Foundations of the Science of Knowledge

Foundations of the Science of Knowledge (German: Grundlage der gesammten Wissenschaftslehre) is a 1794/1795 book by the German philosopher Johann Gottlieb Fichte. Based on lectures Fichte had delivered as a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Jena, it was later reworked in various versions. The standard Wissenschaftslehre was published in 1804, but other versions appeared posthumously.[1]

Foundations of the Science of Knowledge
AuthorJohann Gottlieb Fichte
Original titleGrundlage der gesammtena Wissenschaftslehre
Publication date
Media typePrint
Pages324 (1982 Cambridge University Press edition)
a gesamten in modern German.


Science of Knowledge has first established Fichte's independent philosophy.[2] The contents of the book, which were divided into eleven section, were crucial in the way the thinker has grounded philosophy as - for the first time - a part of epistemology.[3] In the book, Fichte has also claimed that an "experiencer" must be tacitly aware that he is experiencing in order to lead to "noticing".[4] This articulated his view that an individual's experience is essentially the experiencing of the act of experiencing so that his so-called "Absolutely Unconditioned Principle" of all experience is that "the I posits itself".[4]


In 1798, the German romantic Friedrich Schlegel identified the Wissenschaftslehre, together with the French revolution and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Wilhelm Meister, as "the most important trend-setting events (Tendenzen) of the age."[5]

Michael Inwood believes that the work is close in spirit to the early works of Edmund Husserl, including the Ideas (1913) and the Cartesian Meditations (1931).[6]

The Wissenschaftslehre has been described by Roger Scruton as being both "immensely difficult" and "rough-hewn and uncouth".[1]

See also



  1. Scruton 2000. p. 208.
  2. Zack, Naomi (2009-09-01). The Handy Philosophy Answer Book. Canton, MI: Visible Ink Press. p. 224. ISBN 9781578592265.
  3. Henrich, Dieter (2003). Between Kant and Hegel. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. p. 208. ISBN 0674007735.
  4. Gottlieb, Gabriel (2016). Fichte's Foundations of Natural Right. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 141. ISBN 9781107078147.
  5. Seidel 1993. p. 1.
  6. Inwood 2005. p. 410.


  • Inwood, M. J. (2005). Honderich, Ted (ed.). The Oxford Companion to Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-926479-1.
  • Scruton, Roger (2000). Kenny, Anthony (ed.). The Oxford History of Western Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-289329-7.
  • Seidel, George J. (1993). Fichte's Wissenschaftslehre of 1794. A Commentary on Part 1. Purdue University Research Foundation: Purdue University Press. ISBN 1-55753-017-3.
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