The Metaphysics of German IdealismA New Interpretation of Schelling's Philosophical Investigations into the Essence of Human Freedom and Matters
The Metaphysics of German Idealism
A New Interpretation of Schelling's Philosophical Investigations into the Essence of Human Freedom and Matters
Translated by Ian Alexander Moore, Rodrigo Therezo

This volume comprises the lecture course that Heidegger gave in 1941 on the metaphysics of German Idealism. The first part of the lecture course contains a preliminary consideration of the distinction between ground and existence. The elucidation of the conceptual history includes a striking confrontation with Kierkegaard’s and Jaspers’ concepts of existence, as well as an elucidation of the concept of existence in <i>Being and Time</i>, which Heidegger distinguishes from the former concepts. Heidegger’s self-interpretation is not an end in itself, however, but rather a way of pointing to Schelling’s distinction between ground and existence, whose root and inner necessity and whose various versions Heidegger discusses subsequently.

The second part of the lecture course is focused on Schelling’s “freedom treatise,” which Heidegger regards as the pinnacle of the metaphysics of German Idealism.  Heidegger’s consideration of Schelling’s distinction between ground and existence finds its guiding thread in the introduction of the realms of being – eternal or finite, each being is a joining of the ground of existence and existence itself.  In a subsequent overview, Heidegger discusses the relation of the distinction between ground and existence to the essence of human freedom and to the essence of the human. On the basis of this discussion, it becomes possible to grasp the connection between freedom and evil in Schelling’s system.

This important work by Heidegger, published here in English for the first time, will be of great interest to students and scholars of philosophy and to anyone interested in Heidegger’s work.

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  • October 2021
  • 180 pages
  • 152 x 229 mm / 6 x 9 in
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Table of Contents
Translators’ Introduction



§ 1. Schelling’s Treatise as the Peak of the Metaphysics of German Idealism

§ 2. Historical Thinking, Historiographic Explanation, Systematic Reflection

§ 3. Elucidations of the Title of the Treatise

§ 4. The Organization of the Treatise

§ 5. Brief Excursus on a Further Misgiving (the Historiographic – the Current – That Which Has Been)



§ 6. The Core Section of the Treatise: The Distinction between Essence Insofar as It Exists and Essence Insofar as it Is Merely Ground of Existence

§ 7. The Organization of the Preliminary Reflection

First Chapter

The Conceptual-Historical Elucidation of Ground and Existence

§ 8. Essentia and Existentia

§ 9. “Existence” and “Philosophy of Existence” (K. Jaspers)

§ 10. Kierkegaard’s Concept of Existence

§ 11. Kierkegaard, “Philosophy of Existence,” and Being and Time (1927)

a)    What Occasion Is There for Classifying Being and Time as “Philosophy of Existence”?

 ) Analytic of Existence

 ) Existence – As Understood in the Sense of Kierkegaard’s Restriction of It

 ) Philosophy of Anxiety, of the Nothing, of Death, of Care . . .

 ) Philosophical Anthropology

b)    Rejection of the Classification of Being and Time as Philosophy of Existence by Way of an Elucidation of the Concepts of Existence and Da-sein (Elucidations of Being and Time)

 ) Existence and Dasein as Meaning “Actuality in General” (As Understood in Traditional Usage of Language)

 ) Dasein as the Bodily-Psychic-Rational Being-Actual of the Human, and Existence as the Subjectivity of Self-Being (Jaspers)

 ) “Existentiell” and “Existential” Concepts of Existence

 ) “Understanding of Being” as the Decisive Determination of Dasein and Existence in Being and Time

 ) Dasein, Temporality, and Time

 ) Temporality, Da-sein, Existence

 ) Anxiety, Death, Guilt, the Nothing within the Realm of Questioning in Being and Time

 ) The “Essence” of Da-sein

 ) Understanding of Being, and Being

 ) Being and the Human – Anthropomorphism

§ 12. Preliminary Interpretation of Schelling’s Concept of Existence

§ 13. The Inceptive Impetuses Determining the Essence of Ground and Their Historical Transformation

