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Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy

Volume 26, Issue 2, Spring 2022

Naomi Fisher, Jeffrey J. Fisher
Pages 347-367

Schelling and the Philebus
Limit and the Unlimited in Schelling’s Philosophy of Nature

Schelling’s 1794 commentary on the Timaeus makes extensive use of Plato’s Philebus, particularly the principles of limit and unlimited. In this article, we demonstrate the resonances between Schelling’s 1794 treatment of the metaphysics of the Philebus and his 1798 philosophy of nature. Attention to these resonances demonstrates an underexplored but important debt to Plato in Schelling’s philosophy of nature. In particular, Schelling is indebted to Plato’s late metaphysics in his model of the iterative combination of two basic principles: a productive, positive principle, akin to Plato’s unlimited, and a limiting, negative principle, akin to Plato’s limit. In Schelling’s philosophy of nature, the iterative interaction of these principles both provides a common ground for and accounts for the differences between inorganic and organic nature.