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_Sch.e.l.ling_ sprang from _Fichte_. We may pa.s.s on to an exposition of his philosophy without any farther introduction, since that which it contains from Fichte forms a part of its historical development, and will therefore be treated of as this is unfolded.

Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph _Sch.e.l.ling_ was born at Leonberg, in Wurtemberg, January 27th, 1775. With a very precocious development, he entered the theological seminary at Tubingen in his fifteenth year, and devoted himself partly to philology and mythology, but especially to Kant's philosophy. During his course as a student, he was in personal connection with Holderlin and Hegel. Sch.e.l.ling came before the world as an author very early. In 1792 appeared his graduating treatise on the third chapter of Genesis, in which he gave an interesting philosophical signification to the Mosaic account of the fall. In the following year, 1793, he published in _Paulus'_ Memorabilia an essay of a kindred nature "_On the Myths and Philosophemes of the Ancient World_." To the last year of his abode at Tubingen belong the two philosophical writings: "_On the Possibility of a Form for Philosophy_" and "_On the Ego as a Principle of Philosophy, or on the Unconditioned in Human Knowledge_."

After completing his university studies, Sch.e.l.ling went to Leipsic as tutor to the Baron von Riedesel, but soon afterwards repaired to Jena, where he became the pupil and co-laborer of Fichte. After Fichte's departure from Jena, he became himself, 1798, teacher of philosophy there, and now began, removing himself from Fichte's standpoint, to develope more and more his own peculiar views. He published in Jena the _Journal of Speculative Physics_, and also in company with Hegel, _the Critical Journal_. In the year 1803 he went to Wurzburg as professor _ordinarius_ of philosophy. In 1807 he repaired to Munich as member _ordinarius_ of the newly established academy of sciences there. The year after he became general secretary of the Academy of the plastic arts, and subsequently, when the university professorship was established at Munich, he became its inc.u.mbent. After the death of Jacobi, he was chosen president of the Munich Academy. In 1841 he removed to Berlin, where he has sometimes held lectures. For the last ten years Sch.e.l.ling has written nothing of importance, although he has repeatedly promised an exposition of his present system. By far the greater portion of his writings belongs to his early life. Sch.e.l.ling's philosophy is no completed system of which his separate works are the const.i.tuent elements; but, like Plato's, it has a historical development, a course of formative steps which the philosopher has pa.s.sed through in his own life. Instead of systematically elaborating the separate sciences from the standpoint of his principle, Sch.e.l.ling has gone back repeatedly to the beginning again, seeking ever for new foundations and new standpoints, connecting these for the most part (like Plato) with some antecedent philosophemes, (Fichte, Spinoza, New Platonism, Leibnitz, Jacob Bhme, Gnosticism,) which in their order he attempted to interweave with his system. We must modify accordingly our exposition of Sch.e.l.ling's Philosophy, and take up its different periods, separated according to the different groups of his writings.[4]


Sch.e.l.ling's starting point was Fichte, whom he decidedly followed in his earliest writings. In his essay, "_On the Possibility of a Form of Philosophy_" he shows the necessity of that supreme principle which Fichte had first propounded. In his essay, "_On the Ego_" Sch.e.l.ling shows that the ultimate ground of our knowledge can only lie in the Ego, and hence that every true philosophy must be idealism. If our knowledge shall possess reality, there must be one point in which ideality and reality, thought and being, can identically coincide; and if outside of our knowledge, there were something higher which conditioned it, if itself were not the highest, then it could not be absolute. Fichte regarded this essay as a commentary on his _Theory of Science_; yet it contains already indications of Sch.e.l.ling's subsequent standpoint, in its expressly affirming the unity of all knowledge, the necessity that in the end all the different sciences shall become merged into one. In the "_Letters on Dogmatism and Criticism_," 1795, Sch.e.l.ling combatted the notions of those Kantians who had left the critical and idealistic standpoint of their master, and fallen back again into the old dogmatism. It was also on the standpoint of Fichte that Sch.e.l.ling published in Niethammer's and Fichte's Journal, 1797-98, a series of articles, in which he gave a survey of the recent philosophical literature. Here he begins to turn his attention towards a philosophical deduction of nature, though he still remains on the standpoint of Fichte when he deduces nature wholly from the essence of the Ego. In the essay which was composed soon after, and ent.i.tled "_Ideas for a philosophy of Nature_," 1797, and the one "_On the World-soul_," 1798, he gradually unfolded more clearly his views. The chief points which are brought out in the two last named essays are the following: The first origin of the conception of matter springs from nature and the intuition of the human mind. The mind is the union of an unlimited and a limiting energy. If there were no limit to the mind, consciousness would be just as impossible as if the mind were totally and absolutely limited. Feeling, perception and knowledge are only conceivable, as the energy which strives for the unlimited becomes limited through its opposite, and as this latter becomes itself freed from its limitations. The actual mind or heart consists only in the antagonism of these two energies, and hence only in their ever approximate or relative unity. Just so is it in nature. Matter as such is not the first, for the forces of which it is the unity are before it. Matter is only to be apprehended as the ever becoming product of attraction and repulsion; it is not, therefore, a mere inert grossness, as we are apt to represent it, but these forces are its original. But force in the material is like something immaterial. Force in nature is that which we may compare to mind. Since now the mind or heart exhibits precisely the same conflict, as matter, of opposite forces, we must unite the two in a higher ident.i.ty. But the organ of the mind for apprehending nature is the intuition which takes, as object of the external sense, the s.p.a.ce which has been filled and limited by the attracting and repelling forces. Thus Sch.e.l.ling was led to the conclusion that _the same absolute_ appears in nature as in mind, and that the harmony of these is something more than a thought in reference to them. "Or if you affirm that we only _carry over_ such an idea to nature, then have you utterly failed to apprehend the only nature which there can be to us. For our view of nature is not that it accidentally meets the laws of our mind-(perhaps through the mediation of a third)-but that it necessarily and originally not only expresses, but itself realizes, the laws of our mind, and that it is nature, and is called such only in so far as it does this." "Nature should be the visible mind, and mind invisible nature. Here, therefore, in the absolute ideality of the mind _within_ us, and nature _without_ us, must we solve the problem how it is possible for a nature outside of us to be." This thought, that nature or matter is just as much the actual unity of an attracting and a repelling force, as the mind or heart is the unity of an unlimited and a limiting tendency, and that the repelling force in matter corresponds to the positive or unlimited activity of the mind, while the attracting force corresponds to the mind's negative or limiting activity-this identical deduction of matter from the essence of the Ego, is very prominent in all that Sch.e.l.ling wrote upon natural philosophy during this period. Nature thus appears as a copy (_Doppelbild_) of the mind, which the mind itself produces, in order to return, by its means, to pure self-intuition, to self-consciousness. Hence we have the successive stages of nature, in which all the stations of the mind in its way to self-consciousness are externally established. It is especially in the organic world that the mind can behold its own self-production. Hence, in every thing organic, there is something symbolical, every plant bears some feature of the soul. The chief characteristics of an organic formation,-the self-forming process from within outwards, the conformity to some end, the change of interpenetration of form and matter-are equally chief features of the mind. Since now there exists in our mind an endless striving to organize itself, so there must also be manifested in the external world a universal tendency to organization. The whole universe may thus be called a kind of organization which has formed itself from a centre, rising ever from a lower to a higher stage. From such a point of view, the natural philosopher will make it his chief effort to bring to a unity in his contemplations that life of nature, which by many researches into physical science had been separated into numberless different powers. "It is a needless trouble which many have given themselves, to show how very different is the working of fire and electricity, for every one knows this who has ever seen or heard of the two. But our mind strives after unity in the system of its knowledge; it will not endure that there should be pressed upon it a separate principle for every single phenomenon, and it will only believe that it sees nature where it can discover the greatest simplicity of laws in the greatest multiplicity of phenomena, and the highest frugality of means in the highest prodigality of effects. Therefore, every thought, even that which is now rough and crude, merits attention so soon as it tends towards the simplifying of principles, and if it serves no other end, it at least strengthens the impulse to investigate and trace out the hidden process of nature." The special tendency of the scientific investigation of nature which prevailed at that time, was to make a duality of forces the predominant element in the life of nature. In mechanics, the Kantian theory of the opposition of attraction and repulsion was adopted; in chemistry, by apprehending electricity as positive and negative, its phenomenon was brought near that of magnetism; in physiology there was the opposition of irritability and sensibility, &c. In opposition to these dualities, Sch.e.l.ling now insisted upon the unity of every thing opposite, the unity of all dualities, and this not simply as an abstract unity, but as a concrete ident.i.ty, as the harmonious co-working of the heterogeneous. The world is the actual unity of a positive and a negative principle, "and these two conflicting forces taken together, or represented in their conflict, lead to the idea of an organizing principle which makes of the world a system, in other words, to the idea of a world-soul."

