Michelet on Schelling (on the philosophy of nature)

"Contradiction is the rule of the true."—G.W.F. Hegel
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class="first">Michelet on Schelling (on the philosophy of nature)

Post by JustinB » Thu Feb 11, 2021 8:58 am

Karl Ludwig Michelet (1801–1893) was a student of Hegel's at the University of Berlin, and later one of the editors of the first edition of his Collected Works.
Below is the final paragraph of his preface to the posthumous edition of Hegel's Philosophy of Nature in 1842:
History is rich in the decrees of fate, and the appearance of this work [The Philosophy of Nature] together with the arrival of Schelling at Berlin, is certainly one of them. The man who planned the philosophy of nature, but was unable to do more than lay its foundations, will find the building completed in this work. In this book he may hail the genius of one who "later became" his friend, for he is the father of the science developed here, and he of all men living is most to be honoured for it. Yet if he believes it to be his mission, "to lead philosophy out of the undeniably difficult position in which it finds itself at present", and to save it from a "terrible shipwreck, and the destruction of all noble convictions", in order to "really break through into the promised land of philosophy"; he will have to undertake a scientific refutation of these legitimate children of his own philosophizing, for without this he cannot hope to return from his long exile, and to grasp again the sceptre of philosophy. The "page in the history of philosophy" which be began to write forty years ago has been "finished" by his followers, and it is some years now since it was turned, and its conclusions drawn and generally acknowledged. The history of philosophy has not yet failed to find expression because Schelling has kept quiet. Philosophy is not without "a free, untroubled, and completely unhindered movement" merely because Schelling's "inner nature" causes him to feel constrained and embarrassed by the strictly scientific procedure of a dialectical method. "It is in this metropolis that the fate of German philosophy will have to be decided," but if Schelling merely repeats the promises he has made for forty years; if the whole world is still said to have misunderstood him, and his first philosophy merely to have contained the injunction "to avoid absence of thought", while his second philosophy is attempting to draw all its positive content from beyond rationality; then despite the most solemn assurances that this is not the case, he will have shown that he has abandoned the true freedom of a scientific philosophy, and will most certainly come to grief in the shadow of the giant he is trying to overreach. In any case, we now await him here on this field of battle, where many of the heroes of modern German philosophy are still to be found. He is by no means "a burden" to us, nor are we unable to "accommodate" him, for we welcome the opportunity of accounting for the necessity of his relapse into a philosophy of revelation, and we shall therefore give careful consideration to his reasons for having found it impossible to keep to the giddy height which formed the intellectual intuition of his youth.
Berlin, December 10, 1841.
(Translated by M.J. Petry, Humanities Press, 1970)

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