The creativity of nature: The genesis of Schelling's Naturphilosophie, 1775--1799
Foster, Ryan J.
Doctor of Philosophy
The Naturphilosophie of Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling (1775-1854) has been neglected in the Anglophone world for over 200 years, but his detractors are wrong in insisting that his system represented a disguised mysticism and a rejection of empirical science. Although Schelling studied theology at the famous Tubingen seminary, he dedicated his life to philosophy by 1794, eventually turning to an intensive study of the natural sciences. By 1799, he had developed a systematic Naturphilosophie which harvested the discoveries of eighteenth century science in order to solve the philosophical problems left behind by Immanuel Kant and Johann Gottlieb Fichte. Schelling relentlessly fought against the notion that nature is inert. Instead, he stressed its vibrancy, its activity, and ultimately its creativity. By reconstructing Schelling's intellectual development, we not only gain a new appreciation for his thought, but we also see aspects of his Naturphilosophie which are deeply sympathetic, and perhaps even useful in the twenty-first century.
European history; Philosophy; History of science