In his above-cited essay on "_the world-soul_," Sch.e.l.ling took the great step forward of apprehending nature as entirely autonomic. In the world-soul nature has a peculiar principle which dwells within it, and works according to conception. In this way the objective world was recognized as the independent life of nature in a manner which the logical idealism of Fichte would not permit. Sch.e.l.ling proceeded still farther in this direction, and distinguished definitely, as the two sides of philosophy, the philosophy of nature and a transcendental philosophy. By placing a philosophy of nature by the side of idealism, Sch.e.l.ling pa.s.sed decidedly beyond the standpoint of science, and we thus enter a second stadium of his philosophizing, though his method still remained that of Fichte, and he continued to believe that he was speculating in the spirit of the _Theory of Science_.


This standpoint of Sch.e.l.ling is chiefly carried out in the following works:-"_First Draft of a System of Natural Philosophy_," 1799; an introduction to this, 1799; articles in the "_Journal of Speculative Physics_," 1800, 1801; "_System of Transcendental Idealism_," 1800.

Sch.e.l.ling thus distinguishes the two sides of philosophy. All knowledge rests upon the harmony of a subject with an object. That which is simply objective is natural, and that which is simply subjective is the Ego or intelligence. There are two possible ways of uniting these two sides: we may either make nature first, and inquire how it is that intelligence is a.s.sociated with it (natural philosophy); or we may make the subject first, and inquire how do objects proceed from the subject (transcendental philosophy). The end of all philosophy must be to make either an intelligence out of nature, or a nature out of intelligence.

As the transcendental philosophy has to subject the real to the ideal, so must natural philosophy attempt to explain the ideal from the real.

Both, however, are only the two poles of one and the same knowledge which reciprocally attract each other; hence, if we start from either pole, we are necessarily drawn towards the other.

1. NATURAL PHILOSOPHY.-To philosophize concerning nature is, in a certain sense, to create nature-to raise it from the dead mechanism in which it had seemed confined, to inspire it with freedom, and transpose it into a properly free development. And what, then, is matter, other than mind which has become extinct? According to this view, since nature is only the visible organism of our understanding, it can produce nothing but what is conformable to a rule and an end. But you radically destroy every idea of nature just so soon as you allow its design to have come to it from without, by pa.s.sing over from the understanding of any being. The complete exhibition of the intellectual world in the laws and forms of the phenomenal world, and, on the other hand, the complete conception of these laws and forms from the intellectual world, and therefore the exhibition of the ideality of nature with the ideal world, is the work of natural philosophy. Immediate experience is indeed its starting point; we know originally nothing except through experience; but just as soon as I gain an insight into the inner necessity of a principle of experience, it becomes a principle apriori. Natural philosophy is empiricism extended until it becomes absolute.

