Navigazione – Mappa del sito

HomeNumeri74Schelling again

Testo integrale

1.

1These first two decades of the xxi century have witnessed an authentic Schelling Renaissance, a rebirth of interest in the Leonberg philosopher, occurring in English speaking area, thanks to numerous translations, collective volumes and important monographs. It meant and actually still means a rebirth that has in some cases been an out and out discovery of a long-forgotten author, overshadowed by more successful philosophers, that has in general aroused international interest in Schelling’s thinking on the level of historiographic, just as much as systematic research.

  • 1 Jacobs 2004: 4-8.
  • 2 As observed by T.F. O’Meara in the opening to his bibliographical contribution, The Encyclopedia of (...)

2This rediscovery in English language countries has contributed to reawakening general interest in the philosopher, but the way I see it, this is not a rediscovery constituting a “new Schelling”, almost as if he, stripped of the mystifications and simplifications of the 1900’s interpretations, were “finally” able to supply the contemporary philosophical debate with that food for thought which an alleged partial, misrepresented reading of the author hindered in past times. In this so tranchant perspective one would betray, and – I think – wrongly so, the enormous, laudable work performed in previous decades on the work of the Leonberg philosopher. There is no question that the same evaluation made by Jacobs in 20041 is still true today, according to which Schelling is an author whose work has not yet been exhausted or solved, and his work can be still studied with the expectation – far from vain for those who ventures to this study – of digging out something unpublished or significant for the history of philosophy and for philosophical thinking in general. However, it is not so much in the reserve of materials and still potentially fertile study – actually absent to such an extent for other authors from the period, like Kant, Fichte or even Hegel – that has to be considered the sense and meaning of the recent Schelling Renaissance: it is not only from this that one may find Schelling’s ‘novitas’, as if the one studied till yesterday were a thinker totally different from and extraneous to the ‘new’ image that arrives and bursts onto the contemporary philosophical scene. There is no doubt that in a very early phase of this Schelling rebirth, inevitable simplifications have been produced, especially in the English speaking area where it started, obviously due to the return to an author who seemed in that world practically absent2 or reduced to a “minor” if compared with better known contemporaries. It was as if we were dealing with a “new Schelling”, as recites the title of the laudable book edited by Judith Norman and Alistair Welchman in 2004, which in my opinion officially opened the Schelling rebirth, but we actually rediscovered an author who already held in himself that theoretical power that philosophical debate needed and needs, a theoretical charge which had been stressed by the greatest interpretations of previous years yet had not been grasped in its full weight, because of reasons that were indeed extraneous to his reception and comprehension, but due first and foremost to the more general philosophical context in which Schelling was read and studied, a context really resistant to its problematic “conclusions”.

  • 3 Jaspers 1955: 513.
  • 4 Norman and Welchman 2004: 1-2.
  • 5 See Corriero 2020.

3As the editors of The new Schelling observe and Iain Hamilton Grant also stresses in his fundamental work Philosophies of Nature After Schelling, Schelling’s thinking did not produce a school; nor were there followers to continue his work – but if Karl Jaspers3 sees this as proof of his “ill-fatedness” despite his “greatness”, one cannot help observing that this effect was enhanced by the deep intellectual honesty animating Schelling’s philosophical work and taking it to the continual, uninterrupted and finally unsuccessful road of giving the form of ‘unitary system’ to the totality of being. This unexhausted attempt, animated by theoretical slants of unforeseen weight, ended up by ultimately making Schelling a philosopher for philosophers4 and hardly a thinker able to cross the threshold of the specialists’ reserved world and communicate a complete system to provide a consistent, all-inclusive vision, theoretically as much as practically. On the other hand, what of Schelling’s criticism of the Hegelian panlogism could have contributed to the theoretical basis of the varied, prolific post-modern philosophy5 was more often than not liquidated as ‘irrationalism’ with a safeguard that was if anything reserved to the contents of positive philosophy, albeit misrepresented in the sense of a sort of driving to the limits of reason and stating a ‘religious’ authority that could in no way be resolved rationally, but only by taking note of the effective historicity of his ‘Revelation’.

