Keywords: Fichte; Zwingherr; Sovereign Power; Republic.
This paper analyzes the enigmatic figure of the "Zwingherr" which Johann Gottlieb Fichte introduced in his philosophical Journal and in his "Doctrine of State". This figure helps him discuss two questions, which his doctrine of right, because of its a priori approach, had been unable to answer: the historical origins of sovereign power, and the justice of government actions. Fichte tackled these issues in the spring of 1813. Prussian government was preparing against the French Empire and Fichte wanted to understand the challenges that this conflict would create from a social perspective. The public lectures he gave during this period constitute a philosophical «counter-call» to the Prussian government's war preparations, and to patriotic writings pushing for war. Fichte viewed the looming Franco-Prussian conflict as a constitutional process that would stimulate the formation a new German republic. He wanted to play a role in the formation of this new nation, and in particular, he wanted his future nation to take the form of a «community of intentions».