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Chapter 3 - Fichte on Autonomy

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

The chapter examines the “Deduction of the Principle of Morality” in §§1–3 of the System of Ethics with reference to Kant’s definition of autonomy, and shows that Fichte objects to this theory of autonomy on two fronts. First, Fichte argues that Kant fails to present a “genetic” account that reveals the inner structure of the legislating subject. From Fichte’s point of view, this line of reasoning merely explains that we have to take ourselves as lawgiving, but not how we can understand ourselves to be bound by a law we are giving. Second, Kant argues that the imperative can be applied to sensible incentives, but according to Fichte he fails to articulate a mediating a priori form which shapes sensibility itself. The chapter suggests that Fichte’s conception of striving towards the “entire I” is meant to respond to these perceived shortcomings in Kant’s ethics.

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Fichte's System of Ethics
A Critical Guide
, pp. 47 - 65
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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