Letter 388g

388g. Schelling to Carl Eschenmayer in Kirchheim: Würzburg, 22 December 1804 [*]

Würzburg, 22 December 1804

Do you yourself not suspect that the Halle reviewer of your piece is Dr. Paulus? [1] — Although I did not read it myself, the excerpts you sent make it seem highly likely to me. —

But he is a godforsaken man harboring the most vitriolic wrath toward contemporary philosophy, a man whose paltriness of mind and spirit — which exhausts itself in trying to explain away miracles in the Bible [2] — offers points of contact neither as an open adversary nor as a friend, which is why he secretly tries to indemnify himself through anonymous reviews, essays, and, especially, cabals.

Despite all the adversarial activity whose central figure is precisely and especially this man, my own activities and influence as a teacher at the university here have not yet suffered any harm. In my lecture on philosophy this winter, I have nearly 150 attendees, including Dr. Oken, an excellent person, a pure soul with a penetrating mind. [3]

By contrast, my philosophical opponents, whom, as you no doubt know, Herr Wagner has also recently joined, are publicly scorned. The latter is content with imitating Herr Weiller, plundering me even while reviling me, proving, moreover, through his own published work that, as a matter of fact, he actually has comprehended not the slightest thing about the essence of my philosophy notwithstanding the fact that for 2 years now he has gone to enormous effort to concur with and repeat virtually everything I have said.

Now, however, he is compensating himself for this Passiontide, he thinks, by invectives and objections whose ideas he has again borrowed from me. [4] He has even tried to introduce you as in part concurring with him, which is truly insulting. I do hope, however, that you will treat him with the contempt that a person this spiritually and morally base deserves. [5] . . .


[*] Sources: Plitt 2:45–46; Fuhrmans 3:157–58.

This letter underscores the enduring antagonism between H. E. G. Paulus and Schelling in Würzburg and demonstrates that even those whom Schelling considered supporters of his philosophy were not necessarily such. Back.

[1] Carl August Eschenmayer, Die Philosophie in ihrem Uebergange zur Nichtphilosophie (Erlangen 1803), whose objections to Schelling’s philosophy in part prompted Schelling’s Philosophie und Religion (Tübingen 1804), was anonymously reviewed in the Halle Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1804) 106 (Friday, 6 April 1804), 41–46; 107 (Saturday, 7 April 1804), 49–55. H. E. G. Paulus had been working against Schelling in Würzburg from virtually the outset, and their relationship continued to deteriorate even after both left the university. Back.

[2] I.e., as a representative of theological rationalism, esp. during the period of the Enlightenment, a position based on reason (ratio) as the ultimate intellectual and religious power and which opposed the notion of revelation. Rationalist theologians, of whom Paulus was a premier representative, treated miracles as natural occurrences that were misinterpreted either by the original eyewitnesses or by those to whom the stories were later transmitted.

Here Jesus purportedly changes water to wine in John 2 (Christoph Weigel, Historia von Iesu Christi unsers Heylandes Geburt, Lebenswandel, Wunderwercken, Gleichnußreden, Leiden, Sterben, Auferstehen und Himmelfahrt: Zur Einpflanßung von Jugend auf, und state Unterhaltung Gottseelige betrachtungen auß denen heyligen Evangelisten Mattheo, Marco, Luca, und Johanne, vorgebildet [Augsburg 1695]):



[3] Friedrich Immanuel Niethammer mentions in a letter to Hegel on 19 December 1804 (letter 388e) that Schelling had “filled his auditorium with almost 250 students.” Concerning Schelling’s demeanor in such lectures, see Karl Philipp Kayser’s account of Schelling at the lectern and in society.

Schelling’s success in drawing students to his lectures both in Jena and in Würzburg recalls the following seventeenth-century illustration of an overflowing lecture hall (anonymous, Studenten im Hörsaal [ca. 1600–25]; Dutch school; Herzog August Bibliothek; Museums./Signatur C Geom. 2° [228]):



[4] Concerning Schelling’s adversarial relationship with Johann Jakob Wagner, see, e.g., Schelling’s letter to Hegel on 3 March 1804 (letter 382c), note 4, and to Carl Joseph Windischmann on 16 September 1804 (letter 387c), note 3.

Passiontide, the final two weeks of Lent, for the commemomration of the passion of Jesus; here the typical sequence of scenes (Jacques Callot, Die Wunder der Passion (ca. 1612–35]; Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum; Museums./Signatur JCallot AB 3.26-27):



[5] Schelling’s transparently manipulative remarks here are not entirely ill-founded, since, as a matter of fact, Eschenmayer was carrying on a correspondence with Wagner at the time. See Fuhrmans 1:320n49 (illustration of the fall of Adam and Eve: 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]):

For many years, Eschenmayer accompanied Schelling’s thought with his own objections. For example, Schelling published an essay by Eschenmayer as early as 1801 in the Zeitschrift für spekulative Physik, II, 1, and in the same issue also his, Schelling’s, own response to it. A similar situation arose in 1813. In 1812 Eschenmayer became professor of philosophy in Tübingen, where he remained until 1836.

In 1804, however, he was also carrying on a correspondence with Johann Jakob Wagner, to whom he was articulating his own position in considerable detail in order to delineate himself not least from Schelling . . . On 26 November 1804, he wrote Wagner, who was trying to win him over against Schelling:

I readily admit that I always loved the high ideal this man bears within himself, and apart from the heat of battle in which he lost himself, his individual presentations, when free of systematic coercion, are nonetheless full of energy and beauty, and are, I believe, the premier elements for the revivified realm of ideas . . .

I am glad to see that you, too, see that Schelling has saved himself from his awkward position as little through the idea of the Fall [in Philosophie und Religion] as through various other attempted solutions, but it can be excused that he first tried every possible means of resolution before regarding the knot as incapable of being untied.



Translation © 2017 Doug Stott