Arthur Schopenhauer Criticism - Essay

John Oxenford (essay date 1853)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Iconoclasm in German Philosophy," in The Westminster Review, Vol. III, No. 2, January 1, 1853, pp. 388-407.

[An English critic and playwright, Oxenford was a well-known translator of Goethe when the following article appeared in The Westminster Review in 1853. One of the first writings to have introduced Schopenhauer to the English-speaking world, "Iconoclasm in German Philosophy" was also translated into German; it was widely read in Germany, sparked reactions in France and Italy, and garnered Schopenhauer a number of admirers. In the article, Oxenford outlines Schopenhauer's metaphysics, contextualizing Schopenhauer in relation to Kant and his academic...

(The entire section is 9261 words.)

Friedrich Nietzsche (essay date 1874)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Schopenhauer as Educator," translated by William Arrowsmith, in Unmodern Observations, edited by William Arrowsmith, Yale University Press, 1990, pp. 147-226.

[One of the most important figures of the nineteenth century, Nietzsche was, among other things, a forerunner of existentialism, the first philosopher to recognize nihilism as a historical phenomenon, and an influential psychological theorist. In the following excerpt, which was originally published in 1874, Nietzsche criticizes his academic contemporaries and insists that the true philosopher is one who, like Schopenhauer, explores "the suffering of truthfulness. "]

A traveler who had visited many...

(The entire section is 17638 words.)

Friedrich Nietzsche (essay date 1887)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "What Do Ascetic Ideals Mean?" in The Birth of Tragedy and The Genealogy of Morals, translated by Francis Golffing, Anchor Books, 1956, pp. 231-99.

[In the following excerpt from The Genealogy of Morals, which was originally published in 1887, Nietzsche contends that although Schopenhauer's aesthetic theory seemingly stresses disinterestedness, Schopenhauer instead considered art as a means to intellectual empowerment.]

Schopenhauer made use of the Kantian version of the esthetic problem, though he certainly did not look upon it with the eyes of Kant. Kant had thought he was doing an honor to art when, among the predicates of beauty, he gave prominence...

(The entire section is 1721 words.)

H. N. Gardiner (essay date 1888)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Schopenhauer as a Critic of Religion," in The Andover Review, Vol. X, No. LV, July, 1888, pp. 1-23.

[In the following essay, Gardiner outlines and evaluates Schopenhauer's objections to religion and explores his life to suggest some factors that may have sparked his anti-religious fervor.]

[In James Martineau's A Study of Religion (1888),] the story is told of an eminent English Positivist, that, listening to an account of the argument in Mr. Fiske's Destiny of Man, he gave silent attention until the inference was being drawn of personal immortality, when he brake in with the exclamation: "What! John Fiske say that? Well; it only proves what I...

(The entire section is 9495 words.)

T. Bailey Saunders (essay date 1890)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Translator's Preface," in The Wisdom of Life, Being the First Part of Arthur Schopenhauer's Aphorismen zur Lebensweisheit, by Arthur Schopenhauer, translated by T. Bailey Saunders, S. Sonnenschein & Co., 1890, pp. v-xxvi.

[In the following essay, Saunders comments on Schopenhauer's pessimism.]

Of Schopenhauer—as of many another writer—it may be said that he has been misunderstood and depreciated just in the degree in which he is thought to be new; and that, in treating of the Conduct of Life, he is, in reality, valuable only in so far as he brings old truths to remembrance. His name used to arouse, and in certain quarters still arouses, a vague sense...

(The entire section is 5362 words.)

Josiah Royce (essay date 1892)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Schopenhauer," in The Spirit of Modern Philosophy, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1920, pp. 228-64.

[Royce was an American philosopher whose works include The World and the Individual (1900) and Lectures on Modern Idealism (1919). Royce's neo-Hegelian idealism conceives of reality as fragmentary manifestations of an absolute mind; only when the individual understands the unity of the ideal absolute can perfection be attained. In the following excerpt from a lecture originally published in 1892, Royce contextualizes Schopenhauer's metaphysics with regard to idealism versus realism and evaluates Schopenhauer in relation to Hegel.]

