Johann Gottlieb Fichte, was a Germany Philosopher, and reformer, who was also a great supporter of the French Revolution. Fichte would have been considered a liberal at the time who wanted to see the lower classes rise up, and take a portion of prosperity for themselves. His ideals came from the area of Europe in which he lived. Fichte was a resident of Berlin, which was not part of one specific nation. Berlin was much like an Italian City-State during the Renaissance because it was not always under control of one nation or kingdom.
The Germany that we know today did not exist in anyway what so ever. The region that is called Germany today was a collection of over thirty different states that were never autonomous with each other. Napoleon was the first man to unite the German states into a specific body, the Confederation of the Rhine. This action started to bring German speakers together.
This increase in the idea that people who had the same language, customs, and cultural identity could be a nation was new, but one that soon became very popular with German citizens of the many different states. Fichte’s proto-nationalism was widely read, and his writings, and the writings of many other early 19th century thinkers became the “bibles” of the great nation builders such as Otto Von Bismark in Germany, and Garibaldi in Italy.
German philosopher Johann Gottfried von Herder lived during the 18th century, contributing much to the philosophy of history. Inspired by the Enlightenment, he thought rationally about the correlation between human events and history. In one of his more known works, Materials for the Philosophy of the History of Mankind, he laid the foundation for German nationalism. As western Europe began its nationalist movement, people living in central Europe (today Germany) had a difficult time grasping with the idea of a collective group under one nation. Since hundreds of people speaking different languages and having different customs lived in the region, von Herder argued that Nature brings groups of people together which eventually establishes a sense of national identity. His worked is targeted at future activists who believed in a need for establishing a nation. He believes, “active human powers are the springs of human history, and, as man originates from and in one race, so his body, education, and mode of thinking are genetic” (Halsall). Because of this, a group of individuals will establish a national identity.
Similar to von Herder, Johann Gottlieb Fichte hailed from Germany and is considered by some to be one of the Fathers of German Nationalism. Inspired by Immanuel Kant, Fichte dedicated his work to understand the mystery of human consciousness and a need to establish German nationalism. In his, Addresses to the German Nation, he states, “Those who speak the same language are joined to each other by a multitude of invisible bonds by nature herself, long before any human art begins; they understand each other and have the power of continuing to make themselves understood more and more clearly; they belong together and are by nature one and an inseparable whole” (Fichte). Since this bond exists between man, a national identity needed to be establish to incorporate all who lived in a region who shared similar ideals.
Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Thirteenth Address, Addresses to the Gerrnan Nation, ed. George A. Kelly (New York: Harper Torch Books, 1968), pp. 19091,19394,19798.