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that task, they also had to know both what the various resources of their
The ±·°s: H¨lderlin, Novalis, Schleiermacher, Schlegel ±·
o
domain were and how best to exploit them. This led them, in turn, to
establish various administrative agencies that would, supposedly on the
basis of enlightened thought, rationalize the production of revenue that
they needed to pursue their ever expanding princely ambitions. The tra-
ditional rights of the guilds or of the nobility itself thus stood in the way of
these ambitious princes and their administrative cohorts always seeking
to squeeze more money out of their Land™s economy, and, as more of the
economy came under princely control, the lion™s share of “middle-class”
jobs available to young men came by and large to be lodged in the
prince™s administration, and one obviously had to keep faith with the
prince if one was to keep one™s job or advance in one™s career.
All of this, for Novalis, represented “Europe”: a secularized, machine-
like set of states aimed at rationalizing all forms of economic life in order
to wring more funds from the populace for the sake of princely ambition,
in which culture itself came to be under princely control and therefore
subject to the same kind of economic evaluation. To counter this, he
proposed an alternative: an idealized “Christendom” of the Middle Ages,
in which the “hometowns” were not under attack, rights were protected
by virtue of the guilds and associations to which one belonged, and there
was a unity of purpose at work in the religious life of the people that
went beyond what any “prince” could decree. In short, there was (and,
by implication, should be) a form of life that insulated individuals from the
state, cloaking them in various forms of legal and non-legal protections
from the all-intruding gaze of the princes. “Europe” was far from this
ideal, being only a collection of sovereign states; “Christendom,” on the
other hand, had been (or, more importantly, would be) a set of states held
together by something other than the imperatives of state power, namely,
those having to do with “religion,” with what all of the early Romantics
called the “in¬nite.”
In Novalis™s telling of his odd fairy tale about the Middle Ages, the
decline from such a uni¬ed “Catholic” “ or what he likes to call “truly
Catholic or truly Christian times”µ “ into a fragmented “Protestant”
world was inevitable. “Humanity,” he says, “was not mature enough, not
cultivated enough for this splendid kingdom.”µ The inevitable result was
Protestantism, followed by enlightened philology (as soon as the study of
the Bible as a text became more important than religion as a form of life),
and, in short order, the enlightened rule of ef¬cient administration had
taken over all of life, turning “the in¬nite creative music of the universe
µ Novalis, “Christendom or Europe,” in Hardenberg, Novalis: Philosophical Writings, p. ±.
µ Ibid., p. ±.
± Part II The revolution continued: post-Kantians
into the uniform clattering of a monstrous mill, driven by the stream of
chance and ¬‚oating on it, a mill of itself without builder or miller . . . really
a mill grinding itself.”µ
Novalis™s fairy tale thus replays the Christian myth of initial paradise
and inevitable fall (based on a new self-awareness and knowledge of the
world and oneself); the issue for Novalis was, therefore, whether it would
be possible to stage any kind of “return” to paradise while preserving such
self-knowledge. Novalis notes (dripping with irony) that, at ¬rst, it looked
as if the Jesuit order might restore the lost paradise, since, as the “mother
of what are called secret societies,” they sought to “make it the most
pressing duty of Catholic Christendom to stamp out these heretics most
cruelly as authentic comrades-in-arms of the devil,” but they, too, failed
to “endure forever,” since, in fact, as artifacts of the modern experience
and possessed of heightened learning and self-consciousness, they got
themselves dissolved by the pope himself.µµ
The only true hope lies in an idealized “Germany,” in which the
“German is educating himself with all diligence to participate in a higher
cultural epoch,” of which we now only have hints, but which, when ac-
tualized, will issue forth in a “universal individuality, a new history, a
new humanity, the sweetest embrace of a surprised, young church and
a loving God, and the ardent conception of a new messiah in all its
thousand members at once.”µ Novalis™s point should have been clear to
his intended audience: the new philosophy of idealism (represented not
by Fichte but by Schelling), the new poetry being written by people like
himself, the new religious sensibility being promoted by Schleiermacher,
and the new modes of self-relation being explored by the Jena circle,
would be the harbingers of a new, genuinely revolutionary world, which
would produce not the restoration of the old Catholic Church, nor the
triumph of the existing Protestant Church, but something authentically
new which would ¬nally ensure the reign of virtue and true republicanism
as guided by a new and deeper form of religious response. Like Schleier-
macher, he calls this “Christian,” even though he says it consists solely of
“joy in all religion,” and in the “notion of meditation.” (The older mode
of being Christian, which had to do with “faith in Christ, his mother and
the saints” was the old Catholic faith, which, he noted, had already run
its course.µ· )
No doubt to Novalis™s astonishment, the response to his article when
he presented it to the Jena circle in ±· was more or less stunned disbelief

µ µµ µ µ·
Ibid., p. ±. Ibid., p. ±. Ibid., p. ±. Ibid., p. ±µ±.
The ±·°s: H¨lderlin, Novalis, Schleiermacher, Schlegel ±
o
that he could even entertain the very thought of restoring Catholicism
and the old society of orders. On the one hand, he should not, how-
ever, have been surprised: the ironic undertones of the piece are subtle
enough to be entirely overlooked by anybody not explicitly looking for
them. On the other hand, though, his piece illustrated a crucial ambi-
guity in the early Romantics™ response to the rapidly changing social and
political reality around them. Whereas Kant had been heavily in¬‚uenced
by Scottish writings on morals and politics and had explicitly argued for
a “liberal” political order, the early Romantics were far less in¬‚uenced by
any Scottish or English conceptions. If anything, they tended in particular
to hold English views in contempt as crude, philistine, purely commer-
cial, and blind therefore to the “higher” truths.µ Moreover, their own
“revolutionary” notions of the new social order were heavily colored by
the existing “hometown” structures of contemporary German life and
by the idealized memories of Germany prior to its devastation in the cen-
tury before. Thus, although they did not wish to restore the old society
of orders, they nonetheless took large elements of it as their model.
Kant™s own idea of the “ethical commonwealth” clearly served as their
inspiration, since it ¬t so well into the rather vague notions of “repub-
licanism” drifting around at the time. In that rather vague notion of
“republicanism,” the ancient notion of virtue as a form of self-sacri¬ce
was set aside, and little emphasis was put on what Kant himself had
stressed for the political realm, namely, the necessity of coercive law in
a social order ¬lled with different interests. Instead, the early Romantics
(as did many others) put front and center a more “affective” model of
social life, of virtue as love of (or at least social friendship with) one™s
fellow citizens. In a “true republic,” they held, people would be virtu-
ous, would freely and in a friendly manner cooperate with each other,
and, most importantly, the rulers would be men “ and, for Schleierma-
cher, Friedrich Schlegel, Caroline Schelling, and Dorothea Schlegel, also
women “ of both virtue and learning, who by virtue of their ethical and
cultural superiority, would clearly rise to the level of leadership.
In ±·, Friedrich Schlegel had published a review of Kant™s short
monograph, “Perpetual Peace,” published the year before. In it, Schlegel
criticized many of Kant™s positions, including Kant™s aversion to democ-
racy. Kant had argued that the proper rule of law “ that embodies in
µ Henry Crabb Robinson, a key ¬gure in the importation of Romantic ideas into Britain, reports
of his encounters with Schelling and the other members of the Jena circle in this period and of
their dismissal of the English as a shallow, commercial people. See Edith J. Morley (ed.), Crabb
Robinson in Germany: ±°°“±°µ: Extracts From His Correspondence (Oxford University Press, ±).
±·° Part II The revolution continued: post-Kantians
itself what is objectively right “ need not and should not be taken to be
equivalent to democratic rule; indeed, the rule of law could only be safe-
guarded by putting its protection beyond the rule of the mob. Schlegel
argued that, since there is always a gulf between what is truly, ultimately
right and what we, ¬nite, partial beings can establish as seeming right to
us, we can at best only “approximate” to the standards of objective right
by relying on some “¬ction” as an empirical replacement for the a priori
moral will. The will of the majority should therefore be the stand-in, the
“¬ction,” for the pure, objective will. In saying that, however, Schlegel
also displayed what was the most widely held assumption of those speak-
ing of republicanism and democracy in this period: “Of course there
is a legitimate aristocracy, a genuine patriciate, which is completely distinct
from the perverted hereditary aristocracy, whose absolute injustice has
been so satisfactorily demonstrated by Kant . . . but it is possible only in
a democratic republic” and “the reign of morality is the necessary condi-
tion of the absolute perfection (the maximum of community, freedom, and
equality) of the state, indeed even of every degree of higher political
excellence.”µ
This perfectly encapsulated the very vagueness of the concept of re-
publicanism that made it so appealing to so many. It rested ultimately
on the view that, in a republican democracy, the “people” would gather
together to select which among the best learned and most virtuous men
and women would lead them. That the “people” might elect somebody
not part of the “legitimate aristocracy” simply was outside of the bounds
of imagination for many of the early supporters of republicanism; not un-
surprisingly, as the French experience in democratic rule became more
clear to them, their ardor for republicanism itself correspondingly be-
gan to cool, and they were quickly set on the path to conclude that the
kingdom of virtue for which they had hoped was simply impracticable
in a fallen world.
The early Romantic emphasis on “love” as the solution to the problem
of individuality and otherness shaped the political responses of the Jena
circle: if “love” bound an individual to another in a way that both united
and preserved the individuality of the couple, then something like “love,”
and not coercive legal rules, should be the “ethical” bond among citizens
of a just order. Nothing was more of an anathema to the Romantics
than the give and take of a political order that rested on the crudity of
balancing competing interests.
µ Friedrich Schlegel, “The Concept of Republicanism,” in Beiser (ed. and trans.), The Early Political
Writings of the German Romantics (Cambridge University Press, ±), pp. ±°, ±°.
