The Perfection of Freedom: Schiller, Schelling, and Hegel between the Ancients and the Moderns

By D.C. Schindler

An analysis of the concept of freedom in the thought of three German philosophers, revealing insights that challenge modern conventions.

ISBN: 9780227176436


The Perfection of Freedom seeks to respond to the impoverished conventional notion of freedom through a recovery of an understanding rich with possibilities yet all but forgotten in contemporary thought. This understanding, developed in different but complementary ways by the German thinkers Schiller, Schelling, and Hegel, connects freedom, not exclusively with power and possibility, but rather, most fundamentally, with completion, wholeness, and actuality. What is unique here is specifically the interpretation of freedom in terms of form, whether it be aesthetic form (Schiller), organic form (Schelling), or social form (Hegel). Although this book presents serious criticisms of the three philosophers, it shows that they open new avenues for reflection on the notion of freedom; avenues that promise to overcome many of the dichotomies that continue to haunt contemporary thought – for example, between freedom and order, freedom and nature, and self and other. The Perfection of Freedom offers not only a significantly new interpretation of Schiller, Schelling, and Hegel, but also proposes a modernity more organically rooted in the ancient and classical Christian worlds.

Additional information

Dimensions 229 × 153 mm
Pages 440

Trade Information JPOD

About the Author

D.C. Schindler is Associate Professor of Philosophy in the Department of Humanities at Villanova University. He is the author of Hans Urs von Balthasar and the Dramatic Structure of Truth (2004) and Plato’s Critique of Impure Reason (2008).


Introduction: On the German Contribution: Giving Form to Freedom

1. Friedrich Schiller’s Dramatic Philosophy: Freedom in Form
2. An Aesthetics of Freedom: Schiller and the Living Gestalt
3. The Dark Roots of Life: Organic Form as a Symbol of Freedom in Schelling’s Naturphilosophie
4. From Organism to Incarnation: The Fall and Redemption of Finite Form in Schelling’s Late Philosophy
5. Freedom as the Concrete Form of Reason in Hegel’s Philosophy of Right
6. “The ‘I’ That Is ‘We’ and the ‘We’ That Is ‘I'”: On the Sociality of Freedom in Hegel and Its Excesses
7. A Dramatic Conclusion: Opening Up Actual Possibility



Endorsements and Reviews

David Schindler has written a profound book on freedom. Through his penetrating analysis of Schiller, Schelling, and Hegel, he offers us nothing less than an alternative to the modern notion of freedom as freedom of choice. … The Perfection of Freedom wears its erudition lightly in a compelling display of philosophical thinking and revisioning that will take us beyond modernity by going through it.
Cyril O’Regan, University of Notre Dame

This is a work marked by impressive scholarship and steady, lucid thoughtfulness about the nature of freedom as perfection. … Schindler looks to some of the great thinkers of classical German philosophy: Schiller, Schelling, and Hegel in particular. The result is a very engaging and illuminating defence of a richer notion of freedom. The scholarship is impressively informed on the historical side, matched on the systematic side with sustained insight into the issues at stake.
William Desmond, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven