Letter 385b

385b. Heinrich Eberhard Gottlob Paulus to Jakob Friedrich Fries in Jena: Würzburg, 9 August 1804 [*]

Würzburg, 9 August 1804

Our noble general commissar, Count von Thürheim, is little disposed indeed toward Schelling’s doctrines. What he would like for students here by way of introduction is a leader who could continue along the Kantian path and whose philosophizing engages not in fantasies, but in rigorous thinking and pure observation. [1]

Yesterday he requested that I commit to writing my proposal that you be appointed. It is far more likely than not now that I will soon be permitted to call you my colleague. In the meantime, however, let me urge you not to relate this to anyone; Schelling, of course, would move heaven and earth to counter it. . . .

He has a great many acquaintances in the area where you are now residing, so do not confide what you know to anyone; there is nothing more urgent than that the reign of foolishness and arrogance here come to an end. Could one not adduce in his quasi-constructions the same sorts of blunders against physics, chemistry, etc. that can be as little disputed as can a vitium grammaticale? [2] The influence these phantasms are having on medical students here is so tragic that one cannot bring these parlor tricks to an end quickly enough. [3]


[*] Source: Ernst Ludwig Theodor Henke, Jakob Friedrich Fries. Aus seinem handschriftlichen Nachlasse dargestellt (Leipzig 1867), 94–95. Henke points out that, strictly speaking, the passage beginning “He has a great many acquaintances” was written “a few days later” than the preceding remarks of 9 August 1804 (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):



[1] Paulus had already written Fries back on 20 May 1804 (letter 383g) concerning the prospect of countering Schelling in Würzburg with a continuation of Kantian philosophy. Back.

[2] Latin, “grammatical error.” Back.

[3] Paulus, the sclerotic rationalist theologian, never ceased derisively viewing Schelling’s philosophy as just such illusionist parlor tricks and sleights of hand (Jean-Henri Marlet, L’Escamoteur sur le boulevard près le château d’eau, part of the series Tableaux de Paris [ca. 1818]):



Translation © 2017 Doug Stott