Social critique and aesthetics in Schopenhauer

Bishop, P. (2003) Social critique and aesthetics in Schopenhauer. History of European Ideas, 29(4), pp. 411-435. (doi: 10.1016/S0191-6599(03)00019-6)

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Although Schopenhauer is usually described as a philosopher of pessimism, this article examines the extent to which The World as Will and Representation is concerned, not only with metaphysics, but also with social critique; and the positive, indeed ‘optimistic’, implications such a reading might have for an understanding of Schopenhauer's aesthetics. Schopenhauer's philosophy contains a moral or ethical element, which means that, even if he regarded life as ‘an unpleasant business’, it would be wrong to conclude that he had no appreciation of the world as a locus for practical activity. Thanks to the cultural impact of Weimar Classicism and its controversy with the Romanticism of Jena and elsewhere, as well as through his personal acquaintance with Goethe, Schopenhauer inevitably came into contact with Schiller's aesthetic theories, which provide an indispensable background to understanding what is at stake in Schopenhauer's own aesthetics. Schopenhauer's emphasis on the impermanency of pleasure can be seen to underscore the ethical imperative to pay attention to our own life, and to question, in the most concrete, down-to-earth terms, our representation of our life and what, in life, we will.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Bishop, Professor Paul
Authors: Bishop, P.
Subjects:B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
P Language and Literature > PT Germanic literature
College/School:College of Arts > School of Modern Languages and Cultures > German
Journal Name:History of European Ideas
Published Online:24 June 2003

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