The years spent at Jena were unusually productive; indeed, the completed Fichtean philosophy is contained in the writings of this period.
There was nothing original in the treatment, but it showed such power of appreciating the new ideas of the Fichtean method that it was hailed with cordial recognition by Fichte himself, and gave the author immediately a place in popular estimation as in the foremost rank of existing philosophical writers.
- The Fichtean method had striven to exhibit the whole structure of reality as the necessary implication of selfconsciousness.
Fichtean idealism therefore at once stood out negatively, as abolishing the dogmatic conception of the two real worlds, subject and object, by whose interaction cognition and practice arise, and as amending the critical idea which retained with dangerous caution too many fragments of dogmatism; positively, as insisting on the unity of philosophical interpretation and as supplying a key to the form or method by which a completed philosophic system might be constructed.
But the Fichtean teaching appeared on the one hand to identify too closely the ultimate ground of the universe of rational conception with the finite, individual spirit, and on the other hand to endanger the reality of the world of nature by regarding it too much after the fashion of subjective idealism, as mere moment, though necessitated, in the existence of the finite thinking mind.
As a moralist and a guide to the conduct of life - an aspect of Goethe's work which Carlyle, viewing him through the coloured glasses of Fichtean idealism, emphasized and interpreted not always justly - Goethe was a powerful force on German life in years of political and intellectual depression.
Hermes himself was very largely under the influence of the Kantian and Fichtean ideas, and though in the philosophical portion of his Einleitung he criticizes both these thinkers severely, rejects their doctrine of the moral law as the sole guarantee for the existence of God, and condemns their restricted view of the possibility and nature of revelation, enough remained of purely speculative material to render his system obnoxious to his church.