Schopenhauer and the Aesthetic Standpoint: Philosophy as a Practice of the Sublime
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With its pessimistic vision and bleak message of world-denial, it has often been difficult to know how to engage with Schopenhauer's philosophy. His arguments have seemed flawed and his doctrines marred by inconsistencies; his very pessimism almost too flamboyant to be believable. Yet a way of redrawing this engagement stands open, Sophia Vasalou argues, if we attend more closely to the visionary power of Schopenhauer's work. The aim of this book is to place the aesthetic character of Schopenhauer's standpoint at the heart of the way we read his philosophy and the way we answer the question: why read Schopenhauer - and how? Approaching his philosophy as an enactment of the sublime with a longer history in the ancient philosophical tradition, Vasalou provides a fresh way of assessing Schopenhauer's relevance in critical terms. This book will be valuable for students and scholars with an interest in post-Kantian philosophy and ancient ethics.
may have passed out of the world; yet when Schopenhauer nevertheless describes the person endowed with great intellectual powers as living the life of the gods – his ability to take the “liveliest interest on the path of mere knowledge … places him, so to speak, in the atmosphere where the gods live easily and serenely” (PP i:337–38) – he succumbs to an impulse that is immensely revealing about his relationship to the ancient ideal. I have been emphasising the physiognomic continuities between
world rather than a movement towards it that seems to define the great-souled man’s relationship to his surroundings. It is not incidental that the portrait of the great-souled man has often struck readers as uncannily empty of activity: the great-souled man stands aloof among those he considers his inferiors; he does not walk – he stands still.60 He is a finished product; he does not aspire. To him, “nothing is great.” Yet this picture of contraction cannot wholly satisfy us. It cannot be
and its answer 9 9 25 2 Philosophy as: aesthetic 41 41 56 The inward turn of philosophy and the metaphysics of the will Aesthetic contemplation Confronting the fear of death: Schopenhauer’s methods in conflict? The aesthetic standpoint of philosophy Inward, outward – forward through rational argument? The “argument from analogy” revisited 3 Philosophy as: sublime Sub specie aeternitatis: philosophy as a practice of the sublime An “intoxicating vision”: the philosophical sublime
in its context and phenomenology 67 77 77 94 4 Reading Schopenhauer 104 104 115 127 5 From aesthetics to ethics 148 148 170 181 6 An ethics of redescent? 200 200 210 Works cited Index 228 235 Why read Schopenhauer? Philosophical approaches and appraisals Argument and expression in Schopenhauer’s philosophy Re-examining Schopenhauer’s pessimism Engaging Schopenhauer ethically: a leap? The cosmic viewpoint in context: flights of the soul in ancient philosophy Greatness of
possible to make something, at any rate to learn something, is … absolutely essential to a man’s happiness … Effort, trouble, and struggle with opposition are as necessary to man as grubbing in the ground is to a mole. The stagnation that results from being wholly contented with a lasting pleasure would be for him intolerable. The full pleasure of his existence is in overcoming obstacles … The struggle with them and the triumph make him happy. (PP i:438–39) Here, struggle is recognised not as a