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  • Print publication year: 2021
  • Online publication date: May 2021

Chapter 4 - Feeling, Drive, and the Lower Capacity of Desire


The chapter is devoted to Fichte’s genetic account of agency that comes to the foreground in Part II of the System of Ethics. As the chapter shows, what motivates this second deduction is a concern to avoid what Fichte calls “empty formula philosophy” which fails to explain how willing an object is possible. Fichte sets out to avoid this shortcoming by offering a complex theory of the drives, focusing first on what he calls our “lower capacity of desire.” The chapter argues that the key to understanding this section of the System of Ethics lies in Fichte’s attempt to derive the character of our “natural drive” from how we represent the system of nature as a whole. At the center of this derivation we find Fichte draw upon an organicist model of nature. This organicist model gives Fichte the resources to present an original theory of desire as an activity of “forming and being formed” by natural objects.

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