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Fries, Jacob Friedrich

Fries, Jacob Friedrich, was born at Barby, Saxony, in 1773, and brought up by the Moravians. He studied philosophy at Leipsic and Jena, and began to lecture on the subject in 1801, adopting the theory of Kant, with certain modifications of his own. Whilst accepting the division of knowledge into an a priori and an a posteriori element, as propounded in the Kritik, he treated the former as consisting of the mere irreducible factors that defy our processes of psychical analysis. Moreover, he regarded the understanding as in itself a mere instrument of proof devoid of all antecedent principles of knowledge. These views he elaborated in a series of works, of which his New Critic of Pure Reason, his System of Logic, and his System of Metaphysic are the best known. In 1806 he received a chair at Heidelberg, returning to Jena in 1816, and continuing his teaching until his death in 1843, though he was for a period placed under an interdict, owing to his supposed democratic leanings.