Is Schelling's Dark Idealistic Nature the Bakkerian Outside?

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« on: October 22, 2019, 08:02:07 pm »
Looking at Gord Barenstan's paper SCHELLING’S DARK NATURE AND THEPROSPECTS FOR ‘ECOLOGICAL CIVILISATION’


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In other words, sexuality becomes a pharmakon, both a toxin and antidote for Nature. Schelling writes of the separation of the sexes within Nature’s ‘infinite metamorphosis’ that ‘each organism has a level of formation at which [this] separation is necessary. [But this] highest point of disturbed equilibrium is [also] the moment of the reestablishment of equilibrium’ (FO 36, 40-41). This dis/equilibrium describes the production of the genus against the individual in a systolic-diastolic movement of expansion and contraction foregrounded in Schelling’s later work. But sexual separation does not fold the organism back into a teleological hierarchy of developmental stages. Instead, it opens the organism up to Nature’s radical productivity: ‘from the moment of the [separation] onward, the product no longer completely expresses the character of the stage of development at which it stood.’ Schelling describes this as ‘derangement’ [Störungheit], and this trope of illness marks the ‘most intense moment of natural activity’ in the organism (FO 39). Nature blossoms through ‘abortive’ experiments on itself, seizing on its own aberrations, ‘pursuing’ its individuative derangement as far as possible in a given manifestation (FO 41 n). And precisely this derangement, this illness, is a drive toward absolute knowledge as what Tilottama Rajan refers to as ‘a following of the particular wherever it might lead, regardless of its consistency with a larger whole.’14 Each organism is a tumescence in Nature, a derangement of the Stufenfolge, a symptom of radical auto-alterity in Nature which resists Schelling’s attempt, in the later Introduction to the First Outline, to contain it in an anterior organisation which ‘must have existed as a whole previous to its parts’ (FO 198). But Schelling still faces the question which dogs him throughout his oeuvre: why is there something and not nothing? How do things come to be from within Nature as the ‘most primal fluid–the absolute noncomposite [. . .] receptive to every form [. . .] a mass wherein no part is distinguished from the other by figure’ (FO 6)?

    Schelling’s answer to this question in the First Outline is inhibition – an intrinsic, primordial self-limiting force which engenders the phenomena of the natural world.

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The First Division of the First Outline tries to work through its unruly textual excess by turning from the metaphysical overgrowth of the first section on the actants (‘The Original Qualities and Actants in Nature’) to something closer to dramatic narrative in the following section (‘Actants and Their Combinations’). Here, Schelling describes the creation of matter as ‘the drama [Schauspiel] of a struggle between form and the formless’ (FO 28). For Schelling, Nature’s universal fluidity is always already inexplicably ‘solidified’ by the actants in this drama without beginning, which transpires in ‘infinite multiplicity’ between fluid and solid. That is, the actants, in their creation of natural products, are always already subject to a drama of (de)combination in their infinite multiplicity.

This dynamic of coalescence and dissolution is ultimately pathologised by Schelling as the actants’ mutual derangement [Störung] into universal fluidity, which is in turn – indeed, simultaneously resisted by each actant’s individuality (FO 26, 28). This derangement describes what we have seen as Nature’s auto-alterity, a Nature divided against itself yet compelled to form products in a tension which creates generative fibrillations in Nature. And again, the language Schelling uses here is significant: the actant’s ‘constant drive [Trieb] toward free transformation’ is inhibited by the ‘compulsion’ [Zwang] of its combination with other actants in a productive coimplication of freedom and necessity (FO 33). In the Introduction to the Outline Schelling writes that discovering the ‘intermediate links’ in natural products with the unknowable ‘last conditions’ of Nature is the task of experimentation in Naturphilosophie – not the experimentation of the empirical natural sciences which assumes that one day the circle of its knowledge will complete itself and which imposes principles on Nature from without, but rather an ‘infinite task’ of ‘collect[ing] the fragments of the great whole of Nature [. . .] into a system’ (FO 199) which is always on the cusp of itself. It involves investigating the internal necessity of principles and not assuming their a priori nature, and this process is ultimately a psychoanalytic moment – ‘doing Naturphilosophie’ as an encounter in Wirth’s sense – where, in Schelling’s words, ‘Nature speaks to us to the extent to which we ourselves fall silent.’18 We must let Nature question us.

