The birth pangs of the absolute
longing and angst in Schelling and Kierkegaard
Considering the significance of moods for philosophy, Schelling's concept of Sehnsucht, objectless yearning that slides toward Angst, is an attempt to show something fundamental about life. From a dynamic perspective, Schelling proposed a process philosophy of the origin of life and human freedom. Thinking about life, at any level, meant conceiving an absolute that arises out of itself, epigenetically. Combining Aristotle and Spinoza, Schelling dismantled philosophical foundationalisms, even speculative ones concerning the divine. He turned away from Idealism toward Gnosticism and monism, arguing that what we call "life," whether as nature or "God," arises in and of itself, without remaining fixed or being able to endure eternally. God and cosmos thus become simultaneously finite and infinite. On this complex basis, Schelling reframed the meaning of freedom in terms of the relationship between natural drives and modalities of reason in nature and humans. This relationship can be discerned thanks to moods or attunements of existence. Freedom, an extension in humans of universal intelligibility, could only be truly determined if we could define "evil" concretely, as acts and passions. Kierkegaard, Schelling's erstwhile student in Berlin (1841), repositioned Schelling's philosophy of freedom in an existentialist framework, where anxiety, not freedom, was the true contrary of necessity. This essay unfolds Schelling's Philosophical Inquiries into the Nature of Human Freedom, and compares it with the Kierkegaard and Nietzsche's existentialism.
Bergo, B. (2011)., The birth pangs of the absolute: longing and angst in Schelling and Kierkegaard, in H. Kenaan & I. Ferber (eds.), Philosophy's moods, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 105-121.
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