Some commentators have asserted that for Schopenhauer “negation of the will” is the “highest good.” However, Schopenhauer states that there cannot be a highest good or summum bonum literally, only figuratively. What is the reason for this ambivalence? Schopenhauer defines good as whatever is conducive to the will, but it appears that, by this criterion, absence of will could not be good, much less the highest good. I suggest that Schopenhauer implicitly recognizes two ways of being good, corresponding to two kinds of willing: ordinary willing, aimed at the well-being of individuals, and a will to be without ordinary individualistic willing. Thus he can hold that negation of the will is the highest good, while also making clear that it is not the highest of the goods attainable by ordinary individualistic willing. However, although his position seems to require the second kind of willing, it remains unclear how his metaphysics can accommodate it.


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pp. 649-669
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