The Method and Structure of Schelling’s Late Philosophy


  • Thomas Buchheim Ludwig-Maximilians-University


The period of Schelling’s final mature philosophy started with his appointment to Berlin (1840), where he undertook a profound revision of his Philosophy of Mythology and Revelation (which he still considered to be purely “positive” during his time in Munich). The chief concern of the later Schelling is a philosophically legitimate knowledge, that is, a knowledge established under the conditions of the Kantian critique, of the actuality of a first principle of things, a principle the tradition referred to as “God” and recent philosophies up until that time as “the absolute.” Before Schelling’s latest period, philosophy—including Schelling’s own philosophy— proceeded in three paths towards one goal of metaphysical knowledge, none of which, however, fully overcame the Kantian critique or led to possible knowledge of the real:

1. As a practical postulate of classic but now critically obsolete metaphysical certainties;
2. As speculative ways for mobilizing internal structures of reason itself (e.g.,Schelling’s intellectual intuition of absolute identity or Hegel’s theory of the speculative proposition);
3. As (pace Kant) a critically purified way to legitimately connect the upshot of the cosmological argument, i.e., the proof of an ens necessarium of a completely unknown kind, with the goal of the ontological argument, thatis, a rich concept of God (ens realissimum).

Schelling’s new and different path can be described as a strategy of “divide et impera” of philosophical thinking itself. As long as philosophical thinking undertakes to bring the principle to knowledge as a factual actuality in one go, it must fail according to the standards of the critique. However, if philosophy splits itself in two consistently different movements of thought, which are not connected by inner coherency or logic, but only through the external circumstances of those who entertain these lines of thought, philosophy can win back a rational claim to knowledge regarding the factual actuality of the principle in question and can defend itself in every aspect against the Kantian critique. These essentially different movements of thought are Schelling’s “negative philosophy” on the one hand and his “positive philosophy” on the other.

Author Biography

Thomas Buchheim, Ludwig-Maximilians-University

Thomas Buchheim is the son of the political scientist Hans Buchheim and attended the Rabanus-Maurus-Gymnasium in Mainz . He then studied philosophy , Greek philology and sociology in Munich from 1977 to 1983 . In 1984 he was in by Robert Spaemann supervised work on the Greek sophistry doctorate . Thomas Buchheim also worked at Spaemann as a research assistant until 1992 and completed his habilitation in 1991 on the philosophy of the late Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling .

After a visiting professorship in Halle , he became professor in Mainz in 1993 . Since 2000 he has been professor for philosophy , especially for metaphysics and ontology , at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich.

Thomas Buchheim has been co-editor since 2002 and managing editor of the Philosophical Yearbook of the Görres Society since 2005 and has been a board member of the Society for Ancient Philosophy and a member of the commission for the publication of Schelling's writings of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences since 2001 . From 2002 to 2005 he headed the research project " Freedom based on nature? " Funded by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation . - Modeling of a qualitative concept of freedom beyond determinism and indeterminism". From 2010 to 2013 he was chairman of the Society for Ancient Philosophy. In 2013 he held the International Visiting Professorship at the Graduate School of Human and Environmental Studies at Kyoto State University . Buchheim deals intensively with the mind-body problem and the problem of free will