October 04, 2005

Schelling (1775-1854)

Schelling suggests that there are two principles in us: ‘an unconscious, dark principle and a conscious principle’, which must yet in some way be identical. The same structure applies to what Schelling means by ‘God’. At this point his account of the ground is not consistent, but this inconsistency points to the essential issue Schelling is trying to understand, namely whether philosophy can give a rational account of the fact of the manifest world. As that which makes the world intelligible, God relates to the ground in such a way that the ‘real’, which takes the form of material nature, is ‘in God’ but ‘is not God seen absolutely, i.e. insofar as He exists; for it is only the ground of His existence, it is nature in God; an essence which is inseparable from God, but different from Him’. The point is that God would be meaningless if there were not that which He transcends: without opposition, Schelling argues, there is no life and no sense of development, which are the highest aspects of reality.
The aim of the move away from Spinoza is to avoid the sense of a world complete in itself which would render freedom illusory because freedom's goal would already be determined as part of the totality. Schelling starts to confront the idea that the reconciliation of freedom and necessity that had been sought by Kant in the acknowledgement of the necessity of the law, and which was the aim of German Idealism's attempt to reconcile mind and nature, might be intrinsically unattainable. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

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