Supplementary Appendix: Schelling’s “The Comportment of Obscurantism contra the Philosophy of Nature”

Schelling’s “The Comportment of Obscurantism contra the Philosophy of Nature” [*]

|161| It is common knowledge that an age in which one or more minds generate new scientific views and advances is not always positively inclined toward such to the extent they do not also offer at least some features that are of more obvious practical use or are accompanied by immediate sensuous evidence.

With respect to the philosophy of nature, however, apart, that is, from its relationship with philosophy as such, things stand quite differently to the extent it has opened up a completely altered view of nature. For here one is dealing not merely with progress to a higher stage on the same ladder, or indeed with any advancement along the same lines as earlier, but rather with a completely new world into which there is absolutely no possible transition from the world of contemporary physics, and which |162| in the larger sense is a self-enclosed world wholly unto itself with no external connections.

One would think that those wholly unfamiliar with this world, and who will never genuinely find an entry into it, might observe all the more calmly what sorts of things from this inaccessible region might enter into their own world of phenomena. After all, such people can certainly simply continue on as they have before, with no one envying them their own manner of knowing if they are but satisfied with it themselves, and are equally free to draw comfort from their activities in the face of those who may ascribe little importance to it — after all, even animals, though they lack reason, are nonetheless respected who through their instinctive industry or even their mere existence contribute to the harmony of the whole of phenomena. And even those who plant hemp, and the workers who manufacture linen from it, generally have no awareness of its capacity to receive the masterpiece of the painter that may end up being the adornment and delight of the world.

This caste, moreover, is numerous and quite widespread. Secured by the crowd, sheltered by concurrence concerning its manner of knowing, they have organized their imagined knowledge into a system and spread this formally organized “non-knowledge” over the entire cultivated world.

|163| Alas, in part their blindness concerning philosophy, the incapacity of their comprehension, which recognizes nothing in the philosophy of nature other than theories like their own, except opposed to their own, approximately the way one person says, “Light is a unique matter unto itself,” the other, “Light is the effect of vibrations of the ether”; or the way one says, “Water is simple,” the other, “Water is complex” — distinctions not, let us point out, worth the trouble of turning one’s hand; also in part the lengthy, undisturbed possession of their knowledge on the part of philosophy itself, insofar as since Descartes and since Newton’s Principiis philosophiae naturalis mathematicis — where everything would allegedly be reduced to mathematics (which can, however, also get along quite well with physics) — all speculative views of nature had all but completely disappeared — all these things nevertheless prompt and stir them into reacting, except the manner of their reaction necessarily requires them to express quite directly their feeling that they are utterly unable to appropriate the philosophy of nature or do anything with it, resulting in their reaction invariably taking the most base, crude, and plebeian forms.

Not that they might be capable of launching an open attack. Instead, they are quick to seize any opportunity to take passing shots at more recent transcendental physics, for example, in reviews for the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung or similar journals. |164| Such was the case with the great mathematician who, though solemnly invited by me myself, and although his honor, if he has any, and several other rather urgent considerations could not but prompt him to do so, nonetheless was very careful not to step forward publicly by name, choosing instead, protected by anonymity, to betray himself repeatedly not only by his unique and peculiar stupidity, but especially also by being unable to forget that the dullness of his intellect caused me to doubt even his alleged mathematical grandeur, prompting him, with regard to me, to comfort himself with the universal lot of mathematicians by declaring that I asserted that the most absurd conceptual modes of physics have always owed their origins to mathematicians, a view he simply cannot bring himself to resist calling an absurd view yet again in a review of a book on physics by Herr Meyer in Göttingen (Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung [1802] 10). [1]

For now I would ask this reviewer not to reckon himself among those particular mathematicians to whom I was referring with that remark, mathematicians who, as incongruous as some of their conceptual offerings in physics may well have been, could possess considerably less acumen and deftness |165| before being reckoned as his equal, and among whom he in his own turn is at most but a tutored pupil and mechanical imitator.

