Schelling and Revelation
His appearance in Berlin was bound to arouse general excitement. He had played so prominent a role in the history of modern philosophy; in spite of all the stimulation he had given, he had never produced a finished system and had put off his settlement with science time and again, until he had now promised to give this great account of his entire life’s work. And he really did undertake to achieve the reconciliation of faith and science, of philosophy and revelation, and everything else he had mentioned in his first lecture. [15 November 1841] A further important source of heightened interest in him was the relation in which he stood to the man he had come to conquer. Already friends and room-mates at the University, the two men later lived together in Jena in such intimacy that to this day it cannot be decided what influence they had on each other. One thing alone is certain, that it was Hegel who made Schelling realise how far he had already gone beyond Fichte without knowing it.
[If Schelling really is as “straightforward and frank” as he claims, if he is sincere in his assertions about Hegel and has Rood reasons for them, he should prove it by publishing his correspondence with Hegel, which is said to be in his possession, or at least the publication of which depends only on him. But that is the tender spot. If he demands belief in his sincerity let him come forward will this proof which would end all arguments on the issue. — Note by Engels.]
After their separation, however, their paths of development, which until then had been parallel, soon began to part. Hegel, whose profound, restless dialectic only now began freely to develop after Schelling’s influence had receded, made in 1806 with the Phänomenologie des Geistes a giant step beyond the standpoint of natural philosophy and declared his independence of it; Schelling despaired more and more of the possibility of achieving the great results he desired by the method hitherto followed and already at that time attempted to master the absolute directly by empirical assumption of a higher revelation. While Hegel’s thought-creating power proved itself increasingly energetic, lively and active, Schelling, as is already evidenced by his making such an assumption, sank into an inert lassitude which soon became outwardly manifest in the slackening of his literary activity. He may well talk complacently now about his long, secret philosophical labours, about the hidden treasures in his desk, about his thirty years’ war with thought, nobody will believe him. He who concentrates the entire effort of his mind on a single point, who still lays claim to the youthful vigour which overcame a Fichte, and wants to be a hero of science, a genius of the first order — and only such a one would be able to overthrow Hegel, as everybody must admit — would he need thirty years and more to produce a few insignificant results? If Schelling had not taken philosophising so lightly, would not all the stages in the development of his thought lie before the world in separate writings? After all, he never showed much self-control in this regard, and used to send at once anything new he found into the world without much criticism. If he still felt himself to be the king of science, how could he live without the recognition of his people, how could the miserable existence of a dethroned prince, a Charles X, how could the long since worn and faded purple of the philosophy of identity satisfy him? Should he not have dared everything to reinstate himself in his lost rights, to reconquer the throne of which a “later comer” a had deprived him? Instead, he left the road of pure thought, buried himself in mythological and theosophical fantasies and kept his system at the disposal, as it’ would appear, of the King of Prussia b for at his call the never completed was at once ready. So he came here, with the reconciliation of faith and knowledge in his bag, got himself talked about and as last mounted the rostrum. And what was the New he brought, the Unheard-of with which he wanted to work wonders?
The philosophy of revelation, on which he had lectured in Munich “since 1831 in exactly the same way”, and the philosophy of mythology, which “dates from even earlier”. Quite old things which had been proclaimed in Munich for ten years without success, which could captivate only a Ringseis or a Stahl. That is what Schelling calls his “system"! There lie the forces which are to save the world, the anathema against godlessness — in the seed which refused to germinate in Munich! As these lectures have been ready for ten years, why did Schelling not have them printed? With all his self-assurance and confidence in success there must be something behind this, some secret doubt must be keeping him from this step.
In appearing before the Berlin audience, he did indeed come a little closer to the public than up to now in Munich. What could there easily remain an esoteric secret teaching because nobody bothered about it, is here mercilessly forced into the light of day. Nobody is admitted to heaven before he has gone through the purgatory of criticism. Anything remarkable that is said in the University here today appears tomorrow in all German newspapers. Hence all the reasons which kept Schelling from having his lectures printed should have held him back also from moving to Berlin. Even more so, for the printed word admits no misunderstanding, while the carelessly spoken word, hastily taken down and perhaps only half heard, is indeed exposed to false interpretations. But, of course, there was now nothing else for it; he had to go to Berlin or by his action admit his inability to defeat Hegelianism. It was now also too late to go into print, for he had to bring to Berlin something new, not yet printed, and his manner here showed that he did not have anything else “in his desk”.
So he confidently mounted the rostrum, and immediately promising his hearers the most tremendous things, he began his lectures before almost four hundred people, of all social positions and nations. Of these I shall now report, on the basis of my own notes, which I have compared with the most accurate of other available records, whatever is necessary to justify my judgment.
Up to now, all philosophy has made it its task to understand the world as reasonable. What is reasonable is, of course, also necessary, and what is necessary must be, or at least become, real. This is the bridge to the great practical results of modern philosophy. If Schelling now does not acknowledge these results, it would have been consistent to deny also the reasonableness of the world. He dared not, however say this outright, but preferred to deny the reasonableness of Philosophy. So he makes a most devious way for himself between reason and unreason, calls the reasonable the understandable a priori, the unreasonable the understandable a posteriors, and assigns the former to the “pure science of reason or negative philosophy”, the latter to a “positive philosophy” yet to be founded.
Here is the first great gulf between Schelling and all other philosophers, here is the first attempt to smuggle belief in dogma [Autoritätsglauben], sentimental mysticism, gnostic fantasy into the free science of thinking. The unity of philosophy, the wholeness of any world outlook, is torn apart into a most unsatisfactory dualism, the contradiction which makes up the world-historic significance of Christianity is raised to the principle of philosophy as well. Right from the start, therefore, we must protest against this division. Moreover, we shall see how invalid it is when we follow the train of thought with which Schelling seeks to justify his inability to grasp the universe as reasonable and whole. He proceeds from the scholastic dictum that in things the quid is to be distinguished from the quod, the what from the that. Reason teaches what things are, experience proves that they are. If one were to deny this distinction by maintaining the identity of thinking and being, this would be a misuse of the postulate. The result of the logical thought process is merely the thought of the world, not the real world. Reason is simply impotent to prove the existence of anything, and in this respect must accept the testimony of experience as sufficient. Philosophy, however, deals also with things which transcend all experience, with God, for example; hence the question is whether reason is capable of providing proof of their existence. To be able to answer this question, Schelling enters into a lengthy discussion which is here quite superfluous since the above premises do not admit any other answer than a decisive No. This is also the result of Schelling’s discussion. Hence according to Schelling it necessarily follows that in pure thought reason has not to deal with really existing things, but with things as possible, with their essence, not with their being; so that its subject is God’s essence, but not His existence. For the real God, therefore, a different sphere must be looked for than that of pure reason, the presupposition of existence must be granted to things which only later, a posteriors, have to show themselves as possible or reasonable and as accessible to experience in their consequences, that is, as real.
Here the contrast to Hegel is already set forth in all its sharpness. In that naive belief in the Idea to which Schelling is so superior, Hegel maintains that anything which is reasonable is also real; Schelling says, however, that what is reasonable is possible, and thus safeguards himself, for in view of the known extensive range of possibility, this proposition is irrefutable. But at the same time he thereby already proves what will be manifest later, namely, his unclarity concerning all purely logical categories. I could, indeed, at once point out the gap in the above battle order of conclusions through which the wicked enemy of dependence stole into the ranks of free thoughts, but I shall save this for a later occasion so as not to repeat myself, and shall at once go on to the content of the pure science of reason as Schelling construed it for his hearers to the great amusement of all Hegelians. It is the following:
Reason is the infinite power of cognition. Power is the same as ability (Kant’s ability to know). As such it appears without any content, but nevertheless it has one, and indeed, without its own doing, without action on its part, for otherwise it would, of course, cease to be power, since power and action are opposites. This content, which is thus necessarily immediate, innate, can only be the infinite power of being, corresponding to the infinite power of cognition, since to every cognition there corresponds something which has being. This power of being, this infinite ability to be, is the substance from which we must derive our concepts. To be occupied with it is pure, self-immanent thinking. This pure ability to be is not just a readiness to exist but the concept of being itself, that which by its nature is eternally passing over into concept, or that which is about to pass over into being, that which cannot be prevented from being and is therefore passing over from thinking into being. This is the mobile nature of thinking, according to which it cannot stop at mere thinking but must constantly pass over into being. This is, however, no passing over into real being but only a logical passing over. So instead of the pure power there appears something that logically is being. But since the infinite power ‘stands in the relation of the prius to that which itself originates in thinking by passing over into being, and since only everything that really is being corresponds to the infinite power, reason possesses as its integral content the ppwer tp assume an a priori attitude to being and thus, without having recourse to experience, to arrive at the content of everything that really is being. That which occurs in reality reason has recognised as logically necessary possibility. It does not know whether the world exists; it only knows that if it does, it must be of such and such a nature.
