Absolute Freedom and Creative Agency in Early Schelling

Abstract

By arguing that the connection between Schelling’s reception of Plato and Kant’s conception of genius is relevant for Schelling’s early development, this essay demonstrates the following: (1) that Schelling’s early Idealism brings to the general problem that plagues German Idealists, i. e., the search for an unconditioned principle that unites theoretical and practical reason, the solution that is genuinely his own, this original solution consisting in Schelling’s conception of “creative reason [schöpfersiche Vernunft]”; (2) that the theme of an absolutely free creative subjectivity is shared by many of Schelling’s early works and, hence, that the early development of his Idealism can be interpreted as a beginning of the philosophical system or as a “proto-system” of what was later to become his 1800 System; (3) that when compared to Kant’s notion of genius, Schelling’s “absolute I” should be considered a regress rather than a progress.

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