Schelling's Treatise on the Essence of Human Freedom

regarded in and for itself, which we must view clearly, although it was long ago submerged by the higher principle which had risen from it, and although we cannot grasp it perceptively but only spiritually, that is, with our thoughts. (PP. 33-34)

Now a part follows that does not belong directly to the train of thought and in any case is considerably disturbing if what is essential has not already been grasped. We shall leave this part (p. 34), " Following the eternal act of self-revelation . . grow clear thoughts" (p. 35), aside for now and take up the end of the main train of thought with the following sentence: "We must imagine the primal longing in this way—turning towards the understanding, indeed, though not yet recognizing it, just as we longingly desire unknown, nameless excellence. This primal longing moves in anticipation like a surging, billowing sea, similar to the 'matter' of Plato, following some dark, uncertain law, incapable in itself of forming anything that can endure."

The task of this part is the characterization of the nature of the ground in God as "longing." We have already shown how in general positing of the jointure of Being in God takes His nature away from the misinterpretation of this being in the sense of some gigantic, objectively present thing. The nature of being God is a becoming. By going back to the ground of this becoming, Schelling means something which is in God as that which is determined both by ground and existence in an equally primordial way. Schelling's presentation gives the appearance that God exists first only as ground. But God is always that which is determined by ground and existence, the " primal being" which as such is its nature—before any ground and before any existence, thus before any duality at all. Schelling calls it (p. 87) the "primal ground or, rather, the groundless" "absolute indifference," about which no difference, not even the jointure of Being, can be really predicated adequately. The sole predicate of the Absolute is the "lack of predicates," which still does not turn the Absolute into nothing.

But as soon as we speak of the ground in God, we do not, however, mean a "piece" of God to which the existing God belongs as the producer and counterpart. Rather, God's being a ground is a way of the eternal becoming of God as a whole. And this becoming does not have its beginning in the ground, but just as primordially in existing, that is, it is a becoming without beginning. But because the nature of being God is this becoming, the being of things can only also be understood as becoming, since nothing which is can be thought as being absolutely outside of God.

The treatise begins by explicitly pointing out that the "nature" of things is to be understood as becoming. This anticipates that whose possibility is to be shown. But with this, the concept of thing changes, too. The thinghood of things consists in revealing the nature of God. To be a thing means to present God's Being, which is an eternal becoming, itself as a becoming. Things refer through themselves to primordial Being. And this referring-through-themselves is not an act which they