Writing Biography: Historians & Their Craft

By Lloyd E. Ambrosius | Go to book overview
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6. Did Friedrich Schelling Kill Auguste Böhmer
and Does It Matter? The Necessity of Biography
in the History of Philosophy

Robert J. Richards

On 10 August 1802, an anonymous review appeared in the influential journal Die Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung, a journal that was a bit like the New York Review of Books for Germany. The reviewer gave an account of a rather obscure pamphlet, “Lob der allerneusten Philosophie” - “Praise of the newest Philosophy.” It was a title ironically meant. 1 The broadside reported that a medical candidate, Joseph Reubein, had produced a thesis - very much like that of Friedrich Schelling, the young idealistic philosopher at Jena - that showed how death could be overcome. To the sardonic description of Reubein's views, the author added - and this sentence was prominently quoted in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung: “Heaven protect Reubein that he does not meet a patient whom he idealistically cures but really kills - a misfortune that befell Schelling at Bocklet in the case of M. B. as some malicious people say.” On reading this, Friedrich Schelling became benumbed with fury and, I suspect, rather depressed with not a little guilt. His first thoughts were to seek judicial action against the ALZ or to go directly to the ducal court for redress. The death to which the review referred was that of Mademoiselle Böhmer M. B. - Auguste Böhmer. Auguste's death a year and a half earlier had had a cataclysmic effect on Schelling's life, and he obviously still had not gotten over it. 2 Auguste Böhmer was thought by some to have been Schelling's fiancée - probably not, I think. She was, though, the daughter

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