Sch.e.l.ling expresses himself as follows, concerning the chief principles of a philosophy of nature. Nature is a suspension (_Schweben_) between productivity and product, which is always pa.s.sing over into definite forms and products, just as it is always productively pa.s.sing beyond these. This suspension indicates a duality of principles, through which nature is held in a constant activity, and hindered from exhausting itself in its products. A universal duality is thus the principle of every explanation of nature; it is the first principle of a philosophic theory of nature, to end in all nature with polarity and dualism. On the other hand, the final cause of all our contemplation of nature is to know that absolute unity which comprehends the whole, and which suffers only one side of itself to be known in nature. Nature is, as it were, the instrument of this absolute unity, through which it eternally executes and actualizes that which is prefigured in the absolute understanding. The whole absolute is therefore cognizable in nature, though phenomenal nature only exhibits in a succession, and produces in an endless development, that which the true or real nature eternally possesses. Sch.e.l.ling treats of natural philosophy in three sections: (1) the proof that nature, in its original products, is _organic_; (2) the conditions of an _inorganic_ nature; (3) the reciprocal determination of organic and inorganic nature.

(1.) _Organic nature_ Sch.e.l.ling thus deduces: Nature absolutely apprehended is nothing other than infinite activity, infinite productivity. If this were unhindered in expressing itself, it would at once, with infinite celerity, produce an absolute product, which would allow no explanation for empirical nature. If this latter may be explained-if there may be finite products, we must consider the productive activity of nature as restrained by an opposite, a r.e.t.a.r.ding activity, which lies in nature itself. Thus arises a series of finite products. But since the absolute productivity of nature tends towards an absolute product, these individual products are only apparent ones, beyond each one of which nature herself advances, in order to satisfy the absoluteness of her inner productivity through an infinite series of individual products. In this eternal producing of finite products, nature shows itself as a living antagonism of two opposite forces, a productive and a r.e.t.a.r.ding tendency. And, indeed, the working of this latter is infinitely manifold; the original productive impulse of nature has not only to combat a simple restraint, but it must struggle with an infinity of reactions, which may be called original qualities. Hence every organic being is the permanent expression for a conflict of reciprocally destroying and limiting actions of nature. And from this, viz., from the original limitation and infinite restraint of the formative impulse of nature, we see the reason why every organization, instead of attaining to an absolute product, only reproduces itself _ad infinitum_. Upon this rests the special significance for the organic world, of the distinction of s.e.x. The distinction of s.e.x fixes the organic products of nature, it restrains them within their own processes of development, and suffers them only to produce the same again. But in this production nature has no regard for the individual, but only for the species. The individual is contrary to nature; nature desires the absolute, and its constant effort is to represent this. Individual products, therefore, in which the activity of nature is brought to a stand, can only be regarded as abortive attempts to represent the absolute. Hence the individual must be the means, and the species the end of nature. Just so soon as the species is secured, nature abandons the individuals and labors for their destruction. Sch.e.l.ling divides the dynamic scale of organic nature according to the three grand functions of the organic world: (_a_) Formative impulse (reproductive energy); (_b_) Irritability; (_c_) Sensibility. Highest in rank are those organisms in which sensibility has the preponderance over irritability; a lower rank is held by those where irritability preponderates, and lower still are those where reproduction first comes out in its entire perfection, while sensibility and irritability are almost extinct. Yet these three powers are interwoven together in all nature, and hence there is but one organization, descending through all nature from man to the plant.

(2.) _Inorganic nature_ offers the ant.i.thesis to organic. The existence and essence of inorganic nature are conditioned through the existence and essence of organic nature. While the powers of organic nature are productive, those of inorganic nature are not productive. While organic nature aims only to establish the species, inorganic nature regards only the individual, and offers no reproduction of the species through the individual. It possesses a great mult.i.tude of materials, but can only use these materials in the way of conjoining or separating. In a word, inorganic nature is simply a ma.s.s held together by some external cause as gravity. Yet it, like organic nature, has its gradations. The power of reproduction in the latter has its counterpart in the chemical process in the former; that which in the one case is irritability, in the other is electricity; and sensibility, which is the highest stage of organic life, corresponds to the universal magnetism, the highest stage of the inorganic.

(3.) _The reciprocal determination of the organic and inorganic world_, is made clear by what has already been said. The result to which every genuine philosophy of nature must come, is that the distinction between organic and inorganic nature is only in nature as object, and that nature, as originally productive, waves over both. If the functions of an organism are only possible on the condition that there is a definite external world, and an organic world, then must the external world and the organic world have a common origin. This can only be explained on the ground that inorganic nature presupposes in order to its existence a higher dynamical order of things, to which it is subject. There must be a third, which can unite again organic and inorganic nature; which can be a medium, holding the continuity between the two. Both must be identified in some ultimate cause, through which, as through one common soul of nature (world-soul), both the organic and inorganic, _i. e._ universal nature, is inspired; in some common principle, which, fluctuating between inorganic and organic nature, and maintaining the continuity of the two, contains the first cause of all changes in the one, and the ultimate ground of all activity in the other. We have here the idea of a universal organism. That it is one and the same organization which unites in one the organic and inorganic world, would appear from what has already been said of the parallel gradations of the two worlds. That which in universal nature is the cause of magnetism, is in organic nature the cause of sensibility, and the latter is only a higher potency of the former. Just as in the organic world through sensibility, so in universal nature through magnetism, there arises a duality from the ideality. In this way organic nature appears only as a higher stage of the inorganic; the very same dualism which is seen in magnetic polarity, electrical phenomena, and chemical differences, displays itself also in the organic world.

