Matter and its Topological Operations in Schelling’s Science of Reason


  • Carlos Zorrilla Piña Emory University


“The darkest of all things” (SW II: 359), “the cliff upon which all false systems founder from the outset” (SW II: 223), “the crisis of consciousness” (SW XIV: 210), “maybe the hardest of all metaphysical concepts” (SW X: 310), and even “the σκανδαλον [skandalon], that is: the pitfall, of philosophy” (SW XI: 424)1—these are some of the epithets that Schelling reserves for matter in a philosophical itinerary that stretches from 1794 to 1854 and which never ceases to make the former’s thematization a central point of its efforts. For Schelling, the motivation to constantly revisit the investigation concerning the essence of matter is not only commanded bythe latter’s apparently inherent refractoriness, but even more importantly by the conviction that, “without knowledge of it physics is without a scientific basis, [and] the science of reason deprived of the bond whereby the Idea is connected to actuality” (SW II: 359). The present paper aims to make an initial contribution to the elucidation of the obscurity that engulfs matter, specifically insofar as it relates to the notion of ground and plays a role in the above-quoted “science of reason,” i.e., the negative or purely a priori component of Schelling’s philosophy.