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Unity, not uniformity, must be our aim. - MPF

Follett and Fichte! Does anyone understand Fichte?

Can anyone shed light on the philosophy of Johann Gottlieb Fichte?

Here's why I'm asking. In one of Follett's books or tributes to her, a friend of hers tells the story of Follett telling her that she had been asked for help by many businessmen, that she had listened to them explain their problems, offered some suggestions or ways of looking at the problems, and what she said seemed to help. Then she added something to the effect, "I was only offering Fichte."

Anna Boynton Thompson, Follett's teacher at Thayer Academy, a fellow student at Radcliffe, and a lifelong friend, who named Follett one of her executors in her will, wrote her PhD thesis on The Unity of Fichte's Doctrine of Knowledge with an introduction by Josiah Royce, PhD, her professor of the history of philosophy at Harvard University. Thompson's monograph was published in 1895, and Follett's The Speaker of the House, in 1896, I believe. In the introducation to The New State Follett thanks Thompson for giving her first copy of that manuscript careful consideration and criticism. In other words, they had a "reciprocal relationship."

In Thompston's monograph about Fichte, here is what she says, in her own words, to try to make Fichte's point clear (she thinks him a horrible writer!) I'm adding some numbers in case we want to talk about this:

1. Imagine a glass globe whose cricumfrence is filled with millions of eyes all looking inward.

2. All the eyes see the same content, though each from its own special point;

3. and into the view of each eye the view of the others is received, though from its own particular angle.

4. Now suppose that the substance of the globe, instead of glass, is merely the sight projected from each eye, that without the eyes and their sight nothing whatever of the globe would exist.

5. We then have in the globe a unity of blended individualities where the individualities may be looked upon as essential, for without them there is nothing;

6. individuality is all that there is, and the ultimate reality is a blending of all individualities.

7. So in the world of truth there is no truth except as seen by individuals, and the totality of all the views of all the individuals is the totality of truth.

8. The substance of the individual mind, or its free activity shaped by the laws of thought, is truth, --truth from one point of view; and the union of all minds in all minds gives us ultimate truth.

This particular "glass globe" metaphor struck me as very powerful when I first read it (thanks to Fran Cooper who shared her "old" Follett PhD materials in 1989-90).

The rest of Thompson's thesis, well, it gave me a headache! The kind of headache you get when you know that to understand something you will have to devote several years of study just to "speak the same language," even when you think you are already doing so.

I hope you're still with me, and someone (or two) among I group has put in that time to understand Fichte.

Thanks, Albie Davis

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Eber, THANKS for my introduction to Bentham's panopticon! Wow! I've attached a drawing from Wiki. I live in Thomaston, which used to be known as a prison town, the supposed setting for the Shawshenk Redemption, although I think that was shot in the mid-west. A new prison was built in another town, Warren, and early one morning all the doors popped open automatically. But that's another story. Source for drawing: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panopticon

What I've wanted to know about Fichte is both what he actually meant (at various times in his life, as he apparently evolved) as well as the way the world interpreted him, AND how we interpret him. Your straightforward comment, "Unfortunately, his odious political philosophy seems to allow only his approved eyes a place at the globe," is delightfully clear. Would you be willing to expand upon this comment. Philosophy is not my forte. In fact, it is a struggle for me, like using Escoffier's French Cookbook, always having to make veal broth or render chicken fat, before I can proceed to what I want to cook. Nevertheless, I'm fascinated by it. And quite open to hearing what damage Fichte did, whether intentional or not!

I have copies of most of the reviews of Follett's work from her time, and recall that the New State thrilled some folks and ruffled the feathers of others. In the Sewanee Review, Thomas Pearce Bailey blasts her for her "orange journalism,"--some combination of yellow and red. (No date, but probably 1919) and Howard Lee McBain chides her saying "Miss Follett knows her Hegel, her Duguit, her James, Her Roscoe Pound, Her Harold Laski. She knows her particularism, her syndicalism, her guild socialism, her dualism, her pluralism. But she does not know human nature at its present stage of progress toward cooperation. She is not a practicalist." (Political Science Quarterly, Vol XXXIV. By the way, most of these reviews were given to me by Fran Cooper, on our list, and who wrote an early PhD thesis on Follett. Thanks, Fran!)

I look forward to hearing more!

Thanks, Albie

Eber Hampton said:
The glass globe seems a wondrously beautiful opposite to Bentham's panopticon. Makes me want to try reading Fichte. Unfortunately, his odious political philosophy seems to allow only his approved eyes a place at the globe. ?
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Your straightforward comment, "Unfortunately, his odious political philosophy seems to allow only his approved eyes a place at the globe," is delightfully clear.>>

I don't see it that way.--Jeff Bedolla
What I've wanted to know about Fichte is both what he actually meant (at various times in his life, as he apparently evolved)...'>>

"The third charge is that Fichte's doctrine lacks unity. The general outline of the doctrine, which has been given above, shows an exceedingly complex whole, with many points of view, but always a whole, an organic whole, every part of which involves every other part. He who does not see the unity of Fichte's doctrine has missed the very essence and soul of the doctrine, and his criticism is valueless unless further study reveals to him the underlying, all-comprehensive thought which unites it's many aspects as different views of one and the same truth." --Anna Boynton Thompson, The Unity of Fichte's Doctrine of Knowledge, pp. 77-78.

