Volume 34, Issue 1, Spring 2004
The “Individual Universal”
The Socio-Political Meaning of the Work of Art In Schelling
This article explores Schelling’s view concerning the eventual reconciliation of modern individuality and society. It is argued that in Schelling’s speculations on this subject, aesthetic models play a prominent role: on the level of society by expressing the need for a new mythology; on the level of the individual by formulating a normative ideal in which the individual is modelled after the work of art
and its creator: the artistic genius. This normative view on modern individuality is quite ambivalent. It summons the individual to abandon its individuality and to have it determined by universality. But, since Schelling wants the individual to be a real individuality, his position comes down to the quest for an “individual universal.” Relying on a close-reading of Schelling’s System des transzendentalen
Idealismus, the Philosophie der Kunst, and the Stuttgarter Privatvorlesungen, the paradigm of this extraordinary position is shown to be the work of art.