Jakob Friedrich Fries

Jakob Friedrich Fries

German philosopher, physicist and mathematician.
Date of Birth: 23.08.1773
Country: Germany

  1. Biography of Jakob Fries
  2. Shift in Religious Beliefs
  3. Influence of Kant and Psychologist Plättners
  4. Political Involvement and Later Career
  5. Fries' Anthropologism and Systematics

Biography of Jakob Fries

Jakob Friedrich Fries was a German philosopher, physicist, and mathematician. He was born in 1773 and received his initial philosophical education from Immanuel Kant. He became acquainted with Kant's works, initially through the writings of Reinhold, during his time at the seminary of the fraternal community. Fries received his education under the guidance of theologians from Göttingen. Like Schleiermacher, his taste for philosophical thinking developed from narrow confessional beliefs.

Shift in Religious Beliefs

Through personal experience and the study of psychology, Fries began to question his initial faith. He learned to distinguish between artificial and natural, intentional and immediate in his religious sentiments. He recognized the value and role of imagination in evoking religious emotions. While he developed some logical and ethical doubts about the doctrine of redemption, religious life remained significant to him. Despite his negative attitude towards dogmas, Fries always attributed symbolic value to religious concepts and felt a spiritual connection to the fraternal community.

Influence of Kant and Psychologist Plättners

Fries received his philosophical baptism from Kant, whose works he studied extensively, especially during his time in Leipzig and Jena. He attended lectures by psychologist Plättners, which had a strong influence on him. In 1805, Fries was appointed as a professor of philosophy and mathematics at Heidelberg, and in 1816, he moved to Jena. During his time in Jena, he published "Wissen, Glaube und Ahndung," a popular exposition of his epistemological and religious-philosophical views. This was followed by his main work, "Neue Kritik der Vernunft" (1806-1807; 2nd edition, 1828-1831, Heidelberg). Fries' position is independent despite the influence of Kant and Jakobi. He attempted to define his relationship with Kant, Jakobi, and Romantic philosophy in a polemical article against Schelling titled "Von deutscher Philosophie, Art und Kunst" (1812). In 1816, he became a professor of theoretical philosophy at Jena.

Political Involvement and Later Career

Fries' political beliefs led to displeasure from the government. Due to his involvement in the famous Wartburg demonstrations in 1817, despite the intervention of Karl August, Fries was forced to give up teaching philosophy and instead began lecturing on physics and advanced mathematics. His work in these areas received praise from Gauss and Alexander von Humboldt.

Fries' Anthropologism and Systematics

According to Fries, the principle of systematics should be added to Kant's three "critiques." He sought to justify this principle not purely through speculation but with the help of "natural teachings about the human spirit," which he called philosophical anthropology. This approach gave rise to his system known as anthropologism. Fries argued that we do not know things as they are in themselves but only as phenomena. The knowable through our senses is the object of knowledge, the supersensible is the object of faith, and the revelation of the supersensible in the sensible is the object of divination (Ahndung).