The ±·°s: H¨lderlin, Novalis, Schleiermacher, Schlegel ±·±
o
Novalis himself had stated these views succinctly in a short published
piece, “Faith and Love or The King and Queen” in ±·. Assuming
his familiar pose as the champion of the old order, Novalis (a Saxon)
argued that admiration of the Prussian royal family is the basis for the
Prussian state to be well ordered, since, as he put it, “the conduct of
the state depends on the public temperament (Gesinnung). The only basis
for true reform of the state is the ennobling of these temperaments.”°
The only alternative to a state in which the bonds between people are
each citizen™s noble temperament would be that of a state “governed
like a factory,” which, so Novalis went on to claim, Prussia had been
since the death of Friedrich Wilhelm I. In such an order, the ruling
principle had become that of “egoism” and “self-interest” (which forms
the “germ of the revolution of our time”± ). Only when the king and
queen are themselves models of virtue can virtue and not self-interest
become the bond between people because “the court is actually the
large-scale model of a household. The great households of the state
fashion themselves according to this, the small ones imitate these and
so on down the line.” Only the personal bond of “love” and “virtue”
(like a family) and not the disinterested bond of law and rights (like a
“factory”), seemed adequate to Novalis and his fellow Romantics; for
them, the “ethical commonwealth,” not the “political commonwealth,”
held out the greater attraction, since only in the “ethical commonwealth”
would the ideals of spontaneity and free self-relation be realized.
The unease between modern conceptions of freedom and their incor-
porations into modern institutions “ indeed, the inherent tensions and
the kinds of profound disappointments that seemed necessarily to come
in the wake of increasing modernization “ were at the center of that
generation™s experience and their articulations of it. The unease they felt
with Kant™s and Fichte™s solutions was palpable; but their refusal to go
back to the older ways was equally intense. However, their own attempt
to have it both ways “ to stress both spontaneity and responsiveness, and
to carve out an irreducible sense of individuality “ was itself to have its
own profound effects on the development of the modern experience.
° Novalis, “Faith and Love or The King and Queen,” in Hardenberg, Novalis: Philosophical Writings,
p. ±; WTB, ©©, p. . I rendered Gesinnung as “temperament” instead of “attitude” in this context;
a Gesinnung runs much deeper in one™s character than does a mere attitude. I also wanted to make
the connection to Kant™s own discussion of the issue of Gesinnung and morality more clear.
± Novalis, “Faith and Love or The King and Queen,” in Hardenberg, Novalis: Philosophical Writings,
p. ; WTB, ©©, p. °°.
 Novalis, “Faith and Love or The King and Queen,” in Hardenberg, Novalis: Philosophical Writings,
p. ±; WTB, ©©, p. .
° ·

±·µ“±°:
the Romantic appropriation of Kant (II): Schelling



¬¬©®§, °©®, ®¤ ¦©® µ§
Few people in modern philosophy rose faster in public esteem and estab-
lished a more celebrated career than F. W. J. Schelling. Born in southern
Germany, in W¨ rttemberg, in ±··µ, he was always a precocious stu-
u
dent; at the age of ¬fteen he was admitted to the Protestant Seminary at
T¨ bingen, where he shared a room with two other students who were
u
to become close friends, G. W. F. Hegel and Friedrich H¨ lderlin. (Both
o
H¨ lderlin and Hegel were ¬ve years older than Schelling.) He published
o
his ¬rst major philosophical work at the age of nineteen and, by the
time he was twenty-nine, he had published more philosophy books than
most people could even transcribe in a lifetime. By ±· (at the age of
twenty-three), Schelling became an “extraordinary” professor at Jena
and Fichte™s successor. Each year, with each new publication, Schelling™s
system seemed to change, leading Hegel later sarcastically to remark in
his Berlin lectures that Schelling had conducted his philosophical edu-
cation in public. Josiah Royce quipped that Schelling was the “prince of
the romantics.” Both Hegel and Royce were right; Schelling was ambi-
tious and experimental in temperament, sometimes a bit reckless in his
arguments, and he was continually re¬ning and testing out new ideas
and ever open to revising old ones. As one of the standard works on
Schelling™s thought puts it, Schelling™s process was always “becoming,”
never ¬nished.± Hence, any presentation of “Schelling™s philosophy” can
only be either a presentation of some time-slice of it or else display the
developmental history of a train of thought that was cut short only by
Schelling™s death.
Nonetheless, Schelling™s whole early evolving corpus until ±° was
in some basic ways based on a dominant leitmotif that was already
apparent in a letter he wrote to Hegel in February, ±·µ, in which he
± Xavier Tilliette, Schelling: Une Philosophie en Devenir (Paris: Vrin, ±·°).

±·
±·µ“±°: Schelling ±·
proudly declared to his friend that: “In the meantime I have become
a Spinozist!” and explained that as he understood things (under the
in¬‚uence of Fichte), the only real difference between idealist Kantian
systems and “dogmatic” systems had to do with their respective starting
points: “That the former takes as its starting-point the absolute I (not
yet conditioned by any object), the latter the absolute object or Not-I,”
whereas the truth of the matter has to lie in some way of reconciling those
two starting-points with each other that is nonetheless consistent with
human spontaneity and autonomy championed by Kant. Schelling thus
accepted Fichte™s way of putting the issue, but he did not think, at least at
¬rst, that the choice of starting points was simply a matter of one™s char-
acter, nor did he think that the two starting points formed an either/or
choice; both needed to be understood as different manifestations of some
one underlying “absolute” reality as Spinoza had thought. Moreover, this
renewed Spinozism had to be such so as to answer Jacobi™s doubts and
to secure the reality of human freedom; as Schelling rather exuberantly
put it in his ±·µ monograph, Of the I as the Principle of Philosophy or On the
Unconditional in Human Knowledge: “The beginning and end of all philos-
ophy is freedom!”
Schelling quickly absorbed Fichte™s reworking of Kant, and he seems
to have immediately accepted the distinction Reinhold and Fichte pop-
ularized between the “spirit” and the “letter” of Kantian philosophy.
As he repeatedly stressed in his early writings, he was simply not inter-
ested in constructing exegeses of Kantian texts; his concerns were with
getting the arguments right for the Kantian conclusions (a sentiment still
widespread among interpreters of Kant today). Schelling was quite ab-
sorbed by the three dominant issues in the confrontation with Kantian
thought during that time: Aenesidemus had put the issue of Kant™s al-
leged refutation of skepticism (that is, of Hume) front and center; both
Fichte and Aenesidemus had thrown into question the issue of things-in-
themselves; and the answer to the questions about the status of freedom
in a disenchanted natural world was considered to be still outstanding.
The issue of things-in-themselves was particularly vexing and was seen
as key to the whole issue; Salomon Maimon, an early exegete and critic
 G. W. F. Hegel, Briefe von und an Hegel (ed. Johannes Hoffmeister) (Hamburg: Felix Meiner Verlag,
±), vol. ©, no. ±°.
 F. W. J. Schelling, “Of the I as Principle of Philosophy,” Of the I as the Principle of Philosophy or On the
Unconditional in Human Knowledge, in F. W. J. Schelling, The Unconditional in Human Knowledge: Four
Early Essays (±·“±·) (trans. Fritz Marti) (Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, ±°), p. ·;
Vom Ich als Prinzip der Philosophie oder uber das Unbedingte im menschlichen Wissen, in F. W. J. Schelling,
¨
Ausgew¨ hlte Schriften (ed. Manfred Frank) (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, ±µ), ©, p. .
a
±· Part II The revolution continued: post-Kantians
of Kant™s critical philosophy had accused Kant of violating his own prin-
ciples in saying that things-in-themselves cause our sensations of them,
since causality on Kant™s view was a category restricted to appearances
and not applicable to things-in-themselves. Schelling saw, however, that
Fichte had implicitly carried this criticism one step further; what was
confusing in Kant™s own view was not simply the application of a cate-
gory of appearance to things-in-themselves “ it was the ambiguity in the
way one spoke of the “ground” of appearances in things-in-themselves.
“Ground” (Grund, in the German) could mean that things-in-themselves
caused our sensations of them; or it could mean that it was the source
of whatever reason-giving force those sensations had. As Schelling under-
stood Fichte to have argued, causes cannot be reasons, and thus, even if
it were true that things-in-themselves caused our sensations, those causes
could never offer us reasons for belief. Causality involved facts; judgments
involved norms. However, Fichtean idealism had trouble making sense
of the relation between experience as ground of belief and experience
as caused by the world, since it viewed everything as a posit by the “I”;
even the “Not-I” was itself something posited by the “I.”
In “Of the I as Principle of Philosophy” “ an essay published in ±·µ
(when he was twenty) “ Schelling posed the issue quite starkly as that
between either knowledge as a system of self-enclosed beliefs and reasons
having no contact with the world; or as some form of “foundationalism”
(as Reinhold had thought). If the only reasons for beliefs are other beliefs
and not causes, then the most we can have is “an eternal cycle of proposi-
tions, each continually and reciprocally ¬‚owing into the other, a chaos in
which no element can diverge from another,” in short, only a “spinning”
(a Kreislauf ) of the conceptual web internal to itself having “no reality.”
This seems to imply some form of “foundationalism,” one™s having to
know something basic without having to know anything else.µ How-
ever, for such a “foundation” to work, it has to be self-certifying, which
(as Fichte had argued) only leads to some form of “intellectual intuition,”
which, if of the truth, must be an intuition of an identity of thought and
being.
Schelling™s key idea was to combine his newly found Spinozism with a
rejection of what he took to be Fichte™s key error. Fichte had argued that
the basic distinction between the subjective and the objective had itself
to be either a subjective or objective distinction; and that, since ranking
 Schelling, “Of the I,” p. ·±; Vom Ich als Prinzip der Philosophie, p. µ±.
µ As Schelling puts it: “If there is any genuine knowledge at all, there must be knowledge which I
do not reach by way of some other knowledge, but through which alone all other knowledge is
possible,”Vom Ich als Prinzip der Philosophie, p. µ; “Of the I,” p. ·±.
±·µ“±°: Schelling ±·µ
it to be an objective distinction would only result in yet another form of
discredited dogmatism (in a con¬‚ation of reasons and causes), the distinc-
tion itself therefore had to be a subjective distinction, to be a distinction
that the “I” itself “posited” between itself and the “Not-I.” In fact, so
Schelling was to argue, the distinction between subjective and objective
was itself neither subjective nor objective but relative to something else,
the “absolute,” and available therefore only to a form of “intuition,” as
a way of seeing things in terms of how both subjectivity and objectivity
were points of view stemming from something deeper than themselves.
