Schelling and Spinoza

Realism, Idealism, and the Absolute

By Benjamin Norris

Subjects: Philosophy, Religion, Metaphysics, German Idealism
Hardcover : 9781438489537, 310 pages, August 2022
Paperback : 9781438489520, 310 pages, February 2023

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Table of contents


Introduction: A Crack in the Abyss
1.0. A Note in the Margins
2.0. Schelling and Spinoza
3.0. Realism and Antirealism in Jacobi and Contemporary Philosophy
4.0. Idealism beyond Antirealism
5.0. The Plan

Part I

Chapter 1: Reason, Realism, and Faith in Jacobi and Kant
1.0. Introduction: Rationality, Totality, and Antirealism
2.0. The Difference Between Jacobi's and Kant's Critiques of Spinoza
3.0. Jacobi's Realism
4.0. Conclusion

Chapter 2: Weak Weapons and the Fight Against Dogmatism
1.0. Introduction: Letters to a Friend
2.0. Criticism
3.0. Dogmatism
4.0. Subjects and Objects
5.0. Conclusion

Part II

Chapter 3: Spinoza and Schelling on Identity and Difference
1.0. Introduction: Spinoza, the Undeniable Predecessor
2.0. The Need for Identity
3.0. Thinking through the Most Monstrous Thought
4.0. Conclusion

Chapter 4: Realism, Idealism, and Parallelism
1.0. Introduction: Against Abrasive Philosophy
2.0. Idealism, Elimination, and Amplification
3.0. Realism sive Natura
4.0. Conclusion

Part III

Chapter 5: Divine Indigestion
1.0. Introduction: Identity Crisis
2.0. The Strictures of Beginning
3.0. The Doubling of Absolute Identity
4.0. Conclusion

Chapter 6: From Freedom to Pantheism
1.0. Introduction: An Unfamiliar Schelling
2.0. Freedom and Flowers
3.0. The Tripartite Tripartite Soul
4.0. Revelation and Reconciliation
5.0. Conclusion

Conclusion: The Poverty of Thought and the Madness of Living Well


Presents a novel interpretation of Schelling's philosophy by way of his reading and critique of Spinoza.


Schelling and Spinoza reconstructs Schelling's reading of Spinoza's metaphysics to better understand the roles realism and idealism play in Schelling's work. Schelling initially praises Spinoza's monism but comes to criticize the lifelessness produced by Spinoza's dualistic account of the relation between thought and existence. By turning to Schelling's notion of the Absolute, author Benjamin Norris presents a novel reading of Schelling's early and middle philosophical endeavors as a kind of ideal-realism dependent on the hyphen that marks both the identity and the non-identity of realism and idealism. Through close analysis of Schelling's work, he convincingly argues that any contemporary return to Schelling must grapple with his critique of Spinoza. This critique calls into question the categories of immanence and transcendence that orient the current debate surrounding realism, antirealism, and idealism. Schelling and Spinoza is an important contribution to our understanding of both Schelling and Spinoza, as well as the viability of the frightening claim that only one thing truly exists.

Benjamin Norris is an independent scholar.


"Compellingly presented, painstakingly researched and sourced, as well as commendably readable, Norris makes an intriguing case for Schelling's relevance to the contemporary concerns of both continental and analytic philosophy." — Dale E. Snow, Loyola University Maryland