
noun es in this sentence appears to have no antecedenL The parallel passage in H suggests
that the reference might equally well be consciousness (das BtnJJU{Jisein) or the I (das lch).
Another possibility, adopted in the translation, is to transpose the two pronouns ("sie ist
nur durch es moglich").
162 § 5

question as follows: This occurs when we connect what is supposed to

be external to us with the immediate object of our consciousness, that
is, with everything that is active and free within us. I can be conscious
only of my own activity, but I can be conscious of this only as a limited
{This prevents a world of errors and at the same time exposes the na-
kedness of all previous philosophical systems. Even the Kantian system
merely enumerates the logical laws governing our thought of objects
(the categories); 25 but in doing this, it always leaves unanswered the
question, "Why should we and why must we posit any objects at all?"
The Wissenschajtslehre is now able to answer this question: [We posit
objects] precisely because we have posited an absolute acting, to which
the objects of our experience refer and by means of which these objects
are given to us. For it is only by means of such acting-and moreover,
only insofar as it is a hindered or arrested activity-that we obtain any
consciousness whatsoever of what is actual. Only thereby is experience
The Critique of Pure Reason begins with representations and attempts
to develop the laws of the same within logic, in conformity with our
mind's original forms of thought. But it leaves unanswered the question,
"Why do I have any representations of anything at all? How do I obtain
a representation?"
The Wissenschaftslehre answers this question as follows: [·I have repre-
sentations] because I discover myself as acting. The I posits itself as act-
ing-as absolutely free. It 26 catches sight of the world within itself. Its
ideal activity does not exist apart from real activity.}
The Wissenschaftslehre provides the following, superior explication of
the Kantian proposition that our concepts refer only to objects of
experience: 27 Experience refers to acting. Concepts originate through
acting and exist only for the sake of acting; only acting is absolute. Kant
does not maintain that experience is absolute; he insists upon the pri-
macy of practical reason, but he has failed to show decisively that the

... The result of the preceding is that both concepiS [of possibility and of actuality I exist
only in relation to the acting of freedom: all consciousness is consequendy conditioned by
consciousness of whaJ is actu.o.l, i.e., c:r:perimce. All consciousness begins with experience, be-
cause all experience begins with acting and is possible only insofar as it is related to the I
acting of the I, just as it is only through the intermediary of acting that the I is able to {
think of iiSelf-or to posit itself, or to intuit itself-as free. For the I can become conscious
of iiS activity only insofar as it acts, i.e., only insofar as it is limited and iiS activity is hin-
dered; and thus freedom becomes the immediate object of the I only to the extent that the
I has indirecdy intuited iiS freedom through this acting and has discovered this acting to
be absolute (p. 54).
See KRV. A8o/B t o6ff.
Reading (with Hans Jacob's 1937 text of H) "Es" for the "Er" that appears in the AA
version of H.
SeeKRV. A!)tiB75 and A661Bgtff.
practical is the source of the theoretical. In the essay "Concerning a
Presumptuous Tone," which he has recently published in the Berliner
Monatsschrift, he does insist upon the supremacy of freedom. 28
Those who claim that human beings can be representing subjects
without also being active ones propound a groundless philosophy. It is in
the cc:>urse of acting that I first encounter objects. Here it becomes quite
clear what it means when we say that "the I sees the world in itself," or
"if there is no practical activity, then neither is there any ideal activity,"
or "if there is no acting, there is no representing."

(3) The only sort of action that can be intuited and is, in this respect,
really actual is twofold and contains both freedom and limitation, both
activity and the cancellation of activity; moreover, both of these are
united in every moment of acting.
This limitation of acting will eventually lead us to a Not-I-not, to be
sure, to anything that is present "in itself," but rather to something that
must necessarily be posited by the intellect in order to account for this
limitation. More specifically, we may also find that all possible actuality
originates from one single actuality. The original source of everything
actual is consequently the interaction, or union, of the I and the Not- I.
Accordingly, the Not-I is nothinf actual unless it is related to an instance
of acting on the part of the I, 2 for only on this condition and only by
this means does it become an object of consciousness. The "thing in it-
self" is thereby abolished once and for all. Moreover, the same thing is
62 true of the I as well: It appears in consciousness only in relation to a
Not-1. The I is supposed to posit itself, but it can do this only by acting;
acting, however, involves a relationship with the Not-1. The I is some-
thing only to the extent that it interacts with the world; both the I and
the Not-I are [first] encountered within this relationship. Once one has
discovered them, one can then separate them; but each of them, even
when considered in isolation from the other, still preserves its original
character and can be represented only in relation to the other.N

"Von einem neuerdings erhobenen vornehmen Ton in der Philosophie" (May 1796)
(KGS, VIII: 390-4o6. See especially p. 403).
"Es diirfte sich auch im einzelnen ergeben, dal} alle mogliche Wiirklichkeit, die es ge-
ben kann, aus einem wiirklichen entstehe. Der Urgrund alles wiirklichen ist demnach die
Wechselwiirkung, oder Vereinigung des lch und Nichtlch. Das Nichtlch ist sonach nichts
wiirkliches, wenn es sich nicht auf ein Handeln des lch bezieht." The point of this passage
is to emphasize the intimate connection between reality ( = "actuality" = Wirklichkeil) and
efficacious action (Wirk.samknt, from the verb wirken = "to have an effect," "to work," "to be;
active" = sich handeln). Throughout this discussion Fichte employs the term Wirklichkeil,
rather than Realitiit, in order to emphasize just this connection. Elsewhere in this same
text, however, he appears to use these two terms quite interchangeably.
N The Not-I is glimpsed by means of and along with acting. In itself, therefore, the Not-I
or the "thing in itself' is nothing; it is something only in relation to acting.
On this point the Wi.ssenschaftslehre explicates the Kantian philosophy
and at the same time provides it with a deeper foundation. Kant too
never sought any knowledge of a Not-I apart from the I, nor of an I
apart from the Not-I; both are [required for] Critical idealism, and this
is precisely what distinguishes it from all pre-Kantian philosophy. Crit-
ical idealism is neither materialism nor dogmatism. It is not materialism,
which begins with things; 0 nor is it the sort of idealism that begins with
mental substance; nor is it dualism, which begins with the mind and the
thing in itself, considered as two separate substances. Instead, Critical
idealism {-the Wi.ssenschaftslehre, along with the Kantian system in its to- (55)
tality -} either begins with their reciprocal interaction as such, or else
{begins with the absolutely united} accidental properties of both. 30 (Sub-
stance and accident are {for Critical idealism originally nothing but}
forms of our thinking, {employed for the purpose of explaining conscious-
ness}.) {Unlike materialism, which begins with substances, Critical ide-
alism arrives at them only subsequently.} Critical idealism thereby avoids
the necessity of having to deny either of these two. Materialism denies
what is mental, while [non-Critical] idealism denies what is material.
Nor does this system face the insoluble 31 task of uniting extremes that
cannot be united once they have been separated (as in the case of du-
alism); instead, it discovers the I and the Not-I to be united.
Nothing in the Wi.ssenschaftslehre is more crucial than this interaction
of the I and the Not-IP (a point that has been best understood by Privy
Councillor Schiller, in his "Letters Concerning Aesthetic Education"
published in Die Horen). 32 The I is intuitable only in reciprocal interac-
tion with the Not-1. It can be thought of apart from this relationship;

Similarly, the I is intuited only by means of acting-only through its interaction with the
Not-1. In itself, there is no pure, absolute intuition at all; instead, everything is discovered
only insofar as acting occurs. Therefore, the I in itself-apart from any relation to the Not-I
and without any interaction through acting-is also nothing, is a mere Idea. The I in itself
is indeed more than the Not-I in itself. The latter is nothing al aiL But at the same time, the
I in itself-as an Idea-is without any intuition [and thus]lacks reality for me (p. 55).
Materialism and, along with it, dogmatism (for when dogmatism is consistent it be-
comes materialism) start with a thing in itself (p. 55).
' "Der kritische Idealism us geht aus von ihrer Wechselwiirkung als solcher, oder als Ac-
CIDENS beider." The text of K is here modified not only by the insertion (as indicated with
scroll brackets) of material from H, but also by the omission of the second als. The corre-
sponding passage in H reads: "geht von dem absolul vereinigten AcCIDENS beyder-oder von
der Wechselwirkung des lcH und N.I.--aw."
" Reading, with Krause's MS, "unaflosbare" for K's "unauflosliche."
P This therefore is the decisive feature of the Wisseruchaftslehre, which it shares with no
previous philosophy. It [posits] no I without a Not-1-for it, everything depends upon this
reciprocal interaction [of the I and the Not-1].
Kant allows one to infer this, but he did not say it (p. 55).
' 2 J. C. F. Schiller's Ueber die iiesthetische Erziehung des Meruchen in einer Reihe von Briefen
was first published in installments in his own journal, Die Horen, in 1795. See especially
letters 11-16; English translation by Reginald Shell, Friedrich Schiller on the Aesthetic Edu-
cation of Man in a Series of Letters (New York: Ungar, 1965).
but then it is not actual, but is a necessary Idea. The Not-I, on the other
hand, cannot even be thought of [as existing] outside of reason. The I is
primary; the Not-I is secondary, and this is why one is able to think of
the I in isolation, but not of the Not-1.
{The opponents of the Wissenschaftslehre are only too correct and hit (!
th~ mark better than they themselves realize when they contend that
the pure I of the Wissenschaftslehre is-considered in itself--nothing. Of
course! For what are the characteristics of "being"? [Can one say that]
"the I is"? This term designates nothing but "being intuitable." Being
intuitable surely does not apply to the pure I. The pure I is a mere Idea,
whereas the I obtains actuality-i.e., intuitability, or being-only in con-
nection with or in relationship to the Not-1.
Similarly, the Not-I cannot be posited apart from its relationship to
our reason-or to the I; i.e., it can be posited only as existing/or us.
Remark: The Not-I can certainly be thought of as existing apart from
any connection with our individual reason. That is to say, the Not-I
might exist even if we did not, but then it would not exist for us. This is
why ordinary common sense has resort to [the thought of] a creator
when it considers the creation of the world: It is unahle to imagine the Not-/
apart from some relationship to a rational being, i.e., God. To be sure, the
creation of the world is explained differently in the Wissenschaftslehre.}

(4) The first intuition {of the passage from determinability to

determinacy} was impossible without the determinations we have now
63 added; it did not constitute a complete state of mind, but was an empty
thought. We would not have been able to think of this first intuition
even for the purposes of our philosophy unless we had also mixed with
it things that we clearly understand [only] now.Q

For intuition, what is determinable becomes an infinitely divisible

manifold, because it is supposed to be the object of a free choice on the
Q One could here object that we previously reflected upon intuition taken purely by it-
self, and that by proceeding in this manner we ensured a specific result. Thus, [the ob-
jection would continue,] we gave a false account of the original procedure of our freely
acting reason, [since a "pure intuition," in isolation from everything else, has now been
shown to be impossible].
Reply: Our previous intuition of the passage from determinability to determinacy was
not an actual intuition at all, but an empty thought. Only what is limited, only acting, can
be intuited. This also allows us to see that an act of self-positing is possible only if some-
thing [else] is presently happening and only if we are able to catch a glimpse of the I as
acting. Thus nothing is arbitrarily'' postulated within our system except this: that I must
be conscious of myself (p. 56).
" "willktihrlich."
166 § 5

part of absolute freedom. This must also be true of what is determinate,

since it is a part of this manifold. What is determinate and what is de-
terminable are, to this extent, similar. What distinguishes them is this:
In the first case, the action intuited is merely possible, i.e., an action pos-
ited by an intellect that is oscillating between opposites; in the second
case, the action intuited is {actual, i.e.,} an action posited by an intellect
that is bound 34 to a determinate series of the manifold. Action is activity
that is constantly resisted, and it is only by means of this synthesis of re-
sistance {with activity} that an activity of the I becomes intuitable. (57)
{Remark: Our question was, What is it that is determinate?
What is possible is determined only as a specific modification of the in-
tellect, insofar as it oscillates between several opposites.
What is actual [is determined only as a specific modification of the in-
tellect,] insofar as it is bound to a particular determinate series [of the
A pure activity cannot be intuited as such; it can be intuited only in-
sofar as it encounters some resistance, and then it is called an "action."
This is because an action has to be directed at some object, which our
language correctly designates ''what stands in opposition," for this ob-
ject is what resists activity.}35
H K: "gekniipfte"; H: "gebundene."
~·"welches Objekt in unserer Sprache richtig ein Gegenst.and hei~t; denn dieses Objekt
ist das der Thatigkeit WlllERSTI:HI!:NDL" There are two words for "object" in the German
language: das Objtkl and deT ~gemwnd. Fichte here calls attention to the root meaning of
the latter: "to stand over against." Note that unlike some other philosophers, notably He-
gel, Fichte does not appear to make any systematic distinction between Objtkl and ~gen­
•wnd, both of which are here translated throughout as "objecL"

We have now seen that all consciousness is contained within and de-
duced from the following: a subjective factor, or the self-positing sub-
ject; an objective factor, or the practical activity [of the I]; and what is
objective in the proper sense of the term, i.e., the Not- I.
The term "objective" thus has two different senses: (I) In opposition
to the ideal activity, what is "objective" is the practical activity. (2) In op-
position to the I in its entirety, what is "objective" is the Not-1.
Our task from now on is to exhibit the possibility of what we have es-
tablished so far and to provide a complete account of the conditions of
this possibility. Now that we know what our specific goal is, we are al-
64 ready in a position to envision the completion of our task. Our system
will be complete once we arrive at the point where we can comprehend
that the I posits itself as self-posited; and we will reach this point in our
discussion of willing. 1• A

Further Investigations

(I) {We have seen that we are in a position to intuit our practical power (57)
only as acting, and moreover, only as conditioned by a previously con-
structed concept or goal.
Consequently, we are not concerned with any practical determination in
itself; i.e., we are not concerned with formal freedom or with an act of
"Wenn wir dahin kommen, wo wir begreifen, da~ das Ich sich selbst seze, als durch sich
selbst gesezt, so ist unser System geschl*n, und die~ ist der Fall beim Wollen."
"These three points-ideal activity, real activity, and the object (or hindrance)--will
provide the foundation for our entire scientific edifice, and everything that follows is al-
ready implicit within them. What we still have to show is how the I posits itself as self-
positing: i.e., we have to show that the I contains within itself the foundation of its entire
being-and, moreover, that this is contained within willing. This is the goal of our inquiry,
and when we have reached this point our entire project will be complete (p. 57).
168 § 6

absolute self-affection. Instead, we are here concerned with material

freedom. Formal freedom is postulated along with immediate self-
consciousness: or rather, it is identical with it. Formal freedom is imme-
diate self-consciousness itself, and is therefore unintuitable.
We can speak only of the conditions that make our intuiting possible,
and not of any act of intuiting "in itself." We observe only the act of in-
tuiting. The conditions in question are themselves actions. Intuition and
action always go together; both lie within the I as such. The I appears to
be as it is, and it is as it appears to be.
The action of a practical power cannot itself be intuited, however, but
is, as such, conditioned by a previously constructed concept of a goal, for
only thereby is it a free action. Thus the question arises, H(JW is il possible
to canstruct such a concept?}
In the previous § we showed that the intuition of an instance of free
acting is conditioned by the intuition of a freely constructed concept of
acting [the concept of a goal]. For the construction of this concept, ac-
cording to what was said in the same§, we are given the sphere of what
is determinable. We are acquainted with what is determinable as a
{manifold} divisible into an infinite number of possible actions. Inas- (58)
much as it is by means of ideal activity that the I determines this concept
[that guides its practical acting], its practical or material freedom (free-
dom of choice) was said to consist in the freedom to assemble this man-
ifold in various particular ways. 2 •8
The I is nevertheless constrained when it engages in this ideal func-
tion of concept [formation]. 3 The construction of concept X can be com-
prehended only as follows: A manifold is given to the ideal activity, from
which it assembles a concept. {This ideal activity surveys the entire field
of what is determinable.} It ignores whatever it wishes and grasps hold
of whatever it wants. {It takes what it has selected and assembles a whole
therefrom, and in this way it constructs for itself a concept of the action
"in dem Zusarnmenseuen dieses Mannigfaltigen soli die pralc.tischen, in wiefern es die-
sen Begriff durch ideale Thatiglc.eit bestimmt, oder die materiale Freiheit (die Freiheit der
Wahl) des Ich bestehen." The verb zusammen.selzen, which Fichte here introduces and em-
ploys throughout the immediately following §§, is a common word that normally means
"to combine" or "to assemble" (which is how it is here translated). Fichte, however, gener-
ally uses this term in a narrower and quite specific sense: to designate the I's synthetic
activity of choosing or selecting portions of the given manifold and combining them within
a single concept: the concept of a goal. Thus the term here always retains something of its
root meaning: "to posit together."
8 The sphere to which this concept of a goal pertains is the sphere of what is determin-

able, considered as an infinitely divisible manifold. This concept comes into being b)'
means of material freedom, or freedom of choice, which could thus be described as "the
ideal activity of the practical power" (p. 58).
'"In wiefern das Ich in dieser FuNcnoN des Begrifs ideal ist, ist es doch gebunden."
The term Function is difficult to construe in this context, prompting Radriuani's sugges-
tion that this is probably an error of transcription on Krause's part and that Enlwetfung
should be substituted for Function. A more literal rendering of this sentence would be: "In-
sofar as the I is ideal in the function of the concept, it is nevertheless constrained."
§6 t6g
to be undertaken.} Its freedom consists in doing just this; but [in order
to do this] it has to intuit what is given as something given, and therein
lies its constraint. 4 ·c In short, there is here a movement of transition
from determinacy to an act of self-determining (or determinability).
{But note that this situation is just the reverse [of the movement of tran-
sition we discussed earlier]; for here we have a movement from what is
determinate to what is determinable, i.e., from c011Straint to freedom. Con-
straint is synonymous with determinacy, for it consists in the necessity of
having to view precisely this [manifold] as the given sphere of a possible
action-i.e., it consists in determinacy. In other words, what occurs here
is a movement of transition from what provides the conditions to what is
conditioned thereby.} The ideal activity is partially constrained (deter-
mined) and partially free. Freedom is what is conditioned; constraint is
what provides the conditions, {because} if nothing is given, then nothing
can be chosen. The construction of the concept of a goal can be imag-
ined in no other way.

(2) The question now arises, What is it that constrains [the ideal activity],
and where does this come from?
All we have learned so far about the sphere of what is determinable is
that it must be an infinitely divisible manifold. But if this is the only way
in which this sphere can be characterized, then it is nothing at all. Some-
thing whose sole distinguishing feature is infinite divisibility furnishes
us with no stopping place and with nothing that could constrain the ac-
tivity of the I. But without constraint, there would be no ideal activity;
and without ideal activity, there would be no infinite divisibility. Conse-
quently, the concept of something that is not supposed to be anything
more than "infinitely divisible" is a self-contradictory concept. Yet this
65 very concept appears among the conditions for the possibility of con-
sciousness, and thus it would appear that consciousness includes among
its conditions something impossible. 0 {In this way, we would never
obtain a "something," never anything positive or posited; [instead, we
would have a situation] in which something is forever posited in oppo-
sition, a situation in which something conflicting is always encoun-
tered-and no consciousness could ever come into being in such a case.
"ihre Gebundenheit."
c But the ideal I or the ideal activity of the I is constrained by the fact that this concept
must be assembled [from a specific manifold]. It is free to choose; but in choosing it is at
the same time constrained (p. 58).
What constrains the ideal activity is the given manifold, or what is determinable; and
we are acquainted with this so far [only] as an infinitely divisible manifold. This, however,
is nothing at all-a contradiction; for a continuous process of simply dividing would include
nothing at all that could be related to the ideal activity or could bring it to a halt, would
itself be nothing at all; and, in that case, the ideal activity would itself be nothing. Even if
the ideal activity were to continue dividing forever, it would never be able to grasp the
manifold as such; instead, the manifold would simply continue to dwindle away, and this
would mean that no consciousness whatsoever would be possible (p. 58).
170 §6

In order to become conscious of myself, I have to act freely. But this

is impossible apart from the construction of a concept of the action
[in question], which is, in turn, impossible apart from a sphere of
what is determinable; for, if I am to exercise a free choice, I must be pre-
sented with a manifold. [Mere] multiplicity, however, is [nothing more
than] opposability. Consequently, if consciousness is to exist, everything
in this manifold must not simply be opposed to everything else; for in
this case it would be nothing at all. Instead, something positive has flJ be
Therefore, in order to account for the ideal activity of the practical
power, we have to assume the presence of something positive, of some-
thing that is not further divisible-i.e., of something real. What is indi-
visible must therefore be something that, with respect to its reality, is
indivisible, though the quantity of the same must indeed be divisible.
{This reality constrains the ideal activity or makes it ideal, and this oc- (59)
curs through the reciprocal interaction and interrelation of what is real
and what is ideal.} The ideal activity must here be constrained in such a
way that it will not be constantly carried away by its own capacity for
mobility, 5 • E but will instead be arrested and fixed {-not creative or pro-
ductive; it is to be directed upon something that is present and stable,
upon a "being" of the manifold}.
What arrests and fixes the ideal activity is supposed to furnish the ma-
terial for a selection or choice, {and indeed, for a choice on the part of an
intellect}; but one can choose only when one is conscious of what one is
choosing, and there is no consciousness of something without opposi-
tion. Consequently, there must be some states of mind which are char-
acterized by nothing but unity and identity and which contain within
themselves no multiplicity at all {and bear no similarity to any other
states, beyond the fact that they are all included within the sphere of
what is determinable}. F What is determinable must possess certain ele-
mentary qualities 6 (which cannot be broken down any further), and it
must possess some sort of being as well.
All that can be related to the ideal activity is the act of positing, and is
either the activity of the I, the constrained state 7 of the ideal activity, or
the being of the Not-1-a being-posited that negates an act of becoming

"nicht da~ sie als beweglich fortgeriflen werde." t
E This ideal activity itself is now supposed to be constrained. (It should not, as occurred
above in the case of the intuition of the J as movable, be carried away along with it-
through an agility (act) the ideal activity was there carried away along with it) [p. 59].
F Since there can be no consciowness of anything except by means of opposition, there
must be states of mind which, in opposition to other states of mind, cannot be further
divided and broken down, and which have nothing in common with other mental states,
belond the fact that they are all included within the sphere of what is determinable (p. 59).
and doing. 8 • G This derivation of the possibility of opposition does not
contradict the previously affirmed infinite divisibility [of the manifol~];
for I can certainly increase or decrease one and the same being.
Later on we will see that what we have just described is precisely what
is given through immediate feeling, 9 e.g.: red, blue, sweet, sour. The
state of mind involved in such feelings is one of unity rather than mul-
tiplicity; divisibility is still present, however: namely, in respect to
degree. 10 I can have a sensation of what is red to a greater or to a lesser
degree, but I cannot say where red ceases to be red." {Accordingly, in
order for the ideal I to be able to construct a concept of its action, a man-
ifold, a "something," must be given [to it], through which it is con-
strained, or, as it were, "fastened down," and from which it assembles its
concept.} How is it possible to posit or to be conscious of such a "some-
thing"? How does it become present within the I?

(3) This "something" and the consciousness thereof precede all acting,
for they provide the conditions that make acting possible. 11 • 1 "The
given" is the sphere of all possible acting. But acting is absolutely not
66 anything simple; instead, it is twofold: It includes, so to speak, an ex-
pansion of {absolute} self-affection, and it also includes some resistance (6o)
to the same, which is what brings this process of expansion to a halt and
makes it into something intuitable. Acting is what lies within the sphere
of what is determinable; every possible instance of acting must include 12
[1] something that pertains to the I (activity) and [2] something that re-
sists it.
"ein Gesetztsein[,] durch welches ein Werden und Machen NEGIRT wird."
G ("Being" here signifies the negation of activity-a being-posited, through which some
act of becoming and producing is negated.)
The ideal activity becomes ideal in just this way: it is determined, and the practical ac-
tivity is determined along with it, for its choice cannot extend beyond these elementary
qualities (p. 59).
"durch das unmittelbare Gefiihl."
wdem Grade nach."
H In the case of all colors and sounds, as well as in the case offeelings of taste, the mental
state is one of unity. Degree is certainly present, yet no one can say how much is required
before such a state ceases completely-at what point, for example, red ceases to be red.
Hence no movement of transition occurs here; the opposition in this case is purely by
means of sensation (p. 59).
"denn das Handeln ist dadurch bedingt."
This "something" precedes all acting and conditions the concept of acting, for no con-
cept can be constructed where there is nothing-i.e., where there is no manifold. Such a
"something" must indeed precede all consciousness of acting, and yet we have previously
maintained that the I is conscious of nothing beyond its own activity. Is the I now supposed
to be conscious of something that is not an activity? (pp. 59-6o).
Though the text of K states that acting itself must be both these things, the context (as
well as the- parallel passage in H) makes it clear that we are concerned with two different
components contained in every instance of acting, though Fichte sometimes (as in the fol-
lowing paragraph) prefers to characterize these as two different "aspects" of one and the
same wsomething."
This "something" is posited not as an actual acting, {but only as a striv-
ing; it is only the concept of a possible action within this sphere, and we
are considering the I at this point only as a power to act freely}. Hence
that aspect of it which pertains to the I cannot be explained by referring
to any actual act of self-affection. The I is here posited only as a power
to act within the manifold. This power does not appear here merely as
one that it is possible for us to conceive, however; but rather it presents
itself as something intuitable, and, to this extent [that is, insofar as it can
be intuited], "being" can be ascribed to it. {Something is supposed to be
given to the intuiting subject, something that brings intuition to a halt.}
The characteristic feature of being is determinacy; therefore, an original
determinacy, [an original tendency] toward acting as such or "in
general" 13 must here be present.
• Once posited, the I is free not to act "in general," but only to will to
act in this or that specific way: here we arrive at a necessary acting. Ac-
tivity constitutes the very essence of the I; accordingly, what we are deal-
ing with here is the being of activity. In constructing a concept of its own
willing, the I is constrained; but constraint points to the presence of
some being-indeed, a being of the I itself. 14 That which constrains [the
I], and, to this extent, possesses "being," 15 belongs to the I itself. But
here the I is practical (activity), and therefore the being in question is the
being of an activity. Two mutually contradictory concepts (namely, being
and activity) are here united, and this unity is here treated as something
found or discovered} I discover something out of which I assemble [the
concept of] my acting. I myself, however, am included in what I discover
in this manner; hence activity is here present as something discovered.
Activity of this sort is a suppressed activity, 17 and from this it obtains the
character of being. Such a "something," however, is a "drive," 18 a self-
engendering striving, which has its foundation within that to which it

""Der Character des Seins ist Bestimmtheit, folglich mu~te hier liegen urspri.ingliche
Bestimmtheit zum Handeln uberhaupt."
"ein eigendkhes Sein."
Reading, with H, "SEYENDE ist" forK's "sezende ist" ("is engaged in positing").
1 The characteristic feature of being, however, is determinacy. Accordingly, the I is not
free as soon as it is posited, but it is free only in making its choice; in constructing the
concept of this choice, however, it is constrained. Its power is no longer a mere power, but
is a necessary one-not, to be sure, a power that is acting, but rather one whose activity is
suppressed. This activity of the I therefore acquires the character of "being" (in the second
sense of the term: a "fix.ed" being). This being that suppresses and constrains also pertains
to the I (for this is precisely what distinguishes the I from an action); but at the same time,
it is something practical-a deed-and therefore it would be the being of an activity. These
two apparently contradictory concepts are here synthetically united: here is a deed' 6
(p. 6o).
"hier ist That."
17 "ein zuri.ickgehaltene Thatigkeit."
"ein Trieb."
§ 6 173
belongs. (See pp. 286-87 of the compendium.) 19 A drive is an activity
that is not any type of acting; it is something that arrests, something that
determines the ideal activity, a constant inner disposition 20 to overcome
what resists it.K (Similar to the disposition of a compressed steel spring.)
{Drive and limitation are one and the same.} (61)
67 Wheneve.r one posits a drive, one must necessarily also posit some-
thing that hinders activity; for the drive explains the necessity of acting,
but the reason 21 the drive fails to become an instance of acting and re-
mains a drive must lie elsewhere.
To the extent that the foundation 21 of an activity lies within the sub-
ject, one can say that the foundation of a drive also lies within the sub-
ject. Insofar as a drive is a drive and not an activity, however, its
foundation does not lie within the subject; and since something is
present that hinders the activity, the activity is indeed canceled. Conse-
quently, we are unable to escape from this reciprocal relationship.L

(4) {Drive precedes all acting and makes acting possible.} What now fol-
lows from this drive of the I? If one were to suppose that the I were not
limited and that its drive were an activity, then the I would be an act of
self-affection and nothing more. The I would not be constrained, and
consequently, no ideal activity would be present; ideal and real activity
would coincide. We are unable to think of anything of this sort which
would pertain to us; instead, it would describe the self-consciousness of
God, thought of as unitarJi 22 (See the remark within parentheses on p.
275 of the compendium.)
19 GWL As always in this translation, Fichte's references 10 the page numbers of the first
edition of 1794/95 have been replaced with references lo the lexl of the FoundatUm.s of IN
Emire Wwenschafuuhr. included in Vol. I of SW.
20 ~eine innere fortdauernde Tendenz."