2. TRANSCENDENTAL PHILOSOPHY.-Transcendental philosophy is the philosophy of nature become subjective. The whole succession of objects thus far described, becomes now repeated as a successive development of the beholding subject. It is the peculiarity of transcendental idealism, that so soon as it is once admitted, it requires that the origin of all knowledge shall be sought for anew; that the truth which has long been considered as established, should be subjected to a new examination, and that this examination should proceed under at least an entirely new form. All parts of philosophy must be exhibited in one continuity, and the whole of philosophy must be regarded as that which it is, viz., the advancing history of consciousness, which can use only as monuments or doc.u.ments that which is laid down in experience. (Sch.e.l.ling's transcendental idealism is, in this respect, the forerunner to Hegel's _Phnomenology_, which pursues a similar course). The exhibition of this connection is properly a succession of intuitions through which the Ego raises itself to consciousness in the highest potency. Neither transcendental philosophy nor the philosophy of nature, can alone represent the parallelism between nature and intelligence; but, in order to this, both sciences must be united, the former being considered as a necessary counterpart to the other. The division of transcendental philosophy follows from its problem, to seek anew the origin of all knowledge, and to subject to a new examination every previous judgment which had been held to be established truth. The pre-judgments of the common understanding are princ.i.p.ally two: (1) That a world of objects exist independent of, and outside of, ourselves, and are represented to us just as they are. To explain this pre-judgment, is the problem of the first part of the transcendental philosophy (_theoretical philosophy_).

(2) That we can produce an effect upon the objective world according to representations which arise freely within us. The solution of this problem is _practical philosophy_. But, with these two problems we find ourselves entangled, (3) in a contradiction. How is it possible that our thought should ever rule over the world of sense, if the representation is conditional in its origin by the objective? The solution of this problem, which is the highest of transcendental philosophy, is the answer to the question: how can the representations be conceived as directing themselves according to the objects, and at the same time the objects be conceived as directing themselves according to the representations? This is only conceivable on the ground that the activity through which the objective world is produced, is originally identical with that which utters itself in the will. To show this ident.i.ty of conscious and unconscious activity, is the problem of the third part of transcendental philosophy, or the science of ends in nature and of art. The three parts of the transcendental philosophy correspond thus entirely to the three criticks of Kant.

(1.) _The theoretical philosophy_ starts from the highest principle of knowledge, the self-consciousness, and from this point developes the history of self-consciousness, according to its most prominent epochs and stations, viz., sensation, intuition, productive intuition (which produces matter)-outer and inner intuition (from which s.p.a.ce and time, and all Kant's categories may be derived), abstraction (by which the intelligence distinguishes itself from its products)-absolute abstraction, or absolute act of will. With the act of the will there is spread before us,

(2.) _The Field of Practical Philosophy._-In practical philosophy the Ego is no longer beholding, _i. e._ consciousless, but is consciously producing, _i. e._ realizing. As a whole, nature developes itself from the original act of self-consciousness, so from the second act, or the act of free self-determination, there is produced a second nature, to find the origin for which is the object of practical philosophy. In his exposition of the practical philosophy, Sch.e.l.ling follows almost wholly the theory of Fichte, but closes this section with some remarkable expressions respecting the philosophy of history. History, as a whole, is, according to him, a gradual and self-disclosing revelation of the absolute, a progressing demonstration of the existence of a G.o.d. The history of this revelation may be divided into three periods. The first is that in which the overruling power was apprehended only as destiny, _i. e._ as a blind power, cold and consciousless, which brings the greatest and most glorious things of earth to ruin; it is marked by the decay of the magnificence and wonders of the ancient world, and the fall of the n.o.blest manhood that has ever bloomed. The second period of history is that in which this destiny manifests itself as nature, and the hidden law seems changed into a manifest law of nature, which compels freedom and every choice to submit to and serve a plan of nature. This period seems to begin with the spread of the great Roman republic. The third period will be that where what has previously been regarded as destiny and nature, will develope itself as Providence. When this period shall begin, we cannot say; we can only affirm that if it be, then G.o.d will be seen also to be.

(3.) _Philosophy of Art._-The problem of transcendental philosophy is to harmonize the subjective and the objective. In history, with which practical philosophy closes, the ident.i.ty of the two is not exhibited, but only approximated in an infinite progress. But now the Ego must attain a position where it can actually look upon this ident.i.ty, which const.i.tutes its inner essence. If now all conscious activity exhibits design, then a conscious and consciousless activity can only coincide in a product, which, though it exhibits design, was yet produced without design. Such a product is nature; we have here the principle of all _teleology_, in which alone the solution of the given problem can be sought. The peculiarity of nature is this, viz., that though it exhibits itself as nothing but a blind mechanism, it yet displays design, and represents an ident.i.ty of the conscious subjective, and the consciousless objective activity; in it the Ego beholds its own most peculiar essence, which consists alone in this ident.i.ty. But in nature the Ego beholds this ident.i.ty, not as something objective, which has a being only outside of it, but also as that whose principle lies within the Ego itself. This beholding is the art-intuition. As the production of nature is consciousless, though similar to that which is conscious, so the aesthetic production of the artist is a conscious production, similar to that which is consciousless. _aesthetics_ must therefore be joined to teleology. That contradiction between the conscious and the consciousless, which moves forward untiringly in history, and which is unconsciously reconciled in nature, finds its conscious reconciliation in a work of art. In a work of art, the intelligence attains a perfect intuition of itself. The feeling which accompanies this intuition, is the feeling of an endless satisfaction; all contradictions being resolved, and every riddle explained. The unknown, which unexpectedly harmonizes the objective and the conscious activity, is nothing other than that absolute and unchangeable ident.i.ty, to which every existence must be referred. In the artist it lays aside the veil, which elsewhere surrounds it, and irresistibly impels him to complete his work. Thus there is no other eternal revelation but art, and this is also the miracle which should convince us of the reality of that supreme, which is never itself objective, but is the cause of all objective. Hence art holds a higher rank than philosophy, for only in art has the intellectual intuition objectivity. There is nothing, therefore, higher to the philosopher than art, because this opens before him, as it were, the holy of holies, where that which is separate in nature and history, and which in life and action, as in thought, must ever diverge, burns, as it were, in one flame, in an eternal and original union. From this we see also both the fact and the reason for it, that philosophy, as philosophy, can never be universally valid. Art is that alone to which is given, an absolute objectivity, and it is through this alone that nature, consciously productive, concludes and completes itself within itself.

