Letter 383h

383h. Heinrich Eberhard Gottlob Paulus to Friedrich Immanuel Niethammer in Jena: Würzburg, 20 May 1804 [*]

Würzburg, 20 May 1804

. . . There can be absolutely no thought of Bouterweck here. [1] It was merely a sort of emotive upsurge in Munich for the sake of, quovis modo, [2] countering our dear Herr Schelling, who along with Madam Potiphar has made himself extremely loathed here. [3] This same little couple took the Bavarians and Franconians to be quite stupid, [4] and, fairly bursting with arrogance, tried to fill absolutely everyone’s head with the philosophy of nature and then stand there and be idolized among all these self-created problems.

Time and circumstance, however, have now brought this little game to an abrupt end and will, it appears, yet accomplish quite a bit more in countering it. In the meantime, this particular opposition has not thwarted us with respect to a many things, but we are still not yet entirely done with it all. If only someone could relieve us of this βυθος και σιγη [5] that has fallen down from the primordial idea. Everyone here is sick and tired of this γνωσις. [6] Except for Brother Studio of the φ-nature, [7] who is taught to possess everything in the Absolute and — more magnificent yet! — not to study anything else, and instead merely to believe the unfathomable! This malady is raging most prolifically among medical students.


[*] Source: Schelling im Spiegel seiner Zeitgenossen, ed. Xavier Tilliette (Torino 1974), 147 (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):



[1] Caroline seems to have been involved in some fashion with Bouterwek’s decision not to pursue further an appointment in Würzburg. See Adalbert Friedrich Marcus’s letter to Schelling on 8 January 1804 (letter 382b), note 3. Back.

[2] Latin, “by any means whatever.” Back.

[3] I.e., along with Caroline. Malicious allusion to the story in Genesis 39, in which Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, purchases Joseph and eventually makes him overseer of his house. Potiphar’s wife, however, tempts Joseph, is rebuffed, and seeks revenge; Potiphar believes her and throws Joseph in prison (vss. 7–18; NRSV):

And after a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, “Lie with me.” But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Look, with me here, my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my hand. He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except yourself, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?”

And although she spoke to Joseph day after day, he would not consent to lie beside her or to be with her. One day, however, when he went into the house to do his work, and while no one else was in the house, she caught hold of his garment, saying, “Lie with me!” But he left his garment in her hand, and fled and ran outside. When she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and had fled outside, she called out to the members of her household and said to them, “See, my husband has brought among us a Hebrew to insult us!

He came in to me to lie with me, and I cried out with a loud voice; and when he heard me raise my voice and cry out, he left his garment beside me, and fled outside.” Then she kept his garment by her until his master came home, and she told him the same story, saying, “The Hebrew servant, whom you have brought among us, came in to me to insult me; but as soon as I raised my voice and cried out, he left his garment beside me, and fled outside.”

Illustration from Christoph Weigel, Biblia Ectypa: Bildnussen auß Heiliger Schrifft dess Alt- und Neuen Testaments, in welchen Alle Geschichte und Erscheinungen deutlich und schrifftmäßig zu Gottes Ehre und Andächtiger Seelen erbaulicher beschauung vorgestellet werden (Augsburg 1695):



[4] The Bishopric of Würzburg, located in Franconia, had as a result of the Treaty of Lunéville become part of Bavaria. Back.

[5] Gk., “abyss and silence.” Back.

[6] Gk., “knowledge, wisdom,” in such contexts invariably also associated with early Christian gnosticism with its secret and esoteric apostolic doctrines and traditions and mythic salvivic speculation concerning God and and the world. Back.

[7] Student, also in a collective sense, i.e., students of the philosophy of nature. Back.

Translation © 2017 Doug Stott