Philosophy Talk: Karin Nisenbaum (Syracuse University)


Location: 140 DeBartolo Hall

Karin Nisenbaum 1

Karin Nisenbaum will be giving a talk titled: "Fichte's Perfectionist Solution to the Problem of Autonomy” on Friday, March 18 , in DeBartolo Hall, room 140 at 3:00.

For more information on Prof. Nisenbaum, please visit her website.

This paper has two interrelated aims.  The first is to argue that Fichte’s concept of freedom is perfectionist.  By ‘perfectionism’ I mean a moral theory according to which our good, ultimately, is realizing our true nature; Fichte also holds a perfectionist view of freedom, according to which we achieve freedom only to the extent that we succeed in making ourselves good or realizing our true nature.  The second aim of this paper is to show how Fichte’s perfectionist concept of freedom solves two problems confronting Kantian autonomy: the ‘paradox’ of Kantian autonomy and the ‘dilemma’ of post-Kantian autonomy.  As I contend, Fichte’s perfectionist concept of freedom avoids these two problems by enabling us to view self-determination as a form of self-causation that is a way of being free while also being subject to a higher principle, and by showing that we can be responsible for our immoral actions even if we are not fully free when we perform them.