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Bouterwek — newly established academics whose thought he had inspired but who, in turn, influenced his final definition of the nature of reason. Ironically, despite his life long opposition to Roman Catholicism, Jacobi exercised considerable influence in some German Catholic theological circles Weindel, In , Jacobi made reference in a letter to his friend Johann Neeb to a favourable review of the second volume of his collected works by Hegel Jacobi, — vol.


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Though first exposed to philosophy in a French cultural milieu, Jacobi was an Anglophile throughout his life and favourably compared British philosophers with the French philosophes. He credited the British for never having denied that virtue has value on its own; for never having made it just an instrument of happiness. The French, on the contrary, the moment their philosophizing progressed beyond mere common sense, were always all too prone in moral matters of falling into materialism Jacobi, — vol. Jacobi never saw the completion of the planned edition of his works. He died on March 10, The Spinoza Letters is a cumbersome work, its disjointed composition indicative of the haste with which it was put together.

The first edition opens with the text of a poem by Goethe that was however dropped in the second edition. The poem carried the name of its author but had been mechanically edited by Jacobi to bring out, by printing certain key phrases in relief, images especially important to him.

Thus edited, the poem conveyed the idea that the pagan gods are Man writ large, and are therefore to be praised, since they reveal what is most noble in the human being. Brute nature is without feelings or discernment, whereas humans can judge, draw distinctions, and dare the impossible. They transcend nature. This was a humanistic message with which Jacobi agreed wholeheartedly. After a brief explanation of how the exchange of letters with Mendelssohn had originated, the main text goes on with a somewhat abbreviated version of the correspondence itself.

At least as typified by Prometheus, human beings can rejoice in their own sufferings, and by this defiance uphold their individuality in the face of Fate. Since Mendelssohn thought at first that Jacobi was himself a Spinozist, we see him also attacking the basic doctrines of Spinozism as he understood them, while at the same time suggesting how they could be reformulated in an internally more consistent form to have them rejoin the accepted teachings of school metaphysics.

It was school metaphysics that would logically lead to Spinozism, if its implications were just fully understood, not the other way around. Jacobi also gave an explanation for his sudden decision to publish the letters. Since Mendelssohn had announced the impending publication of his Morgenstunden , [ 5 ] a book in which, as Mendelssohn said, he would take up the issue of Spinozism, Jacobi thought that his opponent was unfairly trying to make a public head start on him in a controversy that was agreed would have to remain private before being brought to public attention by mutual consent.

There was a point to his complaint. Yet, despite the many divagations and the pervading preachy tone of the text, there was a definite philosophical message that Jacobi was conveying. Philosophers are temperamentally inclined to reconstruct reality according to the requirements of explanation, in total disregard of the requirements of existence.

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They are possessed, as it were, by a logical fanaticism that leads them to mistake the abstractive principles of explanation for principles of existence. The much vaunted Enlightenment humanism, based as it was on the ideal of pure rationality was only a sham. Enlightened philosopher that he was, Lessing had been walking on his head. The jump — which Lessing humorously declined to execute citing old age as excuse Jacobi: , 33—34 — would have brought him to his feet, back on the solid soil of common sense.

Also implied, however, was a criticism of Goethe. The latter had spearheaded the Sturm und Drang reaction against the same rationalism that Jacobi was now condemning. True generation, or anything connected with temporality, equally disappeared, except as mere illusionary phenomena. In his eyes, therefore, Spinoza stood as the philosopher par excellence an attribute, however, which he later conferred on Fichte. Substance, lacked the attributes of a person, it could not satisfy the requirements of true religiosity. On the one hand, Jacobi pointed to Spinoza as an object lesson of all that is wrong with philosophical reason.

Jacobi, 41 Spinoza knew that truth is its own criterion; that ultimately, therefore, it is not amenable to discursive reason but must be apprehended immediately on its own, intuitively. His objection against the rationalism of the philosophers boiled down to precisely this — that it was the product of a reason that had lost touch with its intuitive sources, and was therefore given to mistaking its own productions for the real thing.

