Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter 2019

Force, Existence, and the Transcendence of the Good in Schelling’s Weltalter (1815)

Brady Bowman

Abstract

In The Ages of the World Schelling elaborates an alternative to Spinoza’s philosophical theology that is free of the ambiguity that marked his earlier efforts in this direction. Schelling’s advance rests on the superior rigor of his revised ontology of “potencies”, detailed in the paper’s first half. Comparison with Goethe’s derivation of three primary colors reveals how Schelling deploys a polarity of “affirmative” and “negative” powers to derive his third basic potency, rather than merely “postulating” it as he had previously done. As the paper’s second half explains, Schelling thereby gains room to distinguish God’s actual, dynamically constituted essence from its non-causal, axiological condition of possibility. On this basis Schelling elaborates a conception linking natural vitality, value realism, moral freedom, and (divine) creativity - elements lacking in Spinoza. The result is a persuasive reinterpretation of two key Spinozist notions: divine self-creation (causa sui) and the identification of God’s power with his essence.

© 2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston