Schelling and Nietzsche: On Setting Free the God of Love

Joseph P. Lawrence


If prudence is the best advice for those who seek to establish their identity by pursuing a career, it is courage that remains the indispensable virtue for anyone committed to philosophy. If academics in general, career-oriented as they are, can be forgiven for acquiescing to a culture of political correctness, philosophers cannot. A philosopher's duty is to question authority, regardless of which party happens to be in power. It is for this reason that I have chosen to highlight that dimension of Schelling's and Nietzsche's thinking that is most explicitly opposed to the secular religion of progress that forms the core of capitalist modernity. Whether the religion of progress manifests itself in the economic liberalism of the Right or in the cultural liberalism of the Left, the result is always the same: contempt and hostility for whatever nature herself has put forth. While it is true that, in Schelling's view, divinity steps into existence by subduing its own dark ground, it does not follow that he believes that divinity then casts aside what it has subdued. For, as is particularly clear in its pagan manifestation, the ground of divinity is nature, the shared ground of life as such. Because divinity completes itself only in being shared, it must allow the dark ground to continue to operate, finding suitable company only in what, like it, has the courage to stand up to darkness. Whereas the merely human, governed by fear, would control nature, the divinely human would much rather set it free.

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