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Ethics and Will in Schopenhauer’s Philosophy

From the book The Concept of Will in Classical German Philosophy

  • Jenny Bunker


Schopenhauer explains compassion as the expression of the profound understanding which recognises that individuals are phenomenal: at the level of the will reality is undivided. This explanation undermines the distinction between egoism and compassion. It is argued that a broader conception of the ethical allows Schopenhauer’s account of compassion to be reconciled with his metaphysics. His theory of salvation, too, can only be understood in the light of his philosophy of will, but these elements of his thought also come into conflict. Salvation is supposed to involve bliss and the abolition of the will - this is explicable only on a modest reading of the will’s metaphysical status according to which it is neither the thing-in-itself nor foreign to individuation. The paper concludes with a methodological suggestion on how best to approach the contradictions between Schopenhauer’s metaphysics and his ethics.

© 2020 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
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