Hence, the fact that reason is power compels us to regard its content also as potential. Hence God cannot be the immediate content of reason, for He is something real, not merely potential, possible. In the power of being we first discover the possibility to pass over into being. This being takes away from the power the domination over itself. Before, the power dominated being; it could pass over into it or not. Now it has fallen to being, is under its sway. This is being without mind, without concept, for mind is power over being. This conceptless being is no longer to be found in nature, it has already all been taken possession of by form; but it is easy to see that this condition was preceded by a blind, boundless being, which lies at its basis as matter. But power is this freedom, this infinity, which can pass over into being or not, so that the two contradictory opposites in it, being and not-being, are not mutually exclusive. This second ability — also not to pass over into being — is the equal of the first, as long as the first remains power. Only when that which is immediately able to be actually passes over into being is the other excluded from it. The indifference of the two in the power then ceases, for now the first possibility posits the second outside itself. The ability to realise itself is given to this second only by the exclusion of the first. As in the infinite power the ability to pass over and the ability not to pass over do not exclude each other, so also they do not exclude that which hovers freely between being and not-being. Thus we have three powers. In the first a direct relation to being, in the second an indirect relation, which is able to be only by the exclusion of the first. So we now have 1) that which inclines to being; 2) that which inclines to not-being; 3) that which hovers freely between being and not-being. Before the act of passing over, the third is not distinct from the direct power and so will only become being when it is excluded by the first two; it can only come to be when the first two have passed over into being. With this all possibilities are completed and the inner organism of reason is exhausted in this totality of powers. The first possibility is only that before which there can only be the infinite power itself. There is something which, when it has left the realm of possibility, is only one, but until it has decided to do so, it is instar omnium, the directly imminent, also that which resists, which offers resistance to the other that is destined to succeed it. By yielding its position it transfers its might to another, raising it to power. To this other that is raised to power it will subordinate itself as relative not-being. At first there appears that which can be in the transitive sense, which is therefore also the most accidental, the least substantiated, which can find its basis only in the subsequent, not in the preceding. Only in subordinating itself to this subsequent, in becoming, by comparison, a relative not-being, does it obtain substantiation, only thus does it become something, since alone it would only be lost. This first is the prima materia of all being, itself arriving at determined being by placing above itself something higher. The second thing with the ability to be is only posited and raised into its power by the above exclusion of the first from its placidity; that which in itself is not yet able to be, now becomes something able to be through the negation. From its original indirect ability to be, it is posited as placid, calm willing and so it will necessarily work towards negating that by which it was itself negated, and thus towards returning into its own placid being. This can only come to pass by the first being brought back from its absolute alienation into its ability to be. Thus we obtain a superior ability to be, a being which has been brought back to its ability to be, which as something higher is a being with power over itself. Since with the direct ability to be the infinite power is not exhausted, the second within it must be the direct ability only not to be. But that which has the direct ability to be is already superior to the ability; hence, the second power must be the direct non-ability not to be, the perfectly pure being, for only the being is not the being able to be. The pure being can certainly be power, however contradictory this may seem, for it is not real being, it has not, like the latter, passed a potentia ad actum, but is actus purus. It is, of course, not immediate power, but from that it does not follow that it cannot be power at all. it must be negated in order to be realised; thus it is not power everywhere and throughout, but can become power through negation. As long as that which is immediately capable of being remained mere power, it was itself pure being; as soon as it raises itself above power, it presses the pure being out of its own being so as itself to become being. Pure being, negated as actus purus, thus becomes power. So it has no freedom of will but must work in order again to negate its negation. In this way it could indeed pass over ab actu ad potentiam and thus be realised outside itself. The first, the boundless being, was the non-willed, the hyle, with which the demiurge has to wrestle. It is posited so as at once to be negated by the second power. A bounded being must take the place of the boundless being, it must be led by stages back into the ability to be, and then is an ability which is self-possessing and, at the highest stage, conscious of itself. So between the first and the second possibility there lie a mass of derived possibilities and medium powers. These are already the concrete world. if the power that was posited outside itself is fully brought back into ability, into self-possessing power, the second power, too, will leave the scene, because it is only there to negate the first and in the act of negating the first dissolves itself as power. The more it overcomes the opposing being, the more it destroys itself. At this stage it is not possible to stop. If the being is to be completed, in place of the being which was entirely overcome by the second power a third must be Posited to which the second power completely transfers its might. This can be neither pure ability to be nor pure being, but only that which in being is ability to be and in ability to be is being, the contradiction of power and being posited as identity, that which hovers freely between the two, the spirit, an inexhaustible source of being, which is quite free and in being does not cease to remain power. This cannot work directly but can only be made actual through the second power. Since now the second is that which mediates between the first and the third, the third is posited by that first which was overcome by the second. This third, which remains unconquered in being, is, posited as spirit, that which is able to be and which consummates, so that with its entry into being the consummate being is there. In the self-possessing ability, in the spirit, lies the consummation of nature. This last can also devote itself to a new, consciously produced movement and so form for itself a new, intellectual world standing above nature. This possibility, too, must be exhausted by science, which thereby becomes philosophy of nature and philosophy of spirit.
Through this process everything that is not immanent in thinking, that has passed over into being, is eliminated and there remains the power which no longer needs to pass over into being, which no longer has being outside itself, whose ability to be is its being; the entity which is no longer subordinate to being, but is its being in its truth, what is called the supreme being. Thus the supreme law of thinking is fulfilled, power and action are together in one being, thinking is now by itself and hence is free thinking, no longer subject to an unceasing, necessary movement. Here that which was willed in the beginning has been reached, the self-possessing concept (for concept and power are identical) which, because it is unique of its kind, has a special name and, because it is that which was willed from the beginning, is called the Idea. For he who in thinking will not look to the result, whose philosophy is not conscious of its purpose, is like a painter who simply goes on painting, and the outcome can take care of itself.
So far Schelling has communicated to us the content of his negative philosophy, and these outlines are perfectly sufficient to recognise the fantastic, illogical character of his mode of thinking. He is no longer capable of moving in pure thinking even for a short time; every moment the most fabulous, most bizarre phantoms cross his path, so that the great horses drawing his carriage of thought rear and shy and he himself abandons his goal to chase after these phantoms. That the three powers, when reduced to their naked thought content, are nothing but the three elements of the Hegelian course of development through negation, only , fixed in their separateness and dressed up by torn apart “philosophy which is conscious of its purpose” in accordance with that purpose, can be seen at first glance. It is a sad spectacle to watch Schelling drag thought down — from its lofty, pure ether into the region of sensory perception, strike from its head the true golden crown and make it stagger about, drunk with the fog and mist of the unaccustomed, romantic atmosphere, in a crown of gilded paper, to be the laughing-stock of the street urchins. These so-called powers are no longer thoughts at all, they are nebulous, fantastic shapes in which the outlines of the three divine hypostases already shine clearly through the veil of cloud which mysteriously envelops them. Indeed, they already have a certain self-consciousness: one “inclines” to being, the other to not-being, the third “hovers freely” between the two. They “yield place to each other”, they have different “positions”, they “crowd” each other, they “resist”, they fight each other, they “seek to negate themselves”, they “work” and “endeavour”, etc. This strange sensualisation of thought again arises from a misunderstanding of the Hegelian logic. That powerful dialectic, that inner motive force which constantly drives the individual thought categories, as if it were the bad conscience of their imperfection and one-sidedness, to ever new development and rebirth until they arise from the grave of negation for the last time as absolute idea in imperishable, immaculate splendour, Schelling has been able to grasp in no other way than as the self-consciousness of the individual categories, while in fact it is the self-consciousness of the general, of thinking, of the Idea. He wants to raise the language of emotion to an absolutely scientific language without first having shown us pure thought in a language that alone is suitable to it. On the other hand, he is equally incapable of grasping the concept of being in its complete abstraction, as he shows if only by constantly using as synonymous the concepts of being and of that which is. Being is thinkable for him only as matter, as hyle, as wild chaos. In addition we now already have several such matters, a “boundless being”, a “bounded being”, a “pure being”, a “logical being”, a “real being”, a “placid being”, and later we shall get, besides, an “unpremeditatable being” and a “contrary being”. It is amusing to see how these different-beings collide and crowd each other out, how power has only the choice of losing itself in this chaotic mass or remaining an empty phantom. Do not tell me that this is only because of the figurative language; on the contrary, this gnostic-oriental dream thinking, which conceives every thought category either as personality or as matter, is the basis of the who e process. Take away the mode of looking at things and everything collapses. Even the basic categories, power and action, derive from a time of confusion, and Hegel was quite right when he threw these hazy categories Out of logic. Schelling makes confusion worse confused and uses this opposition by turns, as it suits him, for the following Hegelian categories: being in itself and being for itself, ideality and reality, force and manifestation,’ possibility and actuality, and in all this power is, moreover, a separate, sensory-supersensory essence. The chief meaning which Schelling attributes to it is, however, that of possibility, and so we have a philosophy based on possibility. In this respect, Schelling rightly calls his science of reason the “none-exclusive” science, for in the end everything is possible. What matters, however, is that thought should ‘prove its worth by its inner force to become real. The Germans will decline a philosophy which drags them along a bumpy road through the infinitely boring Sahara of possibility without giving them anything real to eat and drink and without leading them to any other goal than where the world, according to it, is boarded up to reason.
But let us give ourselves the trouble to follow the road through Nothing. Schelling says: Essence is for concept, being for cognition. Reason is the infinite power of cognition, its content the infinite power of being, as set out above. But now he suddenly starts actually to take cognisance of the infinite power of being through the power of cognition. Can he do it? No, cognition is actus, to actus corresponds actus, “to cognition corresponds a being”, hence to the above actual cognition corresponds the actual, real being. Hence, against its will, reason would have to cognise real being, and in spite of all endeavour to keep to the high seas of possibility we would at once be thrown on the hated beach of actuality.
