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The God Within

The God Within: Kant, Schelling, and Historicity

Emil L. Fackenheim
Edited by John Burbidge
Copyright Date: 1996
Pages: 252
  • Book Info
    The God Within
    Book Description:

    For nineteenth-century thinkers, the central problem of religious consciousness in the modern West was the tension between prevailing concepts of individual autonomy and the traditional Judaeo-Christian claim for divine revelation. The God Within brings together ten of Professor Emil Fackenheim's essays on the German Idealists who struggled to resolve this tension.

    This philosophic preoccupation found its most searching and comprehensive expression, when the traditional notion of 'God as Transcendent' was reconceptualized as 'the God within.' The internalization of God's `otherness' reached its climax with Hegel, the subject of Fackenheim's earlier work, The Religious Dimension in Hegel's Thought. This long-awaited companion to that volume examines the earlier stages of the process, beginning with its initiator, Kant, then considering Schelling in both his earlier and later phases, and finally, looking once more at Hegel. The investigation of this movement, together with the related themes of history and the literary arts, leads to reflection on the significance of taking historicity seriously. Included is the classic, much-cited article `Metaphysics and Historicity,' which connects the philosophy of German Idealists to twentieth-century questions of historicity and existential thought in particular. The previously unpublished essay `Schelling in 1800-1801: Art as Revelation,' provides an overview of philosophical history from Kant through Fichte and Schleiermacher, to the later Schelling.

    All the essays gathered here are concerned with the radical singularity of history and existence on the one hand and the demands of philosophical truth on the other. They are informed by Professor Fackenheim's engagement with the profound philosophical challenges of our day--particularly his efforts, as a Jewish theologian, to confront the horrors of the Holocaust. We see, through Fackenheim's exposition, how these thinkers sought to come to terms with the presence of radical evil, a problem whose modern relevance is explored in this volume's epilogue, the 1988 essay `Holocaust and Weltanschauung: Philosophical Reflections on Why They Did It.'

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8138-5
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiv)
    John Burbidge
  4. Author’s Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xvi)
    Emil L. Fackenheim
  5. Introduction
    (pp. xvii-2)

    In 1957-8 I held a Guggenheim fellowship. I still remember the trepidation that preceded my decision to apply; how, even after filling in the form, I postponed mailing my application until the last moment; how, late that last Saturday night, I drove to the main Toronto Post Office and sent it by special delivery, half hoping that it would get to New York by the Monday deadline, half hoping that it wouldn’t.

    It was not so much that, if given the fellowship, I would have to write a book – something I had not ventured before. Indeed, that was the least...

  6. 1 Kant’s Philosophy of Religion
    (pp. 3-19)

    Kant wrote extensively on the subject of religion. Although a child of the Age of Enlightenment and as such suspicious of, if not hostile to, all religious orthodoxies, he could not leave religion alone, whether ‘within the bounds of reason’ or even beyond it, touching on (if not actually dealing with) the Christian revelation. His threeCritiquesall end with religious questions, and one work –Religion within the Bounds of Reason Alone– deals with nothing else.

    Despite an air of deceptive obviousness, the religious issues in question, as dealt with by Kant, almost all raise complex questions for the interpreter....

  7. 2 Kant and Radical Evil
    (pp. 20-33)

    In the year 1792 Kant administered a shock to some of his admirers. He published in theBerlinische Monatsschriftan essay which bore the ominous titleOn the Radical Evil in Human Nature.The shock was repeated in the following year, when this essay was republished as the first and in many ways the crucial part of Kant’s long-awaited work in the philosophy of religion,Religion within the Bounds of Reason Alone.

    Kant’sFundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Moralshad appeared in 1785, and hisCritique of Practical Reasonin 1788. These two works had quickly fired the enthusiasm...

  8. 3 Kant’s Concept of History
    (pp. 34-49)

    Many expositors treat Kant’s philosophy of history; but few treat it seriously.¹ Many treat it, for it is popular and attractive; few treat it seriously, for it seems unconnected, and indeed incompatible with the main body of his thought.

    Kant views history as in necessary development toward rationality and freedom. It is a plot whose aim is the establishment of a perfect constitution, governing the relations of both individuals and nations. History aims at a social order which renders compatible the freedom of each with that of all; an order therefore which vouchsafes perpetual peace.

    Such a view is certainly...

  9. 4 Schelling in 1800–1801: Art as Revelation
    (pp. 50-74)

    Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling (1775–1854) has earned the title of an always-changing ‘Proteus’ in philosophy, perhaps the only philosopher ever to produce – depending on the periodization given his literary work by scholars – four, five, or even six philosophical systems in his lifetime. The Kantian philosophy inspired, with breath-taking speed, a succession of major philosophies: Fichte’s ethical idealism in 1794, Schleiermacher’s religious ‘higher realism’ in 1799, Schelling’s aesthetic ‘real-idealism’ in 1800, the whole process climaxing with Hegel’s absolute idealism. Schelling may be viewed as a veritable embodiment of that process, and in particular, of that speed. Like other people, philosophers...

