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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 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 Žižek.


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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 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 Žižek.

30 review for Philosophical Inquiries into the Nature of Human Freedom

  1. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    09/15/2004 The Beginning of the End of the Dialectical 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 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 th 09/15/2004 The Beginning of the End of the Dialectical 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 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!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Brent McCulley

    Single-handedly won most influential books I’ve ever read.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Michael Ledezma

    For all it's hangups and contortionism-as-justification, the argument was pretty powerful. There can be no freedom without the freedom to do evil, just as there is no good, without there being a principle of evil to turn itself away from the good. Evil exists as the pure potentiality of the turn away from the light in keeping with the yearning of the ground. The light is god himself and the ground is necessarily subordinated to god. The ground as such is not evil. It is pure pre-symbolic drive f For all it's hangups and contortionism-as-justification, the argument was pretty powerful. There can be no freedom without the freedom to do evil, just as there is no good, without there being a principle of evil to turn itself away from the good. Evil exists as the pure potentiality of the turn away from the light in keeping with the yearning of the ground. The light is god himself and the ground is necessarily subordinated to god. The ground as such is not evil. It is pure pre-symbolic drive fueled by desire to manifest itself materially. God cannot rid himself of this ground as source of potential evil, however, because he would cancel himself out. Evil has to arise from that aspect of god in which he is not He Himself, as light principle ie dark principle of ground. In the act of turning away from the universal will of light and love, toward the ground, in striving for parituclarization of self, and to subordinate the universal to the particular, humans actualize evil. This turning is not itself a manifestation of freedom, because it gives into the desire and yearning of the ground in a somewhat Kantian way, but without this capacity to willfully and necessarily uphold universality, being in the good would not itself be indicative of freedom. Since god is a life, however, and has created himself in order to bring forth spirit, he is not in Being, but in becoming. Therefore, the necessity of god's creating himself is completely undermined. God's coming into being is absolutely arbitrary. As per Heidegger, freedom and system are absolutely incompatible. interesting... Best read with Zizek and Heidegger side by side.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Erick

    This is the second book I've read by Schelling and the premise is a perennial favorite among philosophers. This book borrows quite a bit from Leibniz and Boehme, and to some degree, starts where they left off -not that it recapitulates every viewpoint of those writers; Schelling does have his own views and his approach is often unique. Whether he solved all of the problems regarding the notion of freewill is open to debate, but he does present some excellent points. One almost has to be acquaint This is the second book I've read by Schelling and the premise is a perennial favorite among philosophers. This book borrows quite a bit from Leibniz and Boehme, and to some degree, starts where they left off -not that it recapitulates every viewpoint of those writers; Schelling does have his own views and his approach is often unique. Whether he solved all of the problems regarding the notion of freewill is open to debate, but he does present some excellent points. One almost has to be acquainted with Boehme and Leibniz to be able to follow his train of thought though. Boehme's notion of the ungrund plays such a significant role, that from what I can tell, Schelling's work centers on it to a large degree. I've read both Leibniz and Boehme and thought their ideas were interesting, while also not always agreeing with them wholly. It is hard to deny the latter's profound influence on the Romantics and the Idealists. His influence is ubiquitous. This book is often held as being Schelling's best. The book is very good, but I actually liked his Philosophy of Mythology more. The ideas in it were a little more unique and thought-provoking in my opinion.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mehmet Ali KIZILASLAN

    Bir miktar beyin yaktı.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Attay Kremer

    Brilliantly metaphysical at times, horrifyingly theological at others. Kind of a mixed bag.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Antonio Wolf

    This essay is, if you're not steeped in Schelling's philosophical background, near unintelligible in the first half of it, not just because he uses new terms or anything, but because Schelling is quite happy to make almost no arguments at all through the first half of the work. The first 1/5th is a very interesting section arguing for Schelling's rejection of Spinoza's pantheism, but at the same time arguing for the absolute necessity for any philosophy to be pantheistic in a way that does not de This essay is, if you're not steeped in Schelling's philosophical background, near unintelligible in the first half of it, not just because he uses new terms or anything, but because Schelling is quite happy to make almost no arguments at all through the first half of the work. The first 1/5th is a very interesting section arguing for Schelling's rejection of Spinoza's pantheism, but at the same time arguing for the absolute necessity for any philosophy to be pantheistic in a way that does not destroy difference and individuality. From there Schelling launches into the problem of evil, meanders for the next 30 pages on mostly theological considerations using Böhmean speculative terms, and continues on to speculate a cosmogony/logy that rests upon an understanding of his mysticism. Most of the theological concerns are not simply dense, they are nearly unintelligible without putting one's effort on gaining the background knowledge necessary. This one really requires a commentary for those sections. That said, Schelling's thoughts on pantheism, freedom, and the nature of evil are quite interesting, especially when one moves away from his christian theosophical points towards their true philosophical speculative importance and forms.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rui Coelho