The "_Transcendental Idealism_" is the last work which Sch.e.l.ling wrote after the method of Fichte. In its principle he goes decidedly beyond the standpoint of Fichte. That which was with Fichte the inconceivable limit of the Ego, Sch.e.l.ling derives as a necessary duality, from the simple essence of the Ego. While Fichte had regarded the union of subject and object, only as an infinite progression towards that which ought to be, Sch.e.l.ling looked upon it as actually accomplished in a work of art. With Fichte G.o.d was apprehended only as the object of a moral faith, but with Sch.e.l.ling he was looked upon as the immediate object of the aesthetic intuition. This difference between the two could not long be concealed from Sch.e.l.ling. He was obliged to see that he no longer stood upon the basis of subjective idealism, but that his real position was that of objective idealism. If he had already gone beyond Fichte in setting the philosophy of nature and transcendental philosophy opposite to each other, it was perfectly consistent for him now to go one step farther, and, placing himself on the point of indifference between the two, make the ident.i.ty of the ideal and the real, of thought and being, as his principle. This principle _Spinoza_ had already possessed before him. To this philosophy of ident.i.ty Sch.e.l.ling now found himself peculiarly attracted. Instead of following Fichte's method, he now availed himself of that of Spinoza, the mathematical, to which he ascribed the greatest evidence of proof.


The princ.i.p.al writings of this period are:-"_Exposition of my System of Philosophy_" (Journal for Speculative Physics, ii. 2); the second edition, with additions, of the "_Ideas for a Philosophy of Nature_"

1803; the dialogue, "_Bruno, or concerning the Divine and the Natural Principle of Things_" 1802; "_Lectures on the Method of Academical Study_," 1803; three numbers of a "_New Journal for Speculative Physics_," 1802-3. The characteristic of the new standpoint of Sch.e.l.ling, to which we now arrive, is perfectly exhibited in the definition of reason, which he places at the head of the first of the above-named writings; I give to reason the name absolute, or the reason in so far as it is conceived as the total _indifference of the subjective and the objective_. To think of reason is demanded of every man; to think of it as absolute, and thus to reach the standpoint which I require, every thing must be abstracted from the thinking subject. To him who makes this abstraction, reason immediately ceases to be something subjective, as most men represent it; neither can it be conceived as something objective, since an objective, or that which is thought, is only possible in opposition to that which thinks. We thus rise through this abstraction to the reality of things (_zum wahren an-sich_), which reality is precisely in the indifference point of the subjective and the objective. The standpoint of philosophy is the standpoint of reason; its knowledge is a knowledge of things as they are in themselves, _i. e._ as they are in the reason. It is the nature of philosophy to destroy every distinction which the imagination has mingled with the thinking, and to see in things only that through which they express the absolute reason, not regarding in them that which is simply an object for that reflection which expends itself on the laws of mechanism and in time. Besides reason there is nothing, and in it is every thing. Reason is the absolute. All objections to this principle can only arise from the fact, that men are in the habit of looking at things not as they are in reason, but as they appear. Every thing which is, is in essence like the reason, and is one with it. It is not the reason which posits something external to itself, but only the false use of reason, which is connected with the incapacity of forgetting the subjective in itself. The reason is absolutely _one_ and like itself.

The highest law for the being of reason, and since there is nothing besides reason, the highest law for all being, is the law of ident.i.ty.

Between subject and object therefore-since it is one and the same absolute ident.i.ty which displays itself in both-there can be no difference except a _quant.i.tative_ difference (a difference of more or less), so that nothing is either simple object or simple subject, but in all things subject and object are united, this union being in different proportions, so that sometimes the subject and sometimes the object has the preponderance. But since the absolute is pure ident.i.ty of subject and object, there can be no quant.i.tative difference except outside of the ident.i.ty, _i. e._ in the finite. As the fundamental form of the Infinite is A = A, so the scheme of the finite is A = B (_i. e._ the union of a subjective with another objective in a different proportion).

But, in reality, nothing is finite, because the ident.i.ty is the only reality. So far as there is difference in individual things, the ident.i.ty exists in the form of indifference. If we could see together every thing which is, we should find in all the pure ident.i.ty, because we should find in all a perfect quant.i.tative equilibrium of subjectivity and objectivity. True, we find, in looking at individual objects, that sometimes the preponderance is on one side and sometimes on the other, but in the whole this is compensated. The absolute ident.i.ty is the absolute totality, the universe itself. There is in reality (_an-sich_) no individual being or thing. There is in reality nothing beyond the totality; and if any thing beyond this is beheld, this can only happen by virtue of arbitrary separation of the individual from the whole, which is done through reflection, and is the source of every error. The absolute ident.i.ty is essentially the same in every part of the universe.

Hence the universe may be conceived under the figure of a line, in the centre of which is the A = A, while at the end on one side is A? = B, _i.

e._ a transcendence of the subjective, and at the end on the other side is A = B?, _i. e._ a transcendence of the objective, though this must be conceived so that a relative ident.i.ty may exist even in these extremes. The one side is the real or nature, the other side is the ideal. The real side developes itself according to three potences (a potence, or power, indicates a definite quant.i.tative difference of subjectivity and objectivity). (1) The first potence is matter and weight-the greatest preponderance of the object. (2) The second potence is light (A), an inner-as weight is an outer-intuition of nature. The light is a higher rising of the subjective. It is the absolute ident.i.ty itself. (3) The third potence is organism (A), the common product of light and weight. Organism is just as original as matter. Inorganic nature, as such, does not exist: it is actually organized, and is, as it were, the universal germ out of which organization proceeds. The organization of every globe is but the inner evolution of the globe itself; the earth itself, by its own evolving, becomes animal and plant.