Jeff Bedolla

Albie M. Davis said:
Eber, THANKS for my introduction to Bentham's panopticon! Wow! I've attached a drawing from Wiki. I live in Thomaston, which used to be known as a prison town, the supposed setting for the Shawshenk Redemption, although I think that was shot in the mid-west. A new prison was built in another town, Warren, and early one morning all the doors popped open automatically. But that's another story. Source for drawing: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panopticon

What I've wanted to know about Fichte is both what he actually meant (at various times in his life, as he apparently evolved) as well as the way the world interpreted him, AND how we interpret him. Your straightforward comment, "Unfortunately, his odious political philosophy seems to allow only his approved eyes a place at the globe," is delightfully clear. Would you be willing to expand upon this comment. Philosophy is not my forte. In fact, it is a struggle for me, like using Escoffier's French Cookbook, always having to make veal broth or render chicken fat, before I can proceed to what I want to cook. Nevertheless, I'm fascinated by it. And quite open to hearing what damage Fichte did, whether intentional or not!

I have copies of most of the reviews of Follett's work from her time, and recall that the New State thrilled some folks and ruffled the feathers of others. In the Sewanee Review, Thomas Pearce Bailey blasts her for her "orange journalism,"--some combination of yellow and red. (No date, but probably 1919) and Howard Lee McBain chides her saying "Miss Follett knows her Hegel, her Duguit, her James, Her Roscoe Pound, Her Harold Laski. She knows her particularism, her syndicalism, her guild socialism, her dualism, her pluralism. But she does not know human nature at its present stage of progress toward cooperation. She is not a practicalist." (Political Science Quarterly, Vol XXXIV. By the way, most of these reviews were given to me by Fran Cooper, on our list, and who wrote an early PhD thesis on Follett. Thanks, Fran!)

I look forward to hearing more!

Thanks, Albie

Eber Hampton said:
The glass globe seems a wondrously beautiful opposite to Bentham's panopticon. Makes me want to try reading Fichte. Unfortunately, his odious political philosophy seems to allow only his approved eyes a place at the globe. ?
Sorry, I only have a secondary source for Fichte's ethnic nationalism. The Wikipedia article on Fichte has a particularly hateful quote from him about Jews. However, I don't want to blind myself to any of his work, the good or the bad. I can only guess what orange journalism might have meant in 1919. In 1914 Germany smuggled guns to the orange faction in Ireland if I recall. That may not be at all relevant or perhaps it is. I read Follett, "Community is Process" last night with great delight. If reading Fichte helped her with that then I still want to explore Fichte if only to wonder how and why she surpassed him.
Thanks again, Eber,

Fichte, still Mr. mystery man.

I read a quote about "the Jews" too in Wikipedia, the one suggesting they would be a competing government to the German government and encouraging their movement to Israel. Made me think of Machiavelli! But, it also reminded me of one of the few times in reading Follett that she specifically mentioned Jews and I thought she was struggling with the concepts of affirmative action--ahead of her time. I wasn't sure she got it right, but then the concept still stirs controversy. (All polisihing is done by friction!)

On page 160 of Creative Experience she brings up the concept of "progressive integrations," saying that "most integrations by the time we know them as such have been arrived at through many successive integrations." She gives as an example:

Take a recent decision at Harvard, that the first seven of the graduating class of any school whose course is approved by the university may be admitted to the university without examination. It is expected that the result of this for Harvard will be more students from the large agricultural states, since the entrance examinations have hitherto kept many students in those states from coming to Cambridge, as their state universities admit without examination. The result of this rule, it is thought by many, will change the proportion of Jews at Harvard. How far this rule was deliberately intended to affect the Jewish question I do not know, but as far as it does affect it an integration and not a compromise has been made, because both sides have got what they really wanted: the Jews are not discriminated against; at the same time there will be fewer relatively if the expectation of largely increased numbers from west of the Mississippi is fulfilled.


Just to put my perspective in context, my father was Jewish, an immigrant from Russian/Poland, fleeing pogroms. My parents were divorced when I was two, so I wasn't raised on the Jewish side of the family, but the SS doesn't ask you about such details when they come to the door, so I'm sympathetic to any discomfort this discussion might raise, nevertheless, I think it important and interesting.

