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SECTION XLV.

Schelling, after passing from Idealism to Pantheism, and from Pantheism to a dualistic Theosophy, endeavored, in this his third development-period, to reconcile the freedom of the individual with the sway of necessity, and indeed of necessary evil, by regarding individual man as determining himself for evil in an ante-mundane self-determination as influenced 342by a principle of darkness lying in God himself,—but as necessary for the self-revelation of divine love. The presentations of philosophical ethics which based themselves on Schelling, have been unable to attain to any permanent significancy.—The imperfectly developed anti-Schellingian philosophy of Jacobi answered, in its ethical phases, more to the Christian view, but it also has given rise to no real ethical system.

Schelling, appearing at first as a disciple of Fichte (at a period which was very receptive and thankful for philosophy, even for a youthfully unripe one), and then, in a more highly speculative spirit passing beyond him, and also in constant metamorphoses progressively rising above even himself,—never settled, never bringing any thing to perfection,—did not develop in his earlier period any ethical system, and, at furthest, only gave, on purely Pantheistic foundations, more or less clear suggestions toward an ethical system; however, in his last productive period (when, under the stimulation of Jacob Böhme and Francis Baader, he plunged into a current of phantasy-speculation not un-akin to Gnostic dualism), he furnished, in his “Philosophical Inquiries as to the Essence of Human Liberty” (1809), a less dialectically developed, indeed, than theosophically-portrayed, though certainly deeply suggestive, presentation of the presuppositions and bases of a system of philosophical ethics.—In God there exists, before all reality, his eternal ground, his per se unintelligent nature, out of which in all eternity the divine understanding generates itself as the eternal antithesis to this ground-nature, which understanding stands dominatingly over against this nature,—rules creatingly in it, and by its acting upon it creates the finite world. Every creature has consequently a twofold nature in itself: an essentially dark principle corresponding to the nature-element in God, and also the principle of light or understanding. In the highest creature, man, there exists the entire power of the dark principle, namely, the unintelligent self-will, and also the entire power of light—the deepest abyss and the highest heaven. From the fact of his springing from the ground or nature-element in God, man has in himself a principle relatively independent 343of God, which, answering to this ground, is darkness, but which becomes transfigured by the light, the spirit. But while in God the two principles are indissolubly united, in man they are separable, that is, man has the possibility of good and evil. The dark principle can, as selfishness, separate itself from the light; self-will can endeavor to be, as a separate will, that which it truly is only in unity with the universal will,—can endeavor to be, also in the periphery or as a creature, that which it is only in so far as it remains in the divine center; this self-severing of self-hood from the light is evil. Evil, as the dissevering of the two principles, is necessary in order to a revelation of God; for if these principles remained in man as unseparated as they are in God, then there would be no difference between God and man, and God could not manifest his omnipotence and love; but God must of necessity so reveal himself. For this reason, the self-will of man is influenced by that dark unintelligent principle in God,—man is tempted to evil, in order that the will of divine love may find an opposing element, an antithesis, wherein it can realize itself. Hence evil exists in man as a natural tendency, for the reason that the disorder of his powers, as occasioned by the awakening of self-will in the creature, communicates itself to him in his very birth; and this ground-element in God works also constantly in man, and excites his self-hood and individual will, in order that in antithesis to it, the will of divine love may find scope for action. Hence results a general necessity of sin, which, however, by no means does away with the personal guilt of man, for the dark ground in God realizes not evil as such, but only prompts thereto. The actions of actual man result, indeed, with necessity from his essence, but this essence man himself has determined by an act of self-determination beyond all time and co-incidently with creation itself. Man is indeed born in time, but he has, himself, determined his life and character before his temporal life, yon side of time, in eternity. Hence our actual actions are, on the one hand, necessary, and, on the other, within our own responsibility. That Judas betrayed Christ, was absolutely necessary; neither himself nor another could have changed the matter; and nevertheless it was his own guilt, for he had so determined himself from eternity. As every man now acts, 344so acted he, as the identical person, already at the beginning of creation; he is not simply now forming his character, but his character is already formed. All men have determined themselves from eternity to egotism and self-seeking, and are born with this dark principle essential in their being. Evil, however, ought not to remain, but to be overcome by the good principle.

Schelling promised a fuller development of these ground-thoughts, but did not carry it out. The enthusiasm with which this philosophy of his (which promised the solution of all the enigmas of existence), was received,—an enthusiasm which was not dampened, but rather heightened by its oracular tone and by the boldness of assertion which often assumed in it the place of scientific proof,—gave occasion also in the ethical field, to various, though mostly feeble, fruitless and soon abandoned, attempts at a further carrying-out of his ground-principles,—some of them in greater approximation to the Christian consciousness; (Buchner, 1807; Thanner, 1811; Klein, 1811; Möller, 1819; Krause, 1810, though deviating considerably from the master, and rather independent).—The facility with which other kindred currents of thought admitted of being joined into Schelling’s theosophical outbursts, was indeed very tempting to the book-prolific spirit of the age, but it also soon awakened in the sobering-down spirit of the time a degree of distrust; and the fame obtained by the master in his meteoric flight, showed itself less partial for his zealously-imitating scholars; and when Daub, after welcoming, in their regular order of succession, all the philosophies from Kant to Hegel, advanced in his “Judas Iscariot” (1816), on the principles of Schelling, to a sort of personality of evil, to a philosophical Satanology, which indeed is yet far different from the Christian view,—then, at last, the predominantly Rationalistic spirit of the age began to lose confidence in the worth of the more recent philosophy as a whole.

F. H. Jacobi of Munich, who, in antithesis to all Pantheism, took his departure from the stand-point of the free personal spirit, has given in his miscellaneous and unsystematic writings245245   Werke, 1812, 4 vols. only hints and suggestions toward an ethical system. 345He opposed to the Pantheistic philosophy, however, rather, merely the consciousness of its untruth than a scientifically-constructed theory. He emphasized very strongly the personal, moral will-freedom of man as opposed to all necessary determination, without, however, creating for it a really scientific basis, appealing here, as also in the case of the idea of the personality of God, to inner spiritual experience—to feeling. Morality, he based on a primitive feeling for the good, which is independent of the striving after happiness; the good must be accomplished for its own sake, and not as a means to happiness. In general, Jacobi did not rise beyond the views of Rationalism.—The few moralists who followed in his wake, defend indeed the Christian stand-point as against the Pantheistic tendency, but they have no very great scientific significancy. Among them belongs essentially also the Roman Catholic theologian, Salat (1810 and later).


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