But, it is objected, the power of being is only cognised after its transition, which is certainly a logical one. Schelling himself indeed says that logical being and power of being, concept and power, are identical. When therefore the power of cognition actually passes over into actus, the power of being cannot be satisfied with a pretended, fictitious transition. If the power of being does not actually make the transition, it remains power, cannot be cognised by reason, and therefore is not the “necessary content of reason” but, on the contrary, the absolutely irrational.
Or will Schelling call the activity which reason applies to its content not cognition, but, perhaps, conception? Then reason would have to be the infinite power of conception, since in its own science it would never attain to cognition.
On the one hand, Schelling excludes existence from reason; on the other, he restores it to reason with cognition. Cognition is for him the unity of concept and existence, of logic and the empirical. Hence, contradictions at every turn. How is that?
Is reason then the infinite power of cognition? Is the eye the power of seeing? The eye, even the closed eye, continues to see, it still sees darkness even if it believes it is not seeing anything. Only the diseased eye, the curably blind, is power of seeing without being actus; only the undeveloped or momentarily confused reason is mere power of cognition. But then does it not appear so plausible to understand reason as power? It is that, too, and not mere possibility, but absolute force, necessity of cognition. That, however, must manifest itself, must cognise. The separation of power and actus, of force and manifestation, belongs only to the finite; in the infinite, power is itself its actus, the force its own manifestation. For the infinite does not tolerate any contradiction within itself. If now reason is infinite power, then by virtue of this infinity it is also infinite actus. Otherwise the power itself would be conceived as finite. That is already the case in naive consciousness. Reason which does not get beyond the power of cognition is called unreason. Only that reason is accepted as reason which really proves itself by cognition, the eye only as a true eye if it sees. Here the contradiction between power and actus is at once seen as soluble and in the last resort void, and this solution is a triumph of Hegelian dialectic over Schelling’s narrowness, which. never got beyond this contradiction; for even where power and actus are supposed to coincide in the Idea, this is merely asserted, and the fusion of the two concepts is not shown.
But when Schelling says: Reason is conceiving, and since concept is power, it is power to cognise, which only becomes real cognition when it finds something real to cognise; on the other hand, in the pure science of reason, where it is concerned with the power of being, reason does not go beyond the power of cognition and merely conceives — then nobody, even apart from the above discussion on power and actus, will deny that the purpose of the power of cognition is actually to pass on to cognition, and that it is nothing so long as it does not do this. So it turns out that the content of the pure science of reason is hollow, empty, useless, and that reason when it fulfils its purpose and actually cognises becomes unreason. If Schelling admits that the essence of reason is unreason, I have, of course, nothing more to say.
So from the very start Schelling has got himself so tied up with his powers, transitions and correspondences that the only way out of the confusion of logical and real being, in which he does not want to be entangled, is the recognition of a line of thought other than his own. But let us proceed.
Reason is now to conceive in this fashion the content of all actual being and take up an a priori attitude towards it; it is not supposed to prove that something exists, but that if something exists it must be of such and such a nature, in contrast to Hegel’s assertion that with thought real existence is also given. These statements are again downright confused. It has not occurred either to Hegel or anyone else to want to prove the existence of anything without empirical premises; he merely proves the necessity of that which exists. Schelling here understands reason just as abstractly as earlier he understood power and actus and is in consequence driven to assign to it an existence prior to that of the world and separated from all other existence. The conclusion of modern philosophy, which was at least among the premises of Schelling’s earlier philosophy, and of which Feuerbach first made us conscious in all its sharpness, is that reason cannot possibly exist except as mind, and that mind can only exist in and with nature, and does not lead, so to say, a life apart, in separateness from it, God knows where. Schelling himself admits this when he describes as the aim of individual immortality not the liberation of mind from nature, but the proper balance of the two; also when he says further of Christ that he was not dissolved into the universe but was raised as a man on the right hand of God. (So the remaining two divine persons must have been dissolved in the universe after all?) But if reason exists, then its own existence is proof of the existence of nature. So the necessity exists that the power of being must pass over at once into the actus of being. Or, to use a very humdrum phrase, intelligible even without Feuerbach and Hegel:
So long as one abstracts from all existence one cannot talk about it at all. But if one starts from something existing it is, of course, possible to go on from that to other things, which, all conclusions being correctly drawn, must also exist. If the existence of the premises is admitted, the existence of the conclusion stands to reason. Now the basis of all philosophy is the existence of reason; this existence is proved by its activity (cogito, ergo sum); if therefore one proceeds from reason as existing, the existence of all its consequences follows of itself. No philosopher has yet denied that the existence of reason is a premise; and if Schelling does not want to admit this premise let him keep out of philosophy altogether. Thus Hegel could indeed prove the existence of nature, i.e., that it is a necessary consequence of the existence of reason. But Schelling, who wants to make his way into an abstract and empty immanence of thinking, forgets that all his operations are obviously based on the existence of reason and makes the ridiculous demand that real reason should have unreal, merely logical results, that a real apple-tree should produce only logical, potential apples. Such an apple-tree is usually called barren; Schelling would say: the infinite power of an apple-tree.
If then Hegel’s categories are called not only the models according to which, but also the generating forces through which the things of this world have been created, this means nothing else than that they deduce the thought-content of the world and its necessary consequence from the existence of reason. Schelling, on the other hand, takes reason really for something which could also exist outside the world organism and so places its true realm in the hollow, empty abstraction, in the “aeon before the creation of the world”, which, fortunately, however, has never existed and in which reason still less ever found itself or even felt happy. But here we see how extremes meet: Schelling cannot grasp the concrete thought and drives it on to the most dizzying abstraction, which at once appears to him again as a sensory image, so that precisely this muddle of abstraction and conception is characteristic of Schelling’s scholastic-mystic way of thinking.
We get new proofs of this when we turn to the exposition of the content of “negative philosophy”. The power of being serves as the basis. The caricature of Hegelian dialectic is most obvious. The power can make a transition, but it can also refrain from doing so, as it wishes. So in the retort of reason the two chemical components, being and not-being, are separated from the neutral power. If it were at all possible to bring back the business of power to sound reason, here would be the place where a dialectical element shows itself and Schelling seems to divine that the essence of power is the necessity of transition and that power is only abstracted from the actus of reality. But no, he becomes more and more entangled in the one-sided abstraction. He lets the power make a trial transition and discovers the great thought that after the transition it has forfeited the chance not to make it. At the same time he discovers in the power a third thing, the possibility not to do either and to hover freely between the two. These three possibilities or powers, it is declared, include all reasonable content, all possible being.
The possibility to be becomes actual being. With that the second possibility, the ability also not to be, is negated. Will it seek to reconstitute itself? How can it do so when it is not overcome by a mere negation in the Hegelian sense, but is totally destroyed, reduced to nothing, to such radical not-being as can only occur in a philosophy of possibility? Crushed, swallowed, devoured, how should this possibility still have the strength to reconstitute itself? For not only the second possibility, but even the primeval power, the subject to which that second possibility is a mere predicate, is negated, and so not the latter, but the former, the primeval power, must seek to reconstitute itself. But that cannot at all be its intention — to stick to Schelling’s way of looking at things — for it is bound to know beforehand that by becoming actw, it would negate itself as power. Such a reconstitution can occur only when persons, not categories, negate themselves. Only boundless misunderstanding, a monstrous passion for would-be improvement could so thoughtlessly distort the principle of Hegel’s dialectic which is here clearly the basis. How undialectical the whole process is can also be shown thus: If the two sides in the power have equal strength, then, without an impulse from outside, it does not decide to make the transition at all and remains as before. Then, of course, the whole process would not take place, and Schelling would not know where to derive the prototypes of the world, of the spirit and the Christian Trinity.. So one fails to see the necessity for the whole thing, it remains obscure why the power takes leave of its lovely potential peace, subjects itself to being, etc., and the whole process rests from the start on arbitrariness. If this happens in the “necessary” thinking, what will not occur in the “free"! But that is just the point: this transition must remain arbitrary, for otherwise Schelling would be admitting the necessity of the world and this does not fit into his positivism. But here again is proof that power is only power as actus, but without actus is only a hollow, empty absurdity with which even Schelling cannot be contented. For with empty power he is left without content, this only appears when the power becomes actus, and so against his will he has to acknowledge the untruth of the opposition of power and actus.
Let us return once more to the second power, of which Schelling makes the most wonderful fuss. We have seen above how it was negated, reduced to nothing. Now Schelling says further: Since the first is that which can be, it is its opposite, everything except that which can be, hence the wholly pure being, actus purus! This, however, must already have lain in the primeval power, but how does it get there? How does that which is “averse to being, inclined to not-being”, etc., suddenly become wholly pure being; “pure being” differ from “boundless being”; why is how does there no other possibility for that which cannot be, but to be that which is? To that we get no reply. Instead we are assured that this, the second power, leads the first, which has become boundless, back into the condition of ability and thereby reconstitutes and at the same time — destroys itself! Who can understand that? Furthermore, this reduction process is fixed in its stages by the stages of nature. That nature should be the outcome is incomprehensible. Why, for example, is the boundless being the hyle? Because Schelling thought of the hyle from the start and worked towards it; otherwise this being could have anything else as its sensory or spiritual content. That the stages of nature are to be conceived as powers is also incomprehensible. , In that way the deadest, the inorganic, would have to be that which has the highest degree of being, the organic rather that which is able to be; but one can only regard this as a mystical image in which all thought-content has been lost.
