Reading circle (F.W.J. Schelling: Ages of the World)

Discussion on literature other than by the Star of Azazel.
Wyrmfang
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Reading circle (F.W.J. Schelling: Ages of the World)

Post by Wyrmfang »

Is there any other people who would be interested to read together this difficult but most enjoyable classic in the boundary between philosophy and esotericism? We have earlier read The Freedom Essay both in the Finnish and English forums (when they were still separate). Now this work continues the same themes with a bit more systematic touch. It combines the central ideas German Idealism to insights deriving essentially from alchemy and the Kabbalah, and opposes neoplatonic emanation theory by esoteric Christian process theology.

The reading circle is open to anyone, but some previous knowledge would make it a lot easier for participants. However, time, patience and interest are the things that really matter, and I´ll try contextualize the main lines of Schelling´s philosophy when it is needed. I will do this alone and in my own tempo if necessary, but please let me know if you would like to join.

Please note that there are two different translations: the older one by Jason Wirth from the so called third draft (Schelling never got this work complete) and the newer one by Joseph Lawrence from the first draft. Either one is fine for me, but if there are no preferences from others, I´ll take Wirth´s version, as I have a printed copy of it.
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Re: Reading circle (F.W.J. Schelling: Ages of the World)

Post by Wyrmfang »

I´ll start now and go in my own pace. There will approx 20 posts, each one deals with only a few pages. If someone wants to join in late, it´s not a problem. Also comments and questions are welcome.

Introduction

The draft opens with similar concerns as the Freedom Essay: the relationship of freedom and necessity, the nature of true philosophy and the idea of the unfathomable "ground" of reality are taken up. Schelling´s begins by asserting that proper philosophy can only begin from the "being that is preceded by no other", which however, is something completely different from mainstream Neo-Platonic or Scholastic highest being. Rather than the highest sum of all, this being is the same as the "unground" in the Freedom Essay. Here Schelling contrasts it with a lower Other, "unknowing and dark", which "also necessarily darkens the higher principle with which it is combined". This lower principle obviously is the "ground" of FE. It is the source of all difference and also a necessary element of anything living and personal. Both principles long in their own ways to a unity of these principles.

Schelling describes philosophical activity as a dialogue between the these principles, which takes the form of dialectic. Here Schelling criticizes Hegel (whom he doesn´t mention by name though) for the view that dialectic is ultimately conceptual. As is well known, according to Schelling, there is a deeply experiential element in knowledge. However, Schelling also criticizes theosophy, understood as direct mystical knowledge. Schelling says about theosophical systems: "at least there is in them a power, even if it does not have power over itself". While in Hegel´s dialectic the true content is latent from the beginning, Schelling espouses dialectic of production: knowledge develops in a genuine production of this "power" of experience and conceptual thought. This is something, which, according to Schelling, begins also to take place in natural science of his time (he has a similar idea in mind as presented by later theosophy, that science becomes at the same time more powerfully empirical and more spiritual).
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Benemal
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Re: Reading circle (F.W.J. Schelling: Ages of the World)

Post by Benemal »

I found "Freedom Essay" quite intoxicating, in an almost scary way, so I'll read this one too. Don't know when, or if I'll have anything relevant to say about it on here.
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Re: Reading circle (F.W.J. Schelling: Ages of the World)

Post by Cerastes »

I didn't notice this before.
This book is an amazing choice and I'd like to take part. Unfortunately, I don't really have enough time for anything at the moment.
Maybe I can join in a few weeks or so.
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Re: Reading circle (F.W.J. Schelling: Ages of the World)

Post by Wyrmfang »

Cerastes wrote:
Fri May 15, 2020 8:58 am
I didn't notice this before.
This book is an amazing choice and I'd like to take part. Unfortunately, I don't really have enough time for anything at the moment.
Maybe I can join in a few weeks or so.
Let me know, if the situation allows your participation. Though it is completely fine for me to do it alone (this a book I should have studied carefully 10 years ago), it feels a little stupid to read something aloud alone in public. Still decided to it, as I know there are several people interested in Schelling.
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Re: Reading circle (F.W.J. Schelling: Ages of the World)