Then I would ask not him, but rather every other intellect that is not so gullible and beclouded, what, e.g., might conceivably be more incongruous and resistant to reason than practically the entire physics of Descartes, an epochal thinker in mathematics and an otherwise grand intellect, when one has read a large portion of his other works, e.g., any of his earliest works in which his genius and unadulterated sense for truth comes to expression — I am referring to the book De methodo [2] — how not only, e.g., I, but many others as well, who have assured me of the same thing, and certainly anyone who has any sense — how we find it almost incomprehensible that he ever could have removed himself so far from any perception, and even from any instinct for truth. —

Any reasonable person will similarly find [Leonhard] Euler’s [1707–73] hypotheses concerning magnetism, his valves, screw threads, etc. to be completely absurd. — As might be expected, this reviewer, along with all other German physicists, finds the not only simple, but also infinitely self-doubling and self-multiplying absurdity of the Newtonian doctrine of light and colors to be a lofty masterpiece.

And to adduce something similar from a different sphere, what can be more absurd than to believe with mathematicians that at the very beginning the celestial bodies, |166| in whatever fashion, received a “push” from the side, and that this “push” is to be viewed as the ground of their self-reliance and independence from the central body, in a word: of their unique life? —

And the worst part is that among all those who have made so much of these particular modes of conception as grand discoveries, not a single one seriously believes in it all, notwithstanding they have been persuading and convincing one another for over a century now. Hence for precisely this reason, this present reviewer in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung cannot extol the book under review highly enough, though the manner in which he extols it leads one to believe that its alleged excellence consists in nothing more than that it tosses up traditional doctrines in, it is true, the most objective form, namely, as piles of sand and rubble no longer exhibiting any organic principle whatsoever, and that from that which perhaps may otherwise have seemed organic or animated in physics, now, after every shred of spirit has been extracted and expelled, it has acquired pure distillate, which is always the final preparatory step whereby something becomes capable of being fitted into a compendium, after which it is then laid aside as caput mortuum. [3]

This procedure does not, however, prevent the reviewer and his author from speaking about the arid and dry speculations of most recent physics, something adduced as a lofty accomplishment of this compendium, which is now to replace the previously viable compendium of Erxleben, [4] |167| doubtless because the latter regrettably still includes the ingenious remarks by Lichtenberg, which here and there may even awaken an idea in some unsuspecting beginner or listener, and which one can certainly admire in our good Lichtenberg, who himself was admittedly not always able to keep his lively imagination in check, but who always respected his idea-less age to the extent that he presented his own ideas merely as witty jests, designed merely for fun, which may also account for the fact that one feels relieved from having to feel any gratitude toward him, considering, e.g., how he failed to support with appropriately precise and thorough experiments his excellent views on the process of what is known as water electrolysis, the role played by electricity in this process, and similar views; instead , he merely followed his own nature and the quite fortunate inspiration of his genius.

The class of human beings to which the reviewer belongs comprehends no idea that goes beyond ordinary understanding other than as a fiction, or rather precisely also as a novel; for thus does he refer to everything not restricted to immediately animalistic elements, such as seeing, tasting, smelling, etc., and in the same context in which he adduces to such grand applause the previously mentioned arid and dry speculations, he immediately also asks (we know not exactly whether on his own initiative or that of his author) whether we |168| do not now have better novels in physics than earlier.

One can be sure that this author does not believe that a novel is something arid and dry, and that he is thinking instead of something written for entertainment and amusement. Hence one can see quite clearly how he is unable to keep his train of thought for even two lines, and in immediate proximity comes up with two mutually contradictory statements.

If such a barbarian had even the faintest idea what powers of intellect are required to produce a work of the spirit such as a novel, he could not possibly think he could deride some other work of the spirit by calling it a “novel” or a “poem.” He is, however, clearly using these words with the meaning and value they have acquired among the crudest and most base reading rabble.

