Schelling’s Spaces (pt 2)
In the following I want to connect my concerns from the last post to the week of seminars Iain Hamilton Grant gave a few weeks ago at the Schelling Summerschool at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. This post only touches on my notes from Day 1.
In his recent essays and in the talks given, Grant has shifted his focus to the later Schelling (particularly from 1815 onward) and paid close attention to what seems to be, in a broad sense, Schelling’s turn towards Aristotle. In the Darstellung lectures and elsewhere Schelling turns towards concerns of embodiment, dimensionality, philosophy as a practice, animality, and other topics which seem far from his earlier purportedly more abstract concerns. However, this does not, I would argue, violate the Grant’s continuity thesis (that Schelling’s thought is naturphilosophie through and through) but is Schelling’s attempt to philosophize his concerns about philosophy (concerns which he had at a very young age).
Before addressing the later work Grant focused on the Ideas for a Philosophy of Nature, the First Outline, and the Freedom Essay. Grant sees the freedom essay as a hinge between the more transcendental account of nature in the first outline and the more realist account in the Ideas. The relation of realism/idealism often manifests itself, according to Grant, in the two sciences of physics and history. Furthermore, these two sciences index the problem of bodies and powers and establishing their relation.
Grant pointed out in some detail that part of the problem in establishing just such a relation is clouded by translation issues in the Ideas in particular. Vorstellung and Idee are translated as Ideas leading to confusion as to when Schelling is touching on Plato as opposed to Kant.
(As an aside the only explanation I have found to why this is the case is do to the influx of translations of Locke at the time of Schelling’s writing most likely due to the increasing ranks of the popular philosophers as they were called.) This touch of political philosophy is also apparent as what is translated as ‘agency’ is actually more pragmatically ‘doing.’ These alterations de-emphasize the importance of meontological plurality in Schelling which suggests the derriviative nature of what it is that philosophy discovers. Philosophy is derrived from actions and not from already humanized forms of thinking (here Grant began moving against practical philosophy in its Fichtean mode). To disregard this is to essentially wipe away the numerous critiques of Kant found in Herder, Reinhold, Schulze, Jacobi, and Maimon to name a few.
Philosophy as derivation arises from the fact that philosophy requires a philosophy of nature as concepts are consequent from the non-conceptual but themselves form a domain. The transcendental, as a mode of philosophizing, displaces the location of causation (or de-anchors the thing that thinks at the same time) but cannot justify its relocation. Here, to return to the notion of space, the question from my last post arises – what topology is there which contains the space of nature and the space of reasons? And furthermore, are these spaces best described as logical or geometrical or in some other sense?
The transcendental marks the necessity of movement, a movement compelled by the extra-logical status of the principle of non-contradiction. The most basic meontological statement following from the primacy of motion in Schelling (which is there from the First Outline to the last years of his life) is that things must be otherwise to continue to be or contradiction is the moving principle of genesis ie a consequent is not identical to its antecedent. Here also lies Schelling’s insistent attack upon Hegel – Schelling argues that pure reflection is a ‘spiritual disease’ (which, in terms of the motile spirit of Aristotle, we might say reflection is a disease of movement) in that reflection moves the contradiction but leaves it sterile (genesis is restricted to the idea).
(Hence why Zizek’s comments in the Indivisible Remainder are so off the mark in regards to Schelling’s critique of Hegel. Zizek claims that Schelling doesn’t understand the contingency within the concept when in fact Schelling raises contingency to a place in which the very notion depends upon unprethinkable nature).
Grant opposed a powers ontology (where powers cannot be different in kind from one another nor can they belong to bodies) to the sterile genesis of Hegel arguing ungrounding is not merely infinite regress but one that asks ‘how far must we go?’ to be able to think this or that physical field or logical domain. Here I think there are numerous fruitful connections to Negarestani’s use of Kant as a nagivational thinker that asks ‘Where is the concept?’ Because nature contains the unconditioned being is continuously conditioned and hence things can serve as proof of the unconditioned but the uncondtioned as such cannot be sought in things. In others words existence is conditional but this conditioning participates in a potentiation of its antecedent – hence Grant’s assertion that the term ‘higher’ in Schelling is not weighted by romantcism but is technical in a exponential sense. Things are their antecedents to a higher power pushed by the motion of non-contradiction in its extra-logical eternal becoming.
Because there is being there is thinking and therefore any sense of absolute is consequent. Being is construction which is thought as activity with nature as the original contingency in which there is not-being. What remains to connect Grant’s account of Schelling to spatiality is an algebraic detour in order to pass from the exponential to the geometrical (magnitudes to spatial involution and evolution).
Filed under: Hegel, Iain Hamilton Grant, nature, ontology, Schelling, Speculative Realism, Zizek | 3 Comments
Tags: animality, aristotle, dimensionality, Iain Grant, plato, Schelling, topology