The organic world has not formed itself out of the inorganic, but has been at least potentially present in it from the beginning. That matter which lies before us, apparently inorganic, is the residuum of organic metamorphoses, which could not become organic. The human brain is the highest bloom of the whole organic metamorphosis of the earth. From the above, Sch.e.l.ling adds, it must be perceived that we affirm an inner ident.i.ty of all things, and a potential presence of every thing in every other, and therefore even the so-called dead matter may be viewed only as a sleeping-world of animals and plants, which, in some period, the absolute ident.i.ty may animate and raise to life. At this point Sch.e.l.ling stops suddenly, without developing further the three potences of the ideal series, corresponding to those of the real. Elsewhere he completes the work by setting up the following three potences of the ideal series: (1) Knowledge, the potence of reflection; (2) Action, the potence of subsumption; (3) the Reason as the unity of reflection and subsumption.

These three potences represent themselves: (1) as the true, the imprinting of the matter in the form; (2) as the good, or the imprinting of the form in the matter; (3) as the beautiful, or the work of art, the absolute blending together of form and matter.

Sch.e.l.ling sought also to furnish himself with a new method for knowing the absolute ident.i.ty. Neither the a.n.a.lytic nor the synthetical method seems to him suitable for this, since both are only a finite knowledge.

Gradually, also, he abandoned the mathematical method. The logical forms of the ordinary method of knowledge, and even the ordinary metaphysical categories, were now insufficient for him. Sch.e.l.ling now places the intellectual intuition as the starting point of true knowledge.

Intuition, in general, is an equal positing of thought and being. When I behold an object, the being of the object and my thought of the object is for me absolutely the same. But in the ordinary intuition, some separate sensible being is posited as one with the thought. But in the intellectual or rational intuition, being in general, and every being is made identical with the thought, and the absolute _subject-object_ is beheld. The intellectual intuition is absolute knowledge, and as such it can only be conceived as that in which thought and being are not opposed to each other. It is the beginning and the first step towards philosophy to behold, immediately and intellectually within thyself, that same indifference of the ideal and the real which thou beholdest projected as it were from thyself in s.p.a.ce and time. This absolutely absolute mode of knowledge is wholly and entirely in the absolute itself. That it can never become taught is clear. It cannot, moreover, be seen why philosophy is bound to have special regard to the unattainable. It seems much more fitting to make so complete a separation on every side between the entrance to philosophy and the common knowledge, that no road nor track shall lead from the latter to the former. The absolute mode of knowledge, like the truth which it contains, has no true opposition outside of itself, and as it cannot be demonstrated by any intelligent being, so nothing can be set up in opposition to it by any.-Sch.e.l.ling has attempted to bring the intellectual intuition into a method, and has named this method construction. The possibility and the necessity of the constructive method is based upon the fact that the absolute is in all, and that all is the absolute. Construction is nothing other than the proving that the whole is absolutely expressed in every particular relation and object. To construe an object, philosophically, is to prove that in this object the whole inner structure of the absolute repeats itself.

In Sch.e.l.ling's "_Lectures on the Method of Academical Study_" (delivered in 1802, and published in 1803), he sought to treat encyclopaediacally, every philosophical discipline from the given standpoint of ident.i.ty or indifference. They furnish a connected and popular exposition of the outlines of his philosophy, in the form of a critical modelling of the studies of the university course. The most noticeable feature in them is Sch.e.l.ling's attempt at a historical construction of Christianity. The incarnation of G.o.d is an incarnation from eternity. The eternal Son of G.o.d, born from the essence of the father of all things, is the finite itself, as it is in the eternal intuition of G.o.d. Christ is only the historical and phenomenal pinnacle of the incarnation; as an individual, he is a person wholly conceivable from the circ.u.mstances of the age in which he appeared. Since G.o.d is eternally outside of all time, it is inconceivable that he should have a.s.sumed a human nature at any definite moment of time. The temporal form of Christianity, the exoteric Christianity does not correspond to its idea, and has its perfection yet to be hoped for. A chief hindrance to the perfection of Christianity, was, and is the so-called Bible, which, moreover, is far inferior to other religious writings, in a genuine religious content. The future must bring a new birth of the esoteric Christianity, or a new and higher form of religion, in which philosophy, religion and poesy shall melt together in unity.-This latter remark contains already an intimation of the "_Philosophy of Revelation_," a work subsequently written by Sch.e.l.ling, and which exhibited many of the principles current in the age of the apostle John. In the work we are now considering, there are also many other points which correspond to this later standpoint of Sch.e.l.ling. Thus he places at the summit of history a kind of golden age.

It is inconceivable, he says, that man as he now appears, should have raised himself through himself from instinct to consciousness, from animality to rationality. Another human race, must, therefore, have preceded the present, which the old saga have immortalized under the form of G.o.ds and heroes. The first origin of religion and culture is only conceivable through the instruction of higher natures. I hold the condition of culture as the first condition of the human race, and considere the first foundation of states, sciences, religion and arts as cotemporary, or rather as one thing: so that all these were not truly separate, but in the completest interpenetration, as it will be again in the final consummation. Sch.e.l.ling is no more than consistent when he accordingly apprehends the symbols of mythology which we meet with at the beginning of history, as disclosures of the highest wisdom. There is here also a step towards his subsequent "_Philosophy of Mythology_."

The mystical element revealed in these expressions of Sch.e.l.ling gained continually a greater prominence with him. Its growth was partly connected with his fruitless search after an absolute method, and a fitting form in which he might have satisfactorily expressed his philosophic intuitions. All n.o.ble mysticism rests on the incapacity of adequately expressing an infinite content in the form of a conception.

So Sch.e.l.ling, after he had been restlessly tossed about in every method, soon gave up also his method of construction, and abandoned himself wholly to the unlimited current of his fancy. But though this was partly the cause of his mysticism, it is also true that his philosophical standpoint was gradually undergoing a change. From the speculative science of nature, he was gradually pa.s.sing over more and more into the philosophy of mind, by which the determination of the absolute in his conception became changed. While he had previously determined the absolute as the indifference of the ideal and the real, he now gives a preponderance to the ideal over the real, and makes ideality the fundamental determination of the absolute. The first is the ideal; secondly, the ideal determines itself in itself to the real, and the real as such is the third. The earlier harmony of mind and matter is dissolved: matter appears now as the negative of mind. Since Sch.e.l.ling in this way distinguishes the universe from the absolute as its counterpart, we see that he leaves decidedly the basis of Spinozism on which he had previously stood, and places himself on a new standpoint.


