Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter 2020

“Will is Primal Being”: Schelling’s Critical Voluntarism

From the book The Concept of Will in Classical German Philosophy

  • Jörg Noller


The aim of this paper is to analyze Schelling’s conception of will particularly in his Philosophical Investigations into the Essence of Human Freedom (1809). Whereas many interpreters tend to understand his theory as an obscure metaphysics of will, I shall argue that Schelling does not hold a metaphysical voluntarism, but rather develops what I shall call a “critical voluntarism.” According to Schelling’s critical voluntarism, the will is deeply connected to the faculty of reason although it is not identical with it as Kant seems to suggest. Schelling transforms Kant’s conception of autonomy into what he calls a “real and vital concept” of freedom that is, according to him, “the capacity for good and evil” (FE, 352). Schelling’s critical voluntarism entails what I shall call a “real compatibilism,” according to which being a natural entity does not rule out our freedom of the will but rather grounds it. I shall finally analyze Schelling’s conception of freedom by referring to Harry Frankfurt’s theory of volitional necessity.

© 2020 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
Downloaded on 2.12.2023 from
Scroll to top button