How both the objective world accommodates to presentations in us, and presentations in us to the objective world, is unintelligible unless between the two worlds, the ideal and the real, there exists a pre-determined harmony.

Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling (January 27, 1775August 20, 1854), later von Schelling, was a German philosopher. Standard histories of philosophy make him the midpoint in the development of German idealism, situating him between Fichte, his mentor prior to 1800, and Hegel, his former university roommate and erstwhile friend.


System of Transcendental Philosophy (1800)

System des transcendentalen Idealismus (1800).

  • If there is to be any philosophy at all, this contradiction must be resolved – and the solution of this problem, or answer to the question: how can we think both of Presentations as conforming to objects, and objects as conforming to presentations? is, not the first, but the highest task of transcendental philosophy.
  • It is easy to see that this problem can be solved neither in theoretical nor in practical philosophy, but only in a higher discipline, which is the link that combines them, and neither theoretical nor practical, but both at once.
  • Wie zugleich die objektive Welt nach Vorstellungen in uns, und Vorstellungen in uns nach der objektiven Welt sich bequemen, ist nicht zu begreifen, wenn nicht zwischen den beiden Welten, der ideellen und der reellen, eine vorherbestimmte Harmonie existiert. Diese vorherbestimmte Harmonie aber ist selbst nicht denkbar, wenn nicht die Tätigkeit, durch welche die objektive Welt produziert ist, ursprünglich identisch ist mit der, welche im Wollen sich äußert, und umgekehrt.
    • How both the objective world accommodates to presentations in us, and presentations in us to the objective world, is unintelligible unless between the two worlds, the ideal and the real, there exists a pre-determined harmony. But this latter is itself unthinkable unless the activity, whereby the objective world, is produced, is at bottom identical with that which expresses itself in volition, and vice versa.

On University Studies (1803)

On University Studies, translated by E. S. Morgan, edited by Norbert Guterman, 1966 (Vorlesungen über die Methode des akademischen Studiums, "Lectures on the Method of Academic Study," 1803 (delivered summer 1802)).
  • Alle Regeln, die man dem Studieren vorschreiben könnte, fassen sich in der einen zusammen: Lerne nur, um selbst zu schaffen.
    • All rules for study are summed up in this one: learn only in order to create.
    • On University Studies (1803), Third Lecture. Cited by Patrick Dunleavy, Authoring a PhD (Basingstoke: Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003), p. vi.
  • Die Scheu vor der Spekulation, das angebliche Forteilen vom bloß Theoretischen zum Praktischen, bewirkt im Handeln notwendig die gleiche Flachheit wie im Wissen. Das Studium einer streng theoretischen Philosophie macht uns am unmittelbarsten mit Ideen vertraut, und nur Ideen geben dem Handeln Nachdruck und sittliche Bedeutung.
    • The fear of speculation, the ostensible rush from the theoretical to the practical, brings about the same shallowness in action that it does in knowledge. It is by studying a strictly theoretical philosophy that we become most acquainted with Ideas, and only Ideas provide action with vigour and ethical meaning.
    • Vorlesungen über die Methode des akademischen Studiums (Seventh Lecture), Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schellings sämmtliche Werke, V, 1859, p. 277.

Philosophy and Religion 1804)

