Letter 382d

382d. Schelling to Carl Joseph Windischmann in Aschaffenburg: Würzburg, 4 March 1804 [*]

Würzburg, 4 March 1804

Many thanks for your kind efforts in copying out the review. The date of 17 December coincides remarkably with several other, simultaneous events. If things stand such that I have suddenly changed from a Catholic into an atheist, then that change is indeed quite desirable, and one might wish merely that the Munich crowd had not alleged the former in the first place. For indeed, one can do much more with the calumny of atheism than with the accusation of hyperreligiosity, which even in its mistakes does not upset people as much as the former. [1] . . .


[*] Sources: Plitt 2:12; Fuhrmans 3:59–60. Back.

[1] Schelling’s (and Caroline’s) time in Würzburg was characterized largely by conflict and controversy, his adversaries coming from various and sometimes surprising quarters, and ultimately even from within his own circle (e.g., Johann Jakob Wagner; see Schelling’s letter to Hegel on 3 March 1804 [letter 382c]), and objections, moreover, including sometimes surprising accusations, as demonstrated in this letter. In general see Kuno Fischer’s discussion of Bavarian Catholic opposition to Schelling.

Fuhrmans 3:59n1 points out that although the identity of the article to which Windischmann had alerted Schelling is unknown (likely in the Oberdeutsche allgemeine Litteraturzeitung), Schelling’s opponents — especially Kajetan Weiller and Jakob Salat — generally attacked him with double accusations of pantheism or atheism, on the one hand, and mysticism or Rosicrucianism, or even an inclination toward rapturous mystical Catholicism, on the other. Fuhrmans enumerates several examples of such charges (ibid.):

The Oberdeutsche allgemeine Litteraturzeitung (1803) 27 (3 March 1803), for example, reviewed Das Kritische Journal, no. I, 3, which contained Schelling’s essay “Über das Verhältnis der Naturphilosophie zur Philosophie überhaupt,” with its doubtless surprising confession to Christian elements. The Oberdeutsche remarked that the issue came from the “firm of Schelling and Hegel,” and that Schelling’s essay “will knock them [readers] over the head with nothing less than a crystal-clear version of Catholic mysticism.”

The article “Über die neuste Grundlegung der Moral” in issues 142, 143, and 144 (1, 2, 3 December 1803) remarked that this philosophy was obviously inclined toward atheism and was just as obviously intent on “introducing a kind of philosophical paganism.” “The accusation of atheism resounded so loudly with respect to Fichte’s moral world order, how is it that people are now so quiet with respect to Schelling’s doctrine? . . . The darkness of mysticism in which one occasionally cloaks the spirit of this idealism cannot hide it from us. Mysticism is increasingly becoming the catchword of this party.” . . .

A new article appeared in issue 145 (6 December 1803), maintaining that “Schelling proclaims absolute identity (the sameness of all juxtaposed and opposing elements) as God, and everyone falls silent and worships . . . With Fichte’s view of God and religion, a new (moral) order of things would necessarily have emerged. With Schelling’s view . . . there is hope in a return . . . to the times of poetic Christianity. If only the rosary and such things . . . can be saved, one can then easily enough — sacrifice the deity.”

An article in issue 149 (15 December 1803) reported that lectures were being given in Würzburg not on moral philosophy, but instead quite generously on the philosophy of nature, and that one could not help but notice a certain parallel, since in post-revolutionary France, too, the new organization of the “French National Institute,” while providing plenty of space for the physical sciences, did not do so for the moral sciences, which had retained their place “even amid the storms of revolution.” [See Andreas Röschlaub’s letter to Schelling on 2 January 1804 (381h), note 2.]

A series of articles in issues 17–23 (10–23 February 1804) then continued this thread: “Is there a philosophy of nature?” The question was then raised whether this entire, amoral philosophy was not in fact, despite all talk about the absolute, more closely related to “French materialism.” Back.

Translation © 2017 Doug Stott