  • 6 Habermas 1963: 108; see also Sandkühler 1968: 10 ff.
  • 7 Corriero 2017b: 67 ff.

4The relative marginality of Schelling’s thinking in the contemporary philosophical context was probably also enhanced by the absence of a consistent, univocal proposal for practical (moral and political) philosophy: Schelling was not clearly a political thinker;6 nor was he a thinker who could be ascribed to moral philosophy;7 his system remained on the threshold of plausible foundation and validity, so the applications to second philosophies inevitably felt the effect of oscillation in order of the determination of the principle of the Absolute, i.e. the sole principle of knowing and being.

  • 8 If, as already said, works from the mid-50’s stress a certain currentness to Schelling (in particul (...)
  • 9 Grant 2006: 5. This line has yielded two readings which I consider central for Schelling’s receptio (...)

5In this view, the recent Schelling Renaissance discovers nothing new with respect to the 1900’s Schelling; it simply confirms how it is rather the philosophical context that notes Schelling’s philosophy as meaningful and in some ways current8. As Iain Hamilton Grant observes, «Schellinghianism is resurgent every time philosophy reaches beyond Kant-inspired critique of metaphysics, its subjectivist-epistemological transcendentalism, and its isolation of physics from metaphysics».9 On the road of simplifications, which here as elsewhere in the history of philosophy always loom, it seems that this can bring a “new Schelling”, i.e. the nature-philosopher Schelling whom critics have all too often hurriedly liquidated as an expression typical of the time’s Stimmung, but not very significant for more general theory. One merit of the recent Schelling Renaissance doubtlessly lies in this return to Schelling’s Naturphilosophie, in a highly theoretical way and with clear, inevitable positive repercussions for historiography too. But one may not think that the philosopher of nature Schelling is that “new Schelling” to set against the outmoded, 1900’s Schelling, maybe hampered in spiritualistic readings that bear little fruit in today’s philosophical context. I feel that this reading of the contemporary Schelling Renaissance is rather limited and limiting.

  • 10 Maurizio Ferraris’ afterword to the Italian edition of Grant 2017 insists on this theme.

6What is happening in these years is rather a general reconsideration of the aspects useful to the current philosophical debate, central to which is surely the overcoming of the metaphysics of two worlds, which occurs in Schelling’s philosophy of nature and, even more effectively, in the results of the philosophy of identity. Continuing on the road proposed by Grant’s intuition, according to which one substantially turns to Schelling when post-Kantian thinking witnesses a progressive separation of physics from mathematics, it cannot be an accident that Schelling is current again in a period when analytical philosophy seems in difficulty and different philosophical languages appear to converge more and more and various viewpoints urge the need for ‘synthesis’10 where philosophy has for decades abstained from systematic thinking and increasingly specialised, willfully neglecting (or accidentally losing sight of) the general philosophical “issue”. In this view, the fact that this rebirth of interest in Schelling finally “speaks” English is a crucial, decisive fact.

7All this makes it clear that renewed interest in Schelling entwines some themes that are decisive for the overall philosophical debate, including (to name but some) reconsideration of the notion of time in relationship to being (also in relation to process philosophy models), the question of grounding (also in connection to the powers ontology), the debate between finalism and Darwinism, as well as articulated reflection on personal and ontological freedom and reflection on the mind-body relation. This means aspects that emerge from reconsidering Schelling’s work and are accompanied by the evidence of ontological excess with regard to the thinking that in the past determined the linking with materialistic theories and existentialist theories, but also facilitated – as we said – rather hurried, superficial readings that do not take into account the rigour of Schelling’s formulations, even in the years of positive philosophy, and saw in Schelling a thinker of “irrationalism”, in that the ontological excess stressed could open the way to recognising rationally non-deductable authorities.

8This aspect of Schelling’s philosophy, which can substantially be summarised in a critique of Hegel’s panlogism, is hardly new in Schelling reception, yet remains present and central even in the rebirth of these years, for example in the debate on “new realism” or the “speculative turn”.

2.

