International Journal of Philosophical Studies 10 (4):393 – 428 (2002)
F.W.J. Schelling, one of the essential thinkers in the development of German Idealism, formed his own thought not only in a critical dialogue with Kant's and Fichte's transcendentalism and Hegel's earlier conception of thinking, but also in an intensive discussion with Plato and Aristotle. Over and above that, Neoplatonism - especially Plotinus, Proclus and the Christian Dionysius the Areopagite - played a decisive role in Schelling's reception and transformation of ancient philosophy.Selecting the manifold aspects which could be reflected on in this field, I want to make plausible as a transcendental analogy to Plotinus' concept of self-knowledge Schelling's requirement for a raising-up and transformation of the finite 'I' into the form of the Absolute, whose central features converge with the goal of the Plotinian self - transformation of thought into a timeless self-thinking and its ground.A main part of this paper discusses Schelling's and Plotinus' concept of nature as a dynamic process constituted by an immanent 'creating theoria'. Furthermore we find in Schelling's theory of the Absolute as the 'utterly One' a union of Plotinus' notion of a pure One beyond Being with that of the reflexive self-presence of nous, so that this Absolute can be understood as an All-Unity which grounds and embraces all actuality - because it is in itself the most unifying self-affirmation or self-mediation. What follows is a reflection on the anagogical function of art, especially from the viewpoint of Plotinus' non-Platonic rehabilitation of art as an imitation of nature. The last perspectives focus on Schelling's concept of matter and emanation - as different from and at the same time coherent with that of Plotinus - and on Schelling's theory of an absolute self - willing will in connection with Plotinus' Enneads VI.8, 'On free will and the will of the One' as a causa sui.
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