The Potencies of God(s)

Schelling's Philosophy of Mythology

By Edward Allen Beach

Subjects: Hegel
Series: SUNY series in Philosophy, SUNY series in Hegelian Studies
Paperback : 9780791409749, 330 pages, October 1994
Hardcover : 9780791409732, 330 pages, October 1994

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Table of contents


Introduction: Schelling's Religious Problematic

A Fresh Search for Hermeneutical Principles

Establishing the Integrity of Religious Phenomena

Searching for an Adequate Definition of Myth

Part I. Historical Background, Issues And Contexts

1. The Origins of Pagan Religions

2. Allegory, Symbol, or Reality?

Naturalistic and Euhemeristic Theories of Religious Allegory

Schelling's Earlier Treatments of Mythology

A Final Assault on Allegorical Interpretations

3. The Unconscious and the Irrational

Early Speculations about the Unconscious

From the Unconscious to the Irrational

4. Toward a New Ontology of Eternity, Temporality, and Freedom

Dialectic: A Stable Law of Change

A "Groundless Activity" in Eternity

Some Preliminary Questions and Criticisms

5. Three Formative Influences on Schelling: Böhme, Baader, and Hegel

Böme: The Influx of Mysticism

Baader: Through Dialectic and Mysticism Back to Christian Orthodoxy

Hegel: A Conceptual Mediation of Time and Eternity

Part II. The Theory Of Potencies

6. Schelling's New Philosophical Point of Departure

A Philosophical Dilemma

The Search for a Nonrationalistic Alternative to Relativism

The Search for a Nonrationalist Alternative to Fideism

Initial Moves toward Resolving the Dilemma

The Distinction between the Was and the Daß

7. The Ontology

The Pure Potencies Prior to their Actualization

The Inverted Potencies in their State of Tension

The Relation of the Potencies to the Functions of the Daß

Some Comments and Criticisms concerning the Potenzenlehre

8. Positive Philosophy and the Experiential Proof of God

Empirical Confirmation versus Exemplification

A Logical Fallacy?

The Significance of Existential Instantiation

9. Representative Issues and Controversies in Current Schelling Scholarship: Habermas and Schulz

Habermas: A Historicist Interpretation

Schulz: A Quasi-Rationalistic Interpretation

Concluding Comments

Part III. Exemplification, Primarily In Terms Of Greek Mythology

10. From Uranus to Cronus

Preliminary Considerations Regarding Language, Mythological Consciousness, and the Names of Ancient Deities

The Religion of "Relative Monotheism"

Zabism: The Worship of "Uranus"

The Rise of Cronus

11. From Dionysus to Iakchos

The Significance of Goddesses in Mythology

The Coming of Dionysus

Divine Madness and the Strange Paradox of the "Dionysian" Motif

Iakchos: The Archetype of Spiritual Balance

Some Empirical Evidence, Ancient and Modern

Secrets of the "Uncanny" Lurking beneath the Surfaces of Mythology

12. The Self-Overcoming of Mythology

The Origins of Ontological Ambivalence in a Displacement of the Potencies

The Progressive Discharging of Religious Projections

The Eleusinian Mysteries

Toward a "Sublimated Projection Theory" of Religions




Explores the metaphysical, epistemological, and hermeneutical theories of Schelling’s final system concerning the nature and meaning of religious mythology.


This book explores the metaphysical, epistemological, and hermeneutical theories of Schelling's final system concerning the nature and meaning of religious mythology. This perspective is not surprising since Schelling regarded religion (not science or philosophy) as embodying the most complete manifestation of truth.

Beach examines Schelling's novel attempt to account for the changing historical forms of religion in terms of a complex theory of dynamic spiritual powers, or "potencies." He shows that these are not mere representations, ideas, or projected feelings created by ancient myth-makers for the benefit of a credulous populace. Instead, Beach demonstrates that these potencies should be seen as animate powers inhabiting the unconscious strata of a people's collective mind.

Edward Allen Beach is Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Religion at the University of Evansville, Indiana.


"This is an interdisciplinary study, connecting philosophy and religion. Beach is at home in both domains of analysis and argument. He situates Schelling's endeavor in a clearly articulated matrix of systematic positions. Though he is rightly critical of Schelling's accomplishments,, both in terms of religion and philosophy, he manifests a good deal of sympathy for that thinker's project." — Michael G. Vater, Marquette University

"This book makes a significant contribution to the literature on Schelling. The insights into this period of his thought are fascinating. The emphasis on mythology is especially timely , in light of the re-awakened interest in mythology as appropriate subject matter for philosophical research. The author himself is quite clearly knowledgeable, learned, authoritative, and appropriately critical regarding the excesses and inadequacies of Schelling's thought, while remaining appreciative of the philosopher's independence and creative originality. The book will appeal to a wide audience of philosophers and historians of religion; it is clearly and competently written." — George R. Lucas, Jr., Clemson University