F.W.J. Schelling’s Ages of the World has just begun to receive the critical attention it deserves as a contribution to the philosophy of history. Its most significant philosophical move is to pose the question of the origin of the past itself, asking what “caused” the past. Schelling treats the past not as a past present (something that used to be a ’now’ but no longer is) — but rather as an eternal past, a different dimension of time altogether, and one that was never a present ’now’. For Schelling, the past functions as the transcendental ground of the present, the true ’a priori’. Schelling’s account of the creation of this past takes the form of a theogeny: in order to exist, God needed to separate the past from the present. By grounding the creation of the past in a free decision of God, Schelling tries to conceptualize temporality so as to preserve the sort of radical contingency and authentic freedom that he considers essential features of history. In so doing, he opens up a way of viewing time that avoids the pitfalls of the Hegelian dialectic and anticipates some of the 20th century developments in phenomenology.
Early German Romanticism has long been acknowledged as a major literary movement, but only recently have scholars appreciated its philosophical significance as well. This collection of original essays showcases not only the philosophical achievements of early German Romantic writers such as Friedrich Schlegel and Novalis, but also the sophistication, contemporary relevance, and wide-ranging influence of their philosophical contributions. This volume will be of interest both to students looking for an introduction to romanticism as well as to scholars seeking to discover new facets of the movement – a romantic perspective on topics ranging from mathematics to mythology, from nature to literature and language. This volume bears testimony to the enduring and persistent modernity of early German Romantic philosophy.