The Process of Universio and Katobolé in the Creation of the World
The human condition is a highly complex and at the same time impenetrably obscure one, steeped in ignorance and surrounded by mystery. We are involuntarily born into this world and are forced onto a path of having to struggle and toil, searching for meaning and longing for respite from our labours. Perplexity is an indelible mark of life which shrouds all that we do and think. Suffering is a daily affliction that wears us down and weighs heavily on our spirit. The Greek tragedians expressed a powerful and universal truth when they described life as a vale of tears and as inextricably aligned with suffering (SW I: 336-339).1 Schelling reminds us that “ancient art is in no way so simply cheerful and frivolous, as some badly informed romantics have portrayed it in modern times. The pain that lies in it is only a deeper one than those tears, which a trivial sentimentality has the power to evoke” (SW X: 268).2 History is to be understood as a grand tragedy and the world passes through endless episodes of birth and death, seemingly without any definite purpose (SW I: 485-486).3 The fate that the human being must undergo is a daunting one, squeezed in the grip of le malheur de l’existence, as Jean d’Alembert put it, which very often drives one to the brink of despair (SW X: 267; SW XII: 33).4 It is this painful lot that forces the human being to ask the quintessential philosophical questions: why is there something rather than nothing? (SW XIII: 7)5 Why is there reason instead of unreason? (SW X: 252)6 Why was the human being born into such a stark and meaningless existence? The aimless wandering through life bespeaks a seemingly inextinguishable hopelessness and an ineradicable sadness (SW VII: 399).7 If there is any one fundamental condition that is shared by all of humanity Schelling was convinced that it had to be this universal perception of the unholiness of all being.8 Schelling came to see that the human being finds himself originally with the burden of having to accept a tainted and imperfect life.