9As we have implied, in the European – particularly German, Italian and French – field, attention to Schelling’s philosophy over the 1900’s remained almost constant as of the 50’s, when a series of important publications placed Schelling’s thought firmly in the center of philosophical reflection as a source for criticism of Hegel’s panlogistic optimism and in part an underground engine for overcoming in both a materialistic and an existentialist sense.

  • 11 In the letter to Hegel of 6 January 1795, Schelling clarifies that the task of the philosophy of ti (...)
  • 12 For an intellectual biography of Schelling see Tilliette 1999 and Gulyga 1982.
  • 13 Indeed, Hegel’s philosophy is not considered by Schelling as comparable to negative philosophy, but (...)

10The conference held at Bad Ragaz between 22 and 25 September 1954, in which Jürgen Habermas, Karl Jaspers, Horst Fuhrmans, Walter Schulz and others participated, was surely crucial for rediscovering the thinking of an author who had substantially remained in the shadow of his colleagues and contemporary Germans. The reasons for this relative oblivion surely included the undeniably difficult, fragmentary nature of his writings, as well as the splitting of his thinking into phases; but the crucial fact must be that Schelling’s thinking never found a definite systematic organisation and often seemed – particularly to his detractors – a failed attempt to carry out that coveted completing and overcoming of the Kantian project11 which his friend Hegel, on the other hand, seemed to have realised in his great System. Schelling’s philosophy, fragmented into distinct, apparently unconnected phases, streaked with enlightening theoretical approaches but also constantly tormented by psychological nature polemics12, was clearly unable to cope with comparison to the greatness of Hegel’s philosophical System, which took form on the very basis of the theoretical premises set up by Schelling in his philosophy of Identity. But it is precisely here, in the threshold of the philosophy of Identity and its overcoming, which Schelling considered ‘necessary’ to take into account the freedom of being (Wesen), that Schelling’s systematic project breaks and trails off, making way for Hegel’s rationalist philosophy. Schelling’s systematic vocation, a vocation that would never abandon him (come to think, not even in the positive philosophy years, when he maintained the need to keep positive and negative together as different aspects of the same, unobjectifiable subject), is from the very first works geared towards defining a sole principle of knowing and being, a principle both formal and material. But this very vocation seriously came up against its limits, when Schelling realised that this principle can only be the actual (not simply formal) freedom, thus causing an irreparable break in his system of knowing, which Schelling would not try to hide but pretty much stress with his abstention from publishing further works after Philosophical Inquires, 1809, and the failed attempts of Weltalter. Exactly in this phase, crucial to Schelling’s philosophy – a phase when he almost seems to pass unwillingly the baton to Hegel for a ‘victorious’ run, but in the direction Schelling considers not only partial, but also completely wrong13 – the thinking of the Leonberg philosopher emerges in all its ‘currentness’ for the post-Hegelian philosophical context.

3.

11Now, in these first decades of the xxi century, we register in a sense an undeniable misting of 1900’s European traditions (obviously with some exceptions) and furthermore we witness – as I said – an authentic rebirth of Schelling studies in the English speaking field, a rebirth that can revitalise the most ancient traditions and somehow dictate the agenda for Schelling studies in general. Think indeed of the foundation of the North American Schelling Society (2011) in partnership with the Internationale Schelling-Gesellschaft, aiming to promote studying Schelling’s thinking in a way that encourages translations into English, rather lacking until a few years ago, and also promotes opportunities for assimilation and exchange amid the great English speaking Schelling scholars through the organisation of its international conferences. Collaboration with the Internationale Schelling-Gesellschaft had been further enhanced by the organisation of the international conference held at Berlin in October 2014, which saw the presence of some of the greatest English and German speaking Schelling scholars, as well as – editorially speaking – the foundation of the journal Schelling-Studien, which also has been established under similar auspices and saw the publication of its first volume in 2013, and the recent publication of the first volume of Kabiri. The Official Journal of North American Schelling Society in 2018.

12But these institutional events can only confirm and seal a Schelling rebirth that was already catching on through the numerous translations, and publications of interesting monographs and especially compilations of articles dedicated to Schelling.

