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Walter de Gruyter

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Human Affairs: Post Disciplinary Humanities & Social Sciences Quarterly

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DOI: 10.1515/humaff-2023-0065


Schelling’s unfinished novella/dialog from the early years of his turn to philosophy of spirit presents arguments for personal immortality, but in a narrative form. Characters that represent nature and mind try to rescue the usually equanimous Clara from psychological crisis occasioned by her husband’s death and consequent intellectual perplexities about personal survival. Their arguments illustrate Schelling’s reformulated Spinozistic metaphysics: expressivism. On this theory, a Wesenheit or creative essence manifests in both physical and psychic dimensions but is itself nothing other than the connection between the two. Clara, doctor, and pastor symbolize these three functions while their personae fashion arguments that psychic and somatic phenomena can never be separated, hence that death must signify a transformation into a more spiritual psychosomatic mode of being. The arguments are problematic at best, but the narrative invokes Romantic tropes such as the limits of conceptual language, the possibility of a natural style of communicating philosophy, and reference to then contemporary ‘empirical’ phenomena such as clairvoyance and hypnotic sleep. The unfinished character of the piece reinforces the impression of ineluctability of the self, which seems to exist only in diaspora as nostalgia or anticipation.


Accepted version. Human Affairs: Post Disciplinary Humanities & Social Sciences Quarterly, Vol. 33, No. 4 (2023): 439-449. DOI. © 2023 Walter de Gruyter. Used with permission.

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