Post by Wyrmfang »

THE ETERNAL LIFE OF THE GODHEAD AS THE WHOLE OR THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE COMPLETE IDEA OF GOD

Point of Entry: The Distinction between Necessity and Freedom in God

Schelling begins basically with the traditional microcosmos-macrocosmos idea and continues to the critique of what is today called analytical philosophy, the idea that propositions are truly meaningful only as a part of the whole, and they are never "total" pieces of knowledge but flexible. Beginning from the actual topic, Schelling addresses that in a sense necessity is prior to freedom, as a being must first exist before it can choose. However, he goes on to argue that if there was only necessity in God, there would be no creatures, as the creation is the manifestation of God´s freedom over his necessity. What is necessity in God is called his "nature", which is basically the "ground" of FE. Because love is that which unifies particulars, the pure being of God cannot be love, but "egoity is required so that the being which is Love might exist as its own and might be for itself". Egoity and love are equally primordial asepcts of God and together constitute his necessity. According to Schelling, "the oldest teachings straightforwardly represented the first nature as a being with two conflicting modes of activity". Later, he argues, all conflicting forces have been reduced to either pole. In modern times it spirit which reigns over its dark basis, and this has been case in particular in idealism preceding Schelling. According to Schelling, when the other pole of the primordial dualism is denied, unity in its proper sense is denied as well. To demonstrate this, Schelling proceeds to the law of identity in similar manner he did already in the FE, but here it is presented in a more clear way in my view. The idea is that when we state that A=B, we are really stating that something x that is in A and B is the same, not that A and B are one and the same. In the same manner God is the primordial unity behind the dualism of his nature and love.
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Re: Reading circle (F.W.J. Schelling: Ages of the World)

Post by Smaragd »

Thank you for going through these. Although I'm somewhat interested of these works, I have doubt if I ever have time to read through the books themselves. Thus it is very neat to have at least a surface touch with the ideas. This far the ideas seems to align well with, for example, theosophic ideas. At least in my less analytical books. Looking forwards where some interesting differences take place and what is the weight of those differences.
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Re: Reading circle (F.W.J. Schelling: Ages of the World)

Post by Wyrmfang »

Smaragd wrote:
Sun May 31, 2020 12:13 pm
This far the ideas seems to align well with, for example, theosophic ideas.
Schelling´s esoteric influences are from the theosophical tradition of Jacob Boehme. This is, however, a quite different meaning of theosophy compared to Blavatsky´s theosophical society. The greatest difference is probably refuting the emanation theory and adopting what became later called process theology.
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Re: Reading circle (F.W.J. Schelling: Ages of the World)

Post by Nefastos »

Wyrmfang wrote:
Sun May 31, 2020 2:24 pm
the theosophical tradition of Jacob Boehme. This is, however, a quite different meaning of theosophy compared to Blavatsky´s theosophical society.

The identical names come from different sources, but there should be no actual contradiction. Blavatsky was very pro-Böhme. See e.g. The Secret Doctrine I:494: Böhme was "nursling of nirmânakâyas" (inspired by master adepts), and according to II:595, "a great occultist". Böhme seems not to be very important source for Blavatsky, but whenever he is mentioned, he is praised.

I have read but a tiny bit of Böhme, but what I have, seems to be in perfect line with Blavatsky's (or SoA's) "gnosis on divine things" (theo-sophia).
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Re: Reading circle (F.W.J. Schelling: Ages of the World)

Post by Krepusculum »

This title will perfectly complement my current western philosophical and theological studies. For that reason it will be given precedence over the Frances Yates reading circle. The Wirth version is rather hard to find for a fair price so I have settled for the J. P. Lawrence translation which should arrive in about a week. It also seems to contain the first draft which got me interested as I am rather easily triggered by all things first pressing, first edition etc I guess strange collector habits never really die out. I will read along but cannot guarantee full participation as my schedule is rather crammed already. My readings will be done in the weekend.
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