Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling (1775-1854) is one of the central authors of classical German philosophy, along with Immanuel Kant, Johann Gottlieb Fichte and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. However, not all of his works and writings have been edited to date. A team led by Prof. Dr. Philipp Schwab and Prof. Dr. Lore Hühn from the Department of Philosophy at the University of Freiburg and PD Dr. Christoph Binkelmann as well as Dr. Eckhart Arnold from the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities (BAdW) in Munich has taken on the task of comprehensively editing the last major unpublished estate of F.W.J. Schelling and making it available to the public in a hybrid edition. In addition to the complete digital edition, central texts will also appear in print. The German Research Foundation (DFG) is funding the project for twelve years with six million euros. “We are very grateful to have received this long-term funding from the DFG. It enables us to close a still large gap on Schelling’s oeuvre and work,” says Lore Hühn. “The BAdW preserves the memory of its former president in many ways: including through the Schelling Prize and the Schelling Forum. However, it is just as important for us to make his work accessible, to which the project makes an important contribution,” says Academy President Thomas O. Höllmann.
Schelling’s time in Munich has not yet been systematically explored
Schelling is one of the founders of German idealism. He had an impact beyond the boundaries of philosophy like no other, shaping the education and discourses of other scientific disciplines with his philosophy of nature, art and history. In addition, Schelling was politically active and headed important scientific institutions. The estate from Schelling’s phase of life in Munich (1811-1841), which has not yet been systematically indexed, presents researchers with special challenges. During this period, during which time he was, among other things, president of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Schelling’s main impact was through lectures and correspondence. Although he worked on a major work that was never published, his thoughts are only written down in a multitude of heterogeneous and disorganized texts, mainly lecture transcripts, concepts, diaries, and letters. “We will chronologically process, decipher, and transcribe Schelling’s disordered notes step by step. In doing so, we want to work out their connection to each other and place them in contemporary discourses,” explains Philipp Schwab. A total of five researchers are working on the edition.
Laying the foundations beyond the disciplinary boundaries of philosophy
“The edition is intended to provide a reliable basis for scientific research beyond the disciplinary boundaries of philosophy in order to be able to adequately discuss the development of the sciences and the modern understanding of knowledge starting from classical German philosophy,” says Christoph Binkelmann of the BAdW. The research team expects new insights on four topics in particular: the transformation of knowledge, understanding and communication; the change of scientific institutions; the change of scientific forms of mediation; and the emergence of a knowledge-based society.
Cooperation between Freiburg and Munich is already well-established
From 1980 to 2020, the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities compiled the Historical-Critical Edition of Schelling’s Writings in 33 volumes – this is the first scholarly, text-critical edition of Schelling’s work. In this context, Schwab and Hühn had already edited Schelling’s “Erlanger Vorträge” (Erlangen Lectures) from 1821, and Binkelmann acted as scientific secretary of the commission for many years. The cooperation between the University of Freiburg and the Munich Academy has thus already been long established.
The work of F.W.J. Schelling has also been a research focus at the University of Freiburg for many years. For example, from 2016 to 2022, a tenure-track professorship headed by Philipp Schwab on classical German philosophy and its reception, in conjunction with an Emmy Noether research group, dealt with the relationship between Schelling and Hegel. Hühn and Schwab are also editors of the leading publication for Schelling research, the peer-reviewed journal Schelling-Studien. Hühn has also been president of the International Schelling Society for over ten years.
About the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities
The Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities, founded in 1759, is the largest and one of the most research-intensive state academies in Germany. It has been committed to its tasks as a community of scholars, a non-university research institution and a place of lively scientific dialogue with society and politics for more than 250 years. The focus of its work is on long-term projects that provide the basis for further research and safeguard cultural heritage. Current issues of high social relevance are addressed by its ad hoc working groups. The Academy is also the sponsor of the Leibniz Computing Centre, one of the largest supercomputing centers in Europe, the Bavarian Research Institute for Digital Transformation and the Walther Meissner Institute for Low Temperature Research. It promotes the excellent young scientists in Bavaria in the Young Academy. The Academy is a member of the Union of German Academies.