Immanentie en transcendentie in de moderne wijsbegeerte: Enkele opmerkingen naar aanleiding van Fichtes atheïsme strijd

Translated title of the contribution: Immanence and Transcendence in Modern Philosophy.: Some Questions Regarding Fichte's 'Atheismusstreit'.

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    Immanence and transcendence in modern philosophy.

    Some questions with reference to Fichte's 'Atheismusstreit'.

    One of the main differences between scholastic and modern thinking is the way in which the relationship between God and the world, transcendence and immanence is conceived. At the end of the middle ages the analogy of being loses its credibility, and as a result of this transcendence and immanence are radically opposed to each other. One of the clearest examples of this tension in modern philosophy is J.G. Fichte, especially his writings on the 'Atheismusstreit', in which he got involved in 1798/99. The aim of this article is to analyse and evaluate Fichte's criticism of traditional theism and his attempt to develop a 'post theistic' philosophy of religion. For Fichte it is evident that God as a supersensible being cannot be thought if one starts from the sensual world; there is an absolute incommensurability between the two. Therefore, not only the traditional proofs of Gods existence lose their validity, but also any conceptual knowledge of God in general becomes impossible. All our knowledge of God is totally equivocal. Traditional predicates of God, like substance and person, turn Him into a finite being. However, Fichte's rejection of traditional theism does not lead him to atheism, but to a post theistic thinking of God. God can only be thought (by an intellecual intuition) if one starts from man as a moral, i.e. supersensible being. Man has an absolute, autonomous duty to act morally, and is by no means dependent on the results of his acting in the sensual world. God, as the moral ordination of the world, is the guarantee that the moral purpose of my will is realized necessarily. Man does not need a God outside of this ordaining activity, and more generally outside of his relation to Him. Consequently, God has no separate existence, nor transcendence, but is a whole of which men as moral actors are parts. In this way the analogy between God and the world is given up for an identity; our speaking of God becomes strictly univocal. The tenability of this post theistic philosophy of religion is evaluated on two points. Firstly, Fichte's denial of God as a separate being raises the problem that He becomes a product of man, and that His transcendence disappeares. God is nothing else than an exteriorisation of the supersensible in man. Secondly, Fichte's univocal speaking of God is criticized. In a famous letter, Jacobi admires Fichte as a philosopher 'out of one piece'. His thinking assimilates everything as a moment of the ego. But on the other hand this really scientific philosophy leads inevitably to nihi lism and atheism. Over against this Jacobi puts forward that the absolute is something before and outside knowing; our belief in God excludes every rational mediation. As a conclusion, it is shown that modern philosophy oscillates between a univocal thinking of God, leaving no room for His transcendence, and an equivocal belief in Him, that excludes every rational mediation: God is either a product of man, or becomes irrelevant for his life and thinking.
    Translated title of the contributionImmanence and Transcendence in Modern Philosophy.: Some Questions Regarding Fichte's 'Atheismusstreit'.
    Original languageDutch
    Pages (from-to)276-292
    Number of pages17
    JournalTijdschrift voor Filosofie
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 1994


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