“The Unity that is Indivisibly Present in Each Thing”: Reason, Activity, and Construction in Schelling’s Identity Philosophy

Benjamin Brewer


On May 15th, 1801, Schelling sent Fichte a copy of his recently published Presentation of my System of Philosophy along with a letter. In the letter Schelling claims to “stand on a point whose discussion falls outside this circle on which, for this very reason, the whole meaning of your system depends.” He continues, “I indeed do not know whether the kind of enlargement I provide is of the same sort or is harmonious with that which you have intended for idealism.”2 The letters between the two men after the Presentation are marked by deep mutual misunderstanding and wounded pride, and it is clear that an important philosophical break between them is at stake in Schelling’s new work. Whereas in previous writings, Schelling was concerned with unifying the systems of idealism and nature philosophy, he now seeks a unity prior to the very distinction between them. Schelling names this unity “absolute reason,” and he further claims that “construction” is the method for doing philosophy from such a standpoint.

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