The Difference Between Fichte's and Schelling's System of Philosophy: An English Translation of G. W. F. Hegel’s Differenz des Fichte’schen und Schelling’schen Systems der Philosophie

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SUNY Press, 1977 - Philosophy - 213 pages
2 Reviews
In this essay, Hegel attempted to show how Fichte's Science of Knowledge was an advance from the position of Kant in the Critique of Pure Reason, and how Schelling (and incidentally Hegel himself) had made a further advance from the position of Fichte.

Hegel finds the idealism of Fichte too abstractly subjective and formalistic, and he tries to show how Schelling's philosophy of nature is the remedy for these weaknesses. But the most important philosophical content of the essay is probably to be found in his general introduction to these critical efforts where he deals with a number of problems about philosophical method in a way which is of general interest to philosophers, and not merely interesting to those who accept the Hegelian "dialectic method" which grew out of these first beginnings. Finally, the Difference essay is important in the development of "Nature-Philosophy" as a movement in the history of science.


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User Review  - stillatim - LibraryThing

An early essay of Hegel's which is well worth reading, particularly the opening chapter. Although he drops some of the ideas from this essay in his (more) fully worked out thought, it's good evidence ... Read full review

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This work, the Differenzschrift (1800), rather than the Phenomenology of Spirit (1806) deserves to be known as Hegel's first book, though it is generally classed as a long essay. It was written at the start of his time in Jena after the death of his father and sets out to make his name by going beyond the existing philosophies of the day.
As you can tell from the full title, the main existing philosophies are the subjective take on Kant of Fichte (in the Wissenschaftslehre) that denies the thing-in-itself and the obscure Philosophy of Nature (1797) of Schelling. However, the book also engages with more empirical and psychological approaches to the study of the mind, including the idea of common sense philosophy, which he criticises for taking isolated propositions as starting points rather than seeing them in the 'light of the Absolute' (i.e. in the context of experience as a whole), but does not reject other than for that reason. This point is taken up again in the Phenomenology Preface, but it is expressed here in plainer language.
In general, Hegel's obscure mode of expression began with the middling essays of the Jena writings in the Critical Journal. I would thus recommend this book as an introduction to Hegel for its relative clarity. Other than that, if you want a clear introduction to Hegel, I'd recommend the early chapters of the Encyclopaedia Logic, which are included in Weiss Hegel: the Essential Writings. The translation by Cerf and Harris is as good as can be in the modern style, given the problems of language.


Introduction to the Difference Essay
Various Forms Occurring in Contemporary Philosophy
Exposition of Fichtes System
Comparison of Schellings Principle of Philosophy with Fichtes
On Reinholds View and Philosophy
Bibliographic Index
Analytic Index

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About the author (1977)

Walter Cerf is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the City University of New York.

H. S. Harris is Professor of Philosophy and Humanities at Glendon College, York University.

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