F.W.J. Schelling (1775-1854) seems to be a seriously overlooked figure of modern philosophy: is there a good reason (beyond the merely historical) for his diminished relative importance compared, for instance, to Hegel?

Heidegger admitted that Schelling's Freedom Essay (1809) was the "acme" of German Idealism — he brought to its culmination. He even cleverly states that "Schelling's Treatise shattered Hegel's Science of Logic before it was even written." Despite these accolades, I am curious as to why Heidegger did not pursue Schelling's work further instead of dismissing the later lectures as Schelling necessarily "getting stranded." The leading grand narratives of Western philosophy champion Hegel because of his influence and the ways in which the different schools emerged through Europe and America (Right and Left Hegelians). Yet, Schelling's later positive philosophy, focused on the history of mythology and revelation, continues with the project of overcoming Hegel in unique ways and was influential on the development of the pragmatist tradition.

I'm interested in what people think about this counter-narrative, that Schelling's analysis into unconsciousness and undoing Hegel's damage was more pertinent to the direction philosophy actually took. Marx did not need to invert historical idealism because Schelling had already shown the limitations of the dialectic process, in general. In emphasizing a philosophy of hauntedness and a metaphysics of absence, Schelling actually goes much further than the typical accounts of Western philosophy seem to suggest. When you look at Nietzsche, Freud, and Derrida, for example, it becomes clear that Schelling's wild-ride was much more influential than Hegel's, as Zizek contends. In just lumping Schelling together as one of the German Idealist, which even Heidegger knew that wasn't the case, how have we benefited from neglecting the later lectures?

1 Answer 1


A good question. It is remarkable how near is the later Schelling of the question of being introduced by Heidegger.I don´t know the historical answer to your question, because I don´t know the biographical context of Heidegger. Anyway, I find both in Philosophie der Mythologie and Ph. der Offenbarung the annunciation of the big topics of heideggerian thought. For example, the idea of a pure being who escapes to any thought that Schelling calls "A⁰" or "das Unvordenkliche" or "das rein Seyende".

  • Good to hear from you and I find quite helpful what you have to add. Please check out Eric Voegelin's extensive chapter on Schelling's later thought, especially on the Berlin lectures on Mythologie and Offenbarung in Volume 7 to the History of Political Ideas, entitled The Last Orientation. This is Volume 25 of his Collected Works. Commented Jan 19, 2014 at 2:45

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