Beginning philosophy with the distinction between subjects and objects
was already starting too late in the game, and all the problems of post-
Kantian philosophy, including Aenesidemus™s skepticism, stemmed from
beginning with the subject/object division being taken for granted. Both
should be seen instead as viewpoints arising together, co-equally.
Following Fichte, the youthful Schelling thought that the unity of the
subjective and the objective had nonetheless to be an “absolute I,” which
he nevertheless interpreted in Spinozistic, non-Fichtean terms as the
expression of some underlying “absolute” reality common to both the
ordinary (“empirical”) sense of the “I” and the natural world (the “Not-I”)
that it strives to know and transform. This “absolute I” straddles the
boundary between subjective experience and the objective world, and
in intuiting the “I” in intellectual intuition, we are intuiting the basis by
which the natural world thereby manifests itself to us in our experience
and gives us reasons for belief. Only in this way does idealism escape skep-
ticism, namely, by doing away with the basic motivation for skepticism
in the ¬rst place, that picture of the world with subjective experiences on
the one side of a sharp divide and a realm of objective matters-of-fact
on the other side. Moreover, so Schelling concluded early on, since that
new picture requires an “intellectual intuition,” a new way of viewing the
problem, that aspect of philosophizing in principle cannot be a matter of
“argument” but a matter of “seeing,” of adopting a new view of things
that in effect dissolves rather than refutes the problem; or, as Schelling
expressed it: “Hence this question cannot be dissolved (aufgel¨st) except
o
in the way in which Alexander dissolved the Gordian knot, that is, by
sublating (aufzuheben) the question. Hence it is quite simply unanswer-
able, because it can be answered only in such a way that it can never
again be raised.” We must shift our pictures of ourselves from one view
to another in an act of intellectual intuition; instead of seeing ourselves
 Philosophische Briefe uber Dogmatismus und Kritizismus, pp. “µ, in Schellings Werke (ed. Manfred
¨
Schr¨ ter) (Munich: C. H. Beck and Oldenburg, ±·), vol. ±; Philosophical Letters on Dogmatism and
o
Criticism, p. ±·µ.
±· Part II The revolution continued: post-Kantians
or our experiences as separated by a boundary line between subjec-
tive and objective, we must “intuit” that in drawing such a boundary,
we are ourselves already on both sides of the dividing line, indeed, draw-
ing the boundary ourselves. This emphasis on “intuition” “ Anschauung,
“viewing,” or “seeing” “ remained with Schelling for his whole life; cen-
tral to this thought was his conviction that there was no way of ultimately
arguing for the basic ways we interpreted the world, since all forms of ar-
gument presupposed a basic “take” on the ultimate structure of things
which could not be demonstrated within that form of argument itself;
instead, at the level of basic ways of comprehending the world, we re-
solved basic problems and contradictions by learning to “see” or “view”
things “ to “intuit” them “ in a different way, to adopt a different basic
“picture” of things.
The “intellectual intuition” of the “absolute” is thus a view of our
subjective lives as united with the course of nature in such a way that
Aenesidemus™ style of skepticism simply can no longer take hold of us “
not because we have been argued out of it but because it can no longer
have any grip on the kind of person we thereby come to be once we
have adopted that new picture of ourselves. Again, as Schelling put it
in ±·µ: “We must be what we wish to call ourselves theoretically. And
nothing can convince us of being that, except our very striving to be
just that. This striving realizes our knowledge of ourselves, and thus this
knowledge becomes the pure product of our freedom. We ourselves must
have worked our way up to the point from which we want to start. People
cannot get there by arguing themselves up to that point (hinaufvern¨ nfteln),
u
·
nor can they be argued into that point by others.”
Moreover, it would seem to follow that this intellectual intuition cannot
itself be a piece of conceptual knowledge, since conceptual knowledge
has to do with the “subjective” aspect of the way in which the world
manifests itself; or, as Schelling puts it, “for the absolute cannot be me-
diated at all, hence it can never fall into the domain of demonstrable
concepts.” To bring it under concepts would mean to bring it into the
inferential sphere, which would be to threaten the whole enterprise with
just being a “spinning” of concepts with each other and perhaps to have
no connection with a reality outside of themselves.
For this to work, though, spontaneity had to be somehow at one with
receptivity in human knowledge; to be led to the point where conceptual
· Philosophische Briefe uber Dogmatismus und Kritizismus, p. ; Philosophical Letters on Dogmatism and
¨
Criticism, p. ±·.
 Vom Ich als Prinzip der Philosophie, p. ·; “Of the I,” p. ·.
±·µ“±°: Schelling ±··
argument is of no more value, Schelling concluded, is to be led “into a
region where I do not ¬nd ¬rm ground, but must produce it myself in
order to stand ¬rmly upon it.” The construction of such “¬rm ground”
cannot be given to us but must be freely, spontaneously brought forth by
us; yet, at the same time, such spontaneity must not be unhinged from
the natural world.
As Schelling worked out the implications of this view, he also began
to break gradually, then more decisively with his Fichtean beginnings.
Fichte, so he concluded, was too subjective in his approach; the “Not-I”
was simply a posit that the “I” required for its own self-consciousness.
Such a view, while emphasizing the spontaneity of the “I,” could never
do justice to the independent reality of the world. By ±··, Schelling
had worked out his own stance on these matters. The “intellectual in-
tuition” of the rational and necessary structure of the world required
philosophical re¬‚ection to go off on two “tracks” which meet only in
an “intuition,” an insight or “view” of the whole. That insight had to
bring together two different viewpoints, each of which is necessary for
our grasp of our lives as free, autonomous beings in a natural world. One
viewpoint understands us as a part of nature; the other understands us
as a self-determining being; the two together are, however, only manifes-
tations of one underlying reality, the “absolute.” In almost all of his early
writings in the ±·°s and ±°°s, Schelling appealed to Leibniz™s notion
of a “pre-established harmony” between mind and nature to make his
point, always stressing, though, that he did not think that this harmony
could be the result of some kind of external ordering “ and thus that the
idea that God arranged our representations and things-in-themselves so
that they would match was not even to be seriously considered “ but had
to be the result of some kind of deeper unity, even identity of mind and
nature, as Spinoza had thought.
Schelling began diagnosing the root of modern skepticism about
whether our representations match up with things-in-themselves as re-
sulting from what he (and those who followed him) called “re¬‚ection” or
“re¬‚ective philosophy.”±° “Re¬‚ection,” in the sense Schelling intended it,
was close in meaning to “analysis.” When we re¬‚ect on something “ for
example, on the conditions under which we can know something about a
 Philosophische Briefe uber Dogmatismus und Kritizismus, p. ±±; Philosophical Letters on Dogmatism and
¨
Criticism, p. ±·µ.
±° The best overall presentation and defense of Schelling™s thought in English is Andrew Bowie,
Schelling and Modern European Philosophy: An Introduction (London: Routledge, ±); Bowie™s work
draws on the pathbreaking work done by Manfred Frank; in particular, see Frank, Eine Einf¨ hrung u
in Schellings Philosophie.
±· Part II The revolution continued: post-Kantians
world independent of us “ we necessarily break apart items that are orig-
inally at one with each other, and we arrange those items in some kind
of order. Thus, we separate “representations” from the objects that they
seem to represent, and we then wonder how it is that they are supposed
to be brought back together. What such “re¬‚ective” modes of thought
necessarily fail to grasp (because they are re¬‚ective) is that, unless there
were already a pre-re¬‚ective unity of thought and being, re¬‚ection could
not do its work, that without our already “being in touch” with things,
we could not begin to re¬‚ect on the conditions for our making true asser-
tions. However, this original unity, as pre-re¬‚ective, cannot thereby itself
be re¬‚ectively established; it can only be apprehended in an “intellectual
intuition.”±±

Naturphilosophie
In ±··, Schelling published his Ideas for a Philosophy of Nature, and the
success of that book made what he took to calling Naturphilosophie, for
better or worse, one of the major areas in German philosophy for the
¬rst half of the nineteenth century. Naturphilosophie was not philosophy
of science, and it was also not quite the same as a “philosophy of na-
ture”; rather, it was to be an a priori study of the “Idea” of nature. At
¬rst, Schelling conceived of it as drawing on the ¬ndings of empirical
science to give us an understanding of how the results of empirical nat-
ural science were in fact compatible and at one with our own subjective,
more poetic, appreciation of nature “ our intimations, for example, that
some ways of life went “against” our nature or that some ways of living
were more “in tune” with our natural proclivities than were others, even
though the Newtonian conception of nature had no room within it for
such intimations. Nonetheless, although it was to be linked to empiri-
cal scienti¬c research, such a Naturphilosophie, in Schelling™s mind, had
nothing to do with either applying abstract philosophical principles to
scienti¬c practice or results “ nothing, Schelling said, could be “a more
pitiful, workaday occupation” than such an endeavor “ and it also had
to follow the “basic rule of admitting absolutely no hidden elemental
±± In the ±°° System of Transcendental Idealism, Schelling makes the point that since consciousness
presupposes the basic distinction in all intentionality between thought and object, sensing and
sensed, “a philosophy which starts from consciousness will therefore never be able to explain this
conformity [of thought and object], nor is it explicable at all without an original identity, whose
principle necessarily lies beyond consciousness,” F. W. J. Schelling, System of Transcendental Idealism
(trans. Peter Heath) (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, ±·), p. ±µ (µ°); Ausgew¨ hlte
a
Schriften, p. µ·.
±·µ“±°: Schelling ±·
substances in bodies, the reality of which can in no way be established by
experience.”± As Schelling thus originally conceived of it, Naturphilosophie
was to construct the a priori view of nature that empirical investigations
in fact presupposed in their experimental procedures; as he worked it
out, however, it came more and more to signify a speci¬c “ many would
say idiosyncratic “ approach to philosophy. (It is therefore best simply to
leave the term, Naturphilosophie, in the original German than to suggest
that it was only a distinct ¬eld of philosophy, “philosophy of nature.”)