But what kind of ‘questions’ does a deranged Nature ask? What does its facticity present to us? The natural products we see in the world are, after all  ‘nothing other than productive Nature itself determined in a certain way’ (FO34), inhibited according to inscrutable laws into the unique, terrible, and solitary forms which surround us. Each one of them is part of Schelling’s Stufenfolge, the graduated series of stages with which Nature hopes to achieve the Absolute, or ‘the most universal proportion in which all actants, without prejudice to their individuality, can be unified’ (FO 35). Yet each natural product is also a ‘misbegotten attempt’ at this proportion (ibid.), a wayward line of flight away from the absolute ideal for which Nature strives, but can never achieve, caught in an ‘infinite process of formation’ (ibid.) which constitutes these lines of flight to begin with. Nature is caught within its actantial dynamics – within the derangement of a free drive to create infinite products and the compulsion to combine them into a ‘universal proportion.’ It is from this derangement that the materiality and historicity of Being emerges. This infinitely productive derangement of the actants forms an onto-aetiology which Schelling locates in disease. Disease, for Schelling, is coterminous with life itself: because disease ‘is produced by the same causes through which the phenomenon of life is produced[, it] must have the same factors as life’ (FO 160). So although in the First Outline’s Appendix on disease (FO 158ff) the term Aktion is not used, Schelling in effect transposes the actants’ deranging dynamism of activity and receptivity into physiology: here, the organism is not a static ‘being’ but a ‘perpetual being-produced,’ an ‘activity mediated by receptivity’ (FO 160) against a series of external stimuli which prevent the organism from ‘exhausting’ its activity in a final (dead, inorganic) object. In this ‘being-produced,’ the organism reproduces an ‘original duplicity’ whereby it generates itself ‘objectively’ in response to external conditions (its receptivity to the world) as well as ‘subjectively’ – that is, as an object to itself (its activity). Disease is precisely the ‘othering’ of the organism’s presence to itself as object, a ‘disproportion’ within its economy of excitability, or susceptibility to external stimuli (FO 169). And this force of disease is ultimately predicated on a ‘uniformly acting external force’ which acts on the organism while at the same time it ‘seems to sustain the life of universal Nature just as much as it sustains the individual life of every organic being (as the life ofNature is exhibited in universal alterations)’ (FO 171). Both life and disease, then, emerge from a constitutive tension between the world of external forces and the higher-order dynamical force which sustains the organism against the barrage of stimuli from without (FO 161). Extending the premises of the Naturphilosophie into the human and divine domains of theodicy, the Freedom essay, to which we now turn, aligns this diseased productivity with both the energy of evil and the yearning nature of God itself.

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This darkness which recedes from knowledge in the Freedom essay is ‘a being before all ground and before all that exists [and] before any duality [. . .] the original ground or the non-ground [Ungrund]’  which  exists  even  before  God  (Freedom  68).    The  Ungrund is a state of  ‘absolute indifference’  (Freedom 68) between opposites which does  not  nullify  them  (it  is  not  Hegel’s  ‘night  where  all  cows  are  black’)  but  rather  suspends  them  in  relation  to  each  other.    Thus,  Schelling  writes  that  even  though  the  Ungrundis  before  all  opposites  and  duality,  it  is  ‘neutral’ towards them, which is precisely why opposites and polarities can ‘[break] forth immediately from the Neither-Nor’ of its indifference (Freedom 69).For Schelling, the Ungrundprovides a resolution to the problem of thinkingbecoming for  a  God  that  is  ‘infinitely’   different  to  the  world  of  things  (28),  a  resolution  which  marks  the  materiality  of  Nature  as  the  dark  ground  of  spirit,  the  receding  origin  of  Being  and  becoming.    The  world  of  becoming  must  emerge from God; but how can things separate from a God which encompasses all  things?    Schelling’s  answer  is  that  things  are  ultimately  grounded  in  ‘that which in God himself is not He Himself, that is, in that which is the ground of his existence’ (Freedom  28).    In  other  words,  the  Ungrundmarks  the  not-God  within  God,  that  within  God  which  God  cannot  know  and  which  always  already  implicates God in the history of Nature.  In a broadly psychoanalytic sense, the Ungrund is God’s unconscious; it harbours ‘the yearning the eternal One feels to give  birth  to  itself’   (Freedom  28), the  drive  to  individuation  in  and  through  Nature’s  materiality.    But  we  have  seen  from  the  Naturphilosophie  that  this  materiality  is  deranged,  ambivalent  toward  its  own  existence;  perhaps  this  is  why Schelling writes  early  in  the  Freedom  essay that Naturphilosophie  is  the  only  project  adequate  to  the  task  of  freedom  (Freedom  26-27).    As  life,  then,  God’s  yearning is driven by unknown forces, and in this God is like man.  Both God and  man  are  confronted  with  an  un-grounding  Other  which  becomes  an  existential pharmakon,  both  the  cause  of and  cure  for  the melancholic  desire  of an  endless approximation  to  wholeness.    Both  God  and  man  are  destined  to  ‘the  deep  indestructible  melancholy  of  all  life’  (Freedom  63).

