Schelling, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Schelling, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von

Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling (frē´drĬkh vĬl´hĕlm yō´zĕf fən shĕ´lĬng), 1775–1854, German philosopher. After theological study at Tübingen and two years of tutoring at Leipzig, he became in 1798 a professor at Jena, where he helped found the romantic movement in philosophy. There he was closely associated with August and Friedrich von Schlegel and J. G. Fichte, from whom he drew apart when he left Jena for a professorship at Würzburg in 1803. He later taught at the Univ. of Berlin. Schelling's early essays were a development of the Fichtean science of knowledge, though in Ideas for a Philosophy of Nature (1797, tr. 1988) he had already differed somewhat in holding that nature cannot be subordinated to mental life. The difference between the forces of nature and mind must be only a matter of degree or level, and the problem of knowledge is absorbed in the ultimate unity of mind and matter in the Absolute. In his later period, Schelling maintained that history is a series of stages progressing toward harmony from a previous fall and that differences are aspects of this development. He argued that God also partakes of this process of development; that deity, to have personality, must hold within itself the limiting factors that define personality. Schelling's essay Of Human Freedom (1809, tr. 1936) anticipated existentialist themes, including that of individual freedom seen as the capacity to determine one's own essence. Among Schelling's other works is Die Weltalter (1854; tr. by Frederick Bolman, The Ages of the World, 1942).

See E. D. Hirsch, Wordsworth and Schelling (1971); A. White, Schelling: An Introduction to the System of Freedom (1983); W. Marx, The Philosophy of F. W. J. Schelling (1984).

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