K A drive is a self-engendered striving, a constant disposition toward aaivity; it is not an

atting, but only something that determines the ideal activity, only an inner activity that
always continues 10 determine i!Self. It is nolan external activity; instead, it is a suppressed
activity, which would become an activity just as soon as what resislS it were lobe removed
(p~. 00--61 ).
"der Grund," in both instances.
L The l's drive aims al activity. and it is limited in ilS activity: this is the reciprocal rela-
tionship (p. 61).
l!l! "des einen gedachten Gotles." The sense of this elliptical comment is clarified by the
following parenthetical passage in GWL, p. 275, lo which Fichte himself refers: "{Let us
suppwe, for the purpwes of elucidation, that we have lo explain the self-consciousness of
God: This is possible only on the presupposition that God refleclS upon his own being.
Since, however, in the case of God's self-consciousness, wluJl is rejkcled upon would be
everything in one and one in everything, and IN refkcting subject would likewise be every-
thing in one and one in everything, then it would not be possible, in and through God, 10
distinguish the objett of reflection from the reflecting subject, consciousness i!Self from
the object of the same; and hence the self-consciousness of God would not be explained-
just as this must remain forever inexplicable and incomprehensible for any finite reason,
i.e., for any reason bound by the law of deln'm.inalibn of the objett of reflection.)"
"We ue now standing at the limit of all consciousness, and therefore, in order to make
174 § 6

Let us now move from this [unlimited] state to the limited one. 2 s Now
the I is unable to act; its practical activity is brought to a halt, {and be-
cause of the resistance it encounters, it is no longer an activity at all, but
is merely summoned to act. A limited I of this sort possesses a drive, with
which, however, consciousness is necessarily linked or through which it
first acquires its consciousness.}
{From this drive we derive the following important result: The I can
never be coruciou.s unless a drive or limitation is present.} It is the character
of the I to posit itself idealiter, i.e., to intuit itself; and only now is such an
act of self-intuition possible, for only now is something present which
has been brought to a halt. The I must necessarily be conscious of its
drive or state of limitation. Consciousness follows from the presence of
a drive. 24 If the I were nothing but activity, and if no limitation were
present within it, then the I could not be conscious of its own activity. N
Nothing can occur within the I without consciousness. A drive is now
present within the 1; consequently, some consciousness thereof must also
exist. {What is highest in man is his striving or his drive.}
Remark: (A) Ideal and real activity diverge at this point, {i.e., as soon
as limitation is introduced,} and the previously described opposition of
the two now becomes possible. We are here standing at the limit25 of all
consciousness, because we are considering the very origin of all con-
sciousness.0 I
(B) Ideal activity is possible only as constrained activity. Its immediate
object is the practical activity. Its constrained state depends upon the
practical activity, which must originally be a striving, and this is the or-
igin of consciousness. P

the transition [from what is determinable] to what is determinate, we have to imagine

something incomprehensible, something that (for limited, finite beings like ourselves, who
can think only discursively) is nothing at all.
We must imagine an I that is not limited, an I that is nothing but an act of self-affecting,
an I within which ideal and real activity are not separate, but coincide (p. 61).
"zur Beschranktheit."
"Aus dem Triebe folgt Bewustsein."
N If the I were nothing but activity, i.e., if its practical activity were never limited and if
nothing that had been brought to a halt were present, then the I would possess no con·
sciousness. It would be unable to posit itself. The necessary consciousness of a drive or of
what is limited is what fir!it makes the I's self-positing possible (p. 61 ).
2 5- ,.,an der Grenze~"
Ideal and real activity separate from each other as soon as limitation is introduced,
and this makes both activities possible; for when a drive is present the practical activity
becomes intuitable and consciousness [becomes possible] at the same time-and this is the
limit of all our consciousness.
Within that incomprehensible something that we previously called "X," practical and
ideal activity are not separate from each other, but are instead inseparable and identical.
Therefore, X includes no limitation or drive: it is God (pp. 61-62).
P Practical activity is originally nothing more than the striving of an intellect. Ideal ac-
tivity exists not on its own, but only by means of its object, practical activity.
§ 6 175
{We have now arrived at the following point: The I is supposed to be (62)
able to consider its possible ways of acting, and its possible acting must
thus be derived from this particular instance of acting [namely, its act of
considering its possible ways of acting]. Every instance of determinate,
free acting presupposes the construction of a concept of this same way of
acting; and in order to construct such a concept, the free I must, before
any acting, have a cognition of its overall possibility of action. But it ac-
quires such a cognition only insofar as it is conscious of the fact that the
material for a possible action is immediately given to it, is aware of the
origin of what supplies a free being with the "stuff'' for its free choice or
for the construction of its concept of a goal, and is aware as well that this
material is immediately given to it. 26 This is what we must now explain.
The I reaches this point only when it discovers within itself an activity
that is constrained without any act of self-determination on the part of
the I. Such an action has two components: something that pertains to the
I as a subject, and something that resists [its activity], something that lies
outside of the I and provides the ground [of this limitation]. We have
called such an internally hindered activity, which does not and cannot
give rise to any action, a "drive." Thus the I is capable of an action only
to the extent that it is capable of possessing a drive.
Since everything present within the I is accompanied by conscious-
ness, and indeed, since consciousness is possible only through limitation
of the I's activity, then every drive (understood as a limited activity of the
I) must not only be accompanied by consciousness, but must also, as
something original (that is, as something that precedes all acting), make
consciousness possible in the first place. [Every drive must thus] produce
an immediate (material) consciousness.
What sort of consciousness is this? The answer to this question can be
made clear only by means of opposition.}

(5) What kind of consciousness is supposed to accompany a drive? In the

68 kind of consciousness with which we have been familiar hitherto,
namely, consciousness of intuition, we view real and ideal {activity} as
separate. The being of the former is independent of the latter, which
merely observes {what is present in the real activity}. But this cannot be (63)
the case with the kind of consciousness we are now discussing, for no real
being is present in this case. No acting occurs; therefore, ideal and real

Practical activity is constrained, and to this extent it is merely a drive or striving. But a
coruc.iousness must accompany this drive (p. 62).
•• "Diese Erkenntnifl erlangt es aber nur dadurch, dafl es sich bewuflt werde, dalJ ihm
das Materiale einer mtiglichen Handlung unmittelbar gegeben sey, u. woher fiir das freye
Wesen der STOFF fiirdie Wahl seiner Freiheit, oder zur Entwerfung seines Zwecksbegrifs-
komme, u. dafl ihm dieses Materiale oder der Stoff unmittelbar gegeben werde." The
terms Materiak and Stoff appear to be employed interchangeably in this passage.
176 §6

{activity} must, in this case, coincide: what is ideal {-that is, conscious-
ness-} would here have to be its own object, {and we would thereby
obtain} an immediate consciousness, and this is a "feeling."
One never "feels" an object; an object is "intuited." All objects-
including instances of acting-are supposed to be something even apart
from my consciousness of them.Q To be sure, the transcendental philos-
opher does not forget that nothing could exist apart from consciousness,
but ordinary common sense does not see things in this manner. One dis-
tinguishes between acting and consciousness. A feeling that is not felt,
however, is nothing whatsoever. Reflection is necessarily and inseparably
conjoined with feeling. R A feeling is nothing more than an act of posit-
ing a determinate state of the I.
{The particular form of consciousness which makes its appearance at
this point must necessarily be a feeling. Determinacy is present here, yet
it is not an intuition, for the I and the Not-1 are not yet present. To be
sure, this determinacy must subsequently be posited, but it is equally
true that the I cannot posit anything that does not exist. What then is
this mere determinacy-and the consciousness that flows from it-
which is supposed to be posited and is not a reality? Reply: It is a mere
affection, a mere state [oft he I]; and a positing of this sort is a "feeling."}
We have now described an indirect consciousness of an immediate ma-
terial, which is just what we required. {In a similar manner.} our previ-
ous search for the formal [condition] {required for the explanation of
consciousness} led us to the subject-object, to an act of self-positing. I
and Not-I a~pear together within this feeling, as we will see in more de-
tail below. 2 Thus it is not only in consequence of an act of self-
determination that the I and the Not-1 appear together; both are also
present in a feeling. Activity and passivity are united in feeling. Insofar
as activity is present, the feeling is related to the I; but insofar as pas-
sivity is present, it is related to a Not-1-though this is discovered within
the 1. 5 In factual terms, feeling is what comes first and is original. At this
Q Consequently, it is an incorrect use of language to say that one "feels" objects: one
does not feel objects; instead, one "intuits" them. The objects are there whether I enter-
tain any representations of them or not-just as it is also possible to act without being con-
scious of acting. Indeed, we usually act without giving any additional thought to the
intuiting subject (p. 63).
R There is no feeling apart from consciousness, however, without a feeling subject and
without something felt. Reflection, what is ideal, is here its own consciousness, united with
what is real, as its own object: I feel myself-( am at once the feeling subject and what is
In the case of intuition, in contrast, I am not also what is intuited (p. 63).
See below, § 7, sects. 5 and 6.
Just as we previously had to posit a subject-object in order to explain consciousness,
insofar as the form of the same is concerned, 28 so here as well, in the case of the matter or
content29 of the I, we would have to discover within the I an immediately determinate con-
sciousness, i.e., an immediate material. The situation with the matter or content is pre-
cisely the same [as it was with the form]: We may not allow the content of consciousness to
§6 •77
point one can already see how everything can be present within the I
and can see that one does not need to go beyond the I. All one would
need to assume is the existence of a manifold of feelings, and it would
not be difficult to show how our representations of the world could be
derived from this manifold.

(6) How is it possible for the I, in advance of all acting, to possess a cog-
nition of the possible modes of action~ 1 {in order to construct for itself (64
the concept of a specific mode of acting}? These possibilities of action
6g require that something positive and incapable of further analysis be
present within the manifold--{something that simply is what it is, whose
being must lie in something determinate.} something by means of which
the manifold itself first comes into being. {In short, we must assume}
that there have to be certain basic or elem~ntary qualities.~ 2 A feeling is
just such an elementary quality;~~ it is a determinate, limited state of the
entire I, beyond which the I cannot go. Feeling is the ultimate limit [of
consciousness] and cannot be further analyzed and assembled.T A feel-
ing simply is what it is and because it is. What is given through feeling
is the condition for the possibility of all acting on the part of the I;
i.e., feeling provides the I with its sphere of action, though not with its
Feeling is represented within the sensory world by something that
is "feelable" or "tangible," and this is posited as matter.M Matter is

be derived from something else, which must then, in turn, be derived from some third
thing, etc. lmtead, we must have an immediate object, i.e., feeling.
In feeling, the I and the Not· I are present in immediate unity with each other. This does
not occur as the result of any actual self-determination, through which some actual action
would be possible. Instead, that aspect of feeling which pertaim to the I is striving-a
drive, not an action. Activity and passivity are united in feeling. Activity, drive: this is what
is related to the I. But insofar as a passivity, a limited being,"" or a hindered activity is
present within feeling, then feeling <;an be .-elated to a Not·l, even though this feeling i•
discovered within the I itself (p. 63).
~bey der Form urn das Bewul\tsein zu erldiiren."
"bey der Materie."
" "der Handlungsmoglichk.eiten."
' "Grundeigenschaften."
""das Gefiihl ist <eins>.'' Instead of this uncertain reading of the last clause (which
could perhaps be rendered "feeling is something unified"), the translation here follows the
corresponding passage in H: "Das Gefiihl is so etwas," which might also be rendered:"Feel-
in~ is just such a positive 'something.'"
One cannot go beyond feeling. No action of the I can go beyond feeling, precisely be-
cause the entire I is limited at this point: Its ideal and real activities, along with everything
contained in the I, are here constrained, and thereby the entire power of the I is originally
limited. That which is supposed to be originally limited or constrained cannot be further
analyzed and then assembled anew (p. f4).
u What is given through feeling is not the object of an acting; it cannot be altered (p. 64).
"""Die Darstellung de• Gefiihls in der Sinnenwelt ist das fllhlbare, und wird gesezt als
something that I can neither produce nor annihilate; nor can I do any-
thing to make it affect me differently than the way it does affect me in
accordance with its own nature, {because this constitutes the original
limit of the I's entire power}. To be sure, I am able to come closer to it or
to draw farther away from it. Moreover, what is positive has to be man-
ifold, since it is supposed to serve as the object of a free choice. Accord-
ingly, there must be a multiplicity of feelings; or, expressed differently,
the drive must be capable of being affected in variety of different ways-
a point that could also be expressed by saying that the I must possess
several different drives. This multiplicity of feelings cannot be deduced
or derived from any higher {characteristic of the 1}, for we have here
reached the limit {of all consciousness}. The manifold of feelings is pos-
tulated along with freedom itself. {If I am to be able to posit myself as
absolutely free, there must be a multiplicity of feelings; otherwise there
could be no choice, no self-consciousness-no freedom. Feelings pro-
vide freedom with its object; consequently, in accordance with the pos-
tulate of self-positing, there must be a manifold of feelings.} It is certainly
true that the manifold contained within the drive will subsequently show
itself to be a natural drive and will be explained with reference to
nature; 35 but nature itself is posited only in consequence of feeling.
These manifold feelings are completely opposed to one another and
have nothing in common. There is no transition from one feeling to an-
other. Each feeling is a specific, determinate state of the I, which would
seem to imply that the I itself is manifold. But what then would become
of the identity of the I? The I is supposed to relate this manifold [offeel-
ings] to itself and to view this multiplicity as its own. How is this possible?
{To be sure, one could say that the I, through the employment of in-
tellect, sees that, despite this manifold, it remains only one in the midst (65)
of this multiplicity. Yet this is not a sufficient answer.
The I is supposed to survey the manifold and to relate it to itself as a
manifold of its feelings. How is it possible to unify this multiplicity of
feelings within one and the same consciousness? How can this conscious-
ness compare these feelings with each other, since they are supposed to
be opposed states?}
Kant provided an excellent answer to the question concerning how
the manifold [of intuitions] is unified within consciousness; but he did
not explain how the manifold of feelings is unified, even though the an-
swer to the former question is based upon the answer to the latter. He
connected all feelings to pleasure and pain (see the CritUJu.e of judgment); 36
70 however, there must be some middle term between the relation of feel-
ings to pleasure and pain, some intermediary that alone makes this re-

"hinterher wohl wird dieses mannigfaltige im Triebe sich zeigen als Naturtrieb, and
wird aus der Natur erklart werden."
.,; See especially the Preface and § 9 (KGS, V: 168 and 21gff.).
§6 179
lation possible.v In order to sense whether A or B provides more
pleasure, I must first place them side by side, so that I can compare
them. How can both feelings be present for me at the same time?
Let us suppose that one samples two wines-not in order to discover
which of the two tastes better, but simply in order to obtain knowledge of
the differences in the way they "feel." A comparison of this sort would
appe~r to be impossible, for while one is tasting one wine, one is not tast-
ing the other. There is never more than one taste present, whereas a
comparison requires two. Nevertheless, everyone knows that he can in-
deed undertake such a comparison.
One must pay attention to the manner in which this is accomplished.
A tasting of this sort involves activity. One focuses all one's senses upon
the object one is tasting and concentrates one's senses upon it. One re-
lates this specific feeling to one's entire sensibility. w The second tasting
is accomplished in the same way as the first, and thus there is something
to which both tastes are compared and which they have in common:
namely, sensibility as a whole, which remains the same in both instances.
This account assumes the presence [within us] of a general system of
sensibility, which simply has to be there in advance of all experience, but
which is not immediately felt as such; instead, it is that by means of
which and in relation to which every particular feeling that can be felt is
felt. A particular feeling is an alteration in the regular and enduring
state of the system of sensibility.
This system of sensibility itself is [not] felt, because it is something de-
terminable rather than something determinate; therefore, unless its
state is altered, nothing is felt at all. If one thinks of the simple act of
feeling as an ideal activity, then it is governed by the law of ideal activity,
according to which something is posited only in the movement of
transition from what is determinable to what is determinate. 57 This is
the case here as well: a particular feeling is something determinate, and,
as such, it can appear within consciousness only if it is related to some-
thing determinable, which, in this case, is the system of sensibility.
Accordingly, the comparison of feelings is accomplished only indirectly;
every determinate feeling is compared with the system as a whole,x
v Kant's explanation of this, which relates all feelings to pleasure and pain, cannot ac-
count for all our positive, determinate feelings; for there must be something intermediate
between pleasure and pain, since not all feelings are accompanied by pleasure or pain
(p. 65)-
w Yet both [acts of tasting] depend to a certain extent upon our freedom. That is to say,
aclivily is involved in these acts of tasling: all our senses are united through this intuition
and everything foreign is dismissed. We see, hear, etc., nothing else; instead, our entire
sensibility is concentrated upon the whole system of our feeling (p. 65).
"welche nur im Uibergehen vom Bestimmbaren zum Bestimmten etwas sein konne."
The translation of this obscure passage is amended in the light of the corresponding pas-
sa§:e in H: "als welche nur gesezt ist durch das Uebergehen .... "
A panicular feeling is something determinate to the extent that it is posited in oppo-
sition to the sysem of sensibility or to what is determinable (p. 65).
180 § 6

{which is immediate and always the same and, as what is determinable, (66)
is something empty and confused, which is then altered}.
71 The last pretext for dogmatism is thereby removed. Even feelings are
not able to enter us from outside. They would be nothing for us if they
were not within us. If any feelings are to be present for us, then the en-
tire system of all feelings must be presupposed a priori.

(7) The system of sensibility is not felt as such; every feeling that is sup-
posed to be known must occur as a particular feeling. Therefore, several
feelings must already be present before it is possible to construct a con-
cept of a goal, {since, for the purpose of this construction, a manifold
must already be present, for otherwise no selection can occur. This man-
ifold is obtained through feeling, and each of these feelings, in turn, is
possible only insofar as a system of sensibility is presupposed.} Thus
something must already actually have been felt-e.g., a particular smell
or taste, which I never felt before, and which presents itself to me as
something particular. If this particular smell or taste had never pre-
sented itself to me, then I would never have been able to imagine it
merely because I possess a system of feelings.v This feeling has a place
within the system of feelings; but if it is to be present for me, it must be
present as a particular feeling. {If something particular is supposed to
have been felt, it must therefore have presented itself to me as some-
thing particular; and until this occurs, it cannot appear for me within
any possible concept of a goal.}
How can a feeling become the object of a concept? {This happens
when the practical I assembles a concept from the manifold; in this man-
ner the I becomes intuitable. To be sure, the I is at the same time the feeling
subject, but in this relationship the feeling subject is the object of the
intuiting subject. Feeling and intuition are distinct from each other.} In
the case of intuition, a reality is presupposed; but this is not so in the
case of feeling. The reality that is present here is the act of feeling itself.
I do not feel something; but rather I feel myself.
{Something determinate is and must be present when a concept of a
goal is constructed, and in contemplating this, I am merely the intuiting
subject; yet it is feeling that provides the original manifold for [the con-
struction of] the concept of a goal.} What then is the nature of the tran-
sition from feeling to intuition? I cannot intuit a feeling unless it lies
within me; thus, if I am to intuit a feeling, I certainly have to be a feeling
Y Each of my feelings is felt as something particular; that is to say, to the extent that the
system of my feeling is present and is merely altered in the same distinctive way on each
occasion, then I immediately recognize a particular feeling. But if I had never experienced
this or that particular feeling, then it would be and would remain completely unknown to
me. I could neither imagine it on my own nor become acquainted with it from the de-
scriptions of others; it would be nothing at all for me. For example, a person who has
never yet tasted a melon, etc. (p. 66).
§6 181

subject. An act of reflection simply occurs [at this point]. 38 By means of

a new 39 act of reflection, an act that occurs with absolute freedom, the
1, as an intuiting subject, lifts itself above itself to the extent that it is a
feeling subject {and looks down upon the latter as the substrate}, and (67)
thereby becomes independent. z
We have now explained the origin of the material that presents itself
for our free choice.


A free action is possible only if it is guided by a freely constructed con-

cept of this action (§ 4); consequently, in advance of all action, the free
intellect must be acquainted with the possibilities of action. Such an ac-
quaintance can be explained only by assuming the presence within the 1,
prior to all action, of a drive, within which, precisely because it is only a
72 drive, the inner activity of the I is limited. Since nothing pertains to the
1 which it does not posit, 40 the I must also posit this limitation, and an
original limitation that is posited in this way is called a "feeling.'"'' Since
a free choice or selection is supposed to take place, a manifold offeelings
must be present, and these various feelings can be distinguished from
one another only through their relationship to the general system of
feelings, a system that is likewise originally present. 42

Comparison with the Compendium 43

In the older as well as in the newer version, striving or drive is taken

to be what is highest and primary in human beings.

~8 "Eo wird schlechthin REFLECTIRT:·

~· Radrizzani points out that we are here dealing with a single act of reflection and thus
proposes that the word "new" be deleted from this sentence.
z I cannot any feeling oulswu of me, but only within myself, and indeed, in such a
manner that the act of feeling itself acquires complete reality or becomes an object. Intu-
ition arises only after this, insofar as an act of reflection simply occurs-that is, occu~ with
absolute freedom. Intuition occurs when the I, as it were, raises itself above itself and then
loob down upon the feeling subject, as the substrate. The I thereby becomes i~.
but we will say more about this below (pp. 66-67).
Reading, with H and Krause's MS "was es nicht seue" for K's "als was es sich nicht
"so etwas nennt man ein Gefuhl." The translation interprets K's "so etwas" in the light
of the parallel passage in H: "(so ein setzen der ursprOnglichen Beschriinkung)."
Reading, with H and Krause's MS, "das gleichfalls unpriinglich vorhandene" for K's
"das gleichfalls nothwendige unpriinglich vorhandene."
~ As before, a few of Fichte's cryptic citations from GWL have been slightly expanded to
make it easier for readers to locate the relevant portions of the earlier text. Fichte's page
references to the first edition have been replaced with page references to SW, I.
In the present version, we begin with the immediate object of con-
sciousness, i.e., with freedom, and then go on to display the conditions
of the same. Free action is what is most essential to our inquiry. The pri-
mary aim of the previous version was to provide an explanation of rep-
resentations and of the intellect, and thus free action, striving, and drive
were there employed merely as a basis for such an explanation. In the
present version, the [realm of the] practical is the immediate object, and
the theoretical [realm] is derived therefrom. Furthermore, the proce-
dure of the present inquiry is predominantly synthetic, whereas that of
the former is more analytic.
What is ideal and what is real accompany each other and remain for-
ever separate. In the book, the ideal is specified first, and the real is then
derived therefrom. Here, on the other hand, we begin with the practical,
which is treated in isolation so long as it remains separate from and un-
related to the theoretical. But as soon as the two come together, they are
dealt with in conjunction with each other. Accordingly, the book's divi-
sion into theoretical and practical parts is here dispensed with entirely.
Both versions begin with a reciprocal determination of the I and the
p. 1 25. "Both the I and the Not-I are posited .... " This passage does
not give any consideration to the question of whether this mutual de-
termination is ideal or real. In contrast with the book, here we pay no
attention to this question. {Instead, we have exhibited a reciprocal rela-
tionship between the I and itself-i.e., between real 44 and ideal activity.}
{pp. 246-49, § 5· We are also not yet in a position to deal with this
topic here. Some of the things said on pp. 251-52, however, are accept-
able even within the present context. What is said on p. 252 is for us now
no hypothesis.}
p. 252. "The I was to posit a Not-I," etc. That the I "in part does not
73 posit itself' means: it posits itself as limited. I.e., the intellect must posit
something real in opposition to itself, because the ideal [activity] is sup-
posed to be limited. But the reason for this limitation cannot lie within
the ideal [activity] itself, and therefore it must be referred to the real [ac-
tivity]. This is how we come to oppose to the I something that lies within
the I.
p. 252. "A priori, this is a mere hypothesis.... "This proposition is
strictly demonstrated in the present version, because ideal and real ac-
tivity have here been distinguished and separated from each other.
p. 254. "The I is supposed to exert causality on the Not-/," etc. Here we
cannot yet speak of any such causality, for the concept of causality has
not yet been explicated. In the present version, acting is not inferred
from the Not-I; instead, the Not-I is inferred from acting.
•• Reading "reale" for H's "reine" ("pure").
pp. 254-55. "The conflict therefore ... an infinite, unbounded real-
ity." The concept of infinity is here assumed only for the purposes of the
presentation. {"The infinite 1": this is to be made comprehensible in
terms of its opposite, that is, through the I that is limited by striving.} All
that needs to be presupposed in order to explain striving is a purely ac-
tive being.
p: 255· "Insofar as the I posits a Not-1 in opposition to itself, it nec-
essarily posits limits." Where the previous presentation speaks of
"limits,"4 the present version speaks of "being halted" or " being con-
strained." But in this new presentation we do not infer these limits from
the Not-1; instead, we infer the Not-1 from the limited state of the I.
pp. 261-62. "The result of our inquiries so far.... " Something im-
mediate must be assumed in advance of all free determination, some-
thing in which the I and the Not-1 are united: a disposition, a striving,
a drive.
pp. 271-77. "We explain ourselves.... " (This is an important point
and is recommended reading.) The I sees everything within itself; even
if it views something as outside of itself, the reason for this must never-
theless lie within the I.AA
p. 277. "Without a practical power in the I. ... " This passage also de-
serves to be reread, but it needs to be read in the light of the new pre-
sentation. This new version does not repeat what was said in the earlier
one concerning the "check" and the "direction"46 [of the l's activity]; in-
stead, it speaks of "constraint" {of the ideal and real activities}. (6E
p. 279. "According to the account just put forward .... " This point
would now be expressed as follows: The I is originally self-positing; but
if its activity were not limited, it would be unable to posit itself. Conse-
quently, the original activity must be limited, if reflection is to be pos-
74 sible at all. The Not-1 does not impinge upon the I; instead, it is the I
that, in the course of its expansion, impinges upon the Not-1. 47
p. 279. "The ultimate ground of all reality for the I. ... " Nothing for-
eign is incorporated in the I. It receives no impressions or images from
the world. What is posited in opposition to the I possesses no force 48 of
its own which it could transmit to the I; instead, what is posited in op-
position to the I is the l's own limitation, and the reason why the I posits
something lies within the I itself. Force does not pertain originally to the
Not-1; only being does. The Not-I can initiate nothing; it is capable only
AA The I sees nothing but itself; it alone is the immediate object [of consciousness]. Thus
if the I is now supposed to see something outside of itself, it must intuit something else
within itself {p. 68).
Reading, with Krause's MS and with H, "Richtung" for K's "Nichtlch."
"Nichtlch st<i~Jt nicht auf das Ich, sondern das Ich in seiner Ausbreitung auf Nicht-
of hindering and arresting. The I cannot attain consciousness if it is not
limited. The ground of the limitation lies outside of the I, but the I pos-
sesses within itself the ground of its activity. I am originally limited, and
a manifold of feelings is also present within me from the start. I can do
nothing to alter this fact, which conditions and makes possible my entire
being, nor can I go beyond this; this is simply the point at which I find
myself. Only if I am provided with endless time am I then free and able
to do whatever I want within this sphere.
pp. 27g-8o. "The Wissenschaftslehre is therefore realistic .... a force
existing independently of them .... " Properly speaking, what is felt is
not what is opposed to the I; instead, I feel myself to be limited, and the
existence of what is opposed to me is first inferred in order to explain
this limitation. 49 The positive component in things is nothing whatso-
ever more than that aspect of them which is related to our feelings: that
something is red is a fact that cannot be derived from anything else; but
that objects are in space and time and are related to each other in cer-
tain specific ways is something that can indeed be deduced.
p. 280. "Notwithstanding its realism .... " I cannot exist unless I am
limited. But what does this mean? After all, it is only as a result of my
own positing that what limits me is external to me. When I reflect upon
my own consciousness, I understand the reason why I have to be limited.
I could not be conscious of myself if I were not limited and if there
were nothing to limit me. But I posit what limits me only insofar as I am
already conscious of myself, and therefore, only insofar as I am limited.
75 The possibility of positing A is conditioned by B; but I can posit B only
if I am conscious, and thus, only if I am limited by C, etc. I am limited at
every point of consciousness; yet I can now reflect upon this fact and can
say that my limitation exists only insofar as I posit it.
p. 281. "This fact, that the finite mind must necessarily posit some-
thing absolute beyond itself. ... " This circle is all that really limits us.
Again and again, whenever we posit within ourselves something we take
to be external to ourselves, we are then forced to seek something else
beyond what we have posited, something that is supposed to be inde-
pendent of us, etc. A person who is not conscious of this law will con-
clude that our own representations are all that exist. Such a person is a
transcendent idealist; whereas a person who believes that things could
exist apart from our representations is a dogmatist.
I explain something (A) by connecting it with something else (B), etc.
I cannot grasp everything at once, for I am finite. This is what is called
"discursive thinking." The finitude of rational beings consists in having
to explain things. With respect to its being, as well as with respect to the
determinacy thereof, the Not-1 is independent of the practical I. But it is
49 "auf das Entgegengesezte wird erst als Grund der Beschriinkung geschlofkn.""
dependent upon the theoretical I, for a world is present only insofar as
we posit it. When one is acting, one occupies the practical viewpoint. For
acting, the Not-I possesses independent reality; one can alter and com-
bine objects, but cannot produce them.
[p. 282.] That "something is related to the practical power of the I"
means: it is treated as hindering the same.
p. ·282. "The ultimate ground of all consciousness is an interaction of
the I with itself. ... " This means: [an interaction between] the ideal and
the real I.
{p. 282. The I is self-positing, but it cannot posit itself unless it is
constrained, without something that hinders its activity, i.e., without
a drive.}
pp. 283ff. "This relation of the thing in itself to the I forms the ba-
sis. ... " Our grasp of the thing in itself is like our grasp of infinite
space: it becomes finite as soon as one wishes to grasp it. The thing in
itself, i.e., what actually limits us, is an Idea-namely, that I must forever
posit myself as limited. 50
p. 286, nos. 1-3. "The striving of the I. ... " When one considers the
I by itself, all one discovers within the I is the ground of activity, but no
limitation. Considered purely in this manner, the I would become an
activity; but no striving would be engendered thereby, for striving is
possible only on the assumption that something limits the activity of
76 the I. Consequently, striving cannot be explained merely with reference
to the I.
p. 287, no. 4· The Not-1 does not approach the I, but vice versa.
Therefore we do not need to assume anything more than a "being" of
the Not- I. Were we to talk about a counterstriving of the Not-I, then we
would have to ascribe an inner force or disposition to the Not- I. (We will
have more to say about this below; it is not a topic that can be dealt with
here.) Thus the Not-1 should here be represented only as something
that merely "is,"51 and the counterstriving of the Not-1 disappears. The
I is originally active and expresses its activity as widely as it can. If this
activity is arrested at even a single point, a striving is thereby engen-
dered. The Not-1 is in this case a hindrance, a dam: not a counterstriv-
ing, but something standing in the way. 52 · 88
p. 287, no. 5· "Hence the forces of both must maintain an equilib-
rium." The I can go only as far as the Not-1 permits it to go. Later on we
will see how the I is also able to penetrate the Not-1.
"ist eine Idee, nehmlich da~ ich mich in die Unendlichlc.eit hinaus als beschranlc.t
sezen mu~."
"ein blo~s Seiendes."
"Kein Entgegenstreben, sondern ein Entgegenstehen."
The I arrives at the Not-I by means of its own activity, but the reverse of this prop-
osition is not true, though Reinhold supposed that it was; instead, the Not-I serves, as it
were, as a dam for the I's activity (p. 68).
186 §6

p. 287, § 7, no. 1. What is called "something" [in this passage] in the

book is, in the present exposition, called "that which hinders," i.e., some-
thing passive, to which the ideal activity is
pp. 288-go. Recommended rereading. Everything that is present
within the I and happens by means of the I can be interpreted as a drive.
The ideal activity is a drive for content, 53 because ideal activity is noth-
ing apart from objects.
{pp. 289-90 and p. 291, § 8, no. 2, should also be reread.}
pp. 311-15. To be reread.
cc "Something" means: that which is capable of being the object of an ideal aclivlty or
intuition-something that constrains the ideal activity and brings it to a hah (p. 68).
~ 3 "ein Sachtrieb." See § 1·
76 § 7

The chief question is this: Since the I's consciousness is, in its entirety,
a consciousness of free activity, how can the I become conscious of its
own free activity?A
We know that, prior to anything else, the I must construct for itself
a concept of its own activity, namely, a concept of its goal; 8 and in order
to do this, it must be given a manifold from which to make a free choice
or selection. 1 This manifold is given to the I through feeling. Thus
77 we have already answered that portion of our question which concerns
the content or material of the I's concept of its goal, for we have [shown
how] the I is given the material from which it constructs its concept.
The formal portion of the question still remains to be answered, how-
ever: How does the I assemble the concept of a goal from the manifold
of feeling?

