Andrey Sudakov. Appearance of the One. Ghosts of pantheism in “The Characteristics of the Present Age” by Fichte. Vol. 3. No. 2. 2018

Publication Details

Appearance of the One. Ghosts of pantheism in “The Characteristics of the Present Age” by Fichte
Title in the language of publication: Явление Единого. Призраки пантеизма в «Основных чертах современной эпохи» Фихте
Andrey Sudakov
Doctor of Philosophy, Professor, Leading Research Fellow at the Institute of Philosophy of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Address: 12/1 Goncharnaya Str., Moscow 109240, Russia.
P. 75–90.
Language: Russian
Document type: Research Article


In his popular philosophical lectures on history of mankind, Fichte refers only scantily and reluctantly to their speculative foundations, and when he does, the listener/reader is apt to get an impression as if the author immediately identifies the eternal life of the Absolute with the world, the knowledge, the mankind. Hence his late Science of Knowledge was repeatedly blamed for pantheism. The article aims to prove the validity of such criticism, by means of a coherent analysis of the metaphysical passages in “The Characteristics of the Present Age” within the context of Fichte’s religious and philosophical views of this period. The impression of radical pantheism turns out to be an effect of rhetorically well justified simplifications and innuendos. The eternal divine being and the life of reason exist and appear as knowledge respectively as world, but this apparition of the One in the multiple is mediated in Fichte’s thought by mutual penetration of being and transcendental freedom in the Absolute itself, on account of which the existence of divine life, albeit constituting its necessary appearance, is at the same time located beyond it, and this duality, as well as the plurality, produces not “parts” of the eternal being, but its radiations or hypostases. The “independent persons” exist neither substantially nor illusorily, but hypostatically. The same mediation implies further the emergence, in Fichte’s philosophical project of this time, alongside a metaphysics of nature, of a metaphysics of history, conceived as the movement towards self-conscious freedom of mankind. The human race as a plurality of individual persons, which, within the rhetorical texture of “The Characteristics”, becomes sometimes identified with the life of the Absolute, stays in reality in a far more complicated relation to this metalogical divine life. The person living in the idea according to Fichte’s notion of that kind of reasonable life abstracts himself from sensually egotistic aims, and yet he can be sighted and efficient on this level of existence only as far as he retains an ideal individuality. Therefore Fichte’s practical metaphysics of the period turns up to be equally alien to any abstract monism.


Fichte, being, existence, conscience, human race, personality, ideal individuality, monism, monodualism, pantheism.


Butkevich T. (1901) “Uchenie Fikhte o religii, ee sushchnosti i proiskhozhdenii” [Fichte’s doctrine on religion, its essence and origin]. Vera i Razum [Faith and Reason]. № 16. Otd. 1 [No. 16. Sec. 1]: 241–257; № 19. Otd. 1 [No. 19. Sec. 1]: 443–469. (in Russian).

Fichte I. G. (1978) Die Grundzüge des gegenwärtigen Zeitalters. Hamburg: Felix Meiner Verlag.

Fichte J. G. (1997) “Die Anweisung zum seligen Leben, oder auch die Religionslehre”. Fichte J. G. Nastavlenie k blazhennoi zhizni [The Way Towards the Blessed Life]. Moscow: “Kanon-plyus” ROOI “Reabilitatsiya” (Istoriya filosofii v pamyatnikakh [History of philosophy in monuments]): 5–166. (in Russian).

Fichte J. G. (2000) Darstellung der Wissenschaftslehre. Aus dem Jahre 1801. Moscow: Logos; Progress. (in Russian).

Hegel G. W. F. (1971) “Vorlesungen über die Geschichte der Philosophie III”. Hegel G. W. F. Werke in 20 Bänden mit Registerband. Auf der Grundlage der Werke von 1832–1845 neu edierte Ausgabe (Theorie-Werkausgabe) (hg. v. E. Moldenhauer, K. M. Michel). Bd. 20. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag.

Kant I. (1999) Kritik der reinen Vernunft (tr. by N. O. Lossky with versions of translation into Russian and European languages). Moscow: Nauka (Pamyatniki filosofskoi mysli [Monuments of philosophical thought]). (in Russian).

© Andrey Sudakov, 2018

Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.