Now instead of conceiving the third power, the spirit — for again we can see Schelling working towards it from afar — as the highest quantitative stage of the first, which has been overcome by the second, and in which at the same time a qualitative change takes place, Schelling again does not know where to derive it from. “Science is looking round for a third...... One cannot stop here.” “In place of the being overcome by the second power, a third must be posited.” These are the magic flourishes with which he conjures up the spirit. Now we learn how this spirit, which has made its entrance through generatio primitiva, is constituted. If we think of nature, it is, of course, evident that, given these premises, the spirit is to be understood as self-possessing ability to be (not mere ability), which, of course, is already bad enough; but if we abstract from this future nature, which will perhaps never even come, if we keep to the pure powers, it is impossible to grasp, try as one may, that the first power, which has been brought back into ability to be by the second, can be anything but the primeval power. Schelling seems to have felt in Hegel the depth of the mediation which has passed through the negation and the opposition, but it is beyond him to achieve anything like it. With him there are two things, indifferent to each other, one of which pushes the other aside, whereupon the second reconquers its place and drives the first back to its original position. Nothing else than the initial state can possibly result. Moreover, if the first is strong enough to push the second aside, where does the second suddenly find the strength to go over, after an unsuccessful defensive, to the offensive and drive the first away? I will say nothing about the unfortunate definition of the spirit; it refutes itself and the entire process of which it is the result.
So we would now have happily worked through this so-called process of development and could pass on to other thin s, if Schelling, after finally the spirit had concluded all, had not held out for us the prospect of another, intellectual world, the coping-stone of which he calls the Idea. How Schelling, after the concrete nature and the living spirit, Can now bring out the abstract idea (in this position it can indeed only be abstract), is quite incomprehensible, and Schelling should have justified this, since he rejects the contrary position of the Hegelian Idea. He arrives at this through his mania for having the absolute decidedly at the end of philosophy, and through his failure to comprehend how Hegel actually achieved this. The absolute is, however, the self-knowing spirit, and that, it is to be supposed, is what Schelling’s Idea is too; but according to Schelling this spirit is to be a postulate at the end of the negative philosophy. But that again is a contradiction. History cannot come into this philosophy since it has nothing to do with actuality; on the other hand, it is the philosophy of spirit, the crown of which is the philosophy of world history; moreover, the negative science is supposed to “exhaust this last possibility of a consciously occurring process” (which can only be history). Where does that leave us? This much is certain, that if Schelling had a philosophy of history, the self-knowing spirit would appear to him not as a postulate, but as a result. The self-knowing spirit is, however, a long way from being the concept of the personal God, as Schelling claims for the Idea.
When Schelling had got thus far, he claimed that it had been his endeavour forty years earlier to give a coherent presentation of the science just outlined. The philosophy of identity, he said, had been intended only as this negative philosophy. Its slow, gradual elevation above Fichte had at least in part been intentional:
“He had wished to avoid all abrupt transitions, to keep the continuity of philosophical development, and even flattered himself with the hope perhaps some time later to bring Fichte himself over to his side.”
As if we did not know Hegel’s previously quoted saying or how little Schelling knew himself. The subject, which in the philosophy of identity comprised within, itself all positive content, is now declared to be power. Already in this philosophy it is supposed that all the stages of nature are being relative to the next higher stages, which are themselves ability to be and, in turn, being relative to their higher stages, so that what is there called subject and object here becomes ability to be and being until the final outcome is no longer that which relatively has being, but that which absolutely has “super-being”, the identity, no longer the mere indifference, of thinking and being, of power and actus, subject and object. Everything in this philosophy, however, according to Schelling, had been stated “presupposing the pure science of reason”, and the worst misunderstanding was that the whole was taken for a not merely logical but also a real process, that this philosophy was thought to infer from a principle that was true in itself, the truth of all that followed. Only when this philosophy had reached its conclusion, did being, which was no longer able to alienate itself, remain stationary in its full splendour and see nature and spirit beneath it as its throne to which it had been raised; yet, for all its sublimity this was no more than a construction of thought and only to be transformed into a real process by a complete reversal.
For the moment we will leave it open whether this presentation of the philosophy of identity has not been adapted to Schelling’s present views, whether forty years ago he cared as little for the reality of his thoughts as now, and whether it would not have been better to remove the “greatest misunderstanding” with two words, which could easily have been done, instead of maintaining a superior silence; we shall go on directly to the judgment of the man who “pushed” Schelling “out of his place”, without the latter hitherto having been able to “negate that which has negated him”.
Schelling says that while almost everybody understood the philosophy of identity wrongly and superficially, Hegel rescued its fundamental thought and acknowledged it to the last, as testified by his Vorlesungen über die Geschichte der Philosophie. Hegel erred in that he took the philosophy of identity for the absolute philosophy and did not acknowledge that there are things which go beyond it. Its limit was the ability to be; he went beyond that and drew being into its compass. His basic error was that he wished to turn it into an existential system. He believed the philosophy of identity had the absolute for its subject not merely in essence, but in existence. By bringing existence into it, he leaves the sphere of development of pure reason. So he is consistent when he begins his science with pure being and thereby denies the prius of existence. Thus it came about that he was only immanent in the non-immanent, for being is that which is non-immanent in thinking. Then he claims to have demonstrated the absolute in logic. So he had the absolute twice, at the end of logic, where it is derived in exactly the same way as at the end of the philosophy of identity, and at the end of the whole process. This shows, therefore, that logic is not to be premised as the ‘first part of the development but should rather pervade the whole process. Hegel defines logic as a subjective science in which thinking is in and with itself alone, prior to and outside all actuality. And yet thinking is supposed to have the actual, real idea as its terminal point. While with its first step the philosophy of identity is within nature, Hegel throws nature out of logic and thereby declares it illogical. The abstract concepts of Hegel’s logic do not belong to the beginning of philosophy; they can enter it only when consciousness has absorbed the whole of nature, for they are mere abstractions from nature. So there can be no question of objective logic in Hegel, for just where nature, the object, begins, logic ceases. So in logic the Idea is in the process of becoming, but only in the thought of the philosopher; its objective life only begins when it has arrived at consciousness. But as actually existing, it is already at the end of logic — hence it is impossible to continue. with it. For the Idea as absolute subject-object, as ideal-real, is complete in itself and incapable of further progress; how then can it still pass over into the other, into nature? Here it becomes clear that in the pure science of reason there can be no question of an actually existing nature. What concerns actual existence must be reserved for positive philosophy.
The error of this presentation rests mainly on the naive belief that Hegel did not advance beyond Schelling’s standpoint and that, moreover, he misunderstood it. We have seen that, try as he will, Schelling cannot get away from existence, and therefore there is hardly any need to justify Hegel for not making this claim of abstract ideality. Even if Schelling could abide by the pure Power, his own existence should convince him that the power has made the transition, hence that all consequences of mere logical being now belong in the real, and hence the “absolute” exists. After that, why does he still need positive philosophy? If the logical absolute follows from the logical world, the existing absolute follows from the existing world. But that Schelling cannot be content with this and now in addition assumes a positive philosophy of faith shows how strongly the empirical, extramundane existence of the absolute contradicts all reason, and how strongly Schelling himself feels this. Because Schelling now seeks to pull down to his own low level the Hegelian Idea, which stands infinitely high above the absolute of the philosophy of identity since it is what the other merely pretends to be, he cannot grasp the relation of the Idea to nature and spirit. Schelling again conceives the Idea as an extra-mundane being, as a personal God, a thing which never occurred to Hegel. For Hegel the reality of the Idea is nothing but — nature and spirit. That is also why Hegel does not have the absolute twice. At the end of logic the Idea is there as ideal-real, but for that very reason it is, of course, also nature. If it is only expressed as Idea it is merely ideal, merely logically existing. The ideal-real absolute, complete in itself, is nothing but the unity of nature and spirit in the Idea. Schelling, however, still conceives the absolute as absolute subject, for, although it is filled with the content of objectivity, it still remains subject without becoming object, i. e., the absolute is for him real only in the shape of the personal God. He should leave him out altogether and keep to the pure definition of the concept in which it is not a question of personality. So the absolute is not real outside nature and mind. if it were, they would, of course, both be superfluous. Hence, if in logic it was a question of the ideal definitions of the Idea as real in nature and mind, it is now a question of this reality itself, of the demonstration of these definitions in existence, which is the final test and at the same time the highest stage of philosophy. So an advance out of logic is indeed not only possible but necessary, and in the self-conscious, infinite mind this very advance returns to the Idea. So we can see the nullity of Schelling’s assertions that Hegel declares nature illogical (which Schelling, by the way, at once declares the whole world to be), that his logic, the necessary, self-active development of thought, is “subjective science, and that objective logic cannot exist at all since it is philosophy of nature and this philosophy has been thrown out of logic”. As if the objectivity of science consisted in its regarding an external object as such! If Schelling calls logic subjective, there is no reason nota to declare the philosophy of nature also subjective, for the same subject which thinks here also thinks there, and it does not matter, of course, what content is under consideration. Hegel’s objective logic, however, does not develop the thoughts, it lets them develop themselves, and the thinking subject is, as mere spectator, quite accidental.
