Central College News

Central College Professor of Philosophy Publishes Book

Featured: Central College Professor of Philosophy Publishes Book

June 7, 2023

Mark Thomas, associate professor of philosophy at Central College, published a book, “Freedom and Ground: A Study of Schelling’s Treatise on Freedom,” with SUNY Press.

The book is a new interpretation of German philosopher F.W.J. Schelling and his 1809 treatise on human freedom. This is Thomas’ first book.

“Schelling’s treatise is a classic text in the movement known as German Idealism,” says Thomas, who has worked at Central since 2015. “It’s also one of the most difficult works in the history of philosophy. My book shows the significance of Schelling’s ideas about freedom, evil and the nature of God, while also providing clear explanations of the text’s meaning.”

“My approach to the treatise focuses on the word ‘ground’ (‘Grund’ in German), which occurs at key moments in the text — most prominently in discussions of the ground of God’s existence,” Thomas says. “The word is fairly common in German philosophy and its usual meaning is roughly ‘reason why.’ I show how reconceiving the meaning of ground allows Schelling to incorporate seemingly irrational phenomena — like freedom and evil — into a rational system.”

Thomas gave an interview for a blog of the American Philosophical Association, which provides in-depth reasons for Thomas’ decision to write a book on Schelling.

“I would be delighted if my book got more people to read and appreciate Schelling! That would include the treatise on freedom, of course — but I also hope to draw attention to less popular texts that illuminate his thought and to show Schelling’s significance for philosophy today,” Thomas adds.