Schelling: from where, or how exactly does the a priori ideas come?



I'm reading Schelling's System of Transcendental Idealism, and in the end of the 3rd part (the end of the theoretical philosophy) schelling disproves the idea that a priori ideas are inherent in us from birth, and the idea that they come from an "original" flow (not sure or the correct term). After that he dismisses Malebranche and Berkeley's thoughts that the ideas originated in God.

Schelling then later on continues to state that all those mistaken conclusions can be resolved by the statement that the consciousness is neither a priori nor a postriori, when we see that the core of that seperation lies in the fact that the object of philosophy, the "I", is neither of those, which eliminates any objectiveness of a priori consciousness.

Now, I don't see Schelling disproves the concept of a priori ideas at all, in fact he relies deeply on that concept in his transcendental research. So I would like to ask, where DOES the a priori ideas lay?

Yechiam Weiss

Posted 2018-01-02T07:16:37.000

Reputation: 3 468

"Without a doubt," Kant asserted, "the ground of the world order and its connection according to universal laws" (A696/B724) is different from the world. He went on to say, "For the greatest systematic and purposive unity, which your reason demands as a regulative principle to ground all investigation of nature, was precisely what justified you in making the idea of a highest intelligence [...]; and however much purposiveness you encounter in the world in accordance with that principle, so much confirmation do you have for the rightness of your idea." (A699/B727) – None – 2018-01-02T10:07:37.440

Don't even a priori ideas rely on an even prior adoption of some system of logic? For example, you might assume that if A==>B then it's "a priori" that A==>B&B. But in (a substructural logic like) linear logic, that's just wrong. – None – 2018-01-02T10:49:06.557

@JohnForkosh. Logic is not something we "adopt"; rather, it consists of the rules of our thinking, as Kant correctly pointed out: "[General logic] contains the absolutely necessary rules of thinking, without which no use of the understanding takes place, and it therefore concerns these rules without regard to the difference of the objects to which it may be directed." (A52/B76) – None – 2018-01-02T12:26:14.013

@Pé de Leo if I understand your comment correctly, you're saying Schelling thought we simply can't find the exact origin of the ideas? – Yechiam Weiss – 2018-01-02T13:02:55.220

@YechiamWeiss. No, I didn't say anything about what Schelling thought. However, he believed that if he regarded the contingent as an unconscious factor, it would seem necessary and objective: "[S]ince the only objective element in willing is the unconscious element, I find myself driven toward an unconscious factor, whereby the external success of all actions has got to be assured." Kant, of course, rejected the idea that reason could be based on contingency. – None – 2018-01-02T14:17:59.110

I'll just leave a comment as I am not too acquainted with Schelling himself: From what I know, Schelling essentially thought all practice (may it be theoretical or practical) is founded in life unfolding itself and the human genius, intellectual intuition, creativity, etc. all being expressions of that, see e.g. Ostaric, Lara. "The concept of life in early Schelling." In: Interpreting Schelling: Critical Essays (2014): 48-70. – Philip Klöcking – 2018-01-02T15:01:40.533

@Pé de Leão I honestly don't see the relation between what you said and the question I asked (tho it could be I just didn't understand you well enough). – Yechiam Weiss – 2018-01-02T17:20:22.880

@Philip Klöcking well yeah, very much like Kant and most of the Neo-Kantians (at least those I know of). Btw, another point to be made is that Schelling isn't very consistent throughout his life, so I do point out that I'm talking about the "System" era, and not after it (when he became much more religious and changed his philosophy almost entirely). – Yechiam Weiss – 2018-01-02T17:25:29.160

@YechiamWeiss. Kant correctly recognized that only God could be the ultimate source of our a priori knowledge. Schelling's theory, on the other hand, was inadequate because he believed that he could base it on contingency. – None – 2018-01-02T18:42:19.300

@Pé de Leão hmm interesting. Mind telling me what's your source for this? Also, why do you interpret the paragraph you quoted as contingency? As far as I've seen, the unconscious (or the absolute I) can be easily replaced with God in Schelling's System. In that aspect, he isn't so different from Kant. Finally then, the answer to my question is that he actually put the source in the unconsciousness/Absolute I? So he basically says exactly the same as Kant here, just in different words. – Yechiam Weiss – 2018-01-02T18:55:38.267

@YechiamWeiss. The difference between what Kant and Schelling are saying is the difference between night and day. Schelling's theory is not even possible, but you'll have to study Kant to understand why. I already provided sources for everything I said. – None – 2018-01-02T19:08:41.610

@Pé de Leão o..k. So I don't understand both Kant and Schelling well then. To be honest I am going to read Kant after finishing the System, but just for the sake of this question, would you be so kind and explain to me why what they're saying is so different? Is it because of the difference between the thing-in-itself world and the "unconsciousness"/Absolute I? I do (I hope) understand the difference between these two. Oh and why is Schelling's theory not possible? That's odd to say the least, when his theory in the System is quite similar to Hegel's, and he's a well received philosopher. – Yechiam Weiss – 2018-01-02T20:37:03.570

Of course I mean I don't understand their differences only in this particular subject, I am fully aware that their philosophies are very different from each other. – Yechiam Weiss – 2018-01-02T20:39:51.523

@YechiamWeiss. What you're asking is really a huge point, and there's no way I can do justice to it in a comment. So here's the short answer without further explanation: Making sense of the contingent presupposes and requires the a priori groundwork which Kant was expounding. It's not possible to reverse the order as if the grounds could somehow be derived from the contingent. I'm thoroughly convinced that those who try to deny this are inadvertently presupposing the very things they claim are unnecessary. – None – 2018-01-03T10:06:14.047



After going through the text again, I think (I'm highly uncertain of it) that I found the answer-

Schelling says that the ideas, as "mere" forms, are the only a priori ideas that exists in the "intelligence". These, are originated in the purely idealistic, unconscious, unwilling creation, thus are in a way both inaccessible and unawareable to the realistic, conscious, willing creation, while still being the base for the realistic ideas and actions.

Furthermore, Schelling states that the seperation, or even the acknowledgement of "a priori" and "a postriori" ideas is only accessible to the philosopher, that can, by the absolute abstraction and the transcendental philosophy research method, reach that seperation. For the conscious creation, only empirical/experimental ideas are accessible through the realistic perception.

Yechiam Weiss

Posted 2018-01-02T07:16:37.000

Reputation: 3 468

1Are these unconscious, unwilling creations created randomly or according to some criteria? If the latter, what is the origin of the criteria by which they're created? – None – 2018-01-03T14:53:20.167

@Pé de Leão if you're referring to some thought similar to Schopenhauer, then in a very bold way, Schopenhauer's thought (at least the beginning of his theoretical research) is similar to Schelling (and Hegel). But, Schelling (at least as far as I've seen) doesn't think those creations are being created randomly, but rather in a very specific way - through Kant's categories, and they're all being created by the synthesis logical method. Saying unconscious, unwilling, creation, is exactly what caused Schopenhauer to come to his conclusions, but I think it's certainly not what Schelling meant. – Yechiam Weiss – 2018-01-03T15:00:17.360