    Discussing the place of free will in a pantheistic philosophical system, Schelling introduces key concepts of pantheist philosophy like identity, individualization and evil.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    Testo estremamente raffinato e complesso, le Ricerche filosofiche sull'essenza della libertà umana e sugli oggetti che vi sono connessi sono il tentativo di Schelling di giustificare il "Deus sive Natura" spinoziano nell'ottica dell'Idealismo tedesco di inizio Ottocento. Oggetto principale dei vari testi è la libertà, sacrificata nella filosofia di Spinoza, garantita in quella di Leibniz senza risolvere il problema del dissidio tra bene e male: Schelling tenta di risolvere tali problematiche rico Testo estremamente raffinato e complesso, le Ricerche filosofiche sull'essenza della libertà umana e sugli oggetti che vi sono connessi sono il tentativo di Schelling di giustificare il "Deus sive Natura" spinoziano nell'ottica dell'Idealismo tedesco di inizio Ottocento. Oggetto principale dei vari testi è la libertà, sacrificata nella filosofia di Spinoza, garantita in quella di Leibniz senza risolvere il problema del dissidio tra bene e male: Schelling tenta di risolvere tali problematiche ricorrendo ad un Assoluto che sia identità indifferenziata, ovvero unità di poli opposti e contrastanti, un Uno che è al contempo Molteplice, raggiungendo vertici di speculazione estremamente elevati per un lettore non assiduo al confronto con testi filosofici. Dietro le righe, come poi accadrà nell'ultima fase del suo pensiero, Schelling riconduce il suo principio ad un Dio il cui operato nel mondo attraverso l'Amore segue la scia di quello cristiano. Interessante l'interpretazione che il filosofo dà del concetto di male: esso è visto come l'inversione degli usuali rapporti che intercorrono tra principio luminoso e principio oscuro nell'Identità, ed è solo grazie alla potenza dell'Amore (che troverà senso solo nella Creazione) che esso può ricongiungersi ad esso facendosi bene. La libertà, in modo estremamente semplificato, diventa possibile al solo di prezzo di non poter rinunciare a quell'elemento irrazionale che si nasconde nella molteplicità della Natura: per tale ragione, la struttura geometrica dedotta da Spinoza non può realizzarsi nella sua interezza, a meno di risultare contraddittoria con se stessa. Un vertice del pensiero di Schelling. I temi ivi espressi con lucidità sono una delle sue più significative eredità accanto al binomio filosofia positiva/negativa e meritano di essere considerati e confrontati: non a caso Heidegger, profondo ammiratore di Schelling, vi ha dedicato un intero saggio, scritto tra l'altro durante gli ultimi anni della sua vita.

  10. 5 out of 5

    John

    Everything in this books seemed very interesting based on what I read on the back cover, however - Schelling for me was not a very familiar name even though this work apparently was a very great one in the history of philosophy. With a great biographical introduction, my version of this book has, I kind of get the idea. Schelling was a philosopher in an unfavorable time in some sense, so his writing reflects the ideas of the time - a clash between idealism and realism with instances of theosophy Everything in this books seemed very interesting based on what I read on the back cover, however - Schelling for me was not a very familiar name even though this work apparently was a very great one in the history of philosophy. With a great biographical introduction, my version of this book has, I kind of get the idea. Schelling was a philosopher in an unfavorable time in some sense, so his writing reflects the ideas of the time - a clash between idealism and realism with instances of theosophy and as a response to Spinoza's pantheism. That means that even though Schelling tries to navigate, he navigates in my opinion in a landscape of "bad" philosophy. Philosophy does not stand on itself but is mixed up with theology, mystic thinking and a lot of unknowables. In a way, it's a good thing to have someone think in the corners of good and evil in relation to God, man and how it affects freedom, but when the groundwork seems to be on the wrong basis it becomes very intricate very fast. It is very dense and complicated to follow. I also think that reading it in Norwegian makes me more confused because I usually read philosophy in English and use English terms. Anyway, I do find this book somewhat valuable - both as a critique of Spinoza but also as a work to look into when encountering the problems the book addresses. I'm sure that when one thinks deeply about these things this book is one that is going to make much more sense in order to find clarity even if it does not seem very clear from the get-go. I may well return one day in the future.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Pyramids Ubiquitous

