The Ages of the World (1811)

By F. W. J. Schelling
Translated by Joseph P. Lawrence
Introduction by Joseph P. Lawrence

Subjects: Continental Philosophy, German Idealism, Philosophy, Philosophy Of Religion
Series: SUNY series in Contemporary Continental Philosophy
Hardcover : 9781438474052, 276 pages, April 2019
Paperback : 9781438474069, 276 pages, January 2020

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Table of contents

Translator's Introduction: The Ecstasy of Freedom

1. The Ages of the World (1811) Introduction

2. The Ages of the World (1811) Book One: The Past
Part One
Part Two

3. Notes and Fragments: To the First Book of The Ages of the World: The Past

4. Notes and Fragments: To the Second Book of The Ages of the World: The Present


The first English translation of the first of three versions of this unfinished work by Schelling.


In 1810, after establishing a reputation as Europe's most prolific philosopher, F. W. J. Schelling embarked on his most ambitious project, The Ages of the World. For over a decade he produced multiple drafts of the work before finally conceding its failure, a "failure" in which Heidegger, Jaspers, Voegelin, and many others have discerned a pivotal moment in the history of philosophy. Slavoj Žižek calls this text the "vanishing mediator," the project that, even while withheld and concealed from view, connects the epoch of classical metaphysics that stretches from Plato to Hegel with the post-metaphysical thinking that began with Marx and Kierkegaard. Although drafts of the second and third versions from 1813 and 1815 have long been available in English, this translation by Joseph P. Lawrence is the first of the initial 1811 text. In his introductory essay, Lawrence argues for the importance of this first version of the work as the one that reveals the full sweep of Schelling's intended project, and he explains its significance for concerns in modern science, history, and religion.

Joseph P. Lawrence is a research alumnus of the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen. He is the author of Schellings Philosophie des ewigen Anfangs and Socrates among Strangers.


"…Lawrence's handling of the German text is impressive. In addition, the translation is heavily annotated with helpful explanations of technical language (Sein and Seiendes for instance) and a detailed introduction. The translation includes two chapters of notes and fragments and a helpful glossary of German terms. Lawrence's efforts will no doubt contribute to the expanding horizons of study in Schelling and German Idealism." — Reading Religion

"…Lawrence's translation is a welcome addition to the burgeoning field of Schelling studies. For the first time, English readers of Schelling can now read and compare the three remaining drafts of The Ages of the World." — Phenomenological Reviews

"Adding to the already available translations of the 1813 and 1815 drafts, Lawrence provides a magnificent translation of the first and most sustained version of 1811. The result is one of the most important translations of German philosophy in decades." — CHOICE