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Chapter 8 - Embodiment and Freedom

Fichte “On the Material of the Ethical Law”

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 May 2021

Stefano Bacin
Affiliation:
Universitá di Milano
Owen Ware
Affiliation:
University of Toronto
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Summary

This chapter is devoted to Fichte’s derivation of content for the moral law from his theory of the transcendental conditions of I-hood in Part III of the ”System of Ethics”. The chapter suggests that Fichte gives us a quasi-phenomenological account of how the I develops through system of drives in which nature and freedom are constitutively intertwined. In this framework, the chapter argues, embodiment plays a crucial role, because it is through the body that the natural drive address itself an agent, and for Fichte it is through the body that one exercises causality in the world. The chapter examines the details of this theory of embodiment by setting it in the larger context of Fichte’s confrontation with Kant’s formal idea of morality. The quasi-phenomenological set up of the argument is grounded in Fichte’s attempt to bridge the gap between the strict apriorism of the ethical law grounded in reason and the experiential dimension of the “original drive” as it is progressively and infinitely actualized in our life.

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Fichte's System of Ethics
A Critical Guide
, pp. 150 - 177
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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