Fichte and the Vocation of the Intellectual

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“A man who isolates himself gives up to his destiny; he does not care about the moral progress. Speaking in moral terms, to think only of yourself is the same thing as not thinking of yourself at all, because the absolute end of the individual lies not inside him, but in humanity as a whole.”
-J.G. Fichte, The System of Ethics

Johann Gottlieb Fichte is best known for his Addresses to the German Nation, a key political book that enflamed German nationalism and helped unite the people of the disparate German territories against Napoleon’s French Empire. One of the founding fathers of German idealism, and the originator of thesis-antithesis-synthesis concept, Fichte is a figure of enormous historical importance who first rose to prominence as a professor of philosophy at the University of Jena.

Fichte’s highly popular lectures were later published as The Vocation of the Scholar, an ironic title, for Fichte indulges in fiery polemics against the figure of the scholar and puts forth the intellectual as the superior type, one for whom education is a tool to use for communitarian and anti-individualistic ends. Diego Fusaro not only discusses how Fichte, in contrast to other philosophers of his time, used the method of the enlightenment to arrive at paternalistic answers to the questions of “What is an education?” and “What are the educated to do with their education?” but also explores their relevance today.

Antelope Hill Publishing is proud to present Diego Fusaro’s Fichte and the Vocation of the Intellectual to the English-speaking world for the first time, translated from Italian by Anna Carnesecchi.

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