Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling

1775-1854. German idealist philosopher. Son of a Württemberg pastor, he was trained at Tübingen, and from 1798 to 1803 held a professorship at Jena, the center of German Romanticism. He became friends with its leading figures-Friedrich and August Schlegel, Fichte, Hegel, and Goethe. Schelling's transcendental idealism, with its emphasis on the importance of the individual, the value of art, antirationalism, organicism, and vitalism, was the epitome of German Romantic philosophy. He later taught at Würzburg, Erlangen, and Munich and finally went to Berlin in 1841. His thought underwent considerable change and development. Starting from subjective idealism, he gradually worked out a philosophy of nature where the pure object and subject were integrated into an absolute unity of spirit and nature in God, the divine essence which can only be apprehended by will. The root of existence is God, the ungrounded, the eternal nothing, and only he is reality. Finite things are unreal and can only exist in removal from the Absolute, who then creates his own counterpart which is freedom. Schelling later became dissatisfied with this logical pantheism, stressed ideas as a route to ultimate reality, and even tried to reconcile Christianity with his philosophy. This emphasis resembles that of modern existentialism and has resulted in a renewed interest in Schelling.