Schelling’s Naturalism: Motion, Space and the Volition of Thought, by Ben Woodard, Glasgow, Edinburgh University Press, 2019, 256 pp.

Phoebe Lily Page

Abstract


The argument weaved throughout Schelling’s Naturalism, as stated in the introduction, is Woodard’s claim that nature is a species of “nested physical systems” that are potentiated in Schelling by means of the Potenzen which indicate the openly constructive and non-restrictive character of both nature and philosophy. This argument develops into Woodard’s claim that Schelling is ontologically minimalist whilst creatively expansive due to the ubiquity of the Potenzen throughout nature. This claim grounds the project’s ambition to navigate through the dimensionality of thought and nature by means of algebra, diagram, and geometry, in terms of both metaphysics and epistemology. Woodard shares Schelling’s conviction of a union of philosophy and the physical sciences and attempts to grasp throughout the project how “thought is part of nature’s spatiality and temporally expanding continuum.” Thus Woodard shares a commitment to the continuity thesis expressed by Iain Hamilton Grant and Daniel Whistler that Schelling’s philosophy is naturalistic and ought not to be periodized. Problematised throughout the book is how to navigate the constructive activity of thought with the activities of construction in nature: That is, how can thought and ‘nature’ be both a created system and a creative one?


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