What is the basis of natural law

Hölderlin's reception of Fichtes ‘Basis of Natural Law’

Hölderlin yearbook pp 146-172 | Cite as


"Fichte is back in Jena and is reading about natural law this winter" (StA VI, 186)1Holderlin wrote to Hegel on November 25, 1795. In his first two semesters in Jena, Fichte had presented the basics of his theoretical and practical philosophy, the science of science was to be applied for the first time in natural law, which Fichte had originally announced for the summer semester of 1795, as can be seen from the Latin lesson catalog.2

The present article is the revised and expanded version of the introductory lecture to the working group 'Hölderlin and Fichtes ›Natural Law‹' at the annual meeting of the Hölderlin Society in Bad Homburg from May 30th - June 2nd, 1996 on the subject of "Hölderlin and nature" .

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  1. For this article, references from texts by Kant and Fichte are marked with the following abbreviations: AA = Immanuel Kant, Gesammelte Schriften, ed. from the Royal Prussian Academy of Sciences, Berlin 1900 ff. (AA IV, 253–383 = Prolegomena to every future metaphysics that will be able to appear as science, 1783). KrV = Critique of Pure Reason, Hamburg 1976, quoted as usual with the page numbers of the original editions of the first and second editions (A and B). GA = Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Complete Edition of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences, Stuttgart / Bad Cannstatt, 1964 ff. The wording is quoted from GA, page numbers are also based on SW = Johann Gottlieb Fichte's entire works, ed. by Immanuel Hermann Fichte. 8 volumes, Berlin 1845/46, as these page numbers can be found in many editions.Google Scholar
  2. Hölderlin gave up his attempts to escape into law with resignation because the mother could not be won over to such a change: "The thought of giving you restless hours, the uncertain future, the reproaches that I earned from my dear ones [...], The advice of my friends, the disgusting study of law, the all-rounds that I would have exposed myself to in my life as a lawyer [...] all this finally moved me to follow you, dear Mamma. "(StA VI, 48; the letter is from the beginning of Year 1790, cf. StA VI, 548) And to Neuffer in November 1791: “- That I am still in the monastery is the cause of my mother's request. If you are too dear to her, you can probably acidic a few years. ”(StA VI, 71). On Hegel, who “still wanted to study law as a master's degree”, see Hegel in reports of his contemporaries, ed. v. Günther Nicolin, Hamburg 1970, 17th Google Scholar
  3. An investigation on the subject of Hölderlin and natural law is available in the essay by Friedrich Vollhardt, Nature, Law, State. Problem constellations in Hölderlin's ‘Hyperion’, in: Literature in a scientific context. Walter Müller-Seidel on his 75th birthday, ed. v. Karl Richter, Jörg Schönert and Michael Titzmann, Stuttgart / Weimar (in press). Vollhardt places Hölderlin's critical attitude towards the then much-discussed coercive law of the state, which opposes the self-legislation of the free individual, at the center of his considerations. Fichte is understood as a representative of such a position of coercive law, from which Holderlin therefore stands at a critical distance. - In the Frankfurt Hölderlin edition, reference was made to the connection between Hölderlin's fragment 'Über Religion' (fragment of philosophical letters) and Fichte's theory of natural law (see FHA, vol. 14, drafts for poetics, Frankfurt / M. 1979, 11/12) . Paul Böckmann already referred to a parallel between Holderlin's concept of the sphere in the fragment On Religion ’and Fichte’s Basis of Natural Law’ in his essay Holderlin's Mythical World. In: Hölderlin. Commemorative publication on the 100th anniversary of his death, ed. v. Paul Kluckhohn, Tübingen 1944, 11–49.Google Scholar
  4. Rolf-Peter Horstmann has a conception of space and geometry in his contribution. Remarks on Kant's transcendental aesthetics (In: Ratio 18, 1976, 16-28) against Bertrand Russel, Hans Reichenbach and Peter Strawson convincingly demonstrated that Kant's theory of pure intuition is by no means based on geometric intuition, as are the objections of the same to Kant's theory of intuition presuppose (see above all 20, 23 and 28). - On the independence of the Kantian concept of philosophy from mathematics, see also Eckart Förster, Kästner and Philosophy. On Kant's Critique of Kästner in Opus postumum. In: Kant Studies 79, 1988, 342–347.Google Scholar
  5. On the dating of the fragment ‘About religion’, see Ulrich Gaier, “Types of presentation” on dating, in: Hölderlin-Texturen 3, “Gestalten der Welt”. Frankfurt 1796–1798, Tübingen 1996, 226–231.Google Scholar
  6. If one follows Wilhelm Vossenkuhl's considerations in his essay Understanding Individual Things. About subjectivity and intentionality of judgment. In: Kant in the discussion of modernity, ed. v. Gerhard Schoenrich, Frankfurt / M. In 1996, the intentionality, the setting of ends, also has its place in Kant's epistemology, but not in the ‘Critique of Pure Reason’. According to Vossenkuhl, Kant's epistemology is only completed in this regard by the "Critique of Judgment". Vossenkuhl's finding is an indication that Fichte's self-image, according to which the ‘criticism of judgment’ is of fundamental importance for the development of his theory, must be taken seriously. See, however, Rolf Peter Horstmann, Kant's ‘Critique of Judgment’ in the judgment of his idealistic successors. In: Ders., The Limits of Reason. An investigation into the goals and motives of German idealism, Frankfurt am Main 1991, 191–219, who regards this self-assessment by Fichte as rather questionable, at least not verifiable. Google Scholar

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