The writings of this period are:-"_Philosophy and Religion_," 1804.

"_Exposition of the true relation of the Philosophy of Nature to the improved Theory of Fichte_," 1806; "_Medical Annual_" (published in company with _Marcus_) 1805-1808.-As has already been said, the absolute and the universe were, on the standpoint of indifference, identical.

Nature and history were immediate manifestations of the absolute. But now Sch.e.l.ling lays stress upon the difference between the two, and the independence of the world. This he expresses in a striking way in the first of the above named writings, by placing the origin of the world wholly after the manner of New-Platonism, in a breaking away or a falling off from the absolute. From the absolute to the actual, there is no abiding transition; the origin of the sensible world is only conceivable as a complete breaking off _per saltum_ from the absolute.

The absolute is the only real, finite things are not real; they can, therefore, have their ground in no reality imparted to them from the absolute, but only in a separation and complete falling away from the absolute. The reconciliation of this fall, and the manifestation of G.o.d made complete, is the final cause of history. With this idea there are also connected other representations borrowed from New-Platonism, which Sch.e.l.ling brings out in the same work. He speaks in it of the descent of the soul from intellectuality, to the world of sense, and like the Platonic myth he allows this fall of souls to be a punishment for their selfhood (pride); he speaks also in connection with this of a regeneration, or transmigration of souls, by which they either begin a higher life on a better sphere, or intoxicated with matter, they are driven down to a still lower abode, according as they have in the present life laid aside more or less of their selfhood, and become purified in a greater or less degree, to an ident.i.ty with the infinite; but we are especially reminded of New-Platonism by the high place and the mystical and symbolical significance, which Sch.e.l.ling gives in this work to the Greek mysteries (as did Bruno), and the view that if religion would be held in its pure ideality, it can only exist as exoteric, or in the form of mysteries.-This notion of a higher blending together of religion and philosophy goes through all the writings of this period. All true experience, says Sch.e.l.ling in the "_Medical Annual_," is religious. The existence of G.o.d is an empirical truth, and the ground of all experience. True, religion is not philosophy, but the philosophy which does not unite in sacred harmony, religion with science, were unworthy of the name. True, I know something higher than science. And if science has only these two ways open before it to knowledge, viz., that of a.n.a.lysis or abstraction, and that of synthetic derivation, then we deny all science of the absolute. Speculation is every thing, _i. e._ a beholding, a contemplation of that which is in G.o.d. Science itself has worth only so far as it is speculative, _i. e._ only so far as it is a contemplation of G.o.d as he is. But the time will come when the sciences shall more and more cease, and immediate knowledge take their place. The mortal eye closes only in the highest science, where it is no longer the man who sees, but the eternal beholding which has now become seeing in him.

With this theosophic view of the world, Sch.e.l.ling was led to pay attention to the earlier mystics. He began to study their writings. He answered the charge of mysticism in his controversy with Fichte as follows:-Among the learned of the last century, there was a tacit agreement never to go beyond a certain height, and, therefore, the genuine spirit of science was given up to the unlearned. These, because they were uneducated and had drawn upon themselves the jealousy of the learned, were called fanatics. But many a philosopher by profession might well have exchanged all his rhetoric for the fulness of mind and heart which abound in the writings of such fanatics. Therefore I am not ashamed of the name of such a fanatic. I will even seek to make this reproach true; if I have not hitherto studied the writings of these men correctly, it has been owing to negligence.

Sch.e.l.ling did not omit to verify these words. There were some special mental affinities between himself and _Jacob Boehme_, with whom he now became more and more closely joined. A study of his writings is indeed indicated in Sch.e.l.ling's works of the present period. One of the most famous of Sch.e.l.ling's writings, his theory of freedom, which appeared after this ("_Philosophische Untersuchungen uber das Wesen der menschlichen Freiheit_," 1809), is composed entirely in the spirit of Jacob Boehme. We begin with it a new period of Sch.e.l.ling's philosophizing, where _the will_ is affirmed as the essence of G.o.d, and we have thus a new definition of the absolute differing from every previous one.


Sch.e.l.ling had much in common with Jacob Boehme. Both considered the speculative cognition as a kind of immediate intuition. Both made use of forms which mingled the abstract and the sensuous, and interpenetrated the definiteness of logic with the coloring of fancy. Both, in fine, were speculatively in close contact. The self-duplication of the absolute was a fundamental thought of Boehme. He started with the principle, that the divine essence was the indeterminable, infinite, and inconceivable, the absence of ground (_Ungrund_). This absence of ground now projects itself in a proper feeling of its abstract and infinite essence, into the finite, _i. e._ into a ground, or the centre of nature, in the dark womb of which qualities are produced, from whose harsh collision the lightning streams forth, which, as mind or principle of light, is destined to rule and explain the struggling powers of nature, so that the G.o.d who has been raised from the absence of ground through a ground to the light of the mind, may henceforth move in an eternal kingdom of joy. This theogony of Jacob Boehme is in striking accord with the present standpoint of Sch.e.l.ling. As Boehme had apprehended the absolute as the indeterminable absence of ground, so had Sch.e.l.ling in his earlier writings apprehended it as indifference. As Boehme had distinguished this absence of ground from a ground, or from nature and from G.o.d, as the light of minds, so had Sch.e.l.ling, in the writings of the last period, apprehended the absolute as a self-renunciation, and a return back from this renunciation into a higher unity with itself. We have here the three chief elements of that history of G.o.d, around which Sch.e.l.ling's essay on freedom turns: (1) G.o.d as indifference, or the absence of ground; (2) G.o.d as duplication into ground and existence, real and ideal; (3) Reconciliation of this duplication, and elevation of the original indifference to ident.i.ty. The first element of the divine life is that of pure indifference, or indistinguishableness. This, which precedes every thing existing, may be called the original ground, or the absence of ground. The absence of ground is not a product of opposites, nor are they contained _implicite_ in it, but it is a proper essence separate from every opposite, and having no predicate but that of predicatelessness. Real and ideal, darkness and light, can never be predicated of the absence of ground as opposites; they can only be affirmed of it as not-opposites in a neither-nor. From this indifference now rises the duality: the absence of ground separates into two co-eternal beginnings, so that ground and existence may become one through love, and the indeterminable and lifeless indifference may rise to a determinate and living ident.i.ty.