On this score, Jacobi thought that he had found a strange ally in the most rationalist of all philosophers. Yet there was a serious problem in the Spinoza Letters. These, though vague and hardly the basis for a well defined position, were in themselves perfectly acceptable claims. But Jacobi then obscured them with his pious perorations at the end — by citing, among others, the theologian Jerusalem, who thought that the task of philosophy is simply to elucidate the content of revealed faith, and Lavater, who believed in the ever present witness of miracles.

It had originally been intended as three separate dialogues, as the structure of the final product still betrays. Such an assent is immediate, a matter of feeling rather than ratiocination, and all the more unimpeachable precisely because reason alone would never induce it on its own.

No process of ratiocination could produce the certainty that accompanies it. On the contrary, Jacobi had been forced to use the term, and to oppose it to reason, only because the philosophers had pre-empted the latter term, and had unduly restricted it to mean the kind of discursive conceptualization that abstracts from real things and is ultimately irrelevant to judgments of existence Jacobi, 29ff. Distilled from the many twists and turns of dialogue style argumentation, the theory can be summed up as follows:. In making this last point, Jacobi paraphrases Thomas Reid, without however mentioning him explicitly in this immediate context.

Jacobi actually says that he is dependent on Spinoza for the seminal idea of his present method of deriving reflective representations from the senses Jacobi, , note Here Jacobi portrays the German Leibniz as the champion of individuality, and also tries to show how it is possible to accept his Monadology if duly modified. The transition in the Dialogue between second and third part is performed rhetorically. There was, however, a conceptual basis for it.

But it also clearly led to Leibnizian naturalism. The argument in defence of the first thesis is based on the assumption that human affairs are organized mechanistically, i. In defending the thesis Jacobi follows Spinoza closely. The mechanism at issue applies to the cognitive side of man just as much as to his bodily side. Consciousness, or representational being, is only a mirror of extended being. Thus, according to Jacobi, syllogistic thinking is mechanistic in nature, being driven by principles ab ante no less than any corporeal sequence of events. So far as the opposing thesis is concerned, Jacobi argues for it by retrieving a theme from the David Hume.

This source is irreducible. In some parts, the one element might well display a greater degree of intensity than the other; nowhere, however, can either element crowd out the other totally. It also follows that, though mechanism is both possible and necessary, a totally mechanistic organization of things that would eo ipso allow no room for individual freedom, i.

It would make them totally passive. The conceptual basis for denying the reality of individually attributable human act is thus removed. Presupposed by both sets of propositions is the assumption, which Jacobi accepts, that beings at least, created beings exist in limiting relationships, and that such relationships entail an irreducible element of passivity as well as activity on both the sides entering into them.

The difference between the two sets of propositions is that the second the one defending freedom respects this necessary condition of any relationship, whereas the first does not. Only the philosopher, because of his passion for abstractions, is tempted to conceive, on the one hand, a purely mechanistic relation, one which in fact negates activity altogether and thus removes the basis for the desired relationships; on the other hand, one which is purely active, exclusively spontaneous, and thus attains the same result by the opposite route.

In other words, the choice with which Jacobi confronted his readers at the opening of his new edition of the Spinoza Letters was not between two conceptually valid yet contradictory claims, but between the anti-humanism of the philosophers — based at it was on an abstraction — and a humanism that on the contrary stays close to the facts of experience. In this respect, Jacobi was reaffirming the point he had already made to Lessing ten years earlier, namely, that the only way to deal with the irrational results of philosophizing is to know when to stop philosophizing.

Ironically, however, he had used the same general paradigm of two interacting forces to define, in his two sets of propositions, both the system of mechanical causes and the system of freedom. This was a point that did not get lost.

