Life and writings of Arthur Schopenhauer- by William Wallace

 Life and writings of Arthur Schopenhauer 

Life and writings of Arthur Schopenhauer


PHILOSOPHERS in Germany take a different place in the literary commonwealth from what they hold among themselves. With a few striking exceptions, it may be said that in England, down at least to the present day, the fountainhead of the philosophical stream has not been in the Universities, and the professional element has been entirely secondary. 

In Germany, on the contrary, the treasures of learned wisdom have been entrusted to the keeping of a chosen official order, the teachers in the Universities. It would be going out of the way to inquire into the ulterior causes of this circumstance or to point out how it hangs together with more general contrasts in the social and political system of the two countries. 


Of all this reconciliatory work Schopenhauer spared himself the trouble. His upbringing had made religion lie very much outside him a formal thing, which had never appropriated his whole soul. He had not gone through the inward contests of faith: and came to philosophy with only the minimum of an inherited and adopted creed. 

Hence to him, these efforts at reconciliation seemed hypocritical: as they may naturally do to those who have not grown up under historic in- fluences, or who have not learned how dependent the individual intellect, even the greatest, is on the great historic tradition of faith and knowledge. Hence it was easy and natural for Schopenhauer to pass by Christian theology and modern Christianity with a sniff of contempt, and to groan out the words Factor Judaicus! 

With a great deal in the asceticism and pessimism of early Christianity, he was thoroughly in sympathy. But its deep sense of the evil in the world, and of the need of self-renunciation, had been obscured, he thought, through the reactionary influence of the national optimism and the old legendary superstitions of the Hebrews. It was for these reasons that he turned admiringly to the less historically-coloured religion of Buddha, with its more purely human scheme of salvation. It was not that he rejected miracle as such. What he rejected was the limitation of miracles to a few years of the world's history, to a special inter- position, an extra-mundane design. 

On the contrary, he taught the eternal presence of the miraculous in life and nature, the presence in all things of a supreme reality, which never ceased from evincing itself superior to the law of causality, and the limitations of space and time. For him, therefore, Christianity erred by laying stress on the historical accuracy of a record of the event, by limiting to one place and person the process of redemption, instead of seeing that its truths were for all time, and told of the universe. 

Not otherwise had the philosophers taught from whom he so bitterly disagreed. Only, while they had accentuated the inner harmony between philosophy and religion, he had no eyes except for the outward discordance between the attitude of faith and the attitude of reflection.


Author:  William Wallace
 Publication Date:1890 

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