Passing on to the philosophy of spirit, Schelling now proceeds from those utterances in which Hegel’s philosophy is at war with his personal inclinations and prejudices. The religious-philosophical side of the Hegelian system gives him occasion to point out contradictions between premises and conclusions which have long since been discovered and acknowledged by the Young Hegelian school. Thus he says quite correctly: This philosophy wants to be Christian, to which, however, nothing whatever compels it; if it maintained its original attitude as science of reason, it would have its truth in itself. — He then concludes his remarks by acknowledging Hegel’s statement that art, religion and philosophy are the ultimate forms of achieving the absolute. Only since art and religion transcend the pure science of reason, this philosophy — and this he takes for the dialectical point of the statement — would also have to do so and be a second philosophy, different from the former one. But where does Hegel say this? At the end of the Phänomenologie, where he has the whole of logic before him as a second philosophy. Phenomenology, however — here stands out the very opposite of Schelling’s interpretation — was not the pure science of reason, but only the path to it, the raising of the empirical, of sensory consciousness to the level of the pure science of reason. Not logical, but phenomenological consciousness finds these three before it as ultimate “possibilities to assure itself of the existence of the absolute super-being”. Logical, free consciousness sees quite different things, with which, however, we need not concern ourselves for the moment; it has the absolute already in itself.
So the difficult step will have been taken and the apostasy from pure reason openly pronounced. Since the scholastics, Schelling is the first to have dared this step; for Jacobi and his like do not count, since they represented their time only in certain aspects, never in its wholeness. For the first time for five hundred years a hero of science stands up and declares science the servant of faith. He has done it — the consequences be on his head. We can only be glad that the man who was a representative of his time like no one else, in whom his century came to self-consciousness, that this man is declared also by Schelling the finest flower of the science of reason. Let him who believes in the omnipotence of reason take to heart this testimony of an enemy.
Schelling describes positive philosophy as follows: It is quite independent of negative philosophy and cannot start with the end of this philosophy as something existing, but must itself first demonstrate existence. The end of the negative philosophy is in the positive philosophy not a principle but a task; the beginning of the positive philosophy is absolute through itself. The unity of the two has never existed, nor could it be achieved either by suppressing one or by mixing the two. It can be proved that the two have always been in conflict with each other. (Here follows the attempt at such a demonstration from Socrates to Kant, in whom empiricism and apriorism are claimed to be again sharply separated. We must pass over this, since it remains without any result.) Now Positive philosophy is, however, not pure empiricism, least of all o the kind which is based on inner, mystic-theosophical experience; it has its principle in that which occurs neither in mere thinking nor in experience, but in the absolutely transcendental, which goes beyond all experience and all thinking and precedes both. Hence the beginning must not be a relative prius, as in pure thinking, where the power has the transition before it, but the absolute prius, so that we proceed not from concept to being but from being to concept. This transition is not necessary, like the first, but is the consequence of a free act which overcomes being and is proved a posteriori empirically. For if it can be immaterial to negative philosophy, which rests on logical consistency, whether there is a world and whether this world agrees with its construction, positive philosophy progresses through free thinking and so must find its confirmation in experience, with which it has to keep pace. If negative philosophy is pure apriorism, positive philosophy is a priori empiricism. Since in it a free thinking, i..e., a thinking with volition, is presupposed, its proofs are also only for the willing, and the “wise”; one must not only understand it but have the will to feel its power. If revelation is also among the objects of experience, then it belongs as much to positive philosophy as to nature and mankind, and has therefore no other authority for this philosophy than for anything else; as for astronomy, for example, the movements of the planets are indeed authorities with which the calculations have to agree. If it is claimed that without preceding revelation philosophy would not have arrived at this result, this is correct, of course, in a way, but now philosophy can also do it by itself. Just as there are people who, when they have once discerned small fixed stars with the telescope, can afterwards see them also with the naked eye and hence are no longer dependent on the telescope. Philosophy must take in Christianity, which is as much reality as are nature and mind, yet not only revelation, but the inner necessity of the merely logical philosophy forces it to transcend itself. Negative philosophy brings everything only to the point of cognisability and then hands it over to the other sciences; only the one ultimate thing it cannot bring to this point and that is the thing most worthy of cognition; this it must take up again in a new philosophy which has the task to demonstrate precisely this ultimate thing as existing. Thus negative philosophy becomes philosophy only in relation to positive philosophy. If negative philosophy were alone, it would have no real result, and reason would be void; in positive philosophy it triumphs; reason, which in negative philosophy was bowed down,. again stands erect.
I hardly need say anything in elucidation of these Schellingian propositions; they explain themselves. But if we compare them with the promises Schelling made in the beginning, what a difference is revealed Philosophy was to be revolutionised, a teaching was to develop which would put an end to the negative philosophy of recent years, the reconciliation of faith and knowledge was approaching, and in the end what is the outcome? A teaching which has no foundation either in itself or in anything else that has been proved. Here, it is based on a thinking freed from all logical necessity, that is, an arbitrary, empty thinking; there, on something of which precisely the reality is in question, and of which the claims are disputed, namely, revelation. What a naive demand that in order to cure oneself of doubt one must cast away doubt! “Well, if you don’t believe, there is no help for you!” What did Schelling come to Berlin for? Instead of his positive treasure he should have brought with him a refutation of Strauss’ Leben Jesu of Feuerbach’s Wesen des Christenthums, etc.; then he might have done something; as it is, the Hegelians prefer to remain stuck in the notorious “blind alley” rather than “place themselves at his mercy”; and the positive theologians will also prefer to continue to work from revelation rather than steep themselves deeper in it. Then, too, his admission, repeated day after day since the New Year, that he wishes to give neither proof of Christianity nor any speculative dogma but merely a contribution to the explanation of Christianity, falls into place. The need of negative philosophy to transcend itself, as we have seen, has not much to it either. If the assumption of the transition a potentia ad actum leads necessarily to the logical God dependent only on this assumption, the empirically demonstrated real transition leads to the real God, and positive science is superfluous.
Schelling takes the transition to positive philosophy from the ontological proof of the existence of God. God cannot exist by chance, hence “if He exists”, He exists of necessity. This clause inserted in the gap of the argument is quite correct. So God can only be that which is in and before itself (not for itself; Schelling is so furious with Hegel that he even thinks he must criticise his expressions as misuse of language and improve on them), i.e., He exists before Himself, before His divinity. So He is blind being, prior to all thinking. But since it is doubtful whether He exists, we must proceed from that blind being, and see whether we cannot arrive at the concept of God from there. Hence, if in negative philosophy the principle is the thinking which precedes all being, in positive philosophy it is the being which precedes all thinking. This blind being is the necessary being; God, however, is not this being but that which of necessity “is necessary”; the necessary being alone is the ability to be of the supreme being. Blind being is that which requires no substantiation, since it precedes all thinking. Thus positive philosophy begins with something altogether beyond concepts so as to make it a posteriori, as God, conceivable and the immanent content of reason. Here only is the latter free and has escaped from the realm of necessary thinking.
This “blind being” is hyle, the eternal matter of earlier philosophy. That it develops itself into God is at least new. Up to now it has always been the dualistic principle opposed to God. But let us consider further the content of positive philosophy.
This blind being, which can also be called “unpremeditatable being”, is the purus actw of existence and the identity of essence and being (which in the case of God is described as aseity). But this, it seems, cannot serve as the basis of a process, since it lacks all motive force, which lies only in power. But why should the actus purw be denied all possibility of subsequently also becoming power; it does not follow that the being which is cannot post actum also be that which has ability to be. Unpremeditatable being can afterwards be given the possibility — nothing stands in the way — of letting a second being emerge from itself. Blind being thereby becomes power, for it receives something which it can will and so becomes master of its own blind being. If it releases this second being, the first blind being is only potentia actus purus and is thus self-possessing being (but all this is only hypothesis which has to be proved by success); only by differentiation from the second does it become conscious of itself as necessary by its nature; blind being appears as accidental because it is not foreseen, and so has to prove itself necessary by overcoming its opposite. This is the ultimate ground of the being which stands in opposition to it, and hence the ultimate ground of the world. The law that everything must become clear and nothing remain hidden is the supreme law of all being; not, of course, a law that stands above God, but one which first sets Him free, and is therefore already itself a divine law. This great world law, this world dialectic, is simply unwilling that there should be anything undecided. It alone can solve the great riddles. Nay, God is so just that He acknowledges that opposed principle to the very end and until all contradiction is exhausted. All involuntary, unpremeditatable being is unfree; the true God is the living God who can become something other than the unpremeditatable. Otherwise it must either be assumed with Spinoza that everything emanates from the divine nature necessarily, without it doing anything towards it (bad pantheism), or that the concept of creation is one that cannot be grasped by reason (shallow theism which cannot overcome pantheism). Thus unpremeditatable being becomes the power of the opposite, and since potentiality is for it something intolerable, it will necessarily want to work towards its restoration into actus purus. So the second being must again be negated by the first and be led back into power. So it becomes master not only of the first power, but also of the second, the power to transform its unpremeditatability into a being and thereby to remove it from itself and thus give up its entire existence. In this also lies its essence, which hitherto was concealed by being; the pure being, which through resistance has received a power into itself, is now independent as essence. Thus the master of the first possibility has also been given the possibility to reveal itself as itself, as free from necessary being, to posit itself as spirit; for spirit is that which is free to work or not to work, which in being is master of itself and remains in being even when it does not manifest itself. But this is not that which is directly able to be, nor that which must be, but that which, being able to be, must be. These three moments appear to the unpremeditatable being as that which properly should be, so that there is nothing outside these three moments and everything which is of the future is excluded.