  10. 5 Schelling’s Philosophy of the Literary Arts
    (pp. 75-91)

    In the summer of 1802 Schelling prepared his lectures on the philosophy of art, which he was to give in Jena in the academic year 1802–3. While in the midst of preparations, he asked A.W. Schlegel for the loan of a manuscript of his on art. ‘Your manuscript,’ he wrote, ‘would be of excellent service to me ... and spare me many investigations.’¹

    This letter is typical. Schelling borrowed freely, not only from A.W. Schlegel (who, incidentally, was glad to lend the manuscript), but also from such other masters as Friedrich Schlegel, Goethe, Schiller, and Winckelmann. Indeed, none of...

  11. 6 Schelling’s Philosophy of Religion
    (pp. 92-108)

    In 1841 the philosophical world of Berlin witnessed a remarkable event. The sixty-six-year-old Schelling emerged from decades of semiretirement, in order to destroy the philosophy which he himself had founded no less than forty years earlier. He came to overthrow die Hegelian philosophy of religion, which had grown from his own system of identity.

    For years extraordinary rumours had been current about the views Schelling supposedly held. Friends and foes alike had urged him to state them in print. But he had failed to do so. One work he had actually withdrawn from the hands of the publisher. Now that he...

  12. 7 Schelling’s Conception of Positive Philosophy
    (pp. 109-121)

    When Schelling died a hundred years ago (20 August 1854), his contemporaries’ opinion of him might be summarized as follows. A precocious thinker, Schelling made a great contribution to philosophy around the year 1800, when he was still in his twenties. But he lacked system and thoroughness, and his contribution was soon assimilated and superseded by the system of Hegel. Moreover, he lacked stability. While Hegel spent his whole life working out his system, Schelling changed his standpoint so often as to drive his interpreters to despair. Finally, at least from 1804 on (when Schelling was not yet thirty) these...

  13. 8 Metaphysics and Historicity
    (pp. 122-147)

    History is a predicament for man who must live in it. In order to act in history he must seek to rise above it. He needs perspectives in terms of which to understand his situation, and timeless truths and values in terms of which to act in it. Yet the perspectives which he finds often merely reflect his age; and what he accepts as timelessly true and valid is apt to be merely the opinion which is in fashion. Thus while man must always try to rise above his historical situation he succeeds at best only precariously.

    This predicament, always...

  14. 9 The Historicity and Transcendence of Philosophic Truth
    (pp. 148-163)

    The paper which follows is meant to be self-contained, and independently intelligible and defensible. But limitations of time forced me to write it very tightly, and to give only bare hints, both of the wider context into which its argument belongs, and of the use made of the history of philosophy. I have therefore thought it wise to add some introductory notes.

    (i) The paper is limited tophilosophictruth; the fact that ‘I am writing these words now' will not be true tomorrow does not come under scrutiny. This is enough to rule out any attempt to give a...

  15. 10 Hegel on the Actuality of the Rational and the Rationality of the Actual
    (pp. 164-171)

    In the preface to hisPhilosophy of RightHegel writes: ‘Was vernünftig ist, das ist wirklich; und was wirklich ist, das ist vernünftig’ – ‘What is rational is actual, and what is actual is rational.’¹ In paragraph 6 of the third edition of hisEncyclopedia of Philosophical Scienceshe repeats this statement verbatim, calling it ‘simple.’ Few interpreters, however, have ever found it so. Even friendly critics are baffled; hostile ones dismiss it as either scandalous or senseless. Two centuries after Hegel’s birth there is thus still room for a modest exposition of the meaning of this famous (or infamous) Hegelian...

  16. Epilogue: Holocaust and Weltanschauung: Philosophical Reflections on Why They Did It
    (pp. 172-186)

    I once asked Raul Hilberg the following question: ‘Raul, you have thought as long and hard as anyone about how they did it. Now tell me, why did they do it?’ Hilberg heaved a sigh and replied: ‘They did it because they wanted to do it.’

    I reported this incident at the 1985 meeting of the Eastern Division of the American Philosophical Association.¹ In the ensuing discussion someone substituted, ‘They did it because theydecidedto do it.’ This emendation, I believe, is acceptable to Hilberg, who is given neither to absolving people of responsibility for their decisions, nor to...

  17. Notes
    (pp. 187-239)
  18. Permissions and Acknowledgments
    (pp. 240-240)
  19. Index
    (pp. 241-252)