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This tension between the essay’s sense of   futurity   (its   desire   for   love   that   unites   all)   and   melancholy   (the   acknowledgement  that  this  desire  must  find  and  re-find  itself)  is  central  to  the  text’s complexity, resonating through the optative proclamation that ‘the good should be raised out of the darkness [. . .] whereas evil shouldbe separated from the  good  in  order  to  be  cast  out  eternally  into  non-Being’  (Freedom  67;  my  italics).    This  tension  and  melancholy  is  the  medium  from  which  personalityemerges as the core concept which fuels the Freedom essay’s futurity.This melancholy is the basis for the analogy Schelling draws between God’s relationship to the not-God of the Ungrund and the human being’s relationship with the centrum, a term Schelling takes up from Jakob Böhme to describe ‘the undivided  power  of  the  initial  ground’ as  it  exists  in  the  person  (Freedom  44).  Through  the  freedom  of  the  not-God  within  God,  ‘a  fundamentally  unlimited  power  is  asserted  next  to  and  outside  of  divine  power’   (Freedom  11) that  is  conceptually   unthinkable,   and   which   inaugurates   a   divine   individuation   marking   Schelling’s   radical   turn   from   the   notions   of   emanationism   and   theodicy   prevailing   in   his   time.      This   not-God   within   God   marks   the   (un)beginning  of  all  things  as  a  difference  always  already  operating  in  Being,  and  this  (un)beginning’s  human  equivalent  is  in  Schelling’s  formulation  of  personality.  In contrast to Hegel’s assertion that dialectical progression is always already attributed  to  Being  – that  ‘substance  is  essentially  subject’  and  inherently  logical21  –    the Freedom  essay  emphasises  the  emergence  of  personality  in  an  unprethinkable ‘moment’ of  creation  analogous  to  God’s  entry  into  time  and  history, a non-egoic ‘free act’ from the abyss of the unconditioned...

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Key  to  the  specifically  idealist  intensity  of  the  Freedom essay’s  theodicy  is  a  recasting of the First Outline’s Stufenfolge as God’s progression toward an ultimate apocatastasis,  a  ‘final,  total  separation’   reminiscent  of  The  Book  of   Revelationwherein ‘everything true and good’ is  ‘raised into bright consciousness’  and the ‘eternally  dark  ground  of  selfhood’ is  locked  away  (Freedom  70).    In  this  resolution, everything is ‘subordinate to spirit’ and temporality and contingency are gathered up into an idealist regime (ibid.).  Yet its disclosure of the Ungrundas  God’s  unconscious,  and  the  centrum  as  its  human  iteration,  necessarily  harbours   a   dark   kernel   of   indeterminacy   which   frustrates   this   teleology.      Individuation  can  go  awry,  and  the  power  of  the  centrum  can  always  be  falsely  appropriated  in  the  ego’s  being-for-itself,  which  Schelling  will  describe  as  the  basis of evil.  Freedom is the necessary introduction of chaos and the anarchy of the Ungrundinto  time  and  history,  a  fracturing  of  the  Freedom  essay’s  Idealism  which  reflects  Schelling’s  turn  away  from  prevalent  teleological  or  systematic  explanations  of  Being.    Evil  is  the  energic  force  of  movement  without  which  existence would founder and congeal, unable to move.