(The entire section is 9089 words.)

William Caldwell (essay date 1896)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Positive Aspects of the System," in Schopenhauer's System in Its Philosophical Significance, William Blackwood and Sons, 1896, pp. 486-521.

[In the following excerpt, Caldwell outlines Schopenhauer's unique metaphilosophy.]

What is significant for philosophy in Schopenhauer is not so much the mere principle of will, which he sought to substitute for the idea of rationalistic metaphysic, as the simple fact of the attempted substitution. Strictly speaking, life cannot be grasped by thought as reducible, in the way of the old ontology, to some one or two entities. Whenever Schopenhauer talks of the will as if it were a thing in itself, we become...

(The entire section is 1144 words.)

Arthur O. Lovejoy (essay date 1911)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Schopenhauer as an Evolutionist," in The Monist, Vol. XXI, No. 2, 1911, pp. 195-222.

[In the following essay, Lovejoy contends that Schopenhauer, especially in his later writings, proposes doctrines akin to Darwin's evolution.]

The Absolute of the philosophy of Schopenhauer is notoriously one of the most complicated of all known products of metaphysical synthesis. Under the single, and in some cases highly inappropriate, name of "the Will" are merged into an ostensible identity conceptions of the most various character and the most diverse historic antecedents. The more important ingredients of the compound may fairly easily be enumerated. The Will is, in the...

(The entire section is 8985 words.)

Irwin Edman (essay date 1928)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: An introduction to The Philosophy of Schopenhauer, edited by Irwin Edman, The Modern Library, 1928, pp. v-xiv.

[Edman has edited works by Plato, Schopenhauer, and John Dewey. In the following excerpt, Edman comments on Schopenhauer's writing style and popular appeal.]

The popularity of Schopenhauer with a large unacademic public is easily explained. Part of the explanation is to be found in the extraordinarily vivacious and luxurious discourse that was his medium. He is one of the great German prose writers, and even in translation there is the tang of sense, the pungency of realistic observation in his pages. But there is something more. He seems to the...

(The entire section is 694 words.)

Thomas Mann (essay date 1939)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Schopenhauer," in Essays of Three Decades, translated by H. T. Lowe-Porter, Alfred A. Knopf, 1947, pp. 372-410.

[Mann was a German novelist, short story and novella writer, essayist, and critic who acknowledged a deep indebtedness to Schopenhauer's philosophy. In the following essay, Mann overviews Schopenhauer's metaphysics, ethics, and aesthetics and evaluates their historical significance.]

The Pleasure we take in a metaphysical system, the gratification purveyed by the intellectual organization of the world into a closely reasoned, complete, and balanced structure of thought, is always of a pre-eminently Æsthetic kind. It flows from the same source as the...

(The entire section is 17831 words.)

Radoslav A. Tsanoff (essay date 1942)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Moral Gospel of Pessimism," in The Moral Ideals of Our Civilization, E. P. Dutton & Co., 1942, pp. 389-405.

[In the following excerpt, Tsanoff outlines Schopenhauer 's criticisms of Kant's moral law and contrasts Schopenhauer's "pessimistic ethics of redemption" with Kant's a priori metaphysic of morals.]

In [Schopenhauer's] view of human life, a life of insatiate greeds preying on each other, of wretched and futile desires, what meaning could morality have? A moral philosophy which ignored these basic facts of human nature and motivation would be vain irrelevance. In the fourth book of The World as Will and Idea Schopenhauer,...

(The entire section is 2947 words.)

Bertrand Russell (essay date 1945)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Schopenhauer," in A History of Western Philosophy, and Its Connection with Political and Social Circumstances from the Earliest Times to the Present Day, Simon and Schuster, 1945, pp. 753-59.

