Schopenhauer on idealism, Indian and European

Ryan, Christopher (2015) Schopenhauer on idealism, Indian and European. Philosophy East and West, 65 (1). pp. 18-35. ISSN 1529-1898

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Abstract / Description

This article is an examination of Schopenhauer’s evaluation of the comparative philosophical merits of modern European and ancient Indian idealism. Schopenhauer was an enthusiastic advocate of Indian wisdom, but it is rarely noted that he excluded it from the history of philosophy proper. Although he traced the origin of the “fundamental” viewpoint of idealism to the ancient ṛṣis of India, he also maintained that it had not received its properly philosophical articulation and defence until Kant. But when we probe beyond Schopenhauer’s effusive estimations of Kant’s achievements and seek out his conception of idealism’s epistemological and logical bases, they appear rather flimsy and insubstantial. It turns out that Schopenhauer thought that idealism originated in and is validated by a rare state of mind to which he gave the name “philosophical discernment” (philosophische Besonnenheit), a pre-rational and intuitive condition that conceptual proofs merely justify after the event. Schopenhauer’s emphasis upon the primacy of intuition and discernment over reflective reason tends to undermine his official account of the philosophical attributes of post-Kantian idealism, while comparison of his historical surveys on the cultural status of idealism in India and Europe respectively suggests that the former was the healthier and more durable species.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Schopenhauer, Arthur, 1788-1860; Indian idealism; European idealism; philosophy
Subjects: 100 Philosophy & psychology > 140 Specific philosophical schools
100 Philosophy & psychology > 180 Ancient, medieval & eastern philosophy
100 Philosophy & psychology > 190 Modern western philosophy
200 Religion
200 Religion > 210 Philosophy & theory of religion
Department: School of Social Sciences (to June 2021)
School of Social Sciences and Professions
Depositing User: Christopher Ryan
Date Deposited: 17 Mar 2016 17:22
Last Modified: 22 Jun 2020 14:57


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