Johann Gottlieb Fichte

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Johann Gottlieb Fichte

Johann Gottlieb Fichte (* 19 May 1762 in Rammenau near Bischofswerda; † 29 January 1814 in Berlin) was a German educator and philosopher. He is considered, along with Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, the most important representative of German idealism, but in contrast to them he advocated a subjective idealism.

The importance of Fichte's theory of science for Rudolf Steiner

„My efforts towards scientific concepts had finally led me to see in the activity of the human "I" the only possible starting point for true cognition. If the I is active and looks at this activity itself, then one has a spiritual in all immediacy in consciousness, so I said to myself. I thought that all we had to do was to express what we saw in clear, comprehensible terms. To find the way to do this, I followed Fichte's "Wissenschaftslehre". But I still had my own views. And so I took the "Wissenschaftslehre" page by page and rewrote it. The result was a long manuscript. Before, I had struggled to find concepts for natural phenomena from which one could find one for the "I". Now, conversely, I wanted to break into the becoming of nature from the "I". At that time, spirit and nature stood in full contrast before my soul. A world of spiritual beings existed for me. That the "I", which is itself spirit, lives in a world of spirits was for me a direct perception. But nature did not want to enter the spiritual world I experienced. Starting from the "Wissenschaftslehre", I became particularly interested in Fichte's treatises "Über die Bestimmung des Gelehrten" and "Über das Wesen des Gelehrten". In these writings I found a kind of ideal to which I wanted to aspire myself.“ (Lit.:GA 28, p. 51f)

Fichte and the Occult

„The way in which Fichte characterises the "I am" is entirely in the spirit of occultism. Even if he remains in the field of pure thought, his contemplation is not mere speculation, but true inner experience....

Fichte leads thought to the summit from which the entrance into the land of occultism can be accomplished. And the preparation which one attains through him is the purest imaginable. For it rises completely above the realm of sense sensation and above the realm of that which comes from man's desire and lust nature (from his astral body). Through Fichte one learns to live and move in the completely pure element of thought. One retains nothing of the physical world in the soul but what is implanted in this physical world from higher regions, namely thoughts. And these form a better bridge to spiritual experiences than the training of other psychic faculties.“ (Lit.:GA 35, p. 56f)

Earlier incarnations

According to Rudolf Steiner, Fichte's individuality was embodied earlier as Baruch de Spinoza (1632-1677) and at the turn of time as Philon of Alexandria (c. 15/10 BC; † after 40 AD).

„As an example of a regular development of an individuality we can consider a contemporary of Jesus, Philo of Alexandria. His individuality came again as Spinoza and then as Johann Gottlieb Fichte. So here we have a continuous individuality in three personalities. If one reads Fichte without knowledge of these processes, one understands him only slightly. With this knowledge, however, one finds that his words are written in fire script. are written with fire. All these great spirits have undergone a regular development.“ (Lit.:GA 88, p. 184)

„For the same individuality is Spinoza and Fichte, as perhaps some of our friends already know.“ (Lit.:GA 158, p. 213)


„In the spirit, in the liveliness of thought founded in itself, rests life, for there is nothing truly there at all apart from the spirit. To live truly is to think truly and to know the truth."“

Johann Gottlieb Fichte: Die Anweisung zum seligen Leben [1]

„That which is called death cannot abort my work; for my work is to be completed, and it cannot be completed in any time, consequently no time is appointed to my being, - and I am eternal. At the same time as taking on this great task, I have snatched eternity from myself. I raise my head boldly to the threatening rocky mountains, and to the raging waterfall, and to the crashing clouds swimming in a sea of fire, and say: I am eternal, and I defy your power! Break all down upon me, and you earth and you heaven, mingle in wild tumult, and all you elements, - foam and rage, and in wild battle wear away the last sun-dust of the body which I call mine; - my will alone with its firm plan shall boldly and coldly hover over the ruins of the universe; for I have seized my destiny, and it is more lasting than you; it is eternal, and I am eternal, like it.“

Johann Gottlieb Fichte: Some Lectures on the Destiny of the Scholar[2]

Works (selection)


The Science of Knowledge (GermanWissenschaftslehre), Fichte's main work, was revised by him several times. a. a.:

  • Über den Begriff der Wissenschaftslehre oder der sogenannten Philosophie (1794) (Digitised copy and full text)
  • Grundlage der gesamten Wissenschaftslehre (1794/1795)
  • Wissenschaftslehre nova methodo (1796–1799)
  • Versuch einer neuen Darstellung der Wissenschaftslehre]] (1797/1798)
  • Die Wissenschaftslehre (1804) as well as the following editions (1812) and (1813).

Other works


References to the work of Rudolf Steiner follow Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works (CW or GA), Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach/Switzerland, unless otherwise stated.
Email: URL:
Index to the Complete Works of Rudolf Steiner - Aelzina Books
A complete list by Volume Number and a full list of known English translations you may also find at Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works
Rudolf Steiner Archive - The largest online collection of Rudolf Steiner's books, lectures and articles in English (by Steiner Online Library).
Rudolf Steiner Audio - Recorded and Read by Dale Brunsvold - Anthroposophic Press Inc. (USA)
Rudolf Steiner Handbook - Christian Karl's proven standard work for orientation in Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works for free download as PDF.


  1. Johann Gottlieb Fichtes sämmtliche Werke. Vol. 5, Berlin 1845/1846, page 410 Text
  2. Johann Gottlieb Fichte: Some Lectures on the Destiny of the Scholar, published by Christion Ernst Gabler, Jena and Leipzig 1794, 3rd Lecture, pp. 69f.
  3. Online, Faksimile; 2. Auflage 1793: Versuch einer Kritik aller Offenbarung, bei Projekt Gutenberg,; Faksimiles bei gallica, bei google books, bei