Below is an extract from Schelling's Organic Form Philosophy by Bruce Matthews. Two requests:

  1. I'm completely new to philosophy and trying make sure I'm understanding the fundamentals; jumped in the deep end I think. I've added my own comments to the below extract. Do they show a reasonable understanding?

  2. I chose to start reading Schelling's Organic form Philosophy because I was intrigued by Schelling's insistance that a philosophy must be as capable of continuous development as life itself. I'm hoping the book will provide some interesting perspective on dealing with change from a philosophic standpoint. I also have an interest in Chaos Theory, the mathematical study of dynamic systems and complexity; particularly the study of complexity itself, rather than simplification.

Can anyone recommend other philsophy books that cover these topics? The study of change or complexity and dynamic ways of processing them?


The pietist orientation has obvious epistemological ramifications. How one determines truth the aim of belief derives from the certainty generated not by calculation (ratio) according to a rule, but rather from the pre-reflective certainty of unmediated experience.

reflective - what we remember it being like to experience something
pre-reflective - what it is like to experience something

The yardstick for measuring truth thus begins beyond the reach of reason in the bedrock certainty of lived experience, and only thereafter feeds into the regions of our experience dictated by the discursive movements of predication, calculation, and prediction.

The certainty of the combination of terms which characterises acts of discursive reason is thus derivative of a more primary certitude that, to borrow a phrase from Wittgenstein "is the prototype of a way of thinking and not the result of thought".

A model for a way of thinking rather than the output of such a model?
or does 'the result of thought' relate to pre-reflective experience?
Does pre-reflective experience simply relate to emotional impact?
If there is pre-reflective thought as part of an experience,
then would that not follow the rules of a modelled way of thinking?
Is un-mediated prereflective experience possible once reflection has taken place?

In this scheme of things the reflective or combinatory certitude of reason relates to the certitude of experience as a parasite does to host body: rational doubt is parasitic on a pre-reflective certainty of unmediated experience. reasoning cannot begin without experienceTo invert this order and propose that certainty is parasitic on doubt doubt prompts reflection and reasoning, or worse to argue that the certitude of life and death is subservient to the certitude of the law of the excluded middle law of thought where either a proposition is true or it's negation is true; either A = TRUE or NOT A = TRUE - is to engage in a pathology of thinking that emasculates life and generates at best, an anemic theory of concepts, a theoretical "castle in the air" that mistakes "words for concepts, and concepts for realities".


Logic and reasoning could be used to create a conceptual model or theory of reality but only primary experience can produce an understanding of the state of things as they actually exist.

  • Welcome to Philosophy.SE! I have tried to markup your question a bit more how we normally do here, but it wasn't clear to me what was quote and what was not. Please review the edit, and improve where necessary. Thanks! – Keelan May 11 '15 at 18:17
  • Schellings is a bridge between German Idealism and Romanticism; hence the emphasis on experiential and pre-reflectiveness; also Schellings was reacting against Kants system where nature is simply the expression of formal laws; hence the natur in naturphilosophie; – Mozibur Ullah May 12 '15 at 6:47

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.