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Reflection upon the relationship between the essence, the being, and the form of absolute identity reveals a crucial difference between the essential qualitative indifference of subjective and objective factors in absolute identity considered with respect to its Wesen or essence and the quantitative difference of these same factors that is implicit in its very form or mode of being. The uncompromising abolition of the opposition between thought and being, which is and has always been the goal of both theoretical cognition and practical striving is the starting point of F.W.J. Schelling's new Philosophy of Identity. Philosophy displays the same unity that mathematics does, the unity of the finite and the infinite, of being and of thinking, but it has the more difficult task of intuiting this unity immediately in the essence of the eternal itself and exhibiting it in reason.
At the most general level of description, formal freedom as spontaneous self-determination on the basis of concepts of ends, the account that Schelling attributes to idealism is in fact common to Immanuel Kant and Fichte. Kant and Fichte shared a conception of substantive freedom as the autonomy of the rational will. The distinction between Kant's account and Fichte's is that the former understood substantive self-determination in terms of a law that rational agency gives itself, whereas the latter understood it in terms of an end that rational agency sets for itself. The idea that the exercise of human freedom is actually responsible for the introduction of chaos into the order of things, prefigured in Philosophy and Religion, is a staple of Schelling's late philosophy. But this view becomes dominant only with the Ages of the World drafts, and coexists in the Freiheitsschrift alongside remnants of Schelling's earlier view.
F.W.J. Schelling's precise ways of thinking about skepticism and about its relation to philosophy went through several rather dramatic shifts over the course of his career. This chapter sketches three different positions that Schelling adopted on this subject at different periods. The first of these is a Fichte-inspired position, during the period 1794-1800; the second a Hegel-inspired position, which he held briefly in 1802-3; and the third a Romanticism-inspired position, which he adopted around 1821. Schlegel's initial development of the ideas in question occurred mainly in the Lectures on Transcendental Philosophy that he delivered in Jena in 1800-1, and which Hegel attended. It is an interesting question to what extent Schelling's final philosophical position, the so-called Positive Philosophy that he developed during the last two decades of his life, is continuous with the quasi-Romantic position just described.
This chapter summarizes section II of Immanuel Kant's dynamic conception of matter in the Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science. It also summarizes Schelling's metaphysical construction of matter in the Ideas, which represents Schelling's initial thoughts on the concept of life. In the transcendental doctrine of method, Kant distinguishes philosophical cognition, which is rational cognition from concepts, from mathematical cognition, which follows from the construction of concepts. According to Kant, the Cartesian mathematical-mechanical mode of explanation seeks to explain all the properties and actions of matter by its purely geometrical properties. If Schelling's solution in the First Outline subdued his much stronger dogmatic claims in the Ideas and the World-Soul, it brought forth a new problem, namely, the conception of science as a body of knowledge not grounded on self-evident and absolutely necessary principles.
This chapter discusses which problem of modern philosophy Hegel and F.W.J. Schelling claim to have solved with their formula "the identity of identity and non-identity". It also discusses the stages through which Schelling's thinking, and following him that of Hegel, progressed, until he eventually reached his mature position, and which of the insights of his predecessors he incorporated into that position. It connects all the strands to bring out clearly the basic structure of Schelling's mature Philosophy of Identity. The chapter describes the reasons that eventually made Schelling unwilling to associate himself with the interpretation of his position his friend Hegel proposed. Plato's discussion of the world-soul and Immanuel Kant's concept of an organism were equally influential models for Schelling's theory of absolute spirit. Schelling didn't yet realize that Kant really took "being-at-the-same-time-cause-and-effect of itself" to be an idea, not a category.
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