D. Anthony Storm's Commentary on Kierkegaard

First Period: Works of Youth (1834-42)

Notes On Schelling's Berlin Lectures

  • Notes on Schelling's Berlin Lectures
  • 1841-42, published posthumously
  • KW2, SKS13, Søren Kierkegaards Papirer

Kierkegaard spent almost his entire life in Copenhagen, leaving once on a pilgrimage to his father's birthplace, and four times to go to Berlin. He greatly anticipated the Berlin lectures of Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling (1775-1854). He was overjoyed at Schelling's assault on the then very influential Hegelianism. Kierkegaard himself opposed it throughout his corpus. His later attack on the church focused in part on countering H. L. Martensen's entrenched Hegelian theology. Of the lectures Kierkegaard said,

The embryonic child of thought leapt for joy within me, as in Elizabeth, when he mentioned the word "actuality" in connection with the relation of philosophy to actuality. I remember almost every word he said after that (from the Journals). The pure science of reason is, then, only negative, has nothing to do with existence. But existence can also be the object of science. For example, a revelation that always presupposes a God who is, would also belong to this. This science of reason is complete only when it is made to the point of knowing itself as negative, but this is impossible without having the positive outside itself at least as possibility. But if the positive does not come quickly, the negative easily becomes obscured, and the logical is taken away for actual (p. 344).

Later, in stark contrast, he lost excitement, finding the material to be of little worth. But one cannot doubt that this anti-Hegelianism bolstered his own position.

Schelling talks endless nonsense both in an extensive and an intensive sense. I am leaving Berlin and hastening to Copenhagen, but not, you understand, to be bound by a new tie, oh no, for now I feel more strongly than ever that I need my freedom.... I do owe Schelling something. For I have learned that I enjoy traveling... (Letter 69, p.239).