Schelling on the Possibility of Evil: Rendering Pantheism, Freedom, and Time Consistent

SATS 18 (1):1-18 (2017)
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German idealism stems in large part from Fichte’s response to a dilemma involving the concepts of pantheism, freedom and time: either time is the form of the determination of modes of substance, as held by a pantheistic or ‘dogmatic’ person, or the form of acts generated by human freedom, as held by an idealistic person. Fichte solves the dilemma by refuting dogmatism and deducing time from idealism’s first principle. But his diagnosis is more portentous: by casting the lemmas in terms of person-types, he unintentionally invites Schelling’s philosophical rethinking of personality. In his middle period, Schelling argues for the consistency of the concepts of pantheism, freedom and time, claiming that it depends on a ‘good’ as opposed to ‘evil’ personality. However, since on his view personality is an absolute or originally undecided capacity for good and evil, the trio’s consistency is entirely contingent. In §1, I trace Fichte’s resolution of the dilemma. In §§2-3, I reconstruct Schelling’s arguments for consistency from the Freiheitsschrift and Weltalter, texts written just a few years apart. In §4, I allay a Kantian worry that this consistency relies problematically on the liberty of indifference or Willkür.

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G. Anthony Bruno
Royal Holloway University of London


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