Second Chapter

The Root of Schelling’s Distinction between Ground and Existence

§ 14. Elucidation of the Essential Determination of Being as Willing

a)    The Essential Predicates of Being

 ) Ground-lessness

 ) Eternity

 ) Independence from Time

 ) Self-Affirmation

b)    Justification of the Predicates of Being

c)    In What Way Willing Is Sufficient for the Predicates of Being

d)    Being in Its Highest and Ultimate Jurisdiction

§ 15. Being as Willing as the Root of the Distinction between Ground and Existence

Third Chapter

The Inner Necessity of Schelling’s Distinction between Ground and Existence

Fourth Chapter

The Various Formulations of Schelling’s Distinction between Ground and Existence

§ 16. The Proper Aim of the Interpretation of the Freedom Treatise: Reaching the Fundamental Position of the Metaphysics of German Idealism. Evil and the System

§ 17. Transition from the Preliminary Reflection to the Interpretation of the Core Section of the Treatise and of the Latter Itself



§ 18. The “Elucidation of the Distinction” as the Presentation of Beings as a Whole (God, World, Human)

First Chapter

The Reflection that Takes God as a Starting Point

§ 19. The Direct Elucidation: The Presentation of the Being of Beings “in” God. Philosophy as Unconditional Knowledge of the Absolute in Contrast to Theology and Mathematics. The Various Senses of the Word “Nature”

a)    Philosophy and Theology

b)    Philosophy and Mathematics

c)    The Concept of the Absolute in Schelling and Hegel

§ 20. The Analogical Elucidation: Presentation of the Correspondence Between the Stations of the Being of the Absolute

§ 21. The Circularity of the Distinction Between Ground and Existence

§ 22. Summary of What Was Said about the Distinction in God

§ 23. Excursus: The Unconditional Precedence of the Certainty (That Is to Say, Concurrently: the Beingness) of the Absolute

Second Chapter

The Reflection that Takes its Point of Departure from Things

§ 24. The Ground in God as “Originary Yearning”

§ 25. Creation as Formation through the Imagination; the Creature as “Image”

Third Chapter

The Reflection that Takes its Point of Departure from the Human

§ 26. The Necessity of Creation and the Essence of the Human as the Proper Creature in which God Himself Reveals Himself

§ 27. Human Will as “Divine Glimpse of Life” and “Seed of God”



§ 28 The “Distinction” and the Essence of Freedom and of Human Freedom in Particular

§ 29 The “Distinction” in its Full Essence

§ 30. The “Distinction” and the Essence of the Human

§ 31. The Essence of Evil

§ 32. Evil and the System

§ 33. The System and the Truth (Certainty) of Beings as a Whole

§ 34. What Confrontation Means with Respect to Metaphysics


Recapitulation of 14 January

Recapitulation of 21 January

Recapitulation of 28 January

Recapitulation of 4 February

Recapitulation of 11 February

Recapitulation of 18 February

Recapitulation of 25 February

Recapitulation of 4 March

Recapitulation of 11 March


Preliminary Glimpses and Directives

Transitional Reflection on Hegel

The Confrontation with the Metaphysics of German Idealism and with Metaphysics in General

Supplement (Leibniz)

German–English Glossary

English–German Glossary

Greek/Latin–English Lexicon
About the Author
Martin Heidegger (1889–1976) was one of the most influential philosophers of the twentieth century and the author of numerous works including Being and Time.
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“Unlike the course he offered on the same subject five years earlier, Heidegger’s 1941 lectures on Schelling’s ‘freedom treatise’ demonstrate his decisive break from ‘metaphysics,’ including German idealism, and allow us to see more clearly the radical reorientation of his later thought. No less fascinating is the large portion of the present volume devoted to an interpretation of Kierkegaard’s concept of existence and its relation to the (so-called) ‘existentialism’ of Being and Time. This excellent translation is a must-read for students and scholars alike.”
Taylor Carman, Barnard College

“Heidegger’s lecture course from 1941 not only attempts a new interpretation of Schelling’s essay on the essence of human freedom, extending his 1936 treatment of that same text, but contains a wealth of material on Heidegger’s ongoing reflections on the history of metaphysics and an important series of elucidations of Being and Time. This careful and sensitive translation will not only be of great interest to scholars of German Idealism, but is essential reading for anyone following Heidegger’s own philosophical development.”
William McNeill, DePaul University

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