Gedanken über die Religion: Der “stille” Krieg zwischen Schelling und Schleiermacher (1799–1807), by Ryan Scheerlinck, Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt: Frommann-holzboog Verlag e.K., 2020

Vicki Müller-Lüneschloß


The title of Scheerlinck’s study on the relationship between two of the most important thinkers of Romanticism, the philosopher F.W.J. Schelling and the theologian F.D.E. Schleiermacher, undoubtedly alludes to the latter’s main work from 1799, the popular Speeches On Religion. This text, together with the 1807 dialogue, Christmas Eve Celebration, also written by Schleiermacher, defines the time frame of the investigation, which is understood as a visualization of a dialogue between two great minds, and not as an investigation into their mutual influences and dependencies.1 Another thesis mentioned here is that the “silent war”2 between these two thinkers, as Schleiermacher expressed it, extended over a much longer period of time, namely up to Schelling’s late philosophy.3 The main theme of the discussion, as Scheerlinck puts it, is revealed in the different attitudes of both thinkers to the relationship between theology and philosophy. While Schelling, from the point of view of his efforts towards a positive philosophy, advocates a scientific representation of Christianity,  Schleiermacher strictly rejects a rational construction of religion. The presentation of this mutually stimulating exchange is predominantly based on “peripheral texts,”4 i.e. texts that are less well known as they were written anonymously or published by the literary estates of the authors in question. This makes the already complex editorial situation confusing in some cases. The presentation is further limited to Schelling’s perspective, whose following four works are laid out chronologically by Scheerlinck: the parodistic poem, Heinz Widerporst’s Epicurean Confession of Faith (1799), which also contains an early critical reaction to Schleiermacher’s Speeches; the Lectures on the Method of Academic Study (1803), to which Schleiermacher responded with a review; Schelling’s review, Christmas Eve Celebration (1807), which discusses Schleiermacher’s dialogue of the same title; the dialogue Clara or On nature’s connection to the Spirit World, subsequently analysed by Scheerlinck with the greatest attention.

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