The characteristic feature of this foule [5] and its inborn bestiality is that is has no respect, neither for the age nor for posterity, neither for ideas nor for the genius that begets these ideas, nor for the talent that brings these ideas to expression. In Germany it is both a tradition and permissible for the most pathetic compiler, someone who could come up with not a single original thought, or such who at most are capable of combining the ideas of others, using an admixture of forms to bestow upon them the appearance of newness, to elevate themselves next to and even above what can only be the product of an independent spirit and free power of the imagination, |169| and to entertain the notion that they can judge what may already have been thoroughly considered and appropriately thought through for a century of more, in order to — copy it all down and incorporate it into their compilations.

No sphere is safe from this baseness, no phenomenon in the public eye that does not attract this swarm and become wholly disrupted. Their primary purpose is to discover in such things whatever they and the rabble to whom they belong might appropriate and use for their own amusement.

And thus have they dealt with the philosophy of nature. My own writings, Steffens’s excellent work — not a trace of at least an attempted assessment. But then the Bamberg theses appear, and now they have found something they can use, albeit not as if these, too, whatever else they might be, were not similarly far above their own horizons (as I will demonstrate with an example below), but rather because these young people and their work are merely theses each of which one can view and cite utterly out of context.

And now the gossip begins, the carrying to and fro; bustling individuals who aggrandize themselves through reviews now hawk them; people who otherwise speak not a word about scholarly or scientific subjects |170| and who prudently refrain from any remarks about the philosophy of nature now present these theses everywhere, saying, “Behold what the philosophy of nature really is, and what fruits it is bearing etc.”

It is well known that the Bamberg theses have been sought after for the courts of princes. Otherwise, the Reichsanzeiger did not neglect to serve such a delicious dish to its public, the Göttingische gelehrte Anzeigen reviewed the philosophical theses, and the Jena Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung reserved the medical theses for itself.

We will restrict ourselves to the last mentioned review [Schelling’s footnote: We are reprinting it in the addendum for explication and as a noteworthy piece of evidence.], since in it alone can all the previously mentioned characteristics of the literary rabble be demonstrated.

It would be futile to ask according to what particular custom in the entire world something is ascribed to a writer or teacher or in general to anything in and of itself for which pupils, followers, or in general adherents are in fact responsible, and whether toward every person other than those being referred here one will allow this distinction to obtain not only consistently now, but also in the future, — as soon as one otherwise finds it appropriate.

Just this much for now. — It is impossible, when a new organ of knowledge |171| and of looking at things develops, and a doctrine emerges that exerts such a broad influence in every direction, taking as its task to portray the general harmony of the universe, the sublation of all contradictions, and the retrieval of antitheses into unity, — that the effects of this doctrine, which begets in many more strongly and felicitously organized minds the fruits of genuine enthusiasm, might not also come upon weaker subjects, subjects in whom that which is true and powerful degenerates into emptiness and hollow, parroted enthusiasm, and who thereby demonstrate not at all the weakness of the subject matter itself, but rather their own weakness. —

Nothing, regardless how sublime, not even a new religious revelation from heaven itself, can avoid this fate. Were one intent on drawing conclusions from such effects concerning the value, originality, and inner strength of something, one would be better advised to draw the opposite conclusions, especially when these effects extend from the philosophy of nature proper out into utterly alien spheres, e.g., into empirical reality. After all, not even the empirical leatheriness of Ritter can help acquiring a Schelverian lilt, e.g., in a passage we have just read that can be adduced as a noteworthy example; it goes something like this: “— and by my knowing him more closely who will be with me,

I hasten, O Earth, O kind Mother, with childlike yearning to your sanctuary. There things are good, stories are beautiful, for the creating father ceases not, and the smiling infant’s first gaze is eternally more refreshing, (sic)

— followed immediately by:

“§ 15. Into ordinary saucers that were filled to the brim with pure water” etc. —

Who in the world does not laugh at such attempts, when smallness puts on airs, and slowness stimulates itself into speed, and meager prose tries to speak as poesy? Who in the world will even, as one might expect, attribute such tastelessness even to the extravagances of a Schelver? as little, that is, as these extravagances of a Schelver can be attributed to the philosophy of nature or to the pure expressions in Steffens’s truly enthusiastic views of the earth.

