Combining Philosophers

All the ideas for Sarah Bakewell, Graham Farmelo and Friedrich Schelling

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16 ideas

1. Philosophy / H. Continental Philosophy / 2. Phenomenology
Later phenomenologists tried hard to incorporate social relationships [Bakewell]
     Full Idea: Ever since Husserl, phenomenologists and existentialists had been trying to stretch the definition of existence to incorporate our social lives and relationships.
     From: Sarah Bakewell (At the Existentialist Café [2016], 08)
     A reaction: I see a parallel move in Wittgenstein's Private Language Argument. Husserl's later work seems to have been along those lines. Putnam's Twin Earth too.
Phenomenology begins from the immediate, rather than from axioms and theories [Bakewell]
     Full Idea: Traditional philosophy often started with abstract axioms or theories, but the German phenomenologists went straight for life as they experienced it, moment to moment.
     From: Sarah Bakewell (At the Existentialist Café [2016], 01)
     A reaction: Bakewell gives this as the gist of what Aron said to Sartre in 1933, providing the bridge from phenomenology to existentialism. The obvious thought is that everybody outside philosophy starts from immediate experience, so why is this philosophy?
7. Existence / A. Nature of Existence / 3. Being / c. Becoming
Being is only perceptible to itself as becoming [Schelling]
     Full Idea: Being is only perceptible to itself in the state of becoming.
     From: Friedrich Schelling (Of Human Freedom [1809], p.403), quoted by Jean-François Courtine - Schelling p.90
     A reaction: Is the Enlightenment the era of Being, and the Romantic era that of Becoming? They like process, fluidity, even chaos.
11. Knowledge Aims / C. Knowing Reality / 3. Idealism / d. Absolute idealism
For Schelling the Absolute spirit manifests as nature in which self-consciousness evolves [Schelling, by Lewis,PB]
     Full Idea: (Like Schopenhauer) Schelling understood the Absolute - spirit rather than will - to manifest itself as nature in which man evolves with self-consciousness.
     From: report of Friedrich Schelling (Outline of a System of the Philosophy of Nature [1799]) by Peter B. Lewis - Schopenhauer 4
     A reaction: The influence of Spinoza seems strong here. Is his Absolute just Spinoza's 'God'?
Metaphysics aims at the Absolute, which goes beyond subjective and objective viewpoints [Schelling, by Pinkard]
     Full Idea: Schelling never lost his youthful conviction that any metaphysics had to be an explication of the 'absolute' as something that went beyond both subjective and objective points of view.
     From: report of Friedrich Schelling (Outline of a System of the Philosophy of Nature [1799]) by Terry Pinkard - German Philosophy 1760-1860 12
     A reaction: Even for a scientific and analytic modern philosopher there must be a target of an ideal account that includes human subjectivity within an objective view of the world. Even Mysterians like McGinn would like that.
We must show that the whole of nature, because it is effective, is grounded in freedom [Schelling]
     Full Idea: What is required is to show that everything that is effective (nature, the world of things) is grounded in activity, life, freedom.
     From: Friedrich Schelling (Of Human Freedom [1809], p.351), quoted by Jean-François Courtine - Schelling
     A reaction: I take the ancestor of this view of nature to be the monads of Leibniz, as the active principle in nature. Because this is an idealist view, it starts with the absolute freedom of the Self, and presumably sees nature in its own image.
Schelling always affirmed the absolute status of freedom [Schelling, by Courtine]
     Full Idea: Throughout Schelling's work we find the affirmation of absolute freedom or of the absolute as freedom.
     From: report of Friedrich Schelling (Philosophy of Revelation [1843], Vol.13 p.359) by Jean-François Courtine - Schelling p.83
     A reaction: Of all of the German idealists, Schelling may be the closest to modern existentialism.
16. Persons / B. Nature of the Self / 4. Presupposition of Self
The basis of philosophy is the Self prior to experience, where it is the essence of freedom [Schelling]
     Full Idea: The highest principle of all philosophy is the Self insofar as it is purely and simply Self, not yet conditioned by an object, but where it is formulated by freedom. The alpha and omega of all philosophy is freedom.
     From: Friedrich Schelling (Letters to Hegel [1795], 1795 02 04), quoted by Jean-François Courtine - Schelling p.83
     A reaction: A common later response to this (e.g. in Schopenhauer) is that there is no concept of the Self prior to experience. The idealists seem to adore free will, while offering no reply to Spinoza on the matter, with whom they were very familiar.
16. Persons / F. Free Will / 2. Sources of Free Will
Only idealism has given us the genuine concept of freedom [Schelling]
     Full Idea: Until the discovery of idealism, the genuine concept of freedom has been missing from every modern system, whether it be that of Leibniz or of Spinoza.
