Schelling, Iain Hamilton Grant and Differential Nature(s) 2.0


Heuser correctly noted:

“Schelling correctly noted that a universal theory of self-organization may not presuppose objects, but that they must first be constructed from the non-objective.”

The dynamic system is therefore according to Schelling short of accepting the primacy of the ‘originary being’ and also the primary body which would help the others derived from it and hence, to overcome this problem and to conflate all the problems of naturephilosophie like the ontology of nature or the phenomenality in nature or the self-articulation in nature’s ideation, or nature transcendental with respect to its products, but immanent with respect to its forces, Schelling proposes the identity of the transcendental and the dynamic. Grant’s surprising move in this reading is to pit Schelling against Plato. Grant looks up to a commentary by Schelling on Timaeus as his point of reference. The centrality of the text lies in the fact of matter in movement as alongside the primal basal matter, thus indicating a separate world soul. This also connotes the understanding of, what evolves out from the earth as a result of morphogenesis, the derivatives due to earth’s own magnetic forces. With this, it becomes very difficult to rehabilitate the two-world theory of Plato, as morphogenesis takes strong hold. Grant reminds us of the peculiarity in Schelling’s commentary of Timaeus by highlighting the latter’s strong insistence on nature as a generative machine. If we were to go by the Platonic conception of the ‘World Soul’ as underlined in the Timaeus, as the being which always remains the same and is ever indivisible and the being known for its transitory-ness and divisibility, then once again, we get ensconced in the Schellingian differentiation of ‘materiality’ and ‘corporeality’. To get out of this dual arresting, Schelling takes recourse to Kielmeyer once again by basing his arguments on the notion of time in order to resolve the problems concerning nature’s primitives.  His prioritizing time helps him transcend the divisible-indivisible dichotomy conceived by space, as is the general case in reading the Platonic text in question. This would still indicate the ‘lesser’ timescale as proving to be no measure for the ‘greater’ transformations undergone by nature as far as accessibility to phenomenality is concerned. The way to negotiate this dilemma is to support the forces of nature as primary to the body as against secondary to finally displace the Kantian metaphysical foundation of the physical forces as spatial with the ‘now’ physical forces as temporal, thus calling for epoch breaking constructions of ‘becoming’. 

Schelling is prone to be misrepresented here, but as Grant makes a strong defense of his by showing that for the former, phenomenality is not illusion, but a natural production, having its a prioris not in mind, but in nature and further explicating on why for Schelling naturephilosophie isn’t advocating the elimination of empirical research for investigating nature, but the integration of such research at the phenomenal level, thereby extending empiricism to the unconditioned rather than thinking it as a limiting case. Even if not taken literally, the Platonic idea of development when arrested is evident here. To stick on to the Platonic idea of the ‘World Soul’, Schelling calls it the primary diversifying antithesis of nature, because it is not just being body, it is matter, the darkest of all things, the generator of phenomenality. This sequence in nature is derived by combining the particular phenomena by the what generates it and further going on to prove that no phenomena can enjoy the absolute status, but is always produced by the many becomings (could also be looked at as infinite becomings). If this is the way operations are carried out, the specificity of individuals could only approach approximations with the inherent disappearance of forces and matter being acted upon by these forces. 

The commonsensical problem to the above dynamics would be: How the germ of an infinite revolution, the germ of infinite decompositions into ever new products, was placed in the Universe? Schelling comes with a couple of solutions to answer this problem, the first of which, deals with the prioritizing of the problem of antithesis over the specificities in differences in matter. For him, the problem of antithesis is possible only between things of one kind and having a common origin, as, only when this is so, the inert homogeneity could trigger infinite decompositions. These infinite decompositions in turn suggest the infinite divisibility of matter and hence unending becomings. The second solution considers nature as a priori without giving any kind of necessity to the series of decompositions, as these series are never exhaustive. As these series are never exhaustive, a couple of consequences are derived from this infinity of series. The first being naturephilosophie neither prescribing nor proscribing empirical sciences thus highlighting for Schelling the presentation of the infinite in the finite as the highest problem of science. Secondly, as matter is always presenting itself as not an individual body, but as a series of bodies, nature is therefore always demonstrated as infinite self-decomposition. Such an analysis could only mean for Schelling the coincidence of self-recapitulating nature with intuition, as the series progresses through the potentialities of matter thereby possibilizing humans as idealist not just in the eyes of the philosophers, but in the eyes of nature as well. In short, as long as science constructs its own models to understand nature, the understanding that science possess of nature is nothing but of ossification and when nature itself is self-capable of breaking away from any sort of objectification, it not only shuns away the understanding that science has given it due to its own constructions, but also breaks away from any kind of human manipulations whatsoever. 


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