Archimedean Points in a Network of Cosmological Metaphors: Fontenelle, Locke, Fichte, and Kant


Johann Gottlieb Fichte’s first treatise, “Concerning the Concept of the ‘Wissenschaftslehre’” (“Über den Begriff der Wissenschaftslehre oder der sogenannten Philosophie,” 1794), is a text built in no small measure upon metaphors. Unlike the increasingly abstract lectures on the theory of knowledge, the 1794 treatise is organized around two fields of imagery: construction and cosmology. These two fields overlap in that the Earth doubles as a planet in the universe and the foundation upon which people raise buildings. Both metaphorical fields come together most prominently when Fichte draws on the anecdote about Archimedes’ promise to displace the Earth if could he just find a long enough lever and a firm point beyond our world to place his fulcrum.

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