Letter 422a

422a. Hegel to Schelling in Munich: Bamberg, 1 May 1807 [*]

Bamberg, 1 May 1807

. . . The new insights you provided for me concerning siderism [1] shift it back from where I had initially placed it, namely, alongside the pendulum experiments, which I had taken in a completely objective fashion. Your reference to Karl’s nice essay in the Medicinische Annalen (which quite pleasantly reminded me of him; — but where is he these days?) enabled me to understand how it has now been associated more closely with the psychic, or indeed even now viewed entirely within that context. [2]

What we have in animal magnetism with respect to its most remarkable power, this merging-into-one of persons in which the one sinks down into an accidens of the other in the natural sphere [3] — a phenomenon familiar enough in the intellectual or spiritual sphere — this now descends within siderism to the so-called unorganic, contouring itself into a magical union and sympathy between higher and lower natures. —

This is approximately my current general understanding of the matter. You can believe that I am quite curious to learn of the results of further experimentation, and I hope either you or Ritter or, better yet, both will soon publish something more extensive on these things.

My piece has finally been published, but the same wretched confusion is now plaguing the business of having copies sent out to friends as has affected its entire history with both the bookseller and the printer, and indeed in part even the composition itself. [4] That is why you do not yet have a copy; I am hoping finally to get you one soon. I am interested to hear what you have to say about the concept of this 1st part, which is actually the introduction — I have not yet really gotten past the introductory material [5] . . . .


[*] Source: Briefe von und an Hegel, ed. Karl Hegel, vol. 1, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel’s Werke, ed. Ph. Marheineke et al., vol. 9:1 (Leipzig 1887), 1:101–2. — Response to Schelling’s letter on 22 March 1807 (letter 421b). Back.

[1] From Greek σιδηρος, sideros, “iron.” Johann Wilhelm Ritter’s new periodical bore the title Siderismus, ed. by J. W. Ritter, vol. 1, no. 1 (Tübingen 1808).

Concerning the episode involving the alleged dowser Francesco Campetti, see the supplementary appendix on Caroline and Schelling’s interest in Francesco Campetti; see also, e.g., Schelling’s earlier letter to Hegel on 11 January 1807 (letter 420a) and Caroline’s letter to Luise Wiedemann on 31 January 1807 (letter 421). Back.

[2] Karl Schelling, who was now a practicing physician in Stuttgart, had published “Weitere Betrachtungen über den thierischen Magnetismus, und die Mittel ihn näher zu erforschen,” Jahrbücher der Medicin als Wissenschaft II (1807) 2 [appeared in April 1807], 158–90. Karl’s essay is incorrectly listed in the table of contents as “Ideen und Erfahrungen über thierischen Magnetismus.” Back.

[3] Accidens, Latin, used in philosophy to denote what does not follow from the nature of a thing (its essens), but rather from some accidental quality.

Here in a nineteenth-century illustration, “Father Hervier magnetizes a hysterical young woman in the Church of Saint André in Bordeaux,” from Louis Figuier,”Le magnetisme animal: Ouverture des cours de magnétism dans la Societé de l’harmonie,” Les mystères de la science aujourd’hui 1 (Paris 1887), 268–77, here 273, illustration 35):



[4] Hegel’s System der Wissenschaft: Teil 1. Die Phänomenologie des Geistes (Bamberg, Würzburg 1807). Later in the letter, Hegel begs Schelling’s indulgence with the “non-form” of the final sections of the book, averring that he had completed them “in the middle of the night before the battle of Jena”; in this regard, see Caroline’s letter to Luise Wiedemann on 30 November 1806 (letter 419), note 11. Back.

[5] Hegel continues disingenuously in this famous letter to defend the preface to the piece and its seemingly anti-Schellingian remarks as being directed not against Schelling, but against his followers’ misuse of Schelling’s work. The preface was, however, clearly directed at Schelling, and Schelling himself understood it as such after reading it, though he had not yet read the rest before responding.

After his response on 2 November 1807 (Plitt 2:123–24; Fuhrmans 3:471–72), to which Hegel did not respond, correspondence between the two came to an end. See Terry Pinkard’s succinct description of the circumstances of this letter and Schelling’s response in Hegel. A Biography (Cambridge 2001), 256–58 (who dates Schelling’s final letter to August 1807). Back.

Translation © 2018 Doug Stott