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