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Where Jacobi had tried to circumvent the antinomy altogether by suspending philosophical reflection at the right moment, Fichte was to try to resolve it by prompting that same reflection to a higher level of abstraction instead. So far as Jacobi was concerned, the results of any such move could only be disastrous. And it was indeed against Fichte that, ten years later, he felt compelled to repeat in stronger terms than ever before his original interdiction against philosophers.

In his Open Letter, Jacobi famously declared Fichte as the true disciple of Kant — the one who had brought the premises of Transcendental Idealism to their logical conclusions. He also revised his prior estimate of Spinoza. He had always portrayed the latter as the most consistent of all philosophers. He now recognized that the attribute belonged in truth to Fichte. He was in fact the philosopher par excellance — the Messias of Reason, as Jacobi now loudly proclaims him Jacobi, 2.

For Fichte had extended the reach of philosophical abstraction, with which Spinoza had gone only so far as to exclude the possibility of subjectivity, to retrieve this subjectivity itself within its compass, as if it could be excogitated a priori out of pure thought. It was as if reflection dissolved all things in the ether of pure thought, out of sheer freedom, and then reassembled them again — but now as a game, according to self-concocted rules Jacobi, 24— All this infuriated Jacobi.

No piece of his is as overflowing with religious language as this letter to Fichte. But the rhetoric exhibited here has none of the pious triumphalism, smacking of Lavater, that had vitiated his earlier productions. It seems born, rather, out of genuine fear in the face of what he thought was the ultimate nihilism of reason.

Jacobi conceded that there was no argument against Fichte, no way of refuting him on his own conceptual grounds. He stood before him, therefore, as one who gave witness against the philosophers, forcing the audience to a choice between him and them. This was a powerful individualistic manifesto that Jacobi was promoting, the kind not be heard again until Kierkegaard more than half a century later. On the contrary, even before this commotion with Fichte, and probably with Goethe in mind, Jacobi had long been meditating on the place of the individual in society, and had formulated for himself a definite social theory.

To gather an idea of it, however, we must turn to his more literary works, as we shall do in due place see Section 3. Reduced to its bare minimum, the attack was based on three arguments, as follows:. The two viz. For although the assumed subject and object are factors that ex hypothesi fall outside the system of the a priori judgements to be validated i. Kant thus finds himself in the embarrassing situation of negating, while at the same time affirming, the transcendality of the conditions of his system, thereby undermining the stability that the latter should derive from them Jacobi, — vol.

It is the task of reason, according to Kant, to define the extra-systemic conditions that make the system of experience possible. But, ex hypothesi , reason has no knowledge of these conditions. As defined by it, they are empty conceptual constructs that acquire meaning only to the extent that they are used by the understanding in its endless work of systematizing experience.

To this extent, reason is totally subordinated to the understanding. Yet the latter needs reason. To the extent, therefore, that reason does satisfy this need with its ideas, it cannot help creating the illusion that, through them, it yields genuine knowledge — that, logically, its conceptions are prior to those of the understanding.

Now, Jacobi objected to what he took to be the existentially impossible requirement thus being imposed on reason, namely, that it should generate illusions for the sake of the understanding, yet be fully aware that such illusions are just that Jacobi, — vol. The problem is that the two terms to be synthesized in any presumed a priori judgement of experience, namely, thought and sensations, are on their own too indeterminate to provide any clue as to how the object that should result from the synthesis would look like.

It follows that the determination, in actual experience, must be provided by the intervention of the imagination, and whether we take the latter in a psychological or transcendental sense, its contribution will necessarily entail an element of arbitrariness, and it will thus render any synthesis thereby attained vulnerable to sceptical doubt. Kant, in other words, fails to deliver on his promise of a knowledge, limited indeed to experience, but necessary within such limits Jacobi, — vol.

