Volume 27, 1998
Philosophy of Culture
Iain Hamilton Grant
Schellingianism & Postmodernity
Towards a Materialist Naturphilosophie
Andrew Bowie's recent Schelling and Modern European Philosophy claims that Schelling idealism is a critique of 'reflective reason' that can be brought to bear on the avatars of French postmodernism. Bower is careful not to intricate Schelling's Naturphilosophie and Philosophical Inquiries into the Nature of Human Freedom, in which both nature and freedom are fused into a single, unconscious series of natural drives or 'vortex of forces.' To take Schelling at word would turn the Naturphilosophie and Inquiries into a materialist physics of mental states, the basis of which are inaccessible to reflective consciousness. Best represented by philosophers such as Paul Churchland, however, why does Bowie avoid playing up this materialist Schelling when dealing with French 'Irrationalism?' Inadvertently, Bowie rekindles the Kantian critique in order to separate two aspects of recent French philosophy: the materialist (with which Paul Churchland notes that his eliminative, connectionist neuromaterialism has much in common) and the reflective (as inherited from the German Idealism Schelling represents, and mediated via Bergson and Heidegger). While French philosophy's recent adoptions in the Anglo world have been of this latter complexion, Bowie's anxious prophylaxia exposes a materialist current in French thought that has remained more or less beyond the range of Anglophone hearing.