Freedom and Ground
A Study of Schelling's Treatise on Freedom
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A new interpretation of Schelling's 1809 treatise on freedom, demonstrating how the work is an answer to the problem of ground.
This book is a new interpretation of Schelling's path-breaking 1809 treatise on freedom, the last major work published during his lifetime. The treatise is at the heart of the current Schelling renaissance—indeed, Heidegger calls it "one of the most profound works of German, thus of Western, philosophy." It is also one of the most demanding and complex texts in German Idealism. By tracing the problem of ground through Schelling's treatise, Mark J. Thomas provides a unified reading of the text, while unlocking the meaning of its most challenging passages through clear, detailed analysis. He shows how Schelling's implicit distinction between senses of ground is the key to his project of constructing a system that can satisfy reason while accommodating objects that seem to defy rational explanation—including evil, the origins of nature, and absolute freedom. This allows Schelling to unite reason and mystery, providing a rich model for philosophizing about freedom and evil today.
Mark J. Thomas is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Central College.
"In this extraordinary book, Mark Thomas takes the question of ground as central to Schelling's philosophy, especially to his famous treatise on human freedom. Thomas shows how the theme of ground provides a means by which to understand such concepts as freedom, reason, existence, and evil. The book displays exemplary precision as well as original and profound insights into Schelling's thought. Thomas explains in detail the way in which all of Schelling's writings come together in his project of a system of freedom. Finally, Thomas shows how Schelling's concept of ground represents a challenge to classical metaphysics and both anticipation and critique of several major issues in contemporary philosophy. Thomas's book is—and will no doubt remain—a landmark in the interpretation of Schelling's philosophy." — John Sallis, Boston College
"With this thoroughly researched and carefully argued book, Mark Thomas sets a new standard for rigor in Schelling studies. I anticipate that within the next few years everyone doing serious work on the Freedom Essay will be expected to read and comment on this book." — Christopher Lauer, author of The Suspension of Reason in Hegel and Schelling