Some Criticisms and Problems

Bryan Magee

in The Philosophy of Schopenhauer

Published in print August 1997 | ISBN: 9780198237228
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191706233 | DOI:
Some Criticisms and Problems

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Schopenhauer's chief mistake derived from his acceptance of Newtonian science and lay in his belief that the empirical world must be deterministic. This deprived his assumptions of any basis for moral judgements in this world, and led to inner contradictions in his ethics: it means that we are not free to reject the world, as he believes we should; and in any case, if we did, that would constitute a rejection of compassion, which he is not in favour of. There is also a contradiction in his theory of music: if music is the direct voice of the metaphysical will, and the metaphysical will is inherently evil, there should be something nightmarish about music, yet Schopenhauer considers it uniquely marvellous. There are other errors in his philosophy too: for instance, he underestimates the importance of history. But, as Voltaire said, it is the privilege of a great genius to make great mistakes.

Keywords: compassion; determinism; music; Newtonian science; Schopenhauer; the will; theory of music

Chapter.  9010 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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