Fichte, Johann Gottlieb (17621814)

Fichte, Johann Gottlieb, a celebrated German philosopher, born in Upper Lusatia; a man of an intensely thoughtful and noble nature; studied theology at Jena, and afterwards philosophy; became a disciple of Kant, and paid homage to him personally at Königsberg; was appointed professor of Philosophy at Jena, where he enthusiastically taught, or rather preached, a system which broke away from Kant, which goes under the name of “Transcendental Idealism,” and which he published in his “Wissenschaftslehre” and his “System der Sittenlehre”; obliged to resign his chair at Jena on a charge of atheism, he removed to Berlin, where he rose into favour by his famous “Address to the Germans” against the tyranny of Napoleon, and after a professorate in Erlangen he became head of the New University, and had for colleagues such men as Wolff, Humboldt, Scheiermacher, and Neander; he fell a victim to the War of Independence which followed, dying of fever caught through his wife and her nursing of patients in the hospitals, which were crowded with the wounded; besides his more esoterico-philosophical works, he was the author of four of a popular cast, which are worthy of all regard, on “The Destiny of Man,” “The Nature of the Scholar,” “The Characteristics of the Present Age,” and “The Way to the Blessed Life”; “so robust an intellect, a soul so calm,” says Carlyle, “so lofty, massive, and immovable, has not mingled in philosophic discussion since the time of Luther ... the cold, colossal, adamantine spirit, standing erect and clear, like a Cato Major among degenerate men; fit to have been the teacher of the Stoa, and to have discoursed of Beauty and Virtue in the groves of Academe” (17621814).

Definition taken from The Nuttall Encyclopædia, edited by the Reverend James Wood (1907)

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