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Threat to be confronted

Monday, 12 February 2018 at 20:35

Fichte on Dr John Dunn.

Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1762–1814)

Freedom was not for Fichte an end in itself, or something to be found in Nature. Fichte's freedom, John Dunn recounts.It was certainly not a return to anything that once existed. Freedom to Fichte meant an independence from nature. Only then would there be scope for the spontaneous and creative activity, which Dante had held analogous to that of the first Creator in whose image man was made - the creative activity that distinguished man from beasts and deified the Absolute I as God. Only with such freedom ‘could a new equality arise - a uniform progress of culture in all individual men’. (Vocation of the Scholar)

Rousseau’s reduction of humanity to ‘a race of animals’ was the threat to be confronted. After all, a bestial docility was not altogether undesirable to those who would exploit the productive capacity of such ‘free’ individuals. On this point, the Marrano Spinoza’s counter-humanist, counter-Renaissance, project comes most readily to mind.

© John Dunn.

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