It's strange because recently I have been sharpening my take on Fichte. Admittedly, I haven't really studied Fichte as well as I could have when first encountering German idealism as an undergraduate and then returning to Kant/Hegel/German idealism in graduate school. Other than taking three seminars in texts by Kant (the three critiques) and a year-long seminar in The Phenomenology of Spirit, my training in Schelling, as well as the German romantics happened on the side through independent readings and then dissertation. Fichte was always someone whom, other than the Vocation of Man and Critique at All Revelation, was just barely visible in the background. So recently I began Hegel's Difference essay in order to wade into Fichte on my own (on the difference between Fichte and Schelling's philosophy - Hegel's first publication even before the Phenomenology - and it is remarkably clear, his clearest no doubt).
Bernstein said reading Fichte is like going into a swamp. He's lost students in there. They've never come out.
The goal of course is to read the Wissenschaftslere. However there seems to be so many versions of the "Science of Knowledge" - some with various introductions, some with a "new method," that it is quite confusing to figure out where to begin.
In any case, my decision to sharpen my take on Fichte must have had some subconscious or subliminal connection to this year's summer school! Fichte makes a major appearance, and it just seems timely. In any case,
here are the course descriptions for the Bonn Summer School in German Philosophy.
5th International Summer School in German Philosophy:
“The ‘idealism’ in German Idealism”
- The first week (July 20-24) with Prof. Forster will mainly focus on Kant’s “transcendental idealism”. We will discuss the emergence of, and the original philosophical motivations for, such a position in Kant’s precritical writings, and above all his arguments for it in the Critique of Pure Reason (1781/7), where special attention will be paid to the Transcendental Aesthetic, the Transcendental Deduction, the Principles, and the Antinomies. We will also consider, though more briefly, the historical fate of, and the philosophical prospects for, such a position after Kant.
- The second week (July 27-31) with Prof. Gabriel will mainly focus on idealism in Fichte and Hegel. On some very problematic straw-man readings, Fichte and Hegel aim at developing a Kantianism without things in themselves by simply dropping the very idea of a thing in itself and thereby claiming that we must contend ourselves with Kantian appearances all the way down. Against such straw-man readings – made prominent by figures as different as Heidegger and Russell – the second week of the course with Prof. Gabriel will be dedicated to Fichte’s and Hegel’s early understanding and criticism of transcendental idealism as proposed by Kant. In particular, we will read passages from Fichte’s Wissenschaftslehre 1794 and Hegel’s Faith and Knowledge (1802). The leading question will be how Fichte and Hegel are able to incorporate an improved variety of the Kantian distinction of theory-orders separating transcendental idealism from empirical realism. Arguably, this early stage of what was later dubbed “German Idealism” is actually concerned with spelling out the structure of the metaphysics and epistemology needed in order to make sense of both the very existence of a first-order realist theory layer and the overall intelligibility of the facts obtaining and the objects existing within the domain posited on the higher-order level of idealistic theorizing. Thus, surprisingly, German Idealism might come to be seen as providing a deflationary meta-theory for Kant’s enterprise.