  • 14 This in particular occurs with The New Schelling, in which we find beside unpublished contributions (...)

13In the English speaking context there already were rather high-profile works like those by J.L. Esposito (1977), A. Bowie (1994) and D.E. Snow (1996), but the real breakthrough surely came with the more recent editions The New Schelling (J. Norman and A. Welchman (eds), 2004), which we already mentioned, and Schelling Now, edited by Jason Wirth. If it is right to say these two important collections triggered the so-called Schelling Renaissance, in my opinion it is right to remember that Slavoj Žižek’s book, The invisible remainder, 1997, contributed, with the originality and verve that characterise this author, to awakening new interest for Schelling’s thinking around his philosophy of the subconscious and so its materialistic potential possible connection to Lacanian psychoanalysis. Three thematic lines in particular seem to be relevant for rediscovering Schelling in the essay collections from the early 2000’s: psychoanalysis, materialism, existentialism; this means affinities, already registered in several places in the 1900’s, brought back to light in the two essay collections so as to inform an English speaking public devoid of Schelling,14 invigorated by assimilation with more recent philosophy.

  • 15 Consider for example the conference called Speculative Realism, held at London in 2007, whose conte (...)
  • 16 Cf. for example Ferraris 2013.
  • 17 Cf. for example Gabriel 2011 and 2012. As for the alternative between a new “ontological” and “epis (...)
  • 18 Although Grant is present in the debate on the speculative turn just as on new realism, his philoso (...)
  • 19 Corriero and Dezi 2013: vii-viii.

14The return of interest in Schelling aims to stress that ontological excess which can never be solved in thought and that was often translated into reading of a materialistic or proto-existentialist nature, led to the need to consider Schelling’s concept of nature more closely. Iain Hamilton Grant’s book Philosophies of Nature After Schelling is based on this line and constitutes an authentic milestone in this very Schellingian “story”. It is no accident that Grant’s position was central in having Schelling’s thinking inserted into the debate on the speculative turn15 as on new realism, both in its ontological aspect16, and its – so to speak – epistemological aspect17, which in particular insists on the Schelling of positive philosophy, reading him in many ways as a thinker of ‘facticity’18. In particular, the collection Nature and Realism in Schelling’s Philosophy, edited by Emilio Carlo Corriero and Andrea Dezi in 2013, in which Grant is included among the authors together with others like Manfred Frank and Maurizio Ferraris, aimed to show «how the realistic positions of Schelling sink their roots into his philosophy of nature» and how «Schelling’s natural-realistic objection leads to a breakaway towards contemporary thinking».19

This mass of publications also include the more recent Interpreting Schelling, 2014, edited by L. Ostaric, and Nature, Speculation and the Return to Schelling, 2017, edited by Tyler Tritten and Daniel Whistler: if the former collection seems more geared towards exposing Schelling’s thinking in its articulation, meaning, presenting the author in his different phases to an audience not really accustomed to his theses, the latter collection is more systematic in intent and goes even further towards taking seriously the idea of reading Schelling as a contemporary thinker and compare him into more recent, relevant philosophical theses.

Torna su

Bibliografia

The contributions of this volume go again towards “rethinking Schelling” in the light of the contemporary philosophical debate with particular regard to the more general notion of nature, not only because the question is central in Schelling and for these years’ Schelling Renaissance, but mainly because it is the theme itself, the theme of nature, that for us constitutes the centrality that can gain from Schelling himself new lymph and renewed vigour towards a philosophy of nature that remains ‘first of all’ philosophy insofar as it aims to investigate being in general, without yielding to the temptation of giving up to the subordinate role of “philosophical” comment to the results of science.

Corriero, E.C. 2010, Attualità di Schelling, in M. Frank, Natura e spirito. Lezioni sulla filosofia di Schelling, E.C. Corriero (ed.), Torino, Rosenberg & Sellier, Torino: 7-19.

Corriero, E.C. 2017, Ripensare Schelling, in I.H. Grant, Filosofie della natura dopo Schelling, E.C. Corriero (ed.), Torino, Rosenberg & Sellier: 7-17.

