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Jacobi, Friedrich Heinrich (1743–1819)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-DB043-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved April 18, 2024, from

Article Summary

Polemicist and literary figure, Jacobi was an outspoken and effective defender of individualism. He accused philosophers of conceptualizing existence according to the requirements of explanation, thus allowing no room for individual freedom or for a personal God. In a series of polemics that influenced the reception of Kant, Jacobi applied his formula, ‘Consistent philosophy is Spinozist, hence pantheist, fatalist and atheist’, first to Enlightenment philosophy and then to idealism. Jacobi was not however opposed to reason; in ‘faith’ and ‘feeling’ he sought to recover the intuitive power of reason philosophers ignored.

Jacobi also criticized the literary movement spearheaded by the young Goethe, because of its latent fatalism. He dramatized in two novels the problem of reconciling individualism with social obligations. An exponent of British economic and political liberalism, Jacobi was an early critic of the French revolution which he considered the product of rationalism.

Citing this article:
di Giovanni, George. Jacobi, Friedrich Heinrich (1743–1819), 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-DB043-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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