(1) What is constructed for the purposes of self-determination, and has

to be constructed if self-determination is to be possible, is a concept;
and thus it is an object of the ideal or intuiting activity.c {(We cannot (6g)
yet speak of real activity, for the concept of a future action has to be

A The chief question to be answered by our Wissenscllllftslehre was the following: Since all
the I's consciousness is included within the consciousness of its own free activity, lww can the
I become conscious of this consciousnes.<? Or, since it is only by means of this free activity that
the I is all that it is, lww does the I now become conscious of this free activity? (p. 6g).
We found that the I exists and becomes conscious of itself only insofar as it acts.
It cannot act freely, however, unless it has previously constructed for itself a concept
But how can the I construct such a concept for itself? (p. 6g).
Reading, with Fuchs, "fiir die Wahl durch Freiheit" for K's "durch die Wahl durch
Freiheit" ("[ ... ) a manifold through the free choice").
c Self-determination requires something to regulate it, and this is a concept, and there-
fore an object of the ideal activity (p. 6g).
t88 § 7

constructed first.)} The distinction between ideal activity and feeling is

as follows: Some being has to be given to the ideal activity, a being that
is present independently of it and lies outside of it, whereas in the case
of feeling, what is real and what is ideal are one and the same. {What is
felt is the feeling subject: I feel myself; but the intuiting subject is not
what is intuited. The eye, the ideal activity, is nothing at all unless there
is something present that it copies.} The ideal activity requires an object
outside of itself, an object that fixes this activity. We are here concerned
with the concept of a goal; and in this case the object of which I form a
concept is not something that is already supposed to exist, though it
should nevertheless be something that could exist-and indeed, in con-
formity with the concept of a goal, should exist. 0 Yet even if one ab-
stracts from this possible [future] object, there always still remains
an object of the representation. Our task here is to deduce this actual
According to Reinhold, the subject, the object, and the representation
are all present within consciousness. 2 One first becomes conscious of a
representation [as such] through a new act of reflection. One then dis-
tinguishes, however, between the subject and the object; thus, whether
we are dealing with something real or with something merely imagined,
the object of thinking is still distinguished from the thinking subject.
This general concept of an object should here be noted. {Even imagi- (70)
nary objects, such as Pegasus, demonstrate that some object must always
be opposed to the intuition, or ideal activity, and that the object and the
subject are distinguished from each other within the representation. By
means of the representation or act of thinking, the intuiting subject and
the intuited object are still distinct, even if the latter is something
present only within my thoughts.} This, therefore, is the [application to]
intuition of a principle that was established earlier:!! something real
must always be posited in opposition to the ideal activity, for no intuition
would be possible otherwise.
{This is the character of an intuition: An intuition, as such, is not iden-
tical with the subject, that is, with the intuiting subject. To be sure, this
object [the intuition] can be identical with the subject in some other re-
spect, e.g., as an action of the I; nevertheless, to the extent that the I is
engaged in acting it is not engaged in intuiting.}
Remark: When we talk in this context about an object present external to and inde-
pendent of the ideal activity, we are not referring to any object actually encountered within
experience; for what we are concerned with here is precisely the process of constructing a
concept that is supposed to exist [that is, to be embodied in an object) only in the future.
When, for example, I want to alter something and give it a new form, this future form is
nevertheless present for me within intuition. Sometime in the future I might actually en-
counter this form within experience-or perhaps not (p. 6g).
See n. 5 to § 1.
'See § 3· sects. 3 and 4·
§ 7 189
{Therefore, if the concept of a goal is to be constructed, that is, if it is
to become an object of the ideal activity or of intuition,} the concept that
has to be constructed must be an "object"4 in the sense just described.

(2) The material from which the ideally active subject assembles its
concept is supposed to be supplied by the manifold of feeling. But a
feeling {is not an object of the ideal activity, [it]} is nothing objective; in-
stead, it is purely subjective. Nor is a feeling anything that can be
{intuited or} grasped conceptually, 5 {and thus no concept can be con-
structed from it}. Feeling and comprehending are opposed to each
other. The very things that are united within feeling must lie outside of
one another in the concept and in the intuition. Our present task is to
explain how the content of feeling 6 can become the object of an act of
intuition or comprehension.
78 (This is a very important question, because it will lead us to the object
proper-the Not-l-and will provide us with a description of the man-
ner in which the Not-1 is constructed.
Our question could also be phrased as follows: How does the I manage
to go outside of itself? The distinctive character of the Wissenschaftslehre
is revealed in this question. {How are we supposed to accomplish the
transition from what is merely subjective-feeling-to something objec-
tive, something that can hinder the activity of the I when it is acting?
Answer: through the productive imagination, which is simultaneously
free and constrained by laws, thanks to which the concept of its action
is at the same time also necessary.} The theory of the productive
imagination 7 here obtains a new clarity and solidity. The entire sensible
world is produced by the productive imagination, in accordance with its
own specific laws.)
A feeling is not an immediate object of intuition, nor can we freely
choose to repeat a feeling, as we can repeat our representation of an ob-
ject. A feeling is not a thing; it is not something we have to construe 8 or
can describe. It is a state [of the 1]. It is nothing substantial; instead, it is
an accidental property of a substance. Nevertheless, a feeling appears to
be inseparably connected with an object, and it cannot be felt without

• "Dieser soeben geschilderte Charakter des Objects mull dem zu entwerfenden Begriffe
zukommen.'" Cp. H: "so mull auch dieser Charakter derObjectivitat dem zu entwerfenden
Be~f zu kommen.''
"das begriffen wird."
"das was Sache des Gefiihls ist."
The "productive imagination"(Jwoducliw Einbildungskraft) plays a crucial role in Kant's
account of the possibility of experience. It is the active power (or ""faculty") that mediates
between and unites thought (concepts) and sensation (intuitions). See the entire "transcen-
dental deduction of the categories," especially KRV, A115-38 and B 15o-56, B 164.
8 ""kein zu construirendes.'' H: "nichts CONSTRUIRBARES" ("nothing that can be con-
being related to an object.E There must be some reason why this is so,
and it is just this connection between feelings and objects which we are
going to investigate.
{By means of the reproductive9 imagination, we are able to repeat a rep- (71)
resentation connected with a feeling that we once had, and in this way
we are also able to engender a feeling-albeit only a weaker one. Thus,
to the extent that there is a necessary connection between representa-
tion and feeling, one can start with a representation that has been freely
reproduced and proceed from there to feeling.}

(3) I am, at the point at which we have arrived, limited; i.e., no

expression 10 of activity is possible. A feeling is immediately connected
with this limitation. What is limited in this case? I am limited only inso-
far as I attempt to engage in real activity; and thus it is only real activity
that is limited, not ideal activity. {My ideal activity cannot by any means
be so limited that it cannot express itself further; on the contrary, it ex-
presses itself in feeling.} Consequently, if anything further is to ensue, it
must occur by means of ideal activity.
This is the point where ideal activity and real activity diverge from
each other, and where each can be described only with reference to the
other; for they stand in a reciprocal relationship to each other. The
whole, undivided I is present within feeling: we cannot see the I, but we
can feel it.~'"
As we just said, the ideal activity is able to extend itself further [i.e.,
beyond feeling], and this means that it does so with the freedom and
self-activity characteristic of the I. In the case of feeling, the I's activity
cannot express itself in this manner, because it is precisely through lim-
itation that feeling becomes feeling in the first place.
79 The intellect is directed at something independent of itself; it is sup-
posed to manifest itself externally or to "express" itself. 11 How and for
what reason? For no reason whatsoever! Intelligence is an absolute ac-
tivity of the I; it must express itself just as soon as the conditions are
present which make it possible for it do so, and these conditions are
present whenever the real activity is curbed.c
"An ol:>jective representation is connected with a feeling, and this representation is
supposed to contain the ground of this feeling; this ground is our own reason, understood
as a necessary connection between feeling and representation (p. 71).
9 Reading I!.EPRODUCTIVEN for H's PRODUCTIVEN ("productive"),
Reading, with Krause's MS, "Aeuserung" forK's "Anschauung."
FIn feeling, ideal and real activity are undivided; they are united and interrelated = X,
which we cannot intuit but can only feel (p. 7 1 ).
11 '""sie soli sich a.usern}' Though ii.u.nern means ••to express;~ utter," manifest,'""

etc., it is closely related to au{Jer ("outer," "outside," "beyond") and iiuPerUda ("external").
In order to "express" themselves, the l's drives must go "outside or• the I.
o-rhe ideal activity is directed at something foreign, something independent of it It ex-
presses itself for no (external) reason, but only because it lies within the nature of the I to
§ 7 191

The I, by nature, is a drive; thus we could interpret the ideal activity

as the product of a drive toward reflection, or a drive toward an object,
or a drive for content. 12 Some such drive must be presupposed in order
to account for ideal activity. H A drive of this sort cannot be felt, for a
drive can be felt only to the extent that it is not satisfied; but the reflec-
tio.n drive is satisfied on every hand. One must carefully distinguish this
drive from the drive to real activity, which frequently goes unsatisfied.
{Accordingly, the I is a p·ower of intuition; it simply intuits.} 13 Thus
something is intuited simply because it is intuited.

(4) The ideal activity is a free activity, whereas, in contrast, feeling is a

passive state. But the ideal activity has previously been described as con-
strained. What kind of freedom are we then concerned with in this case?
It is an actual instance of doing something, 14 a production of something
new, something that first comes into being through this very activity.
The ideal activity is constrained, in the sense that it is not uncondition-
ally free, but must conduct itself in accordance with certain laws. {The (?
reason why the ideal activity posits anything at all is not contained within
this activity itself, but lies in something else.}
The ideal activity can be characterized as free only insofar as the I at-
tributes this activity to itself. This occurs through the opposition of an
unfree state, namely, feeling. 15 Thus, if the ideal activity is posited as an
act of wrenching away from a passive state of feeling, then both the op-
position and the bond of unity between feeling and intuition are
present. No intuition would be present without feeling, and intuition
would necessarily follow from feeling. {Both must be comprised in one
and the same act of the I. That is to say, they must be simultaneously
opposed to and nevertheless united with each other; for the I cannot
posit anything except by means of its opposite, which is what makes an
intuition of the former possible. This act, in which both [intuition and
feeling] are simultaneously present in opposition to each other, is an act
of "wrenching away"-a state from which and to which transition is
made.} We would thus have here yet another application of the principle
that ideal and real activity do not exist apart from each other. In this

do so. This activity expresses itself as soon as such an expression becomes possible, that
is, as soon as the real activity is limited; thus the ideal activity is alone active [in this case]
(p. 71).
"Die Natur des lch ist ein Trieb, wir konnen also die ideale Thatigkeit erklaren aus
einem Triebe zur REFu:xJON, auch Trieb nach einem Objecte, oder Sachtrieb." A few lines
later, Fichte uses the term der Rejlaionstrieb, here translated as "reflection drive."
" In order to distinguish this drive from others, one could call it the "ideal drive," or the
"drive of the intellect," or the "drive toward representation" (p. 71).
' "es schaul schlechlhin an."
"ein eigentliches Thun."
"Die~ geschieht durch Gegensatz eines nicht freien Zustandes-des Gefiihls."
192 §7

case, the principle states that feeling and intuition do not exist apart
from each other. Feeling is something real; intuition is something ideal.
8o One advantage of this is that it prevents feeling from being omitted from
the system of the human mind; instead, feeling is shown to be necessar-
ily connected with this system and to be a necessary component of the
same. Every individual point that has been established has to be inte-
grated into the whole. This is what is now occurring in the case of in-
tuition: no intuition is possible unless a feeling is posited along with it
{and vice versa}. Thus we obtain the following result:
There can be no intuition apart from feeling and no feeling apart
from intuition. They are {through the necessary opposition of freedom
and nonfreedom} synthetically united and reciprocally determinable.
An intuition is nothing unless a feeling is posited in opposition to it. The
transition from feeling to intuition {is simple and} is as follows: The ideal
activity expresses itself just as soon as it is able to do so, and whenever a
feeling is present it is able to express itself; hence it does so.
{To be sure, one can still think of a feeling apart from an intuition, for
feeling is something original, something not derived from anything else.
Ideal and real activity are joined within feeling. But there can be no con-
sciousness of a feeling without intuition; for in consciousness feeling and
intuition separate from each other. Consciousness is bound up with in- (73)
tuition, and feeling lies at the basis of intuition-or rather, feeling pre-
cedes intuition.}

(5) That the situation must actually be as we have described it is a con-

clusion that follows from its very description. If a free action of the I,
practical activity, is to be posited, then a feeling must exist, {for this is
precisely the condition for the possibility of our free action}. Feeling,
however, exercises no influence upon the other operations of reason un-
less it is posited, but it cannot be posited except in opposition to intu-
ition. The main question now is, How are intuition and feeling posited
in opposition to and in relation to each other? In what act {or state
(for we cannot yet say precisely whether this is an act or a state)} of the
mind are they compared with each other? (The feeling = A. The
intuition = B. Thus there must be some third thing = C, in which feel-
ing A and intuition B are united.)
An intuition is itself immediately accompanied by a specific feeling,
[the feeling that] this intuition is related to me. 1 That through which an
intuition becomes "mine" is itself a feeling. Why, one could ask, do my
thoughts, intuitions, etc., not appear to me to be movements of some-
thing foreign to me? Why do they seem to me to be mine? {Why do we
The relation of the intuition to me, through which it becomes my intuition, is nothing
other than a feeling (p. 73).
§ 7 193
consider our representations to belong to us?} This is an important
question, {which no one has asked until now-not even Kant}. (fhe
Kantian synthesis of pure apperception does not attain to the level of
this question.)
My act of self-positing underlies and is thus bound up with certain
other_things. The positing of myself as engaged in intuition is a feeling
of myself. Obviously, nothing more is present within this feeling of my-
self than a feeling: I feel myself, and I feel myself to be limited. I feel
81 myself, and, to the extent that I am engaged in feeling, I am not en-
gaged in intuiting or in thinking. I am then present for myself only in
and by means of feeling. By means of ideal activity, I am able to wrench
myself away from this limited condition of feeling, but the I that
wrenches itself away in this manner is what is limited, {for only on this
condition is the act of wrenching away possible}. Just as I must be limited
for myself {with respect to feeling}, so must I also be-for myself-the
subject that wrenches itselfaway 1 {with respect to feeling}. All the above
concerns feeling; 17 therefore, the feeling of selfl 8 is that C which in-
cludes within itself both feeling and intuition. It is only through this
continuous feeling of myself that feeling and intuition are syntheti-
cally united}
The act of intuiting is not felt as such, {which would be absurd}. What
is felt is the transition from limitation to intuition, that is, the act of de-
termining oneself to engage in intuition-a self-determination that
stems from an act of reflection in which the I engages.

(6) {We have now become acquainted with the form 19 of intuition.} What
then can be present within an intuition? What is the content 20 thereof?
No intuition is possible unless the practical activity is limited and
{thereby} separated from the ideal activity. The practical activity is, in
this case, canceled; but since this real activity also belongs to the I, the
ideal activity has to be related to an object, {for otherwise something (74)
would be missing from the I as a whole}.
"mu~ ich auch das lo~reijknde sein fiir mich."'
17 "Die~ ist allein Absicht des Gefiihls." This sentence makes little sense as it stands and
hence has been amended (following a suggestion by Radrizzani) by replacing the words "ist
allein" with "ist alles in." This reading, which remains conjectural, is guided by the parallel
paragraph in H, in which the phrase "in Absicht des Gefiihls" occurs twice.
"das Selbstgefiihl."
1 By means of ideal activity, I wrench myself away from this constrained state of feeling.
Who is the I that does this? It is the limited I, for the act of wrenching away is not possible
otherwise; and to this extent the limitation with respect to feeling is present/or me. Simi-
larly, I am also, for myself, the subject that wrenches itself away with respect to feeling.
Therefore, both the intuition and the feeling are mine-thanks to my feeling of self, through
which feeling and intuition are united; and this feeling of oneself is the C we have been
seeking (p. 73).
"das FoRMALE."
194 § 7

While I am engaged in intuiting, I feel myself to be simply active {to

the extent that the feeling of self is related to this intuition}; [hence]
what is opposed to the act of intuiting has to be posited outside of me
and thus becomes a Not-1, something that merely limits.K It is only from
the philosophical viewpoint that we see that this is supposed to be the
Not-1; [considered in itself,] it is merely what limits. {In intuition,} the I
has not gone outside of itself. What I intuit is my own limited condition.
But this is not intuited as mine; it is not referred to me. I am the felt
subject of intuition, and, as such, I am active. Thus it is through limita-
tion that the ideal activity becomes an ideal activity.
I am not what is intuited in intuition; I am the subject and not the
object of intuition. In contrast with feeling, intuiting is an activity. A
feeling of self is connected with the act of intuiting. While engaged in
the act of intuiting, I feel myself to be active. What then is the object {of
intuition}? It is nothing but feeling itself, the feeling of my own limited
state.L This limitation is not posited as my own, however. {I do not ap-
pear within the intuition; I am merely the active subject of intuition, and
insofar as I am ideally active, I am not limited. On the other hand, only
insofar as my ideal activity is limited does it become an ideal activity at
all (appear within my consciousness). In intuition, however, I do not re-
flect upon myself as the active subject; the limitation (that is, the object)
is not referred to me, is not treated as "mine," but is instead treated as
something simply "in itself." That is to say, even though I and limitation
are, as subject and object, opposed to and at the same time united with
each other within intuition, I am, nevertheless, not intuited at all. In-
stead, my own limitation here appears as an object, as something that
limits; and it is intuited as such. But it does not appear as "my" limita-
tion, since what sets limits cannot be referred to me, but instead appears
as something outside of me, as something limiting.} The object is [thus]
posited as something external to me; as Not-I, it is posited in opposition
to the I, but no notice is taken of this act of opposing; 21 I do not relate
it to myself.
As was said above, it is nonsense. to talk about the content [of intuition]
being given 22 to the I as a whole. Nothing can be given to the I, for the
I has no "limb" 23 to which something "given" could be attached.

K Within intuition, I feel myself to be purely active, to the extent that the feeling of self
is related to the intuition; thus I am an active I. Now the object is added. This lies outside
of the intuition; and hence, insofar as intuition involves activity and insofar as the I is the
intuiting subject or is active, this object also lies outside of the l-and thus in the Not-I.
This Not-I, however, is merely something that limits; it is not something that is limited (p. 74).
L In intuition, the I does not go outside of itself; it itself is not intuited and does not
ap,p,ear within consciousness. It is limited, and this limitation is the object of intuition (p. 74).
Reading "Entgegensetzen" for "Entegegengesezte" ("what is posited in opposition").
22 "gegebensein des Stoffs."

"'"kein Glied." ·.~

§7 1 95

If, nevertheless, something is supposed to exist for the I, then there

must be, in addition to the general sphere within which the I encloses
itself, another, narrower one. The power for which something is present
is the intellect, which subsequently posits itself in a particular fashion as
"I." The entire world constitutes our general sphere. Within this general
sph~re, one must posit another, narrower one. If this narrower sphere is
now taken to be the I, then there is something external to the I. {The I
encloses itself; nothing foreign can enter into it. Nevertheless, the I also
discovered many other things, outside of itself, which, together with the
I, entered into this general sphere. In addition to this general sphere of
the I, the I must once again enclose itself within another, particular
sphere, so that this narrower circle would include those things that do
not belong within the wider circle of the I, inasmuch as the ideal activity
has posited itself again as an I in particular.

©A Sphe\e

Thus, anything lying outside of sphere B would be the Not-I and, with
specific respect to B, would not belong to the I.}
The existence of such a narrower sphere {B} is now established. In in-
tuition, the I feels itself only as active. The I's passivity is excluded [from
the narrower sphere of the I], and, in this way, an object becomes possible.
I feel myself to be limited. I then wrench myself away from this state
of limitation. Both the act of feeling and the act of wrenching myself
away from feeling occur in the same, undivided moment. The ideal ac-
tivity cannot be limited; thus, if the real activity is limited, this leaves
only the ideal activity, and this isolated acting is an act of intuiting.
My state becomes altered by this act of wrenching away; I become free
and active, since I am in a passive state while engaged in feeling; but,
since all this passivity still remains, it becomes an object {of intuition, (7.
and indeed, [is intuited] as an immediately given object, not as one related
to the 1}. The alteration this "something" undergoes can be explained
only by my freedom in intuition. M
M The I is active in intuition and passive in feeling. When the I is considered in these two
different ways-i.e., first as passive and limited, and then again as active-then it also has
two different objects, and consequently, two different spheres. In fact, however, feeling and
intuition are synthetically united in one and the same state, and therefore they have one
and the same object: the state of limitation. Feeling and the wrenching away of the ideal
activity constitute but a single moment, for the isolated acting of the ideal activity (for this is
all that remains after it has wrenched itself away [from the passive state of feeling]) is pre-
cisely intuition. Since all that is altered by this act of wrenching away is my own state, this
196 § 7
Feeling and intuition are synthetically united with each other within
the same moment and within the same state; neither exists without the
other. From the philosophical viewpoint, the object of feeling is the same
as that of intuition. For the I itself, however, these are two different ob-
jects, because the I is here considered in two different ways: On the one
hand, it is passive, and in this case it is a feeling of limitation; on the
other hand, it is active, and what is felt in this case is the object. In short,
the intuition is the same as what is felt; but insofar as this is an object of
intuition it does not remain something merely felt, but instead becomes
something intuited, something "seen," something that is not referred to
the I-only in the concept is it once again referred to the 1.24
In this way we can also explain the synthetic unification of the pred-
icates derived from feeling with those derived from intuition-which is
otherwise inexplicable. I taste something sweet and posit the existence of
a piece of sugar, and then I say, "The sugar is sweet." A feeling is here
transferred to an object of intuition, and the two are united with each
other in the same moment. {The object is not felt to be sweet; instead,
what I actually feel to be sweet is myself. I feel that an object is present
only insofar as I am engaged in intuiting.}
In this situation, the I itself is only felt and is not intuited; therefore,
no act of intuiting appears, as such, within consciousness. In intuition,
the I loses itself in the object of intuition, or, as Kant puts it, "intuition
is blind." 25 Accordingly, in intuition something hovers immediately be-
fore me. 26 I do not ask whence it comes; the object simply happens to be
there. This is how the object appears within the act of intuiting, but this
act of intuiting does not appear {as such} within consciousness; and, for (75)
this reason, when viewed from the ordinary standpoint, the object can
be said to be immediately present. N This is the way objects originally

passivity-this limited state-becomes an object of intuition, and indeed, as an immediately

given object, not as one related to the I (p. 75).
The translation here follows Fuchs's suggestion, and con trues "B" in this sentence as
an abbreviation for Begriff ("concept"), rather than-as elsewhere in K-for Bewusstsein
("consciousness"). See the dictat to § 8, where ''the concept" is defined as "an intuition ac-
companied by a consciousness of the intuiting subject."
KRV, As1/B75· What Kant actually says in this celebrated passage, of course, is that
"thoughts without content are empty; intuitions without concepts are blind."
"schwebt mir etwas unmittelbar vor." The verbsich vorschweben normally means "to en-
tertain the thought of something" or "to have something in mind" and conveys a certain
sense of vagueness, as in the phrase "to have a notion." Though Fichte frequently employs
this term in its ordinary sense, he also exploits the root meaning of the verb schweben ("to
hover'' or "to oscillate'') to give a semitechnical meaning to this common expression. He
then employs it to designate the way in which an intuition, without being related to the I
or to any other intuitions (and thus without being assigned any particular spatial position),
occupies the attention of lhe imuiting subjecl as something distinct from the latter. In
lhese cases, vorschweben is here translated, somewhat awkwardly, as "lo hover before" (one's
N In its striving, the I is limiled to this feeling or lhat, and it cannot have any feeling
without an intuition-though lhe I is not posited as intuiling, that is, the intuition is not
§ 7 197
present themselves within consciousness. Any philosophy that denies
this is groundless.
Uacobi 27 calls such an object "an immediate revelation," and in some
ways he has understood it better than any other philosopher. His only
error is that he posits this object to be something that is "revealed" apart
from 1-my relationship to our reason. This is not what it is; instead, the
philosopher shows how this immediate revelation is connected with a
This is, in fact, how we arrive at objects: A feeling is present within us;
we are limited, and from this limitation we infer the existence of some-
thing outside of us which limits us. But this entire process occurs imme-
In feeling, I discover myself to be limited; but I cannot feel without
intuiting, and an object is immediately present for intuition. The same
determinations [of consciousness which were present in feeling] are sub-
sequently present when the object is treated as something that affects us
from without, but such determinations first appear only when the object
is already present. The "something" that hovers before the intuiting sub-
ject is, in this case, neither an image nor a thing. It is there without any
relation to us. Neither image nor thing, but both at once, it is subse-
quently divided into the ima~e on the one hand and the thing on the
other. It is the raw material 8 for both, an incomprehensible "some-
thing" with no relation to us. Within ordinary consciousness, we too af-
firm the immediate presence of things.

related to the I; the I is not conscious of its activity, but loses itself in its object (or, as Kant
says, the inluition is blind): for these reasons, the I is forced to posit something immediate,
something opposed to and independent of the I, a Not-I that is not related to the I and to
which it ascribes the character of "being."
The object of intuition is a feeling, but it is a feeling as something intuited, and not as
something related 10 the I. An intuition is simply something hovering immediately before
the I. The I does not ask whence it comes; it is simply there for the I. Its intuition does not
appear, as such, within consciousness; instead, since the I is limited in its feelings, and since
it is thereby engaged in intuiting, the object appears to it as something immediately given.
The I infers that something limiting exist.s beyond iUelf (p. 75).
n Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi (•743-181g) was a well-known novelist and essayist, as
well as the author of several profoundly original philosophical treatises, in which he at-
tacked philosophy in general and transcendental idealism in particular as "nihilism."
Against the claims of speculative philosophy, Jacobi defended the necessity of "faith" or
"belier· in every area of human life and expounded his own version of "direct realism.''
Fichte's reference is presumably w a passage on p. 51 of jacobi's 1787 "Dialogue," David
Hume ilber dm Glauben Oiler Ideali.mus und Reali.smus, in which Jacobi notes that the honest
realist bases his position upon nothing more than "the fact that things stand before
him" and adds: "Can he find a more appropriate word to express himself than the
word 'revelation'? Indeed, isn't it precisely here that one should look in order to dis-
cover the root of this word and the mgin cifils use?" Unavailable for nearly two centuries,
the first edition of this important work has recently been republished in a photo-
mechanical reprint edition with an English introduction by Hamilwn Beck (New York:
Garland, 1983).
" "der Urstoff."
198 § 7
At this point, we cannot characterize the intuition any further than as
follows: It is something that hovers before the I. To the extent that it can
be related to the intuiting subject, but not to the I as a whole, it is "Not-
84 I," inasmuch as it is something positive which brings activity to a halt. 29
It can be characterized as a "being," for it transforms the entire activity
of the I into ideal activity.
The object is not felt; it exists only insofar as I am engaged in intuit-
ing, and what I feel in the act of intuiting is myself.

(7) Our task is to explain how a concept of a goal is possible, or at least

to explain the possibility of an intuition that could supply the material
required for {the construction of} such a concept. Intuition of the sort
discussed so far can only be the intuition of an actual object, for it is
based upon a feeling oflimitation. How then can there be an intuition of
a possible object, as opposed to an actual one? What is there within feeling
to which such an intuition {of a purely possible object} could be attached?
{Once again, it is through opposition that this intuition of a purely
possible object is to be deduced.}
{I feel myself to be limited in my striving.} I cannot-feel myself to be
limited without at the same time feeling myself to be striving, for my
striving is precisely what is limited. Consequently, a feeling of striving, of
{inner} impetus, must also be present. The feeling of limitation is, ac-
cordingly, conditioned by the feeling of striving, {and, in turn, this feel-
ing of striving is nothing without limitation}; only together do they
constitute a complete feeling. {Something twofold is thus present within
every true feeling: Limitation means nothing by itself; nor does striving
have any significance by itself Limitation and striving must be connected
with each other.} Here we originally discover a bond between different
things within the I, a bond grounded in the very content [of
consciousness]. so The theoretical sphere can easily be derived from the
feeling of limitation and the practical sphere from the feeling of striving.
Since they are both originally connected with each other, they cannot
subsequently be separated, and this is the ultimate reason why there can
be no theory apart from practice. i
The object of the previously described type of intuition is something l
that limits, something that exists; but every being negates something I

else. There is nothing limiting without something limited; no being
without something that is canceled by this being.
{The intuition of a possible object is now to be posited in opposition to
this intuition of an actual one, and they will be deduced in this way. The
chief difficulty, however, lies in the fact that the proper character of in-

"etwas positives haltendes."
..eine in der Sache gegriindete Verbindung."

