Letter 421b

421b. Schelling to Hegel in Bamberg: Munich, 22 March 1807 [*]

Munich, 22 March 1807

I am happy indeed to hear that you have again arrived in Bamberg and will be remaining on Bavarian territory at least for the time being. [1] . . .

The experiments about which I recently wrote you are progressing after all, and are indeed on the right track. [2] Campetti’s stronger powers permit one to conduct these experiments such that all deception is eliminated. He is able to make strips of tinfoil or even broad, heavy metal plates, balanced solely on his index or middle finger, turn with utter regularity. —

The most profound thing about this entire matter is the undeniable, non-mechanical, magical influence of the will, indeed of the faintest thought on these experiments. The pendulum or even the baguette behaves exactly like a voluntary muscle, just as in a reverse fashion these are indeed true divining rods that operate sometimes toward the outside — extensors — sometimes toward the inside — flexors. And what is even more remarkable is that hitherto no phenomenon has been discovered that has not already been known for ages; but that apparent influence of the will cast everything under suspicion, such that people even thought the devil had a hand in it. This provides you with a complete explanation of the experiment with the ring striking the hour, for if you know and specifically imagine that it is just now 12:00, the ring really will strike no more than that number — You have probably already also observed a similar experiment with the turning of a sword. . . .


[*] Sources: Plitt 2:115–16; Fuhrmans 3:416–17; Briefe von und an Hegel, 3 vols., 3rd ed., ed. Johannes Hoffmeister and R. Flechsig (Hamburg 1969), 1:157.

Answer to Hegel’s letter of 23 February 1807 (letter 421a) (both letters excerpted). Back.

[1] Unable to secure an academic position, Hegel had moved to Bamberg at some point between February and March 1807 to become editor of the Bamberger Zeitung (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):



[2] Concerning the episode involving the alleged dowser Francesco Campetti, see

Translation © 2018 Doug Stott