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Drive as a Constitutive Element of Practical Action in Jacobi and Fichte

From the book The Concept of Will in Classical German Philosophy

  • Tom Giesbers


This chapter offers an analysis of the argumentative and semantic usage of the word “Trieb” (drive) as it is offered by Johann Gottlieb Fichte, in the lectures on morality that he presented in 1796. Fichte offers an account of drive that is essential to his philosophical perspective and is intimately tied up with freedom and the will. After demonstrating this systematic complexity of the term, its similarity to Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi’s less argumentatively comprehensive notion of drive will be examined, as well as to what degree Fichte is indebted to Jacobi’s texts in his adoption of this notion. Finally, it will be shown how the shared notion of drive, as a distinctly different semantic context of the word, offers a greater applicability and inclusivity than earlier distinct usages of the word, such as the volitional, zoological, botanical and literary uses. Combined with Jacobi and Fichte’s wide-ranging impact on German publications during this period, this explains why this period boasts the greatest increase in the use of the word “Trieb” that has ever occurred, paving the way to its complex adoption by various philosophers and psychologists during the 19th century.

© 2020 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
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