Warmly, Albie Davis

Eber Hampton said:
Sorry, I only have a secondary source for Fichte's ethnic nationalism. The Wikipedia article on Fichte has a particularly hateful quote from him about Jews. However, I don't want to blind myself to any of his work, the good or the bad. I can only guess what orange journalism might have meant in 1919. In 1914 Germany smuggled guns to the orange faction in Ireland if I recall. That may not be at all relevant or perhaps it is. I read Follett, "Community is Process" last night with great delight. If reading Fichte helped her with that then I still want to explore Fichte if only to wonder how and why she surpassed him.
O, Eber,

Maybe "orange" meant the combination of "yellow," as in "chicken," as the peace movement might have been branded, and "red" as in "commie." The author also highlights "yellow journalism," as sensationalism. Again, thanks for the "news" about the German's smuggling guns to the "orange" faction in Ireland. Another piece of news for me!

Albie

Eber Hampton said:
Sorry, I only have a secondary source for Fichte's ethnic nationalism. The Wikipedia article on Fichte has a particularly hateful quote from him about Jews. However, I don't want to blind myself to any of his work, the good or the bad. I can only guess what orange journalism might have meant in 1919. In 1914 Germany smuggled guns to the orange faction in Ireland if I recall. That may not be at all relevant or perhaps it is. I read Follett, "Community is Process" last night with great delight. If reading Fichte helped her with that then I still want to explore Fichte if only to wonder how and why she surpassed him.
Reply to what is for me the main point. The unstated premise is she did surpass him.

Jeff Bedolla

Eber Hampton said:
Sorry, I only have a secondary source for Fichte's ethnic nationalism. The Wikipedia article on Fichte has a particularly hateful quote from him about Jews. However, I don't want to blind myself to any of his work, the good or the bad. I can only guess what orange journalism might have meant in 1919. In 1914 Germany smuggled guns to the orange faction in Ireland if I recall. That may not be at all relevant or perhaps it is. I read Follett, "Community is Process" last night with great delight. If reading Fichte helped her with that then I still want to explore Fichte if only to wonder how and why she surpassed him.
It is conceivable that while Fichte had a wonderfully integrative cosmic vision, he as an individual in a particular social and historical context could have been a nationalist or even racist. Consider what appears to us today to be the obvious hypocrisy in Aristotle's wonderful thoughts on democracy amidst what we'd consider to be a rather undemocratic Athens; or Thomas Jefferson's being a slave-owner. Not to diminish the beauty of their ideas, but those ideas are to be evolved by subsequent critical thinkers who embrace them, put into successive (and, arguably, more emanicipatory and ever-more-enlightened) societal contexts. The "bar is raised," shall we say, with societal evolution. I'm 100% Jewish, but I don't give a darn what Fichte thought about Jews; I appreciate the theological contribution and its implications for an integrative society, which is our job (not Fichte's) to work for in our own way. What do you think?

Jeff Bedolla said:
Reply to what is for me the main point. The unstated premise is she did surpass him.

Jeff Bedolla

Eber Hampton said:
Sorry, I only have a secondary source for Fichte's ethnic nationalism. The Wikipedia article on Fichte has a particularly hateful quote from him about Jews. However, I don't want to blind myself to any of his work, the good or the bad. I can only guess what orange journalism might have meant in 1919. In 1914 Germany smuggled guns to the orange faction in Ireland if I recall. That may not be at all relevant or perhaps it is. I read Follett, "Community is Process" last night with great delight. If reading Fichte helped her with that then I still want to explore Fichte if only to wonder how and why she surpassed him.
Thank you all for exemplifying and encouraging an integrative solution. In a morning class 30 years ago my professor spoke about the necessity of focus. That afternoon with no preamble, my grandpa used the multi-lane traffic around us to illustrate the danger of a narrow focus and the need to "know what is going on 360 degrees". I said, "Sometimes what you are teaching me and what the University teaches are opposites."
"Maybe I should stop teaching you until you get your degree, then we can pick it up again."
"No, what you are teaching me is keeping me alive."
"Then your challenge is to make them work together"

Maybe that is one of the reasons reading Follett feels a bit like coming home. She gives me a new language, new thoughts, new hopes about our human challenge of working together.
What a great story, Eber,

And what a wise grandpa! Driving is a perfect example of making focus and 360 degree attention work together. Of late, I've had to make my peace with the GPS devices which seem to think I only need to pay attention to one short leg of a trip at a time. One time in California, where I grew up, I blindly followed the GPS sexy lady's voice command to turn right, after about five miles I asked myself, "If I'm heading South from Sacramento to San Francisco, and it's 3pm, how come the sun in on my left?" As soon as possible, I took a right off the interstate and was told to turn right, which was a cornfield. Now, a paper map and common sense at my side.

