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Interpretation of the Main Part of Schelling's Treatise

thing will immediately seem to be arbitrary and lacking conviction. However, we must remember that neither God nor the totality of the world are "things" in the usual sense. We can never bring this being before us like individual "cases" by which we "demonstrate" a sickness or like individual "examples" of birds by which we can empirically illustrate the generic concept "birds." The "interpretation" of the distinction of "ground and existence" with regard to God and creatures must have a different character. Schelling's method is not as arbitrary as it seems at first. He clearly knows about his point of departure and his way. To what extent these are justified and how one can decide about this justification in general is another question.

Schelling begins by showing this distinction of ground and existence in God. Showing means here at the same time illuminating the sense in which it is meant. And this sense points toward the way in which what-is (God) is to be presented to knowledge. Schelling reminds us of a common definition of God's nature as causa sui, cause of himself as existing, as ground of his existence. Thus, so it seems-the distinction is shown to be something common. But, says Schelling, ground is meant here only as a concept. Whoever speaks this way does not try at all to determine the factual nature of what they call ground. They completely neglect to say how this ground is ground. We can say that the kind of grounding remains indefinite. Taken in a quite empty sense, ground only means the whence of God's existence and this whence, says the opinion of that definition of the whence, is precisely God himself. Schelling, however, wants to accomplish precisely this: to bring to a conceptual formulation how God comes to himself, how God-not as a concept thought, but as the life of life—comes to himself. Thus a becoming God! Correct. If God is the existent being, then the most difficult and greatest becoming must be in Him and this becoming must have the most extreme scope between his whence and his whither. But at the same time, it is true that this whence of God, and also the whither, can again only be in God and as God himself: Being! But the determination of beings in the sense of the presence of something objectively present is no longer adequate at all to conceive this Being. Thus "existence" is understood beforehand as "emergence-from-self' revealing oneself and in becoming revealed to oneself coming to oneself, and because of this occurrence "being" with itself and thus in itself, "being" itself. God as existence, that is, the existing god is this god who is in himself historical. For Schelling, existence always means a being insofar as it is aware of itself (bei sich selbst). Only that, however, can be aware of itself which has gone out of itself and in a certain way is always outside of itself. Only what has gone out of itself and what takes upon itself being outside of itself and is thus a being aware of itself has, so to speak, "absolved" the inner history of its Being and is accordingly "absolute." God as the existing one is the absolute God, or God as he himself—in brief: God-himself. God considered as the ground of his existence " is" not yet God truly as he himself. But, still, God "is" his ground. It is true that the ground is something distinguished


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