Philosophy and Religion by Friedrich Schelling 1804 translated by Klaus Ottmann, 2010 Spring Publication, Putnam, Conn.
  • The end of the philosophical dialogue lies in itself; it can never serve a purpose outside of itself. Just as a sculptor does not cease to be a work of art even if it lies at the bottom of the sea, so indeed every work of philosophy endures, even if uncomprehended in its own time. One would be grateful if it were merely a matter of incomprehension. Instead, the work is usually refitted and appropriated by various entities-some playing the part of the opponent; others, that of the proponent. P.3-4
  • There was a time when religion was kept secret from popular belief within the mystery cults like a holy fire, sharing a common sanctuary with philosophy. The legends of antiquity name the earliest philosophers as the originators of these mystery cults, from which the most enlightened among the later philosophers, notably Plato, liked to educe their divine teachings. At that time philosophers still had the courage and the right to discuss the singly great themes, the only ones worthy of philosophizing and rising above common knowledge. P. 7
  • They think of the philosopher as holding the ideal or subjective in one hand and the real or objective in the other and then have him strike the palms of his hands together so that one abrades the other. The product of this abrasion is the Absolute. P. 12
  • Countless attempts have been made to no avail to construct a continuity from the supreme principle of the intellectual world to the finite world. The oldest and most frequent of these attempts is well known: the principle of emanation, according to which the outflowings from the godhead, in gradual increments and detachment from the ordinary source, losing their divine perfection until, in the end, they pass into the opposite (matter, privation), just as light is finally confined by darkness. P. 24
  • On its pass through finitude, the being-for-itself of the counter-image expresses itself most potently as “”I-ness”, as self-identical individuality. Just as a planet in its orbit no sooner reaches its farthest distance from the center than it returns to its closest proximity, so the point of the farthest distance from God, the I-ness, is also the moment of its return to the Absolute, of the re-absorption into the ideal. P. 30
  • Yes! We believe in a higher principle than your virtue and the kind of morality you speak of so paltrily and without much conviction. We believe that there is no imperative or reward for virtue for the soul because it simply acts according to the necessity of its inherent nature. The moral imperative expresses itself in an ought and presupposes the concept of an evil next to that of good. P. 43
  • If the State, modeled after the universe, is split into two spheres or classes of beings – wherein the free represent the ideas and the unfree the concrete and sensate things – then the ultimate and uppermost order remains unrealized by both. By using sensate things as tools or organs, the ideas obtain a direct relationship to the apparitions and enter into them as souls. God, however, as identity of the highest order, remains above all reality and eternally has merely an indirect relationship. If then in the higher moral order the State represents a second nature, then the divine can never have anything other than an indirect relationship to it, never can it bear any real relationship to it, and religion, if it seeks to preserve itself in unscathed pure ideality, can therefore never exist – even in the most perfect State – other than esoterically in the form of mystery cults. P. 51

Quotes about Schelling

  • Schelling’s later work, like his early work, is often unsatisfactory in many different ways. There can be no doubt, however, about its historical importance for the development of modern philosophy: thinkers like Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, Feuerbach, Nietzsche and Heidegger owe far more to Schelling than they admit.
    • Andrew Bowie, Schelling and Modern European Philosophy: An Introduction (1993), Introduction
  • In one of his earlier writings, the System of Transcendental Idealism; which we shall consider first of all, Schelling represented transcendental philosophy and natural philosophy as the two sides of scientific knowledge. Respecting the nature of the two, he expressly declared himself in this work, where he once more adopts a Fichtian starting-point: “All knowledge rests on the harmony of an objective with a subjective” In the common sense of the words this would be allowed; absolute unity, where the Notion and the reality are undistinguished in the perfected Idea, is the Absolute alone, or God; all else contains an element of discord between the objective and subjective. “We may give the name of nature to the entire objective content of our knowledge the entire subjective content, on the other hand, is called the ego or intelligence.” They are in themselves identical and presupposed as identical. The relation of nature to intelligence is given by Schelling thus: “Now if all knowledge has two poles which mutually presuppose and demand one another, there must be two fundamental sciences, and it must be impossible to start from the one pole without being driven to the other”. Thus nature is impelled to spirit, and spirit to nature; either may be given the first place, and both must come to pass. “If the objective is made the chief” we have the natural sciences as result, and; “the necessary tendency” the end, of all natural science thus is to pass from nature to intelligence. This is the meaning of the effort to connect natural phenomena with theory. The highest perfection of natural science would be the perfect spiritualization of all natural laws into laws of intuitive perception and thought."
    • Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831) Lectures on the Philosophy of History Vol 3 1837 translated by ES Haldane and Francis H. Simson) first translated 1896 p. 516-517
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