~. :.
§ 7 199
tuition cannot be renounced in our inquiry.} Though the proper char-
acter of intuition cannot be canceled, we nevertheless have a propensity
to do just this; for intuitions are never present in ordinary conscious-
ness, within which only concepts appear. {For an intuition by itself is
nothing whatsoever; and yet intuition is here supposed to be posited
pqrely in and for itself, in accordance with its proper character, that is,
without any concept and without being posited as a determinate state of
the 1.}
What is canceled by the being of the object is not the activity of the I. _
No I is posited in intuition, {which is concerned with nothing whatsoever
but a "something," with a content apart from any subject}; the I disap-
pears into the object. Intuition is directed at an object, and thus what is
85 excluded by what exists is also an object; it is the ideal, 31 which, as such,
is the object of an intuition.
{The possibility of an intuition, or, more correctly, the intuition of a
possible object, as opposed to an actual one, occurs because the object of
an actual intuition is something that exists, 32 something that limits-or,
more precisely, it is the limited state of the I.
Something else, another object, is excluded by this [actual] object,
which therefore cannot be posited apart from something else that is can- (7
celed by the being of the actual object.}
The object of the previously described intuition [namely, an actual ob-
ject] is something that limits, a limitation of the I. But the limited con-
dition of the I cannot be posited as such, for the I itself is not present
within intuition. The object is something that simply hovers before the
intuition, a mere object without a subject. Something is supposed to be
posited in opposition to this object, something that negates it. This is
therefore an object in the fullest sense of the word, i.e., something to
which the ideal activity is related; but it must also be something that
does not exist, something that can explain striving. 0 {Such an object is
not; i.e., it is not an actual object, not an object that exists-precisely be-
cause it is posited in opposition to what exists. Such an object can be said
to exist only in relation to striving.} This {object of intuition} is the ideal.

(8) {We thus now have two types of intuition, or rather, two types of ob-
jects for intuition: (1) the object of striving, and (2) the determinate

" "das Ideal."

0 The actual object of intuition is thus something limiting. What then is it that is limited,

that is canceled by the being of the actual object? This is not the I, since the I does not
appear within intuition at all and is by no means posited, but rather disappears therein.
Instead, since intuition, in accordance with its very character, is directed only upon an ob-
ject, then it follows that what is excluded by the actually existing object must also be an
object; for intuition is supposed to occur, and nothing can be opposed to this intuition but
an object, to which the ideal activity is related (p. 77).
200 § 7

object.} What then is the distinction between these two objects, the one
that explains limitation and the one that explains striving? They are sim-
ilar in that both are objects of intuition {and both acquire the character
of "objectivity"}. What distinguishes them is this: The former is a deter-
minate object; the ideal activity is here constrained in combining the
manifold. The object of striving, on the other hand, is a determinable
object; the ideal activity is here completely free to combine the manifold
in any way it wishes. The latter 33 only sets us a task, i.e., the task of pos-
iting something-and indeed, positing something in opposition to the
former object, for the I is limited by the first object. In both cases, how-
ever, the ideal activity is similarly constrained.
Without settling the question of whether the feeling of limitation is a
simple feeling or might instead be a combination of several different
feelings, it is nevertheless clear from what has already been said that ev-
ery feeling is indeed divisible with respect to its intensity 34 and that ev-
erything contained within intuition is, as it were, infinitely divisible,
though such a division is not [actually] possible in the case of an intuition
of a determinate object, for such an intuition is directed at something
given, {which cannot be freely divided, because its object-and therefore
the degree of feeling as well-is determinate}. In contrast, such division
is possible in the case of a determinable object, and it must be posited as
such, in opposition to the former object. In this latter case, {the ideal
activity is not constrained in combining the manifold, for} we are merely
assigned the task of positing something; since no content of feeling is
given, our task in this case is {only} to search for a feeling. We will see
below how a feeling can be found.
This latter intuition [the intuition of a possible object] is empty. It is a
free act of oscillating or hovering over the {infinite} manifold-a man-
86 ifold with which the I is familiar only by means of its striving. 35 It is an
intuition of the task of positing an object, {which, however, cannot be (78)
explained. It is nothing more than a link for our future series of
{Similar to this is the concept of the ideal.} The concept of the ideal is an
"Idea." 36 An Idea is a concept of something that cannot be compre-
hended at all, e.g., the concept of spatial infinity. This appears to involve
a contradiction, which can be resolved as follows: No concept of the ob-
ject in question is possible {since, as soon as I try to think about it, it
becomes finite before my very eyes}; we can, however, form a concept of
' 3 Reading, with H, "letzte" forK's "erste" ("former").
""der INTENSION nach." Fichte appears to employ the terms Grade ("degree") and In-
tension ("intensity") interchangeably.
'"Reading "Streben" for K's "Schweben" ("oscillating" or "hovering"), a reading sug-
gested by the otherwise virtually identical passage in H. Without this change, the passage
would read: " ... with which the I is familiar only by means of its act of hovering."
"eine Idee." See n. 6 to the "First Introduction," p. 79·
§ 7 201

the rule in accordance with which a concept of this object could be pro-
duced as a result of an infinitely prolonged process of advance. E.g., in
the case of infinite space: {one can indeed begin to think about it, and it
can be expanded ever further; but one cannot think of the infinity
itself}. Every space that can be grasped is finite, and this is why we sim-
ply attend to what we would have to do if we wished to grasp an infinite
space. If we abstract from the rule in question {(or from the individual
acts of intuition)}, then we are left with nothing but the {advance, the
expansion, the} quest, and this is the object of intuition with which we
are here concerned: {the ideal}.

(g) In the course of developing our philosophy, we ourselves have now

opposed these two types of intuition to each other. Now, however, an-
other question arises: How does the original I think of this? How does it
posit these two intuitions in opposition to each other? While it is en-
gaged in intuiting, the I merely feels itself (see above). Intuition is di-
rected entirely at the object {through which the I feels itself therein}. In
the intuition of what limits, the I feels itself {or feels its ideal activity} to
be limited; in the intuition of what is ideal, it discovers itself to be free.
{What does this mean?}
Simply by virtue of the fact that it has an object, the ideal activity is
always limited. Nevertheless, despite its limitation, it remains an activity,
an inner act of forming images, an act of producing something within
itself, an act of internal self-intuition.~17 In the first case [that is, in the
case of an actual object], the ideal activity is limited with regard to the
concept it is supposed to construct; in the second case [that is, in the case
of a possible object], it is entirely free: no object or rule is given, but only
a task. In intuition, therefore, the I feels itself to be partly limited and
partly free. P
The I cannot feel itself to be limited, however, without also feeling it-
self to be free-and vice versa. Each of these two states is determinable
only with reference to the other. {In order to have an intuition I must
feel myself to be free and limited at the same moment.} Neither feeling can
be separated from the other. {The synthetic union of both intuitions fol-
lows, in tum, from this.} Both intuitions, that of a determinate object

37 "inneres Bilden, ein Machen in sich, ein innerliches sichanschauen."

P The ideal activity is always limited by the fact that it posits an object. It is free only as
an inner acting or as an act of forming images-an activity that can only be intuited.
[In the case of an intuition of a determinate object] the ideal activity is limited and has
to intuit the object just as it is. Nevertheless, its activity remains an inner acting, an intu-
iting of itself as active.
[In the case of an intuition of an ideal object] the ideal activity is not limited. It can con-
struct any possible image; no object is present for it which it has to intuit. Nothing is
present but a task. Thus, in this case, the I feels itself to be free (p. 78).
202 § 7

and that of the ideal, are necessarily united with each other; neither is
possible apart from the other.
Feeling has here been derived as the fundamental state, with which
everything else must be connected. Feeling is the first, immediate object
87 of our reflection. The I feels itself, and indeed, it feels itself as a whole;
but, as we know, the I is both practical and ideal, and it is through feeling
that the practical I and the ideal I are now first separated from each
other. The I first feels itself to be practical; in fact, this is the immediate
feeling, {the feeling x.a• 'Esox.fJv,}38 within which the feelings of limita- (79)
tion and striving are united. But the I feels itself in its entirety; thus it
also feels itself to be ideal, and, to this extent, it feels itself to be engaged
in intuiting-within which intuition, once again, limitation and striving
must be united,Q and four different elements are again present: a feel-
ing of limitation, a feeling of striving, an intuition of a determinate ob-
ject, and an intuition of the ideal. {All these are absolutely present
alongside one another and are synthetically united within the human
mind. For feeling is united with intuition: I feel myself as a whole, and
therefore it is not only my real activity that is limited; my ideal activity is
limited as well. But what is ideal is intuition. Furthermore, no feeling of
limitation is possible apart from a feeling of striving, and thus, neither
can there be any intuition of a determinate object without an intuition of
the ideal, i.e., without any relationship to our own efficacy. If activity
were not canceled or limited, then we could never perceive or intuit any
object.} These four elements are necessarily united; none of them can
exist apart from the others. Later on we will see that other elements
must be added to these.

An intuition is necessarily connected with every feeling; for feeling is

limitation, but a limitation that is not opposed to an activity is nothing.
That within the I which necessarily remains an activity, however, is its
ideal power. The point of union between feeling and intuition is this:
even as the I feels itself39 to be limited (in its real aspect), it also feels
itself to be engaged in intuiting (in its ideal aspect). To the extent that
intuition is directed at the limitation, this limited state of the I becomes

' "par excellence."
Q The I also feels itself to be active idealiter, however, and, to this extent, engaged in
intuiting-within which limitation and the quest or striving for an object must be united
' Reading, with Krause's MS, "lch, selbst" for K's "lch sich."
§7 203

a mere object, with no relation to a subject, and the intuition is felt to be

constrained in the depiction of the object. A feeling of this sort, however,
is impossible apart from an opposed feeling of freedom; consequently,
the intuition is also, in another respect, felt to be free, and to this extent
it is an intuition of the ideal.
{What we have said so far is not enough to complete our task of [ac-
counting for] the possibility of constructing a concept of a goal, since we
have not yet established the possibility even of what was presented in the
preceding §. What was said there cannot even support itself yet-to say
nothing of anything else.} In the preceding §, intuition was shown to be
necessary, and the gy-ound of this necessity was explained as well. In the
act of intuition, however, the I loses itself in its object. {There we were
dealing with intuition as such, apart from any relationship to a subject.
What is still lacking, therefore, is any proof of the I. How can it consciously
88 posit it.self?} How is a concept of free acting still possible? Or, how is it
possible for the I to exist for itself? {This question coincides with the pre-
vious task of determining how it is possible to construct a concept of a
goal.} Thus we must now investigate the I further and must show how
the {preceding} intuition must be related to the I, that is, how the I must
be present for itself.

( 1) According to what has already been said, there is {necessarily} a man-

ifold of feeling; but a feeling is a specific limitation, and it is impossible
for the I {at one and the same moment of time} to feel itself to be limited
in a certain respect and also to feel itself to be not limited in this same
way-which is just what would happen if a multiplicity of feelings were
to be present within the I in one and the same respect. The I would be
limited and not limited in one and the same way; it would be opposed to
itself and {no limitation,} no reality (material content), 1 would remain.
{For the feelings that make up the manifold of feelings are opposed to
each other: I cannot have, for example, a feeling of sweet at the same
time I am having a feeling of sour. Otherwise, the I would lose its iden-
tity. Thus the manifold can be unified only if the various feelings are
"Stoffheit ."

[ 204]
§8 205

present in various different ways.} Accordingly, such a manifold of feel-

ing can be thought of only in terms of an alteration in the state of the
feeling subject. (This manifold cannot be simultaneous; it must be succes-
sive {-which is also how it actually exists-}, though this will become
clear only when we reach the deduction of time.) 2 {The manifold must
therefore be present not in any single way, but in a variety of different
ways, that is, as a variety of different alterations in the state of the 1.}
How then is such an alteration in the state of the feeling subject possi-
ble? So far we have seen that the I is originally enclosed within certain
limits, and from this a world arises for the I. The I is absolutely free to
expand these limits {through its self-determination}, and, in doing this,
it alters its state and thereby alters its world. However, since we have not
yet provided a deduction ofthe possibility ofthis free self-determination/1
this cannot be the type of alteration that concerns us at present. A
Could the state of our limitation, along with the world corresponding
thereto, perhaps alter themselves on their own? This is hardly to be ex-
pected, for it is the character of the world merely to "be" and not to be-
come; it initiates no action. Instead, the situation must be as follows:
Some principle of alteration must already be present within our very na-
ture, i.e., within our determinate state-as is the case with plants and
animals, {within which alterations also occur. Thus, before I can alter (81)
myself by means of an act of self-determination, I must already have
been altered. There must therefore exist some sort of intermediary
thing, which we call "nature," some sort of force or principle of activity, 4
by means of which I alter myself independently of my freedom and with-
out any consciousness of my self-determination. Could this turn out to be
the cause of the alteration in question?} Later on we will see that some-
thing of this sort is indeed the case. 5
• Be this as it may, at this point I may ascribe no more than hypothet-
ical validity to this postulate of alteration. However, if it should turn out
to be the case that consciousness can be explained only through such an
assumption and cannot be explained without it, I would then have the
right to postulate it categorically. {In the meantime, however, we may
certainly not deny that we are here, once again, assuming something un-
proven and allowing a gap to remain.}
2 See below,§ 12.
'See the deduction of willing in§ 13.
A But is this alteration something the I can freely accomplish?
We cannot yet answer this question. We are now only at the point of deriving the pos-
sibility of freedom and of explaining the possibility of self-determination; indeed, we will
be using this alteration [in the state of the I] to make freedom comprehensible.
A free alteration (produced by the I) does indeed take place, but we are not here con-
cerned with this alteration, for then we would find ourselves caught up in the following
circle: I am free, because I alter my state; and I alter my state, because I am free (p. 81 ).
• "eine Krafft, PRINCIP thatig zu sein."
See below, remark A to sect. 6 of this §.
206 § 8

(2) An alteration thus occurs in the state of the I. Accordingly, two dif-
8g ferent feelings, A and B, must be present (both of which are mere feel-
ings of limitation). In the previous § we found that a number of things
necessarily follow simply as a consequence of feelings as such, and thus
all these same things must here follow in consequence of feelings A and
B. Since feeling A and feeling B are different, however, their conse-
quences must also be different. 8 This opens up for us an important
prospect, one that reveals more to us concerning the inner workings of
the human mind.
{Remark: The term "feeling" is always employed here to signify the
mere feeling of determinacy; therefore, it is to be distinguished from the
feeling referred to as "X" in the previous §.}
For the time being, we will concern ourselves with the problem of how
these two different feelings are united within consciousness. This will
lead us further.
We raised a similar question in§ 6, above: How can a manifold or mul-
tiplicity of feelings be related to and distinguished from one another? In
the course of our previous discussion, we answered this question insofar
as it concerns the matter or content [of feeling], but not insofar as the
form of the same is concerned. 6 {Here we are concerned not with the
union of the two states with respect to their content, but rather with a
union with respect to their form, that is, with tJu comparison and union of (82)
tMse two states within consciousness. The question is this: To what within con-
sciousness are they supposed to be att.acMd?} In what way are these two dif-
ferent states united? When I talk about "feeling A," I make reference to
my entire state; and this is equally true of feeling B. In each case, my
own state forms a single, complete whole-though, in the one case,
feeling A is subtracted from this whole, and, in the other case, feeling B
is subtracted. This provides me with the thread to which both A and B
are attached, but to what do I attach this thread itself? We have [discov-
ered] what would bind this state fast, but not how this would be
accomplished. 7 •c

B Every alteration, however, presupposes the presence of two different feelings, A and B,
and thus presupposes the feeling of a manifold. But no feeling is anything determinate
unless some other feeling is posited in opposition to it; therefore, whenever a single feeling
is presem, a manifold is present as well. But since feelings are different, what arises out of
them (i.e., intuitions) must also be different, which is just how we described such a state in
the previous § (p. 81 ).
"Die~ hat die materiale Schwierigkeit gelosl, aber nicht die formale."
"dann habe ich einen Faden, woran ich A und B festhalte; aber woran halte ich diesen
Faden fest{?] wir haben ein un< aber kein wie, das diesen Zustand fest halt."
c We have already explained (in § 6) how it is possible to unite two different feelings-
insofar as their content is concerned. We already have the "what," but how this union oc-
curs is something that still remains to be explained (p. 82).
§8 207

(3) One should view the union in question here as a union of opposed
feelings A and B, or as a union of opposed states of the I. The entire
system of sensibility cannot be felt, for it is nothing positive, but is
merely a relationship, {a movement of transition from one [state of feel-
ing] to the other. Considered in themselves, these two states have nothing
in common with each other, for they are posited in opposition to each
other: The only thing they have in common is the I. They adjoin each
other at their boundaries, and they can do this only because they are
posited in opposition to each other, i.e., because they are [two moments
of] a single alteration.} As we have already discovered above, however, an
activity of the I can be intuited only as a movement of transition from a
determinable to a determinate state. Therefore, one could also say that
nothing pertaining to the I is intuitable except the transition [from one
of its states to another]. Consequently, this particular transition [from A
to B], which cannot be felt, since it is nothing positive, could perhaps be
intuited. We do not yet know how-or even if-such an intuition is pos-
sible, however. We know only that it cannot be felt. Nevertheless, if any
movement of transition is to be present at all, it must exist for the I.D
• Let us now, albeit in a provisional manner, make this description
somewhat more precise. Here, as above {in§ 6}, we referred to "a gen-
go eral system of sensibility as such." What is this? It is not the same thing
as the feelings themselves, for it is precisely from this system that these
feelings must be distinguished; and indeed, it is only by being distin-
guished from and related to this system that feelings first become pos-
sible for the I at all. Consequently, the system of sensibility would be
[another name for] the "alterability" or "affectability" of the l-and in-
deed, its alterability or affectability as a system, as something exhaustive
and whole, something that constrains the ideal activity {and [thus be-
comes] a possible object for it}. The system of sensibility would thus be
the sum total of all possible alterations, but only insofar as the form of
these alterations is concerned, apart from all content. {A feeling is
merely something that is felt, something that cannot be described and is
possible only through the system of sensibility. This system is originally
present for me in advance of all feelings. It is a continuously advancing
line, along which the individual feelings are connected with one another.
What then can be contained within this system of sensibility? It cannot
contain the content of sensibility, for this is nothing but alteration itself,
without any reference to the 1; 8 instead, the system of sensibility con-
tains the formal aspect of sensation, as something that limits the ideal
activity and is its object. Therefore, this system is a mere concept or Idea,
0 Therefore, this movement of transition must exist for the I, if an intuition of its own

activity is also supposed to occur herein (p. 8:.~).

"ohne Beziehung rua das lcH."
I 208 § 8

and is consequently something incomprehensible, for it neither alters

nor is altered.} (This system will eventually prove to be our body, un-
derstood as a system of affectability and spontaneity, though at this
f point we are concerned only with affectability.)£

I The whole [system of sensibility] is made up of nothing but relations,

and yet it is supposed to be something; this is implicit in the nature of
ideal activity, F and our primary task is to explicate the productive power
of the ideal activity-to show, for example, that matter is extended in
space and that this matter is nothing other than a relationship to our
We have reached the point where the system of our sensibility comes
into being for us. This system of sensibility is explained by our present
presupposition (that our feelings are intuited), just as, in turn, the ex-
istence of this system supports our presupposition.G
{Above, in§ 6, we discovered that every feeling is indirectly accompa-
nied by other feelings, and this occurs by means of the system of sensi-
bility, or by means of a comparison with the enduring state of the I as a
How did we come by this system? It was not given to us; instead, we
inferred that there had to be something lying between the two feelings,
A and B, something through which they are united. This could not be
another feeling, since it lies between and mediates both feelings. Thus it
must be an intuition = X.
Consequently, this intuition X would be an intuition of alteration.} An
alteration from A to B is intuited, and thus it is something determinate.
But there is nothing determinate apart from something determinable;
accordingly, no alteration can be intuited apart from alterability, {and
this is precisely the system of sensibility-and in this way the postulate
that was previously propounded only problematically would now be
deduced}. But if "alterability" is to be something for us, then it can only
be something we assemble from the intuition of several alterations.
This particular intuition (which we now call "intuition X") is different
from the intuition presented in the previous§. It is not just any intuition
or intuition "as such"; it is the intuition of a movement of transition.
As surely as anything is intuited at all, an object hovers before the in-
tuiting subject, an object that acquires its "objectivity" from the fact that
an intuition is referred to it. Consequently, the alterability we are dis-
! "' cussing already becomes "something" here, precisely because an intu-
! : E Nevertheless, this system of sensibility is very important, for from it we will derive our
body, as the system of our affectability and spontaneity (p. 811).
• The system of sensibility consists in nothing but relations to our various sensations;
nevertheless, thanks to our productive power or ideal activity, this [system as a] whole is
transformed into "something" (p. 82).
G The presupposition of a movement of transition from alteration to alterability as such
is the point of origin of this system of sensibility (p. 83).
§ 8 209

it ion is directed at it. (The system of our alterability is our body. This is
certainly something and must be extended in space, which occurs only
by means of intuition.) Intuition X is an intuition of the I itself. The feel-
ing subject would now be identified with the system of sensibility;9 the I
endures throughout every feeling. X would be the intuition of the I,
which discovers itself as an object within this intuition. H
{Our standpoint is now that of intuition X, within which the unifica-
91 tion [of feelings A and B] occurs.} For the present, let us simply ignore
the content of this intuition and seek to determine its form, along with
whatever is connected with the latter.

(4) Let us now display the individual components of intuition X.

{A} First of all, it follows from what was said above that, whenever the
I engages in intuition, it possesses a feeling of itself {as the intuiting
subject}. It is through this feeling of myself that an intuition first be-
comes my intuition (See previous §). Since this is true of all intuition, it
is also true of intuition X. I feel myself to be the intuiting subject; I do
not intuit myself to be the intuiting subject, for in the act of intuiting,
the I loses itself in the object. What is intuited in X is the I itself, which
is at the same time the feeling subject within this intuition. Both {the
intuited object and the feeling subject} are thus one and the same. What is
the source of this identity {of subject and object}? How does it appear
within consciousness?
{B} {Furthermore, how is this object distinguished from intuition X
( = the I)?} Finally, how is intuition X itself intuited? That is, as what is
the I intuited in this case? According to the previous §, all we can say in
answer to this question is that the I is here intuited as intuiting Y. {Thus
we would here have two intuitions: I intuit myself ( = intuition X) as in-
tuiting ( = Y).}
• {C} The I feels itself to be the intuiting subject (previous §). {In the
previous § we also spoke of an intuition of something that limits: intuition
Y, without which there is no intuition at all. But now another question
has arisen: How does this intuition become mine? This occurs only in-
sofar as I feel myself to be an intuiting subject.} Self-feeling transforms
itself at this point into self-intuition. {I intuit myself as the intuiting sub-
ject. The intuiting subject is itself intuited.}
• What can the object of intuition X be? In the case of intuition Y, I
am, in relationship to some thing, the intuiting subject. I am now sup-
posed to observe this intuiting subject. How is this possible? It cannot be
9 "Es ware nun das fiihlende im System der S!:NSIBILITAET erschopft."
H This system [Qf sensibility] would thus be the feeling subject that is present in every
feeling, that which endures throughout all alteration-i.e., the I. Consequently, what
would come into being for us through intuition X would be the I. In X, the I discovers
itself. Here the I itself becomes an object for the first time (p. 83).
210 § 8

done immediately (previous §). Intuition X is supposed to unite the

opposed feelings A and B. Accordingly, its object must be something
common to both feelings; since we are dealing with an alteration in the
state [of the I], however, there must be something that endures through-
out this alteration. Feelings as such contain nothing that endures in this
way, for A and B are opposed to each other, {[and] if A is present then B (84)
is simply not present for me at all. What then is it that endures? Accord-
ing to ordinary common sense, the feeling subject is and remains always
the same. But we first wish to investigate how we arrive at a feeling
subject.} No feeling subject is present at all within feeling A orB, for ev-
ery feeling is something determinate, whereas a feeling subject, that is,
a subject that does nothing whatsoever but feel, is nothing determinate.
From what has already been said, it follows that nothing endures ex-
cept the active subject, and indeed, the subject that acts idealiter. There-
fore, the object of intuition X must be the ideally active subject-and
indeed, {we must posit it} as such, for we are acquainted with it in no
other way. {For something external to the intuiting subject-something
that hovers before it and is present without any assistance from the in-
tuiting subject-is always posited in opposition to the act of intuition;
and thus it is only by being related to an object that any intuition first
comes into being.} But how can this ideally active subject become an ob-
ject of intuition?
All experience consists of constantly changing alterations. What then
could .be the origin of anything enduring that could appear among these
appearances? 1
This enduring something is nothing other than the I that continues to
entertain representations throughout all changes, the {idealiter} acting
subject. It does not appear as such, however; instead, since it appears
within intuition, it appears to be something objective. This is how it ap-
pears within intuition X. Moreover, I must intuit myself, since I unite
within myself the opposed feelings A and B, and this intuition would
provide me with the background against which I could display feelings A
and B. 10• 1 {Thus, in intuition X, the I intuits itself, but not as it is in itself;
instead, it intuits itself objectively, as active. In order for activity to be
intuitable as such, it has to be fixed, and this occurs in [feelings] A and
B, or in intuition Y, where the I appears as continually active. The two

I feelings, A and B, can therefore be united only through intuition of the

1.} But the difficulty still remains: How can activity be intuited as such?
Where then can intuition X obtain an enduring substrate, which appears as enduring
in all appearances? (p. 84).
"wurde mir den Boden geben, auf den ich A und B auftragen konme."
J And this objectivity of the I, which is present whenever the I acts, is the foundation of
everything that appears for the I, the ground 11 of all objectivity (p. 84).
"der Boden."
§8 211

In intuition X, the I intuits itself as the subject that is active in feelings A

and B, and this result continues to present us with a problem.

(5) The activity attributed to the I in intuition X is certainly, as such, a

specific or determinate activity; for what is attributed to the I in this case
is intuition Y, and the latter is something that limits the I as such. {Thus (8~
here too [that is, in X] the I is intuiting in a determinate way, and thus
a determinate activity would here be present as well.} Expressed briefly,
what we have presupposed is that, in intuition X, I intuit myself as in-
tuiting Y; consequently, I should discover myself to be the same I in both
these intuitions, {[for] I am the same intuiting subject in both,} and
therefore, there must be some third thing in which X and Y are united.
{Or, since intuiting is simply an internal observation of the image-
forming subject, how is it that I claim to observe myself, and why do I
claim that it is I who form these ima~es? That is to say, why do I call the
subject that forms these images "I"? 2
The first question-namely, how, in the case of intuition X, does this
become my intuition? How can I claim to be observing myself?-presents
fewer difficulties than the second. [In answering the former] we have
already been assisted by self-feeling: I feel myself to be the intuiting sub-
ject in X.}
{The second question was, How does intuition Y also become my in-
tuition? Or, how can I claim that, in the intuition of an image, I am, at
the same time, th£ subject that forms or entertains this image? Or why is the
subject that intuits Y the same as the subject that intuits X? Reply: be-
cause neither is possible apart from the other.}
Intuition X becomes mine by means of an immediate {self-}feeling.
This, however, is not true of intuition Y, which is mediated by X, and
would therefore have to be connected to X, if Y is to be my intuition.
Intuition Y would necessarily have to be included within intuition X as a
necessary component of the same, and in such a way that X and Y could
not be separated from each other, and Y would have to be felt by means
of X. {In short, [knowledge of the identity of the intuiting subject in X
and in Y would be made possible only] through the necessary connec-
tion and unification of both in some third thing, i.e., in selffeeling. More
specifically: Insofar as the real activity of the I (or the "real I") is limited,
a feeling arises. But the ideal activity remains; it tears itself free and sep-
arates itself from the real activity, and in this way there arises an intu-
ition of the limitation in question (that is, intuition Y), which is the sort
of intuition discussed in the previous §.} This could occur only in the
following way: In Y, the ideal activity would be limited in a particular
' 2 uOder da anschauen so viel i.u als ein inneres Zusehen des Bildenden-wie kommts
denn da~ ich behaupte, da~ ich mir zusehe u. da~ ich bilde oder warum ist das Bildende
212 § 8

manner, through which it would be constrained to form one particular

image and no other, 13 {that is, it would have to arrange the manifold of
intuition in one precise way,} and only in this way would a feeling of the
subject that intuits Y become possible as well. For every feeling is a lim-
itation, and the feeling with which we would here be concerned is that of
an actual-albeit ideal-limitation. K {/ thereby feel this [limited] activity.
But, along with this feeling, an intuition of this limitation of the ideal
activity arises as well, because some ideal activity still remains neverthe-
less, and this is what produces intuition X or the intuition of oneself.} In
this manner, this {ideal} activity {or the I} would also become intuitable
in X, {because} insofar as it is a limited quantum, it would become some-
thing objective.
The state of the I would thus now be as follows: I feel myself to be
limited, but the activity in relationship to which I feel myself to be lim-
ited is one that is actual but at the same time ideal {-an activity that (86)
here becomes practical, and is thus no longer a mere striving, as it was
above}. Insofar as this is an activity, I can only intuit it, and this provides
intuition X. But insofar as this activity is limited, I feel it; and this pro-
93 vides feeling Y. X and Yare inseparably connected with each other; nei-
ther can exist without the other.
{We thus have both a feeling and an intuition of the present ideal
activity = X, the activity of intuiting Y.}
It is not possible to feel the ideal activity-nor can it be present at all
{and thus, there can also be no self-intuition = X}--unless the ideal ac-
tivity is limited. The limitation is [provided by] intuition Y. {Thus, no X
without Y.} What is limited in feeling is the real I. But as soon as the real
I is limited, the ideal activity resumes, and it is the ideal activity that is
active in intuition X. {Intuition Y, the necessary foundation of which lies
in intuition X, thereby becomes possible.} Here again, we have a synthe-
sis {and thereby obtain, at the same time, an expansion of our system}, 9
just as we previously encountered a synthesis in the course of our gen-
eral discussion of intuition as such.
• The previously described intuition Y is itself here what limits [intu-
ition X]. Intuition Y is an action of the I; it is the intuition of a thing. A
feeling arises when this limitation is related to the actual I; but since
there is no feeling unaccompanied by an intuition, an intuition of this
limited intuition arises along with the feeling of the same. The former
intuition is an intuition of the I; the latter is an intuition of the Not- I.
{We can now safely conclude that there can be no intuition without self-

" "gerade so zu bilden und nicht anders."

K This now produces a feeling of the intuiting subject itself, since a feeling arises when-
ever a limitation is present. rn this case, there was supposed to be a limitation of the aclual
ideal activity, and thus there is something limited (p. 85).
§8 213

awareness, and vice versa. I.e., I cannot be aware of any object or thing
( = intuition Y) without being aware of myself; but I can be aware of my-
self only by being aware of an object, because when I become aware of an
object, I become limited, and I discover myself thereby.} From this we
obtain the following synthetic principles: There can be no intuition of
the Not-I (outer intuition) without an intuition of the I (inner intuition),
and vice versa. Neither of these intuitions is possible, however, apart
from a feeling of oneself; for it is within self-feeling that these two in-
tuitions are united, and it is there that the necessary connection between
them is revealed. {That is to say, the I intuits itself as intuiting something else.}
The limitation we are now discussing is [a feeling of] being compelled
to think in a certain way, i.e., to represent something in precisely such
and such a manner and not otherwise. I cannot be aware of anything
outside of me without also being aware of myself as being aware of it.
But neither can I be aware of myself without also being aware of some-
thing outside of me, for it is [only] thereby that I am limited. No I with-
out a Not-I, and vice versa.
• The intuition of the I and the intuition of the Not-I are thus recip-
rocally related to each other; neither is possible apart from the other.
The reciprocal interaction just indicated never ceases; it is only further
determined. With this, we have now answered the question that re-
mained unanswered above: "How is the I able to feel itself in intuition?"
Answer: [It is able to do so] only to the extent that it is compelled and
With this preliminary understanding, we are now in a position to pen-
etrate somewhat more deeply into our subject.

