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to have helped Hegel to his idea of dialectic and development, an idea which has been of the greatest importance even for the history of Economics.

Fichte had absorbed the spirit and not simply copied the letter of Kant; and it was not therefore surprising that Fichte's Principles of Natural Law should have anticipated many of Kant's thoughts on the subject, though preceding Kant's book by a year. Like Kant, Fichte separates the theory of Rights from the theory of Duties. He is even more rigid than Kant, for he will not allow that the former may be deduced from the latter. He holds that the only law of Nature is the moral law (VI.82, French Revol.). The notion of Duty depends on a categorical imperative; the notion of Right on a hypothetical imperative. If there is to be a community of free beings, then each member of it must obey the maxim, “ So limit thy freedom that it does not conflict with the freedom of others ” (III. 10). In the world there may be anarchy, and logically this is the prior condition of humanity ;3 but, if there is to be society, this maxim must be so followed that the organization of Society secures the obedience of its members (I11. 108). The very notion of Law implies the possibility of action that diverges from the path pointed out by the law. The volonté de tous may be, as in trade, to get the better of one's neighbour; but in face of the facts it becomes the volonté générale, or united will that right should be done (III. 106 n., 109). Original “rights of man” in isolation there are none, though there may be property in isolation (ib., 116). But there are rights of men in communities or societies, existing prior to any political organization. * The distinction between Society and State is clearly laid down.

Further, rights mean nothing except in relation to men's bodies, in the sensible world, where men are identified with their bodies. There is no

There is no “right to think,” for there is no external means of preventing or compelling thought. The right of self-preservation is postulated


1 Grundlage des Naturrechts, 1796.

2 Rechtslehre, 1797. Priority does not mean historical priority. See VI. 127. 4 III. u 2 seq., cf. VI. 129 seq

by every act of will (III. 118, 119); and my body, as well as my neighbour's, is in society inviolable (cf. 124). A man's personality is, for social and legal relations, inseparable from his body; and therefore the bodily persons of men are to be treated as an end and never as a means (114, etc.). Bodily compulsion, even as exercised by the State in its punishments, is difficult to justify; and outside of the State it has no justification. Moreover, that part of the sensible world, which I come to know thoroughly (in the way which a hunter, for example, knows his huntingground), and which I convert into an instrument for my ends, becomes my property. The ultimate foundation of property in a thing (on which, be it noted, property may be built up anterior to Society, 116) is the subjection of it by a human being to his purposes; it results from an act of will to which bodily action has given effect (116, 117). Again, as a man's individuality is distinguishable only when he is in relation to other individual men (cf. 47, etc.), so my property is individual only in relation to other people's property ; it is recognised by me as mine with an implicit abandonment of something else which I recognise as not mine but another's (131).

For a perfectly moral being, says Fichte, no rights would exist ; and there is no Law of Nature outside of Society. But men are not, as it is, perfectly moral, or they would not (as now) need to be trained or educated to morality by institutions. Still, the State itself is natural; and its laws are nothing but the true rights of nature realized." Hitherto all writers have started with the notion of individuals in isolation, and have then supposed them united in a union that is merely artificial and arbitrary (208). Society, however, is like any organized body of what is called the world of Nature. The simile (continues Fichte) is often used in order to describe different parts of the political system (in the narrow sense of the word political) but not, as it might fitly be, of the social union itself. As in the physical organism, every part depends . for its character on its connection with the rest, so in the

1 So P. E. Dove, Elements of Pol. Science (Edin.), 1854, p. 119, etc., says that legislation does not grant rights, but secures those already granted to man by nature. This is the common ground of all believers in a Law of Nature.

organism of society, where a man first receives his definite work in the world. Outside of society there might be a transient enjoyment of pleasures, but there could be no sure calculation of the future. Nature is composed of the union of all organic forces, and humanity of the union of the free wills of all men. The essence of an organized body is that no part of it contains within itself the full conditions of the fulfilment of its own destiny, and this is true also of the social organism. The isolated man takes action merely to satisfy his own wants, and unless he does so, they remain unsatisfied. But the citizen often acts, and refrains from acting, for the sake of others, as well as for himself ; and his highest wants are satisfied by the help of others and without his own initiative (209).' Every part of the organized body is at once supporting and supported; so it is with citizens in a State. Each has only to act the part prescribed for him by his place in the whole, and in so acting he is supporting the whole (209). Rousseau speaks of the individual giving himself up when he enters into the social contract; but (says Fichte) the individual has nothing to give up, nothing he can call his own, till he is already within the social union. There is, in the strictest sense no property before society.”