What we have here described cannot apply to the Bamberg theses in even a general sense, and in any case this particular reviewer is certainly not the man who might elevate himself above such; indeed, had he sense enough, he might even learn quite a bit from them. — Let us offer proof. —

He notes what unbelievable literary and moral nonsense is being perpetrated in Bamberg, something |173| he finds motivated by the use of, among other things, the most sublime elements (as he puts it) from Röschlaub’s and my writings; the reviewer makes this statement even though it is crystal clear he has read not a single page of either Röschlaub’s or my writings, and is in even less a position to have understood them had he read them in the first place. One of the most striking passages he excerpts is the statement that the “human organism is the highest metamorphosis of the less coherent metallic stimuli,” and further, that the “theory of the less coherent metallic stimuli is the propaedeutic of physiology.” —

Although this ignoramus, as might be expected, is astonished at these “less coherent metallic stimuli”; and though he may earlier have heard or read something about “metallic stimuli,” in his entire life he has probably never heard the expression “metallic series” (Metallreihe in the original); hence he straightaway reads “metallic stimuli” (given this repetition and the fact that such takes place in a review in which the highest and almost diplomatic precision is in order, this error cannot be attributed to simply an error in writing or printing) and marvels exceedingly at the nonsense his own ignorance has introduced into it.

He then adduces statements allegedly characteristic of any pupil of Röschlaub from other theses, except that not a single one can be ascribed to Röschlaub |174| himself. Since one can reasonably assume that medicine is this reviewer’s specialty, it follows that if he is not familiar with Röschlaub’s writings, as undeniably demonstrated by these previous considerations, he is likely even less familiar with my own. Yet this crass ignorance and obvious utter unfamiliarity with our writings does not prevent him from pointing to them as a source of the alleged literary and even moral mischief. —

So what is one to assume? Grand impudence combined with profound ignorance? Or the perfidy of proceeding without the slightest reflection in slandering a whole array of writers that may be repugnant to this rabble and lying to the unenlightened part of the public concerning them? Regardless of which of these two possibilities one assumes is the case, neither the one nor the other possesses even the slightest sense of honor. It is thus completely out of place for the reviewer’s shamelessness to prompt him to say that the “authors of nos. 2 and 4 are adherents of the theory of irritability and the Schellingian philosophy of nature, but as reasonable, moral men.”

With respect to this passage, which clearly implies that it is not to be ascribed to the theory of stimulation and the Schellingian philosophy of nature, as whose adherents these authors are identified, if the latter do not comport themselves as barbaric and ignorant men, |175| but rather that such comportment must be ascribed singly and solely to their individual merit — hence I herewith formally declare this review to be a dishonorable piece of literary hackwork by simultaneously inviting the public to judge the extent to which the familiar sense of honor of the editors of the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung — whose attention this review necessarily must have eluded not least because it is in and of itself incomprehensible how theses can be reviewed in this journal in the first place — might, as one might expect, prompt them to lift the veil of anonymity of this reviewer, recognizing especially in this present case the acknowledged necessity instituted for those cases where allowing the name of one of its contributors to remain anonymous might damage the honor of the journal itself, or allow this particular contributor to escape, under the protection of anonymity, the deserved and appropriate contempt and indignation that such crudeness cannot but elicit among the more educated portion of the public when not merely persons, but also a doctrine is blasphemed, and to ensure that not even a shadow of his worthlessness reflect back on them and their journal, or remain associated with them in anyone’s mind.

Otherwise it is not at all difficult to recognize the class of human beings to which this reviewer belongs. Apart from the shamelessness with which he — who shows himself to be more ignorant that any student who is now studying the sciences at any university |176|, and who today, were he to present himself to the Bamberg medical faculty as a candidate for the doctoral degree, would be rejected on the basis of his ignorance alone, and with shame, — presumes to be concerned with the welfare of science and the honor of the doctoral degree, it is also the unabashed fashion with which he reckons himself among the sensible and moral public that represents a family resemblance that has emerged and indeed proliferated within this grand clan ever since a whole group of people was set back at least a half century by the advances made in science and the arts.