The train of thought in positive philosophy is, as we see, very “free”. Schelling does not conceal that he proposes only hypotheses which have yet to be proved by success, i.e., by agreement with revelation. It is a consequence of this free, willing thinking that he lets the “unpremeditatable being” behave exactly as if it were already that which has yet to be developed from it, namely, God. The unpremeditatable being can, of course, not yet see, will, release, or lead back. It is nothing but a naked abstraction of matter which is most remote precisely from anything personal, self-conscious. It is not possible by any kind of development to introduce self-consciousness into this rigid category unless it is understood as matter and develops through nature to spirit, like the “boundless being” in negative philosophy from which it is distinguished only by the empty attribute of unpremeditatability. This unpremeditatability can only lead to materialism and at most to pantheism, but never to monotheism. Cuvier’s saying here also proves correct:
“Schelling puts metaphors in the place of arguments, and instead of developing concepts he changes images and allegories according to his needs.” 
Moreover, the method of argument in which every advance is rejected with “there is no reason why this should not happen, there is no logical necessity that this should not be possible”, etc., has never been encountered in philosophy, at least up to now. In this way the Chinese and Otaheitan [Tahitian] religions can also be deduced out of the “unpremeditatable being”, and that, too, is justified since they are just as much facts as Christianity. But as for the newlydiscovered world law that everything must become clear, it cannot be denied that here at least very little becomes clear and very much remains hidden. Here we only see clarity of thought sink into the dark abyss of fantasy. But if that law means that everything must justify itself to reason for its existence, then this again is one of Hegel’s basic thoughts and, moreover, it is not applied by Schelling himself. Considerable time may still be spent in a vain endeavour to bring the conclusion of the above presentation with its “can”, “must”, and “should” to a point where everything becomes clear. Above all, we must ask: In what relation do the three positive powers stand to the three negative ones? Only one thing becomes clear, that they are indeed possibilities which should be, but not possibilities which, being able to be, must be.
This “most thoroughgoing” dialectic, Schelling maintains, alone makes it possible to advance from Spinoza’s necessarily-existing actu to the necessarily-being natura sua. For this is all he could have wanted to do, since he did not want to prove the existence of the divine, but only the divinity of that which exists (Young Hegelian philosophy does precisely the same), namely, the divinity of that which exists actu, eternally, of itself. But who then will prove to us that anything exists from eternity? That which is actu, of itself, can only lead to the eternity of matter, if one argues logically. And illogical conclusions have no validity, even if revelation agrees with them.
“If, in accordance with a weak dialectic, we were to say: God only assumes the power of the opposed being so as to transform the blind affirmation of His existence into one mediated by negation, the question is why does He do so? Not for His own sake, for He knows His might; only for the sake of others can He make the being which differs from Himself into the object of volition. Only in this being-away-from-Himself lies God’s essence, His beatitude; all His thoughts are only outside Himself, in creation. Thus it is, indeed, a process of suspension and restoration, but in between there lies the whole world.”
How ridiculous is here the arrogance with which this caricature of a most thoroughgoing dialectic looks down upon its “ weak” originals It has not even understood it sufficiently to present it correctly. According to Schelling, even Hegel thinks in this speculative manner; Schelling makes him reason something like this: Here is God. He creates the world. It negates Him. Why? Because it is evil? God forbid, only because it exists. It takes up all space for itself, and God, who does not know where to turn, finds Himself compelled to negate it again. Then He must destroy it, of course. The profundity, however, according to which the negation necessarily follows from what exists yet only in itself, as the unfolding of the innermost essence, as the awakener of consciousness, until in its supreme activity it must negate itself again out of itself and brings forth as product the developed, that which stays with itself, the free — of that Schelling can have no idea, for his God is free, i.e., acting arbitrarily.
God or the unpremeditatable being has now posited the world or the contrary being. This exists only in God’s will and depends on it. His justice does not allow it to be destroyed in one blow for the sake of His restoration, for the contrary being now has, as it were, a right, a will independent of God. Hence it is brought back through the two last powers, gradually and according to a principle which determines the stages of the process. If then the first power was the cause which started the whole movement and the cause of the contrary being, the second was the one posited ex actu, which, realising itself by overcoming the first and acting on the contrary being, subjected this to the third power, so that the contrary being stepped between the three powers as a concrete thing. These now prove to be: causa materialis, ex qua; causa efficiens, per quam; causa finalis, in quam (secundum quam) omnia fiunt. [a material cause from which, efficient cause through which, final cause in conformity with which (according to which) everything happens.]
If now unpremeditatable being is a condition of divinity, so with the creation God exists as such, as lord of being who has it in His power to realise or not to realise those possibilities. He remains outside the whole process and goes beyond that triad of causes as causa causarum. So as not to make the world appear as an emanation of His essence, it was for God to try all possible positions of the powers relative to one another, i.e., to let the future world pass before Him as in a vision. For mere omnipotence and omniscience does not ensure this by itself, but the works are present as visions of the creator. Hence that primeval power, that prime cause of the contrary being, has always been specially glorified; it is the Indian Maja (akin to the German Macht, power), which spreads out the nets of mere appearance so as to move the creator to real creation, like Fortuna primigenia at Praeneste. I will not add a word so as not to rub off the mystic butterfly dust of this vision.
Now it cannot be proved a priori that God really creates, it is explained by the sole need which can be attributed to God, the need to be known, which is precisely a quality most inherent in the noblest natures. The God of creation is not just the single God, but the single God in a plurality, and since this plurality (these powers) is self-contained, the creator is the All-One, and this is monotheism. Since He precedes everything He can have no equal, for powerless being is capable of absolutely nothing [kann überhaupt nicht](!). God, of whom it is said only in passing that He is the sole one, is merely the God of the theists; monotheism demands the soleness without which God is not God, while theism stops at infinite substance. The advance from here to that which is God in relation to things is pantheism; in it, the things are determinants of God. Only monotheism contains God as the real, living God, where the unity of substance has disappeared in the power and has been replaced by a supersubstantial unity, so that God is the unconquerable One against three. Though several, they are not several gods, but only one God, not several in divinity. Monotheism and pantheism are thus advances over theism, which is the last expression of the absolute in negative philosophy. In monotheism there is the transition to Christianity, for the singleness finds its definite expression in the Trinity.
However much one may try to grasp this Trinity, there always remain three against one, one against three. If God is the unity of three, He can be so only as a fourth, or else there remain three gods. If only divinity is their unity, then humanity is likewise the unity of all human beings and just as we have only one God, so we have only one human being. But the many can no more be done away with than the three, and three persons will never make one. The old contradiction of the Trinity lies bare, and we are amazed at Schelling’s boldness in claiming it has been solved. That only the Trinity is the true expression of unity is again taken from Hegel, but as usual made shallow to the point of sheer emptiness. With Hegel the Trinity remains a succession of the stages of God’s development, if one insists on having a god in his system. Here, however, the three moments are conceived as standing side by side as personalities, and the original proposition is advanced that the true personality of one person is that it is three persons.
Up to now we have indeed only the one person, the Father. For if a prior being removes from itself something belonging to it, so that the latter necessarily realises itself, this is rightly called procreation. If now in this process of realisation the contrary being (B) is actually overcome, the second power, like the first, is master over it, and hence the divinity of the Son is equal to that of the Father. So, too, the third power, which, as essence free of being, can only return into being after overcoming B, but then has the same glory and personality as the first two and appears as the Holy Ghost. So in the end there are three personalities, but not three gods, since being is one, and hence also the glory of it is only one (as though the two Spartan kings, because their rule was one, had been only one king!). In the powers, while they are in tension, we only see the natural side of the process (“tension” appears to be the process of negative philosophy) as the genesis of the world; only with the persons is there opened up the world of the divine and the divine significance of that process in which being, originally as possibility in the Father, is given to the Son and by him returned to the Father as overcome. Besides being given to the Son, it is also given to the Holy Ghost, by Father and Son, and it has only that being which is common to them both. The tension of the powers pervades all nature, and is present in a certain proportion in everything. Everything that arises is a fourth between the powers, but man, in whom the tension becomes fully resolved, already has a relationship to the personalities as such, for in him that last moment of realisation is expressed in which the powers become real personalities. This process, then, is a process of creation for things, and a theogonic process for the personalities.