Corriero, E.C. 2020, The Absolute and the Event. Schelling After Heidegger, London - New York, Bloomsbury.

Corriero, E.C., Dezi, A. 2013, Nature and Realism in Schelling’s Philosophy, Torino, aAccademia University Press.

Ferraris, M. 2012, Preface to M. Gabriel, Il senso dell’esistenza. Per un nuovo realismo ontologico, Roma, Carocci.

Ferraris, M. 2013, Positive Realism, in E.C. Corriero, A. Dezi (eds), Nature and Realism in Schelling’s Philosophy, Torino, Accademia University Press.

Ferraris, M. 2017, Postface to I.H. Grant, Filosofia della natura dopo Schelling, E.C. Corriero (ed.), Torino, Rosenberg & Sellier.

Frank, M. 1975, Der unendliche Mangel an Sein, Der unendliche Mangel an Sein. Schellings Hegelkritik und die Anfänge der Marxschen Dialektik, Frankfurt a.M., Suhrkamp.

Frank, M. 2010, Natura e spirito. Lezioni sulla filosofia di Schelling, E.C. Corriero (ed.), Torino, Rosenberg & Sellier.

Frank, M. 2018, Reduplikative Identität. Der Schlüssel zu Schellings reifer Philosophie, Stuttgart - Bad Cannstatt, Frommann-Holzboog.

Fuhrmans, H. 1954, Schellings Philosophie der Weltalter. Schellings Philosophie in den Jahren 1806 bis 1821, Dusseldorf, Schwann.

Gabriel, M. 2011, Transcendental Ontology: Essays in German Idealism, London - New York, Bloombsbury.

Gabriel, M. 2012, Il senso dell’esistenza. Per un nuovo realismo ontologico, Roma, Carocci.

Gabriel, M., Žižek, S. 2009, Mythology, Madness and Laughter: Subjectivity in German Idealism, London - New York, Bloomsbury.

Grant, I.H. 2006, Philosophies of Nature After Schelling, London - New York, Bloomsbury.

Gulyga, A. 1982, Schelling, Moscow, Molodaja gvardija.

Habermas, J. 1954, Das Absolute und die Geschichte: Von der Zwiespältigkeit in Schellings Denken, Bonn, H. Bouvier.

Habermas, J. 1963, Theorie und Praxis. Sozialphilosophische Studien, Berlin, Neuwied.

Jaspers, K. 1955, Schelling. Größe und Verhängnis, München, Piper.

O’Meara, T.F. 1977, F.W.J. Schelling, “The Review of Metaphysics”, 31, 2.

Marquard, O. 1975, Schelling - Zeitgenosse incognito, in H.M. Baumgartner (ed.), Schelling, Einführung in Philosophie, Freiburg-München, K. Alber.

Pareyson, L. 1975, Schelling: presentazione e antologia, Genova, Marietti.

Sandkühler, H.J. 1968, Freiheit und Wirklichkeit. Zur Dialektik von Politik und Philosophie bei Schelling, Frankfurt a.M., Suhrkamp.

Tilliette, X. 1972, Actualité de Schelling, Paris, Aubier.

Tilliette, X. 1999, Schelling. Biographie, Paris, Calmann-Lévy.

Tritten, T., Daniel, D. 2017, (eds) Nature, Speculation and the Return to Schelling, London, Routledge.

Schulz, W. 1955, Die Vollendung des Deutschen Idealismus in der Spätphilosophie Schellings, Stuttgart, Kohlhammer.

Žižek, S. 1997, The invisible Remainder: An Essay on Schelling and Related Matters, London, Verso.

Torna su

Note

1 Jacobs 2004: 4-8.

2 As observed by T.F. O’Meara in the opening to his bibliographical contribution, The Encyclopedia of Philosophy could state in 1967 that, among the greatest German thinkers, Schelling was certainly the least known; see O’Meara 1977: 283.