The characteristic feature of this class is that they still imagine themselves living in the most contemporary of ages, and, though this class in fact consists of the crudest people, they nonetheless believe themselves to possess both taste and judgment, and notwithstanding the only activity now remaining for them is that of gossip, they nonetheless consider themselves to constitute good society and the educated public. If one tells them that they have long ceased living in the contemporary world, they believe such a statement cannot really be meant seriously. If one assures them that they are in all seriousness to be reckoned as rabble, they find it absolutely incomprehensible.

If, finally, one swears to them that they are viewed as nothing more than dead dogs, they, again, are utterly unable to comprehend this as a true statement, but rather only as barbaric behavior. In a word, they are simply not to be reached, and are so identical with their base crudeness, and incapable of any personal reflection on that crudeness, that they utterly fail to comprehend how someone can have the principles and concepts of a civilized, genteel man and yet simultaneously be treated as just what they are, namely, riffraff.

One particular expression that they have latched onto without having even an inkling of its meaning, and which they insert after every other word in a sentence, is that of good breeding or genteel lifestyle (as if there were such a thing as good breeding or a genteel lifestyle among the rabble). In a review in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung, one of these philistines assures the other that the educated public finds the tone contemptible that new philosophers use against their adversaries, and in one journal for and by apothecaries, I have been accused of Attic urbanity.

Well, I would certainly like to know even a single documented example of Attic urbanity that the person can prove he has actually read who asserts such, just as in general how these folks — who, were they to be transported to Greece today, could at most be used for the lowest service as slaves or helots — would be peculiarly astonished were they ever to experience even a single example of Attic urbanity.

These confirmed and sworn barbarians |178| are precisely the ones who — receptive for no other respect than for homogeneous crudeness, for neither ideas nor truth nor beauty — are quick, if they find but a single ear to listen, to denounce as perverse anything that lays claims to the latter; and since they can accomplish nothing with the simpler device of defamation, their true nature as riffraff betrays itself in their attempts to draw the attention of and otherwise summon governments and authorities, just as, among others, the reviewer of Röschlaub’s Magazin in the Jena Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung has done. [6]

Their delusional belief in themselves as the educated public stifles even as little sense for propriety as would be necessary to realize how little any government cares about the prattle of such gossipmongers. As long as states and everything lofty and sacred about them are based on ideas, those in whom the reality of those ideas comes to expression personally will view nothing as being more perverse and ruinous than this cascading flood of base crudeness, one that respects not only no ideas, but similarly nothing that might rise above baseness or that bears the seal of majesty and divinity.

The rule of the rabble in the arts and sciences, were it ever to come about or be favored, would after its inevitable success represent merely the herald of a completely different rule of the rabble. — This sans-cullotism, one not merely imagined or “so-called” but rather true and actual, |179| and one intent on withdrawing from reverence for anything grand, true, and beautiful, that it may instead writhe about in the muck of its own baseness, recognizes no authority besides itself insofar as it acknowledges no higher authority of genius, talent, or ideas; for no power or sovereignty on this earth, regardless of how great or small, rules in any other fashion than from within the power and strength of ideas, and wherever among any nation respect for these is lost, and the disrespect for such even protected and fostered, there inevitably follows also contempt for everything whose respect is based solely on the power of ideas. In the same fashion as they summon governments to take action, these same people try to alarm the broader public, something this review of the Bamberg theses is obviously also trying to do. —

They will succeed as little in this endeavor as with summoning governments to take action against Röschlaub, who, almost in the very same moment that some obscure Lower Saxon scholar believes himself capable of denigrating Röschlaub among his superiors, was summoned to the state of a truly enlightened prince — one whom the gods seem to have presented to Germany in this age and who protects the sciences — and offered a position within an appropriate scholarly sphere. One might wish that many other universities could boast of such a union of science |180| and the arts of the sort enjoyed by Bamberg — which the Jena Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung has publicly denounced — among men such as Marcus and Röschlaub.

