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Friedrich Schelling

Who was Friedrich Schelling?

The literary and artistic Romantics of his era deeply influenced the philosophy of Arthur Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling (1776-1854). He studied at Tübinger Stift (the seminary of the Protestant Church in Württemberg) and graduated from the philosophy faculty there in 1792. He then attended lectures at the University of Leipzig while working as a tutor to aristocratic youth. At the age of 23 he received an unprecedented offer to teach philosophy at the University of Jena. He subsequently held chairs at the universities at Würzberg, Erlangen, Munich, and finally Berlin, where he was expected to oppose the Hegelians. His primary motivation in philosophy appears to have been aesthetic, and he became known for his "nature philosophy," as developed in his System of Transcendental Idealism (1800).

What was Friedrich Schelling's major thesis?

Schelling believed that the entirety of Nature, physical as well as mental, was Mind on the way toward consciousness. But consciousness, or the human self, is the creator of nature. Life cannot be explained in mechanistic or inert terms.

Schelling resurrected a type of alchemical thought whereby "magnetism," which is the general form of particular existence, either becomes evident in light or maleness, or else becomes evident in heavy inertia, or femaleness. In ordinary language (although there was nothing ordinary about this belief) the alchemists believed that things that exist are all made up of a magnetic something that can manifest itself in either lightweight and airy (or male) beings, or else in heavy and dense (or female) beings.

He believed that existent reality became separated from the Absolute in a spontaneous act of freedom, which created time itself, along with the world as we know it. That is, there occurred in the Absolute a spontaneous burst of freedom that resulted in the separation of what we perceive as reality from the Absolute. Another consequence was the appearance of time. This is to say that the Absolute exists outside of time.

Schelling had a following among Romantics in the sciences, as well as in the arts because Romantics in the nineteenth century, as today, loved quasi-mystical explanations of the world. Lorenz Oken (1774-1851), for example, postulated that all of life in Schelling's sense in which nature is unconscious mind, originated in "primeval slime." The connection between Oken's idea and Schelling's thought is not at all clear, except to indicate how one wild set of ideas is capable of inspiring others.

How were Friedrich Schilling's views of culture aesthetic?

Schelling believed that history is a drama that will be resolved when the Absolute discloses itself. God is an artist, the universe his artwork. The main value of religion lies not in its morality, but in its beauty.

Friedrich Hegel

Who was Friedrich Hegel?

For sheer intellectual fire-power, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831) was probably the most brilliant thinker of the nineteenth century. He was a philosopher who could think about the entire world with an Aristotelian comprehensiveness, if not an Aristotelian lucidity. He is best known for his idealist positing of an Absolute, a kind of non-religious, Neo-Platonic, post-Enlightenment "One," which was observed only through its workings in the ordinary reality experienced by mere mortals, but deduced (divined?) through the logic of Hegel himself.

What are some highlights of Friedrich Hegel's career?

Hegel was the eldest of three children. His father was a minor government official in the Duchy of Wittenberg; his mother died when he was 11. He attended the theological seminary or "Stift," which was a subsidiary of the University of Tubingen. His roommates were the great German Romanic poet Johann Christian Friedrich Holder-

What is the story behind Friedrich Schelling's scandalous romantic affair with August Wilhelm von Schlegel's wife?

When he was teaching in Jena, Schelling was close friends with German poet August Wilhelm von Schlegel, who was highly esteemed by other German Romantics, and with Karoline, who would later be the poet's wife. There was discussion of marriage between Schelling and the Schlegels' daughter, Auguste. But Auguste died from dysentery in 1800, after Schelling had supervised her treatment. At first, Schelling was blamed, but later biographers exonerated him because her death was probably medically inevitable at that time.

Schelling and Karoline then recognized their love for each other, and August moved out, leaving Jena for Berlin. Later, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, another famous literary figure, helped secure a divorce, and Schelling and Karoline married, after they had left Jena to avoid the predictable scandal.

lin and the philosopher Friedrich Schelling (1775-1854), who would be his colleague and intellectual opponent. (They disputed the importance of Reason, with Hegel proudly affirming it and Schelling expressing a lack of enthusiasm for it.) When he graduated, Hegel first worked as a tutor for a Bern family, and then he moved to Frankfurt. His father's death provided him with sufficient income to concentrate on his own scholarly work in hopes of getting a university position. His early interests were in reconciling fluid notions of reason with non-institutionalized Christianity.

In 1805, Schelling assisted Hegel in moving to Jena, where he lectured for several years and became a professor at the University of Jena. By this time, as expressed in his early essays, Hegel was having doubts about the freedom promised by the Enlightenment. He loved the thought and ways of life of ancient Greece and believed that Enlightenment rights would result in new forms of repression. One motivation for this concern might have been his experience of the French Revolution. On a deeper philosophical level, he thought that what was most noble in human beings required society and government for its development. This view conflicted with the individual rights doctrine, which assumed that government was the enemy of natural human rights.

At Jena, he co-edited the Critical Journal of Philosophy with Schelling, which was dedicated to exploring the consequences of Immanuel Kant's (1724-1804) transcendental idealism, in light of Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1762-1814) and Schelling's own work. Hegel left Jena when the University closed after Napoleon Bonaparte's victory in October 1806. He then edited a pro-Napoleon newspaper in Bavaria, and became headmaster of a Nuremberg high school in 1808.

In 1807 Hegel's important Phenomenology of Spirit was published, and then his Science of Logic (1812) resulted in a professorship at Heidelberg. In 1818 he assumed his last post, which was as a professor at Berlin, lecturing widely on philosophy of history, history of philosophy, aesthetics, and philosophy of religion, much of which was unpublished until it was posthumously compiled from his notes and those of students. Hegel's Foundations of the Philosophy of Right: Natural Right and Political Science in Outline was published in 1821.

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