Life and Parallelism in Schelling’s Critique of Spinoza


  • Benjamin Norris Rowan University


A central claim of Schelling and Spinoza: Realism, Idealism, and the Absolute is that Schelling distinguishes his own philosophical system from that of Spinoza by way of a critique of his undeniable predecessor’s doctrine of attribute parallelism. Though Schelling’s inheritance of Spinoza’s monism has been widely noted in the secondary literature, his explicit critique of Spinoza’s parallelism is rarely discussed in significant detail. Granted, doing so is not a straightforward affair. Throughout his writings, Schelling’s position regarding parallelism contradicts itself. Though he is largely consistent in his criticism of Spinoza’s parallelism, we can find Schelling at times advocating for a parallelism of his own. Schelling writes of a preestablished harmony between transcendental philosophy and the philosophy of nature as well as a non-intersecting parallelism between the ideal and the real. If it is the case that Schelling’s critique of Spinoza centers around the issue of parallelism, then does Schelling ultimately fail to learn the lesson of this critique? In light of this dilemma, the purpose of this essay is to reconcile Schelling’s vacillating utilization of parallelism within a more unified account of Schelling’s notion of life as the conflict generated by a dynamic identity of identity and opposition and his account of the Idea as something other than just an element of subjective cognition.