[One of the preeminent thinkers of the twentieth century, Russell wrote a number of important works in philosophy, including Principia Mathematica (1910-13), a highly influential study in mathematical logic that he co-authored with Alfred North Whitehead. In the following essay, Russell briefly describes Schopenhauer's life and the relative importance of his ideas in the history of philosophy.]

Schopenhauer (1788-1860) is in many ways peculiar among philosophers....

(The entire section is 2817 words.)

Frederick Copleston, S. J. (essay date 1946)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Schopenhauer, Other Thinkers, Christianity," in Arthur Schopenhauer: Philosopher of Pessimism, 1946. Reprint by Search Press, 1975, pp. 190-212.

(The entire section is 2694 words.)

John Bowle (essay date 1954)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Cult of the Irrational: Schopenhauer: Nietzsche," in Politics and Opinion in the Nineteenth Century: An Historical Introduction, Oxford University Press, Inc., 1954, pp. 365-81.

[Bowle wrote a number of studies of European history and politics, including Western Political Thought (1947) and The Unity of European History (1948). In the following excerpt, Bowle outlines Schopenhauer's political philosophy.]

The introspection displayed by Schopenhauer and Nietzsche was already apparent in Herder and Hegel and the Romantic writers of their day. As this romanticism developed, it had often achieved benevolence and sensibility—in hatred of...

(The entire section is 1656 words.)

Georg Lukács (essay date 1954)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Bourgeois Irrationalism of Schopenhauer's Metaphysics," in Schopenhauer: His Philosophical Achievement, edited by Michael Fox, The Harvester Press, Sussex, 1980, pp. 183-93.

[A Hungarian literary critic and philosopher, Lukács is a leading proponent of Marxist thought. In the following excerpt, which originally appeared in his The Destruction of Reason (1954), Lukács contends that Schopenhauer's "purification" of Kant and his resulting idealism effect complacency toward social improvement and pacifies objectors to the established capitalist order.]

It is a well-established fact that on all crucial philosophical questions, Kant occupies a...

(The entire section is 4794 words.)

Max Horkheimer (essay date 1960)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Schopenhauer Today," translated by Robert Kolben, in The Critical Spirit: Essays in Honor of Herbert Marchuse, edited by Kurt H. Wolff and Barrington Moore, Jr., Beacon Press, 1967, pp. 55-71.

[Horkheimer was a German-born American sociologist and philosopher. In the following essay, which was originally delivered as a lecture on the one-hundredth anniversary of Schopenhauer's death, Horkheimer addresses Schopenhauer's philosophies of history and politics, declaring that "Schopenhauer is the teacher for modern times. "]

Arthur Schopenhauer regarded fame with no less detachment than the majority of thinkers who finally gained it. Public recognition left him so...

(The entire section is 6246 words.)

Patrick Gardiner (essay date 1963)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Possibility of Metaphysics," in Schopenhauer: His Philosophical Achievement, edited by Michael Fox, The Harvester Press, Sussex, 1980, pp. 37-49.

[Gardiner is an English critic, editor, and educator. In the following essay, which originally appeared in his Schopenhauer (1963), Gardiner examines Schopenhauer's distinction between philosophy and religion, and describes his approach to characterizing the Ding an sich.]

'A Man becomes a philosopher by reason of a certain perplexity, from which he seeks to free himself . . . But what distinguishes the false philosopher from the true is this: the perplexity of the latter arises from the contemplation of...

(The entire section is 5851 words.)

Paul Gottfried (essay date 1974)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Arthur Schopenhauer as a Critic of History," in Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. XXXVI, No. 2, April-June 1975, pp. 331-38.

[In the following essay, Gottfried examines Schopenhauer 's philosophy of history, contrasting it with that of Hegel and the Judeo-Christian tradition.]

During the second half of the nineteenth century, educated Europeans, particularly Germans, respected Schopenhauer primarily as a formal philosopher and stylist. His most enthusiastic readers also knew that he was interested in history, and his most fervent admirers defended his views on this subject. György Lukács, the Marxist scholar, with much justification, speaks of him as...

(The entire section is 3543 words.)