Although Arthur Schopenhauer was never able to gain the acclaim during his lifetime of some of the rival post-Kantian philosophers he competed against despite going so far as to schedule lectures at the same time as Hegel, he is now creating more buzz than ever and is widely considered one of the most important German philosophers, as he has earned himself the nickname of “the philosopher of pessimism”.1 Most believe that he was a man before his time, as he wrote during the German classical period where Idealism was the main school of thought. Schopenhauer however went against the grain and believed the world as will to be fundamentally irrational, and held no prisoners when it came to openly criticizing his contemporaries.1 This caused him to be almost brushed aside during his own lifetime, which is made perfectly evident in how his work, On the Basis of Morality was simply turned away by The Danish Academy of Science as it did not line up with their very Kant-centric views.
Although he didn’t always agree Kant, Schopenhauer did consider himself Kant’s true philosophical heir, and was always full of praise for the man who he claimed, “gave this science (metaphysics) a foundation having definite advantages over previous ones, and because it still remains the last important event to occur in ethics” (47).2 He would use Kant’s foundation of morals as a guide to prepare himself to establish his own foundation.
It would turn out that he would not be bias in Kant’s favor, but rather attack Schopenhauer would attack Kant’s ethics for being “wholly unjustified, groundless, and fictitious assumptions” (48).2 He replaces Kant’s ethics with his own ethics of compassion, or the ability some human beings have to sympathize with one another on a level beyond consciousness.
He begins with Kant’s doctrine of the highest good, which Kant supposedly uses to rid his ethics of eudemonism. Schopenhauer however disagrees and says Kant used the doctrine to sneak it back into his ethics through the “back door” (49).2 This means that Kant’s ethics cannot transcend the egoism that it has been attempting to escape all this time, as egoism and eudemonism are connected with each other in almost every way. This is because egoism and eudemonism both have a conscious end and that is attaining happiness, or weal, for the individual performing the act.
This becomes Schopenhauer’s launching point for his own ethics as he uses compassion as a vehicle to remove eudemonism from his ethics entirely. He believes that true compassion is the desire for another’s own weal, while egoism is the desire for one’s own weal, and because of this egoism is removed, because egoism can not exist between two or more people, it exists only within one person.2
This is all very real as it can be seen and felt every day, through things as simple as music. If one hears a sad song that conveys emotional suffering, one...