There is one other particular consideration, quite apart of the one earlier mentioned, concerning which the public in its own turn can certainly similarly demand the name of this shameless reviewer, and I consider it my obligation to address it.

The assumption that a person as wholly and completely ignorant as this reviewer has been shown to be in the preceding discussion is a contributor to the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung, regardless of what one may otherwise legitimately think about that journal’s contributors, still seems highly improbable. Although one might conclude the presence of some obscure Lower Saxon scholar, e.g., such as the reviewer of Brown’s Elemente in 1795, [7] such a conclusion still explains this only in part.

One might assume that the reviewer is pretending to be more ignorant than he in reality is, and that he belongs to that class of subjects whom one encounters quite frequently these days, namely, those who make every effort to speak ill publicly of Röschlaub but who as teachers would be lost, abandoned souls if they did not have his writings, whose misunderstood contents they repeat to their listeners historically and with this or that casual but ill-advised improvements, a situation already common enough in our world.

|181| But these considerations are insufficient, and the further one investigates, the more does one find oneself forced to assume:

(1) that one must consider the author of this denunciation not even to be a surgeon, and certainly not a man associated with a medical faculty at a university, but rather a complete medical layman. One immediate and eminent proof militating in favor of this assumption is that any initiate who either has finished his course of studies in medicine at a university or is the member of a medical faculty at a university — not even with the most resolute will to denounce the Bamberg faculty — would never attach such importance to the custom of the candidates’ inaugural disputation, since he would certainly know what as a rule generally is really at work in these events, and how they are often nothing but demonstrations of students’ ignorance or works copied from their teachers’ own notebooks, or demonstrations of how far behind their teachers are.

The last thing anyone even marginally familiar with these circumstances would do is to be so imprudent as to make such insinuations, which even without such knowledge he might think possible in a general sense, at the risk that the medical faculty in Bamberg would quite justifiably respond (as I myself, the author, know), namely, that among others, one of the Bamberg doctoral candidates — several of whose attainment of this degree in Bamberg is now being so lamented — |182| composed precisely those disputations for other candidates at another famous university with which the latter earned their own doctoral degrees, naturally to grand applause and the usual panegyrics.

(2) For determining the specifics of this case — now that the latter and previous discussions have demonstrated that the author of the review cannot possibly be a member of a medical faculty, and that one can thus attribute no particular interest in medicine to him — one can only assume that the author of this review was someone enlisted in one fashion or the other specifically for this task, and whom else might one suspect as such an instrument than the shabby philologist whom Fichte not only masterfully characterized in Nicolais Leben, [8] but also proved works for the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung? — The particular reasons that it is indeed this philologist who penned the review in question here are the following.

(1) The Latin motto at the end of the review (“all this is indeed a magnum dei beneficium etc.) suggests the hand of a philologist, since such people are more wont to employ such turns of phrase when lacking others.

|183| (2) The entire essay betrays no other knowledge than that which can be attributed to any unemployed philologist, and such positive ignorance that — since this person exhibits such crudeness on the one hand, and yet on the other the scholarly erudition of a Latin motto and such ardent affection for the use of Latin in disputations — one cannot but conclude that, among all the other lower classes of the scholarly world, he as the author of this review must belong to that of philologists.

(3) One can assume that such persons as are characteristic of such reduced philologists are sooner to be engaged in such a business; perhaps this philologist himself experienced some sort of affront at the Bamberg university, perhaps even from Röschlaub himself, and eagerly seized the opportunity to avenge himself as best he knew how.

The Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung must be concerned above all not only with discovering for itself how and along which devious paths such a person managed to publish a review in that journal, but also, by publishing an accurate and thorough account to the public, with distancing itself from any participation in the circumstances that resulted in

(1) a medical layman and declining philologist in particular reviewing medical theses; and

|184| this philologist pulling one over on the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung by publishing not only samples of his natural ignorance, but also the most vile blasphemy under the guise of a review.

