The Body of Sublime Knowledge:
The Aesthetic Phenomenology of Arthur Schopenhauer
Schopenhauer has been portrayed, since the emergence of the analytic philosophies of Russell and Moore, with respect to two primary philosophical results. On the one hand, he is described as a ‘metaphysician’ of the Will. On the other hand, he is depicted as an ‘ethicist’ of the tragic self-denial of the Will. Indeed, there is much evidence for such interpretations in his magnum opus. Yet, the collateral effect of our captivation to this picture of mere philosophical results has been to render Schopenhauer’s philosophy into a closed circle or a philosophical dead-end.
Indeed, even the rare admissions of his influence upon major philosophers such as Nietzsche and Wittgenstein have been accompanied by a decided suppression of any consideration of the philosophical context of Schopenhauer’s original questioning and of the specific meaning of ‘metaphysics’ amid his post-Kantian horizons. Until the last decade or so, the usual attitude to the philosophy of Schopenhauer has been dominated by the prejudicial legacy of the logical positivists – and other anti-metaphysicians – with their respective dismissals of ‘metaphysical’ philosophies. For these iconoclasts, the philosophy of Schopenhauer is a contradictory, idiosyncratic – but above all metaphysical – teaching which sought, due to its own weakness or obscurity (or, Orientalism), to escape from the facticity of existence. Of course, Nietzsche could be blamed for some aspects of this picture of Schopenhauer.