The place of men being so conceived, what is their first end? It is simply to be able to live. This is the justification of property, and it involves that every one should be able to live by his own labour.3

The State must see to it that this is possible for him. “ As soon as any man cannot live by his labour, that is withheld from him which was absolutely his own, and the contract is, so far as he is concerned, completely annulled. He is from that moment no longer rightfully bound to recognize any other man's property. In order that the consequent insecurity of property may not continue, the rest must, as a matter of right and of the civil contract, give him of their own, that he may live. From the moment when any man is in want, no one really owns

1 In recasting the Rechtslehre (1812), Fichte carried out this notion of a positive function of the State much more fully; but it was not through these afterthoughts that he influenced speculation.

2 III. 204 and n. But see ibid., 116. Ibid., 212.


such part of his property as is his needful contribution to save the sufferer from want, but it belongs of right to the one in want." The State is responsible and the poor have an absolute right to support. But not till they have proved that they have done their best to support themselves. There must be no idler, any more than any poor person, in a rational State. Fichte's notion of property is in other ways more limited than the common legal notion. Property in wild animals (or indeed in anything else), whenever hurtful to others, is disallowed by him. Game laws are regarded with suspicion. He considers that the most important form of property arises from the organization of industry; and he divides the great body of workers into (1) producers in the Physiocratic sense of the term, those who raise raw materials, especially food; (2) artisans; and (3) merchants. When a man has chosen and obtained his sphere of labour in any of the three branches he should have an exclusive right to it, such a right as was secured by the mediæval guilds. This exclusive right is the most important kind of property (III. 232, 233, etc.). But, besides this, the State secures to a man immunity from interference in his own House ; marriage and family life are highly valued and eloquently described by Fichte (304 to 368); these relations have a legal side but they are much more than legal, they are natural and ethical. Every man's house is and ought to be his castle (242, 243). When once a man has been paid in money for his services, in accordance with general arrangements of the political system, his domestic expenditure is his own affair. The State may not even regard how much money he may be privately amassing ; and a loophole is certainly left for millionaires. Money is the State's recognition that the receiver has done what was required of him and is creditor of the State for an equivalent. It is “a mere token which denotes all that is useful and serviceable in a State, without being in itself of the least use” (237 to 240).

But these economical arrangements are most fully

1 III. 213, 214. 2 III. 230-232. The third class is first fully treated in the Closed Commercial State, III. 405 seq. 3 III. 241, cf. 244, 255, 438.

treated in an Appendix to the treatise on Natural Law published in 1800 and entitled The Closed Commercial State, a philosophical sketch. This book contains Fichte's Utopia, and the drift of it is described by himself in a terse prefatory note as follows:

“ A juridical State is formed by a body of men shut off from others, and subjected to the same laws and same supreme force. Let such a body of men have no trade except with one another, let every one who is not under the same legislative and executive power be excluded from any share in commercial traffic ; —they would then form a commercial State, and a closed commercial State, just as at present they form a closed juridical one.” (Preliminary note on the meaning of the title.) There should be not only a common judgment-seat but a common estate, (Vermögen) (460). There are (he says) two extreme views of the State ; according to the one it is a man's general guardian and father ; according to the other it is only the keeper of the peace. The truth lies in the middle. We can no longer believe that the State is to take charge of each citizen in all his concerns, to keep him healthy wealthy and wise, and even save his soul for him. It is truer to say that the State has only to secure to every man his personal rights and property ; but, on the other hand, without the State there would be no property to secure. It is the raison d'être of the State “to give to every one his own, to place him in his property, and then afterwards to protect him in it” (399). After giving his ideas on property, as he had already done in the book on Natural Law, he goes on to apply them to trade and industry in greater detail. There must be equal division of the possibilities of a comfortable life, though it must be left to every man's energy to make them actual. In States as they are, it is not so ; but it will beso in the rational State of the future (403). In the second place no one will interfere with another's occupation ; having chosen his work, each man must confine

1 Der geschlossene Handelsstaat, ein philosophischer Entwurf als Anhang zur Rechtslehre und Probe ciner künftig su liefernden Politik. Dedicated to the Prussian Minister Struensee (the younger). Its thorough-going protection may be compared with that advocated by Friedrich List, Theorie des Nationalen Systems der Pol. Oek., 1877.

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