The rise of natural science had originally seemed to split philosophy
into the dueling camps of rationalists and empiricists; the motive for
each camp had been the necessity to account for the way in which the
¬ndings of natural science seemed at ¬rst blush to contradict the basic
elements of the human experience of the world “ rationalists explained
this by arguing that the mind could apprehend the secrets of nature
independently of experience through, for example, mathematical inves-
tigation, and the empiricists argued that the ¬ndings of natural science
were no more than methodologically puri¬ed extrapolations from our
own experience. Schelling concluded that, since Kant had ¬nally put an
end to the endless seesaw between the two camps, and since Fichte had
drawn out the proper implications of the Kantian view, it was now time
to show that the new dueling camps of modern philosophy “ “realism”
and “idealism” “ were themselves only manifestations of some deeper
underlying worldview that was the unity of the two, and the vehicle to do
that would be the dual development of transcendental philosophy and
Naturphilosophie united in a doctrine of the “intellectual intuition” of the
absolute.
Moreover, Naturphilosophie had to show how freedom was compatible
with nature without having to invoke any kind of suspension of natural
law or noumenal realm where such laws did not hold sway. That meant,
Schelling concluded, that the mechanistic view of nature could not be
correct. As he put it: “Suppose I am myself a mere piece of mecha-
nism. But what is caught up in mere mechanism cannot step out of the
mechanism and ask: How has all this become possible?”± In drawing
out his own answer to that question, Schelling took his own inspira-
tion not so much from Fichte, Spinoza, or Leibniz but from Kant. In the
Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science, Kant had criticized what he took
to be the Newtonian conception of motion because of the way he took it
± F. W. J. Schelling, Ideas for a Philosophy of Nature (trans. Errol E. Harris and Peter Heath) (Cambridge
University Press, ±), pp. “µ.
± Ibid., p. ±µ.
±° Part II The revolution continued: post-Kantians
to rest on suppositions about absolute space that were ruled out by Kant™s
own system of transcendental idealism.± Kant was therefore led to see
Newton™s absolute space instead as an “Idea” of reason, a conception of
an ideal end-point toward which the kinds of judgments that one makes
on the basis of a Newtonian system tend to converge. (That ideal end-
point would be the center of mass of the entire universe, something that
could never be given in experience.±µ ) However, if the concept of absolute
space could not be assumed and could only function instead as a regula-
tive ideal in terms of which we investigated nature, then, so Kant argued,
we could not go on to do as Newton had done, namely, to use absolute
space as the basis for de¬ning the laws of “true” motion (as opposed to
“relative” or merely apparent motions, such as the sun “appearing” to
move while the earth “appears” to be at rest). Therefore, for Newtonian
investigations to be possible in the ¬rst place, we must have a method for
distinguishing true from apparent motion, which required investigations
that rested on a priori presuppositions about the nature of what was
movable “ which, for Kant, was equivalent to determining the a priori
determinations of the empirically constituted conception of matter. This,
in turn, led Kant to hold that there must a priori be two different forces at
work in matter, those of attraction and repulsion. Attraction is necessary
because, in presupposing a center of mass, we need a concept of univer-
sal gravitation, of matter as exhibiting essentially a universal attraction
for all other matter; in doing that, however, we must also presuppose
a countervailing force of repulsion, since if there were only attraction,
all matter would condense to one point (just as, if there were only re-
pulsion, all matter would scatter into virtual nothingness). Mechanics,
Kant concluded, rests on a priori determinations more properly set by
transcendental philosophy.± Absolute space, like the idea of a common
center of mass, is thus, for Kant, an Idea of reason.
For Schelling, though, if nature is purely a mechanical system (as
Kant argued in his ¬rst Critique), and if one eschews appeal to things-
in-themselves (and therefore eschews any notion of transcendental
causality), and if we are necessarily to construe ourselves as free, natural
± Immanuel Kant, Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science (trans. James W. Ellington) (Indiana-
polis: Hackett Publishing Company, ±µ).
±µ See Michael Friedman, Kant and the Exact Sciences. Friedman notes: “Newton presents the laws of
motion as facts, as it were, about a notion of true motion that is antecedently well de¬ned . . . For
Kant, on the other hand, since there is no such antecedently well-de¬ned notion of true motion,
the laws of motions are not facts but rather conditions under which alone the notion of true
motion ¬rst has objective meaning,” p. ±·±.
± My own understanding of these issues has drawn heavily on Michael Friedman™s discussion in
Kant and the Exact Sciences, ch. , “Metaphysical Foundations of Newtonian Science.”
±·µ“±°: Schelling ±±
beings, then we are left with an insoluble contradiction unless we hold
that nature, regarded as a whole, as “Idea,” is not a mechanical system
but a series of basic “forces” or “impulses” that mirror at the basic level
the same kind of determinations that are operative in us at the level of
self-conscious freedom. The a priori study of the basic forces at work in
nature “ Naturphilosophie itself “ must construct an account of nature that
is continuous with our freedom; it must “re-enchant” nature so that we
once more have a place in it.
The re-enchantment of nature would have to consist in understand-
ing nature as a whole in organic and not in purely mechanical terms;
indeed, Kant™s own notion of re¬‚ective, teleological judgments pointed
to that very solution. We must think of organisms as having their pur-
posiveness within themselves, as being what Kant called in a footnote
an “organization,” where “each member of such a whole should in-
deed be not merely a means, but also an end.”±· Organisms are such
“wholes”; moreover, it does no good to suppose that they are the results
of some external hand (such as God) organizing them, since that would
merely bestow an external, instead of an internal purpose on them, and
it does equally no good to postulate some special “life force” (in any
event, a “completely self-contradictory concept,” as Schelling put it).±
Purposiveness, which is necessary in thinking of organisms, exists only
for a judging intellect; and, since this intellect cannot be outside of the
organism, it must be somehow immanent within it. “Intellect,” that is,
must somehow already be at work in nature, even if only in a sub-
merged form, and nature as a whole, considered philosophically, must
be viewed as a form of “organization” in the Kantian sense. Nature
exhibits Kant™s sense of “purposiveness without a purpose” in that its
basic tendencies (like attraction and repulsion) tend toward a growing
kind of unity and inwardness that culminates in human communities “
Schelling uses the term, Geist, mind or “spirit” in its communal sense “
coming to self-consciousness, to an intellectual intuition of itself. Matter
gradually organizes itself (quite blindly) into various wholes (having to
±· Kant, Critique of Judgment, §µ. The whole citation, which is crucial for understanding Schelling™s
notion of “organization” goes as the following: “On the other hand, the analogy of these direct
natural purposes can serve to elucidate a certain association [among people], though one found
more often as an idea than in actuality: in speaking of the complete transformation of a large
people into a state, which took place recently, the word organization was frequently and very aptly
applied to the establishment of legal authorities, etc. and even to the entire body politic. For
each member in such a whole should indeed be not merely a means but also an end; and while
each member contributes to making the whole possible, the Idea of that whole should in turn
determine the member™s position and function.”
± Schelling, Ideas for a Philosophy of Nature, p. ·.
± Part II The revolution continued: post-Kantians
do with mechanical unities, such as planetary systems, and chemical
af¬nities between objects and ¬nally into organisms); as it organizes it-
self, it tends toward creating an “interiority” for itself; likewise, as Geist,
human mindedness, organizes itself in history, it tends to create a form
of inwardness for itself; both of these tendencies to inwardness are man-
ifestations of one and the same basic impulse in nature, which ¬nds its
culmination in communities of self-conscious agents.± Self-organizing
nature and self-organizing human communities are two sides of the same
coin.
Although Schelling at ¬rst intended Naturphilosophie not to be a sub-
¬eld of philosophy (like “epistemology” or “philosophy of art”) but to
be a more general type of philosophy, it gradually became in Schelling™s
eyes the basic discipline of philosophy from which all the others were
supposed to ¬‚ow, and the idea that it was supposed to be tied into
the empirical sciences was also gradually abandoned. By the middle
of ±· to ±°, Naturphilosophie came to be conceived as an indepen-
dent a priori discipline on its own having to do with the intuition of
the basic “tendencies” in nature that ¬nd their culmination in human
mindedness, in which, as Schelling says, “explanations take place as
little as they do in mathematics; it proceeds from principles certain in
themselves, without any direction prescribed to it, as it were, from the
phenomena.”° Naturphilosophie transforms our general picture of nature
so that the philosophical and even existential problems having to do
with freedom in a causal world simply cease to be problems. When we
come to see nature in this way, we ourselves become different and no longer
feel the unbridgeable alienation from nature that we, as moderns, have
come to feel. A generation of Romantic poets gave voice to the same
sentiment.
As Schelling worked out his Naturphilosophie, his accounts also began to
get more and more metaphorical. Within a couple of years, it had become
a doctrine of how the “in¬nite” productive tendencies of nature ¬‚ow in
one direction (represented by a straight line), only to be impeded and
retarded by a counteracting “¬nite” tendency (which, in organic forms,
± As Schelling sums up his view in the System of Transcendental Idealism: “Nature™s highest goal,
to become wholly an object to herself, is achieved only through the last and highest order of
re¬‚ection, which is none other than man; or, more generally, it is what we call reason, whereby
nature ¬rst completely returns into herself and by which it becomes apparent that nature is
identical from the ¬rst with what we recognize in ourselves as intelligence and that which is
conscious,” System of Transcendental Idealism, p.  (±); Ausgew¨ hlte Schriften, p. °.
a
° Schelling, Ideas for a Philosophy of Nature, p. µ. (“Supplement to the Introduction”)
±·µ“±°: Schelling ±
is represented by a curved line.)± As Schelling went on to develop these
views, he began to hypothesize about the various “powers” of nature,
borrowing a term from mathematics to symbolize how the lower forms
of self-organization in nature (such as mechanical systems) give rise to
higher forms such as chemical and organic organizations and ¬nally
to mindedness itself. (An organism is supposed to be a higher “power”
or Potenz of matter in a way analogous to the way in which  is  to
the second power.) Each level of organization is the result of the two
countervailing tendencies; each level of organization thus results from
the tendencies reaching an “indifference point” where they equilibrate
with each other. The new form of organization, however, exhibits the
same fundamental and opposed tendencies, and it in turn leads to a
new equilibrating or “indifference” point that is itself a new and higher
form of organization. No absolute indifference point is found until nature
culminates in divinity.
