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The Riddle of the WorldA Reconsideration of Schopenhauer's Philosophy$
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Barbara Hannan

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195378948

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195378948.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 16 January 2022

Pessimism, Depression, and Salvation

Pessimism, Depression, and Salvation

(p.119) chapter five Pessimism, Depression, and Salvation
The Riddle of the World

Barbara Hannan (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers Schopenhauer's pessimism and his doctrine of salvation as denial of the will. Schopenhauer's “single thought,” the insight at the heart of his philosophy, is supposedly revealed both in aesthetic experience and in such salvation. This thought cannot be expressed directly in language, since it touches on the thing-in-itself. Parallels between this doctrine and Wittgenstein's remarks on the “unsayable” are explored. Also, an investigation into Schopenhauer's psychology is undertaken, utilizing facts recorded in his biography and memoirs. Schopenhauer clearly suffered from depression, and it is argued that this experience contributed significantly to his pessimism, but that his pessimism as a philosophical orientation is as objectively justified as its opposite, optimism, and is not necessarily pathological. The pessimistic “wisdom of Silenus” is discussed, according to which “never to be born is best.” The danger of the fundamental attribution fallacy is discussed. It is argued that salvation can be understood as recovery from depression through affirmation of the will. Schopenhauer himself indicates awareness of this variety of salvation in his discussion of the “acquired character.”

Keywords:   acquired character, affirmation of the will, attribution fallacy, depression, denial of the will, optimism, pessimism, salvation, wisdom of Silenus

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