3 Jaspers 1955: 513.

4 Norman and Welchman 2004: 1-2.

5 See Corriero 2020.

6 Habermas 1963: 108; see also Sandkühler 1968: 10 ff.

7 Corriero 2017b: 67 ff.

8 If, as already said, works from the mid-50’s stress a certain currentness to Schelling (in particular Habermas 1954; Jaspers 1955; Fuhrmans 1954; Schulz 1955), there is no lack, for example in the 60’s, of references to the currentness of his thinking (Tilliette 1972; Marquard 1975; Pareyson 1975; Frank 1975), which still echo in the Renaissance contemporary to us (Corriero 2010; Corriero 2017).

9 Grant 2006: 5. This line has yielded two readings which I consider central for Schelling’s reception in general, but crucial – albeit in different ways – for the more recent rebirth: Hogrebe 1989, who – investigating in particular the theory preaching the Weltalter – describes Schelling’s philosophical project as the attempt, common to German idealism, to overcome any form of dualism, but heading towards defining an auto-epistemic structure of the world, and Frank 2010 (also in the broadened German version of 2017), who completely describes the thinking of Identity developed by Schelling.

10 Maurizio Ferraris’ afterword to the Italian edition of Grant 2017 insists on this theme.

11 In the letter to Hegel of 6 January 1795, Schelling clarifies that the task of the philosophy of time is to pinpoint the principle for deduction of the Kantian philosophy results, assumed as correct.

12 For an intellectual biography of Schelling see Tilliette 1999 and Gulyga 1982.

13 Indeed, Hegel’s philosophy is not considered by Schelling as comparable to negative philosophy, but is understood as negativity philosophy going beyond is limits.

14 This in particular occurs with The New Schelling, in which we find beside unpublished contributions translations of decisive but dated articles by Odo Marquard, Jürgen Habermas, Manfred Frank.

15 Consider for example the conference called Speculative Realism, held at London in 2007, whose contents were published in Collapse, III, Urbanomic, London, 2007, and the workshop held on similar themes in 2009 at Bristol, in which Schelling contributions to the discussion are due to Iain Hamilton Grant himself.

16 Cf. for example Ferraris 2013.

17 Cf. for example Gabriel 2011 and 2012. As for the alternative between a new “ontological” and “epistemological” realism, I consider it useful to recall the observation by Maurizio Ferraris in his introduction to Gabriel 2012: “What for Schelling is myth, for Gabriel is sense”; just as myth has always preceded us and we cannot say who was its author, so sense is given in the same way, it is not at our disposal and imposes on us a thinking “a parte rei”. In the realism of Gabriel, Schelling’s “residual that never disappears” becomes the condition for the multiple ways of existence and each way of existence finds its truth in a certain field of sense. Ferraris considers that by this, Gabriel actually makes ontology depend on epistemology, as he sees being as intelligibility, while Ferraris maintains that being is mainly “opacity, resistance, unintelligibility, non-sense” and so sense should be “constructed” on the base of this original opacity: for Ferraris, then, ontology always precedes epistemology: not viceversa

18 Although Grant is present in the debate on the speculative turn just as on new realism, his philosophical proposal inspired by Schelling cannot easily be ascribed to speculative philosophy or new realism, working autonomously on the particular notion of nature as continual ontogeny.

19 Corriero and Dezi 2013: vii-viii.

Torna su

Per citare questo articolo

Notizia bibliografica

Emilio Carlo Corriero, «Schelling again»Rivista di estetica, 74 | 2020, 3-11.

Notizia bibliografica digitale

Emilio Carlo Corriero, «Schelling again»Rivista di estetica [Online], 74 | 2020, online dal 01 février 2021, consultato il 16 juin 2024. URL: http://0-journals-openedition-org.catalogue.libraries.london.ac.uk/estetica/7036; DOI: https://0-doi-org.catalogue.libraries.london.ac.uk/10.4000/estetica.7036

Torna su

Autore

Emilio Carlo Corriero

Articoli dello stesso autore

Torna su

Diritti d’autore

CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0

Solamente il testo è utilizzabile con licenza CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. Salvo diversa indicazione, per tutti agli altri elementi (illustrazioni, allegati importati) la copia non è autorizzata ("Tutti i diritti riservati").

Torna su
Cerca su OpenEdition Search

Sarai reindirizzato su OpenEdition Search