Schelling’s Second Sailing

Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy 8 (2):195-214 (2004)
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Abstract

The paper begins by raising once again the question of the possible unity of Schelling’s work, despite the undeniable transformations the work undergoes. It isproposed that such unity is best considered by taking seriously the primacy of the philosophical task that Schelling confronts, rather than by emphasizing whatever doctrinal or doxographical positions he espouses. Such a view of Schelling’s work is confirmed if one considers his continual critique of predicative discourse. Philosophical thought remains irreducible to propositional content because the matter of philosophy must already be presupposed if such propositions are to arise. This matter or “unprethinkable” source, given to thinking, can only be addressed in an explicit affirmation of freedom and life. Thus, Schelling’s work as it raises the question of freedom has to be encountered as itself a manifestation of freedom, and such an interpretation of Schelling for its part also must presuppose the freedom of the interpreter. The paper argues that this approach to Schelling makes it necessary to be attentive to the “performative dimension” of his work, to the way in which what is at issue in it becomes manifest indirectly. Schelling’s demand for a positive philosophy thus also calls for and makes possible a different relation to language and the word. The word can no longer be taken as the sensible marker for an intelligible content, but becomes the living bond of what is.

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Peter A. Warnek
University of Oregon

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