Thus, out of the abyss of unpremeditatable being Schelling has conjured up for us into the light of day not only the personal but also the triune God, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, though the third has indeed only been accommodated with difficulty, and then the arbitrarily created world, dependent on arbitrariness and therefore hollow and void; and he has thus the basis of Christianity. It cannot be my intention to show up one by one the inconsistencies, the arbitrary judgments, the rash claims, the gaps, leaps, assumptions and confusions of which Schelling is guilty here; if things were already bad enough in the necessary thinking, in the free thinking one must reckon with an even greater confusion of scholasticism and mysticism — that is the essence of neo-Schellingianism. The reader can neither demand such superhuman patience of me, nor I of the reader such interest in the matter. Moreover, what lies on the surface does not first have to be uncovered. My purpose is merely to follow the train of thought in general, only to show how between Hegel and Schelling precisely the opposite occurs of what Schelling affirms. Now, on the ground of Christianity, we can let the facts speak for themselves even more. Firstly, Schelling declares his inability to understand the world insofar as he is unable to understand evil. Man could, or could not, remain in God; that he did not do so was an act of free will on his part. He thereby put himself in God’s place and, where everything seemed ordered, jeopardised everything again. Separated from God, the world was exposed to externals, and the element in an ordered system [Moment] lost its position as such. The Father was “as it were” pushed out of his place (later, the “as it were” is omitted).
But the Christian Trinity was still not there, and the Son’s will, his own, independent of the Father’s, was not yet pronounced. But now, at the end of the creation, there appears something new, the B which possesses itself in Man. He can choose whether to be or not to be one with God. He does not want to be and thereby pushes the superior power back into potentiality, which now, separated from the Father by the will of Man, is as much the Son of Man as the Son of God (this is the significance of the expression in the New Testament) and has a being both divine and extra-divine. Now the superior power can follow being into extradivinity and lead it back to God. The Father is now turned away from the world and no longer acts in it with his will but with his unwillingness (this is the true significance of the wrath of God). So the Father did not destroy the evil world, but preserved it in view of the Son, as it is written. In him, i. e., in view of him, all things are made. So we have here two periods: the age of the Father, where being (the world) still lay in the Father as power and the Son was not yet independent, and the age of the Son, the time of the world, whose history is that of the Son. This age again has two periods; in the first man is entirely under the sway of the contrary being, the B, the cosmic powers. Here the Son is in the state of negation, of the deepest suffering, of passivity, at first excluded from being (i. e., from the world), unfree, outside human consciousness. It can only work in a natural way towards the conquest of being. This is the time of the old covenant, where the Son strives for dominion over being not according to his will, but according to his nature. So far this significance of that time has been missed in science, nobody has grasped it yet. It is most definitely indicated in the Old Testament, namely, in Chapter 53 of Isaiah, which speaks of the present suffering of the Messiah. The second period only begins with the strengthening of the second power, with the achievement of dominion over being, when it acts freely and with will. This is the time of its appearance in Christ, the time of revelation. This is the key to Christianity; with this Ariadne’s thread it is possible “to find the way through the labyrinth of my trains of thought”. — Through the rebellion of man the personalities that arose through the overcoming of B in creation become again mere possibilities, pushed back into potentiality and excluded from consciousness, posited outside God. Here now is the cause of a new process which takes place in the consciousness of man and from which the divinity is excluded, for in their tension the powers are extra-divine. This process of the subjugation of consciousness to the dominion of the powers took place in paganism as mythological. development. The deeper historical precondition of revelation is mythology. We must now trace in the philosophy of mythology the individual powers in the mythological consciousness and the consciousness of them in the Greek mysteries.
The question arises whether this influence of man on the self-development of God — for it can only be called that — which Schelling affirms, is Christian? For the Christian God is one who has been complete from all eternity, whose composure suffers no change even through the Son’s temporary life on earth. In general, according to Schelling the creation ends ignominiously. The house of cards of the “intermediate powers, the relatively being and able to be”, has no sooner been built and the three powers are on the point of becoming personalities than stupid man plays a silly trick and all the ingenious architectonics come tumbling down and the powers remain powers as before. It is just as in the fairy-tale, where a treasure, surrounded by brightly shining phantoms, is conjured up from the depths; already the coveted treasure is seen rising over the edge of the abyss — then a rash word is spoken, the phantoms dissolve, the treasure sinks and the depths close over it forever. Schelling’s God could have done His job a little more cleverly, and He would then have saved Himself much trouble and us the philosophy of revelation. Schelling’s mysticism, however, comes to its finest flowering in the Son’s state of suffering. This obscure, mysterious relationship of divine extra-divinity, conscious unconsciousness, active inactivity, unwilling will, this spate of crowding contradictions is for Schelling indeed a priceless gold-mine of conclusions, for anything can be derived from it. Still more unclear is the relationship of this power to man’s consciousness. All powers here act as cosmic, natural powers, but how? What are cosmic powers? Not a single one of Schelling’s pupils, not even Schelling himself, can give a rational answer. This is again one of those confused, mystical thought-categories in which he has to take refuge in order to arrive, even “with free, self-determined thinking”, at revelation.
“The mythological concepts cannot be explained in any other way than as the necessary product of consciousness which has fallen under the sway of the cosmic powers.”
But the cosmic powers are the divine powers in their state of tension, the divine as non-divine. In this way, then, we are to explain also the relation of mythology to nature, to obtain entirely new facts and to supply a content to the prehistoric period of mankind, namely, by the “immense agitation of the mind and heart in begetting concepts of gods”.
We can spare ourselves the presentation of the “philosophy of mythology” since it is not directly part of the philosophy of revelation and, moreover, Schelling will treat of it in greater detail next term. This part of the lectures, incidentally, was by far the best and contains much that should not be rejected — once it is freed from the mystical, distorting outlook — even by him who considers these phases of consciousness from a free, purely human standpoint. The question is only how far this is really Schelling’s property, and whether it does not in fact originate with Stuhr. The chief fault of Schelling’s presentation is that he does not conceive the mythological process as the free self-development of consciousness within world-historic necessity, but constantly introduces superhuman principles and forces, and does so in the most confused manner, so that these powers are at one and the same time the “substance of consciousness” and yet again something more. Resort to such means becomes indeed necessary once absolutely superhuman influences are stipulated. So I gladly concede to Schelling his main results of mythology in relation to Christianity, only in a different way, inasmuch as I understand both phenomena not as having been brought into consciousness from outside, supernaturally, but as innermost products of consciousness, as purely human and natural.
Now at last we arrive at the revelation, prepared by mythology. This is Christianity as a whole. Hence its philosophy does not have to be concerned with dogma, etc.; it does not itself intend to establish a doctrine ‘ but only to explain the historical fact of Christianity. We shall see, however, how the whole dogmatic system gradually emerges. We shall see how Schelling regards “Christianity only as a fact, as also paganism”. The facts of paganism, as they appeared, he did not regard as true; he did not take Dionysus, for instance, for a real God; those of Christianity, by contrast, are to him absolute; when Christ declares himself the Messiah, when Paul claims this or that, Schelling believes him unconditionally. Schelling explained the mythological facts, at least in his own fashion; those of Christianity he asserts. And with all this he flatters himself
“to have won the love of youth by his straightforwardness and frankness, nay, not only its love, but also its enthusiasm”.
In order to explain revelation he proceeds from a passage in Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians, Ch. 2: 6-8, which I here quote:
“[Christ Jesus], being in the form of God [n morfh qeon], thought it not robbery [arpagma] to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation [ikenwse], and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
Without entering into the extensive exegetical discussions with which Schelling accompanied his philosophical explanation I will here merely recount in Schelling’s own manner the fact told by Paul. In his state of suffering Christ had gradually become master of consciousness through the mythological process. He possessed his own world independently of the Father and could do with it what he wished. He was the God of the world, but not the absolute God. He could persist in this extra-divine-divine state. Paul calls this: being in the form of God, in morfh qeou. But he did not want this. He became man, divested himself of his glory to surrender it to the Father and thus to unite the world with God. Had he not done so, there would no longer have been any possibility for the world to unite with God. This is the true significance of Christ’s obedience. The story of the temptation is also to be explained in this sense. The adversary, the blind cosmic principle, has been brought to the point where he offers his realm to Christ, if he will worship him, i. e., will himself remain cosmic power, in morfh qeou. Christ, however, rejects this possibility and surrenders his being to the Father by making it creature-like and becoming man.
“God preserve me from deducing as Christian philosophical doctrines of which Christianity knows nothing,” Schelling concluded this deduction. To dispute about the Christianity of these doctrines would be a luxury, for even if it were proved, nothing would yet be gained for Schelling. In my view, however, they contradict the entire basic outlook if Christianity ‘ It is no great art to prove the most abnormal thing by single passages from the Bible, but this is in no way the point here. Christianity is nearly two thousand years old and has had time enough to come to itself. Its content is expressed in the church, and it is impossible that any other positive content of significance is still concealed in it, or that its true meaning has only now been understood. In any case it would now be too late. But apart from that, there is still enough that is edifying in the above explanation. Was it a free act of Christ to surrender himself to the Father? Impossible, it was a natural necessity. We cannot stipulate the possibility of evil in Christ without destroying his divinity. He who can do evil can never become God. How in any case can one become God? But supposing now that Christ had kept the world for himself? One cannot imagine so absurd, comical a state of affairs as that which would have resulted. Here is Christ living gloriously and joyfully in his beautiful world, the flower of Hellenism in heaven and on earth, and there is the old God, lonely and childless, grieving over the failure of the trick against the world. The main fault of Schelling’s God is that He has more luck than intelligence. Everything went well in fact, but it could have turned out very differently. Altogether, Schelling’s doctrine of God is thoroughly anthropopathic. If the devil had offered the dominion of the world to Christ before he became man, he would at least have had the prospect of winning him, and who knows what would have happened; but once Christ had become man he had thereby already entered into his submission to God, and all hope was lost for the poor devil. Besides, had not Christ already gained the dominion of the world in the mythological process; what then could the devil still offer him?
