Letter 400g

400g. Schelling to Carl Joseph Windischmann in Aschaffenburg: Würzburg, 21 February 1806 [*]

Würzburg, 21 February 1806

. . . I am sorry I cannot provide a more definite answer to your cordial question concerning my future fate. The fact is, even I myself am still quite unsure about things; the one thing that is clear is that I will not be able to remain here. Several different plans have had and will yet have to be abandoned because of the uncertainty of future circumstances. It would, for example, have been quite nice to be pensioned here and then move to Aschaffenburg, should the latter, as word had it, be united with Würzburg. [1]

Now, however, there can be no thought of such, even though you are so quick to warn me about Bavaria as if you already knew for a fact that the greatest misfortune is awaiting me there. [2] But do not worry, I will not be going to any B[avaria]n university, e.g., Landshut; what I can expect (to you I confide this sub rosa [3] in the most intimate friendship) is a position at the Academy, [4] which would thus take me to Munich and with which my plan to travel to Italy might also be merged. [5]

I will not, by the way, give up my right to compensation from Bavaria, which would be very wrong of me, and will instead secure payment beforehand in every sense of the word and in every fashion for the rendered cordialities. — There is no talk of Ulm, not even in a very broad sense, not to speak of any such talk for me. [6] . . .


[*] Sources: Plitt 2:79–80; Fuhrmans 3:308. Back.

[1] Schelling had similarly mentioned to Windischmann on 24 October 1804 (letter 387g) his desire to find an asylum, if necessary, in a place like Regensburg under the patronage of Windischmann’s territorial lord, Karl Theodor von Dalberg. Back.

[2] Windischmann responded on 1 March 1806 (Fuhrmans 3:310):

My concerns about Bavaria derive merely from your own expression of aversion concerning Bavaria proper [see Schelling’s letter to Windischmann on 16 January 1806 (letter 400c)], and in part also because I myself believe that in any other position excepting with the Academy you would be subject to even more harassment than in Würzburg. —

I for my part have so little aversion to Bavaria that I wish nothing more fervently than eventually to receive an appointment in Erlangen. Please do keep me in mind in this respect.

(Neueste Post. Karte von Deutschland und den angrenzenden Laendern, ed. T. Molls [Vienna 1805]):



[3] Latin, “under the rose,” fig. “in strict confidence, secrecy.” Back.

[4] The Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities was preceded by several similar, private scholarly societies before receiving its charter under this name on 28 March 1759. Significantly, the Academy did not discriminate on the basis of either religion or nationality (i.e., non-Bavarians) in choosing members; i.e., Schelling being a Protestant and non-native of Bavaria would have posed no problem.

It was dissolved by royal decree on 31 December 1806 and reconstituted on 1 May 1807 with Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi as president. It opened on 27 July 1807 with Jacobi’s inaugural lecture on the nature of learned societies, their spirit, and their purpose (“Über gelehrte Gesellschaften, ihren Geist und Zweck”), which Schelling helped him edit (see Schelling’s letter to Jacobi on 16 June 1807 [Fuhrmans 3:434–41]). That is, it transitioned from an independent scholarly organization to a state-owned institution under the Interior Ministry, which is why Schelling became a state official rather than a member of a private organization. Jacobi, the first president, resigned in 1812 because of disagreements with Schelling.

The Academy was located just around the corner from the Karlsthor where the Schellings’ first apartment (at left) was located (Königlich Baiersche Haupt und Residenzstadt München am 1. Januar 1809 [Munich 1809]; Bayerisches Landesvermessungsamt München, Nr. 558/03):


Here the academy’s building complex in 1810; to the right the Church of St. Michael, to its left the L-shaped complex of the Academy, in the left background, down the street, the towers of the Karl’s Gate, just outside of which the Schelling’s apartment was located at Karlsthor 7 (Friedrich Alberg Klebe, Skizze von München im Jahre 1810 [Munich 1810], frontispiece):



[5] Concerning Schelling’s plans for an official sojourn in Rome (and Paris), see esp. his letter to Georg Friedrich von Zentner on 19 January 1806 (letter 400d).

Fuhrmans, 1:349, points out that Schelling’s status had fundamentally changed since his arrival in Würzburg. Had the Bavarian administration viewed him in 1806 as the same celebrated idealist philosopher as in 1803, it likely would have have given him an appointment at the territorial university at Landshut in some capacity, where Schellingians were already well represented.

By this point, however, the administration in Munich, still influenced by the Enlightenment thinkers who opposed Schelling (see Kuno Fischer’s discussion of Catholic opposition to Schelling in Bavaria), was no longer interested in providing his philosophy with an even greater forum. Certain circles in Munich, possibly including Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi, may have opposed Schelling’s appointment in Landshut in any case, and the Bavarian administration, unwilling to subject Landshut to the same disputes that had plagued Würzburg, was happy to have the alternative solution of offering Schelling a position in the Academy of Sciences and Humanities in Munich.

The same scenario played itself out in late 1806/early 1807, when two chairs for philosophy opened up in Landshut; though Schelling would have seemed the obvious choice, anti-Schellingians were appointed instead: Friedrich Köppen (see Adalbert Friedrich Marcus’s letter to Schelling on 2 January 1806 [letter 400b], note 6) and Jakob Salat, the latter one of Schelling’s most vehement opponents. For his own part, Schelling himself was weary of the quarrels (see his letter to his father on 7 August 1806 [letter 417c]), and likely happy to have the means to extract himself from those battles, at least for a time (Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, “Die Philosophen,” Illustrationen zu Erasmus’ Lob der Narrheit in sechs Abteilungen [1780]; Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum; Museums./Signatur DChodowiecki WB 3.31):


At the same time, as his letter to Windischmann on 16 January 1806 (letter 400c) indicates, he was not excessively optimistic about entering “Bavaria proper” (as opposed to a “territory,” as Würzburg, in Franconia, had been). Although he may initially have viewed the position as something temporary, he remained in Munich — apart from the years 1820–27 in Erlangen — until 1841. Back.

[6] Here the far-flung locales Schelling had at least been considering for Caroline and his future (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):



Translation © 2017 Doug Stott