Johann Gottlieb Fichte, 1762-1814

[Mentioned in No and Yes, p. 22]

JOHANN G. FICHTE, German philosopher and teacher, was born in Rammenau of a poor family. He owed his education to a wealthy patron who, impressed with the boy's ability to memorize a sermon after hearing it only once, had him taught privately by a pastor and then sent the boy to the famous school at Pforta. Later he studied both theology and philosophy at the University of Jena.

For some years afterward he was a tutor in Saxony and in Zurich and ultimately went to a nobleman's home in Warsaw. Although he remained there only two weeks, this journey had far-reaching effects, for on his way back he stopped at Königsberg to see Kant. Wishing to impress Kant more than he had at their first meeting, he started writing a commentary on revelation. Kant was impressed and helped to get it published. Fichte's name and preface were omitted, with the result that many attributed the work to Kant. Kant's correcting of the matter and his praising of the work resulted in Fichte's being offered the chair of philosophy at Jena.

Signs of the Times
June 13, 1959

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