Schelling’s Later Philosophy of Religion as a Philosophy of Life


  • Hadi Fakhoury University of Cambridge


One of the most characteristic themes of Schelling’s later philosophy is, in the famous words of the Essay on Human Freedom, that “God is a life, not merely a Being” (SW VII: 403). Despite the prominence of this idea in Schelling’s later work, it is far from obvious what it means for God to be a living God. What is at stake in this claim? How do we know that God is a living being? What are the form and content of the divine life? And if life, as Schelling insists, implies movement, toward what end does the divine being move? This paper addresses these questions through a reading of Schelling’s treatise titled Monotheism. In conjunction with the Historical-Critical Introduction, to which it is “formally and immediately” connected (SW XII: vi), Monotheism serves as a “foundation” to the Philosophy of Mythology and, by extension, the entire positive philosophy of religion. In the Historical-Critical Introduction, Schelling demonstrated that mythology was “something lived and experienced,” and argued that historical polytheism stems from an original monotheism in human consciousness (SW XI: 89). Picking up the thread of the Historical-Critical
Introduction, Monotheism aims to demonstrate the universal possibility of polytheism by explaining monotheism as a “living fact” (SW XII: 7–8). If monotheism does not negate the possibility of polytheism, then the one true God affirmed in it must be conceived as “the living God, that is, the uni-total God” (SW XII: 70). Since God is absolutely free, He must be both immanent and transcendent in relation to His creation. Therefore, Schelling interprets the creation of the world and human consciousness as moments in the realization of the divine life.