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Interpretation of the First Discussions in Schelling's Treatise

alone replacing, the principle of all knowledge in general with his grammatical criteria of knowledge. The highest principle of knowledge is tois homoiois ta homoia gignoskesthai. Like is known (only) by like. Now if the object of knowledge in philosophy is beings as a whole, and thus the ground of beings, to theion, the philosopher as he who knows must stand in what is similar to that which he knows: to en heautii theii ton ektos katalambanein, "to comprehend the god outside hims elf with the god within himself." Knowledge with such a "principle," in short, " such knowledge," viewed fr om the perspective of the grammarian and measured with the criteria of the idiotes, the unknowing, is "boasting and arrogance."

Like everyone who becomes rigid in his own field, the grammarian is blind in a double sense. First of a ll, he is completely unable to understand the general pri nciple of knowledge (like by like) with his criteria. Second, and in consequence, he is also unable to understand why another kind of knowledge than his can, yes, must, have a transformed principle. Physicists often carelessly say so mething like "What art historians do is a nice game, but not 'science.' " Conversely, he who has to do with poetic works and the writings of peoples thinks "What physicists and chemists do is really only the production of airplanes and hydrogen bombs, but not essential knowledge." Neither understands the other because neither is capable of coming to one original foundation with the other where they understand the manner and necessity of the transformation of their own principle in terms of the fundamental principle. Neither understands the other in terms of his principle because neither is in any way capable of knowing what a principle is. Schelling does not pursue the history of the principle further and only quotes what Sexus says. The latter, too, refers finally to Empedocles from whom he quotes the following verse (Diels Frg. 109):


gaiei men gar gaian opopamen, hudati d 'hudor,
aitkeri d 'aithera dion, alar puri pur aidelon,
storgen de slorgei, neikos de te neikei lugroi


For by earth we see earth, but by water water,
By air, however, divine air, by fire finally destructive fire,
But love by love, strife, however, by miserable strife.


Here one remembers at the same time the Platonic-Plotinian: Ou gar an popote eiden ophthalmos helion, helioeides me gegenemenos. "For the eye could not see the sun if if were not itself 'sun-like!'" In the introduction to his Farbenlehre ( 810), Goethe reminds us explicitly of the old principle of knowledge and puts it into the familiar verse:


"If the eye were not sun-like
How could we look at light?


Martin Heidegger (GA 42) Schelling's Treatise on the Essence of Human Freedom