First Outline of a System of the Philosophy of Nature

By F. W. J. Schelling
Translated by Keith R. Peterson
Introduction by Keith R. Peterson
Notes by Keith R. Peterson

Subjects: History Of Science, German Idealism, Environmental Philosophy, Continental Philosophy
Series: SUNY series in Contemporary Continental Philosophy
Paperback : 9780791460047, 304 pages, February 2004
Hardcover : 9780791460030, 304 pages, February 2004

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Table of contents



Translator's Introduction


The Primacy of the Postulate
From Postulate to Deduction
Transcendental Deductions and The Idea of Nature
Logogenesis, Construction, and Potency in the Philosophy of Nature
Works Cited


Translator's Note

Title Page of Schelling 1799 Edition

Foreword to Schelling 1799 Edition

Outline of the Whole

First Division


I. The Unconditioned in Nature
II. The Original Qualities and Actants in Nature
III. Actants and Their Combinations
IV. Inhibition and Stages of Development
V. Deduction of the Dynamic Series of Stages


Second Division


First System
Second System
Third Possible System


Third Division


I. On the Concept of Excitability
II. Deduction of Organic Functions from the Concept of Excitability
III. The Graduated Series of Stages in Nature
Appendix to Chapter III
IV. General Theory of the Chemical Process
V. The Theater of the Dynamic Organization of the Universe


Introduction to the Outline of a System of the Philosophy of Nature, or, On the Concept of Speculative Physics and the Internal Organization of a System of this Science (1799)


§1. What we call Philosophy of Nature is a Necessary Science in the System of Knowledge
§2. Scientific Character of the Philosophy of Nature
§3. Philosophy of Nature is Speculative Physics
§4. On the Possibility of Speculative Physics
§5. On a System of Speculative Physics in General
§6. Internal Organization of the System of Speculative Physics


Appendix: Scientific Authors


English-German Glossary

German-English Glossary

Page Concordance


Schelling's first systematic attempt to articulate a complete philosophy of nature.


Appearing here in English for the first time, this is F. W. J. Schelling's vital document of the attempts of German Idealism and Romanticism to recover a deeper relationship between humanity and nature and to overcome the separation between mind and matter induced by the modern reductivist program. Written in 1799 and building upon his earlier work, First Outline of a System of the Philosophy of Nature provides the most inclusive exposition of Schelling's philosophy of the natural world. He presents a startlingly contemporary model of an expanding and contracting universe; a unified theory of electricity, gravity magnetism, and chemical forces; and, perhaps most importantly, a conception of nature as a living and organic whole.

Keith R. Peterson is Lecturer in Philosophy at St. Michael's College and Champlain College.