(6) {According to the previous §,} an intuition necessarily arises when

the real activity of the I is limited, since the ideal activity always re-
mains-though the intuition produced thereby is, for the moment, only
an intuition of what limits[the activity of the I]. This [i.e., the state that
is produced when its real activity is limited] is therefore a quite specific,
determinate state of the I. {It is practically limited and idealiter
intuiting.} Beginning with this specific state, we can obtain an under-
standing.ofthe genesis of the intuitions and feelings we have here been
discussing. 15 This first state is supposed to be followed by an alteration.
L These two intuitions interact reciprocally with each other. I myself become the object
of a feeling-! feel my I in the intuition-only to the extent that I fm4 nryulf cmt~fNIW to
think ma particular ""']. •• that is, only insofar as I am aware of an object that limits me
(p. 86).
•• "in so fern ein DENJ<:tWANG statt findet."
•~ "Von ihm aus kann eine genetische Einsicht in dasjetzt gesagte gegeben werden." By
a "genetic understanding" (or ~insight"), Fichte means an understanding that allows us to
understand how something is derived from or grounded in something else-which, in this
214 §8

We do not know how or why this alteration is supposed to occur, but we

have in fact postulated its occurrence. 16 The I is {yet again} limited by (87)
this alteration in its limited state. {I.e., its entire state is now limited, not
only practically, but also idea/iter.} Above, the I was what is limited; this
limited I is here itself limited. In the first state (previous §) the I is, and
it is something or other; i.e., it is fixed and held fast. A determinate
striving is contained within the I, because the I is limited; or activity is
negated within the I, and this is what characterizes "being."
• The I, however, does not yet exist for itself. {It is arrested, with
no reflection upon itself; it disappears into the object. (For being-in
relation to an intellect-is the object 17 of the ideal activity.)} No act of
reflection of the I upon itself can be derived so long as we occupy
the viewpoint just described. It will turn out that the I that is engaged
in intuiting will also possess a being for itself. 18 It is this being {of
the I = A} that is now limited by this alteration-that is, the being of
the I is limited by {feeling} B, in contrast with A, in which only the
striving of the I was limited. What is limited is the being of the I, {a
being that is constituted only through feeling A}. Feeling B, simply be-
cause it is a feeling, is also a limitation of striving, and this is something
it has in common with A. Here, however, we will abstract from what
these two feelings have in common and will pay attention only to what
is distinctive about feeling B; i.e., we will attend only to the alteration.
A being exists only for the ideal activity; but the ideal activity is not
yet directed at the entire being of the I, and thus, to this extent, neither
the being [of the I] nor its ideal activity can be limited at this point. In
intuition Y, however, the ideal activity is directed at the being of Y,·M
but if the being of the I {in feeling A} is limited {and altered by B}--
which, according to what has already been shown, is what must hap-
pen-then the being {of the I} in the intuition of Y19 will {likewise} be
limited and altered.
The limitation and alteration of external being follow from the limi-
tation and altt;ration of my own being {as a feeling, in A}. An intuition

sense, provides the "conditions for the possibility" ofrhe former. So undersro<XI, transcen-
dental philosophy, and rhus the entire WissemchafLJlehre, is a quest for a "genedc under-
standing" of human experience i"n its entirety.
"wir haben sie <wiirklich> posrulierr." A study of the manuscript shows that the
questionable word in this sentence might also be deciphered as "willkiirlich," in which case
the clause would read: "we have freely postulated its occurrence."
"Es wird sich finden, dall das Ich zu diesem Anschauenden ein Sein fiir sich haben
" The ideal acriviry is now directed ar another being of the I, namely, at a being of the
intuition = Y (p. 87).
19 Reading, with H, "das SEYN des Ich in der Anschauung des Y"' for K's "das Sein im

Anschauen, des Y."

§8 215

( = Y) of something limited necessarily arises as a consequence of the

limitation of my real activity in A (previous §). If this limitation A, which
is the basis of intuition Y, is further limited, it follows that anything based
upon it must also be limited, and this provides intuition Y. An intuition
is produced by the limitation of real activity (previous §).
A determinate quantum of such limitation produces a determinate
95 quantum of intuition. If the basis is limited, then whatever is based
thereupon is limited as well. ("I am limited in intuition": This means
that, in representation Y, I am constrained to order the manifold con-
tained therein in a certain way, and not any other way.N Every limitation
provokes a feeling; consequently, this also occurs when the ideal activity
is limited in intuition Y.)
At first, the only basis of limitation that was taken into consideration
was the limitation of the practical power, for it seems odd that the {ideal}
activity, which has been established to be unlimitable, could become lim-
ited and give rise to a feeling. One might call upon experience 20 for as-
sistance at this point. Within experience, we do indeed find ourselves
compelled to think and to construe objects in a particular way. {That is
to say, the ideal activity is limited; however, we must know how to derive
this result from our principles.} The situation would have be somewhat
as follows: the ideal activity would become practicaJ {or real} and, to this (88
extent, would be limited-and this would occur with freedom. 21 {For the
time being, we must assume and presuppose this.} Later on, we will show
that this must indeed be the case, since otherwise our whole system
would collapse. A new feeling will arise from this limitation of the ideal
activity, but an intuition will necessarily arise from this feeling. This
would be intuition X, which we have been discussing until now. The ob-
ject of intuition X would be what is limited by the feeling we have just
described, and this is the I itself, or the ideal activity of the I.

N When limitation A is further limited, this produces a limitation in whatever is based

thereupon. Therefore, since what [here] serves as the basis is limited by a limitation of its
activity (intuition), the intuition that follows from this is limited along with it; conse·
quently, I am constrained in the representation of Y, or my ideal activity is limited (p. 87).
Actually, the text of K says precisely the opposite, that "one may not call upon expe-
rience" ("Auf die Erfahrung darf man sich nicht berufen"). Both the present context and
the parallel passage on p. 87 of H (which contains no "nicht"), however, suggest that this
sentence should be amended as is here indicated. In either case, the point remains the
same: though one may (or may not) call upon experience for help, this would be to no avail
within the context of a systematic account like the present one, within which, as Fichte
goes on to point out, the basic "facts of experience" must be established by being derived
from philosophical first principles and thus cannot be used to establish the same.
"dal\ die ideale Thiitigkeit praktische wiirde, und mit Freiheit hervorbriichte und in
sofern beschriinkt wiirde." Again, the translation of this somewhat obscure passage has
been guided by the less ambiguous parallel passage in H: "ideale Thiitiglr.eit wird durch
ABSOLUTE Freiheit selbst praktisch oder REAL u. hiedurch also beschriinkbar." But note that
H states that the ideal activity in this way becomes "limitable," not "limited."
216 §8

At first, the I, as an object of intuition, possesses being-i.e., it is

"something." The limitation of the I constitutes state A. 22•0 In {intuition
X}, the I is given to itself; it is discovered as an object. The intuiting
agency in [intuition] X is the ideal activity, which is directed at this being.
(This is a single state, since the I is both what is felt and the intuiting
subject. The feeling subject and the intuiting subject are united.}
The connection between the subject that feels this feeling and what is
intuited is now completely dear, as is the ground of their identity. A de-
terminate feeling produces a determinate intuition, and, along with this
intuition, an object of this intuition is also produced-an object that can-
not be separated from the intuition. This is the bond. {Intuition Y is the
bond of intuition X; i.e., insofar as intuition Y is ascribed to the I, intu-
ition Y is the I. Intuition X is possible only if intuition Y is posited.}
I feel and I intuit. I am the same I in both cases, but I am also sup-
posed to be what I intuit. This object ( = I) is bound up with this deter-
minate intuition ( = X); I feel myself to be limited by my own being. To
be sure, the subject that intuits Y is not the object of intuition X; instead,
the object of intuition X is the being, {the limitation, the state} of the I,
{the I as a kind of material}. But the act of intuition is necessarily and
g6 inseparably connected with this, and it is by means of this bond that the
I proceeds further. 23
Since the intuited object is supposed to be I, it follows that its being is
necessarily determined by the ideal activity's act of positing a thing = Y;
only on this condition can it be intuited.
The result would be as foiJows: An alteration {in state A} produces a
feeling of this alteration, as a limitation of the I's ideal activity; from this
feeling there then arises an intuition ofthe limited I as such, an intuition
within which the I appears as an object as such, and intuition Y appears
as a necessary accident of the I, {i.e., as the Not- I}.
If no I is present for the I, then no Not-1 is either, nor is there any
consciousness. Neither the intuition nor the concept of the I is possible
without some alteration in the I's feeling, however, {for the intuition of
the I is based upon this change or alteration; hence it must be postu-
lated, for otherwise no I could ever appear, since it is the l's very nature
to be purely active. But we become conscious of an activity only by means
of limitation or-what amounts to the same thing-through feeling,

22 "es ist etwas. Die Regrenz.theit des lch ist im Zustande A;" This sentence is defective as

it stands. The translation omits the ~im.~ Another possibility, adopted by Radrizzani in his
French version, is to omit the "ist," thus construing this passage 10 read: "is 'something,'
namely, the limitation of the I in state A."
0 The object of this intuition X would thus be what is limited in the feeling, i.e., the 1,
whose ideal activity is limited. As the object of its intuition, the 1 is, i.e., it is "something,"
and this "being" would be the being of illi state A (p. 88).
' "diejJ ist das Rand[,] woran das lch weiter fortgeleitet wird."
§8 217

and moreover, only insofar as several feelings are posited in opposition

to one another; which is to say, it is only through an alteration in our
state that we become aware of an activity.} Accordingly, some change of
feeling is a condition for the possibility of self-consciousness, and, as
such, the occurrence of such a change simply has to be postulated. Con-
sequen~y. such a change of feeling, which was previously assumed only
problematically, must necessarily be assumed.
(A) Intuition X is nothing but a reflection upon what was already de-
duced in the previous §. 24 {I now reflect upon myself, and I accomplish
this by means of the alteration that has occurred in my feeling.} (The
Wissenscho.ftslehre proceeds as follows: The I posits A; but in order for A
to be posited, the I has to reflect upon this, and then it must reflect, in
turn, upon its own act of reflection, etc.)
Concerning the alteration of feelings: The first limitation = A (see
previous §) is an original limitation of my nature. From this limitation,
taken by itself, nothing whatsoever follows-not even an intuition of the
I. I can, however, expand my nature through my own free acting, and
something may well follow as a result of this. I cannot act freely, however,
unless I am already an I for myself, or unless it is at least possible for me
to be able to be an I; and in order for this to be possible, some alteration
must occur within my nature: I must be acted upon, my nature must be
affected. {Thus, when I am in state A, I must be capable of being af-
fected or altered or moved, from which there then arises state B. I.e., my
nature must be changeable 25 rather than constant.} One does not have
to go beyond the I in order to explain this, for a disposition to be af-
fected in this manner may lie within the I itself. Within ordinary con-
sciousness, this [alteration in my feelings] must be explained by
referring to the presence of something external to me.
(B) The limitation of intuition Y, which has supported our argument
97 until now, means that we are intellectually compelled to think of a cer-
tain object in a particular manner, and such compulsion involves a feel-
ing: I feel myself internally compelled to think of things in precisely this
or that way.
But am I {absolutely} compelled to think of things in a certain way? (8g)
{Reply: [fhe compulsion in question is] not absolute, but is conditional.}
I can abstract from them, or I can think of them in a different way, {e.g.,
as possessing a different shape or color,} and no intellectual compulsion
is involved in this. In this case, however, my portrayal of the thing in
24 "Die Anschauung X ist nichts anderes ab die im vorigen § deducirte Reflexion."

Though a more natural rendering of this sentence would be "intuition X is nothing other
than the act of reflection deduced in the previous §," the context, as well as the parallel
passage in H, make it clear that the sense intended is the one conveyed in the translation.
218 § 8

question will not be adequate to the truth, whereas if my representation

is supposed to correspond with the thing, then I am indeed compelled
to think in a particular manner. {This, therefore, is the sense in which
this intellectual compulsion is conditional: it depends upon whether our
representations are supposed to possess truth.}
• But what sort of "truth" is this, by which my representation is sup-
posed to be measured? This question concerns the reality we consider to
be the foundation of the representation. The truth that is here in ques-
tion is our own being, or rather the practical aspect of the same, for this
is that which is immediately determined and for which no further foun-
dation can be adduced. We construe our own being through a thing out-
side of us, and when this thing outside of us points to a being within us,
then it is portrayed in a manner that conforms to its truth. A certain
quantum of limitation outside of me follows as a consequence of a cer-
tain quantum of limitation within me.P
(C) {The opposed determinations of the 1-the I as representing and
the same I as acting-are in this way united. The bond of their identity
lies in the fact that they are present together within intuition. I cannot
entertain any representations without observing my practical state, and
vice versa. I cannot act without intuiting, and I cannot intuit without
Moreover, we can now assume that intuitions X and Yare but one single
intuition: I intuit my state as limited (X); but, as a result of my limited
state, I also intuit something else as well (in Y): that is to say, I intuit my-
self as intuiting something else. At bottom, this is only a single intuition.}
We still have not resolved the difficulty implicit in the following ques-
tion: How can a feeling arise from a limitation of the ideal activity?
If I wish to represent an object correctly, then I have to represent it in
a certain way, {and my power of intuition or the ideal activity is limited
thereby}. In saying this, I mean that I might not wish to represent the
object correctly and that the necessity of my thinking something is only
a conditional necessity, dependent upon my own freedom, {[that is, de-
pendent] upon whether I want to submit myself to this necessity or in-
tellectual compulsion. But how do we intend to deduce this freedom, and not
merely assert that it exists?} What sort of freedom is this, and how does
it appear [within consciousness]? I am limited in [state] A. The ideal ac-
tivity that arises as a result of this limitation is also limited. This limited,
ideal activity is intuition Y. Strictly speaking, however, intuition Y is
{here} nothing but an Idea that we {who are presently engaged in philo-
sophical inquiry} have presupposed; for intuition Y has certainly not yet

P But what kind of "truth" is this? Reply: We ordinarily construe our oum being aJ a thing
outside of us. From this, therefore, we obtain the principle: A certain quantum of intuition
follows from a certain determinate quantum of determinacy (p. Sg).
§8 219

become anything for the I. {The I, according to the preceding §, disap- (go)
peared in the object and was not present at all.} In order for intuition Y
to be anything for the 1, it must be reflected upon anew; the I must posit
it anew. Let us assume that this new act of reflection occurs freely.
The practical activity permits itself to be entirely suppressed, to the
point w~ere no practical activity whatsoever is left and all that remains
is a striving toward practical activity. But it is the nature of the ideal ac-
tivity to remain with me and not to be {entirely} cancelable. In {intuition}
g8 Y, the ideal activity is only supposed to be limited, but it cannot be can-
celed; accordingly, it is only partially limited and is able to wrench itself
away from this limited state. In intuition Y, the ideal activity is only par-
tially limited; it can employ its freedom to wrench itself away. We will
find out whether it absolutely must wrench itself away or not; and if it
does not have to do so, then we will discover under what conditions this
is so.Q
The I is supposed to be posited as the intuiting subject, but the I is
only what is active 26 and nothing else; accordingly, the intuition must be
posited as a product of the l's free activity, and only thereby does it be-
come such a product. {Therefore, activity is the mediating link27 be-
tween the I and the intuition.} According to the general laws of
intuition, however, activity can be posited only as a movement of tran-
sition from determinability to determinacy. "I am supposed to posit my-
self as active": this means that I have to observe my own activity. But the
latter is a movement of transition from an indeterminate to a determi-
nate state. Consequently, this intuition can be thought of as free only if
it is simultaneously posited as constrained. Freedom is {for the I} noth-
ing without constraint, and vice versa. {Only through the opposition of
freedom, therefore, is there any limitation whatsoever.} The act of
wrenching away is impossible without something from which one
wrenches oneself away. What is posited obtains its determinacy only by
means of opposition.
How then s:an freedom and limitation of the ideal activity coexist
alongside each other? In the following manner: If one reflects upon the
determinacy of the practical (real) 1, then one must also necessarily posit
Y in such and such a way {-from this precise quantum of determinacy
there follows this precise quantum of intuition}; consequently, only the
synthesis is necessary. In other words, if a particular representation is
to be "true," then 1 must represent its object in such and such a way.
But the representing subject is free to engage or not to engage in this
synthesis; and, in this respect, the representing subject is under no

Q Is this limitation of the ideal activity conditional or unconditional? (p. go).

26 wdas lltiitige."
udall Verbindungsmittel."
220 §8

compulsion,R {for it is not, in itself, necessary that I reflect upon my lim-

ited condition, though I am free to do so if I wish}.
Thus we now have the above results in a more precise and clear form:
I am limited; and it is, to begin with, my practical power that is
limited. 28 This limitation is, in turn, limited by the alteration that occurs
in the state of [my] feelings. I can reflect upon this alteration or notre-
flect upon it. This act of reflection is what we have, until now, called
"intuition X." If, however, I reflect at all, then I cannot simply posit my-
self as limited; instead, I must also posit something else as the source of
99 this limitation. This is intuition Y. If I do not reflect in this manner, then
I am not present for myself, and consequently, neither is anything ex-
ternal to me present for me, {for I myself am not present}. When I ac-
complish the free act {of reflection} just described, I immediately
become conscious of myself. A reflection upon myself is immediately
linked with this act of reflection upon my state and with the inference to
something outside of me which follows from this, {and indeed, this oc-
curs in one single act,} not in two separate acts.
In [intuition] X, I am supposed to reflect upon intuition Y. If intuition
Y is to be mine, then I must reflect upon it in Z, and then I must reflect
upon Z in intuition V. This is an important point: as surely as a free in-
tuition occurs, an intuition of the I is just as surely connected with it. I
intuit myself as intuiting, and this is how I become an I for myself; but
this cannot occur unless I posit myself as constrained, for only in this
way do I first acquire stability for myself. 29 One can thus now see why it
is necessary to link intuition Y with intuition X. 5 Accordingly, it is only by
means of freedom that everything we have said so far first acquires in-
telligibility and tenability, for the sole thing to which anything else can
be connected is freedom.
We have also spoken of a feeling {as what is primary and original.
Even this limitation of the I, however, or this feeling, is dependent upon
freedom.} The I's limited state 30 is freely posited and is then reflected
upon. This limited state is a feeling, for a feeling is produced whenever
an I is limited; accordingly, feeling itself is also dependent upon free-

R The latter, that is, the truth and accuracy of my representations, is dependent upon
the freedom of the representing subject, which, to this extent, is under no compulsion and
is not limited (p. go).
"Ich bin beschrankt, zuforderst praktisch."

29 "dadurch erhalte ich erst Haltbarkeit fiir mich." The term Hallharkeil also means "ten-

ability," which is how it translated in the last sentence in this paragraph.

s As surely as I intuit anything at all, an intuition of the intuiting subject must be con-
tl nected with this intuition. I observe myself and become an I for myself. This act of obser-
vation is not possible, however, unless I posit myself as constrained, for only in this way
does an intuition acquire stability. Consequently, intuition Y always has to be connected
with intuition X (pp. go-g• ).
' 0 "Seine Beschranktheit." Although the obvious antecedent of "seine" in this sentence
is "das Gefiihl," such a reading is difficult to reconcile with the conclusion of this same
passage ("this limited state is a feeling"). The larger context, as well as the parallel passage
in H, suggest, instead, that the correct antecedent must be "das Ich."
§ 8 221

dom. Unless a feeling is freely reflected upon, no feeling occurs at all. I

must surrender myself to the feeling,s 1 for otherwise, I do not feel it.
Admittedly, once a feeling is present, everything else then follows of its
own accord; but in order for a feeling to be present at all, that is, in order
for a feeling and the results of the same to be present for the I, the I
must, as it were, set itself in motion in opposition to the feeling, {so that
its ideal activity will be limited}.
An ideal activity that is ascribed to the I and is posited with a con-
sciousness of freedom is called a "concept." Consequently, what we have
hitherto portrayed merely as an intuition { = X} is actually a concept,
{for it is an intuition accompanied by a consciousness of the intuiting
subject. This is its distinctive character, which distinguishes it from all
other intuitions =. Y.} What distinguishes a concept from an intuition is
this: 32 in an intuition the I is posited as constrained, whereas in a con-
cept it is posited as free. Consequently, an intuition by itself is nothing;
100 or, as Kant says, it is blind. On the other hand, a concept by itself is
empty, if the I does not find itself to be limited in intuition.

Overview of the Steps of the Argument up to This Point

Prior to all inquiry, we must join together within the I an {absolutely

free and} unlimitable activity and a limitable activity (ideal and real ac-
tivity).T The latter becomes limited in a determinate manner. The de-
terminacy is achieved by a particular alteration in the state [of the I], in
consequence of which this state becomes limited on every side:<l 3 {-a
certain quantum of limitation is present}. But the limitable or real ac-
tivity is not limited {for the I} unless the absolutely free activity reflects
upon this limited activity and comprehends the limitation. However, the
ideal activity can comprehend this limitation, {that is, can intuit it
consciously,} only within itself, which means that the ideal activity must
itself be limited. Since, however, the ideal activity is free, its limitation
cannot be affected by something limiting, {that is, by the Not-I}; instead,
the ideal activity must freely surrender itself to what limits it. But the
ideal activity cannot comprehend the I without comprehending it as
" "Ich mu!J dem Gefiihl mich hingeben." Fichte employs the term sich hingtben (to "sur-
render" or to "abandon" oneself to Aomething) to designate the I's free act of allowing its
ideal activity to be determined by the limited state or the practical activity.
~• "Aonach ist das, was wir bisher blo!J als Anschauung charaluerisirt haben, ein Begriff,
die Anschauung. Der Charkater des Begriffs von der Anschauung wlire der:" This passage
requires some emendation. Guided by the parallel passage in H, the translation omits the
word Ansclaauung at the end of the first sentence and follows Radrinani in reading the
word von in the second as a mistranscription of oor.
T Therefore, we must assume that an absolutely free and unlimited activity and a limited
one, ideal and real activity, are both present within the I (p. 91).
•~ "wird der Zustand von allen Seiten geschlojJen."
222 § 8

limited, and this furnishes the concept of the I;u yet neither can it com-
prehend the I as limited without positing something that limits it, and
this furnishes the concept of the Not- I.
The I is free and is nevertheless governed by laws. This is possible only
if the I freely subordinates itself to these laws. We are here concerned
only with the laws of representation.


An intuition of the I is necessarily connected with an intuition of the

Not-I, and only through the former does the latter become an intuition
at all. In order to explain this intuition of the I, however, one has to as-
sume an alteration in the state of [the I's] feelings, i.e., a limitation of its
limited condition, through which the I itself becomes limited in the in-
tuition of the Not- I. From this alteration there arises a feeling of this
particular limitation of the ideal activity, from which there then arises
an intuition of the same. The ground of the union of the intuition of the
I and the intuition of the Not-I is this: no constraint can be posited
within the intuition of the Not-I without also positing freedom in oppo-
sition to it. All freedom, however, pertains to the I, and only by means of
freedom does the intuition of the I become an intuition of the I. But an
101 intuition accompanied by a consciousness of the intuiting subject is
called a "concept." Therefore, the concept of the I and the concept
of the Not-I both arise from the postulated alteration in the system of

Christmas Vacation

Recapitulation of What Has Been Presented up to This Point 34

The contents of the entire Wissenschaftslehre can be briefly summa-

rized in the following words:
u But the ideal activity cannot comprehend this limitation-i.e., it cannot consciously
intuit it-unless the ideal activity is itself limited.
However, since the ideal activity is free, it cannot be affected by what limits it-i.e., the
Not-1. Instead, it approaches the Not-1 and surrenders itself thereto, thereby freely sub-
jecting itself to the compulsion to think in a certain way and in accordance with certain
laws. This is how the ideal activity obtains a concept of the I (p. 91 ).
"Though this passage appears at the conclusion of§ 8, it was obviously delivered at the
resumption of Fichte's lectures following the holiday break. Indeed, in H, it appears at the
beginning of § g.
§8 223

My ability to be conscious of anything whatsoever has its foundation

within me and not within things. I am conscious of something; but I my-
self am the sole thing of which I am immediately conscious. Everything
else belongs among the conditions that mak.e self-consciousness possible.
Through self-consciousness, I become conscious of the world.
• I am an object of consciousness for myself only insofar as I am en-
gaged in acting. "How is experience possible?" This is just another way
of asking how I can become conscious of my own acting. Everything de-
pends upon the answer to this question, and once it has been answered,
our system will be complete. Up to this point, we have discovered that if
I am to posit myself as acting then I must become conscious of some con-
cept of a goal. The question that still concerns us is this: How is the con-
cept of a goal possible? We have already seen how any concept at all is
possible as such. In truth, however, we will not be fully able to under-
stand the possibility of any of the things we have described so far until
we have reached the end of our inquiry, for we will always have addi-
tional conditions of possibility to exhibit. The possibility of the individ-
ual parts will have been demonstrated only when the possibility of the
whole has been exhibited.
We have shown how a concept is possible, but in doing so we had to
102 presuppose certain things, things that must-and can-be tacitly pre-
The course of our inquiry has been as follows: My original limitation
is a practical one, and from this there arises a feeling. I am not simply
practical, however; I am also ideal. The ideal activity is not limited, and,
as a consequence of this fact, intuition remains. Feeling and intuition are
connected with each other. Some alteration must occur in feeling: this is
a condition for the possibility of consciousness. I am [further] limited in
this stale of limitation; therefore, I am also limited in intuition Y. Since
a feeling arises from every limitation, a feeling must also arise in this
case: namely, the feeling of being compelled to think in a certain man-
ner, a feeling accompanied by an intuition of myself. An intuition in
which the intuiting subject is itself posited, that is to say, an intuition that
is related to the intuiting subject, is called a "concept" of some thing (in
this case, the concept of Y).v
" In order to pick up the thread where we let it drop, the following brief recapitulation
is provided:
No consciousness without self-consciousness. No self-consciousness without acting. No
free acting without the construction of a concept of a goal. No concept of a goal without
a general capacity for concepts as such.
In the previous § we showed how any concept at all is possible as such-but only under
certain presuppositions, which we tacitly assumed, for our WllimschaftskhTe would now be
complete if all these presuppositions had already been fully stated (p. 92).
102 § 9

In the previous § the question concerning the ground of the unity of

the concept and the I was already raised: How is it that I am able to say,
"This 1 is my concept"?
Until now, the I was construed as the feeling subject, but it must be
the comprehending subject 2 as well. The concept must necessarily be
united with the feeling, and in such a way that neither is able to con-
stitute a whole apart from the other. {We already obtained such a uni- (g2)
fication above, where we discovered that it was possible only through
self-feeling and discovered that the concept constitutes a necessary com-
ponent of the latter.} A feeling and a concept are united in self-feeling.
I am compelled to look at things in the way that I do look at them, and
thus this feeling of compulsion accompanies my feeling of myself. A
Thus, until now, the I has been comprehended or intuited as the com-
prehending subject itself. We now wish to proceed further. I can posit
myself as an I only insofar as I posit myself as active. Feeling, however,
is supposed to be nothing more than limitation; hence I cannot feel my-
self to be an I unless another activity occurs as well. From this it follows
that consciousness cannot be explained on the basis of feeling alone,
{unless, alongside the feeling, an activity is also present at the same (93)
time}; therefore, in the concept of Y {or of the object}, I must posit my-
self as active. {We have claimed that} the ideally [active subject] 3 surren-

Reading, with H, "das ist MEIN BEGRIFF?" for K's "alles ist mein Begriff' ("everything
is my concept").
"das Begreifende," i.e., the intelligent subject who grasps things by means of or in
terms of concepts.
A I feel myself compelled: I must think in a particular manner, and I cannot think at all
unless I also feel compulsion. This compulsion, however, is comprehended along with the
particular determination [of my state]. But this feeling, this limitation, cannot, by itself,
constitute my entire state; instead, my I is surely only active-for otherwise, I would be
unable to have a feeling of myself (p. 92).
' "das ideale."

[ 224]
§9 225

ders itself to feeling; {the representing-that is, the ideal-subject,

which stands opposed to the feeling, submits itself to the limitation or to
the intellectual compulsion, but only conditionally; that is, only insofar as
I wish to think the truth. For ideal activity cannot, as such, be curbed
and limited; instead, what is presupposed is that the ideal activity freely
submi_ts itself to the feeling, in the sense that it could also not submit
103 itself thereto.} The specific object of our present inquiry is to under-
stand how this occurs.
I posit myself as an I: this means that I posit myself as active. {Every
activity has both a material and a formal aspect.} The material aspect of
activity (what I intuit when I posit myself as active) is a movement of
transition from determinability to determinacy. 8 (The formal aspect
of activity is self-affection, which is not under discussion at this point.)
The I is to be posited here, within the concept, as an active subject, i.e.,
as engaged in moving from a particular state of indeterminacy to a par-
ticular state of determinacy. We must now become better acquainted
with each of these states.
{The entire examination, therefore, depends upon knowing what it is
that is determinable and what it is that is determinate. We will here be-
gin with the latter. 4 }

(A) What is determinate (i.e., that to which the transition is made) is [in
this case] the concept of a determinate thing {= Y.· for example, the wall,
the stove, etc.}. Within this concept, however, I myself am also determi-
nate, for this quantum of comprehending constitutes my state. {The de-
terminacy of the thing, in itself, is of no concern to us; it concerns me
only insofar as I also become determined thereby, i.e., only insofar as
this quantum of limitation constitutes my own state, only insofar as I
comprehend that it is my concept, through which it becomes a concept
of my own limited state.}

(B) So far we have observed the following concerning the origin of this
determinate thing, that is to say, concerning the origin of this determi-
nate act of comprehending or of my own determinacy within this act of
comprehending: I am limited {with respect to my practical power}; in-
deed, my limitation is complete. The very completeness of this limita-
tion indicates a further limitation of my state of limitation. The practical
activity is canceled entirely, but the ideal activity remains, and it is the
very essence of the ideal activity to have some object, {to be "fixed" upon
This material aspect is intuition Y, or the concept of the Not-1. What consciousness
feels in this case is the movement of transition from what is determinable to what is de-
terminate; i.e., I observe how I move from the possibility of engaging in many different
actions to one determinate action (p. 93).
• What is determinable in this movement of transition is the topic of § 10.
226 § 9

something. An object arises for me when I am practically limited.} Prac-

tical limitation (or "feeling") and intuition are both contained in this
state of the I, for each of these is necessarily connected with the other.
Moreover, this practical limitation {or feeling} is a determinate limita-
tion, and consequently, the intuition connected with it is determinate as
well. {Feeling Y; therefore, intuition Y.· this connection is a necessary one.}

(C) Everything we have been talking about until now has, for the time
being, been present only for those of us engaged in philosophical in-
quiry, and, to this extent, {therefore, our account remains transcendent
and dogmatic, and-since such an account of the "I in itself' is meaning-
less-} it remains empty. If it is to be something, it must become some-
thing for the I that is the object of our inquiry. {Through an actual deed,
it must exist for the 1.} But how does anything become present for the I?
{How does the I appropriate this state to itself?} We have already an-
swered this question in the following way: It is by means of a new
feeling = X, namely, a feeling of the necessary connection between in-
tuition Y and feeling Y, 5 a feeling of intellectual compulsion, {a feeling of
one's entire state,} that something becomes present for the I {-to the
extent that the I freely surrenders itself to this feeling}. This new feel-
ing, however, is also nothing unless it is present for the I, and this entire
state is present for the I itself only insofar as it renounces any [further]
free transition [to another state].

