Analecta Hermeneutica 5:1-14 (2013)

G. Anthony Bruno
Royal Holloway University of London
Schelling scholars face an uphill battle. His confinement to the smallest circles of ‘continental’ thought puts him at the margins of what today counts as philosophy. His eclipse by Fichte and Hegel and inheritance by better-read thinkers like Kierkegaard and Heidegger tend to reduce him to a historical footnote. And the sometimes obscure formulations he uses makes the otherwise difficult writings of fellow post-Kantians seem comparatively more accessible. For those seeking to widen these circles, see through this eclipse and elucidate these formulations, a deeper internal challenge is to make sense of the appearance and disappearance of intellectual intuition in Schelling’s work. The term’s apotheosis is often attributed to the height of German idealism and especially to Schelling’s identity philosophy, outside which he subjects the term to a radical critique. The identity philosophy aims to cognize the absolute ground of the system of knowledge and the system of nature, for which cognition Schelling enlists intellectual intuition. While the identity philosophy falls between a Fichtean debut and a late attack on Hegel, it is difficult to determine its exact parameter. I propose that a necessary condition for doing so is to clarify the explanatory role of intellectual intuition—that is, the specific problem to which it is the intended solution—on which the identity philosophy depends. To this end, I will trace a nexus of problems that Schelling’s use of intellectual intuition is meant to solve. Doing so will not only help to delineate the identity philosophy, but show it to be continuous with Schelling’s earlier and later periods. In §1, I account for the nexus of the problems of grounding, freedom and meaning. These problems demand, respectively, a principle by which cognition forms a system rather than an aggregate, a principle by which a system of cognition is compatible with freedom rather than incompatible and a principle by which a system of freedom can show why there is meaning rather than none. In §2, I reconstruct Schelling’s argument in the identity philosophy for why intellectual intuition can resolve this nexus of problems and, in §3, his arguments during other periods of his thought for why it cannot. I conclude in §4 by suggesting why the identity philosophy is continuous with these periods. Beyond fulfilling the interpretive task of making sense of intellectual intuition in Schelling’s sprawling corpus, my aim is thus to contribute to a unified reading of the latter.
Keywords Schelling  intellectual intuition  identity philosophy  Agrippan skepticism  nihilism  existential  meaning  grounding  freedom
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