Should the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung be unable to provide a satisfactory explanation in this regard, the public will then certainly know what is going on, just as in general it can perceive from this particular case what is really going on in other, similar ones, and how the journal would comport itself if an upright person could resolve to take notice of such loutishness more than perhaps merely once, as a sample, and as a characterization of part of our present age.

Let us close now with a general observation. — What is one to say to those who expect everything from experience, and yet whom a thousand years of experience has not at least taught that if a subject or doctrine contains but a single idea, this single idea is imperishable in the world, incapable of being repressed by any power, and much less by such base and inherently repugnant means of the sort being brought to bear against, among others, the philosophy of nature, whose idea is eternal, whereas those who employ such means in part because of the fortune of the ages, in part because their own consciousness of their opprobrium forces them to resort to secret, concealed attacks, are unable to attain even the sort of inferior place in the memory of posterity of the |185| sort attained by Joachim Lange and similar people. [9]

Finally, as far as the predicate “ill-mannered, uncivilized, barbaric” is concerned, which is so often applied to adherents of the philosophy of nature as such, the distinction must also have been applicable during Lessing’s time, as at all other times as well, between that which the dregs of the scholarly world — which has no other retreat than that which remains behind these words — have called mannerly, civilized, and what upright people have called moral, ethical. For in the second of his contributions, Lessing — whose classic stance on this point forfeits nothing from that fact that those who do not have what takes to asset themselves in the meantime try to save themselves with ill-applied slogans from him — says the following: [10]

You may well find me to be an ill-mannered opponent of this sort (as you call it), but certainly not an immoral one. This distinction between ill-mannered and immoral, which is quite important, notwithstanding the two words would seem to mean the exactly the same thing given their derivation, [11] should eternally endure among us. My intention is solely to try to illuminate as much as possible your immoral manner of disputation, even should such illumination take place in no other way than in (what is for you) the most ill-mannered fashion.


[*] “Benehmen des Obscurantismus gegen die Naturphilosophie,” Neue Zeitschrift für spekulative Physik 1 (1802), 161–88. Back.

[1] J. T. Mayer, Anfangsgründe der Naturlehre zum Behuf der Vorlesungen über die Experimental-Physik, reviewed anonymously in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1802) 10 (Monday, 11 January 1802) 73–78. Back.

[2] Discours de la méthode (1637). Back.

[3] Latin, “worthless remnants,” lit. “dead head.” Back.

[4] Johann Christian Polycarp Erxleben, Anfangsgründe der Naturlehre, 6th ed., ed. and expanded by Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (Göttingen 1794). Back.

[5] Fr., “crowd, mass, throng; mob, rabble, common herd.” Back.

[6] Andreas Röschlaub, Magazin zur Vervollkommnung der Medizin (1799–1809). Nos. 1–6 reviewed in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung 32 (Monday, 1 February 18902) 249–56; 33 (Tuesday, 2 February 1802) 257–64; 34 (Wednesday, 3 February 1802) 265–72; 35 (Wednesday, 3 February 1802) 273–80. Back.

[7] Translated into German by Melchior Adam Weikard as Grundsätze der Arzeneylehre (Frankfurt am Main 1795). Reviewed along with other materials related to the Brunonian doctrine in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1795) 274 (Monday, 12 October 1795) 73–80; 275 (Tuesday, 13 October 1795) 81–88. Back.

[8] Fichte, Friedrich Nicolais Leben und sonderbare Meinungen. Back.

[9] Uncertain allusion; Joachim Lange (1670–1744) was a Pietist-leaning professor of theology in Halle. Back.

[10] Lessing, Anti-Goeze, d.i. Nothgedrungene Beiträge zu den freiwilligen Beiträgen des Herrn Pastor Goeze, vol. 2 (Braunschweig 1778), 15–16. Schelling refers to it as Lessing’s “second contribution” based on the title, which translates approximately “Anti-Goeze, i.e., forced [necessitated] contributions to the voluntary contributions of Herr Pastor Goeze; Schelling is referring to volume 2 of several such contributions from Lessing. Back.

[11] Lessing is contrasting the two etymologically related words ungesittet and unsittlich. Back.

Translation © 2016 Doug Stott