Acosmism, Radical Finitude, and Divine Love in Mendelssohn, Schelling, and Hegel

The Owl of Minerva 45 (1/2):61-83 (2013)
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German philosophers of the classical period viewed Spinozism as posing a threefold challenge: fatalism, atheism, and acosmism. This paper focuses on acosmism as a vantage point for understanding the resulting “Pantheism Controversy.” Drawing on insights into the ineliminability of indexical thought, I argue that Mendelssohn’s refutation of acosmism entails rejecting traditional theism: The finite world cannot be the product of an omnipotent creator. Schelling and Hegel recognize this consequence, but each responds in a different way: Schelling with a conception of creative ethical individualism, Hegel with a conception of divine love and redemptive power to abolish the past and overcome fate. To understand these conceptions as a response to the Spinozist challenge is also to see how they themselves constitute a challenge to the Kantian Frame



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Brady Bowman
Pennsylvania State University

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