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.
this passage and its context in Stoic Virtues, ch. 10, to be read with ch. 9. Jedan argues that the assumption of the divine perspective – which he takes Cicero to be expressing here – plays a central role in the acquisition of Stoic virtue, and he suggests that this change of perspective needs to be read in strongly religious terms, as one that “would have stood closer to a religious experience than to doctrinal theological teaching” (108), more a form of conversion and a ritual of mystical
of resignation, composure and will-lessness (WWR i:379), and one’s outer life a consistent effort to suppress one’s will and mortify bodily desire, particularly sexual desire, to the point of self-torture and self-castigation. At the end of this road, and thus at the summit of Schopenhauer’s philosophy, stood an apocalyptic vision that made plain the special – if deeply grim – place that human beings were still capable of occupying in the world of nature. For should this road be followed
as the wonder with which every new individual greets his present existence, finding himself “so fresh and original, that he broods over himself in astonishment” (WWR ii:501). From the true metaphysical perspective, there is neither freshness to be found nor decay; the concepts of duration and extinction themselves “are borrowed from time that is merely the form 5 The passage just cited (ii:487) is in fact referring to the second aspect more directly. It comes on the heels of a remarkable
emotions of curiosity and excitement; the will is something we “discover” a posteriori with emotions of surprise or regret, complacence or horror; the will is something we confront as spectators.36 The spectatorial stance, of course, was closely linked to the standpoint of philosophical investigation. And indeed the last-quoted remark (WWR ii:499) may provoke more than a passing reminiscence of that moment in Schopenhauer’s philosophical execution where this standpoint had first found its grip.
ability to realise our character fully, exploiting its potential and developing the tendencies that best cohere with it; see the brief remarks in PP i:320. This seems to correspond to what Schopenhauer refers to as our “acquired character” in his main work; see WWR i:303–7. 168 From aesthetics to ethics Yet it is to a more specific aspect of Schopenhauer’s normative address in this context that I would now like to invite us to attend. It is an aspect that can be located within the same