Über das Wesen der menschlichen Freiheit

by Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling

Paperback, 1991



Call number

CG 6624 W512



Stuttgart: Reclam


"Jeff Love and Johannes Schmidt offer a fresh translation of Schelling's enigmatic and influential masterpiece, widely recognized as an indispensable work of German Idealism. The text is an embarrassment of riches - both wildly adventurous and somberly prescient. Martin Heidegger claimed that it was "one of the deepest works of German and thus also of Western philosophy" and that it utterly undermined Hegel's monumental Science of Logic before the latter had even appeared in print. Schelling carefully investigates the problem of evil by building on Kant's notion of radical evil, while also developing an astonishingly original conception of freedom and personality that exerted an enormous (if subterranean) influence on the later course of European philosophy from Schopenhauer and Kierkegaard through Heidegger to important contemporary theorists like Slavoj Zizek." "This translation of Schelling's notoriously difficult and densely allusive work provides extensive annotations and translations of a series of texts (by Boehme, Baader, Lessing, Jacobi, and Herder), hard to find or previously unavailable in English, whose presence in the Philosophical Investigations is unmistakable and highly significant. This handy study edition of Schelling's masterpiece will prove useful for scholars and students alike."--Jacket.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member pomonomo2003
...The Beginning of the End of the Dialectical., September 15, 2004

This book is important for several reasons. I mention only a few here. Schelling, a great dialectical (in the modern 'German Idealist' sense) thinker/philosopher in these pages makes a crucial admission of the impossibility of
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overcoming (ancient) esotericism. (Hegel makes a similar admission in the great preface of the Phenomenology.) For the sake of this short note let us think of the esoteric as the unchanging. Schelling here admits that there is an unmediated 'basis' that accompanies us through all our dialectical adventures. This 'origin' is subsumed in God but it is not 'overcome' or surpassed. Indeed, this 'basis' rages through (at least!) all things capable (like humans) of spirit. Schelling goes so far as to say that "To separate from God they [all creatures] would have to carry on this becoming on a basis different from Him. But since there can be nothing outside God, this contradiction can only be solved by things having their basis in that within God which is not God Himself, i.e. in that which is the basis of His existence." It is this unmediated basis (within God but forever separate from him, unmastered even by Him!) that accompanies all things through their dialectical adventures. In fact, this unmediated 'pole' (if you will) threatens to drag us down (back! ...A genuine horror for all dialectical thought!) towards it. "All evil strives back towards chaos" Schelling says. [Digressing for a moment I would like to point out that this eerily prefigures Nietzsche's remark that "Everywhere, the way to the beginnings leads to barbarism."] By this Schelling indicates (or at least seems to) that every dialectical step 'forward' can never outrun the shadow of chaos, the negative, the unmediated, the unreasonable. ...Is this the dawn of the postmodern? I would also point out that Schelling, in his later [post 1809] speculations, found something that genuinely caused him unease in this way of thinking. After writing this essay (1809) he publishes next to nothing, though he lives to 1854. Did he foresee the dialectical being swallowed up by the unchanging basis? "Nothing at all in creation can remain ambiguous" - he bravely says. But the uncreated, unknowable, unmediated and unmastered Basis remains in God - and in us all!
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