(D) It is necessary that the I surrender itself freely, {namely, as free in

and for itself}; [therefore,] it understands that it is free: it is free for it-
self, it discovers itself to be free. I.e., its act of surrendering itself is ac-
companied by a representation of itself as also having been able not to
surrender itself in this way. On the other hand, the I cannot posit itself
104 as freely surrendering itself unless it actually does surrender itself; for if
the I does not actually surrender itself, then nothing is present for it. It
is only by means of freedom that I attend to any object whatsoever, for
I claim that I also could have not paid any attention to it; this is some-
thing I can say, however, only if I have attended to it.
{For example, I see a portrait in a room. This representation is ac-
companied by another representation, namely, that it could have also
been possible for me not to pay any attention to this portrait. In order
for me to be able to entertain the latter representation, however, I first
must have perceived the portrait, and thus focused my free activity upon
it; for otherwise, no representation whatsoever of a portrait in this or
any other room would be present for me.}
This Y here reveals two different aspects, {[and] the entire mechanism
of the theoretical puwer is based upon this double aspect. The I must intuit
Reading, with Krause's MS, "Gefiihle Y'' for K's "Gefiihle X."
§9 227

Y, if Y is to exist for the I. But now the I posits itself either as intuiting Y
or as not intuiting Y; the I cannot do this, however, until it has intuited
the I or has obtained a representation of itself. Therefore, bath freedom
and intuition mutually condition each other. The double aspect of the Y is as
follows}: In the first instance, Y is treated as an intuition that is not sup-
posed to be an intuition; in the second, it is treated as an intuition that
is supposed to be an intuition. In the first case, Y is a thing, a thing that
is also supposed to exist in itself and apart from the I. {It does not exist
for the I; it is an intuition without consciousness. The I vanishes into the
object.} In the second case, Y is supposed to be a freely produced rep-"
resentation of this same thing.c The thing and the representation
thereof are thus one and the same-simply viewed from two different
sides. In the first case, Y is the condition for the representation; in the
second, it is the representation itself.
{In the first case, the I is not related toY,· in the second case, in con·
trast, it is. Both the thing and the representation are thereby products of
the representing subject.
This same point can also be expressed as follows: A thing is not
present for me at all unless I reflect upon it. If, however, I do reflect,
then, sheerly by virtue of this act of reflection, something determinate is
necessarily present for me; by virtue of freedom, however, this is present
for me only as something contingent-since this freedom is posited by
the I.
A thing thus presents itself to the I in two different ways:
(1) As a being that is absolutely present, something present "as such"
or "in itself," without any help from me.
(2) As a being that can either be present or not be present, and, to this
extent, it is a representation. A thing of this sort is not present without
any help from me, for it indicates the occurrence of a free act. On the
other hand, the former, that is, the thing in itself, exists without any help
from me.
Yet another way to express this is as follows: I can abstract from an
object and can think of it as not existing, but I cannot abstract from it
before it exists for me. A thing is something whose being is posited. 6 Jf
I did not exist, a world would certainly still exist; if, however, it is sup-
posed to exist for me, then I tacitly posit myself as well. Whenever I per-
ceive some thing, I myself am present as well. But when I abstract, then
I am no longer present for myself.}
Ordinary consciousness expresses this same point by saying, "The
world would certainly continue to exist even if I did not." (This is an in-
ference; and whenever I make such a claim, I tacitly posit myself as well.)
c In the second case, it appears as an actual intuition, insofar as the representation of
the same is accompanied by freedom (p. 94).
"Ein Gesezt seyn ist das Ding."
228 § 9

By this path, we have now arrived at the true nature of "objectivity," and
we now know why we assume the existence of things outside of ourselves.
The first [aspect of Y], in which there is no freedom present, is what we
have previously referred to as an "intuition," which, as such, is blind and
does not appear within consciousness, though it would be better to call
it a "thing," since, when one thinks of an intuition, one also thinks of
something else in connection with it, namely, the thing that is intuited.
The second [aspect of Y] is the representation of a thing. {An intuition
is therefore the thing itself. The intuition and the thing are one and
the same.}

(E) In the act ofreflectionjust described, we considered the I itselfto be

viewing matters in the same way we ourselves viewed them until now.
{From where does the I obtain the thing, and why does it consider it to
be a "thing" at all? Or, how is the one intuition synthetically united
with the other?}
The I posits the following: that intuition Y is necessarily connected
with feeling Y (which is also present for the I only insofar as the I reflects
upon it) and also escapes from this very limitation. It is by means of this
connection between intuition and feeling that Y becomes a real thing for
the 1. 0 {[The thing] is related [to the intuition] as cause to effect. The I,
so to speak, checks whether a particular feeling produces an intuition. It
then surrenders itself to the very influence it itself has imagined, and,
on this condition-that there is some determinate consciousness of re-
ality-the I becomes immanent [within this consciousness].} Conse-
quently, what we have just provided is a description of what is taken to
be transcendent; 7 it becomes a condition for the possibility of my con-
sciousness, that is, for any determinate consciousness of reality. The I
calls this product of feeling a "thing" or "reality."
Remark: We have presented intuitions X and Y {individually} as two
{particular} determinations of the mind. We had to do this in order to
105 obtain any clear insight into the manifold that lay before us, for we are
able to think only discursively. {Originally,} however, these two determi-
nations are never present within the human mind in isolation from each
other. An I is first present in intuition X. (At least this appears to be the
case, judging from our present standpoint, though we will see later on
that this is not sufficient.) Moreover, since an I appears only in X, it is
also only within intuition X that Y (i.e., a thing) can appear; otherwise,
things would have to exist even if I did not, or I would have to exist even
The I posits that an intuition = Y is united with a feeling = Y (which is also first
present for the I only insofar as the I reflects upon it) and that the ideal activity emerges
from this intuition and wrenches itself away, and it is as a result of this that the object = Y
becomes a real thing, related [to the intuition]like a cause to an effect (p. 95).
"So ist unsere geschilderte Beschreibung des transzendenten genommen."
§9 229

if there were no things. Either alternative is absurd. Consequently, X and

Y do not constitute two different states [of the I], but are only two dif-
ferent ways of determining one and the same state, {a manifold within
one and same state. There is no thing unless I am. [X and Y] are there-
fore only two determinations contained within a single state or within a
single intuition. Some intuition always follows from a feeling. The I must
behave in conformity with this necessary connection.}
To assert that an intuition is produced from a feeling without any help
from us would be to make a transcendent claim; but all we have said here
is that the I, in accordance with the laws of reason, must view the matter
in this way.

(F) The I posits a necessary connection between a specific feeling and a

specific intuition. By what rule {or law} does it proceed in this case?
There can be no rule governing this; this connection possesses its foun-
dation within the I itself, which simply must proceed in a certain man-
ner. E {The necessity in question is immediate. The I must proceed in this (gt
way-just as surely as it is an I at all.} For what is an object? First and
foremost, an object is something that arouses a specific feeling: e.g.,
green or red. The predicate attached to an object (e.g., it is "red") is not
intuited; it is simply felt, and the connection between this predicate and
this object occurs within a particular state of our mind.F Furthermore,
those properties characteristic of objectivity as such also apply to this
object. It is intuited, and it hovers before the ideal activity: this applies to
all objects, whether imaginary or real. The truly characteristic feature of
an object (or of "reality") is that it is something that is posited in conse-
quence of a feeling. In the future we will consider any additional prop-
erties that may also pertain to this object (e.g., extension in space). That
an object is in space and occupies a particular position therein follows
from intuition. A feeling, however, lies within us and is transferred to an
object, which is supposed to lie outside of us. An external object is an
interpretation of our own feeling.G
What then is the meaning of the expressions "truth," "reality," and
"objective validity"? These terms apply only to those representations
106 that have been produced from feeling, or from the first state of the I,
E The situation here is unlike that of aesthetic judgment, for which rules can be given.
Instead, the necessity of connecting an intuition to a feeling is a necessity that has its foun-
dation within the very nature of our reason (pp. 95-96).
F The predicates of an object are not intuited, but felt; and this occurs through the nec-
essary connection of both moments-that is, the moment of feeling and the moment of
intuition (p. g6).
G Furthermore, through the above synthesis, that is, simply by being posited, the object
first of all acquires the character of "objectivity," and, second, that of "reality." We do not
know how this object is produced, but we must assume it to be real; and if the representing
subject proceeds in this manner, then its representations possess truth and reality (p. g6).
and are applicable only when the ideal activity has been necessarily de-
termined, that is, only to representations that have been necessitated by
feeling.H Whenever a load presses upon an object, a certain pressure is
then necessarily present for that object; but an intuition is not necessar-
ily produced whenever a feeling is posited, for the intuiting subject is
free. It can also choose not to reflect {upon this feeling]. If, however, it
does reflect, then an intuition necessarily ensues. Therefore, whenever
truth is present, the I itself is present without any division, as, so to
speak, a single system, within which, from any single element, every-
thing else necessarily follows. A certain intuition follows from a {certain]
state of feeling, and this constitutes "truth." When I merely imagine
something, however, the states of feeling and intuition go their own sep-
arate ways, and, to this extent, the ideally [active subject] and the feeling
subject are, as it were, torn apart from each other; hence my represen-
tation possesses no truth. {Thus, {there is truth] whenever both states,
my feeling and my representations, are in agreement.} Truth is agree-
ment with ourselves, harmony.
This concept of truth, {which is here applied only partially, that is, to
the objectivity of the world,} may be extended still further. Objective va-
lidity pertains just as much to our representations of God, morality,
right, etc. {-if these are supposed to be true-} as it does to our rep-
resentations of the world. Both types of representation are based upon
feelings, {and consequently they are also true}. The difference between
them is that, while our representations of the world are based upon a
feeling of our own limitation, our representations of God, etc., are based
upon a feeling of our own striving. {Both feelings give rise to represen-
tations, which are objectively and subjectively true.} Acting is the middle
term that links these two types of feeling. 8 {That is, it is the intermediary
between the feeling of our own limitation and the feeling of striving;
both feelings have their origin in such acting (as we will see below), for
all consciousness whatsoever commences with acting.}
In asserting that the representations of God, etc., possess just as much
objective validity as the representations of the world, the Wissenschaft.s-
lehre diverges from the letter of Kant's philosophy, {which ascribes only
subjective validity to the concept of God. Kant certainly had a correct (97)
view of this matter, but he presented it only in a one-sided fashion. In the
Wissenschaft.slehre, however, both the world and God are objectively and
>I Truth, objectivity, reality: these apply to those of my representations which necessarily
follow from a feeling, when the feeling is capable of activating the representing subject,
when it exercises causality upon the ideal activity of the representing subject, when the I
reflects upon the feeling. This or that determinate intuition follows from this state of the
feeling subject; this is truth (p. g6).
"Zwischen heiden liegt das Handeln." I.e., what the feeling of limitation has in com-
mon with that of striving is that both are related to acting.
§ 9 231

subjectively true.} In his essay "Concerning a Presumptuous Tone,"

Kant says that one constructs God for oneself. 9 This is certainly true, but
one also constructs the world for oneself; {and, to this extent, both are
subjective, i.e.,} both are dependent upon reason. There is a world only
for reason, just as there is a God only for reason. {Both are produced
from a feeling; that is, they necessarily arise when I surrender myself to
the feeling in question. For precisely the same reason, however, and in
accordance with the spirit of Kant's philosophy, the representations
of the world and of God both possess the same sort of objective validity
as well, inasmuch as both representations are posited in consequence of
a feeling, and both arise as a result of reflecting upon the feeling in
question. Both are necessarily just as objective as they are .subjective, i.e.,
dependent upon our reason.} Nevertheless, these two types of represen-
tation differ in two important respects:
(1) Every person-just as surely as he exists at all-has to reflect upon
his representations of the world. 1 {Every child must do this just as soon
as he becomes self-aware and conscious of himself.} Representations of
God, however, presuppose [a certain degree of] moral develo~ment.J {I
can certainly exist for myself without such a moral education, 0 which is
not a necessary condition for the possibility of consciousness as such, but
only for a complete or "perfected" consciousness. I recognize the lofty
goal that has been assigned to me by reason; but I also realize that I can-
not fully achieve this goal unless I assume that a God exists, and I am
thereby driven to make such an assumption.}
107 (2) Representations of the world are determined by all the laws ofrea-
son, {which express themselves in the world,} whereas this is not true of
the representation of God. One is unable to think of God in any deter-
minate fashion; one can only assume that God exists. There is no con-
cept of God, but only an Idea.K Kant is concerned, above all, with
"dal3 man Gou sich mache." See Kant's lengthy footnote on this subject in KGS, VIII:
4<»-40 L What Kant actually .says in this note is that one constructs one's own concept of
God. For Kant's well-known denial that the representation of God possesses objective va-
lidity, see the discussion of "the ideal of pure reason" in chap. 3 of the "Transcendental
Dialectic" (KRV, A5671B596ff., especially A61!tB647 and A66sf86M).
1 As surely as our I is supposed to be an I, we must reflect upon that feeling through
which we posit the world as something actual (p. 97).
J But one does not necessarily have to reflect upon that feeling through which we posit
God; instead, this presupposes the development of a moral way of thinking, through which
one becomes capable of acquiring such representations (p. 97).
10 "ohne dieselbe." Though this' pronoun has here been construed as referring to "eine
Entwicklung einer moralischen Denkart," it might also be taken to refer to "a moral way of
thinking'' or even to "the representation of God."
K Every object in nature is presented by means of all the laws of reason. There are con-
cepts of such objects.
In contrast, one cannot think of God in any determinate fashion; one cannot compre-
hend, cognize, or determine God. Instead, one must simply assume that God exists (p. 97).
232 §9

cognition, and, for him, an object is an object of cognizing. 11 Viewed in

this light, the Wissenschaftslehre agrees with the letter of Kant's philoso-
phy on this subject after all, for representations of God [etc.] are not
"objective" in this sense. For Kant, "reality" means "what is in space.'d 2
Properly speaking, however, this is matter; and, in this sense, no reality
pertains to God.
{In this sense, Kant is correct when he contends that no objective cog-
nition of God is possible and that objective cognition is limited to the
world. If one construes the term "objective" as a synonym for "some-
thing real," 13 then, of course, God is not objectively cognizable. But (as (g~
we have seen above) your instructor employs the term "objective" in a
different sense:
An objective representation is a representation that would necessarily
have to follow from a certain feeling, if that feeling possessed causal ef-
ficacy and were able to effect the ideal activity in such a way as to drive
the representing subject to reflect upon the feeling. Consequently, "ob-
jective" here means the same thing as "something that is really true." 14
Our task was to observe the freedom of the I in the act of compre-
hending an object and to do so in terms of a movement of transition
from what is determinable to what is determinate. This has been sum-
marized by the instructor as follows:}


The act of comprehending is a free act of reflection upon the intu-

ition ( = Y) that was previously derived {in the preceding§}, and it is pos-
ited as a free act. The freedom of the act of reflecting upon intuition
cannot be posited, however, unless this act of reflection 15 is itself
{already} posited as such. Accordingly, we obtain a twofold view of the
act of reflection, and along with this, a twofold view of the object of the
same. (That is to say, the double aspect of the act of reflection is present
.. Kant geht besonders aufs Erkennen aus, und Object ist ihm, was ein Gegenstand des
See, e.g., KRV. A373ff.
"'etwas REEu..E.S."
1,. '•etwas REELL wahres.n
~ ..aber die Freiheit der REFu:xtoN auf sie kann nicht gesezt werden, auser in wiefern sie
selbst iiberhaupt gesezt ist." The antecedent of the second sie in this clause in uncertain,
and might be either "the act of reflection" (die ~) or "the intuition" (die An-
schauung), though the context appears to support the former. Indeed, the corresponding
passage in H (p. gS) explicitly refers to both and uates that "the freedom of this act of
reflecting upon intuition cannot be posited except insofar as these (i.e., the act of reflec-
tion, as well as intuition itself) are already posited as such." It should be noted, however,
that this same passage in H-"aufler inwiefern die[se] (RnLEXTON, Anschauung selbst)
iiberhaupt schon gesezt ist"-with its plural subject and singular verb, also appears to be
§9 233
for the philosopher, whereas what is present for the I is the double as-
pect of the object.) In the first instance, [we are concerned with] the act
of reflection as such, without any further reflection thereupon, and this
furnishes the o~ect that is present without any help from the I. In the
second instance, [we are concerned with] the act of reflection as a par-
ticular: determination of freedom, which is itself reflected upon, and this
furnishes the representation of the thing.



107 § 10

{Remark: (A)} Even though a free being must produce from itself ev- (g8)
erything that is present for it, something must nevertheless necessarily
appear to such a being to be "given." What is the origin of this sem-
blance?1 It follows from the very nature of a free being {that something
must appear to it that does not appear to be produced by the free being
in question. To this extent, those who speak of something "given" are
admittedly correct; nothing rational, however, can be thought of in con-
junction with this}, for a free being {necessarily} commences with a free
acting, which is preceded by no consciousness at all. This free acting be-
comes an object of consciousness and can subsequently be viewed as a
108 product of freedom; insofar as it becomes an object of consciousness,
however, it appears to be something given, and the reason for this lies
within the character of the ideal activity, which has to be constrained by
something it has not produced. One could also express this point by not-
ing that a free being cannot act at all unless it acts upon something
(which is also a product of freedom); but because this {first act of} free-
dom, {as the foundation of all free acting,} is not itself an instance of
acting upon something, it remains in the shadows, {since the ideal ac-
tivity necessarily requires that some object be present. Consequently, we
are not conscious of this original acting, since it precedes all conscious-
ness and first makes the latter possible.} This is why an object must nec-
essarily exist for us.
• See The Distinctive Character of the Wissenschaftslehre [with respect to the
Theoretical Power], § 3. VII. 2 (Because of the changes in the present pre-
"so mull ihm doch etwas als nothwendig gegeben erscheinen; woher dieser Schein?" A
more literal rendering of the first clause would be: "'something must necessarily appear to
such a being to be necessarily 'given.' "
GEWL Though Fichte cites the first edition of the Grondrill, his original page refer-
ences have been replaced throughout by references to the edition contained in SW, 1: 329-
416 (which are also supplied in the critical edition of the text included in AA I, 3: 143-208,
and in the English version included in EPW, pp. 243-300).

[ 234]
§ 10 235

sentation, not everything that is said there is applicable here.) See too
the note on p. xx of Kant's Metaphysical First Principles ofJustice. 3

In the preceding § we discussed our knowledge of what is determi-

nate. In this § we will discuss our knowledge of what is determinable.
{(B)4} We said in the previous§ that the I posits itself as able either to (gg)
represent something or not to represent it. What does this mean? {How
does the I posit itself in this manner?}A We are able to think of ourselves
in this way, because we have often-indeed, for as long as we have been
alive-engaged in free actions of this sort. We abstract from the deter-
minate [objects] with which we are now familiar, and thus this is an ab-
stract and, therefore, indeterminate type of thinking. Such thinking can
serve merely to guide us to the path leading toward what we are seeking;
it cannot convey us to the point that concerns us. 8
• Purely indeterminate thinking is the source of many errors in phi-
losophy. {When one thinks in this way, one surveys a series of inferences
but does not see their interconnection; one notices merely the man-
ner-that is, the Jaws-in accordance with which these conclusions are

'MeW.phJSi<du AnfaTI(f'grii.rule dirr RuJJJ.skhre ( 1797) Part I of EM]Si}l dirr Sitler!

(KGS, VI: 21 1-12n); English translation by John Ladd, The Mtto.plrJSico.l Elnnmls of]wtice
(Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1g65). The footnote referred to by Fichte reads (in !.add's
translation) as follows: ~Sensibility can in general be defmed by means of the subjective
clement in our representations, for it is the understanding that first refers the represen-
tations to an object; that is, it alone thinks something by means of them. Now, the subjec-
tive element in our representations may be of two kinds. On the one hand, it can be
referred to an object as a means to cognizing it (with regard either to iu form or to iu
matter; in the first case, it is called pure intuition and, in the second, sensation); here sen-
sibility, as the receptivity for a representation that is thought, is sense. On the other hand,
the subjet:tive element in our representations may be such that it cannot become a factor
in cognition, inasmuch as it contains only the relation of a representation to the subject
and does not contain anything that can be used for cognizing the object; in this case, the
representation is called feeling. Now, feeling contains the effect of the representation
(whether it be a ,.,nsible or an intellectual representation) on the subject and belongs
to sensibility, even though the representation itself may belong to the understanding or
1.0 reason~<>·
4 ]n K, there are two sections marked "(1)." This is the first, whereas section ( 1) below is
the second. The structure of§ 10a-with its two opening remarks followed by two num-
bered sections-is more clearly evident in H than in K.
A The I posits itself as able either to represent something or not to represent it. This was
the result of our investigation of the question, "What is it that is determinate?" This raises
a new question; "How does the I posit itself in /his manfU'rt" The answer will be found in
the following investigation of the question, "What is it that is determinable?" (p. 99).
11 Let us take this opportunity. first of all, 10 say a few words concerning general philo-
sophical procedure, in order thereby 10 uncover the ground of all the previous errors of
If one answers this question. "How is it possible for the original Ito think of itself as able
either to represent or not to represent something?" in a manner that is abstract, and hence,
always indetermill3te, this can certainly lead n> to the path toward an answer and a solu-
tion, but never to the chief point with which this question is concerned (p. 99).
reached, but one never takes note of how the individual links of the
chain are attached to one another. One is brought to a halt as soon as
one delves into the individual details. While engaging in philosophical
inquiry, therefore, one must avoid all abstract, indeterminate thinking.}
• We may very well be able to think of ourselves as able to do or not do
something; but the original I that we are observing cannot think of itself
in this way, since it does not yet have anything from which it would be
able to abstract. We are here at the point where all acting begins. c
{The above remarks are made only in passing. Now let us turn to the
solution of the question itself:
What is it that is determinable?
Huw is it possible for the original I to think of itself in the manner described in
the previous §, i.e., as able to represent or not to represent something?}

(1) The I must now intuit its own determinate act of doing something-
which is the only kind of "doing" that can occur here 5-and it must in-
tuit it as such; indeed, since this is supposed to be something that the I
does freely, it must be intuited as something the I can either do or not
do. {This determinate doing of the I is called "what is determinable."}
Determinacy has two different meanings in this context. What we are
now discussing is supposed to be "what is determinable," that is, that
109 from which a transition to what is determinate is to be made. Neverthe-
less, what is determinable is itself determinate in a certain respect: it is
an act of intuiting, and its determinacy consists in the fact that it is [at
the same time] an act of comprehending: {namely, it is determinate to
the extent that it is intuited or comprehended; for in order to be able to
intuit or to comprehend it, we have to think of it as something determi-
nate. This constitutes the determinate aspect of what is determinable.}
To begin with, let us note the following:
(A) The argument here is similar to that of the previous §; indeed, it
is only another, completely different, side of the same argument. In the
preceding § we said that the object is something upon which I am able
to reflect or not to reflect; it would, however, make no sense to say this

c In contrast, the I cannot by any means proceed in an abstract way in answering the
present question. It cannot abstract. Indeed, it still finds itself standing at the entrance to
and starting point of all comprehending (p. 99).
'"Das lch mu~ heir sein bestimmtes Thun d.h. dasjenige, was hier allein stattfinden
kann." The "determinate doing" in question is, of course, the act of intuiting described in
the previous §§. In order to maintain the contrast between das Handeln ("acting") and das
Tun, the latter is henceforth translated, not without a certain occasional awkwardness, as
"doing," or some variant thereof. ("Deed" = die Tat; "to act efficaciously" or "to have an
effect upon something" = wirken.)
§ 10 237

unless I had already posited the object-and thus reflected upon it.
Here too, {where we are concerned with a determinate acting,} the do- (10•
ing or acting6 of the I is supposed to be posited as something that can
either occur or not occur; this is not possible, however, unless "doing as
such" or or "in general" 7 has already been posited (non entis nulla sunt
prae(iicata). 8 {The I cannot say anything at all about its own acting with-
out presupposing the latter. Every predicate [e.g., the predicate "possi-
ble") presupposes some subject to which it can be applied-and, in this
case, the subject is "acting as such."~ Accordingly, we must necessarily
presuppose that the I's doing has already occurred in advance of all re-
flection upon it and appears, therefore, as something given-as we saw
to be the case with the thing in the previous §, and for the same reason.
{I cannot posit an instance of acting as "free" unless I am aware of this
very acting. This follows from the nature of my act of representing and
from the form of my sensibility.} In other words, the "doing" in question
is what is determinable, and, as such, it must be presupposed as a con-
dition for the possibility of a transition to what is determinate, insofar as
the latter is an act of freedom. 0 {Consequently, something determinable
(in opposition to the determinate aspect of what is determinable) must
be presupposed as a condition for the possibility of all possible acting,
and hence, of all consciousness as well; for before one can talk about a
possible act of doing something, "doing as such" or "in general" must al-
ready be present.} In order for what is determinable to be intuited, how-
ever, it has to be something "objective" (in the broadest sense of the
term), something that, in the act of reflecting upon the movement of
transition, has already been discovered.
(B) [This determinability,] which appears as something given and, to
this extent, independent of freedom, must be posited as, in another
sense, dependent upon freedom. Insofar as it is something that can ei-
ther be or not be, it appears to be dependent; on the other hand, insofar
as it must be posited as such or in general, it appears to be independent.
{In other words, the determinable something that is here given must
also actually be something determinable by freedom, insofar as it is
supposed to facilitate a choice or an act of determining.} It is viewed in
two different ways. Here, therefore, we discover a specific application of
the previously stated general principle: that all consciousness arises

"Das Thun oder Handeln.''
"ein Thun iiberhaupt."
8 "Nothing can be predicated of what does not exist.''
"das HANDELN iiberhaupt.''
0 This "doing" is what is determinable, which is intuited as such, that is, as a movement

of transition from what is determinable to what is determinate, which constitutes the act
of freedom (p. 100).
from a movement of transition from what is determinable to what is
(C) What is determinable and what is to be determined are, however,
synthetically united within consciousness. I posit what is determinable
only insofar as I posit myself as engaged in a transition {from what is
determinable to what is determinate, that is, only insofar as I posit my-
self as free}; and I can posit myself in this way only insofar as I posit it
[i.e., what is determinable] as given. 10 • E
Nothing is given [to me] unless I exercise some effect upon it, for ev-
erything that is given to me is first given in the course of free and effi-
cacious acting; 11 but I cannot have any effect upon anything that is not
already present for me, {that is, unless I am clearly conscious that it hov-
ers before me and that I posit it as able to be or not to be}.

110 (2) Thus the proposition we have to examine here is the following: "I
intuit my own doing as something in which I can either engage or not
engage." My doing is the logical subject of the predicate "freedom."
Therefore, my doing, as such, {my "possible doing," what is deter-
minable,} is itself an object of intuition in the broadest sense of the term:
it takes on the character of an "object," inasmuch as it is something that
hovers before the ideal activity. How then will my act of doing something
appear as an object of intuition? Kant quite correctly calls a doing that
occurs, for example, in accordance with the law of causality, etc., a
"schema" 12-a term he employs in order to indicate that this is nothing
actual, but is instead something that has to be constructed by means of
ideal activity for the purpose of intuition, {as required by the laws of rea-
son. My acting is intuited as "necessary" when it is determined by the (101)
laws of reason and not by a feeling.}
A schema is merely a kind of "doing"; indeed, [it describes] what I
must necessarily do whenever I intuit anything. 13
Our question is therefore this: What is the schema of "doing as such"?
How is an act of doing something transformed into an object of intuition
{for us by the schematism? (For an object first arises through intuition.)}

"nur in wiefern ich es als gegeben seze." Note the significant difference between this
passage in K and the parallel passage in H (translated in n. E, below): "nur in wiefern ich
mich als das gegebene seue."
E What is given in what is determinable and what is to be determined are synthetically
united in consciousness. I posit what is given only insofar as I posit myself as engaged in
a movement of transition from what is determinable to what is determinate, that is, only
insofar as I posit myself as free; and I can posit myself as engaged in a movement of tran-
sition or as free only insofar as I posit myself as what is given (p. 100). ·· '•
11 "Es ist nichts gegeben, auser in wiefern ich darauf wirke, denn erst im freien Wirken
wird es mir gegeben."
See KRV. A137/B176ff.
""SCHEMA is ein blotks Thun, und zwar mein nothgwendiges Thun in der An-
§ 10 239

Here, the object must be derived from intuition, 14 and, with this, we
reach the limit of what can be proven from concepts alone.F
Our present task is not to observe any determinate kind of "doing"
(e.g., "thinking,'' "intuiting," etc.), but rather to observe "doing as such"
{-an inner doing, this and nothing more}. What we have to do, there-
fore, is to describe an "agility," 15 which one can intuit only as a line that
I draw.G' Accordingly, inner agility is an act of drawing a line. What we
are concerned with here, however, is not any [specific] agility that actu-
ally occurs; instead, we are concerned with "agility as such" or "in gen-
eral," i.e., with a determinable but not determinate power of inner self-
activity and agility. [Even] a line of this sort, however, is determined with
respect to its direction. But the [purely determinable] power [we are now
discussing] must contain within itself every possible line; therefore, the
schema of acting {in general, as a mere power,} must be an act of drawing
lines in every possible direction. 16 This is space, and indeed, empty
space," though it is never present as such; something is always placed
therein. 1 We will soon see why this is so. Here, however, we are con-
cerned only with "doing," and pure, unalloyed doing is also something
that never appears [within consciousness].