The pure and absolute productivity of nature in its “in¬nity” could
be apprehended only in an “intellectual intuition” since it was not an
“object” of any sort nor did it have any particular determinations; natural
science only studied the products in which this “in¬nite productivity” re-
sulted. “Nature” was both: in¬nite pure productivity impeding itself, and
¬nite, distinct spheres of itself that resulted. The nature of Naturphilosophie
was pure self-organizing process; the nature found in natural science was
only the determinate crystallizations of itself that this pure self-organizing
process imposed on itself in its continual act of becoming. As pure process,
nature is simply “identity”; as individuated into mechanical, chemical,
organic, and mental organizations, it is “difference”; and the “absolute
indifference point” is the universe, or God himself.
± Schelling, Uber die Weltseele, in Schelling™s Werke, ©©. p. : “Organization is to me generally nothing
¨
other than the halted stream of causes and effects. Only where Nature has not impeded this
stream does it ¬‚ow forward (in a straight line). Where she impedes it, it turns around (in a curved
line) back into itself.”
 For a thorough account of the development of Schelling™s Naturphilosophie and the various in¬‚u-
ences (both philosophical and natural scienti¬c) in it, see Wolfgang Bonsiepen, Die Begr¨ ndung u
einer Naturphilosophie bei Kant, Schelling, Fries und Hegel: Mathematische versus spekulative Naturphilosophie
(Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, ±·).
 Schelling says, quite obliquely, that “the absolute indifference point exists nowhere, but only
is distributed, as it were, among many individuals. “ The universe that forms itself from the
center vis-` -vis the periphery, seeks the point where the external oppositions of nature also
a
sublate themselves; the impossibility of this sublation secures the in¬nity of the universe,” F. W. J.
Schelling, Einleitung zu dem Entwurf eines Systems der Naturphilosophie oder uber den Begriff der speculativen
¨
Physik und die innere Organisation eines Systems der Philosophie (±·), in F. W. J. Schelling, Ausgew¨ hlte
a
Schriften, ©, p. ° (©/, ±).
± Part II The revolution continued: post-Kantians

®®¤®¬ ©¤¬©
As Schelling worked out his Naturphilosophie between ±· and ±°, it
elicited no small amount of scorn for itself from the scienti¬c commu-
nity of the time; and, although that obviously stung Schelling™s pride, it
nonetheless did nothing to slow him down. The Ideas for a Philosophy
of Nature (and the other voluminous writings on Naturphilosophie that
Schelling produced after ±··) were to give the “objective,” “natural”
side of the story of how free self-consciousness is made intelligible; the
other “subjective” side appeared in Schelling™s highly ambitious System
of Transcendental Idealism in ±°°, the penultimate step into what Schelling
¬nally called his “identity” philosophy and which led to his full reeval-
uation of the relative priorities of Naturphilosophie and Kantian-inspired
transcendental philosophy.
The System of Transcendental Idealism was Schelling™s bold attempt to
offer a synthetic account of what Kant™s three Critiques would be like if
they were rewritten as one work revised in light of his own and Fichte™s
continuation of the Kantian project. Although Schelling conceded, as he
put it, that “if our whole enterprise were merely that of explaining nature,
we should never have been driven into idealism,” what initially motivates
the construction of a system of transcendental idealism is the nature of
human consciousness itself, which introduces a rupture, a break between
itself and nature in our taking a normative stance toward natural events.
As judging creatures, we are driven by the necessity to “get it right”; but
the necessity of getting it right introduces the possibility of getting it
wrong. The problem for philosophy thus is to overcome the naturally
induced skepticism that arises by virtue of the human mode of self-
conscious life. That “there are things outside of us” is, as Schelling puts
it, “a conviction that rests neither on grounds nor on inferences . . . and
yet cannot be rooted out by any argument to the contrary.”µ
The greater portion of the System of Transcendental Idealism simply adds
necessary detail to the basic lines of Schelling™s early work and is carried
out according to Schelling™s settled view that the proper procedure in
philosophy does not consist in the refutation of philosophical problems
(like skepticism) but in their dissolution. The basic task of transcendental
idealism is to show how we can keep a grip on the two apparently
con¬‚icting demands of acknowledging our full spontaneity while at the
same time acknowledging, as Schelling phrases it, that there must be
 Schelling, System of Transcendental Idealism, p.  (); Ausgew¨ hlte Schriften, p. °°.
a
µ System of Transcendental Idealism, p.  (); Ausgew¨ hlte Schriften, p. ±±.
a
±·µ“±°: Schelling ±µ
“something that . . . absolutely fetters and binds us in knowledge” which
does not itself at ¬rst seem to be a product of spontaneity.
The way in which we can acknowledge that the world puts rational
constraints on our spontaneity “ without at the same time falling into the
idea that there are simply “given” certain sensory inputs, or that we must
rely on some kind of causal explanation as to how things-in-themselves
affect us “ has to do with the way in which we come to acknowledge that
what counts for us as receptivity is itself a normative distinction that we
make in our experience. For example, at the lowest “power” (Potenz) of
our mental activity, we count sensation as that element of our experience of
the world that the “I” spontaneously authorizes as receptively manifesting the
world.· Likewise, we can come to see that such a self-authorized “original
sensation” itself institutes the higher “power” of self-consciousness having
to do with the intentional boundary between the act of sensing and the
object that is sensed. The very distinction between the subjective and
the objective is thus normative; it involves the distinction we implicitly
draw between our spontaneously instituted normative commitments “
what Schelling calls the “ideal” “ and our view of ourselves as embodied
creatures interacting with the natural world (which he calls the “real”).
Spontaneity (as ideal, normative) and receptivity (which we represent
to ourselves as “real,” as our being affected by things-in-themselves)
are thus two opposites that are “posited in one and the same subject”
and are therefore represented as two different “directions” of our own
activity (one going out from the “I,” the other coming “in” from the
object). The boundary between the subjective and the objective is not
 System of Transcendental Idealism, p. ± ().
· See System of Transcendental Idealism, p.  (°); Ausgew¨ hlte Schriften, p. ·: “For that in representa-
a
tion the I merely takes in, and is pure receptivity, he cannot maintain, owing to the spontaneity
involved therein, and indeed because even in the things themselves (as represented), there emerges
the unmistakable trace of an activity of the self. The in¬‚uence in question will therefore originate,
not from things as we present them to ourselves, but from things as they are independently of the
representations. So what is spontaneous in presentation will be regarded as belonging to the self,
and what is receptive will be attributed to things-in-themselves.” Likewise, Schelling also says of
what he calls “original sensation” as a “moment of self-consciousness” that “it is that wherein
the I intuits itself in the original limitation, without being aware of this intuition, or without the
intuition itself again becoming an object for the I. In this moment the I is entirely ¬xed upon
what is sensed, and, as it were, lost therein,” System of Transcendental Idealism, p. ± (±); Ausgew¨ hlte
a
Schriften, p. °.
 See System of Transcendental Idealism, pp. ±“. Schelling says of this distinction: “So it is now
neither in nor out of the I, but is merely the common point of contact (das Gemeinschaftliche)
between the I and its opposite,” ibid., p. µ (±·); Ausgew¨ hlte Schriften, p. . He also says: “In the
a
original sensation, only the limit was disclosed; here, something beyond the limit, whereby the
I explains the limit to itself.” This is the notion of the thing-in-itself. System of Transcendental Idealism,
p.  ().
 Ibid., p. ° (·).
± Part II The revolution continued: post-Kantians
metaphysically ¬xed but normatively determined, and the “intuition” of
where that boundary lies itself always “oversteps the boundary, or is both
inside and outside the boundary at the same time.”°
The obvious objection to all forms of idealism, Schelling notes, is that
it at ¬rst seems so counter-intuitive, even a bit insane. The notion that the
“I” in fact “posits” the world outside of itself or that space and time are
constructed in such activities does not exactly easily conciliate itself with
our more ordinary stance toward things. Surely the past, as Schelling
himself notes, has a reality that is independent of our representation
of it.± This objection to idealism, however, like generalized skepticism,
assumes the “re¬‚ective” stance that puts subjects on one side of a divide
and objects on the other. Once one has shifted one™s picture and come
to “see” or “intuit” the matter differently, those worries cannot arise. In
understanding our experience as of a world, we experience it as more than
what is manifest in that experience; or, as Schelling puts it, for us to be
“intelligences,” we must perform a “synthesis” (a drawing of normative
lines), which requires us to take up our experience both as being of
an objective “universe at large” and as the way we “view the universe
precisely from this determinate point.” We understand ourselves, that
is, as particular points of view on an objective world that can be only partially
manifested to us in our experience of it. Seen in that way, idealism is, as
he puts it, only a “higher” realism.
The same abilities to revise our conceptual repertoire in light of the
deliverances of experience can themselves be taken up and raised to a
higher “power” so that they are thereby actualized in acts of re¬‚ective,
a-priori thought and “intellectual intuition” that are not so immediately
tied into experience. However, since it is not a condition of the possi-
bility of the experience of an objective, natural world that we become
re¬‚ective, it can only be a practical demand that we be a certain way,
and thus “theoretical philosophy oversteps its boundary, and crosses
into the domain of practical philosophy, which alone posits by means
° Ibid., p. · (µ); Ausgew¨ hlte Schriften, p. µ·. Adopting that picture of the subjective/objective
a
distinction led Schelling to redescribe the Kantian conception of the unknowable thing-in-itself
as only the hypostatization of our own ideal, norm-constituting activity. See System of Transcendental
Idealism, p.  (±); Ausgew¨ hlte Schriften, p. µ. Schelling also redescribes the other Kantian
a
conceptions of the ideality of space and time, of substance as persistence over time, of the
schematism of judgments, and so forth, in similar ways.
