What is the essence of freedom

"Philosophical investigations into the nature of human freedom and the objects connected with it" by Schelling in comparison with Goethe's "Faust"

Table of Contents

1 Introduction

2. Schelling's philosophy on the essence of the human
Freedom and those related to it

3. Goethe's "Faust"

4. Conclusion

5. Bibliography
5.1. Primary literature
5.2. Secondary literature

1 Introduction

The philosophy! She tries to fathom and recognize the world. She is always looking for the truth. But it also tries to show us the way to a moral life. The literature! It also gives us wisdom and teaches us correct morals, especially tragedies. They show us how we behave morally, hold up a mirror to society and address grievances. They are trying to make us better people.

This work is devoted to Schelling's philosophy and work 'Philosophical investigations into the nature of human freedom and the objects connected with it'. At the same time she will examine the extent to which this philosophy can be found in the literature of Goethe's time. For this purpose, Goethe's drama 'Faust - the first part of the tragedy' should be considered, especially the character of Mephistopheles. Can Schelling's philosophy of good and evil be found in Goethe's Faust, more precisely in the figure of Mephistopheles? The scope of this work allows only a brief insight and cannot provide a complete interpretation of the piece, also related to other philosophical directions.

At the beginning of the work, Schelling's work is examined in terms of good and evil. Then the figure of Mephistopheles in Goethe's Faust is considered and compared with Schelling's statements, insofar as comparisons can be drawn.

This work is in the context of the work of Hermann Reske, who not only analyzes and interprets the Goethean drama, but also makes comparisons with the philosophy of Goethe's time[1]. Also worth mentioning is the work of Rüdiger Scholz, who deals with interpretations of Goethe's Faust and presents various interpretation models from the time the drama was written until today[2].

Let us now start with Schelling.

2. Schelling's philosophy on the nature of human freedom and the objects connected with it

In his work on human freedom, Schelling discusses the possibility and reality of evil. At the beginning the possibility of evil should be considered.

Human freedom is the ability to turn for good or for evil[3]. So the person himself has the choice of how his actions should take place. He can decide whether his actions lead to good or bad.

In God good and bad are an inseparable unity. If this were also the case with man, then man would no longer be man, but God. So in humans, good and evil are separable. Thus there would be the freedom to turn for good or for evil[4].

The separation of these two principles makes it possible for people to make decisions according to their own free will. If there were no choice, there would be no human freedom. After all, what should a person choose of his own free will if there is nothing to choose from?

According to Schelling, evil itself is related to an imbalance of inner forces: will, spirit, understanding or universal will, spirit and self-will. If self-will rises above universal will, an imbalance arises. In this disorder, evil can appear[5]. The will is directed solely towards the good. The mind makes evil possible[6]. It does not arise from the separation of the principles, but only from an imbalance, a disorder of these principles in people[7].

The mind is supposed to prevent the self-will from being related only to itself. The self-will should stand as a counterforce to the universal will and not concentrate exclusively on itself. If this were to happen, however, the power of the universal will would decrease until it disappears. This would mean that this imbalance would also destroy self-will[8]. This means that the living being that turns to evil also destroys itself. If an imbalance that has arisen is not corrected, it leads to the destruction of the individual.


[1] Reske, Hermann: Faust. An introduction. Stuttgart: Verlag W. Kohlhammer 1971.

[2] Scholz, Rüdiger: Goethe's “Faust” in the scientific interpretation of Schelling and Hegel to this day. An introductory research report. 4th edition. Rheinfelden: Schäuble Verlag 1985 (German and Comparative Literature Series).

[3] See Schelling, F.W.J .: Philosophical investigations into the nature of human freedom and the objects connected with it. Edited by Walter Schulz. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag 1975. p. 48.

[4] See ibid. P. 58.

[5] See ibid. P. 60.

[6] See ibid. P. 62.

[7] See ibid. P. 64f.

[8] Cf. Pieper, Annemarie: The root of evil in the self. In: F.W.J. Schelling. About the nature of human freedom. Edited by Otfried Höffe and Annemarie Pieper. Berlin: Akademie Verlag 1995 (interpret classics). P. 96.

End of the reading sample from 13 pages