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In  other  words,  self-will attempts  to  bend  the  centrum  to  its  own  designs.    Outside  the  harmony  of  the  centrum’s ‘divine measure and balance’ self-will, as ‘a bond of living forces,’ can no  longer  rule  the  rebellious  dominion  of  forces  as  ‘cravings  and  appetites,’  which  leads  to  a  ‘peculiar  life  [of]  mendacity,  a  growth  of  restlessness  and  decay’  (Freedom  34).    Evil  is  a  disruption  of  cosmic  harmony  which  thereby  shows this harmony’s constitutive self-difference; it is the force whereby ‘things feverishly move away from their nonthingly center.’22  But this evil is productive, and  in  precisely  the  same  way  as  Nature’s  ambivalence  toward  its  products  in  the First Outline.  This productivity’s connection with historicity and materiality risks   the   individual’s   annihilation   in   ‘restlessness   and   decay’   as   the   ego   proclaims: I  am  the  centrum.    But  it  is  also  a  connection  with  the  the  Freedomessay’s  apocatastatic  drive,  and  is  thus  essential  to  the  individual’s  existence  in  the world.
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« Reply #1 on: October 22, 2019, 10:29:08 pm »
I'm not up on Schelling like I no doubt I should be, considering how often I find myself in German Idealism, or something based off it.

I'll read up and get back to you.
“I am a warrior of ages, Anasûrimbor . . . ages. I have dipped my nimil in a thousand hearts. I have ridden both against and for the No-God in the great wars that authored this wilderness. I have scaled the ramparts of great Golgotterath, watched the hearts of High Kings break for fury.” -Cet’ingira

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« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2019, 11:12:17 pm »
I'm not up on Schelling like I no doubt I should be, considering how often I find myself in German Idealism, or something based off it.

I'll read up and get back to you.

Yeah I'm definitely curious what you make of it. It just seems that a lot of Bakkerian ideas are there - the chaos of the Outside matching the darkness of Schelling's Nature, the veneer of shame that seems to overlie all sex in the Bakkerverse, the movement toward God and the striving toward the Absolute, the existence of free will in tandem with Eternity...

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« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2019, 04:23:42 pm »
From Matthew Segall:

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    The Naturphilosoph comes to understand “Nature as subject.” This is not the Kantian position that nature necessarily conforms to the transcendental structure of the human mind, but rather the inverse proposition that human consciousness is itself a recapitulation of the uncanny subjectivity of nature. Where Kant says we can't know nature in itself, and Fichte says nature is my own projection, Schelling turns us back upon the strangeness of our own humanity to ask "do we really know who and what we are, or where we came from?"

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Joseph Lawrence follows Schelling in calling for a renewed inquiry into the nature of good and evil, an inquiry now even more untimely than it was in Schelling’s day—untimely because such theologically-laden concerns run counter to the self-understanding of the secular Enlightenment, whose founding myth involves the throwing off of traditional religion in favor of the supposedly self-grounding power of instrumental rationality. Lawrence asks how we are to understand modernity’s hubristic elevation of rationality to a secular religion at the same time that it prohibits genuine metaphysical or theological investigation.

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Our uniqueness as humans is that we recapitulate the very essence of nature itself. Further, because nature remains our ground, the reflection of our consciousness upon this ground generates self-consciousness: humanity is nature become conscious of itself as subject. While other organisms remain submerged in the unity of natural becoming, the human, like the divine, is eternally beginning, always deciding anew to re-create itself in an attempt to overcome the irreducible otherness within itself (i.e., evil). Unlike the divine, however, for the human there is no necessary assurance that love will overcome evil, that the otherness will be dynamically re-engaged in the eternal circulation of sacred marriage. Hence the fall into history, the rise of the state, and the suffering and confusion of earthly human life wherein evil is constantly externalized and projected.

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Even the divine has to pass through the purifying fire of the abyss and overcome the fear of existence in order to realize its creative freedom. Unlike human beings, who have the ethical community to console them, for God, the primal being, there is no one else to come to its aid: “in its stultifying solitude...[God] must fight its way through chaos for itself, utterly alone.” Human beings can take refuge in the social mores of the day, which, in the consumer capitalist context, offer an untold number of options for temporary escapist diversion from the soul’s inevitable encounter with the purifying fires of eternity. When radical evil does break through the thin veneer of bourgeois social order, it is always neatly localized in a deranged criminal who can be impersonally (and so guiltlessly) executed by the state.
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« Reply #4 on: October 24, 2019, 04:55:53 pm »
Well, that first paper was super opaque to me.  This second one seems more helpful.

