Giving Shape to the Shapeless: Divine Incomprehensibility, Moral Knowledge, and Symbolic Representation

  • Benjamin D. CroweEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Handbooks in German Idealism book series (PHGI)


Fichte’s philosophy of religion is widely recognized for its distinctiveness. In this chapter, I examine some of the core commitments that comprise it. First, I reconstruct Fichte’s arguments for the claim that God is ultimately incomprehensible (unbegreiflich) for finite human beings, drawing primarily on writings from his “Jena” period. Fichte’s views on the nature of understanding and of concepts, alongside other important positions, motivate his insistence on God’s incomprehensibility. Second, I show how Fichte develops the thought that moral action in a social context is the arena in which God can be represented or “symbolized,” both through the collective endeavor to understand the ultimate “supersensible something” and through the formation of a free community of individuals who together comprise the “image of God.”

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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyBoston UniversityBostonUSA

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