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Schopenhauer and Spinoza HENRY WALTER BRANN EVERYONEFAMILIARWITHboth Schopenhauer and Spinoza should be aware of the fact that the two philosophers have something very important in common, i.e. the uniformity and monistic character of their systems. Strangely enough, very few contemporary scholars seem to mention this phenomenon, let alone deem it necessary to make a thorough investigation of the problems involved. This has not always been the case; rather frequently, in our studies of the great thinkers of various historical periods, we have found that the late nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries have produced an abundance of books and papers dealing with problems of decidedly current relevance. This discovery specifically concerns the relations between Schopenhauer and Spinoza. Just seventy years ago, two completely obscure students of philosophy, namely Ernst Clemens 1 and Samuel Rappaport,2 have written their doctoral dissertations precisely about our topic. Let's say it in advance: these two young scholars of unknown reputation have done an excellent job by treating the theme much more thoroughly than the most recent researchers. Clemens reaches the conclusion that Schopenhauer's "monism of the will" is nothing but a transformation of "Spinoza's abstract monism," 3 and he cites Rudolf Lehmann 4 as follows: "If one wants to call Schopenhauer's system a synthesis, it could only be named a synthesis of Kant and Spinoza." Rappaport, on the other hand, shows as early as 1899 that Schopenhauer, in the period of the development of his own philosophy, was deeply influenced by Spinoza, a fact which can best be examined now by perusing Arthur Hfibscher's completely new edition of Schopenhauer's Der handschriftliche Nachlass. 5 Despite the paucity of present-day discussions of our problem, there is a modern British author who recognizes Schopenhauer's "sympathetic" attitude towards Spinoza. Patrick Gardiner points out in his study 6 of Schopenhauer: "In many ways, Schopenhauer was sympathetic towards Spinoza's general ideas, especially regarding the latter's rejection of the Cartesian view of reality as comprehending two distinct kinds of substance, 'thinking' and 'extended', and 1 Schopenhauer und Spinoza (Leipzig, 1899). 2 Spinoza und Schopenhauer (Halle, 1899). s Clemens,p. 69. Schopenhauer. Ein Beitrag zur Psychologie der Metaphysik (Berlin, 1894),p. 5. 5 Schopenhauer,Der Handschriftliche Nachlass, ed. A. Hiabscher(Frankfurt: Waldemar Kramer, 1966-1968). Schopenhauer (Penguin, 1963). [181] 182 HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY Spinoza's own doctrine--that body and mind must ultimately be conceived as attributes of what is au fond one and the same substance--in fact bears points of resemblance to Schopenhauer's doctrine of the metaphysical entity of body and will." 7 On the contrary, the British Jesuit Frederick Copleston in his Arthur Schopenhauer : Philosopher of Pessimism 8 stresses the negative evaluation of pantheism by Schopenhauer, quoting the latter as follows: "All pantheism must ultimately be overthrown by the inevitable demands of ethics and then by the evil and suffering of the world." 9 Schopenhauer, as soon as he started his philosophical studies, devoted a great deal of time and effort to a painstaking analysis of Spinoza's works and continued the study of this thinker up to his old age. Schopenhauer's private library in Jena contained the 1802-1803 edition by Heinrich Eduard Gottlieb Paulus of Benedictus de Spinoza's Opera quae supersunt omnia, in two volumes. Htibscher, in the fifth volume of his priceless edition of Schopenhauer's posthumous writings, prints a large amount of marginal remarks of a positive and negative character and mentions numerous underlinings, question marks and exclamation points,a~ The extent of these notes to and excerpts from Spinoza's works is extremely large and exceeded only by those on Kant and Fichte. According to Hiibscher, Schopenhauer bought the Paulus edition during his Berlin stay (1811-1813). In Gtittingen, his teacher G. E. Schulze had dissuaded him from studying Spinoza "too early." When composing his dissertation On the Fourlold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason, Schopenhauer used the Paulus edition. Before writing down his notes for the second edition of his main work (1844), Schopenhauer again devoted a thorough study to Spinoza in the Paulus edition, and he added new citations from the Amsterdam thinker. Especially the second volume...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 181-196
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
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