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By Wolfgang Wieland

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Thus in everything which is real there are always two decisively different aspects to be distinguished: “what a being is, quid sit, and that it is, quod sit. ”The “other insight however, that it is, does not accord me just the concept, but rather something that goes beyond just the concept, which is existence [Existenz]” (II/3, 58). Translator’s Introduction 29 This later insight into the quod sit is what Schelling considers to be a true cognition, in which there is positive knowledge of what is transcendent to, and thus more than, the concept, namely existence.

Reason follows this desire in wanting to move beyond its initial and immediate content of an inchoate intermingling of being and nonbeing. Reason does so, however, only as a desiring will, that, due to its ambiguous content, does not know precisely what it wants. Schelling presents this volatile initial mixture of being and nonbeing as the “amphibole” of reason’s “infinite capacity to be” [unendliche Seynkönnen]. In this prius, in this potency, we encounter his attempt to articulate the inherently ambiguous dynamic of reason’s immediate content that drives the disorderly beginning of thought’s movement.

As parasite to host body, determinate negation requires the real and actual opposition of a positive object; an opposition which requires affirmation not merely as its initial condition, but also as the irreducible other of negation. This other provides the disjunctive friction that sustains the neverending process of predication. However, according to Kant, reason, and thus philosophy, is incapable of providing what he himself acknowledges is the very condition of all predication, namely, the positive object of such predication.

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