§ IO.A

The act of comprehending is posited as a freely occurring act; this

means that {it) is posited by the intellect as an act that can either occur
1 11 or not occur, and indeed, as a specific mode of acting in general (for oth-
erwise nothing at all would be posited). Consequently, acting as such or
in general is posited, and it is posited as something that can occur or not
occur-though acting is not possible "in general" unless one or another
specific mode of acting is posited. Consequently, this "acting in general"
exists for the intellect only as an instance of free acting-but no instance
of "free acting" can be present for the intellect without "acting as such"
Reading, with Krause's MS, "mujJ das Object aus der Anschauung hergeleitet
worden" for K's "ist das Object [ ..• J hergeleitet worden."
F The answer to this question cannot be derived from concepts; instead, we must turn to
intuition (p. 101).
13 "AGILITAET.M Fichte employs this term to designate the pure, inner movement of the
I itself, its free movement from one state to another.
c We are unable to think or agility as such; we can only intuit it. Thereby there arises a
line that I draw (p. 1 o 1 ).
"ein nach allen moglichen Directionen mogliches Unienziehen." Following the par-
allel passage in H, the translation omits the second occurrence of miigliclw.
H Therefore, the schema of doing in general, as a mere power, must be a line spread in
every direction, and this is space; indeed, as the power of agility or of drawing lines in all
possible directions, [it is] emi*Jspau (p. 101).
1 N.B.: It will become evident below that an abstraction has already occurred here, since

there is no empty space (p. wm).

240 § 10

or "in general" being present for it [as well]. However, the I intuits its
sheer acting, considered as such, as an act of drawing a line, and hence
it intuits its indeterminate power to act in this way as space.

(1) It has been said that space is a priori. This can mean two different
things: On the one hand, it can mean that space exists only by virtue
of the laws of reason. In this sense, everything is a priori except feeling
and the predicates of the same, {since this is empirical}. On the other (102)
hand, when one says that space is a priori one can also mean that it is
something that is given in advance of all intuition, something that is
merely determinable and that first makes intuition possible. {Every con-
sciousness presupposes something determinable, and this appears to
ordinary consciousness as something given, something that precedes
all experience.}
These two meanings must surely be combined. Kant understands the
a priori character of space in the latter sense. According to him, space
precedes all experience and is the condition for the possibility of the
same. 17 {It lies within us; it is what is determinable.}
Professor Beck has recently espoused the view that space is a priori in
the former sense, 18 {namely, that space is produced by the intellect
through the laws of its reason,} which is also the view defended in the
first version of the Wissenschaftslehre.J
It is worth noting that the controversy that has recently arisen over
space is similar to the controversy concerning the nature of a thing: is it
given or is it produced? Both parties to this controversy are right. A
thing is determinable; and, to this extent, it is given. It is necessitated by
the laws of reason; and, to this extent, it is produced.
(2) {It has been said that} space is the (a priori) form of outer
intuition. 19 In our view, what is determinable in any intuition-i.e., what
is construed 20 whenever an intuition is posited-should be called the
"form" [of intuition]. Accordingly, what is determinable within outer in-
tuition would be the "form" of the same. K Whenever anything is intu-

17 For Kant's exposition of the a priori character (and hence the transcendental ideality)

of s,p;ce, see, above all, sect. 1 of the ''Transcendental Aesthetic" (KRV. A22/B37ff.).
1 See Einz.ig-miiglicher Standpuncl, p. 141. This portion of Beck's work is included in the
selection translated by di Giovanni in Between Kant and Hegel, p. 2 2 1.
1 The WisJenschaflslehre occupies a middle position between these two views (p. 102).
19 This was, of course, claimed by Kant (see, e.g., KRV. A26/B42).
"das was [ ... ] construirt."
K What does "form" mean? It means nothing other than what is determinable in every
intuition-to the extent that every intuition is an outer intuition or is at least ultimately
grounded in an outer intuition. Therefore, it is that through which all outer intuition is
subjectively conditioned (p. 102).
§ 10 241

ited, space is intuited. Space is what is {filled or} given shape or form in
intuition; it itself does not [actively] form anything. {(And this is the only
reasonable sense that these words can have.)}
Anything posited as something that can occur or not occur or as some-
thing that can be applied or not be applied must appear as something
given (see A, above), and it must appear in this way because, in order for
1 12 us to be able to construe anything from it, it must exist for us. This is
space.L But (according to B) it must also appear as something that is de-
terminable and dependent upon freedom, and thus space would appear
to be something that has to be united with the object and also not united
with it, for only to this extent does what is here determinable appear as
simply determinable, that is, as something dependent upon freedom. I
can posit this object in this space, and I can also not do so; I can place
this object in this space, or I can place some other object there. Freedom
of thinking and comprehending consists in just this. This "something"
[i.e., space] is simply something determinable; therefore, this synthesis
[of the object with space] must be posited as dependent upon freedom,
as something that can either occur or not occur.
To unite an object with space means to posit an object in space, or to
fill space with an object. According to C, neither of these acts is possible
apart from the other {(nothing determinate apart from something de- ( 103:
terminable, and vice versa)}. I cannot posit myself as freely filling space
unless space is present for me, and space cannot be present for me un-
less I posit myself as filling it.
{How is all this to be unified?} Let us now present the
synthesis of the whole.
Our first task is to unite what was established in the pre"vious § with
what has just been established. It is not possible to reflect upon space
without {also} reflecting upon some object in space, for space is the sub-
jective condition for the possibility of an object and, {vice versa, reflec-
tion upon} space is itself conditioned by the act of reflecting upon the
object. It is not possible to reflect upon an object without also reflecting
upon space, but neither is there any space without some object; conse-
quently, they are necessarily united with each other within conscious-
ness. Originally, neither any object nor any space is given by itself;
instead, both are given to us at the same time. But an object in space is
c.alled "matter," and thus it follows that what is [truly] original is
If this is so, then what is presupposed {as given} is not merely the ob-
ject (as in the previous §) or space (as in the present §), but both the
object and space. Together, in a single act, they constitute what is {freely}
L The space in which the object is freely posited appears to us, however (according to A,
above), as something given (p. 102).
"folglich ist ursprunglich Materie.''
242 § lO

determinable in every representation. M {I can think of no object apart

from space and of no space apart from matter; therefore, we can never
separate matter-even in thought-from a representation. 23} Matter is
the synthesis of space with the object. So too at the practical level: I can
divide and combine matter, but I cannot think it away or eliminate it, nor
can I increase or decrease it, {for space and matter are the necessary
conditions for all outer representations}. Wherever our thoughts may
113 carry us, there we discover space, because we think of matter every-
{Since, according to what was said above, the union of space with an
object constitutes a filled space, it follows that there is no empty space
and that empty space can never occur, except as an abstraction.}
This proposition is of prime importance. Here we see the origin of the
entire corporeal world, 24 indeed, the origin of our entire {actual
world}-including the spiritual world; 25 for, as we shall see, our spiritual
world is nothing but an abstraction from the corporeal world. {The spir-
itual world is nothing actual for us; it is merely thought of and inferred
by us, by means of abstraction, and hence it is nothing actual.
And we also obtain, along with this, a genetic understanding of how it
is that we come to assume that something external to us is given [to us].
The Critical philosophy asserts that matter originates for us through
the laws of reason-within us, not from without. Therefore, it must
know how to refute the ordinary belief of common consciousness and
must show that everything objective has its origin exclusively within us.
Accordingly, what is established here is how we arrive at matter, and why
we feel ourselves forced to assume the existence of external objects cor-
responding to our representations.}
We have now seen how the world must come into being for us. We do
not have to assume any given material. Objectivity begins with matter,
and everything objective originates within us. I am originally limited;
and this limited state, when I reflect upon it, is feeling. In a certain re-
spect, feeling may be taken to be what is given-but only in a certain re-
spect, because it is equally true that a feeling is a feeling only insofar as I
reflect upon it.

" Therefore, both space and the object are posited as given, since both acts constitute
but one and the same moment; taken together, they are but a single, determinable some-
thing, and they are necessarily united. [ ... ]
~ :. Something that fills space is called "matter." Accordingly, matter is what is freely deter-
minable in every representation, that from which the free activity of transition proceeds22
: i
(p. 103).
"von welcher das frey thatige ubergeht."
23 "also MATERIE konnen wir nie wegdenken von einer Vorstellung."
"der ganzen Korperwelt."
"der Geisterwelt."
§ 10 243
{I am originally limited, and from this there arises a feeling, from feel-
ing there arises intuition, and from this there arise representations of
objects external to us, representations to which objects outside of us cor- ( u
respond. These objects, however, originate only by virtue of the laws of
our reason, because, according to these same laws, objects and matter
are necessarily united with space; i.e., they fill space. Space, however, is
something purely subjective, something in us; therefore, the object too
is our product.}
The treatment of this point within the Kantian presentation is not
quite accurate, and this has given rise to a system according to which
space is indeed supposed to be a priori, whereas objects are supposed to
enter space only a posteriori. 26
Kant also affirmed that objects are in space a priori, but he reached
this conclusion indirectly, {since, in his artificially constructed system, 27
he began only with a priori concepts, and inserted the theory of space
only, so to speak, incidentally, since this has to do purely with intuitions
and not with concepts}. For him, space is a priori; it is ideal, and conse-
quently, objects must be ideal too. Kant sought to expound everything
purely through concepts, which is also why his "Transcendental Aes-
thetic" is so brief. This, however, will not do. A rational being is not
merely a comprehending subject; it is an intuiting one as welL Kant of-
fers an inductive proof of his exposition of space {as follows: Space is
something purely ideal; therefore, what is in space, that is, matter, is
ideal as well. The account of space in the Wissenschaftslehre, on the other
hand, is developed by means of deduction rather than induction.}
• Kant does not say that space is given; he says that something lies at
the basis of our sensible representations, that there are noumena. He
has not clearly explained himself on this point. He calls this [that is,
what lies at the basis of sensible representations] "something." But [in
fact] this is not something that possesses being; but rather [it is] acting.
Nor has Kant given any consideration to the schema of supersensible
thoughts. Even though one can have no knowledge of what is supersen-
sible, such thoughts are nevertheless present for us, and thus they must
surely permit of some explanation. The schema for what is supersensi-
ble is acting.
{This, therefore, would be the first synthesis connected with the fore-
going: I cannot posit objects and space as produced through freedom; I therefore
presuppose them to be given to me in advance.}
This is an allusion to the dogmatic "Kantians," such as Fichte's collcage C. E. Schmid
and the circle of authors associated with the Annalen tier P~ tmd .US pJU/JJsllfliWchen
G.risks, edited in Halle by L. H. Jacob. For a sustained critique of this type of so-called Kant-
ianism, see, above all, sect. 6 of Fichte's well-known "Second lnttoduction to the Wiuen-
sc~lsuhre" of '797 (SW, 1: 468fT.).
win seinem kiinsdichen oder aufgestellten Systeme."
244 § 10

Space is the form of outer intuition. Form is what is determinable in

an action of the I; thus one could also call matter "the form of outer
intuition.''N Matter is what is construed and limited in outer intuition.
114 Space is the sphere in which freedom operates, and what limits us within
space is the material, which always remains. In order to distinguish be-
tween space and matter, one could call space "the subjective form" and
matter "the objective form" [of outer intuition].
{Now the second synthesis: On the other hand, objects and space can be
presupposed to be given only if I posit myself as free.}
If I am supposed to posit myself within space as free, then space is
presupposed. The role of freedom [here] is this: What is determined
through feeling is posited in any particular place one wishes (if it is
something that has been posited as unified) or it is posited as dispersed
in many different places (if it is something that has been posited as di-
vided). This synthesis of a determinate place with a determinate intu-
ition is a matter of freedom, which is free to posit the determinate
object, i.e., the object determined through the predicate of feeling, in
any place in space it desires. {The object thereby becomes movable
in space.}
Space is empty, in the sense that l-in thought-traverse it, empty it,
and place something else therein. Things are movable, because I can
posit them in this place or that.
One can make a distinction between "absolute" and "relative" space.
Absolute, {originally given} space is immovable. Relative space is the de-
terminate position occupied by an object, and this space can be freely
moved {-the object can change its place}. From this it will follow that
freedom of acting has its origin in freedom of thinking.
From the intellect's freedom {to posit a determinate object in a deter- (105)
minate place or space} it follows that matter, and, along with it, space,
must be infinitely divisible, since otherwise absolute freedom would be
curbed, inasmuch as it would at least be limited to thinking of a specific
part of matter in a specific part of space. {For this reason, space must
also be continuous, [and]} similarly, the continuity of space must also be
infinite: I may continue dividing space just as long as I desire, I will al-
ways find something more to divide. Were this not the case, then, at
some point, space would come to an end, and this would constitute the
limit of my freedom. {In this case, freedom would not be absolute, for
space is the sphere of freedom.
According to what was said above, however,} I cannot think of freedom
of acting unless objects are already present for me. {And the same is true
of space, since for me space is already filled with objects.} Space is given
N If "form" means "what is determinable," then one could also call matter "form," and
indeed, the objective form of intuition, because, for freedom, matter is totally unmodifi-
able (p. 1 04).
§ 10 245
to me along with objects. In order to posit a free action, in order to posit
an object in any space whatever, the object must already have a space; it
already fills a space, but it does not yet occupy any particular position
(any determinate place) in space. It simply hovers before the imagina-
tion. Both space and the object are already present for me: this is what
is determinable {and present as an object as such; and thus freedom is
present here}. I posit this object in some determinate place: this is what
is determinate; and I think to myself that I could also have posited it in
some other place. Nevertheless, if I want to determine the object in a
115 way that accords with the truth, {and if I am supposed to intuit it
correctly,} then I have to posit it in this determinate place, {and my free-
dom therefore expresses itself insofar as I move from what is determin-
able to what is determinate and fill the space that has become empty
through A. See [Outline of the Distinctive Cho.racter of the] Wissenscho.ftslehre,
p. 400, no. 1. 2 ~ This is the movement of transition. (All determination
of place is mediated and relative.)
It is only by means of freedom that an object can be present for me at
all. The object has become what it is for me because I have posited it in
just this way.
I posit the object in a determinate place. What place is this? What de-
termines this place? All determination of place occurs only indirectly
and is relative. {That is to say, I am able to determine the place only by
means of what adjoins and borders upon the object. Even supposing
that I were to continue this process of determining a place indefinitely,
moving, for example, from the table to the wall, from the wall to the
street, from the street to the ditch, from the ditch to the royal garden,
etc.-so that, in the end, I would have filled in just as large a space as
you please: this would still be nothing in comparison with infinite space.
What is the relation between a determinate, finite space and infinite
space? In what place does the latter lie? These are questions to which
there neither can nor should be any answer, for even the most enormous
thing has no relation to infinity.}
• I posit object A next to object B, and B next to C, etc. But how is such
a relative determination of place possible? I certainly comprehend how
a second object can be determined by a first one, and a third by this sec-
ond; nevertheless, I still do not understand this process as a whole.
Where does this whole lie? {In space, therefore, there must surely be (106)
Fichte here refers to the discussion of space in GEWL, § 4, iv, 1, and specifically, to the
following passage: "The imaginalion separaus spo.a from the thing tJJLJl acl:uiJIJ1 occupies it by
positing (as it should) the possibility of completely different substances with completely
different spheres of efficacy in space .t. In doing this, it project! an empty space. But it
projects this empty space only experimentally and in passing, in order to fill it again at
once with whatever substances and attendant spheres of effiGlC}' it pleases. Consequently,
there is no empty space at all except while the imagination is making the transition from
filling the space with A to filling it with b, c, d., etc., as it chooses."
something or other that, for me, is first.} All determination of place is
subjective. At some time or another, I simply started [at some place] in
space. This determination is absolute. It is I who made this place what it
is [i.e., the first one]; otherwise it is not determined. The first place in
space is determined by nothing but my own doing. 0 {It is I who posit it.
I have gathered together or scooped up such and such a quantum [of
matter], and I seize a portion of space and place the object therein.}
(This may well be the simplest argument for the ideality of space.P {See
[Outline of the Distinctive Character of the] Wissenschaftslehre, pp. 401-2, no.
s.} Later on, it will become apparent that this [first] place is determined
by the place I occupy, and that I am where I am.)
{(What then is "substantial" about a thing? Let us elucidate this ques-
tion with the example of a tree: I remove its branches, and yet it remains
a tree. These are only its accidental properties. I imagine that half its
trunk is removed and replace it with another. Then I do the same with
the other half. Now I take away its roots and imagine other ones in their
place: It is and remains a tree. Thus I can imagine entirely different
predicates, opposites of the actual ones, and it still remains the same ob-
ject. What then is it that is "substantial" about this tree? What constitutes
its substance? This is nothing more than the space the object fills, a space
that is tacitly thought of as filled with matter. I can think away all the prop-
erties of the substance, and what is substantial about the object will still
remain: the space filled with matter.
Where does this leave us?
We began with the chief principle of our inquiry: "The intellect is to
posit itself as free in a certain respect."
But it is not possible for it to posit itself in this way unless it posits itself
"in general" or "as such."
( 1) Insofar as it is posited "as such," the intellect is the subject of a log-
ical judgment.
(2) Insofar as it is posited as "free," the intellect is the predicate of a
logical judgment. (See the previous §.)
The intellect, however, is unable to posit itself either "as such" or as
What sort of acting, then, does it posit as free? In order for the intel-
lect to be able to posit an instance of acting as "free," the latter must also
appear in a twofold way: [1] as such or in general, it appears as the sub-
ject of a logical judgment; (2) as free, it appears as a predicate of the'
Insofar as acting is posited as free, it is an object of intuition, to which
the predicate "freedom" is attached. In relation to the object, this free
0 The space in which the first object is posited cannot be determined in itself, however,

except by means of my doing; and this determination is absolute (p. 106).

P This is the most illuminating argument for the ideality of space (p. 106).
§ 10 247
acting or doing of the intellect is intuited as space. Both the object and
space as such must be presupposed, however, if this act of positing a (107
thing within space is something one can do freely. These two moments-
the presupposition [of the object and space] and the predication of free-
dom to the intellect-are necessarily synthetically united. For in order
to be able to predicate freedom of myself, I posit X; and simply because
I have posited X, I must predicate freedom of myself.
The same is true of space. Space is that in which the object is freely
determined. This, however, is impossible unless one presupposes space
as such; and conversely, space cannot be posited as such without also
predicating freedom [of the I].)}

§ 10.B

Since the positing of the object and the positing of acting are neces-
sarily united within the 1, 29 the former (the object) and the schema of
the latter [i.e., space] must necessarily be united as well. But uniting an
object with space is the same as filling space; consequently, all objects
necessarily occupy space, that is, they are materiaL The freedom of the
intellect consists in (i.e., expresses itself in) the synthesis of an object,
which is determined by the predicates of feeling, with a place in space,
which is determined by absolute spontaneity; and, in this way, space be-
comes continuous, and space, as well as matter, becomes infinitely divis-
ible. The determinacy of the latter (the intellect), without which the
former (freedom) is impossible and which is not possible without the
former, consists in this: that the object must be posited in some space or
another, 30 and that space must be filled with some sort of matter. 31
There is no space without matter, and vice versa. This is a matter of ne-
tl6 cessity; but it is a matter of freedom that this object is not situated just in
this space and that this space does not belong just to this object.

See [Outline oj] tM Distinctive Clulracter of the Wissensclulftslehre with Re-

spect lo tM Theoretical Puwer, § 4· ! 2
N .B. Many things are discussed in this book which cannot yet be dis-
cussed at this point in the present exposition; consequently, this § of the
book must be read in the light of this new presentation.
29 Instead of K's "des Handeln im Ich nothwendig vereinigt sind," H has "des HAN-
DELNt>EN Ich [ .•. ] sind," which would make this fint clause read, "Since the positing of
the object and positing of the active I are necessarily united."
"in einen Raum iiberhaupt": that is, "in space as such or in general."
umit Materie Uberhaupt."
sw, 1: 391-41 ..
p. 400, no. 1. The proper act of the representing subject consists in
placing things in space; space, however, is always filled and is never
empty, except when it is being traversed by the imagination.
pp. 400-401, no. 2. Instead of "force, which [necessarily] expresses it-
self," we would now have to talk about matter, which cannot be posited
except in space. Matter is infinitely divisible, and therefore space is as
p. 401, no. 3· Intensity pertains to feeling; extension pertains to space.
Every feeling leads me to matter, which is a quantum and fills a space.
(Feeling expresses a relationship to us, to our concepts; for an intuition
is present only insofar as a feeling is posited.) Matter is intuitable only
insofar as it is a quantum. Matter is not a mathematical point, for it can
be divided. The continuity of space and the infinite divisibility of matter
must therefore be assumed, because these are conditions for the possi-
bility of freedom.
p. 40 1 , no. 4· Feelings are purely subjective. One cannot communicate
what "red," "sweet," "bitter," etc., are by means of concepts, because, be-
yond these predicates of feeling, nothing pertains to objects except that
they are matter in space.
pp. 401-2, no. 5· Take an object and posit it in space, and then ask,
"Where is this object?" This is a question that has no answer, for one
possesses no point by means of which one could determine this object.
Nevertheless, such a determination does occur, and it is based upon the
fact that the first object is posited in absolute space by means of absolute
spontaneity. The [position of the] first object we posit in space is deter-
mined by nothing except our own thinking.
p. 402, no. 6. Imagine an observer. Wherever I look, I presuppose
space. When I see that there is an object in a certain space, I incorporate
this object into that space. All objective representing consists in the fill-
ing of space.

{A Few Remarks on Synthetic Method

Our progress hitherto has been synthetic, for [we have been observing
how] the I itself assembles its own consciousness from all the conditions
that make its consciousness possible.
There are several methods of treating a subject synthetically:
(1) One can start with a contradiction and then simply try to resolve
this contradiction by making certain additional assumptions. This is the l '
type [of procedure] or method followed in the instructor's published
Wissenschaftslehre. It is the most difficult method of all, which is why this (108
§ lO 249
particular text was not understood by the public or even by some of
those who were present at those earlier lectures.
(2) Another method is to begin by posing for oneself a principal task,
and then to attempt to accomplish this task by introducing intermediate
principles. This is the method we have employed so far [in the present
exposition]. Our principal task was to answer the question: "How can
the I discover itself to be really active?" It was in order to accomplish this
task that we introduced the intermediate principle: "I act only insofar as
I construct for myself a concept of a goal."
(3) A third synthetic method is [to begin with something that has al-
ready been established and then] to try to clarify bit by bit what remains
indeterminate and obscure in what went before. This method occupies
an intermediate position between the previous two, for what is obscure
and indeterminate is precisely what was called "contradictory" within
the context of the first method. This third method is the one we have
especially employed in our last§, and it is the one we will employ from
now on. The aim of our investigation is to present the I as an object of
intuition; hence, by following this method, we should become better and
better acquainted with our own I.}
117 § 11

According to the previous §, all determination of place is purely rel-

ative; the place of any object is determined only by its relation to the
place of some other object. But what determines the place of this first
object? The determination of the place of the first object is absolute,
{and it must be so, if one wishes to avoid circularity}. This first thing, by (108)
means of which I determine all other things, is in the place where I have
posited it. {It is determined through itself and through my absolute
This assertion still remains imprecise and thus contradictory;A we
cannot reject it, however, for it follows as a consequence of what has al-
ready been said, and, if such an original act of determining does not oc-
cur, then neither do any of the other acts we have already described.
Consequently, the act in question must occur, and we must discover the
conditions for its possibility. This is the specific task of the present §.
{How then is absolute determination of place, which we must assume
for the sake of any relative determination of place, possible?}

( 1) Judged in the light of everything established so far, the required act

would appear to be impossible. The place of object A [the first object] is
supposed to be determined by my acting, but the only sort of acting that
occurs here is ideal acting, for the only sort of acting predicated of the
I so far is ideal acting, intuiting, the act of positing an object in space.
{This intuition is now supposed to be what is determinate and, at the
same time, what regulates acting.
Insofar as I place an object in a determinate space, the place of this
object is characterized through my acting. What sort of acting on my
part is this? We are acquainted only with an act of positing-intuiting-
an object in this or that determinate place: Is this determinate [acting]
A Nothing is really contained in this assertion, and we cannot think it (p. 108).

[ 2501
also supposed to be, at the same time, the source of the determination? 1
Is the rule and law supposed be, at the same time, that which is regu-
lated? This is not possible.} Since this ideal acting is supposed to be de-
terminate, it cannot itself be the source of the determination in
question. What determines this mode of acting, that through which the
intuiting subject is posited as determinate (namely, as determined to in-
tuit A), must be something that lies outside of the intuiting subject; it
must be that toward which the latter is directed.
What is self-determining and determinate is the I. The intuiting sub-
ject is supposed to be the I; but, in the act of intuiting, the intuiting sub-
ject cannot be both what determines and what is determined by this act.
On the one hand, what we are concerned with here is intuition. Intuition,
however, is, by its very nature, something constrained (since it must have
an object), and the reason for the determinateness 2 of an intuition lies in
something other than the intuition itself. In the case of an act of intu-
118 iting, there can no question of something absolute, 3 possessing its foun-
dation within itself. On the other hand, what we are concerned with here
is not intuition in general or as such; instead, we are here dealing with
a determinate intuition, one that is supposed to be objective (i.e., to cor-
respond to the truth). An intuition of this sort, however, is constrained
in every respect. Why is it that, if we wish to obtain a true representation
of an object, we must locate it precisely in this place in space and in no
other one? 8 (It can here remain undecided whether the object in ques-
tion is itself determined by another object or is the first object we posit.)
{The answer to this question is contained in what has already been ( 109)
said, and thus we will not be presenting anything new here; instead, we
will merely be analyzing what was said above and determining it further
in order to increase our knowledge.
We all claim that any actual thing occupies some determinate space.
I must posit it as being where it is. This does not depend upon my

"soli ~ugleich auch das BESTIMMENDE [ ••• I seyn?'"
2 "ihres Bestimmtseins."
"von AbsoluJsein.'"
I posit something in space; it is actually there. We remarked above that the freedom of
the intellect consists in this: that I am quite generally able to think of this object as being
somewhere other than where it actually is, and the possibility of of the object in
this way is the basis for the possibility of the intellect positing i1self as objectively active
when engaged in, that is, it does not wish to proceed in accordance with
the truth.
Here, however, we are concerned with a determinate representation of place: If my rep-
resentation is to be true, then I must represent it in this or that determinate place. There-
fore, this [determinate representation! cannot depend upon the intuition, or the ideal
activity of the I, and upon the rules of the same.
What determines the truth of this determination of the object's place? What forces and
requires me to think of this object as occupying precisely the place where I intuit it to be?
(p. IOg).
252 § II

thinking; instead, the object must be posited as something whose spatial

position is determined.}

(2) As we have seen in one of the foregoing §§,4 the foundation of all
objective thinking lies within my own state; consequently, if my thinking
of any object is to be objective, then it must refer to my own state. (To
represent something truly is to represent it in a way that serves to ex-
plain my own state.)c When we determine the place of something, we
engage in objective thinking; therefore, this determination of place
must somehow serve to explain a certain state of mine, and every de-
termination of place must originate within me.
The testimony of experience on this matter is as follows: One orders
things in space according to their lesser or greater distance from and
their situation in relation to oneself, that is, according to whether a
lesser or greater expenditure of {time and} energy would be required in
order to transport oneself to the place occupied by the object {-e.g., an
hour, a mile}. (Space can be measured only in terms of time, and vice
versa.) In addition, we also take into consideration whether the object
lies to our right or to our left, in front of us or to one side. {Conse-
quently, even the place of the heavenly regions is determined in relation
to me, as the center: the East is where I see the sun rise, etc.} We should
not count this sort of testimony of experience as a proof, however.
If all determination of place begins with me, and if all objects in space
are determined through me, then I myself, as the subject who deter-
mines the spatial position of all representations, must also be in space
prior to all representation. I must be given to myself in space.

