In "First Outline of a System of the Philosophy of Nature", Second Division, Schelling tries to prove that the phenomenon that the Sun creates via the chemical action on Earth is light. During that proof Schelling rejects the idea that any comparison, or any ramification whatsoever can be made from the chemical action we know on Earth to the Sun:

... The grand image of a burning planetary body that becomes the source of life for a system of subordinate bodies while it wrestles with the destroyer can impress the imagination indeed, but not the understanding. But there is no neccessity in this explanation. Indeed, Kant made an attempt, but it is not satisfying by far. Instead of the many objections that can be made to this hypothesis, I suggest only one: It is a very natural illusion (but a great one nevertheless) to believe that because the development of light is bound up with combustion in the chemical process of the Earth, this is also the case in the chemical process of the Sun. That the chemical process of the Earth is bound up therewith, has its ground in the luminous state of the Sun - so this cannot again be explained from a process of combustion.

(p.97, first end-note, "First Outline of a System of the Philosophy of Nature", trans. Keith R. Peterson; bold emphasis mine.)

Yet afterwards Schelling does exactly that:

With the abandonment of all hypotheses I therefore propose the following proposition: If the positive action in all chemical process is an action of the Sun, then the Sun, in opposition to the Earth, is generally in a POSITIVE state. The same thing will hold for all suns; namely, that they are necessarily positive in opposition to their subalterns. [italic in original text.]

(p.97, ibid., bold emphasis mine)

Here we see that Schelling takes the chemical action as presenting the positive, oppose to the Earth's negative action. Hence, Schelling takes the chemical process of the Earth to indirectly influence the process of the Sun; and from there concludes it to be a general fact of Sun-Planet relation. But Schelling himself says that we cannot deduce anything from the Earth's chemical process on the Sun's!

Am I wrong here? Did I misunderstood Schelling? Or did Schelling really contradict himself?

  • Just reading the quotes. He does not "reject", only points out that the "just because" leap is unwarranted, and not "any ramification whatsoever", only argues that since the "chemical process" of the Earth "has its ground" in the "luminous state" of the Sun the same "grounding" can not explain the Sun itself. He is sort of right in hindsight, the energy that heats up Earth comes ultimately from the Sun, while the Sun itself has no such external source, and is fed, like all stars, by the nucleosynthesis in its core.
    – Conifold
    Aug 30, 2019 at 12:18
  • @Conifold oh, I didn't think about the "because" as "just because". That really does sound reasonable. Sometimes a different set of eyes can be very helpful! :) I'll close the question as this really answers the question. Aug 30, 2019 at 12:30
  • This question was was corrected in the comments and does not require a full answer. Aug 30, 2019 at 12:32


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