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The Conceptual Origin of Worldview in Kant and Fichte

Alexander T. Englert EMAIL logo

Abstract

Kant and Fichte developed the concept of a worldview as a way of reflecting on experience as a whole. But what does it mean to form a worldview? And what role did it play in the German Idealist tradition? This paper seeks to answer these questions through a detailed analysis of the form of a philosophical worldview and its historical portent, both of which remain unexplored in the literature. The dearth of attention is partially to blame on Kant’s desultory development of it, as well as its place in Fichte’s understudied lectures on religion. In this paper, I first reconstruct Kant’s conception as the starting point and then trace it to Fichte who went on to evolve it further. Fichte endorses the basic conceptual shape pioneered by Kant, namely, a reflective process of positing an idea and then checking the coherence of necessary judgments relative to it. However, Fichte came to realize that its philosophical function needed expanding. Beyond recognizing the possibility for alternative worldviews, Fichte further fleshed out how worldview creation could lead to human flourishing. The common feature between both thinkers is that the formation of a worldview aims to turn philosophy into a life-orienting exercise.


Corresponding author: Alexander T. Englert, University Center for Human Values, Princeton University, 304 Louis Marx Hall, 08544, Princeton, NJ, USA, E-mail:

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Published Online: 2022-06-27

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