- F.W.J. Schelling
What is evil? What is freedom? For Schelling "freedom is the capacity for good and evil" (HF: 23). Commenting on the newest trends in philosophy of his age from Descartes on Schelling said that it "has the common defect that nature is not available for it and that it lacks a living ground" (HF: 26). He believed that idealism and realism were the soul and body of philosophy and that together they constituted a living whole. His Philosophical Investigations Into the Essence of Human Freedom were to be conducted under the fundamental principles of a "true philosophy of nature" (HF: 27). The basis of his natural philosophy of science begins in the distinction between being as it exists and being as the ground of existence (HF: 27).
For Schelling the ground is nature in God, a "being indeed inseparable, yet still distinct, from him. Ultimately "nature in general is everything that lies beyond the absolute Being of absolute identity" (HF: 28). Anarchy rules within the darkness of this ground: this "is the incomprehensible base of reality in things, the indivisible remainder, that which with the greatest exertion cannot be resolved in understanding but rather remains eternally in the ground" (HF: 29). He goes on to tell us that "understanding is born in the genuine sense from that which is without understanding. Without this preceding darkness creatures have no reality; darkness is their necessary inheritance" (HF: 29). Nature as being is "nothing else than the eternal ground for the existence of God, it must contain within itself, although locked up, the essence of God as a resplendent glimpse of life in the darkness of the depths" (HF: 29).
What's interesting is that what arises out of nature is seen as an impression [Ein-Bildung], rather than an external representation, since as he states it "nature is impressed [hineingebildet] into here or, still more correctly, nothing else than the eternal ground for the existence of God, it must contain within itself, although locked up, the essence of God as a resplendent glimpse of life in the darkness of the depths" (HF: 31). The highest aspirations of philosophy is to "show how each succeeding process approaches closer to the essence of nature, until the innermost center appears in the highest division of forces" (HF: 31). This dualistic conception at the heart of his philosophical enterprise begins with "pure craving or desire, that is, blind will" (HF: 32) Only in man is the "whole power of the dark principle and at the same time the whole strength of the light. In him there is the deepest abyss and the loftiest sky or both centra" (HF: 32).
In this passage we see Schelling as a precursor of Freud, seeking a conception of drives and the balance of conscious and not conscious (unconscious):
"Indeed, this dark principle is active in animals as well as in all other natural beings, yet it is still not born into the light in them as it is in man: it is not spirit and understanding but blind craving and desire; in short, no fall, no separation of principles is possible here where there is still no absolute or personal unity. The conscious and not conscious are unified in animal instinct only in a certain and determinate way which for that very reason is unalterable. For just on that account, because they are only relative expressions of unity, they are subject to it, and the force active in the ground retains the unity of principles befitting them always in the same proportion. Animals are never able to emerge from unity, whereas man can voluntarily tear apart the eternal bond of forces" (HF: 40).
We discover that evil is "nothing other than the primal ground [Urgrund] of existence to the extent this ground strives toward actuality in created beings and therefore is in fact only the higher potency of the ground active in nature" (HF: 44). Continuing he explicates:
"For, as in the initial creation, which is nothing other than the birth of light, the dark principle had to be as ground so that the light could be raised out of it (as from mere potency to actuality), so there must be another ground of the birth of spirit and, hence, a second principle of darkness that must be just as much higher than the first as spirit is higher than the light. This principle is the very spirit of evil that has been awoken in creation by arousal of the dark ground of nature, that is, the turning against each other[Entzweiung]of light and darkness, to which the spirit of love opposes now a higher ideal, just as the light had done previously in regard to the anarchic movement of initial nature" (HF: 44).
After Schelling both Freud and Lacan follow like afterthoughts in a complex dialogue between those centra that are both abyss and sky.
1. F.W.J. Schelling, Philosophical Investigations Into the Essence of Human Freedom (State University of New York 2006)