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Moral and aesthetic freedom in Schopenhauer’s metaphysics

Moral and aesthetic freedom in Schopenhauer’s metaphysics
Moral and aesthetic freedom in Schopenhauer’s metaphysics
The bleakness of Schopenhauer’s notoriously pessimistic take on the human condition is mitigated to some extent by his recognition of the possibilities of aesthetic experience and of denial of the will-to-live. However, as Schopenhauer himself acknowledges, his account of the latter appears inconsistent with his determinism, and we argue that this is no less the case with regard to his account of the former. After outlining what we take to be the basis and extent of Schopenhauer’s deterministic picture of human beings, we develop and discuss the possibility that the apparent inconsistency of this picture with his accounts of denial of the will-to-live and aesthetic experience may in fact be no more than appearance – the extent, that is, to which the latter may be construed as varieties of experience to which we are essentially passive. We argue that while there is something to this suggestion, there are aspects of Schopenhauer’s conceptions of both aesthetic experience and denial that remain in tension with his determinism. Indeed, we suggest, ultimately Schopenhauer’s deterministic picture of human beings portrays a kind of creature for whom aesthetic experience in general, let alone denial of the will, should simply be impossible. We turn next to Schopenhauer’s conception of the ‘moral’ or ‘transcendental’ freedom of human beings, and consider how the latter may be appealed to in explaining the possibility of aesthetic and ascetic experience in Schopenhauer’s terms. Schopenhauer’s own appeal to transcendental freedom in this context is, we argue, unpersuasive. In the end, we conclude, he leaves wholly mysterious the freedom inherent in his conceptions of aesthetic and ascetic experience.
1613-0472
Neill, Alex
356f9035-0820-4df8-838d-94b5bd219814
Shapshay, Sandra
7da31199-499d-4db2-aae5-e30a3afe2fec
Neill, Alex
356f9035-0820-4df8-838d-94b5bd219814
Shapshay, Sandra
7da31199-499d-4db2-aae5-e30a3afe2fec

Neill, Alex and Shapshay, Sandra (2012) Moral and aesthetic freedom in Schopenhauer’s metaphysics. Internationales Jahrbuch des Deutschen Idealismus / International Yearbook of German Idealism.

Record type: Article

Abstract

The bleakness of Schopenhauer’s notoriously pessimistic take on the human condition is mitigated to some extent by his recognition of the possibilities of aesthetic experience and of denial of the will-to-live. However, as Schopenhauer himself acknowledges, his account of the latter appears inconsistent with his determinism, and we argue that this is no less the case with regard to his account of the former. After outlining what we take to be the basis and extent of Schopenhauer’s deterministic picture of human beings, we develop and discuss the possibility that the apparent inconsistency of this picture with his accounts of denial of the will-to-live and aesthetic experience may in fact be no more than appearance – the extent, that is, to which the latter may be construed as varieties of experience to which we are essentially passive. We argue that while there is something to this suggestion, there are aspects of Schopenhauer’s conceptions of both aesthetic experience and denial that remain in tension with his determinism. Indeed, we suggest, ultimately Schopenhauer’s deterministic picture of human beings portrays a kind of creature for whom aesthetic experience in general, let alone denial of the will, should simply be impossible. We turn next to Schopenhauer’s conception of the ‘moral’ or ‘transcendental’ freedom of human beings, and consider how the latter may be appealed to in explaining the possibility of aesthetic and ascetic experience in Schopenhauer’s terms. Schopenhauer’s own appeal to transcendental freedom in this context is, we argue, unpersuasive. In the end, we conclude, he leaves wholly mysterious the freedom inherent in his conceptions of aesthetic and ascetic experience.

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Accepted/In Press date: March 2012
Organisations: Philosophy

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 336230
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/336230
ISSN: 1613-0472
PURE UUID: 058efbd2-9ffa-4cca-a46e-03f41b184769

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Date deposited: 19 Mar 2012 16:04
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 06:09

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Contributors

Author: Alex Neill
Author: Sandra Shapshay

University divisions

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