Master class: The Tale of Two Deductions in Fichte’s Sittenlehre
By Plato Tse, National Chengchi University, Taiwan

February 8, 9, and 10, 2-6pm (Australian Eastern Daylight Time)
UNSW Sydney, John Goodsell Building, Room 105 and online
Organized by the UNSW Sydney Philosophy Program with the Australian Hegel 

If you wish to attend, in person or online, please email<> to receive the reading 
material and Zoom-link

Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1762–1814), a prominent post-Kantian idealist 
philosopher, once claimed that his Doctrine of Science (Wissenschaftslehre) is 
‘the first system of freedom.’ It can be said that the system of freedom, at 
least during the Jena period, culminates in his System of Ethics (System der 
Sittenlehre, 1798). The general aim of this three-day intensive class is to 
expose and discuss the systematic significance of the notion of freedom in the 
context of Fichte’s ethics by engaging with his two ‘deductions’ dedicated to 
proving the principle of morality and establishing its applicability in the 
sensible world.
To initiate the audience into Fichte’s view on freedom and his transcendental 
idealism, I will spend the first day on the First and Second Introduction to 
the Wissenschaftslehre (1797), where Fichte seeks to repudiate the freedom 
denier and offers up intellectual intuition as a special first-personal access 
to the activity of the mind in support of a commonsense realism about free 
will. This will help us set the stage for examining how Fichte arrives at 
practical freedom in the Sittenlehre and how he appropriates it as a 
theoretical principle.
On the second day, I will reconstruct Fichte’s deduction of the moral law and 
take it as answering the skeptical worry that moral sentiments might have no 
rational foundation. This deduction is intended to show how the sense of an 
ought emerges from the essence of rational being. Yet, Fichte is not content 
with deducing morality from rationality. He is also concerned with the question 
whether the world we live and act in is a world where moral progress is 
Fichte’s deduction of the reality and applicability of the moral law, which is 
the focus of the third day, bears out this possibility. I will reconstruct the 
deduction as one tracing the transcendental conditions for our actual 
self-consciousness as efficacious agents, and these conditions will also come 
to determine our conception of the sensible world as one that is understood in 
terms of drive and potentials and not in terms of strict causal necessity.


  1.  “First and Second Introductions to The Science of Knowledge”, in Fichte: 
Science of Knowledge (Wissenschaftslehre), ed. Peter Heath and John Lachs, 
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982
     *   (German) J. G. Fichte: Gesamtausgabe der Bayerischen Akademie der 
Wissenschaften, 42 volumes, Erich Fuchs, Reinhard Lauth, Hans Jacobs, and Hans 
Gliwitzky (eds.), Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt: Frommann, 1964-2012. (=GA), I/4: 
  2.  Introduction & Part I, The System of Ethics in accordance with the 
Principles of the Wissenschaftslehre, ed. and trans. Daniel Breazeale and 
Günter Zöller, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.
     *   (German) GA, I/5: 21-71
  3.  Part II, The System of Ethics in accordance with the Principles of the 
Wissenschaftslehre, ed. and trans. Daniel Breazeale and Günter Zöller, 
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.
     *   (German) GA, I/5: 73-146

Plato Tse is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at National Chengchi University 
in Taiwan. He received his PhD from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich in 
2018. His research interests include Classical German Philosophy, 
Transcendental Philosophy, Philosophy of Mind, and Metaphysics. His work 
focuses mainly on Kant and the post-Kantian philosophers. Currently, he is also 
the chief investigator of a research project on Metaphysical Idealism funded by 
the National Science and Technology Council of Taiwan.

Heikki Ikäheimo
Philosophy Convenor, Senior lecturer
School of Humanities and Languages/Philosophy, Faculty of Arts, Design & 
UNSW Sydney 2052

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