± See System of Transcendental Idealism, p. ±± (·); Ausgew¨ hlte Schriften, p. µµµ.
a
 System of Transcendental Idealism, p. ±±· (); Ausgew¨ hlte Schriften, p. µµ.
a
 Schelling also notes that “all that knowledge is called empirical which arises for me wholly without
my concurrence, as happens, for example, in a physical experiment whose result I cannot know
beforehand,” System of Transcendental Idealism, pp. ±µ±“±µ (µ); Ausgew¨ hlte Schriften, p. µ.
a
±·µ“±°: Schelling ±·
of categorical demands.” In making our own autonomy into an ob-
ject of re¬‚ection, we thereby “see” that the spontaneity at work in the
empirical encounter with the world is only a “lower power,” a less-full
realization of the autonomy that is more completely actualized in free
action.
At the “lower power” of spontaneity, we “allow” the world to put
rational constraints on our own otherwise boundless epistemic activ-
ities (expressed in Schelling™s metaphors of the two directions of self-
authorization). However, in the “higher power” of fully autonomous
willing, the will seems to be unconstrained by anything but itself, which,
of course, amounts to no constraint at all. That only seems to be a prob-
lem, Schelling claims, if one operates with an individualist view of the
relation of agent and world; the problem itself dissipates if one adopts
a more interpersonal or intersubjective view of agency. (The relation to
Fichte in this line of thought is obvious.) All self-legislation must start
from somewhere in particular, from an involvement in some kind of pre-
re¬‚ective, pre-deliberative context of rules and principles that we have
not determined for ourselves and thus from some other legislation that
has been imposed on the agent from outside the agent™s own activities.
Indeed, the whole notion of obligation, Schelling insists, has to do with a
demand that is placed on us that we do not ourselves produce; the trick
to render that kind of demand compatible with self-legislation, and the
solution “ which Schelling took over from Fichte “ was to understand
those external demands as being reciprocally imposed by agents on each
other.µ
However, for others to legislate for me, to impose rational constraints
on my otherwise unconstrained willing, there ¬rst of all “must be a
pre-established harmony in regard to the common world which they
represent,” for otherwise agents “who intuited utterly different worlds
would have absolutely nothing in common, and no point of contact at
which they could come together.” Although that common world is not
enough to give any concrete direction to action, it is only against the
 System of Transcendental Idealism, p. ± (µ); Ausgew¨ hlte Schriften, p. µ.
a
µ See System of Transcendental Idealism, p. ± (µ); Ausgew¨ hlte Schriften, p. ±°, where Schellings
a
says: “Only through the concept of obligation does the contrast arise between the ideal and
the producing self . . . Only the condition for the possibility of willing must be generated in the
self without its involvement (Zutun). And thus we see forthwith a complete dissolution (Au¬‚¨sung)
o
of the contradiction, whereby the same act of the intelligence had to be both explainable and
unexplainable at once. The concept which mediates this contradiction is that of a demand, since
by means of the demand the action is explained, if it takes place, without having it having to take
place on that account.”
 System of Transcendental Idealism, p. ± (µ); Ausgew¨ hlte Schriften, p. ±±.
a
± Part II The revolution continued: post-Kantians
background of such a common world that agents can establish their own
individual identities by manifesting themselves to each other in distinctly
free, individual actions that construct their individual identities in that
“common world.”· That implies, moreover, that the origins of agency
are to be found in the way that the potential agent ¬rst learns to act on
rules imposed on him by others; he must begin, that is, ¬rst with others
legislating for him and only gradually grow into the role of autonomous
co-legislator.
Schelling™s strategy was thus to fundamentally redescribe Kant™s and
Fichte™s notions of autonomy in terms of a much more “developmental”
model of agency: we become autonomous by moving ourselves (and being
moved by others) out of the realm of “nature” “ out of the natural
world constraining our beliefs and other agents in that shared, common
world, legislating for us “ into a position where we are autonomous co-
legislators of the social world in a way that is not constrained by the
“givens” of the experience of the natural world but only by the social
“in¬‚uence” of others. That social world is thus the “intellectual world,”
and learning to move about in that social world is a matter of continuing,
life-long “education” (Erziehung) that amounts to a “continuing in¬‚uence
urging us to become repeatedly oriented anew within the intellectual
world.”
Redescribed in that way, the “common world” should itself be philo-
sophically redescribed as “the archetype, whose agreement with my own
representations is the sole criterion of truth,” since “the sole objectivity
which the world can possess for the individual is it has been intuited by
intelligences external to him.” The representation of the reality or so-
lidity of the objective world thus rests on its being the “common world”
of independently existing rational agents.° Without the social world of
co-legislative agents, the world of nature could not appear to us as the
solid, “common world” that it is; for Schelling, the factual world of nature
manifests itself only to agents as they belong to the moral world.
· A representative passage supporting such a claim is in System of Transcendental Idealism, p. ±µ
(µ); Ausgew¨ hlte Schriften, p. ±: “The third restrictedness, by contrast, serves to posit in every
a
individual something which, precisely for that reason, is negated by all the others, and which
they cannot therefore intuit as their own action, but only as other than theirs, that is, as the
action of an intelligence outside of them.”
 System of Transcendental Idealism, p. ±·° (µµ°); Ausgew¨ hlte Schriften, p. ±.
a
 System of Transcendental Idealism, p. ±· (µµ); Ausgew¨ hlte Schriften, p. .
a
° Schelling puts his conclusion unambiguously, even if the arguments for it may be a bit unclear:
“It therefore also follows . . . that a rational being in isolation could not only not arrive at a
consciousness of freedom, but would be equally unable to attain consciousness of the objective
world as such,” System of Transcendental Idealism, p. ±· (µµ); Ausgew¨ hlte Schriften, p. .
a
±·µ“±°: Schelling ±
Why, though, Schelling asks himself, should we think that we actu-
ally are free as opposed to simply having to think of ourselves as free?
Schelling™s own rather convoluted and sketchy argument appeals both
to Kant™s sense of the practical necessity of freedom “ we could not exist
for ourselves in any other way “ and Schelling™s own Naturphilosophie.
Thus, he distinguishes the “absolute” will from its experiential manifes-
tation in the form of free choice (Willk¨ r). The absolute will is neither
u
free nor unfree since it cannot be subject to any demands; only the
“appearing” will (as free choice) is subject to demands, most speci¬-
cally to Kant™s categorical imperative. The absolute will, on the other
hand, is neither “free” or “unfree,” but instead follows “a law prescribed
to it from the inner necessity of its own nature,” and “so far from be-
ing subjected to any law, [it] is in fact the source of all law.”± The
“absolute” will, that is, is the activity of setting normative boundaries
in general, and, as the source of all such normativity, it cannot itself
be constrained by anything other than its own unconstrained, sponta-
neous activity. Curiously, Schelling™s notion of the “absolute will” resem-
bles nothing so much as a metaphysical version of a pre-Revolutionary
absolutist sovereign; it is subject to no law because it is the source of
all law.
As it manifests itself in embodied “free choice,” the “absolute will”
can only appear as the pursuit of self-interest on the part of many agents.
Because of the tensions engendered by that, human sociality produces
a “second nature,” the rule of law, not as a moral demand, but as a
kind of Hobbesian hedge against the destructiveness of unbridled self-
interest. (Indeed, so Schelling notes, “all attempts to transform it [the
legal order] into a moral order present themselves as detestable through
their own perversity and through that most dreadful kind of despotism
which is their immediate consequence.” ) Like Kant, Schelling argues
that this, in turn, manifests a hidden necessity in history that points
toward historical progress and the eventual establishment of a world
federation of states. This progressive movement in history is not, how-
ever, merely a “regulative Idea,” as Kant thought, but a display of the
“absolute identity” of the “absolutely subjective and the absolutely ob-
jective” in history and nature. The normative boundary-setting that
Fichte had made the keynote of post-Kantian philosophy thus merged
with a metaphysical doctrine of how an “absolute reality” gradually
± System of Transcendental Idealism, pp. ±°“±± (µ·“µ··); Ausgew¨ hlte Schriften, pp. “µ.
a
 System of Transcendental Idealism, p. ± (µ); Ausgew¨ hlte Schriften, p. µ.
a
 System of Transcendental Idealism, p. ° (°°); Ausgew¨ hlte Schriften, p. .
a
±° Part II The revolution continued: post-Kantians
actualized itself in the appearance in time of ¬nite, rational agents.
Transcendental idealism thus became “identity philosophy” (a slightly
misleading term).

©, “¬µ ©¤®©,” ®¤ 
By seeking to conciliate the opposites found in Kant™s third antinomy in
that way, Schelling effectively fused his Naturphilosophie and post-Kantian
theories of the source of normativity. This “absolute identity” can, more-
over, never be the object of consciousness, or even discursive knowl-
edge, since all consciousness presupposes our having made the distinc-
tion within intentionality between sensing and sensed, knowing and
known, and this “identity” is supposedly prior to all such intentional
distinctions.µ This “absolute point of view” thereby can only be char-
acterized, as Schelling put it, as “the universal identity in which nothing
can be distinguished” “ a turn of phrase that later came back to haunt
him when his old friend Hegel made fun of it in his ±°· Phenomenology of
Spirit by characterizing “identity philosophy” as “the night in which all
cows are black.”
Schelling, though, was already aware of the raised eyebrows such a
statement would elicit, and rhetorically asked himself, how “can it be
established beyond doubt that such an intuition does not rest upon a
purely subjective deception, if it possesses no objectivity that is universal
and acknowledged by all men?”· Ever the quintessential Romantic,
 There is probably no more misleading term for contemporary purposes than “identity” in
Schelling™s philosophy (or in writers like Hegel who also appropriated that usage). In the logic
which Schelling and his contemporaries studied, the term expressed the relation between the
subject and the predicate in a proposition: “S is p” was taken to express the “identity” of S and
p. However, this “identity” was distinguished from “sameness.” Schelling himself notes that con-
fusing “identity” with “sameness” results in absurdities: “It can readily be made comprehensible
to a child that in no possible proposition, which according to the accepted explanation expresses
the identity of subject and predicate, the equivalence of the two or even their immediate connec-
tion is expressed.” (Schelling™s own example, “This body is blue,” does not, he insists, assert that
by virtue of being a body, the item is also blue.) If the copula in the judgment that expressed
the “identity” between “S” and “p” really expressed “sameness,” then, as he sarcastically notes,
“we could, for example, conquer the enemy with the concept of an army instead of with
an army “ consequences which serious and re¬‚ective men will consider beneath them,”
F. W. J. Schelling, Uber das Wesen der menschlichen Freiheit (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, ±·µ),
¨
pp. , ±°note; Of Human Freedom (trans. James Gutmann) (Chicago: Open Court, ±), pp. ±,
±note.
