Letter 335a

335a. Schelling to Wilhelm Schlegel in Berlin: Jena, 10 December 1801 [*]

Jena, 10 December 1801

Let me thank you, dearest friend, both for the letter, with which you delighted me, and for the excellent schnapps, with which you refreshed me. [1] I am writing today lest I linger too long with my response. I have simply been so terribly out of sorts today that I only have a moment now for writing.

I am extremely pleased to hear that your lectures have gotten under way, all the more so because, as I now see, certain others are in fact not quite so pleased with it. I am not really surprised by your news of Fichte. [2]

I will very soon send you the first issue of a Kritisches Journal der Philosophie that I am undertaking with Hegel [3] and in which you will find, apart from an introduction to the nature of philosophical criticism in the larger sense and its particular relationship with the present status of philosophy, also an essay 5 to 6 printer’s sheets long composed by me against and concerning Reinhold’s foolishness, [4] then a few specialized reviews.

You characterized Jacobi’s essay quite correctly. It contains nothing but embarrassing and out-of-date, half-witty notions. Could you not take it upon yourself to convince Schleiermacher to critique the Jacobi essay for the second issue of our journal? [5] I would ask him myself if I simply had the time. It would be of considerable importance not only for our journal, but also for the cause itself, since one would certainly expect something quite unique from Schleiermacher concerning Jacobi. Their respective personalities likely constitute a special point of contact. —

It truly is rather difficult to make Fichte comprehend if he is saying that I am tending toward a renewed version of Spinozism, considering, moreover, what he understands by and calls Spinozism in the first place. [6]

What pleased me most in your letter is the news of the project you will be taking on together with Schleiermacher. [7] How fortunate if you can stay with it. I dare not yet express my wish that it might take you further afterward as well. —

Let me quickly jump to a completely different topic: I will carry out your request concerning lecturing here with the most conscientious of care. [8] I think it best if we wait until the New Year with it. I am, however, in possession of the means to arrange a preliminary subscription that will doubtless attract a good number.

That which awaits me in my own turn this winter is still veiled. My most recent work drew me away from other projects that absolutely must be finished if I intend to do any travelling this summer. Hence at least for now I cannot yet say anything about my trip to Berlin.

This will not, however, prevent Caroline from undertaking the trip at a time convenient and appropriate for her. If possible, I will then follow. [9] May God grant that Caroline remain as healthy as she has been these last few weeks, excepting a single episode, which, I hope, will quickly pass.

But now I must close. I will write you again soon, and in the meantime commend myself to your remembrance.



[*] Sources: Plitt 1:351–52; Fuhrmans 2:362–64. — Wilhelm’s letter, to which this one is responding (see Caroline to Wilhelm on this same date [letter 335]), does not seem to be extant. Back.

[1] Wilhelm had sent a shipment of welcome “spirits” to Caroline earlier. See her letter to Wilhelm on 3 December 1801 (letter 334) (“Schelling is about to lose his mind in heartfelt gratitude; the Breslauer already got rid of his headache this morning”), esp. note 2 there (Giovanni Battista Internari, Herren beim Weintrinken [1752]; Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum; Museums./Signatur MOesterreich AB 3.7):



[2] Fichte was apparently displeased with something associated with Wilhelm’s recently commenced lectures in Berlin (Vorlesungen über schöne Literatur und Kunst), possibly his delivery (?), if one is to understand Caroline’s remarks thus in her letter to Wilhelm on this same date (letter 335). Back.

[3] Kritisches Journal der Philosophie, I, 1 (1802).

Schelling, who had been trying to come to an agreement with Fichte to publish a journal together after it appeared that the Romantics’ Jahrbücher project that Wilhelm had envisioned was not going to get off the ground, had in the meantime arranged to publish his own journal with Hegel quite without saying anything about it to Fichte, whence also Caroline’s remarks to Wilhelm on 23 November 1801 (letter 331) warning Wilhelm not to mention it to Fichte yet.

Wilhelm must have realized that his own journal project would never come to fruition. Back.

[4] In order: “Einleitung: Ueber das Wesen der philosophischen Kritik überhaupt, und ihr Verhältniss zum gegenwärtigen Zustand der Philosophie insbesondere,” Kritisches Journal der Philosophie I, 1 (1802), iii–xxiv; then immediately following: “Über das absolute Identitäts-System und sein Verhältniss zu dem neuesten (Reinholdischen) Dualismus,” 1–90. Back.

[5] The identity of this essay by Jacobi is uncertain. Fuhrmans 2:363 suggests either “Über eine Weissagung Lichtenbergs,” Taschenbuch für das Jahr 1802, ed. F. H. Jacobi, or “Über das Unternehmen des Kriticismus, die Vernunft zu Verstande zu bringen”, first published in Reinhold’s Beyträge zur leichtern Uebersicht des Zustandes der Philosophie beym Anfange des 19. Jahrhunderts, ed. C. L. Reinhold, Heft 3 (1802). Schleiermacher declined. Back.

[6] Wilhelm had apparently mentioned something to this effect in his letter. Otherwise, however, Friedrich Schlegel soon also similarly charged Schelling with incipient Spinozism; see his remarks to Schleiermacher in his letter on 12 April 1802 (letter 356d): “Never has absolute non-truth been expressed so purely and clearly, it is actually merely Spinozism.” Back.

[7] The reference is to a translation of Sophocles. See Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on this same date (letter 335), note 53. Back.

[8] Caroline mentions this possibility again in her letters to Wilhelm on 18 January 1802 (letter 341) and 15 February 1802 (letter 347). Nothing, however, materialized. Wilhelm never lectured again in Jena. In fact, he seems never to have returned to Jena. Back.

[9] Caroline eventually went to Berlin just after mid-March, Schelling at the end of April. Back.

Translation © 2016 Doug Stott