Letter 382c

382c. Schelling to Hegel in Jena: Würzburg, 3 March 1804 [*]

Würzburg, 3 March 1804

. . . You did not write me anything about how you are doing, perhaps as a way to pay me back for not having written for so long. But this is the first free moment I have had for writing letters to a few friends, and I would long ago have answered you had it but been possible.

To my considerable chagrin, I have accepted a position in the university senate and thereby become responsible for tasks that are now horribly robbing me of my best time. Apart from that, our situation is good; we have a nice apartment and are enjoying the benefits of the climate and region here. [1] That said, however, it is a bit more expensive here than when we were last in Jena. —

Although internal reactions have indeed surfaced on the part of the clerics and others, they have not had any lasting effect other than such about which one might merely laugh. [2] The intellectual spirit of the students is still far removed from that in Jena, and they still find philosophy to be enormously incomprehensible. By contrast, there are none of the bloody quarrels of the sort found in Jena, with respect to newspapers. . . .

Our acquaintance, the Salzburger Wagner, petitioned the government for an appointment, I was asked my opinion in the matter and recommended him as being indeed useful. As it turns out, he is an oaf, a paragon of Polyphemus, and someone I find both physically and morally not particularly pleasant. [3] Had I but kept reading in the Annalen, I could have picked up on the primitive nature of his ideas, if indeed he has ideas at all. [4]

Stay well, and do plan a journey here during the summer or in May. My wife, who sends her regards, and I myself will receive you quite warmly in our house. [5]



[*] Sources: Plitt 2:11–12; Fuhrmans 3:55–56.

Schelling is here answering a letter Hegel wrote to him on 27 February 1804, largely concerning details of Schelling’s lawsuit against the publisher Christian Ernst Gabler in Jena (to which Schelling himself responds in the first part of this letter, not included here). The last time Schelling wrote Hegel was on 31 August 1803 (letter 380g). Back.

[1] See the supplementary appendix on the Schellings’ residence in Würzburg. Back.

[2] Such did not remain the case for long. Back.

[3] The Cyclops in the ninth book of Homer’s Odyssey whom Odysseus blinds with a sharpened stake to facilitate the escape of his crew (Pellegrino Tibaldi, Polyphem; Polyphemus [1671]; Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum; Museums./Signatur dBisschop AB 3.11):



[4] Annalen der Literatur und Kunst in den österreichischen Staaten, 1802–12, from 1803 to 1805 under this particular title (the title changed several times).

See Johann Jakob Wagner’s remarks in letters concerning his relationship with Schelling during this period (Lebensnachrichten und Briefe [Ulm 1851], 217–22; see also Schelling im Spiegel seiner Zeitgenossen, ed. Xavier Tilliette [Torino, 1974], 132–33):

  • 23 December 1803 (Wagner had received his appointment that month): “At the very outset, Schelling received me a bit high-mindedly because he was acquainted with me only from my writings, which too often groan under the burden of my fate”;
  • 20 February 1804: “My relationship with Schelling became fraught with tension, and Count von Thürheim threatened to transfer me”;
  • 18 March 1804: “The most ardent competition has now been ignited between Schelling and me at the lectern”; “an intimate relationship between me and Schelling is utterly impossible, for he is nothing but scholarship and absolutely nothing other than what attaches to scholarship, ambition, and vanity. You can construe this man quite accurately from ambition and vanity, both subordinated under scholarship”;
  • 11 May 1804: “From a literary perspective as well, iacta alea [Latin, “the die has been cast”] now reigns between me and Schelling, and now it is a matter of life or death.” Back.

[5] Hegel did not visit the Schellings in Würzburg; indeed, he and Schelling did not meet again until 1812 in Munich, long after they had broken philosophically. Back.

Translation © 2017 Doug Stott