Volume 12, Issue 2, Spring 2008
Philosophy in Translation
Bastard Reasoning in Schelling’s Freiheitsschrift
The paper explores a connection between Schelling’s celebrated Freedom Essay and Plato’s Timaeus by considering the importance of Schelling’s translation of a phrase found in the Platonic dialogue in which Timaeus expresses the limits of human discourse, speaking of it as a kind of “bastard reasoning.” These limits are said to arise necessarily through the progression of the inquiry carried out by Timaeus. Schelling’s own resistance to viewing his inquiry determined by such limits and such necessity is highlighted by the fact that he curiously translates the phrase as “false imagination” or sin. The paper questions the reasons for such resistance given the striking structural similarity between the Timaeus and Schelling’s own essay. The paper concludes that Schelling’s thinking of the “unground” is comparable to the chorological interruption enacted in the Timaeus, but that Schelling does not consider how such an interruption bears upon God’s word. The paper thus points to a self-estranging necessity at the heart of all discourse and thought.