Dr. Steven Hoeltzel publishes The Palgrave Fichte Handbook


Dr. Steven Hoeltzel, Professor of Philosophy, announces the publication of his edited book The Palgrave Fichte Handbook exploring the work and influence of philosopher Johann Fichte.

Who was Fichte and why were his contributions to philosophy important?

Dr. Hoeltzel: "Fichte is pivotal for Western philosophy. By radically rethinking the revolutionary implications of Kant’s philosophy, Fichte developed the first major system of German Idealism; in the process, he made ontological and methodological breakthroughs that planted seeds for existentialism and phenomenology. He was also a pioneering thinker regarding intersubjectivity and individual rights. Yet his work remains surprisingly little-known, especially in the Anglophone world. The Palgrave Fichte Handbook features 24 new essays by scholars from the Americas, Europe, and Asia, all designed to make Fichte’s philosophy accessible to non-specialists while simultaneously advancing expert-level discussions."

What first interested you in this particular philosopher?

Dr. Hoeltzel: "I’ve long been preoccupied with the problem of how to properly conceptualize the nature of the mind and its relation to reality, and Fichte offers an especially trenchant treatment of some of the fundamental issues involved. Plus, I’m somewhat old-fashioned: like Fichte, I believe the proper goal of philosophical thinking is the (rigorous, rational, self-critical) development of a guidance-giving outlook on life. In Fichte’s work, a highly technical account of the nature of the mind supports an ennobling vision of our rational, ethical, and spiritual vocation."

How does this book intersect with your teaching at JMU?

Dr. Hoeltzel: "In my next PHIL 375, we’ll examine some of Fichte’s contributions to controversies about the nature and limitations of autonomous reason (vs. inherited tradition, purported revelation, etc.) and of systematic abstract thinking (vs. lived experience, personal faith, etc.)."

Check out Dr. Hoeltzel's PHIL 375 course and other Philosophy courses at JMU here.

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Published: Monday, June 15, 2020

Last Updated: Wednesday, June 17, 2020

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