Evidence of its earlier purpose is still visible in the final text, beginning as it does with the discussion of a moral issue, namely, whether morality is to be based on virtue alone, or on natural happiness, or a combination of both. The treatment of Kant in this context is a strangely qualified one. On the one hand, Jacobi praises him highly, showing him all the respect due to someone who had become an icon of German philosophical culture. Such praises, however, turn out to be hollow — even a masked form of condemnation.

The point there was that Kantian reason, though transcending the understanding, was none the less restricted in its knowledge to the limits of the latter and even subservient to it in the exercise of its powers. As a result, reason found itself in the strange situation of spontaneously generating belief that we have knowledge of transcendent realities, while at the same time having to recognize that any such knowledge is illusionary. The understanding, however, despite its earth-bound nature, cannot help falling under the influence of the higher faculty of reason.

And reason — as a matter of fact, according to Jacobi — does have an intuitive knowledge of things transcendent. These abstractions then hide from the understanding and reason itself the transcendent knowledge that the latter enjoys de facto. For since reason naturally begins with the assumption of such a knowledge, yet cannot recognize it in the abstractions construed for the sake of the understanding, it ends up treating it as mere illusion Jacobi, — vol.

It has no content of its own. The idealizing activities of a self cannot in fact be realized, therefore, except by attending to the material details of nature. In sum, the great hoax that according to Jacobi idealism had perpetrated — starting with Kant and concluding with Schelling — was to give to believe, not indeed that the human spirit can dispense with Things Divine, but that these things can be saved and attained in the impersonal medium of nature. Important to note is the new terminology that Jacobi was using in this last work, and had already begun to use in the previous essay on Kant.

The distinction was, of course, Kantian in origin.

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He was giving to it a positive noetic value. Whereas Kant had tried to harmonize the two faculties negatively, simply by keeping each within its appointed limits, Jacobi had revealed their harmony positively, by bringing to light the knowledge that reason actually contributes to experience, thus providing the positive matrix within which the understanding can operate. In another way as well the distinction helped Jacobi — or so he thought it did. So far as Jacobi was concerned, the true irrationalists were the philosophers. And Jacobi continued to publish the occasional piece in this vein also later, when engrossed in philosophical debate.

Both productions underwent a long process of development, and were published in different forms at different times David, ; Jacobi, In both cases the education at issue, as one would expect from the genre, is that of a Herzensmensch. From what we learn about Allwill, since early age, out of sheer natural impetuosity, he was given to some most extraordinary behaviour. And later, as a grown-up man, now that he has grown older, he displays this character trait in the arena of speculative dispute as well. For the impetuous young man has also become a skilled dialectician, as we learn from a scene in which we see him deliver a long disquisition on the nature of knowledge in the course of a social gathering Jacobi, ff.

True rationality is social rationality. The character might well have been intended by him as a self-portrait. The novel itself, in its final form, was put together from two pieces originally published independently Jacobi, 3 4. The synthesis never quite worked. Woldemar, unrealistic man of feelings that he is, has construed his whole world around the friendship he has developed with one of the women in the circle of friends he frequents. He has invested his whole existence in that friendship.

As it shows from the development of the friendship between the two main characters, Jacobi was actually harking back to the notion of reason he had adumbrated even as early as the first edition of the Spinoza Letters. The answer is that it depends on both, provided that each is tested by the limits of actual human relations. Some, however, were occasional pieces written with a particular event or situation in mind. Abstraction made of the perversely polemical tracts surrounding the Spinoza dispute and the controversy with Schelling Jacobi, , , all of them are historically as well as conceptually interesting.

Among them, we can single out a few. Wieland — had published an essay arguing that power is the only source of legitimacy for political authority, hence that the only adequate form of government is a strictly autocratic one. Jacobi replied with a point-by-point rebuttal that was published only four years later Jacobi, For one thing, Wieland was historically wrong by misconstruing the actual origin of societies.

