Letter 442a

442a. Schelling to Carl Joseph Windischmann in Aschaffenburg: Munich, 7 August 1809 [*]

Munich, 7 August 1809

Because of the bad weather this summer, I have come down with a case of catarrhal fever with which I have had to deal for some 6 weeks now. [1] This entire period has been a complete loss for me, and my literary plans for the summer have suffered a considerable setback. It was doubly gratifying in my condition to learn that you, my good friend, remembered me and were in fact dealing with me even at a distance. I only hope I myself will soon have the opportunity to demonstrate my loyal and intimate friendship toward you again.

I am quite curious to see your review; one so rarely hears an encouraging and accommodating word publicly now, and yet such is so necessary as a stimulus for any of us to continue making progress. [2] Unfortunately I will probably not have a chance to read the review any time soon, even should copies of it be made very quickly, since perhaps as early as the end of this week I will be taking a journey to Württemberg because of my health and other matters and will for several months be leading a completely solitary life in the Maulbronn monastery, where my father is now prelate, something of which, along with the country air, I have great need just now. [3]

Perhaps during that time I can make some progress on the piece about which I wrote you. I have so much on my mind just now that I hardly know where to begin, and must now severely restrict myself to avoid doing nothing at all, as has been the case recently. I will definitely keep my promise to you, and will do so to your complete satisfaction; depend on it.

Could we but have you here with us! Despite Baader’s presence, I do indeed miss having someone to talk to, and the ongoing stimulation. Baader is often absorbed with business of a different sort, and always absent for part of the year in his glassworks, which, like so many of his other circumstances, does not really permit any consistent contact with him. [4]

Unfortunately, as far as professorial appointments are concerned, things have gone so awry here that not much can be hoped for in the way of sensible moves. [5] The money is squandered and spent before even the most necessary positions are filled. But even in general, the whole facies rerum [6] in Germany is in a sad state, and for scholars even more so than for others. It is purely by chance that I myself ended up in my current situation, and truly, I would not know of any other now for me, which is doubtless a sad statement in itself compared with earlier times, when almost the entirety of Germany was open to scholars. [7] . . .


[*] Sources: Plitt 2:165–66; Fuhrmans 3:620–21. Back.

[1] Caroline mentions both the wretched summer weather and this illness, the latter apparently beginning around 26 June 1809, in her letter to Pauline Gotter on this same date (letter 442). Back.

[2] Windischmann was responsible for the review of F. W. J. Schellings philosophische Schriften, vol. 1 (Landshut 1809), in the Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1809), 207 (Wednesday, 6 September 1809), 441–48; 208 (Thursday, 7 September 1809), 449–56, in which Windischmann also mentions Schelling’s Philosophische Untersuchungen über das Wesen der menschlichen Freyheit und die damit zusammenhängenden Gegenstände, a piece that in a letter to Windischmann on 9 May 1805 (Fuhrmans 3:603) Schelling had identified as a new essay:

This volume does contain only one really new essay; that said, this essay encompasses as it were the entire ideal side of philosophy and is one of the most important things I have written in a long time. If I understand correctly, you once told me that you were long scheduled to review this volume. Please be not too harsh should the piece not particularly find your approval. Should the opposite be the case, however, and should you recognize there genuine progress in our discipline, then please do give due justice to the truth and acknowledge this essay as something better than the otherwise rather foggy and nebulous constructions of our age.

Especially with regard to the polemical note in the essay, let me ask that you issue a powerful, animated statement. I know that you are not of the same mind as Friedrich Schlegel, whose concealed polemic I have tried to turn into a public one. His crass and universal concept of pantheism admittedly prevents him from even intimating the possibility of a system in which freedom, life, individuality, and similarly good and evil inhere within the imminence of things in God. He knows only the three systems of his book on India [Ueber die Sprache und Weisheit der Indier (Heidelberg 1808)], whereas the truth is found precisely between and in the midst of these three, and possesses the organically interwoven constituent parts of each.

