Schopenhauer and the Diamond-Sutra

Ryan, Christopher (2020) Schopenhauer and the Diamond-Sutra. In: The Oxford Handbook of Schopenhauer. Oxford Handbooks . Oxford University Press, New York, pp. 363-379. ISBN 9780190660055


Commentators on Schopenhauer’s philosophy have been at odds with one another concerning the signification of the "nothing" with which he closed the first volume of The World as Will and Representation in 1818, and how this relates to Schopenhauer’s proposition that the will is Kant’s thing-in-itself. This chapter contends that Schopenhauer’s works contain two conceptions of soteriological nothing: an early conception that is ontological and contrasted with the vanity of phenomenal life, and a later conception in which nothing is employed as an apophatic denial of our epistemological categories. Schopenhauer sought to conceal the way in which his use and understanding of these concepts had changed by 1860 by appending a handwritten note to the close of the first volume that cited Isaak Jacob Schmidt’s translation of the Diamond-Sūtra, an explanation of the Buddhist concept of prajñāpāramitā. Examination of Schmidt’s treatise throws some light on the development of Schopenhauer’s metaphysics and soteriology between 1818 and 1860.

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