     From: Friedrich Schelling (Of Human Freedom [1809], p.345), quoted by Jean-François Courtine - Schelling p.87
     A reaction: Spinoza denied free will, and Leibniz fudged it. Evidently more medieval theological accounts were not good enough. I presume Fichte is Schelling's hero, and he seems to see freedom as axiomatic about the Self.
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 2. Source of Ethics / g. Will to power
Ultimately, all being is willing. The nature of primal being is the same as the nature of willing [Schelling]
     Full Idea: In the last and highest instance there is no other being but willing. Willing is primal being, and all the predicates of primal being only fit willing: groundlessness, eternity, being independent of time, self-affirmation.
     From: Friedrich Schelling (On the Essence of Human Freedom [1809], I.7.350), quoted by Andrew Bowie - Introduction to German Philosophy 5 'Reason'
     A reaction: Insofar as this says that 'primal being' must be active in character, I love this idea. Not the rest of the idea though! Bowie says this essay clearly influenced Schopenhauer. It looks as if Nietzsche must be read it too.
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 2. Elements of Virtue Theory / e. Character
We don't choose our characters, yet we still claim credit for the actions our characters perform [Schelling]
     Full Idea: Nobody has chosen their character; and yet this does not stop anybody attributing the action which follows from his character to themself as a free action.
     From: Friedrich Schelling (The Ages of the World [1810], I.93)
     A reaction: This pinpoints a very nice ambivalence about our attitudes to our own characters. We all have some pride and shame about who we are, without having chosed who we are. At least when we are young. But we make the bed we lie in.
26. Natural Theory / A. Speculations on Nature / 1. Nature
Schelling sought a union between the productivities of nature and of the mind [Schelling, by Bowie]
     Full Idea: Schelling's philosophy of nature aims to connect nature's 'unconscious productivity' with the mind's 'conscious productivity'.
     From: report of Friedrich Schelling (Outline of a System of the Philosophy of Nature [1799]) by Andrew Bowie - German Philosophy: a very short introduction 3
     A reaction: If you have a fairly active view of nature (as Leibniz did), then this is a promising line. I like the unpopular view that the modern idea of spontaneous 'powers' in nature is applicable to explanations of mind.
Schelling made organisms central to nature, because mere mechanism could never produce them [Schelling, by Pinkard]
     Full Idea: Schelling made the image of the 'organism' central to his conception of nature, arguing that merely mechanical processes could never produce 'life' (as a self-producing, self-sustaining, self-directing process).
     From: report of Friedrich Schelling (Outline of a System of the Philosophy of Nature [1799]) by Terry Pinkard - German Philosophy 1760-1860 08
     A reaction: At that date this seems a reasonable claim, but subsequent biochemistry has undermined it.
27. Natural Reality / A. Classical Physics / 1. Mechanics / d. Gravity
Instead of gravitational force, we now have a pervasive gravitational field [Farmelo]
     Full Idea: Physics replaced the notion that bodies exert gravitational force on each other by the more effective picture that the bodies in the universe give rise to a pervasive gravitational field which exerts a force on each particle.
     From: Graham Farmelo (The Strangest Man [2009], 08)
     A reaction: This still uses the word 'force'. I sometimes get the impression that gravity is the curvature of space, but gravity needs more. Which direction along the curvature are particles attracted? The bottom line is the power of the bodies.
27. Natural Reality / B. Modern Physics / 2. Electrodynamics / d. Quantum mechanics
The Schrödinger waves are just the maths of transforming energy values to positions [Farmelo]
     Full Idea: Dirac showed that the Schrödinger waves were simply the mathematical quantities involved in transforming the description of a quantum based on its energy values to one based on possible values of its position.
     From: Graham Farmelo (The Strangest Man [2009], 08)
     A reaction: Does this eliminate actual physical 'waves' from the theory?
27. Natural Reality / B. Modern Physics / 4. Standard Model / c. Particle properties
Experiments show that fundamental particles of one type are identical [Farmelo]
     Full Idea: It is an established experimental fact ...that every single fundamental particle in the universe is the same and identical to all other particles of the same type.
     From: Graham Farmelo (The Strangest Man [2009], 07)
     A reaction: A loud groan is heard from the tomb of Leibniz. I'm unclear how experiments can establish this. If electrons have internal structure (which is not ruled out) then uniformity is highly unlikely.