Thursday, February 25, 2016

The "Oriental Idea": Feuerbach and Schelling

I'm part of a Feuerbach reading group, and I'm attempting to give his work more time than I did when I read The Essence of Christianity. I've only gotten as far as the first paragraph of Feuerbach's "Towards a Critique of Hegel" and I'm struck by an undercurrent of ambivalent orientalism that reminds me of a passage from Schelling's Philosophy of Art (University of Minnesota Press, 1989). Presented, without further ado, as a kind of call-and-response:

By German speculative philosophy, I mean that philosophy which dominates the present—the philosophy of Hegel. As far as Schelling’s philosophy is concerned, it was really an exotic growth—the ancient oriental idea of identity on Germanic soil. (The Fiery Brook, Verso, 2012, p. 53).
From Pythagoras onward, and even further back, down to Plato, philosophy perceived itself as an exotic plant in Greek soil, and this feeling expressed itself among other places in the universal impulse leading those initiated into higher teachings—either through the wisdom of earlier philosophers or through the mysteries—back to the birthplace of the ideas, namely, the Orient. (4-5)