Volume 33, Issue 2/3, Summer/Fall 2003
Joseph P. Lawrence
Spinoza in Schelling
Appropriation through Critique
This paper explores Schelling's life-long fascination with Spinoza. Through moments of ambivalence and enthusiasm, one aspect of the latter's thought remains central for Schelling: the intellectual intuition of God/Nature. While he consistently emphasizes the non-objectifiable nature of the intuition (as constituting the ground of freedom), the influence of Spinoza is still apparent in what Schelling calls the Ullvordellklichkeit des Seills. Freedom is a response to an ungroundable necessity that consciousness lives out of, but behind which it can never penetrate. This insight provokes a reading of Spinoza that departs from the conventional rationalist interpretation and gestures to an a-theological, yet mystical, understanding, which awakens a feeling not only for the sublime in nature, but for the sublime that lies at "the heart of what is." In the ensuing silence of the self, substance reveals itself as living spirit. Through this interpretation, the Neoplatonic truth of Spinoza becomes visible.