µ System of Transcendental Idealism, p. ° (°°); Ausgew¨ hlte Schriften, p. .
a
 System of Transcendental Idealism, p. ±° (°); Ausgew¨ hlte Schriften, p. ·°.
a
· System of Transcendental Idealism, p. .
±·µ“±°: Schelling ±±
Schelling insisted that the necessary intuition into this “absolute identity”
cannot be intellectual but must be aesthetic. The work of art discloses
the “absolute” to us in a non-discursive way that is nonetheless more
authentically true to the ultimate nature of reality than scienti¬c or even
philosophical knowledge can ever hope to be.
Kant had argued that aesthetic judgments intimate that which is
“neither nature nor freedom and yet is linked with the basis of freedom,
the supersensible.” Schelling took that one step further: the “absolute”
which is the unity and basis of the distinction between subjective and
objective points of view is also that which is the unity of both nature and
freedom while being neither of them; consequently, the absolute (what
Kant had called the “indeterminate concept of the supersensible sub-
strate of appearances”) only comes into view in aesthetic form precisely
because it is “indeterminate” from either the subjective or objective point
of view. By arguing that aesthetic judgments necessarily had their own
autonomously established criteria for judgment that were irreducible to
other types of judgment, Kant had irrevocably detached art from both
craft and entertainment and pushed it into its own, autonomous realm;
Schelling further radicalized that conclusion, attributing to art powers
for revealing truth that transcend all other ways of getting at what was
ultimately real.
Departing even further from Kant, Schelling also claimed (without
much argument but in a way that later had great historical in¬‚uence) that
the standards of beauty in art set the norms for what we found beautiful
in nature, not vice versa. The beauty of a work of art is more perfect and
less contingent than anything in nature in part because art comes about
consciously and teleologically, unlike nature, which embodies Kant™s
notion of “purpose without purposiveness.”
Since what is at stake in philosophy itself is not ultimately a matter
of argument but a matter of vision “ of seeing, viewing, Anschauung “ an
“intuition” of how we stand to ourselves and to the world in general, it
is the poet and the painter as the better arti¬cers of such “vision” who
best grasp the “absolute identity” of mind and nature, not the natural
scientist, bound as he is to discursive forms. If anything, it is the aes-
thetic intuition of the whole of reality, the “identity” of mind and nature,
that orients and constrains what would otherwise be the unconstrained
“absolute will.” Art reveals our own autonomy to be bounded at its edges
by something not itself autonomously chosen but simply “seen”; what
philosophy cannot say, art can nonetheless show.
± Part II The revolution continued: post-Kantians

¬µ©®§ ¦¤
Shortly after publishing the System of Transcendental Idealism, Schelling
came more and more to see that the conclusion to that work implied that
his original idea of a “two-track” system of philosophy “ Naturphilosophie
and transcendental idealism united in an “intuition” of their unity “ was
at odds with his own development of both of them. Thus, by ±°, in his
lengthy (although unpublished) System of All of Philosophy and of Philosophy
of Nature in Particular, he made no pretense of there being “two tracks”;
instead there was only one system of Naturphilosophie which concluded in
a theory of mind with art as it highest “power” (Potenz).
During this period of intellectually rethinking things, Schelling™s own
life had its share of upheavals. Having established in Jena a journal to
propagate his views “ the Critical Journal of Philosophy “ he managed in
±°± to draw his old friend from university days, Hegel, to co-edit it
with him. (Hegel had been at loose ends since graduating and was at
that time an unpublished, unknown ¬gure in German intellectual life).
During this period he also fell in love with Caroline Schlegel, at the
time married to the great Romantic critic, translator, and poet, August
Schlegel. Caroline herself was the daughter of a prominent G¨ ttingen
o
theologian, possessed of an imposing intellect, no small amount of literary
talent, and a sense that not merely young men but young women also
were now leading unprecedented lives. She was twelve years older than
Schelling and had already led an adventurous life: after her ¬rst husband
(to whom she had been married off when she was quite young) died,
she joined the Mainz Jacobins (during the period Mainz was part of
revolutionary France), had an open affair with a young French of¬cer,
became pregnant, was jailed when the Germans recaptured Mainz, and
then more or less for protection married August Schlegel. Originally her
daughter by her ¬rst marriage was engaged to Schelling, but after the
daughter™s death following a severe illness, she and Schelling began their
affair leading to her divorce and their marriage. This caused quite a
scandal in Jena, and, since Caroline™s intellect and independence upset
(to put it mildly) many of the men around her, a whispering campaign
arose to the effect that Caroline had killed off her own daughter in order
to have Schelling for herself. August Schlegel maintained an equanimity
about the whole affair, agreeing that they should all handle the matter
like rational adults; he concurred with Caroline™s request for a divorce
and even defended Schelling and Caroline against all the ugly rumors.
Jena, however, had proven itself to be an uncomfortable place to be,
±·µ“±°: Schelling ±
and Schelling accepted an offer from the newly reorganized university
in W¨ rzburg in ±° (which had just come under Bavarian control) so
u
that he and Caroline could escape the local vitriol.
While at W¨ rzburg, Schelling came under simultaneous and ven-
u
omous attack from both the Catholics (the bishops threatened students
who attended his lectures with excommunication) and from the ratio-
nalist Protestant theologians there; neither attack, however, did any-
thing to stop his continuing rise to fame. However, when W¨ rzburg was
u
given to Austria in ±°, Schelling (as a Protestant) had to leave, and the
Bavarian government compensated him by giving him positions ¬rst at
the Academy of Sciences and then at the Academy of Plastic Arts, both
of which were well paid and which involved no teaching duties.
His own writings were tending to drift more and more into dark
metaphorical prose, and he was taking an increasing interest in the re-
ligious dimension of life. During this period, he once again began to
rethink his own system, and in ±° he published what turned out to be
the last philosophical work in his lifetime to appear in print: Philosophical
Investigations on the Essence of Human Freedom. In it, Schelling took his al-
ready opaque style into an even denser, more metaphorical direction,
but the central question animating the short treatise was the same that
had haunted all of post-Kantian thought, namely, the antinomy between
nature and freedom and the possibility of anything like self-legislation.
To get a grip on this issue, Schelling proposed that we ¬rst ask how it
is that evil is possible for such a self-determining creature. How can one
give the law to oneself and choose evil? The Kantian system had an-
swered the question essentially in a dualistic way: on the one hand, there
was the “fact of reason” that motivated us to act according to universal
law and respect all agents as ends in themselves; and on the other there
were our inclinations, which always threatened to subvert the moral law
into self-advantage; the Kantian solution involved our adopting a fun-
damental disposition, a “Gesinnung,” that subordinated all the motives of
inclination to the motives of reason. To Schelling, though, this remained
not only unacceptably dualistic, it did not explain what the fundamental
motive would be for opting for the motives of reason or of inclination
(or, for that matter, for electing to have a “moral” disposition in the ¬rst
place). Invoking the “fact of reason” only seemed to leave up in the air
the question of why that fact does or should have any sway over us.
Kant™s own solution to his antinomy also involved invoking two sorts
of causality: the normal empirical causality of the phenomenal world
and the “transcendental freedom” of the noumenal world. Although,
± Part II The revolution continued: post-Kantians
in “transcendental freedom,” the agent supposedly initiates an action
without that act of initiation itself having any further causal antecedents,
to Schelling™s anti-dualistic way of seeing things, that way of talking only
made things worse since, as he put it, self-determination simply cannot be
a “transition from the absolutely undetermined to the determined.”
True self-determination would rather involve submitting oneself to a
necessity of one™s own (an “inner” necessity), to say that one™s actions
occurred because of oneself, not because of factors external to oneself
(because of “outer” necessity). Since on that view only an action that
expresses the essential self counts as a self-determined action, the whole
issue of self-determination itself turns on the prior issue of what counts
as the essential or core self.
Such a view of action as “expressive” of the “true” or “essential” self,
however, raises its own set of objections, the most important and obvious
of which has to do with attributions of responsibility. If an action counts
as free to the extent that it necessarily expresses the self behind it, in what
sense can anybody be said to be responsible for that action unless he is
also the basis or cause of that self ? Schelling rejects that way of putting
the question, since it assumes that either the choice must be entirely
one™s own for one to be responsible, or that, if one has no choice, then
one is not responsible. However, what one does depends on who one
essentially is, but who one essentially is cannot itself be a matter of full
self-determination. There is a sense to one™s character that is outside
time, as Schelling puts it, that precedes who one is and shapes who one is
to come to be. This must therefore, Schelling concludes, be the result of
some initial act on the part of the individual that nonetheless precedes his
own birth, but which does not come about because God has predestined
him for good or evil. The problem is then to understand how we can be
destined for good or evil from birth and yet have this count as a free act
on our part.
The answer to this dilemma, so Schelling argues, lies in focusing our
attention not on willing per se but on an openness to something more
than the merely human, namely, to the divine in human life. To ex-
plain this, Schelling invokes his Naturphilosophie, expressing his thoughts
in metaphors that are, on anybody™s account, extremely hard to unpack.
 Schelling, Uber das Wesen der menschlichen Freiheit, p. ·; Of Human Freedom, p. .
¨
 As Schelling puts it: “Thus someone, who perhaps to excuse a wrong act, says: ˜Well, that™s the
way I am™ “ is himself well aware that he is so because of his own fault, however correct he may
¨
be in thinking that it would have been impossible for him to do otherwise,” Schelling, Uber das
Wesen der menschlichen Freiheit, p. ·; Of Human Freedom, pp. “µ.
