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Johann Gottlieb Fichte is Born

Today in Masonic History Johann Gottlieb Fichte is born in 1762.

Johann Gottlieb Fichte was a German philosopher.

Fichte was born in Rammenau, Upper Lusatia, Germany on May 19th, 1762. His family had little money and most of Fichte's early education came from his father. Fichte developed a reputation among the towns people as a remarkable young man. A wealthy landowner came to town to hear the local pastor. When he arrived late, some of the towns people suggested the landowner see Fichte who recited the sermon almost word for word. From this point on, the landowner took him under his protection, which meant he paid for Fichte's schooling. It also meant Fichte saw very little of his parents. He attended a variety of schools until 1884 which included the University of Jena and the University of Leipzig. In 1884, Fichte's protector passed away and Fichte was left to fend for himself. Unable to earn enough money to finish school he was forced to end his education.

Over the next 6 years Fichte found employment as a tutor for a variety of families. It was during this time he was introduced to the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, founder of Kantism. His initial reason for seeking it out was not personal interest, it was the curiosity of one of his students. Still Kant influenced Fichte the rest of his life.

In 1791, Fichte had the opportunity to meet Kant in Königsberg. The following year he locked himself in a room for five weeks and wrote Attempt at a Critique of All Revelation hoping to get Kant's attention. The first draft of the book was printed without Fichte's name, or anyone's name, on it. Because of the nature of the subject matter people believed only Kant possesed the ability to write about it. When Kant denied writing the book and it was revealed Fichte was the author. The opinion of many intellectuals of the day described it as "the most shocking and astonishing news... [since] nobody but Kant could have written this book. This amazing news of a third sun in the philosophical heavens has set me into such confusion."

In 1793, Fichte began teaching at the University of Jena. Unfortunately a pattern began to emerge for Fichte. He was a reformer and wanted to change the status quo of the day on many different subjects including religion and personal liberties. In his zeal to create change he created enemies and some of them attacked him on his writings and accused him of atheism. Because of this he was let go from the University.

In 1800, Fichte was in Berlin and spent the majority of the remainder of his life there. It was then he joined Freemasonry and again continued his ideas of reform. This was fostered by the man who had introduced him to the fraternity Ignaz Aurelius Fessler who also sought reforms in the fraternity. Eventually the two turned against each other. During this time, Fichte developed two lectures regarding the development of "higher degrees" of Freemasonry. These lectures appeared in 1802-03 by a Johann Karl Christian Fischer. They were printed in the form of letters to a fictitious non-mason.

In 1812, the hospitals in Berlin had begun to fill with wounded from the war with Napoleon. Fichte's wife who was a nurse, while treating the sick and injured became ill herself. As she began to recover, Fichte became ill and passed away form typhus on January 27th, 1814.

Fichte was a member of Lodge Pythagoras of the Blazing Star in Berlin, Germany.

This article provided by Brother Eric C. Steele.