Since nothing is before or external to G.o.d, he must have the ground of his existence in himself. But this ground is not simply logical, as conception, but real, as something which is actually to be distinguished in G.o.d from existence; it is nature in G.o.d, an essence inseparable indeed from him, but yet distinct. Hence we cannot a.s.sign to this ground understanding and will, but only desire after this; it is the longing to produce itself. But in that this ground moves in its longing according to obscure and uncertain laws like a swelling sea, there is, self-begotten in G.o.d, another and reflexive motion, an inner representation by which he beholds himself in his image. This representation is the eternal word in G.o.d, which rises as light in the darkness of the ground, and endows its blind longing with understanding.

This understanding, united with the ground, becomes pre-creating will.

Its work is to give order to nature, and to regulate the hitherto unregulated ground; and from this explanation of the real through the ideal, comes the creation of the world. The development of the world has two stadia: (1) the travail of light, or the progressive development of nature to man; (2) the travail of mind, or the development of mind in history.

(1.) The progressive development of nature proceeds from a conflict of the ground with the understanding. The ground originally sought to produce every thing solely from itself, but its products had no consistence without the understanding, and went again to the ground, a creation which we see exhibited in the extinct cla.s.ses of animals and plants of the pre-Adamite world. But consecutively and gradually, the ground admitted the work of the understanding, and every such step towards light is indicated by a new cla.s.s of nature's beings. In every creature of nature we must, therefore, distinguish two principles: first, the obscure principle through which the creatures of nature are separate from G.o.d, and have a particular will; second, the divine principle of the understanding, of the universal will. With irrational creatures of nature, however, these two principles are not yet brought to unity; but the particular will is simple seeking and desire, while the universal will, without the individual will, reigns as an external power of nature, as controlling instinct.

(2.) The two principles, the particular and the universal will, are first united in man as they are in the absolute: but in G.o.d they are united inseparably, and in man separably, for otherwise G.o.d could not reveal himself in man. It is even this separableness of the universal will, and the particular will, which makes good and evil possible. The good is the subjection of the particular will to the universal will, and the reverse of this right relation is evil. Human freedom consists in this possibility of good and evil. The empirical man, however, is not free, but his whole empirical condition is posited by a previous act of intelligence. The man must act just as he does, but is nevertheless free, because he has from eternity freely made himself that which he now necessarily is. The history of the human race is founded for the most part on the struggle of the individual will with the universal will, as the history of nature is founded on the struggle of the ground with the understanding. The different stages through which evil, as a historical power, takes its way in conflict with love, const.i.tute the periods of the world's history. Christianity is the centre of history: in Christ, the principle of love came in personal contact with incarnate evil: Christ was the mediator to reconcile on the highest stage the creation with G.o.d; for that which is personal can alone redeem the personal. The end of history is the reconciliation of the particular will and love, the prevalence of the universal will, so that G.o.d shall be all in all.

The original indifference is thus elevated to ident.i.ty.

Sch.e.l.ling has given a farther justification of this his idea of G.o.d, in his controversial pamphlet against Jacobi, (1812). The charge of naturalism which Jacobi made against him, he sought to refute by showing how the true idea of G.o.d was a union of naturalism and theism.

Naturalism seeks to conceive of G.o.d as ground of the world (immanent), while theism would view him as the world's cause (transcendent): the true course is to unite both determinations. G.o.d is at the same time ground and cause. It no way contradicts the conception of G.o.d to affirm that, so far as he reveals himself, he developes himself from himself, advancing from the imperfect to the perfect: the imperfect is in fact the perfect itself, only in a state of becoming. It is necessary that this becoming should be by stages, in order that the fulness of the perfect may appear on all sides. If there were no obscure ground, no nature, no negative principle in G.o.d, we could not speak of a consciousness of G.o.d. So long as the G.o.d of modern theism remains the simple essence which ought to be purely essential, but which in fact is without essence, so long as an actual twofoldness is not recognized in G.o.d, and a limiting and denying energy (a nature, a negative principle) is not placed in opposition to the extending and affirming energy in G.o.d, so long will science be ent.i.tled to make its denial of a personal G.o.d. It is universally and essentially impossible to conceive of a being with consciousness, which has not been brought into limit by some denying energy within himself-as universally and essentially impossible as to conceive of a circle without a centre.

VI. Since the essay against Jacobi, which in its philosophical content accords mainly with his theory of freedom, Sch.e.l.ling has not made public any thing of importance. He has often announced a work ent.i.tled "_Die Weltalter_," which should contain a complete and elaborate exposition of his philosophy, but has always withdrawn it before its appearance.

_Paulus_ has surrept.i.tiously brought his later Berlin lectures before the public in a manner for which he has been greatly blamed: but since this publication is not recognized by Sch.e.l.ling himself, it cannot be used as an authentic source of knowledge of his philosophy. During this long period, Sch.e.l.ling has published only two articles of a philosophical content: "_On the Deities of Samothracos_," 1815, and a "_Critical Preface_" to _Becker's_ translation of a preface of _Cousin_, 1834. Both articles are very characteristic of the present standpoint of Sch.e.l.ling's philosophizing-he himself calls his present philosophy _Positive Philosophy, or the Philosophy of Mythology and Revelation_,-but as they give only intimations of this, and do not reach a complete exposition, they do not admit of being used for our purpose.

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A History of Philosophy in Epitome Part 15 summary

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