Kant, Schelling and the Organization of Matter

In Gerad Gentry (ed.), Kantian Legacies in German Idealism. Routledge (2021)

Dalia Nassar
University of Sydney
Over the last two decades there has been a significant increase of interest in Schelling’s philosophy, and in particular his philosophy of nature. However, even the most generous of Schelling’s interpreters are confused by one of Schelling’s key theses: his view that nature as a whole (including non-living nature) is “organized,” and his related rejection of the hard-and-fast distinction between living and non-living. My aim is to offer an explanation of these two related points. Given that Schelling regards all of nature as organized, it makes most sense to begin with the basic stuff of nature—matter. For if we can understand how matter can be organized, then we can also understand how non-living material beings are also organized. Accordingly, I focus on Schelling’s first work in the philosophy of nature, the 1797 Ideen zu einer Philosophie der Natur (Ideas for a Philosophy of Nature), where he deals with matter most directly and challenges mechanistic accounts of matter. I show that the crucial influence on the Ideen was not (as many interpretations have it) Fichte, but Kant, and explicate how and why Schelling departs from Kant’s understanding of both matter and organization. Finally, I will briefly point to the ways in which Schelling’s understanding of organization can be brought to bear on current questions in theoretical biology.
Keywords Schelling  matter  organization in nature  organized matter  Kant  18th century philosophy of science
Categories (categorize this paper)
Buy the book Find it on Amazon.com
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 65,784
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Schelling’s Theory of Matter.Monica Marchetto - 2018 - Proceedings of the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy 58:27-29.
Ideas for a Philosophy of Nature.F. W. J. Von Schelling - 1988 - Cambridge University Press.
Schelling’s Second Sailing: Nature’s Manifestation and the Living Word.Peter Warnek - 2004 - Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy 8 (2):195-214.
Self and Absolute in the Early Schelling.Dale Evarts Snow - 1984 - Dissertation, Emory University
A Monstrous Absolute: Kant, Schelling, and the Poetic Turn in Philosophy.Theodore George - 2004 - In Jason Wirth (ed.), Schelling Now. State University of New York Press. pp. 135-146.
On Schelling’s Philosophy of Nature.Dieter Jähnig - 1989 - Idealistic Studies 19 (3):222-230.
Ideas for a Philosophy of Nature.Errol E. Harris & Peter Heath (eds.) - 1988 - Cambridge University Press.


Added to PP index

Total views

Recent downloads (6 months)

How can I increase my downloads?


Sorry, there are not enough data points to plot this chart.

My notes