±·µ“±°: Schelling ±µ
(Interestingly, although the book uses similar language and seems to
pre¬gure both Schopenhauer™s The World as Will and Representation and
Nietzsche™s The Birth of Tragedy, there is no clearly traceable in¬‚uence of
Schelling™s short treatise on those other two works.) Schelling claims that
we must think of the origin of all creation not in terms of the traditional
Christian account of a fully formed God suddenly creating everything
around him, but rather, following the Naturphilosophie, we must hold that
there is an “original unity” of reality that, so to speak, is “the longing
which the eternal One feels to give birth to itself,” an original unity that
is also beyond reason™s ability to comprehend it.µ° This original “One” is
a “will” striving to accomplish its own birth, and this original oneness
is best represented as the “rule-less” (das Regellose), as the principle of
“darkness,” of chaos. God, as the principle of “light” emerges out of this
chaos and orders it, uniting both principles “ of light (order) and dark
(disorder) “ within himself. Man is the result of both those principles; like
the divine within him, he, too, emerges out of unintelligible “darkness”
and “chaos,” and, like the divine within him, he lives in the “light” of
reason and order; but he is not immediately at one with either of these.
Within human agency, the “dark” principle can be “torn apart” from
the principle of “light,” and thus arises the possibility of evil.
The principles of “light” and “darkness” do not represent two enti-
ties or even two different and opposing forces. The principle of “light”
(reason, order, intelligibility) instead grows out of the principle of “dark”
(chaos, unreason, the unintelligible), and the truly good expresses the
unity of those two principles. Both are necessary for personal existence,
and, insofar as the divine is thought of as a personal god, both are neces-
sary for the divine existence. As the principle of pure “light,” moreover,
God is to be conceived as the “center” of existence, the ideal balance
of things, indeed, as love, which strives to bring all back to its “center.”
The establishment of a “center” between order and the primal chaos is
the emergence of personality, indeed, of individuality. To attempt to do
away with evil therefore would be to do away with all individuality and
therefore all agency itself. Indeed, to attempt to do away with evil would
be to abolish God, even though God himself, as the “center,” as “pure
light” has no evil in himself, emerging as he does out of the longing to
reveal himself as pure “light” amidst the “darkness.”
The temptation to evil, its hold on human imagination and action, has
to do with the lure of this initial chaos, for “all evil strives back towards
µ° Schelling, Uber das Wesen der menschlichen Freiheit, p. µ; Of Human Freedom, p. .
¨
± Part II The revolution continued: post-Kantians
chaos.”µ± There is no evil existing separately in the world that somehow,
on its own, would give us a rational ground to choose it; rather, there
is a tendency in human nature, fragmented as it is between “light” and
“dark” to seek to unite these two principles within himself, to become
fully self-determining, to become, that is, God, and that very tendency
and lure “ to unite fully within himself what only God can unite “ itself
constitutes original sin.µ The metaphysical inability to satisfy this basic
temptation is the basis of “the veil of sadness that which is spread over all
nature, the deep, unappeasable melancholy of all life,” and, as if he could
ward off that metaphysical sadness by taking the divine™s necessary joy
into himself, man becomes evil.µ The decision to act evilly is thus based
on a prior disposition to want to be God, to have all of life and reality
within one™s control; but the desire to be God effectuates itself in the
denial of the possibility of love and thus of the full reality of others. The
ability to ward off evil thus must come not from any act of will, since that
would be impossible, but from an openness to the divine, and the degree
of one™s openness is itself not entirely up to one™s individual will but has
something to do with the “self ” with which one is born. Evil, as Schelling
puts it, is no “essence” but an “un-essence,” an “un-being” (Unwesen); evil
is the denial of the reality of God by man™s seeking to become fully self-
determining, to be God. To be evil is thus to be moved by what is not
real by virtue of a fundamental act of one™s part that ¬nally eventuates
in consciousness and the longing for full self-determination.µ
What then is truly real? Schelling™s answer is even more metaphorical
and obscure than what preceded it: “There must be an essence prior to
all ground and prior to all of that which exists, that is, in general prior to
µ± Schelling, Uber das Wesen der menschlichen Freiheit, p. ·; Of Human Freedom, p. µ±.
¨
µ “God™s existence too could not be personal if it were not conditioned, except that he has this
condition within himself and not outside of himself . . . In God too there would be a depth of
darkness if he did not make the condition his own and unite it to him as one and as absolute
personality. Man never gains control over the condition even though in evil he strives to do so;
it is only loaned to him independent of him; hence his personality and selfhood can never be
¨
raised to perfected actuality (vollkommenen Actus),” Schelling, Uber das Wesen der menschlichen Freiheit,
p. ±; Of Human Freedom, p. ·.
µ Schelling, Uber das Wesen der menschlichen Freiheit, p. ±; Of Human Freedom, p. ·.
¨
µ Schelling seems to be adopting Kant™s view that acts of noumenal willing occur outside of time,
even though he clearly and early on rejected Kant™s noumenal/phenomenal distinction. More
charitably, we might attribute to Schelling the notion that the basic principle governing one™s
disposition is itself “timeless,” in the sense that it does not make reference to any time within
it but holds for all time “ the difference, as it were, between “always do X” and “do X on
Mondays.” The basic disposition to evil thus is a timeless reason, expressing the disposition that
the evil person has from birth, but which nonetheless issues in free actions since they express
the essential self. This obviously, though, does not get around the objection that the evil person
could not choose to have that disposition and hence it cannot be called a free act.
±·µ“±°: Schelling ±·
all duality; how could we designate it except as the primordial ground
(Urgrund ) or, rather, as the Un-ground (Ungrund )? . . . It cannot be called
the identity of both but only the absolute indifference of both.”µµ This
quite obviously escapes reason™s attempts to grasp it, since reason always
thinks in terms of grounds, whereas those kinds of distinctions of ground
and grounded upon which all rational discourse depends presuppose
that the indifference of the primordial ground has itself already been
articulated in ways that introduce dualities into it. The “Un-ground”
itself (supposedly) articulates itself into ground and grounded.
Schelling insisted that he was not advocating any kind of new irra-
tionalism, only indicating, in the spirit of Kant, where reason had to
place limits on its own powers of understanding and to give itself over
to something that it could not within its own terms grasp. “But only
the understanding (Verstand ),” Schelling insisted, “can bring forth what
is contained in those depths, hidden and merely potential, and elevate it
to actuality.”µ To accomplish this, he looked forward to uniting science
and religion into one system, and he ended the treatise with a promise
to produce such a system.
That promise was in one sense never to be kept. A few months after
he published his treatise on good and evil, Caroline (who had been
very ill during the period of its composition) died. Schelling fell into a
complete existential crisis and never published a substantial work again,
(although he did publish one small piece arguing against Jacobi and,
in fact, wrote and rewrote quite a number of substantial, unpublished
volumes detailing his promised new system). He eventually married a
close friend of Caroline™s, and had several children and a ful¬lling family
life. The philosophical spark, however, seemed to be gone, and within his
own lifetime Schelling found himself becoming merely another ¬gure in
the history of philosophy. He was obviously hurt and angry at this, and
complained endlessly to all who would listen that the person who had
eclipsed him in German intellectual life “ his old room-mate from the
university at T¨ bingen, Hegel “ had simply stolen his ideas and clothed
u
them in his own jargon.
Schelling™s development to that point, though, was de¬nitive of one of
the major issues within post-Kantian idealism. Beginning with the issue
of spontaneity and freedom, he had come to doubt its centrality and had
even come to think of it as potentially dangerous. Originally a devotee
of the French Revolution and its promise of a new, free, modern world,
µµ Schelling, Uber das Wesen der menschlichen Freiheit, p. ; Of Human Freedom, p. .
¨
µ Schelling, Uber das Wesen der menschlichen Freiheit, p. ±°; Of Human Freedom, pp. µ“.
¨
± Part II The revolution continued: post-Kantians
Schelling also became (quite consistently with his new doctrines) more
conservative. He had at least identi¬ed the issue early on: were we really
capable of the kind of freedom that Kant had promised? For that matter,
was it really that valuable, or was it itself an illusion or maybe even a way
station on the path to a more profound metaphysical disappointment
with modernity itself ?
° 

±°± “±°·: the other post-Kantian:
Jacob Friedrich Fries and non-Romantic Sentimentalism



Although Romanticism dominated the development of immediate
post-Kantian thought (after Reinhold), there were other, equally im-
portant interpretations afoot of where to take Kant. By the turn of the
century (±°°), Jacobi™s in¬‚uence, always large in this period, had al-
ready led to another, very different, appropriation of Kant in the per-
son of Jacob Friedrich Fries (±··“±). About the same age as the
other post-Kantians at Jena (Schelling, Hegel, Schleiermacher, Novalis,
and H¨ lderlin), Fries only managed to formulate his own views about
o
a decade later than those working in the aftermath of the initial tumult
surrounding Fichte and the early Romantics. Like many of them (for ex-
ample, Niethammer, H¨ lderlin, Schelling, Hegel, and Schleiermacher),
o
he too had ¬rst studied theology before moving to philosophy. Having
been raised and educated in a famous Pietist community of the Herrnhut
(Moravian) Brethren, he was sent to a Pietist boarding school in Niesky
for his adolescent years. In ±·µ, he went to Leipzig to study philosophy,
where he apparently came under the in¬‚uence of Jacobi™s work; in ±··,
he studied for a year in Jena, leaving for while to be a private tutor, only
to return to Jena at the end of ±°° (around the same time Hegel arrived
in Jena). After ±°µ, he and Jacobi became friends, and Jacobi remained
an admirer of Fries™s work.
Fries™s own career was rather checkered, and he and Hegel developed
a distaste for each other at Jena that spanned the lifetimes of both men,
leading both to denounce each other in private and public in a variety
of ways for their entire lives. Fries nonetheless established his views as
one of the major options in the post-Kantian debate, and, in many ways,
Fries, Schelling, and Hegel contended for preeminence in the German
philosophical scene during the lives of all three men. Like many other
men of his generation, Fries found his academic job prospects rather

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