Any younger folks on the MPF network got advice on how to use these devices intelligently? Albie

Eber Hampton said:
Thank you all for exemplifying and encouraging an integrative solution. In a morning class 30 years ago my professor spoke about the necessity of focus. That afternoon with no preamble, my grandpa used the multi-lane traffic around us to illustrate the danger of a narrow focus and the need to "know what is going on 360 degrees". I said, "Sometimes what you are teaching me and what the University teaches are opposites."
"Maybe I should stop teaching you until you get your degree, then we can pick it up again."
"No, what you are teaching me is keeping me alive."
"Then your challenge is to make them work together"

Maybe that is one of the reasons reading Follett feels a bit like coming home. She gives me a new language, new thoughts, new hopes about our human challenge of working together.
It just so happens that the subject of Driving is my specialty! I can take that GPS question--even though I happen to be experiencing a little concern about advancing age myself! I would like to announce a new proposal, since this is a polite society...and that is to begin a new Discussion Topic, or better yet, a Forum, on Follett and Driving. This is something I've wanted to do for a long time. This is such an exciting development for me. This is an area for applied Folletianism. I've been working on Driving Research for over 8 years, after having cut my teeth as a behind-the-wheel driving school instructor in 2001. There is so much to share on this topic, that anyone who is both interested in this subject and who knows how to organize discussion material, would be welcome. Also, what I have to share is original work, and so intellectual property management is an issue.--Jeff

Albie M. Davis said:
What a great story, Eber,

And what a wise grandpa! Driving is a perfect example of making focus and 360 degree attention work together. Of late, I've had to make my peace with the GPS devices which seem to think I only need to pay attention to one short leg of a trip at a time. One time in California, where I grew up, I blindly followed the GPS sexy lady's voice command to turn right, after about five miles I asked myself, "If I'm heading South from Sacramento to San Francisco, and it's 3pm, how come the sun in on my left?" As soon as possible, I took a right off the interstate and was told to turn right, which was a cornfield. Now, a paper map and common sense at my side.

Any younger folks on the MPF network got advice on how to use these devices intelligently? Albie

Eber Hampton said:
Thank you all for exemplifying and encouraging an integrative solution. In a morning class 30 years ago my professor spoke about the necessity of focus. That afternoon with no preamble, my grandpa used the multi-lane traffic around us to illustrate the danger of a narrow focus and the need to "know what is going on 360 degrees". I said, "Sometimes what you are teaching me and what the University teaches are opposites."
"Maybe I should stop teaching you until you get your degree, then we can pick it up again."
"No, what you are teaching me is keeping me alive."
"Then your challenge is to make them work together"

Maybe that is one of the reasons reading Follett feels a bit like coming home. She gives me a new language, new thoughts, new hopes about our human challenge of working together.
Jeff, Go up to the top of this string in the Forum, press +add a discussion and type in a title of your choice. I'll be looking for this! Albie

Jeff Bedolla said:
It just so happens that the subject of Driving is my specialty! I can take that GPS question--even though I happen to be experiencing a little concern about advancing age myself! I would like to announce a new proposal, since this is a polite society...and that is to begin a new Discussion Topic, or better yet, a Forum, on Follett and Driving. This is something I've wanted to do for a long time. This is such an exciting development for me. This is an area for applied Folletianism. I've been working on Driving Research for over 8 years, after having cut my teeth as a behind-the-wheel driving school instructor in 2001. There is so much to share on this topic, that anyone who is both interested in this subject and who knows how to organize discussion material, would be welcome. Also, what I have to share is original work, and so intellectual property management is an issue.--Jeff

Albie M. Davis said:
What a great story, Eber,

And what a wise grandpa! Driving is a perfect example of making focus and 360 degree attention work together. Of late, I've had to make my peace with the GPS devices which seem to think I only need to pay attention to one short leg of a trip at a time. One time in California, where I grew up, I blindly followed the GPS sexy lady's voice command to turn right, after about five miles I asked myself, "If I'm heading South from Sacramento to San Francisco, and it's 3pm, how come the sun in on my left?" As soon as possible, I took a right off the interstate and was told to turn right, which was a cornfield. Now, a paper map and common sense at my side.

Any younger folks on the MPF network got advice on how to use these devices intelligently? Albie

Eber Hampton said:
Thank you all for exemplifying and encouraging an integrative solution. In a morning class 30 years ago my professor spoke about the necessity of focus. That afternoon with no preamble, my grandpa used the multi-lane traffic around us to illustrate the danger of a narrow focus and the need to "know what is going on 360 degrees". I said, "Sometimes what you are teaching me and what the University teaches are opposites."
"Maybe I should stop teaching you until you get your degree, then we can pick it up again."
"No, what you are teaching me is keeping me alive."
"Then your challenge is to make them work together"

Maybe that is one of the reasons reading Follett feels a bit like coming home. She gives me a new language, new thoughts, new hopes about our human challenge of working together.

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