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Closed Commercial State, The

J. G. Fichte, Anthony Curtis Adler

Publication Year: 2012

Critical scholarly edition of J. G. Fichte’s Closed Commercial State. Appearing for the first time in a complete English translation, The Closed Commercial State represents the most sustained attempt of J. G. Fichte, the famed author of The Doctrine of Science, to apply idealistic philosophy to political economy. In the accompanying interpretive essay, Anthony Curtis Adler challenges the conventional scholarly view of The Closed Commercial State as a curious footnote to Fichte’s thought. The Closed Commercial State, which Fichte himself regarded as his “best, most thought-through work,” not only attests to a life-long interest in economics, but is of critical importance to his entire philosophical project. Carefully unpacking the philosophical nuances of Fichte’s argument and its complex relationship to other texts in his oeuvre, Adler argues that The Closed Commercial State presents an understanding of the nature of history, and the relation of history to politics, that differs significantly from the teleological notions of history advanced by Schelling and later Hegel. This critical scholarly edition includes a German-English glossary, annotations, and page references to both major German editions.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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pp. vii-

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-

Work on this translation was spread over many years, and it would be impossible to thank all the teachers, colleagues, and friends who contributed to its realization. Wilhelm Metz, in an extraordinary proseminar at the University...

Abbreviations and Editorial Apparatus

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pp. xi-xii

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Translator’s Introduction

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pp. xiii-xx

The Closed Commercial State is not one of Fichte’s most elusive or enigmatic writings. Yet it presents special difficulties to the translator. The most fundamental of these involve the tension between the different discursive levels and linguistic...

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Interpretive Essay: Fichte’s Monetary History

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pp. 1-71

Measured against the sublime architecture of Kant’s three critiques, the vast and all‑enveloping grandeur of Hegel’s absolute spirit, or Schelling’s prodigal succession of systems, Fichte—fated to be ranked fourth among philosophers who count by threes—never seemed to get his act together. Without ever abandoning either...

The Closed Commercial State

Table of Contents

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pp. 75-77

Preliminary clarification of the title

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pp. 79-

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Dedicatory Remarks

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pp. 81-86

Your excellency, Please allow me, following the custom especially of the dedication writers of past ages, to lay down before you my thoughts concerning the purpose and probable result of a writing that I hereby dedicate...

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Introduction: On the relation of the rational state to the actual state, and of pure Right of state to politics

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pp. 87-88

Pure Right of state lets the rational state arise under its eyes according to the concepts of Right, by presupposing men to be without any of the relations that, resembling rightful relations, had previously existed. Yet we never find men in this state of existence. In every quarter they...

First Book: Philosophy—what is Right with respect to commerce in the rational state

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pp. 89-134

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First Chapter: Principles for answering this question

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pp. 91-94

A false proposition is usually suppressed by a contrary proposition that is equally false. It is not until quite late that one discovers the truth lying in the middle. This is the fate of science. The opinion that the state is the absolute...

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Second Chapter: General application to public commerce of the principles set forth

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pp. 95-108

There are two chief branches of activity through which man preserves his life and makes it pleasant: extracting the products of nature, and then further laboring on these with a view to the final purpose that one posits for oneself with them. The chief division of free...

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Third Chapter: On the presupposed division of the branches of labor in a rational state

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pp. 109-111

One or the other reader may believe that we have surreptitiously reached the conclusions of our theory by hiding them in our premises, since we do not posit property, as is customary, in the exclusive possession of an object, but rather in the exclusive...

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Fourth Chapter: Whether the taxes paid to the state will change anything in the balance of industry

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pp. 113-115

It will be necessary to employ some people who occupy themselves exclusively with handling the laws and maintaining public order, others with public instruction, and finally some who practice the use of weapons [73] and stand ready at all times to defend...

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Fifth Chapter: How this balance of industry is to be secured against the uncertainty of agriculture

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pp. 117-119

The system being set forth, as we have seen, counts on the fact that the quantity of the articles of consumption and manufacture entering into public commerce, as well as the ratio of these quantities to one another, will remain...

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Sixth Chapter: Whether this balance would be endangered through the introduction of money, and changed through the constant progress of the nation to a higher state of prosperity

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pp. 121-127

There are some readers, I suppose, for whom it will be difficult keeping a firm grip on their thoughts in a nexus of things grounded solely on concepts. They will return again and again to the accidental [78] reality familiar to them, mixing this reality in with this...

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Seventh Chapter: Further discussion of the principle set forth here concerning the right to property

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pp. 129-134

As I intend to bring this section to a close, drawing together the most remarkable of its results into a single point, I feel that I must still provide some further elucidation of the chief proposition, since it is with this that the entire theory stands or falls. I have reserved this till the end...

