Abstract: This article is an examination of Schopenhauer’s evaluation of the comparative philosophical merits of modern European and ancient Indian idealism. Schopenhauer was an enthusiastic advocate of Indian wisdom, but it is rarely noted that he excluded it from the history of philosophy proper. Although he traced the origin of the “fundamental” point of view of idealism to the ancient ṛṣis of India, he also maintained that it had not received its proper philosophical articulation and defense until Kant. But when we probe beyond Schopenhauer’s effusive estimations of Kant’s achievements and seek out his conception of idealism’s epistemological and logical bases, they appear rather flimsy and insubstantial. It turns out that Schopenhauer thought that idealism originated in and is validated by a rare state of mind to which he gave the name “philosophical discernment” ( philosophische Besonnenheit ), a prerational and intuitive condition that conceptual proofs merely justify after the event. Schopenhauer’s emphasis on the primacy of intuition and discernment over reflective reason tends to undermine his official account of the philosophical attributes of post-Kantian idealism, while a comparison of his historical surveys on the cultural status of idealism in India and Europe, respectively, suggests that the former was the healthier and more durable species.
Philosophy East and West – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Feb 2, 2015
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