UCL Philosophy


Phillips: Fichte on Sex, Marriage, and Gender

15 March 2023

Rory Phillips: Fichte on Sex, Marriage, and Gender (2023), British Journal of the History of Philosophy

“I am only what I make myself to be”, Fichte tells us. In this paper, I outline Fichte’s views on sex, marriage and gender, with two aims. Firstly, to elucidate an aspect of his moral theory which has received little attention, and secondly to argue that Fichte’s distinctive stance on selfhood, freedom, and normativity lead to a revisionary account of gender expression and identity, where people can freely carve out their own identity, irrespective of “nature”. In this paper, I therefore outline Fichte’s own views, highlighting what I see as a tension in the texts between essentialism and anti-essentialism about gender, before reconstructing a neo-Fichtean view which foregrounds the anti-essentialist aspect.