    Schelling’s evil (rooted in dogmatic evil) is this permeating quivering positive force weaving throughout the fabric of our air, coming and going as it pleases, accessible only to the human species and exists only so as to distinguish man from God elsewise man and God would be one (and I would deduce here that existence would thereby be impossible). Creative. Farfetched. In the 21st century these are the lunatic ravings of a madman. None of these ideas hold up with our developments in science, n Schelling’s evil (rooted in dogmatic evil) is this permeating quivering positive force weaving throughout the fabric of our air, coming and going as it pleases, accessible only to the human species and exists only so as to distinguish man from God elsewise man and God would be one (and I would deduce here that existence would thereby be impossible). Creative. Farfetched. In the 21st century these are the lunatic ravings of a madman. None of these ideas hold up with our developments in science, not even as fairy tale. The text is not difficult due to the subject matter, which is frankly very simple, but because Schelling’s writing has a manic lack of focus and logically pole-vaults from idea to barely related idea to idea, assuming you know how his strange brain got from A to D. I don’t dislike Schelling’s ideas and find most of them fun to think about. I particularly like his take on salvation, man’s yearning to perfect the spirit (God must become man so that man may return to God). And that he views evil not in contradiction with God’s love as its reality lies in opposition and never in itself. The idea of a God dividing itself so as to realize itself through man, thereby creating life as we experience it, is also interesting. The fact remains, though, it’s all very silly. It's a compelling read to see how far our understanding has come and to see how we arrived at this understanding.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Aung Sett Kyaw Min

    This treatise is very much like a roving proto stellar mass in which flashes of brilliance occassionally flare up only to sink back into obscurity for want of a dynamism. Nonetheless there is a clear telos to the painful and protracted labor of Light differentiating itself from the Dark principle and vice versa which culminates in the emergence of Man--the one creature in which the two principles are in maximal tension and therefore maximal unity. Precisely for this reason man can in a perversit This treatise is very much like a roving proto stellar mass in which flashes of brilliance occassionally flare up only to sink back into obscurity for want of a dynamism. Nonetheless there is a clear telos to the painful and protracted labor of Light differentiating itself from the Dark principle and vice versa which culminates in the emergence of Man--the one creature in which the two principles are in maximal tension and therefore maximal unity. Precisely for this reason man can in a perversity not applicable to mere animal existence, subordinate the maximum intensity of the universal will or light to the maxium baseness of the particular, creaturely will which has now become aware of itself as such. This is what Schelling calls man's temptation to step of the centre which he is and to make a centre out of a point in the periphery. Evil is not identified with the ground of existence but with this ground's willing to posture itself as existence. But then again evil can never become actual (according to Schelling himself) so why should we be threatened? Sometimes Schelling comes dangerously to close to collapsing ethics into ontology...

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jimena T

    Schelling’s treaty on freedom is at first difficult to comprehend. He is a bit poetic and writes incredibly long sentences. Anyway, by the time I was getting to the end, I started to get a sense about what he was trying to say. I suppose the difficulties I had reading this book were due to my lack of expertise in Philosophy and in reading philosophical works. Nevertheless, this is a very good source for anyone writing a paper about freedom and its relationship with evil and God. Don’t let the tr Schelling’s treaty on freedom is at first difficult to comprehend. He is a bit poetic and writes incredibly long sentences. Anyway, by the time I was getting to the end, I started to get a sense about what he was trying to say. I suppose the difficulties I had reading this book were due to my lack of expertise in Philosophy and in reading philosophical works. Nevertheless, this is a very good source for anyone writing a paper about freedom and its relationship with evil and God. Don’t let the tricky language stop you from reading this book.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tinytim Timea

