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FICHTE, JOHANN GOTTLEIB (1762-1814), reception of his work in Russia.

German idealist philosopher, influential in Russian intellectual circles of the 1830s and 1840s. Fichte is known in the field of philosophy for his theory combining knowledge and metaphysics as the science of knowledge or Wissenschaftslehre, which was heavily influenced by Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), who encouraged his work. Fichte applied Kants ethical precept of individual duty to interpret religion as human acknowledgment of a divine and uncompromisable moral law in his Critique of All Revelation (Versuch einer Kritik aller Offenbarung, 1792), which won Kants approval and was published anonymously in 1792. Mistaken as the work of Kant himself, it garnered Fichte a professorship from 1794 to 1799 at the University of Jena, where he did his most important philosophical work. The Wissenschaftslehre posits the subjective freedom of the conscious self, limited by the objective reality of the non-self, as the beginning of definite knowledge. His primary concern was to define the individual as free agent, while reconciling that with necessity and causation in the material world. Moral action unites the subjective self with the objective world in pursuit of the ideal, or absolute. God is manifested in the moral order of the universe. The dutiful will, in obedience to conscience, aligns the self with God; neglecting duty or weakening conscience leads to falsehood and evil. Duty has a social component, obliging the self to uphold others rights. Later, shorter works explored historical, religious, and patriotic implications of his ideas. Fichtes critics found him too stern and uncompromising in personal relations, on the one hand, and too vague about individual rights or a personal God for the comfort of church and state authorities, on the other. Forced to leave Jena in 1799 over charges of atheism, he wrote and lectured in Berlin, producing a final draft of the Wissenschaftslehre in 1810. He resumed academic work when the University of Berlin opened that year. In 1813 he joined the militia to

resist Napoleon. He died of typhus in 1814. Politically suspect in his lifetime for his nationalist ideas, he was celebrated in his country by liberals of 1848 and conservatives of 1871. Russians encountered Fichtes nationalist philosophy through the armies going abroad after 1812 and later within the general appropriation of German idealist philosophy in the 1830s. Although other German writers and philosophers, such as Johann Cristoph Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805), Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831), and especially Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling (1775-1854) all eclipsed Fichtes popularity in Russia, several notable Russian intellectuals underwent a Fichtean phase in their development. Nikolai Vladimirovich Stankevich (1813-1840) preferred the works of Schelling, Kant, and Hegel, but studied Fichtes science of knowledge while traveling in the Caucasus and studying in Berlin in the late 1830s. Of the members of Stankevichs Moscow circle, Mikhail Aleksandrovich Bakunin (1814-1876) was Fichtes most fervent admirer, less for his core ideas than the content of popular works such as The Way to a Blessed Life, or the Science of Religion (Die Anweisung zum seligen Leben, oder auch die Religionslehre, 1806). Bakunin published a translation of the series of lectures On the Vocation of the Scholar (Einege Vorlesungen uber die Bestimmung des Gelehrten, 1794) in the leading Russian journal Telescope in 1835 and introduced Vissarion Grigorievich Belinsky (1811-1848), literary critic and assistant editor of Telescope at the time, first to Fichte, then to Hegel, producing the critics brief phase of conservative reconciliation with reality in 1839-1840. Scholars detect Fichtean influences in the anti-tsarism of Alexander Ivanovich Herzen (1812-1870) and Petr Iakovlevich Chaadaev (1794-1856) and the nationalist organicism of the Slavophiles. In the twentieth century Nikolai Alexandrovich Berdiaev (1874-1948) criticized the Fichtean self as thoroughly bourgeois but drew notions about the creative individual from the

tradition of German romanticism. His fellow migr Boris Petrovich Vysheslavtsev (1877-1954) wrote his doctoral dissertation on Fichtes ethics for Moscow University, exploring the irrational underpinnings of the absolute. Post-Soviet Russia has seen renewed interest in Fichte. Bibliography: Nearly all of Fichtes works are available in English translation, in various editions. For a brief introduction to Fichtes life and works, see Radoslav A. Tsanov, Fichte, Johann Gottlieb in The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ed. by Paul Edwards, Vol. III (New York, 1967), 192-196. For Russian works on Fichtes influence in Russia, see A.V. Lukianov, Fikhte v Rossii in Russkaia filosofiia. Slovar, ed. by M.A. Maslin (M., 1995), and V.F. Pustarnakov, ed., Filosofiia Fikhte v Rossii (SPb., 2000). In English, see passing references in Edward J. Brown, Stankevich and His Moscow Circle, 1830-1840 (Stanford, Cal., 1966), Aileen Kelly, Mikhail Bakunin (Oxford, 1982), Herbert E. Bowman, Vissarion Belinsky, 1811-1848 (Cambridge, Mass., 1954), and Nicholas V. Riasanovsky, Russia and the West in the Teaching of the Slavophiles (Cambridge, Mass., 1952). Stephen M. Woodburn