Conflicts in the Metaphysical Foundations of Schopenhauer’s Ethics

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Doctorate in Philosophy, University of Esfahan

2 Associate Professor of Philosophy, University of Esfahan


Schopenhauer encourages us towards sympathy and empathy for others by holding that compassion is the foundation and essence of ethics; but when we turn to his philosophical system, we encounter conflicts that negate his ethics and in practice, compassion has no opportunity to manifest itself. Some of the conflicts are as follows: the negation of free will in his metaphysics, the evilness of will, the essentiality and immutability of personality (character) and the evilness of man’s essence. In his metaphysics he believes that everything in the world as determined by will, comes under the principle of sufficient reason, and time and space and necessarily becomes objective. As the foundation of ethics, the human will must also naturally come under the principle of sufficient reason and necessarily become objective; in this case, Schopenhauer’s ethics is fundamentally negated, because ethics requires freedom and to remain outside the realm of the principle of sufficient reason. Similarly, in believing in the evilness of will, the essentiality and immutability of personality and in the evilness of man’s essence, Schopenhauer’s ethics is negated – at least from the normative type, and one cannot visualize a positive place for it in his philosophical system.


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