Acta Cogitata: An Undergraduate Journal in Philosophy


Following the publication of Schulze’s “Aenesidemus”, which detailed a skeptical critique of transcendental idealism, philosopher Johann Gottlieb Fichte found himself undergoing an “intellectual revolution”. Having agreed with many of Schulze’s arguments, he concluded that to preserve the spirit of Kantianism he would have to establish a foundationally reworked conceptualization of it. Fichte emerged from this process with a framework grounded upon the innovative claim that we should regard that there is nothing for us beyond our own consciousness, which creates both ourselves, and the world that we experience. Furthermore, because we create our own experiences, it is possible for us to access direct knowledge about our experiences through our “productive imagination”, and gain knowledge through experience. This approach piqued my interest because prevailing academic approaches to knowledge production are based upon materialist assumptions, Baconian procedure, and production-based outcomes, often at the expense of qualitative and experiential procedures. Wondering if Fichte’s philosophies might be able to offer alternative, more balanced approaches for academia, in this paper I participate in an exploratory process examining Fichte’s perspectives on pedagogy, scholarship, and education. Beginning with the question: if he wrote on the matter, what were Fichte’s perspectives on pedagogy? I discuss his relational pedagogy and the challenges he experienced balancing his students’ autonomy with his position as an instructor. Next, I ask: did Fichte address the purpose of scholarship and education in the broader, social sense? I suggest that his writings conceptualize scholarship as a public good necessary for the progressive development of humankind. Finally, I reconsider Fichte’s place in contemporary academia, wondering: where do we go from here and can Fichte help us get there? Ultimately, I argue for the relevancy of Fichtean approaches in addressing the problems facing academia today.

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