The Facticity of Time: Conceiving Schelling’s Idealism of Ages

In Schelling’s Philosophy: Freedom, Nature, and Systematicity. Oxford University Press (2020)
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Scholars agree that Schelling’s critique of Hegel consists in charging reason with an inability to account for its own possibility. This is not an attack on reason’s project of constructing a logical system, but rather on the pretense of doing so with complete justification and so without presuppositions, as if it were obvious why there is a logical system or why there is anything meaningful at all. Scholars accordingly cite the question ‘why is there something rather than nothing’ as emblematic of Schelling’s critique and the source of his claim against Hegel that reason is bounded by something other than itself. But what sort of claim is this? For what sort of argument could it be the conclusion? On these questions, the literature is lacking. I propose that the question ‘why something’ motivates Schelling to give a transcendental argument to the effect that past and future are a priori conditions of the possibility of reason. As I reconstruct it from the Weltalter, this argument construes the past as the pre-rational decision to construct a logical system, while the future represents the purpose that guides the construction of the same. Schelling’s claim against Hegel that reason is bounded by something other is thus the discovery of inescapable presuppositions that condition the possibility of reason as such.

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G. Anthony Bruno
Royal Holloway University of London


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