Moral rights derive their force from the freedom of individuals, not from any consideration of natural laws. In , Jacobi published a piece in dialogue form in the Deutsches Museum Jacobi, The dialogue is between a pious believer and an enlightened philosopher. The philosopher, moreover, forgets that his philosophy has a history as well; that its past is shrouded in a faith on which it still depends for the meaning of its abstract conceptions.

By attacking faith, therefore, the philosopher risks undermining his own world of meaning. In , Jacobi published a short piece Jacobi, 2 in response to a prophesy made by G. Lichtenberg, a well known science popularizer of the day, [ 12 ] to the effect that some day, as science progresses in its efforts at reducing matter to the laws governing it, our world will become so refined in our eyes that it will be just as laughable to believe in God as it now is to believe in ghosts.

In the piece, Jacobi tried to sum up his intellectual odyssey by articulating the interest that had motivated it from beginning to end, and thereby also to bring some systematic unity to what might otherwise have appeared a scattered philosophical production. Jacobi was obviously sensitive to the charge of irrationalism that had repeatedly been brought against him over the years, and anxious to disarm it. He added long footnotes to it, and even modified some crucial passages of the text itself — a circumstance, incidentally, for the most part ignored by later commentators — in an obvious effort to dispel the naturalism otherwise clearly implied in the original text.

Jacobi also stressed that, however necessary the functions of the understanding, the latter is none the less still naturally prone to naturalism and to the atheism consequent upon it. Indeed, some of the language Jacobi uses, and the themes he explores, are to be found in Kierkegaard again. Whether the latter was himself an existentialist is, of course, itself an open question.

The salto mortale he had proposed to Lessing was no leap into the unknown but, according to his explicit testimony, a jump that would have brought Lessing, who had been walking on his head in the manner of philosophers, back to his feet Jacobi, 62; Perhaps this is still another way in which Jacobi is working his influence on us and still bringing Spinoza centre stage, exactly where he did not want him to be. It might well be that the secret of this complexity is that Jacobi, just like Kierkegaard after him, was motivated by deeply conservative beliefs which he saw threatened by the culture of the day; but, again like Kierkegaard, in trying to reassert them, developed a language that was later to be used, contrary to anything he would have ever imagined, to undermine them instead.

Gesamtausgabe which were initiated as far back as the early s. All together, there will be forty-three volumes, thirteen of Works texts and appendices and thirty of Correspondence texts and commentaries , all published by Meiner Hamburg and Frommann-Holzboog Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt. Krebs, which is supposed to be brought to conclusion by for a total number of 4 volumes. For the current status of these projects, see:. Life and Intellectual Career 2. Main Philosophical Works 2. Literary Works 4. Polemical Works 5. Life and Intellectual Career Like his junior contemporary Goethe — , Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi was blessed with a long life, at least as measured by the standards of the time, and had the good fortune of witnessing in its course events that radically altered the cultural and political face of Western Europe.

Distilled from the many twists and turns of dialogue style argumentation, the theory can be summed up as follows: The starting point is the denial, because contrary to fact, of the fundamental assumption of classical empiricism — namely, that experience begins with purely subjective representations, and that belief in external objects is arrived at only by way of an inference based on the passivity of some of these representations.

The very possibility of subjectivity entails the possibility of objectivity. We act, and we become aware of ourselves precisely in action Jacobi, ff. The alleged feeling of power immediately implicates the presence to the subject of an external something that exists in itself and interferes with the felt power, but, in so doing, also provides a reality check for it. Representation is called into play as the reflective attempt on the part of the subject to sort out the differences between his own self and the external thing resisting his power.

This is a formula that brought together in an original unity the three components of consciousness, namely feeling, sense representation, and reflective conceptualization, that Hume as well as Kant had instead sought to synthesize externally. As Jacobi puts it, the greater the sensitivity of a subject, the greater his rationality also.

