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


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.

65.1.ryan.pdf - Published Version

Download (432kB) | Preview


Downloads per month over past year

Downloads each year

View Item View Item