Schelling on Freedom in and After 1809

May 28, 2019
Institute of Philosophy, KU Leuven

Kardinaal Mercierplein 2
Leuven
Belgium

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Seattle University

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Schelling’s Freedom essay (1809) marks a turning point in his philosophy. Even though the concept of freedom already plays a vital role in his earlier transcendental philosophy, philosophy of nature and identity philosophy, freedom as a problem is the key concern of Schelling’s mid and later philosophy. Thus focusing on freedom is a way to trace the path of his thinking during this period of time and to observe how his philosophy develops.

The notion of freedom plays a special role both in Schelling’s own philosophy and in the history of modern philosophy in general. From the Freedom essay onward, Schelling seeks the essence of human freedom not so much in the essence of humanity but rather in the systematically ordered whole of being. He aims to show the compatibility of freedom and necessity, proposing a concept of freedom that has both real and ideal aspects. The essence of freedom is the relation between ground and existence, and this “relational” feature determines that to be free is to be free for good and evil. Against the traditional theory of evil as privation, which treats evil as a mere lack, Schelling regards evil as a positive force of some kind. Against Manichean dualism, he insists that evil is not an independent entitative force but rooted in the very ground of being as such.

After the Freedom essay, most notably after the failed attempts at The Ages of the World, from 1820 onwards freedom in Schelling gradually turns into an a posteriori concept.  In a famous letter to Eschenmayer written shortly after Freedom essay, Schelling admits that “there is always a remainder in freedom that cannot be taken up into concept”, and in his Spätphilosophie, he argues that “free action is pure happening but never cognized or known rationally a priori”. This development mirrors Schelling’s move to positive philosophy and philosophy of revelation. Not only freedom but being, history and even God are but known a posteriori. Schelling’s ultimate aim is to show that philosophy must combine its negative and positive aspects in an organic manner.

The conference invites different perspectives and approaches to the problem of freedom in Schelling. Possible topics might include, but are not limited to:

  • Freedom and Evil
  • Freedom and Nature
  • Freedom and Angst
  • Freedom and System
  • Freedom and Necessity
  • Freedom and God
  • Freedom as an a posteriori concept

SUBMISSION

Abstracts for presentations should not exceed 500 words and should be sent in word format. A separate word document should include the author’s name, paper title, institutional position, affiliation and contact information. Abstracts should be sent to yu.xia@kuleuven.be by March 15, 2019.

Notification of acceptance by March 30, 2019. For further information: Dennis.Vandenauweele@kuleuven.be

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May 17, 2019, 9:00am CET

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