Herewith the gist of what Schelling says in explanation of Christianity has been given. The rest consists partly of quotations and their interpretations, partly of detailed analysis of the deductions. Of these I will give the more important.
According to the earlier doctrine of the succession of the powers in the dominion of the world, it can be explained how each time the dominating power is the herald of the next. Thus in the Old Testament the Father prophesies the Son, in the New, the Son prophesies the Spirit. In the prophetic books this is reversed, and the third power foretells the second. Here a progression of the powers with time is now revealed, in particular in the “Jehovah of Malachi”, the “Angel of the Lord” who, although not directly the second person, is yet the second power, the cause of the appearance of the second power in B. He is a different one at different times, so that the age of each book can be judged by the manner of his appearance, and thus from the progression of the powers the most “amazing” results can be achieved, surpassing everything yet accomplished by criticism. This determinant is “the key to the Old Testament from which the reality of the concepts of the Old Testament is to be demonstrated in their relative truth”.
The Old Testament has its basis and its premises in common with paganism. Hence. the pagan element in so many Mosaic. customs. Thus circumcision is evidently merely a milder form of castration, which plays such a great part in the most ancient paganism and mimically and symbolically represents the conquest of Uranus, the oldest God, by the subsequent stage. So also the food taboos, the institution of the Tabernacle, which recalls Egyptian sanctuaries just as the Ark of the Covenant recalls the sacred chest of the Phoenicians and Egyptians.
The appearance of Christ is not accidental, but predestined. The Roman era was the dissolution of mythology, for it absorbed into itself all religious concepts of the world even to the oldest Oriental religions-without itself offering any new elements, and thus showed that it was incapable of producing anything new. At the same time, there arose out of the emptiness of these moribund forms a presentiment that something new must come. The world remained still and awaited the things to come. From this outward Roman world empire, from this destruction of the nations, there arose the inner kingdom of God. When the time was fulfilled, God sent his Son.
Christ, divesting himself of morfh qeou, the extra-divine being as divine, became man, thereby exercising most brightly and brilliantly the divinity which continued in him. That Christ became poor for our sakes does not mean his parting with his divinity, the non-usus of the latter, but the discarding of the morfh qeou the form of God. The divine essence remains in him. only he could mediate, because he was from God and in human consciousness.
Through his effect on paganism and Judaism the principle which hampered mankind and might possibly have negated it was not negated; only the symptoms, not the cause of the disease, were removed by the repeated sacrifices. The ill will of the Father could only be overcome by another will, stronger than it, than death, than any other will. No physical, only the moral overcoming of this will was admissible, and that through the greatest voluntary submission of the mediator in place of man. Man’s greatest voluntary submission was never wholly voluntary, that of the mediator, however, was free, without his will or his guilt free over against God. Hence the process through paganism so that the mediator could appear as the representative of consciousness. The taking of this decision was the greatest marvel of the divine mind.
The physical side of the incarnation can, of course, not be made clear down to the smallest detail. The material possibility for this lies in himself. To be material means to serve as substance to a superior power, to be subject to it. When Christ thus submits to God, he becomes material over against Him. But only as a creature has he the right to be outside God. So he must become man. That which in the beginning was with God, and which dominated consciousness in paganism in the form of God, is given birth in Bethlehem as a man by a woman. The reconciliation had always been only subjective, hence subjective facts were sufficient. But here it was necessary to overcome the ill will of the Father, and this could only be achieved by an objective fact, the incarnation.
With this the third power now enters as mediating personality. Christ is conceived of, i.e., by the power of, the Holy Ghost, but is not his Son. The demiurgic function passes over to the third power; its first manifestation is the material man Jesus. The second power is substance, the third that which gives it form. The process in question is extraordinary, materially inconceivable, but it can be grasped by a loftier comprehension. Christ took the substance of the incarnation from himself. This first form, the nature of which does not further concern us here, was received into the organic process of the mother. To ask more questions would be more than micrology.
When God works anywhere with His will, that is a miracle. In nature ‘nothing has will. Neither has Christ. The demiurgic function belongs to him natura sua, without his will, hence he cannot discard it when he is man; here this function becomes the guide of his will. It depends on the will of the Father that the Son with his will is in nature, hence the Son works the miracles by virtue of the Father. He who reads the New Testament after these lectures, will find there much that he has not previously, seen.
The death of Christ had been decided even before the incarnation and approved by Christ and Father. It was then no accident, but a sacrifice demanded by the divine mind. It was necessary in order to deprive the evil principle of all its might, to overcome it in its power. Only the mediating power could achieve this, but not by counterposing itself as a purely natural power to the former. But since God Himself desired that principle to be overcome, the second power had to submit to it. For in the eyes of God the second power, being natural, is worth no more than that which negates God, even if it did not become natural through its own fault, but through the fault of man. This last circumstance also gives it a certain right thus to be outside God. God is so just that He does not unilaterally annul the opposing principle, nay, He is so human that He loves this basically merely accidental element which gave Him the possibility to be as God more than He loves the necessary element, the power out of Himself. He is as much the God of the contrary principle as that of the second power. This is His nature, which stands even above His will. This singleness of all principles is His divine majesty and this does not allow that principle to be unilaterally broken. If it is to be annulled, it is necessary for the second power to precede it and in its extra-divine being to . submit to God completely. Here the incarnation could not yet suffice. Immediately after the Fall, Christ followed man into estrangement from God and placed himself between the world and God. By taking up a position on the side of the contrary principle, he opposed the Father, came into tension with him, shared the guilt of that being and as guiltlessly guilty, as guarantor of the being estranged from God, had to suffer the punishment. Christ atoned in death for thus placing himself on a level with the contrary principle by taking upon himself the sins of the world. This is the reason for his death. Other men indeed die too, but he died a very different death from theirs. This death is a miracle which we would not dare believe at all were it not so certain. All humanity was present in its representatives at his death: Jews and pagans attended it. The principle of the pagans had to die the death of the pagans, the death on the cross — in this, of course, nothing special is to be seen. The crucifixion was the solution of the prolonged tension in which Christ had found himself in paganism, as it is written that by death he was relieved of the judgment and the fear (i. e., the tension). This is the great secret which to this day is a scandal to the Jews (the moralists) and a folly to the pagans (the merely rational).
The resurrection of Christ has always been regarded as a guarantee of personal immortality. On this teaching, apart from the resurrection of Christ, the following Must be remarked. In this fife nature dominates spirit, and it therefore presupposes another, in which this state of affairs is compensated for by the domination of spirit over nature, and a third and last in which the two elements balance each other and are in harmony. So far philosophy has had no satisfying purpose for immortality; here, in Christianity, it is given.
The resurrection of Christ is itself proof of the irrevocability of his incarnation. In it human being is again accepted by God. Not any single deed of man displeased God, but the entire condition in which man found himself, and therefore also the individual, even before he had sinned. Hence no human will, no deed could be really good until the Father was reconciled. In Christ’s resurrection this condition is acknowledged by God, joy is restored to the world. Hence the justification was only completed in the resurrection inasmuch as Christ was not dissolved in the universe but sits as man on God’s right hand. The resurrection is a stroke of lightning from inner history to outer. Whoever takes it away has only the external without divine content, without that transcendental which alone turns history into history; he has a mere fact of memory and stands there like the great mass before the events of the day whose inner workings are unknown to him. Moreover, he goes to hell, i.e., “the moment of dying stretches for him into eternity”.
In the end, the Holy Ghost comes and concludes all. He can only descend after the Father is completely reconciled and his coming is the sign that this has taken place.
Here Schelling interpolated his judgment on the latest criticism since Strauss. It had never been able, he said, to tempt him into any sort of polemic, as he had proved by always giving these lectures in the same way, without additions, since 1831. He dated the philosophy of mythology even farther back. Then he spoke of the “trivial, eminently philistine mind” of these people, of their “school-boyish treatment of incomplete propositions”, of the “impotence of their philosophy”, etc. By contrast, he had nothing to say against pietism and purely subjective Christianity, except that it was not the only kind nor the highest.
Shall I also give excerpts from the satanology? The devil is neither personal nor impersonal, he is a power; the evil angels are powers, they are such as should not be, but were posited by the fall of man; the good angels are also powers, they are such as should be and through the fall of man are not. That is enough for the present.
The church and its history have developed from the three apostles Peter, James (with his successor Paul) and John. Neander is of the same view. The Catholic Church, the conservative, the Jewishly-formal, is that of Peter, the Protestant that of Paul, and the third, still to be expected and presumably prepared by Schelling, that of John, who combines in himself the simplicity of Peter with the dialectical acumen of Paul. Peter represents the Father, Paul the Son, John the Holy Ghost.
“To those whom the Lord loves he gives the task of completion. If I had to build a church, I would build it for St. ‘ John. Some day, however, a common church will be built for all three apostles, and that will be the true Christian pantheon.”