Heidegger and Schelling

Idealistic Studies 5 (1):20-58 (1975)
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Abstract

The recent publication of Heidegger’s 1936 lectures on Schelling’s essay on human freedom reveals yet another point of transition along the way from Being and Time to the later works on language and poetry. It brings to light an influence on Heidegger almost as weighty as his reading of Hölderlin and Nietzsche in that same decade, an influence hitherto only hinted at in published works. It now appears that Heidegger’s essays on identity, on grounding, on being, all bear the imprint of a dialogue with Schelling, that he discovered in the latter thinker a valuable prototype of his notion of being. If the reader is not aware of the direction of Heidegger’s own thought, the 1936 lectures on their own reveal little of the dialogue. Schelling’s Investigations is a difficult and obscure work, and Heidegger confines himself to close textual work, with care and insight bringing even the most obscure passages out of allegory into lucid philosophical statement. The lectures are a triumph of pedagogy, the most careful attempt to date to read Schelling as an ontological thinker. Yet their smooth surface, scholarly poise, and objectivity leave hidden a question of real interest: Why should Schelling, commonly thought a weak link to Hegel or the first symptom of “existentialist” anti-Hegelian reaction, be of interest to Heidegger the philosopher? And why, in particular, should this most exotic of Schelling’s works, touched by the influence of theosophists like Boehme, be accepted by Heidegger as one of the crucial moments of the West’s historical thinking through of being?

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