Daniel Whistler

junior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2017/2018
discipline Philosophy
Senior Lecturer, University of Liverpool, Department of Philosophy

Research project

Cousin and Schelling: The History of a Controversy


My EURIAS Fellowship will be devoted to the preparation of a monograph charting the philosophical encounter between F.W.J. Schelling and Victor Cousin in 1833-5, including both its pre-history (Cousin’s growing appropriation of German Idealism during the late 1820s) and its fallout (the reactions of French and German readers). In his 1833 preface to Fragments philosophiques, Cousin defended himself against accusations that he had been too reliant on German Idealist sources; a year later, Schelling offered his own evaluation of Cousin’s debt to him (Vorrede zu einer philosophischen Schrift des Hrn. Cousin)—an evaluation that was translated twice into French in 1835 by Willm and then Ravaisson, leading to further comment by Cousin himself, as well as others in France (Ravaisson) and Germany (Wendt, Hinrichs). It was an influential controversy for French and German intellectual scenes in the early 1830s, and this Fellowship will trace in detail its genesis and legacy.


This will be the first Anglophone text on the controversy, and forms part of a larger project, undertaken in collaboration with researchers at Humboldt Universität Berlin and Köln Universität, on the reception of Hegel’s and Schelling’s philosophies in 19th-century French thought. During the Fellowship, I will edit and translate the primary texts—with particular reference to the disseminating role of the periodicals of the time (e.g. Revue des Deux Mondes, Revue Germanique, Producteur)—and compose a substantial interpretative commentary on them. I am particularly interested in the interrelation between German Idealism, French Catholicism and Romanticism at that period, and will focus especially on the theological stakes of Schelling and Cousin’s encounter.


The overarching research question therefore runs: What conceptual and historical contributions did the controversy between Schelling and Cousin in the early 1830s make to philosophical and theological thinking at the period?


This question will be broken down into three sub-investigations: (i) the points of disagreement between Cousin and Schelling as expressed in Cousin’ prefaces to his Fragments philosophiques and Schelling’s Vorrede zu einer philosophischen Schrift des Hrn. Cousin; (ii) the role of periodicals, such as Revue des Deux Mondes and Revue Germanique, in disseminating Schelling’s philosophy to a French audience; (iii) the impact of the controversy on French and German philosophy and theology in the 1830s, particularly on Cousin’s own thinking (with a focus on his philosophy of religion).


The overall aim of the project is, therefore, to provide translations and interpretative commentaries corresponding to these sub-investigations, in order to form a substantive English-language monograph on the topic. It will thereby benefit researchers across Europe working on nineteenth-century thought generally (especially those working on religious themes and Romanticism), German Idealism and its philosophical and theological legacies, as well as the pre-history of twentieth-century French thought.







Daniel John Whistler is Senior Lecturer at the Department of Philosophy at the University of Liverpool. He holds a Ph.D in Philosophical Theology from Worcester College, University of Oxford. His main research interests are German idealism and Hemsterhuis, Schellingian Naturphilosophie, and continental philosophy of religion.




Selected publications


The Edinburgh Critical History of Nineteenth-Century Theology, (ed.), Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, 2017. 


'Anachronism in Recent Moral Philosophy', Philosophy and Rhetoric, vol. 50, no. 3, 2017, pp. 247-271.


On the Feminist Philosophy of Gillian Howie: Materialism and Mortality, with V. Browne (eds), Bloomsbury, London, 2016.

The Right to Wear Religious Symbols, with D.J. Hill, Palgrave-Macmillan, Basingstoke, 2013. 

Schelling’s Theory of Symbolic Language: Forming the System of Identity, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2013.





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