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The Closed Commercial StatePerpetual Peace and Commercial Society from Rousseau to Fichte$
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Isaac Nakhimovsky

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691148946

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691148946.001.0001

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Perpetual Peace and Fichte’s Theory of the State

Perpetual Peace and Fichte’s Theory of the State

(p.15) Chapter 1 Perpetual Peace and Fichte’s Theory of the State
The Closed Commercial State

Isaac Nakhimovsky

Princeton University Press

This chapter recounts how Fichte's theory of the state was profoundly shaped by his encounter with Rousseau, Sieyès, and Kant. Fichte developed a more radical version of the constitutional theory that had been advanced by Sieyès and Kant during the French Revolution, one that sought to improve upon Rousseau's description of constitutional government and to institutionalize his account of popular sovereignty. According to his many German admirers, it was Sieyès, and not his Jacobin opponents, who was the real inheritor of Rousseau, because the kind of egalitarian democracy demanded by Robespierre and others was unable to function as a government of laws in a modern European state. Fichte declared that he had produced the definitive statement of this Sieyèsian constitutionalism and claimed he had captured its true spirit by showing how it did not permanently exclude the possibility of far more egalitarian systems than those proposed by either Sieyès or Kant.

Keywords:   Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Immanuel Kant, theory of the state, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emmanuel-Joseph Sieyès, constitutional theory, French Revolution

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