IN THE German village of Rammenau -- 1762 -- was born a baby boy to a pious and poor family of ribbon makers or weavers. The parents had him baptized with the name of Johann Gottlieb Fichte (John “beloved of God” Fichte).
Recognizing his intellectual gift, the local baron sponsored his studies. Unfortunately, before the young Fichte could finish his studies at the prestigious Jena University, his patron died. So, to support himself, the young Fichte did private tutoring, a task he actually detested.
Having earned enough money to finish his university studies he returned to Jena University, and after graduation he presented himself as a “private lecturer” (Privatdozent) at the same university. This meant that being untenured, he had to attract students to attend his lectures, and if these liked his lectures, they paid him.
Some years later, upon the encouragement of his idol, Immanuel Kant, Fichte published, Attempt at a Critique of All Revelation, a work highly acclaimed, for people thought it was written by Kant.
Pursuing further the Cartesian and Kantian thoughts, Fichte startled the academic world with his transcendental idealism or the exploration into the pure ego -- leading to the Western trend to exaggerated subjectivism, and eventually Western individualism.
With the increasing fame he earned, Fichte dared -- a la Martin Luther -- university officials to enact academic reformation. Furthermore, he engaged the Church in debates stating that the only revealed truths philosophers could accept were the moral precepts.
During the Napoleonic wars Fichte bannered nationalism, leading later on to the Nazi political movement. Opponents accused him of political radicalism, atheism and even of nihilism.
Forced to flee to Berlin Fichte showed he still respected God and loved his country by serving the wounded in the war against Napoleon. Unfortunately, from his wife who was serving as a volunteer nurse, Fichte contacted severe infection. At his death in 1814 the academic world mourned the loss of a severe critic who actually loved God, country and family.