For the current status of these projects, see: Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi: Werke. Akademieprojekt: Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi: Briefwechsel. Primary Literature Radrizzani ed. This is the German edition of Lettre sur le nihilisme et autres textes , I. Cerutti ed. Jacobi , M. Jacobi ed. Remmel and P. Remmel, Hildesheim: Weidmann. Sassen trans. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Guillermit ed. Religionsphilosophie und spekulative Theologie. Jaeschke ed. Transzendentalphilosophie und Spekulation. Lawson, and C. Chapple trans. Behler trans. Beck ed. This critical edition supplements the one cited in the immediately preceding entry.

Arent ed. Die Auseinandersetzung zwischen Jacobi und Schelling , W. Weischedel ed. Jacobi , J. Mortier eds. Gumpert, Heidelberg: Sauer—Verlag. Terpstra, Groningen: Djacarta. Oeuvres philosophiques de F. Anstett trans. Freundschaftsbriefe aus empfindsamer Zeit , a selection of letters by J. Matthias, Berlin: Die Schmiede. Scholz ed. Includes all the relevant texts in the dispute between Jacobi and Mendelssohn. Mauthner ed. As regards the relation between Jacobi and L. In this collection the philosopher, historian, ans novelist F.

Mauthner includes J. Aus F. Ungedruckte Briefe von und an Jacobi und andere. Nebst ungedruckten Gedichten von Goethe und Lenz , 2 volumes, R. Zoeppritz ed. Hamberger ed. Fleischer, Anthologie aus den Werke von J.

2. Main Philosophical Works

Jacobi und F. Parabeln von F. Amsterdam: Bibliographisches Institut in Hildburghausen. Roth ed. Leipzig: Gerhard Fleischer. Reprinted, Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, This is the edition that Jacobi himself supervised before his death and the one still most easily available. Hamburg: — Jahrhunderts , C.

Reinhold ed. Georg Jacobi ed. Jacobi an Fichte , Hamburg: Perthes. Schiller ed. Woldemar , 2 Theile. Terpstra ed. Translation of Fr. Hemsterhuis, Alexis: oder, Von dem goldenen Weltalter , tr. Riga: Hartknoch. Leipzig: Georg Joachim Goeschen. Vermischte Schriften. Breslau: J. Eine Seltenheit aus der Naturgeschichte , vol. Flensburg and Leipzig. Aus einem Aktenstock entwendet. This text represents the basis upon which Jacobi will later develop the Woldemar. Baggasen eds. Bouterwek aus dem Jahren bis , W.

Meyer ed. Johann Georg Hamann, Briefwechsel , volumes 6—7, A. Henkel ed. Arch de Sc soc des Rel. Buber's interest in religion. Buber's teaching on religion. When working on Ich und Du work on religion. Religion is the sum of the customs and teachings in which the religiosity of given period. Buber's categories of religion: faith, myth, gnosis. BUBER PRESENCE NOT GNOSIS Closely related to rejection of gnosis stands his Auseinanderset zung with Jung Buber was not interested in psychoanalysis There are very few references to Freud in his writings and in his correspondence These re ferences are mostly negative and stress complete misunderstanding of religion according to Buber 55 In regard to Jung however he reacts on different occasions with vehemence to the views on religion very interest in religion seemed to Buber to represent the ultimate danger worse even than thought he once exclaimed 56 What was so dangerous in theory of religion was precisely the seduction that gnosis exerted upon him The man who thinks he can know the divine to be dis covered within his own soul does not feel anymore the need to relate to God to seek His presence and to converse with Him and with men Here again solipsism is the great enemy.

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Buber among historians of religion. We know the depth of influence on the young Buber who translated part of the Also sprach Zarathustra into Polish previous version of this paper was read at Symposium commemorating twenty five years of death at the Israel National Aca demy of Sciences and Humanities in July wish to acknowledge the help of Margot Cohn and Paul Mendes Flohr am also deeply endebted to the late Willi Schottroff for his numerous and important remarks. Willamowitz nach 50 Jahren Darmstadt Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft pp Plan I. Buber's interest in religion [link] II.


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