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System Of Transcendental Idealism (1800)

System of Transcendental Idealism (1800) - Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling I was happy to find this as an e-book at google books, particularly at the price compared to the usual for this sort of academic book.

I wanted to read this after reading Coleridge's "Biographia Literaria". I found some parts of the book very rewarding. I focused primarily on the beginning and the end. The earlier parts discuss the first stages of the deduction of the universe from the original principle. I thought this stuff was pretty interesting. Past a certain point though the derivation seemed to be pretty empty speculation. Even fairly early on I had the feeling that some of the arguments weren't truly enlightening but were sort of sophistical tricks to prove theses that he believed in. It seems to me that a truly compelling philosophical argument isn't just to achieve the result of proving some thesis. That sort of argument really is usually pretty useless except in certain domains like logic. Rather the best argument should really reveal something deep and interesting about the subject that thus compels agreement. Still, I found the general picture that was being presented interesting. I have a strange fascination with idealism. In some ways I have a very strong feeling of "How could anyone really believe that?!" but at the same time, that very outlandishness has somehow attracted me for a long time to continue to study it.

The other part that I focused on was the ending which details a theory of art. Again, I think there are many would argue that such theorizing of art from such high level general principles is useless. I have some real sympathy for that argument but at the same time am irresistibly drawn to it nonetheless. This part was too short for me. I would have really enjoyed reading more in this vein. Unfortunately, Schelling's "Philosophy of Art" goes off in a totally different direction that I found pretty useless. The basic idea here is that the work of art is the highest approach to the general unity of the entire universe as it is the conscious fusion of the universal and the particular in a way that maintains the poles at the same time as showing the unity. Philosophy is inferior as it subsumes the particular under the universal and treats the unity in abstract terms. I think there's really something pretty interesting in this way of looking at art, the general metaphysical picture and all. I realize this view makes me a leper in pretty much every circle intellectual or otherwise :)