Freedom and the Moral Condition in F.W.J. Schelling's Freiheitsschrift
This dissertation is a study of F.W.J. Schelling's Philosophical Investigations into the Essence of Human Freedom. It focuses in particular on the Kantian themes of autonomy and the primacy of the practical as they are developed by Schelling. It is argued that Schelling, following Kant, gives primacy to the practical and thereby attempts to demonstrate that human existence unfolds within a metaphysical order of the whole. He does this by means of an analysis of human freedom (the ability to choose between good and evil by Schelling's definition), which he sees as the conduit through which we gain awareness of our moral and ontological role within the process of reality. In other words, Schelling recognizes that, through our practical existence as free beings, human beings are self-consciously aware of participating in (if not fully grasping) an overarching reality that precedes any individual's existence. Schelling thus develops Kant's argument for the primacy of practical reason into an argument for the primacy of existence, or freedom, and, from that perspective, he shows that human freedom, or autonomy, articulates our awareness of our participation with full personal responsibility in a universal moral order that transcends the self and demands our assent as moral agents. In other words, Schelling offers a new and profound analysis of what it means to be free that captures a balance between the modern emphasis on individual freedom and the need to recognize that we are always already subject to inescapable moral obligations.
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