History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

Darwiniana header image 2

Schopenhauer and transcendental idealism

January 14th, 2010 · 1 Comment

Comment on Schopenhauer and death

jim buck said,
January 13, 2010 at 7:10 pm ·
‘Schopenhauer’s perspective, or rather that of his transcendental idealism, is not about a soul or reincarnation, but a framework that stands beyond representation, related to the framework of will. That is not a psyche. ‘

I confess to never having read Schopenhauer, and so ask your tolerance for what might seem a daft question i.e. How can his perspective have any validity if the framework, referred to, stands beyond representation? Is it a matter of him feeling, in the dark, something he takes for a leg and inferring that the leg must belong to an elephant?

It is unfair to Schopenhauer to graft our views onto his philosophy, but the process is perhaps inevitable.
Basically, the question Schopenhaur posits of reprensentation and the thing-in-itself enters indirectly into afterlife beliefs, without his ever raising the issue at all.
The reason is that the categories of space and time are an aspect of our representations of the world. Thus the aspect of the ‘thing-in-itself’ beyond representation is not within space and time, as far as we know. It is never stated quite in Schopenhauer or Kant that the implications of this are profound: space and time are constructs of our minds (but, in Kant, still have external reality) and therefore something in us must be beyond space and time.
In general, the approach of Schopenhauer can help those in post-religious secular culture grapple with issues that the traditions of religion deal with (and mostly scramble into corrupt versions of no use to anyone).

The question of how Schopenhauer arrives at transcendental idealism is complex, and might be approached historically. With Kant the issues revolve around complex ‘transcendental deductions’ that can be very confusing. Schopenhauer drops all of that and simply affirms his version of TI as direct insight.
Lucky are those who can arrive at a spontaneous understanding in the same fashion.
I think that transcendental idealism should be in the mental toolkit of all scientists, as an corrective to scientism. But, sadly, that has not happened.

Tags: Schopenhauer

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Jim Buck // Jan 14, 2010 at 1:34 pm


    Harry Kemp

    THE SPRING blew trumpets of color;
    Her Green sang in my brain—
    I heard a blind man groping
    “Tap—tap” with his cane;

    I pitied him in his blindness; 5
    But can I boast, “I see”?
    Perhaps there walks a spirit
    Close by, who pities me,—

    A spirit who hears me tapping
    The five-sensed cane of mind 10
    Amid such unguessed glories—
    That I am worse than blind.

Leave a Comment