Second Book: History of the present time— the condition of commerce in the actual states of the present

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pp. 135-160

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First Chapter: Preamble

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pp. 137-138

To wonder at nothing is the peak of wisdom, says one of the ancients.8 So long as he is talking about the astonishment at the unexpected that robs us of our composure and disturbs our calm reflection, he is entirely right. Yet we wish to add...

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Second Chapter: The known world considered as one great unitary commercial state

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pp. 139-142

The peoples of the ancient world were very rigidly separated from one another by a multitude of circumstances. For them, the foreigner was an enemy or a barbarian. The peoples of modern Christian Europe, in contrast, may be considered as [93] one nation. Already united...

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Third Chapter: The reciprocal relation of the individuals in this great commercial state

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pp. 143-146

To investigate how it came about that men agreed to grant the validity of gold and silver, and nothing in their place, as the sign of all value would take us too far afield. At the very least the reason offered by a famous writer will not...

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Fourth Chapter: The reciprocal relation of the nations as wholes in this commercial state

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pp. 147-151

As long as the governments of the particular states of which the commercial state consists do not directly collect taxes from their citizens, but defray the costs of the administration of the state through demesnes and other such means, the relation of the individual...

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Fifth Chapter: The means that governments have employed up till now to steer this relation to their advantage

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pp. 153-154

Every government that has opened its eyes to this relation of its nations to the other nations within the great commercial state, and that, with respect to this circumstance as well, is not content to let everything turn out as God pleases, has seized on nearly...

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Sixth Chapter: The result of using these means

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pp. 155-160

We now have to answer two questions. First, to what extent will the purpose that one had pursued with these means actually be reached through them? And second, is this purpose itself purposeful? Is it the purpose that one should have...

Third Book: Politics—how the commerce of an existing state can be brought into the arrangement required by reason; or, on the closure of the commercial state

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pp. 161-199

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First Chapter: More precise determination of the task of this book

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pp. 163-164

We know the goal that states must strive toward with regard to commerce, and we know the point where they stand at present with respect to the same. It cannot be difficult, then, to discover and indicate the path that will lead them from the latter...

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Second Chapter: The rightful claims of the citizen, as a hitherto‑free participant in world trade, on the closing commercial state

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pp. 165-167

By dint of his labor and the piece of money that he earns through this, the citizen obtains a claim to all the things that either nature’s favor or human art brings forth in any part whatsoever of the great commercial republic. When it is about to close...

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Third Chapter: The claims of the state, as a self‑sufficient whole, during its complete separation from the rest of the earth

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pp. 169-171

Certain parts of the earth’s surface, together with their inhabitants, have been visibly determined by nature to form political wholes. They are isolated all around from the rest of the world by giant rivers, oceans, or inaccessible mountain ranges. The fertility...

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Fourth Chapter: Decisive measures for achieving both the closure of the commercial state and the conditions for this closure that have just been set forth

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pp. 173-177

Let us now set aside the goals we set forth in the two preceding chapters until we automatically strike on the means for achieving them, and simply recall the task, presented above, of closing off the commercial state. What is demanded is the complete elimination...

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Fifth Chapter: Continuation of the preceding considerations

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pp. 179-182

The assertion that a state, having dared remove itself from all commerce with foreign lands, will have no need of silver and gold, and can make whatever it wishes into a universal sign of all value, seems to me so clear, and to lie so near to everyone’s feet...

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Sixth Chapter: Further measures for the closure of the commercial state

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pp. 183-189

Through the measure described above the government will come into possession of all the world currency that previously circulated within the country. From now on it will no longer need this money domestically, since it won’t give out any of it to anyone living...

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Seventh Chapter: The result of these measures

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pp. 191-195

Within the country agriculture and the factories have now been brought to the intended degree of perfection, and the ratio of each to the other, of trade to both of them, and of the public officials to all three, has been calculated, ordered...

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Eighth Chapter: The actual reason why one will take offense at the theory we have presented

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pp. 197-199

In the course of this investigation I have tried to remove whatever objections one could raise against individual parts of our theory. Yet with a great part of mankind, it is fruitless to go into the reasons of things with them, since their entire way of thinking...

Fichte’s Notes

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pp. 201-202

Translator’s Notes

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pp. 203-214

German‑English Glossary

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pp. 215-227

Index

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pp. 229-239


E-ISBN-13: 9781438440224
E-ISBN-10: 1438440227
Print-ISBN-13: 9781438440217
Print-ISBN-10: 1438440219

Page Count: 208
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: SUNY series in Contemporary Continental Philosophy
Series Editor Byline: Dennis J. Schmidt

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • State, The.
  • Commercial policy.
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