“So long as I myself am identical with Nature, I understand what a living nature is as well as I understand my own life…As soon, however, as I separate myself, and with me everything ideal from nature, nothing remains to me but a dead object, and I cease to comprehend how a life outside me can be possible.” —Schelling
Boom! I am loving this quote from process philosopher, Friedrich Schelling’s book Ideas for Philosophy of Nature. Schelling is commonly categorized a German Idealist although he was much more than this; he was also an immediate predecessor of Kant and a contemporary of Hegel and most likely influenced both.
Schelling, above, is talking about how easy it can be to turn off or silence our intuition. Kant famously put limits on how much of the world we can know ‘in and of itself,’ and Schelling reminds us that as long as we are human then we indeed know something about Nature because — newsflash! — we are a part of it. Whitehead also gets at this with his doctrine of internal relations. Humans are not completely isolated from each other and from other creatures, plants and inanimate things, although our big brains’ easily deceive us and we end up believing this sort of thing.
On the contrary, it is quite possible to actually know how someone is feeling, for example, because past and future influences from other individuals enter into our own experiences which, in turn, help to constitute us. Likewise, the same is true for us: our past and future experiences enter into the experiences of others which help to constitute them. Our experiences are different only in degree not kind, and Nature is full of experience.
Images above by Tim Knowles and the Trees, who he worked with to create some pretty fantastic art.