The Wordsworth Circle
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In the Introduction to the Philosophy of Nature, Hegel calls nature “the negative of the Idea,” an alien existence where spirit does not find itself. He also describes it as a “frozen” or “petrified intelligence,” attributing the phrase to Schelling (Hegel, Nature 14–15). Schelling’s Ages of the World (1815), posthumously published only in 1861 and so unavailable to Hegel, does indeed begin with a geological unconscious that impedes any progressive narrative of cosmic or human history, as time is locked in a “rotatory movement” that blocks any “true beginning” or “veritable end” (Schelling, Ages 20). However, the text Hegel evokes is not Schelling’s Ages but his earlier System of Transcendental Idealism (1800), and it is Hegel who adds the words “erstarrte [congealed]” and “versteinerte [petrified],” sometimes translated as “fossilized.”1 For in the SystemSchelling had seen no resistance between matter and spirit, nonliving and living being, envisioning a seamless process that resolves “the whole of nature … into an intelligence” (6). Hegel invokes the Schelling of the Identity philosophy because he too wants an Aufhebungof “the dead and unconscious products of nature” that overcomes the resistance of the inorganic to organization, as life self-organizes towards spirit (Schelling, System 6).
Available for download on Saturday, February 01, 2020