Here is a link to the essay, or you can scroll through the list on your right.
The book Professor Backer uses as his starting off point is: Gunnar Beck, Fitche and Kant on Freedom, Rights, and Law (2007).
Backer suggests that Beck’s Fichte demonstrates:
“…the way in which a rationalist liberal ontology can support both the most liberal of conceptions of the state—a minimalist enterprise focused on the protection of individual exercises in perfectibility—and the most totalitarian state apparatus…”
In other words, Fichte’s appropriation of Kant is one that can promote dangerous perfectability metaphysics into an individual’s relation with the state, and may well have contributed to and reflected the dangers of the time: German enlightenment absolutism, of which Kant was likely quite familiar (as well as a likely step foward), and also the excesses of the French Revolution.
“More importantly, Beck is able to provide a foundation for understanding the movement from liberalism to totalitarianism in European political philosophy. That movement—from the left to the hard right, from individual freedom to its inversion in the name of freedom, is one of the most tenacious elements of modern political philosophy.”
I agree…and German idealism has helped to create and also reflected such tendencies that are still with us today. There’s Fichte, Hegel, and Marx for starters.
I’d like to point out:
1. Fichte is not Kant. He is a thinker who drew heavily on Kant (as did both Schopenhauer and Hegel). While he may have run with Kant’s thinking against the rational proof of Christian theology and metaphysics, Kant’s philosophy is still with us, and I’ve yet to be convinced there’s anything as deep out there.
2. Bertrand Russell, in his History of Western Philosophy, considers Kant’s placement of mathematics into the category of synthetic a priori as part of a long tradition of both groundbreaking mathematics and excessive mysticism that don’t necessarily need to be combined. It stretches all the way back to Pythagoras.
Russell wondered too about the fits and starts of German political organization and what kind of effect they might have on Kant….
…but have Kant’s arguments been sufficiently addressed?