Tag Archives: Berdyaev

alt.history philosophy

Graham Harman at Object-Oriented Philosophy has a couple of interesting thought experiments up regarding alternate history of philosophy. I particularly enjoy the idea of Bergson catching on instead of Husserl (then again, I do have some significant Vitalist tendencies). I actually have a substantial alt.history to play with in this game that I thing could add to Graham’s own Bergsonian-experiment.

My current work is entirely focused on the early work of F.W.J. Schelling, which, for my own purposes, means roughly his work from about 1794-1806. A keen eye will note that this means everything before Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit came and took the world by storm. I think as a good Schellingian (or at least a scholar of Schelling at this point), I have to ask, “What if Schelling had taken off in place of Hegel, or perhaps more plausibly, what if Schelling had risen to stardom in opposition to Hegel?”

Schelling was of course destined for greatness, considered a philosophical prodigy, disciple of Fichte, a hero of German Romantics. After the rise of his former roommate and friend Hegel however, Schelling only published his Essay On The Essence of Human Freedom (1809) before his death in 1854. While Schelling did have followers (Nikolai Berdyaev and Sergei Bulgakov in Russia, and of course Heidegger was a fan), Hegel was right to say that no school of thought really formed around Schelling, but what if a school had formed?

How does this relate to Graham’s own little thought experiment regarding Bergson? Well, one of Schelling’s followers was Félix Ravaisson, whose own student, Jules Lachelier, went on to teach a young Henri Bergson. So it would seem likely that had Schelling taken off, his students would have been more successful and been taken more seriously, and maybe Bergson himself would have taken off as well. So the last question I have then is how the rise of Schellingian and Vitalist (Bergsonian) thought would have altered subsequent thought.

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