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Frédéric Seyler


The purpose of this article is to investigate common traits and differences in Fichte’s and Michel Henry’s approach to fundamental reality in connection to their concept of the highest good. The “blessed life” in Fichte and “second birth” in Henry are both tied to their perspectives on the divine as absolute reality. In Fichte’s middle period, especially between 1804 and 1806, the central opposition is one between absolute unity and manifold appearing. In the second lecture series of the Wissenschaftslehre 1804 the task is to overcome this opposition through a theory of truth and a phenomenology that genetically explains the manifold as appearing of original unity. The Religionslehre 1806 uses this result to portrait the blessed life as a life in God, i.e. as an authentic religious existence. A similar move is found in Henry’s late works on a philosophy of Christianity with the concept of “second birth”. However, Henry’s phenomenology of life is less concerned with the manifold character of appearing than with the transcendence proper to intentional givenness. Henry’s radical phenomenology identifies, unlike Fichte, a second and more fundamental form of appearing that is purely immanent and synonymous with absolute life itself.