    Având în vedere că pentru mine idealismul german e în general cel mult o aberație poetică, Schelling a fost de-a dreptul simpatic... El cel puțin nu aruncă cu pietre in Spinoza :D

  15. 4 out of 5

    Δημήτρης Προδρομίδης

    Truth lies inside us, no need to turn outwards.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ali Jones

    Et nydelig spindelvev, bestående av problemstillinger knyttet til filosofiens mest grunnleggende oppgaver. Utrolig!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    Must be read in order to fully grasp German thought

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tomas Kristofory

    I was neatly surprised by the book being hugely in accord with christian view of creation. His (dialectical) analysis of the problem of compatibility of God's providence with man's freedom is thus less prone to criticisms from christian theologians than Hegel's. The reason why is that, is that Schelling says (in the Conclusion) that cultural evolutionist kind of master-slave dialectics is useless, since we have better possibilities in exploring nature (Naturphilosophie), especially man's nature. I was neatly surprised by the book being hugely in accord with christian view of creation. His (dialectical) analysis of the problem of compatibility of God's providence with man's freedom is thus less prone to criticisms from christian theologians than Hegel's. The reason why is that, is that Schelling says (in the Conclusion) that cultural evolutionist kind of master-slave dialectics is useless, since we have better possibilities in exploring nature (Naturphilosophie), especially man's nature. Such research is possible since 'man has always been fully developed'. There is no cultural evolution. Hegelian master-slave dialectics is thus not only useless, but also inappropriate result of philosopher's pretentious imagination. Schelling analyses human nature also with the help of Bible's citations. Here we see Schelling's parting ways with Hegel, and his siding with christian theology. For me personally, Schelling's explanation of compatibility of God's providence with human freedom was more clear than Hegel's, and I finally understood the difference between Spinoza and christian theology - only The Son emanates from God the Father in christian theology, while in Spinoza also creation emanates from God.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ştefan Bolea

    I confess I am interested in Schelling as Kierkegaard's educator. I understand "The Concept of Anxiety" much better after reading Schelling's fabulous account of originary evil. It's clear to me now why Bakunin and Engels attended Schelling's classes -- he was dangerously close to nihilism. One can say about him what another author wrote about Schopenhauer in a different context: his own philosophy and Nihilism are divided by a thin wall. I wonder: how would Schelling write in a non-theological I confess I am interested in Schelling as Kierkegaard's educator. I understand "The Concept of Anxiety" much better after reading Schelling's fabulous account of originary evil. It's clear to me now why Bakunin and Engels attended Schelling's classes -- he was dangerously close to nihilism. One can say about him what another author wrote about Schopenhauer in a different context: his own philosophy and Nihilism are divided by a thin wall. I wonder: how would Schelling write in a non-theological context, so to say, after the death of God? I think he would be even more radical than the fiercest Nietzscheans. Although a metaphysics of the will is clearly documented ("Wollen ist Ursein"), I believe that Heidegger is being dishonest and falls prey to a common prejudice in suggesting that Schopenhauer's main principle is unoriginal.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Leonardo

    Schelling plantea que Dios antes de la creación era un dominio de puras potencialidades. Esta potencialidad, obstaculizada por la naturaleza, vuelva a explotar en el pensamiento humano, es el "postulado como tal". Visión de Paralaje Pág.114 Schelling plantea que Dios antes de la creación era un dominio de puras potencialidades. Esta potencialidad, obstaculizada por la naturaleza, vuelva a explotar en el pensamiento humano, es el "postulado como tal". Visión de Paralaje Pág.114

  21. 5 out of 5

    Tijmen Lansdaal

    Ungrund, cutting through your Enlightment like a double edged knife that has no handle.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    Mind blowing penumbral metaphysics: the God begotten God reveals to the begetting God his innermost essence, and it can't be done without human freedom to choose between good and evil. Mind blowing penumbral metaphysics: the God begotten God reveals to the begetting God his innermost essence, and it can't be done without human freedom to choose between good and evil.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Beatrix

  24. 5 out of 5

    Beyza

  25. 5 out of 5

    Wil

  26. 5 out of 5

    Egilva

  27. 5 out of 5

    William Jamison

  28. 5 out of 5

    Paolo Gardois

  29. 4 out of 5

    Josh Gathany

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jacobus Boers

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