Hymns to the Night: On H. S. Harris's “The Cows in the Dark Night”

Document Type




Format of Original

9 p.

Publication Date

Winter 1987


Cambridge University Press

Source Publication

Dialogue: Canadian Philosophical Review

Source ISSN


Original Item ID

doi: 10.1017/S0012217300018229


As one of the bare handful of scholars working on Schelling, I should heartily like to accept Professor Harris's argument, for all these black cows hang around one's neck more heavily than did the albatross on the ancient mariner's. I find myself obliged, however, to closely test his argument. I regret that, viewed in the context of the whole of the Phenomenology's Preface, Harris's argument is not fully convincing. I shall argue that, since the Preface's plain intent is to contrast the vitalism of a method of thought that is spirit's coming into its own with all styles of fixated propositional thinking, the “formalism” Hegel attacks is a loose aggregate of the philosophical styles of Fichte, Schelling, Reinhold and Bardili. Hegel is content to leave the label loose and unspecified and not to name names. It is not strictly fair to let the scope of the term resonate upon Schelling's “first scientific grasp of the idea”, at least not for an author who knew Schelling's work so well. But as Harris points out, it is not fair to Hegel for his public to read him with the sole, simplistic question of what positions he supports and what positions he rejects.


Dialogue: Canadian Philosophical Review, Vol. 26, No. 4 (Winter 1987): 645-652. DOI.