(3) The only representations that possess reality {and objective validity} ( 110)
are those that would necessarily be produced from feelings-if, that is,
feelings possessed the power of causality {and were able to have an effect
upon the representing subject} (see above). 5 In the present case, a par-
ticular determination of a place in space is supposed to be objectively
valid. (It must be determined in a certain way, because I myself am de-
termined in a certain way, {my determination of the place of an object in
space must follow from a feeling of myself as occupying a [particular]
place}.) Consequently, I must feel myself to be in space. Space, however,
is [only] the form of intuition; it is not felt. Yet it has to be felt. Feeling
and intuition must therefore be united {within one and the same I,
which we require in order to unite intuition and feeling in one and the
119 same consciousness}; and thus there must be some third thing, which
• Sect. F of § g.
c I explain my own state to myself: i.e., I think objectively (p. 109).
• Sect. F of § 9·
§II 253
serves as middle term between the two. We are already acquainted with
something of this sort. As we saw above, 6 every particular feeling pre-
supposes a system of sensibility in general, for it is only in relation to this
system that a particular feeling first becomes a particular oneP This
system of sensibility is what is determinable as a particular [feeling], and
this particular feeling constitutes what is determinate in this case. A par-
ticular feeling, however, is a feeling of limitation, and thus the system of
sensibility is a system of limitability. 7 Limitation is nothing apart from
striving, however, and a feeling of limitation is nothing apart from a feel-
ing of striving. Accordingly, a feeling of limitability is also nothing apart
from a general feeling of striving. Something of this sort must thus be
posited if an objective act of representing is ever to occur, but this all
exists only for feeling. 8 As surely as there is supposed to be intuition,
there must be feeling {-and therefore, everything contained in feeling
must be present as well}.
The feeling subject and the intuiting I are one and the same; both
states are necessarily united. But when the I posits itself as intuiting, it
posits itself, in its entirety, as intuiting; and when it posits itself as feel-
ing, it posits itself, in its entirety, as feeling. This indivisible state of the
I thus possesses a dual nature, and this is why it presents itself under two
different aspects. The feeling of the act of feeling and the intuiting of
the act of intuiting are united. Everything depends upon this unity, and
the point of unification lies within the very nature of the l's activity.
The I cannot be ideal without also being practical, and vice versa.
Thus there arises something twofold [i.e., feeling and intuiting]. What
we are concerned with here is itself an I; 9 hence there is a feeling of feel-
ing and an intuiting of intuiting, and, {since the entire I is felt and
intuited,} we thereby obtain something fourfold, {though we are here
concerned only with the latter, that is, with intuition. The intuition of
intuition and the feeling of feeling are separate and distinct from each
other and are posited in opposition to each other, and it is only in one
and the same consciousness that they are united. The entire I is now felt
and intuited, and this gives us something fourfold: (1) a particular lim-
itation; (2) a [particular] striving; (3) the system of limitation as such; (4)
striving as such.} At the same time, we are concerned with the I as an
object of intuition. Space and matter constitute the form of intuition.
Sect. 6 of § 6.
In relation to my entire state, 1 am (again, according to what was said above) supposed
to unite two feelings and intuition; this, however, would not be possible if the system of
sensibility did not continually endure (p. 1 10).
7 ~das System der Begrenzharkeit."
"die$ aber ist nur fiirs Gefiihl." Cp. H: "dies alles liegt nur im Gefiihl" ("this all lies
only in feeling").
lbat is, feeling and intuiting are here supposed to be explicitly posited by the (ob-
served) I itself, and not merely by the philosophical observer.
254 §II

Accordingly, insofar as the I is limited and striving, it is transformed into

matter in space. {For there is nothing in space but matter, and thus, if
the I is to exercise its practical activity in space, it must also be material.
We will have more to say below concerning the I's spiritual nature.} ( 1 1 1)
Striving in general is, as such, endless; it aims at causality without end.
This is why space must be infinite. This striving is {infinite and} abso-
lutely free; there is no possible re~ct whatsoever in which it could not
further determine or arrest itself, and it is thereby that space and mat-
120 ter become infinitely divisible, {to the extent that my striving is thought
of as such and as an activity}. This conclusion was presented in the pre-
vious § simply as a consequence of the freedom of thinking. It is here
traced back to a still higher source: the freedom of striving.
Insofar as my striving lacks causality, i.e., insofar as limitation is
present, striving is a complete and self-contained, limited quantum. 10
On the other hand, at this point I am {also} free: It is up to me and to my
own power of self-determination to extend these boundaries and
[thereby] to endow my striving with causality. The space in which I am
supposed to exist is subject to my control. The matter in space which I
am supposed to be, along with the parts of the same, is dependent upon
me. This, insofar as it is articulated, 11 is my body.
{The space and matter within which I am and which I myself become
within intuition must be free, for the place and position in which I am-
as space-depend upon my will, upon my movement.} Moreover, I have
to assume that I am actually able to divide this matter in space outside of
me, not merely that I am able to think of it as divisible. However, I can-
not do this directly, simply by willing it; instead, I must operate indi-
rectly, through some intermediary states. The only matter upon which
the mere will is able to exercise any [direct] effect is my body-consid-
ered not in terms of its organic systems, but rather as something
articulated. 12 (We are here concerned with the body insofar as it is that
by means of which I am able to perceive and to have an effect upon
thin~s. That is to say, I am here concerned with it insofar as it senses and
acts, 3 {i.e., insofar as it is the location of my feelings of "sweet," "hard,"
"red," "loud," etc.}. My body is the system of my feelings, the medium
through which intuiting and feeling are united. My will has no effect
upon my digestion and circulation, but I can control the movement of
my hand or foot.)

E There is no possible respect in which my striving could bring itself to a halt (p. 1 1 1 ).
I 10 "so ist es ein geschloJ3nes, begrenztes QuANTUM."
11 "artikulirt." By referring to the body as "articulated," Fichte means to emphasize its
caf,acity for deliberate, consciously controlled movement.
I 2 ' mein Leib, in wiefern er articulirt, nicht in wiefern er organisirt ist."

"in wiefern er Sinn ist und Organ."

§II 255

Therefore, when the system of my limitability is thought of in syn-

thetic unity with my striving, I become for myself an articulated body. f"
Intuition and feeling are thereby united; I intuit myself as feeling inso-
far as I feel myself to be intuiting an object in space. {Therefore, I do not
feel myself in space; instead, I intuit myself as the feeling subject, and
indeed, as feeling myself in space, and [only] thereby do I intuit myself
as feeling objects in space.}

(4) Intuition is now directed at an object in space, and this will provide
us with an important result: only an intuition of a determinate object
outside of me is a determinate intuition; moreover, according to our ac-
count, it is the first determinate intuition. (The intuition of myself as an
object comes only later and is based upon a free act oheflection.) Actual
consciousness begins not with us, but rather with objects.G Only later do
12 1 I intuit and obtain any consciousness of myself, and I do this by abstract-
ing from things and reflecting upon myself. {Therefore, every act of
comprehending begins with an intuition of the object and with a concept
of the same. Only in the intuition of an object do I first become an in-
tuiting subject at all and comprehend myself. Accordingly, we are not yet
concerned with the acting of my body in space; instead, we are here con-
cerned with my body only insofar as it is the means by which I feel and
intuit myself in space.}
The indeterminate but determinable state of the intellect with which
all intuition 14 begins is the intuition of an infinite space filled with mat-
ter. (At bottom, this is really an intuition of an infinite striving. It is only
the philosopher who posits the temporal priority {of this intuition of the ( 1 1
whole of infinite space}. In fact and within consciousness, this intuition
is present in all the moments of consciousness we have displayed so far
and in all those that still remain to be displayed.) 15 In this state {of in-
finite striving and intuiting} I am limited, and the sphere of space and
matter is thereby divided for me into two portions; I become something
[material] for myself, and at the same time something else outside of me
FIn intuition, the system of my limitation and my striving-in their synthetic unity, i.e.,
as a result of the limitation of my striving-becomes for me my (articulated) body (p. 1 11 ).
c Intuition is here directed upon the object, for only this is a thterminale intuition; and
indeed, it is the first determinate [intuition], since the beginning of actual consciousness
proceeds from objects, and the I loses itself in the latter (p. 1 11).
K: "sie"; H: "aile Anschauung."
""in der That aber und im Bewustsein kommt sie vor, im Bewustsein aller der Mo-
mente, die wir bisher aufgezeigt haben und noch aufgezeigen werden." This sentence re-
quires some modification or correction as it stands. Unfortunately, the correspondjng
passage in H ("im Bewuflseyn abet- kommt sie in synthetischer Vereinigung vor") provides
little help. The basic idea here seems to be, as Radrizzani points out, that the intuition of
infinite space accompanies and is "synthetically united with" every moment of actual con-
(the remaining matter)H also comes into being for me. Since I myself am
limited, my intuition of myself is also limited.
• This intuition of myself is the portion that determines the whole
(and what is determined thereby is the intuition of objects in space and
the position of the same), and thus every determination of space begins
with a determination of myself within space. I occupy the absolute
place; the space I occupy is directly [determined]; all the rest of space is
[determined] only indirectly. I intuit myself not as an object of intuition,
but rather as engaged in feeling; and as surely as I intuit myself at all, I
fall into space, though I do not notice this. All my intuiting of objects is
guided and determined by my own being in space-which appears to me
as something felt. 1
One originally determines the place of a thing in space by judging this
for oneself, that is, by making an estimate of its position, or "eyeballing"
it. 16 The standard of measure one applies in this case lies immediately
within the eye: I apprehend a larger and a smaller portion of space and
measure the former by the latter; i.e., I calculate the quantum of "see-
ing" needed to reach this place or that; {through my seeing, I "pull"
space into myself}.
But does seeing possess quantity? Is not seeing, considered as the ex-
ternal schema of inner ideality,J something absolute, {and, if this is so,
then would [not] the objects have to pile up on top of-and collapse
into-one another}? This is indeed true; what is involved in spatial de-
termination, however, is not simply pure seeing, but instead, {it is united
with} the {inner} intuition of a line that I have to draw in order to reach
the place in question. I describe this line as follows: I appraise my striv-
ing; that is to say, I estimate how much energy {and time} I would have
122 to expend, how many steps I would have to take beyond the place where
I am, in order to reach the place occupied by a certain object. (The first
standard of measure is unquestionably the step or pace-assuming, that
is, that with every step I take I abandon my former place completely and
enter an entirely new one.) {My striving is here the standard of measure,
and the place where I stand is the terminus a quo. 11 This procedure of
H I thereby become something for myself, and something comes into being outside of
me, namely, the rest of nature (p. 112).
1 I posit myself not as an object of intuition, however, but as the subject who is active

therein. The intuition of myself thus appears as a mere feeling, as what makes [the intu-
ition] necessary, as the determining portion, whereas the intuition of the object appears as
the determinate portion [of the entire sphere of space and matter]. Consequently, all de-
termination of space originates with the determination of myself in space-and vice versa.
1 first intuit the object, but in this intuition I must appear to myself as the intuiting subject;
I intuit myself only as the feeling subject, however, and I thereby fall into space for myself
(p. 112).
"nach Gutdiinken, oder wie man sich ausdriickt nach dem AugenmaJk."
J To be sure, seeing is something absolute, the outer schema of inner activity (p. 1 12).
"starting point."
§II 257

mine is immediate; it cannot be learned, it can only be improved by

From this one can see that the way we represent things has an influ-
ence upon the way in which our practical power is determined; the
thought of objective truth is founded upon this.} With this, we have ar-
rived at the first notable point where the necessary relationship between
our representations and our practical power is presented.

(5) What determines and what is determined are now synthetically

united. I cannot posit anything in space without also positing myself in
space; nor can I posit myself in space without a1so positing other things
in space, for I can posit myself only insofar as I posit things. {Space itself,
however, I posit absolutely.}


Every object obtains its place in space from its relation to the repre-
senting subject, and, apart from this relationship, no determination of
place is possible. Anything that is supposed to determine the position of
another thing in space, however, must itself be in space. Accordingly, a
rationa1 being posits itself in space as a practically striving being. This
internally 18 felt striving, which obtains the form of intuition through the
act of intuiting the object (an act that is necessarily united with feeling),
is the original and immediate standard of measure for every determi-
nation of place. It is not possible to posit anything in space without also
discovering oneself to be in space, but one cannot discover that one is in
space unless one posits an object in space.
Though Krause's MS has "neuerlich" ("recent") here, both H and the summary of the
dictata at the beginning of K have "innerlich," which is surely the correct reading.
122 § 12

According to the previous§(§ 11), I am able to measure the distance

of an object from me according to how much force or energy I would
have to expend in order to reach the position occupied by the object.
123 (But how is it possible to measure this quantum, i.e., this suppressed
striving, so that one can subsequently employ it to measure other
things?) Everyone will surely find that this account is confirmed by ex-
perience, but this is not a philosophical explanation, for one can still ask,
How is it possible to measure this very exertion of energy, so that one
can subsequently employ it to measure other things? This is the question
we will be trying to answer in the present §. In order to answer it, how-
ever, we will first have to become thoroughly acquainted with the rep-
resentation of energy or force, 1 and we will have achieved such an
acquaintance only when we have shown how this representation be-
comes present within the intellect. {In order to answer this question we ( 1 13)
must first ask, What is "force as such" or "in general"? How does the
intellect acquire this concept? Thus, here again, the practical and the
theoretical powers border upon each other.}

(1) The representation {[or] concept} of force can be derived only from
our consciousness of willing and of the causal power2 that is united with
willing. Hence the first question we must answer here is the following:
What precisely is it that we discover when we discover ourselves to be
engaged in willing and when we ascribe to this willing the power of ex-
ercising causality 2 within the sensible world? This is something that can-
not be derived from concepts alone; {it has to be demonstrated within
1 "dieVorstellung von Kraft."
"Causalitiit" in both instances. Here, as before, Fichte uses this term to designate not so
much the relationship between two things or events ("cause and effect") as the causal power
of an agent, that is, its capacity to effect a change in something else. Hence it is often ren-
dered here as "power of causality."
§ 12 259
intuition}. Willing is something immediate and original, which cannot
be derived from anything higher.A One has to reproduce for oneself
willing as such, along with the form of the same, and one must observe
oneself while thus engaged in willing. {Simply will something and ob-
serve how you do this. But this command presupposes the following.} To
begin with:
{(A)} Let one think of oneself as a deliberating subject: Shall I do this
or shall I do that? Or shall I, instead, do some third thing? While delib-
erating in this manner, the actions I am considering appear, within the
representation, to be quite determinate. I think of these as possible ac-
tions, that is, as actions dependent upon my decision-but cmly as possible
ones. B So long as I am engaged in deliberating, the concept of action con-
tinues to oscillate between several different [possible] actions and is not
yet fixed upon any specific one of them, {since the opposite action has
not yet been renounced. Thus, so long as we have not yet made up our ( 1 14)
minds, the concept of acting appears to us in this oscillation.}
Let one now cease to deliberate, and instead, come to a decision: {The
concept of our acting now appears to us as something that is the sole
thing that should occur.} What has been willed now appears to be the
sole thing that ought to be done, and willing itself now appears as a cat-
egorical demand, an absolute postulate of actuality. {(One should not yet
think here of the categorical imperative.)} Deliberation concerns noth-
ing but possibility; willing is supposed to bring into being for the first
time something new, something that is not yet present. {What is willed is
present as something actually demanded; it is a demand placed upon
actuality.} Yet this same thing has already become present idealiter; for, in
deliberating, I have already confronted my willing with the various
events that could possibly ensue-but I have considered them only
problematically. Therefore, this new thing [that is supposed to come
into being as a result of my willing] can be described as something that
124 has now, for the first time, been "released," for it continued to be held
back while I was deliberating. Consequently, willing appears as a process
of emerging {from a self-imposed limitation of the power of willing, a
limitation from which one is released through willing and which is can-
celed by directing the will upon something determinate,} and as a pro-
cess of voluntary limitation, inasmuch as one focuses one's will upon a
single new object. In deliberating, our striving is dispersed and is, to this
extent, not an act of willing. It is only when this dispersed striving is con-
centrated upon a single point that it is called "willing." This conclusion

A Willing is what is absolutely first and most immediate (p. 113).

How do these thoughts appear to us? We certainly have a determinate representation
and a determinate concept of the possible actions-as something possible, dependent
upon us (p. 113).
260 § 12

follows from our previously stated principle: that the I discovers itself
{and becomes conscious of itself only} in a movement of transition from
indeterminacy to determinacy, and only in the course of such a transi-
tion can one become conscious of one's own willing. {This act of concen-
tration is the point where the movement of transition occurs. 3 We are
conscious of our own willing only insofar as we are engaged in such an
act of concentration.
In what manner do we become conscious of our own will?-with re-
spect, that is, to the form of the same; for hitherto we have considered
only the material of the will.}
Deliberating and {determinate} willing are nothing but {determinate}
acts of thinking: the first, a problematic; the second, a categorical one.
But everything in the l-and thus its willing as well-must be posited
by the I. {Therefore, no act of thinking is present in the I unless it posits
this act of thinking.} Accordingly, we possess an immediate conscious- t
ness of the specific act of thinking we call "an act of willing." I will
something only insofar as I think of myself as a willing subject; and I
think of myself as willing only insofar as I will something.c These are
inseparably linked. The will is something absolutely primary,O some-
thing that, with respect to its form, is not conditioned by anything else.
{Subject and object are here one and the same. In this case, there is no ( 115)
object hovering before the subject (as in outer intuition). The wiii has
no schema, for the act of willing is not separated within consciousness
from the act of thinking of willing. In contrast, whenever I entertain a
representation of an object, I introduce a distinction between the rep-
resented object amt myself as the representing subject; in willing, how-
ever, I am one: the subject that thinks of itself as willing, as well as the
willing subject.} Willing is like feeling, before which, because it is some-
thing {absolute and} immediate, there also hovers nothing that might be
abstracted from the act itself. {Something immediate of this sort is
needed in order to derive therefrom what is mediated. Willing is there-
fore what is highest and original. Nothing exists if I do not think of my-
self as willing.}
This immediate concept of willinlf serves as the foundation for a sys-
tem of those concepts Kant calls "noumena" and through which he es-
tablishes a system of the intelligible world, 4 {though Kant did not

'"ist der Punkt des Uebergehens."

c This determinate act of thinking we call "willing" is, accordingly, immediate. Through
the act of thinking of willing, I will [something]; and because I will [something], I think of
the act of willing (p. 114).
0 Accordingly, the will is something absolute (p. 115).
E This concept of my immediate willing (p. 1 15).
See KRV, A23~B294ff.
ground them deeply enough}. These have given rise to many misunder-
standings and are not properly integrated into his system. 5
To be sure, Kant does say that one has to think these noumena, but he
does not explain how and why one must do so.F For him, they remain
qualitates occultae. 6 He maintains that there is no bridge leading from the
sensible to the supersensible world. 7 This is a consequence of his one-
sided treatment of the I in the Critique of Pure Reason, in which he con-
siders the I only as ordering the manifold, and not as producing the
The Wissenschaftslehre has no trouble in constructing such a bridge. Ac-
cording to the Wissenschaftslehre, the intelligible world is the condition
for the possibility of the world of appearances; the latter is constructed
upon the basis of the former. The intelligible world, in turn, rests upon
its own proper center, namely, the I itself, which is a whole only in the act
125 of willing. All representations originate in the act of thinking of
willing. 8 ·G
This concept of willing is the foundation upon which everything in-
tellectual or spiritual (i.e., everything that consists in mere thinking)
rests, and it is thereby that the I itself becomes spiritual or intellectual. 9
We have already seen {in the preceding §} that the I is corporeal {or ( 1 16)
material}. These two different aspects of the I must be united.
A concept that ushers us into the intelligible world (a "noumenon")
would therefore be something produced solely by thinking {without any
feeling or intuition whatsoever}--just as the concepts of external ol>-
jects, which, we have asserted, are not produced purely by thinking, are
called "sensuous" or "sensible" concepts. 10 {What is produced by feeling
and intuition are "phenomena," sensible appearances, for I claim that
something outside of me corresponds to them.
"Sie [ ... ] stehen in dem Kantschen Systeme abgeriflen und getrennt von dem iibri-
gen da." Literally: "They are isolated and separated from everything else in the Kantian
F Kant's noumena hover there in complete isolation. He says that you must place some-
thing of this sort at the basis of experience; if the "why?" and the "how?" of this are not
deduced, however, then this way of proceeding is not a strictly philosophical one (p. 1 1 5).
"Occult qualities."
See sect. ii of the Introduction to the Criliqtu ofJud.gmml ( 1790) (KGS, V: 175-76); En-
glish translation by Werner S. Pluhar (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1987).
"Aile Vorstellungen gehen aus vom Denken des Wollens." I.e., it is through (involun-
tary) reflection upon or awareness of our own act of willing that we first become conscious
of objects.
G The world of appearances is erected upon the intelligible world, and the Iauer is based
upon the I-which is based upon itself. Only in the willing of the I are the subject and the
object simultaneously one and the same. By willing and thinking of willing, the I produces
something new (p. 1 15).
"wodurch das Ich selbst geistig wird."
"sinnliche heiflen."
(B) Thus we ourselves produce our own willing.} Kant denied [the
possibility of] intelligible intuition because he failed to answer the ques-
tion concerning the origin of the noumenon. {Kant says that concepts
such as "will," "force," etc., are noumena and that such concepts are sim-
ply present. But present for whom? Surely there are not two I's. Noum-
ena and phenomena are both present for the same, undivided 1.} (See
Hiilsen's contribution to the prize-essay topic, "What Progress has Meta-
physics Made since Leibniz and Wolff?") 1
{How then do I know that such concepts [i.e., "noumena"] are
present? The usual answer is: "through immediate consciousness." This,
however, surely means nothing other than "through intelligible intuition."
I observe myself in the act of thinking, but without any [reference to]
space, since otherwise this would be a sensible intuition.}
Such concepts could also be called "pure concepts," and the power to
produce such concepts 12 could be called "pure reason." {Hence Kant's
Critique of "Pure Reason." The Wissenschaftslehre, however, is something
entirely different.} Since the Wissenschaftslehre deals with the entire range
of consciousness, {with everything that the whole I produces in accor-
dance with its entire power,} it must include an exposition of the con-
cepts of phenomena as well as those of noumena. i
(2) In order to make the concept of willing even clearer, let us compare
and contrast it with the concept of wishing. To begin with, something is,
{as Kant said, 13} supposed to be able to be brought into being or
"realized" 14 by means of willing, whereas the same cannot be said of a
wish. To be sure, what is wished for, as well as "wishing" itself, may be
taken in two different senses. On the one hand, one may understand
that one is wishing for something that does not depend upon oneself,
even though one still wants it; or, on the other hand, one may wish for
something that does depend upon oneself, though one does not want to
take the trouble to bring it into being." Many people who never seri-
ously "will" anything {and never resolve tO'employ the means necessary (117)
A. L. Hiilsen (1765-1810) was a student and colleague of Fichte's at Jena. Hiilsen's
"examination" of the celebrated prize-essay topic proposed by the Berlin Academy of the
Sciences was published in 1796. As Fuchs has pointed out, however, his major discussion of
the topic at issue is not to be found in this essay at all, but rather in another one, titled
"Philosophische Briefe an Hrn. v. Briest in Nennhausen," which Hiilsen published in 1798
in Fichte's own PhilasophiscMs journal einer Gesellschaft Teutscher Gelehrten, 7, 1: 7 1-1 29; rpt.
in Aw der Fruhzeit des deutschen Jdealismw: Texte zur Wissenschaftslehre Fichtes 1794-1804, ed.
Martin Oesch (Wiirzburg: Konigshausen und Neumann, 1987), pp. 87-112.
12 "das Vermogen dazu."
13 See the note to sect. iii of the Introduction to the Critique of judgment, KGS, V: 177-
"soU etwas REALISIRT werden kOnnen."
H On the other hand, one can understand that what one wishes for is indeed something
that depends upon our will and still not resolve to will it (p. 117).
to achieve what they wish} are content to engage in wishing of this latter
sort. {Examples of the latter are those who want to be well educated or
virtuous without expending any effort and without conquering the
passions.} Such impotent wishing is often confused with willing, a con-
fusion that leads to a complete misunderstanding ofthe mighty power of
{The first sort of wishing, where one understands that one wishes for
something that does not depend upon our will (for example: the wish
that someone would give me a thousand thalers), has little to contribute
to the present distinction between wishing and willing.} Here we are
concerned with "wishing" only in the second of the above senses. Such
wishing involves something determinate, distinct from all the opposed
wishes. My willing no longer wavers between opposites, as it does when
I am deliberating; a wish is firmly attached to an object, {and in this re-
spect it is similar to the will}: all that is lacking is the form of willing. The
content is present, but one does not want to resolve to do anything. {As
126 in the case of will,} wishing also involves a demand for an object, but, in
this case, the object is not demanded unconditionally. {Wishing always
involves a conditional form of thinking: were certain conditions to dis-
appear, then I might well will the same object [for which I now merely
wish]. If, for example, no industry and effort were required in order to
become well educated [then I might will to be well educated]. But where,
in the case of willing, does the uncondititmal aspect of the demand lie,
and what ingredients are still missing from wishing?} One can wish not
only for the object of willing, which is something that is supposed to be
made real, but also for something to cease to exist or not to occur.
When I will something, I simply abstract from everything except what
I have willed; I renounce everything else. When I [merely] wish for
something, however, something always continues to hold me back: fear
of exertion, fear of the consequences, etc. Willing involves the concen-
tration {of my striving and thinking-} of the entire {inner} person, with
all its powers, {-} upon a single point; {whereas, in wishing, the imag-
ination continues to wander}. An act of intense attentiveness, {that is,
the limitation of my thinking to a single point,} provides the proper im-
age of willing, {and such attentiveness comes into being only through an
act of willing}! (Many people dream with their eyes open and let their
thoughts wander aimlessly from one thing to another. If anything good
and right is ever to come into being, one has to think in a determinate
manner-one thing after another, and connecting each thought with all
the rest.)

Expressed in an image: in willing, a person contract.s his entire being into a single
point, and everything else, everything outoide of this point, no longer exim for the whole
person (p. u7).
The object of willing is a determinate series of acting and sensing. "I
will something": this means that the present state of my feelings, or the
object that is presently in a certain condition, ought to become other
than it is.
There is no gap, however, between moment A and moment B.J There
must be a gradual transition from the one to the other, since otherwise
the unity of consciousness would not be preserved and I would cease to
be the same I.
When we will something, we turn our thoughts in a specific direction
and focus all our thinking in this direction, from which the imagination
is not allowed to deviate. Our thoughts also have a certain direction
when we wish for something, but in this case our imagination is allowed
to deviate from the course selected {and is free to detach links from this (118)
chain or to skip over them}.
The particular concept of energy or force that is united with the will
is derived from this act of compelling and forcing the imagination to
proceed only in a certain direction. It is impossible to imagine a will
without at the same time imagining some impulse, some application of
power. tS,K Willing is genuine inner efficacy, an act of affecting oneself. 16
In an act of willing, I seize control of my wandering thoughts and re-
strict them to a single point.
This representation of inner, efficacious acting appears within con-
127 sciousness as something that hovers between feeling and thinking. L It is
what one might call an "intelligible feeling." {It is not a feeling in the
proper sense of the word, because it does not involve any limitation, but
rather the opposite: it is an act of breaking down the limitations that
arise in the course of deliberation, limitations that are now overcome by
resolve. This is an intelligible feeling, however, inasmuch as} the imagi-
nation, left to its own devices, wanders, and an inner exertion of energy
is required in order to constrain it. By constraining my own imagination
in this way, I become immediately conscious of this act, of this constrain-
ing; and this is how the intelligible world is connected with the world of
1 Everything willed involves a continuous, determinate series of acting and feeling. It
involves a transition from one state of feeling to another; or (to express the same point
with respect to the intuition of an object) this object should no longer remain, but, rather,
another one ought to take its place. The thing ought to become other than it is. There can
be no gap, no hiatus, contained in any act of willing; instead, willing is a continuous series
in a specific direction (pp. 1 •7-•8).
15 "ohne sich zugleich einen AnstojJ, eine Anwendung von Gewalt zu den ken."

K From this act of compelling the imagination not to wander there arises the concept of
"force"-the energy to do something-an application of power, an impact (p. 118).
16 "Das Wollen ist wahres inneres Wirken, Wirken auf sich selbst."

L We have no specific term to designate this inner, efficacious acting. It oscillates be-
tween representation and feeling, and is neither completely one nor completely the other
(p. 118).
appearances.M {I limit myself in a certain direction: this would be [an
expression of] the pure force of the intellect, insofar as the intellect concen-
trates itself by this act of willing; consequently, this act of focusing myself
upon a single point produces a feeling of force.} This feeling marks the
first appearance of inner force; 17 [hence] one might call what appears
within this feeling "pure force," or "force applied to itself." It is an effect
a rational being exercises upon itself. 18
Remark [ 1]: Concerning the theoretical and practical points of view:
{As a human being, I can consider myself from two different points of
view: from the theoretical and from the practical viewpoint.} The
former consists in freedom of thinking, which, however, is not a lawless
freedom, but is, rather, one that proceeds in accordance with rules. This
sort of freedom, however, does not apply to acting; for in the case of act-
ing {there is no choice of a direction and no comparison is possible;
instead,} the will is focused upon a single object. {Life is based upon the
practical point of view, and proceeds from genuine willing. 19 This prac-
tical viewpoint, this genuine willing, is more important.} The best way to
avoid confusing these two points of view is to take one's stand securely
upon the practical viewpoint: really learn how to will. If one is a spec-
ulative thinker, then one will also have a secure grip upon the theoretical
point of view.
Remark 2: Kant once said that it may seem odd to say that a rational
being affects itself. 20 But there no longer appears to be anything odd
about this once one has become adequately acquainted with the nature
of reason, the very essence of which is to act upon itself. A more appro-
priate question would be to ask how this act of self-affection appears
within consciousness. An act of this sort is confronted by some resis-
tance, which has to be overcome; [therefore] this expression [of the act
of self-affection] is called "feeling."

(3) Let us assume that this will possesses causal power, i.e., that what one
wills is supposed to appear immediately within experience. (We are not
yet prepared to consider the origin of this assumed harmony, by means
of which, through an act of willing, something corresponding to the
same is supposed to occur within experience. Here we are considering
" In this way, the outer world can be connected with the inner one (p. 1 18).
17 "was in diesem Gefuhle vorkommt, ist die erste innere Kraft." Literally: "What ap-

pears in this feeling is the first inner force."

"sie ist Wirkung des Vernunftwesens auf sich selbst." Radrizzani plausibly suggests
that the word Wirkung in this sentence is a mistranscription of Wirken. So modified, the
sentence would read, "It is the efficacious acting through which a rational being affects
"a us dem rechten woUen."
See KRV, B153·
266 § 12

only the representation of causal power, along with the manifold that
appears within this representation.)
{What is involved in this "causality"?}
The state of my feelings alters when I perceive an instance of causal-
ity; this is a continuous movement from A to B, which includes no gap or
hiatus. {The I advances continuously through a series of feelings, from
the state with which it begins, as soon as it wills anything, to the state ( 1 19)
128 that it wills.} If I think of the entire aggregate of {my} feelings as a line,
then I will discover along this line no two contiguous points that would
be entirely opposed to each other, {since this is supposed to be a contin-
uous series}. {How then is a manifold possible?}
• If, however, I were to remove any two segments from this line, these
would always be entirely opposed to each other. 21 For example, the
state of feeling in consequence of which I am forced to assume that A is
unhewn marble undergoes a particular alteration, and, in consequence
of [this new] feeling, I am forced to assume that A is a statue. This ap-
pears to be incomprehensible. What is involved here, however, is not a
matter of comprehending (of thinking) at all; instead, it is a matter of
intuiting, and occurs only through a particular operation of the imagi-
nation (with which we will become acquainted in the course of our de-
duction of time). The advance [from one feeling to the next] must be
continuous, for otherwise the unity of consciousness would be de-
stroyed; therefore, consciousness remains, because consciousness is a
unity. 22 Nevertheless, the various individual feelings are, as such, pos-
ited in opposition to one another, and thus several different feelings can-
not occur, in one and the same respect, within a single act of feeling.
How then is this manifold {of op~osed feelings} supposed to be unified
within causality?N We said above ~that the various feelings must be re-
lated to a power of feeling, 24 which endures and remains the same
throughout the various states. We will again encounter a similar answer
here, but in a more specific form than before; and this will explain how
"so sind diese im ganzen immer entgegengesezt."
"und sonach bliebe <das>