Considering that my default position was off the Outside as a sort of Hegelian Geist-Realm, now I think actually it does make a bit more sense as a Hegelian-Schelling Geist-Nature "system."

From what little I have been able to gather though, Schelling's "System" (which is what he does actually refer to it as and is likely not a coincidence that Bakker uses that same word in "System Resumption") is actually more apt to the whole of Earwa, only with Hegel's sort of "Wir sehen hiemit wieder die Sprache als das Dasein des Geistes" layered over it.  Which, thinking along those lines, actually makes some sense as to what the Outside seems differentiated from the Real.

Obviously I need to delve deeper though.
“I am a warrior of ages, Anasûrimbor . . . ages. I have dipped my nimil in a thousand hearts. I have ridden both against and for the No-God in the great wars that authored this wilderness. I have scaled the ramparts of great Golgotterath, watched the hearts of High Kings break for fury.” -Cet’ingira

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« Reply #5 on: October 26, 2019, 03:02:32 pm »
"Wir sehen hiemit wieder die Sprache als das Dasein des Geistes" ?

Can you elaborate on this? Thanks!
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« Reply #6 on: October 28, 2019, 12:49:06 pm »
"Wir sehen hiemit wieder die Sprache als das Dasein des Geistes" ?

Can you elaborate on this? Thanks!

So, Hegel basically says "language is the Dasein of Geist" in the Phenomenology.  Now, most english translation makes Dasein into "being-there" but this hardly make the sentence more comprehendible.  In fact, because Hegel uses the purposely "philosophical" term, one that was often used in Idealism terms.  While "being-there" is a literal translation, Heidegger would later use the term to mean something more like "being-in-the-world" as indicating a more participatory role, something I guess one could call "active" Being, rather than just a passive being, say, mere existence.

So, to me, what Hegel is saying there, or what Hegel says to me, is that language, that is, the action of using language to describe or communicate, is the active participatory creation of what we might call "spirit."  Minus language, notions of temporality, intentionality, meaning fall away, since even if they are thing-in-themselves absent language, what manner would we have to describe them minus it?

So, the sort of "spirit-world" or if you want it, a spiritual "Soul," is born out of language and language is the "Dasein," the actual participation in and so the actual Being-in-the-world, of something "transcendental."  Consider, if the Spirit is transcendental, that is, is not "of matter/material" then where could it be in this world so that we might conceive of it?  In the mind, it would seem, and the mind's manner of forming and articulating such mental content must be, in some way, language?  Right?

Well, I hope this made some sense, but I just got up and haven't had coffee yet.

On a related note, I am trying to read Žižek's book on Schelling, since Schelling's work itself is a bit hard to find.
“I am a warrior of ages, Anasûrimbor . . . ages. I have dipped my nimil in a thousand hearts. I have ridden both against and for the No-God in the great wars that authored this wilderness. I have scaled the ramparts of great Golgotterath, watched the hearts of High Kings break for fury.” -Cet’ingira

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« Reply #7 on: October 28, 2019, 07:27:06 pm »
I stumbled up a thesis from someone named Benjamin Berger, who says:

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As will become clear over the course of this study, ‘spirit’ is nothing ‘other-worldly’ for Schelling or Hegel, but is simply the inner freedom which defines a distinctive way of being. What makes spirit non-natural is not, therefore, that it is ‘supernatural’, as if there were a spiritual reality above and beyond nature. Rather, spirit is non-natural in that it is structured in a very different manner than any natural forms and is consequently capable of a range of activities which no natural entity—not even highly developed non-human animals—are capable, activities which are expressions of spiritual freedom.[/i]

So, that makes me feel a little better than my likely incoherent rambling is at least somewhat grounded, or at least there is someone else who has a similar idea.

Also, I found this video (which is unlisted, so it wouldn't come up in a search, if you had looked): Schelling's Discovery of the Meaning of History
“I am a warrior of ages, Anasûrimbor . . . ages. I have dipped my nimil in a thousand hearts. I have ridden both against and for the No-God in the great wars that authored this wilderness. I have scaled the ramparts of great Golgotterath, watched the hearts of High Kings break for fury.” -Cet’ingira