Freedom as Ariadne’s Thread through the Interpretation of Life: Schelling and Jonas on Philosophy of Nature as the Art of Interpretation


  • Jesper L. Rasmussen University of Southern Denmark


According to Schelling’s 1806 Aphorisms as an Introduction to Naturphilosophie, the aim of philosophy should be nothing less than a sort of excitation of further developments of an eternal poem (Gedicht) (SW VII: 145f). This type of poem should not just be understood as fictional in the modern sense, i.e., as an opposition to what is actual (wirklich). First and foremost, we should interpret the verbs contrive or dichten (poeticize) in the sense of creation. We should even read the Schellingian term “construction” in the German verb dichten. Thereby, the developments of such an eternal poem as the goal of philosophy point towards the act of forming a system. The result of this effort is a collection of internally connected concepts in a condensation (Verdichtung). According to this view of development, a true school does not merely repeat the master’s philosophy. What takes place in the hands of the student is rather an addition that on the one hand condenses the old, thereby bringing it clearer forth. On the other hand, this condensing shows itself to be something new. Thus, philosophy is thought to be radical, i.e., rooted (radix) in and growing out of the old. This, I will show, follows from Schelling’s conception of philosophy, as it can be seen in System of Transcendental Idealism. Exemplary, here we find Schelling’s development of his predecessor’s thoughts in the above mentioned sense. In this system, the rootedness in the old amounts to a grounding and systematization of the preceding systems (Kant’s and Fichte’s).

Author Biography

Jesper L. Rasmussen, University of Southern Denmark

Part-time Lecturer