There is one (but only one) point at which the notion of emanation is indeed applicable, as well as one (but only one) at which the notion of dualism is applicable, and finally similarly one at which the non-difference of pantheism is applicable. I believe I have specified these points in my essay with hitherto unprecedented clarity. Friedrich Schlegel’s private opinion is an all-rupturing dualism, an actually evil fundamental being that far transcends the principle of evil in Christianity. . . .

Friedrich Schlegel has covertly tried to establish a party against me, but I have no desire to get mixed up with such a pathetic crowd. Hence I quite welcomed his public emergence. You doubtless also cannot bear such an inquisitional spirit in philosophical matters, which is why you, too, are working to oppose it.

Windischmann remarks the following, among other things, concerning the essay on freedom after acknowledging that some points would likely need to be worked out further (Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung [1809] 208, p. 456):

Yet here, too, the author has accomplished something incomparable by focusing attention on the primal belief: “there is one being that presides both in the darkest ground of nature and in eternal clarity.” . . .

All profoundly reflective and serious men in Germany will be heartily concerned and interested in what is presented here. Humorists, popular buffoons, obscurantists and dreamers who call themselves mystics, madmen who call themselves philosophers and who, respected by the public, with their useless hackwork have so often done ill honor to the name of the man whose masterful work we have just tried to explicate, exclude themselves and their followers quite on their own from any serious examination and assessment of the serious content of these essays.

By contrast, Wilhelm Schlegel wrote to Karl von Hardenberg from Coppet on 20 May 1809 (Körner, [1930], 1:236):

Schelling has informed me [in his letter to Wilhelm on 2 May 1809 (letter 441a), albeit in a passage that was later excised from the letter] amid a plethora of quite courteous turns of phrase that [in the piece on freedom] he has attacked the philosophical part of my brother’s publication on India. This fellow’s [i.e., Schelling’s] principles are as ill in general as in philosophy in particular, a circumstance to which, admittedly, I myself may well have contributed by the company [viz. Caroline] I passed along to him. Back.

[3] Though writing on the same day, Caroline and Schelling oddly give different accounts of how long they intend to stay in Maulbronn, since Caroline tells Pauline Gotter (letter 442) that they will “be back here at the end of September.” In his own turn, Schelling then also writes to Martin Wagner on this same day and emphasizes that he and Caroline would be back in Munich in October and that Wagner might even have one of their back rooms for his work.

They in any case departed at the end of the following week, on Friday, 18 August 1809, and on 12 March 1810 (letter 455), Schelling responds to Wilhelm Schlegel’s query concerning how he was doing with the remark:

I have been doing tolerably well since returning here. I first had to return to Munich, where everything had remained in precisely the condition one expects when commencing a trip from which one is expecting to return after 1½ months.

That is, the Schellings were indeed planning to stay only till early October. Back.

[4] Franz von Baader had trained as a mining engineer under Abraham Gottlob Werner in Freiberg and eventually developed a method of employing sodium sulfate instead of potash in the making of glass, selling the patent to the Austrian government in 1811. In 1805 he had founded a plate-glass factory in Lambach in eastern Bavaria. Here the interior of a glass-making workshop ca. 1774 (Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, (Kupfersammlung zu J[ohann] B[ernhard] Basedows Elementarwerke für die Jugend und ihre Freunde: Erste Lieferung in 53 Tafeln. Zweyte Lieferung in 47 Tafeln von L bis XCVI [Leipzig, Dessau, Berlin 1774], plate lv):



[5] Windischmann may have queried Schelling about an appointment in Munich. Back.

[6] Latin, “shape of things.” Back.

[7] It was not really “purely by chance” that Schelling ended up in Munich without a teaching position. Concerning the background, see the cross references in Caroline’s letter to Carl Joseph Windischmann on 14 May 1806 (letter 412), note 1. Back.

Translation © 2018 Doug Stott