Segments in this Video

Schopenhauer Revival (01:25)


Each generation reacts against the previous generation's values, rediscovering some philosophers and neglecting others. Schopenhauer has gone through this cycle repeatedly and is now back in fashion.

Schopenhauer's Works (01:30)

Magee describes Schopenhauer's background and notes his key works. He is the only major Western philosopher to draw parallels between Western and Eastern thought, the first openly atheist philosopher

Schopenhauer's Distinguishing Characteristics (01:42)

Schopenhauer drew parallels between Western and Eastern thought. He was the first major openly atheist Western philosopher. His aphorisms obscure that he is foremost a system-builder.

Underlying Reality (01:57)

Schopenhauer started from Kant's idea that underlying reality may be different from how our mind experiences things, and sought to understand this reality.

Schopenhauer and Kant (01:37)

Kant argued that our minds' structure shapes our experience, so we cannot access things-in-themselves. Schopenhauer sought to find what we could learn about things-in-themselves from close analysis of our experience.

Underlying Reality as One (03:28)

Schopenhauer concluded from Kantian premises that there is only one "thing in itself"; differentiation makes sense only when we impose time or space. Hindus and Buddhists, he later discovered, hold a similar view.

Direct Knowledge of Self (02:26)

Schopenhauer held that our knowledge of ourselves is the exception to Kant's claim that we know the world only through senses, and this knowledge could be the key to understanding the rest of the noumenal world.

Nature of Self Knowledge (02:15)

For Schopenhauer, direct knowledge of ourselves is not knowledge of Kant's "thing in itself." Anticipating Freud, he held that our motivation is unknown to us. Other arguments involved the self's existence in time, and subject and object.

Human Will and Noumenal World (01:46)

Schopenhauer held that our knowledge of bodily movements as expression of will, often unconscious drives, helps us understand reality as a similar drive, an unconscious striving for existence.

Energy (01:56)

Schopenhauer, like Kant, thought that energy is the ultimate reality behind matter. Twentieth-century physicists reached the same conclusion but are reluctant to grant reality to energy.

Will in Schopenhauer (03:34)

For Schopenhauer, the noumena is whatever manifests itself as energy; the drive inside ourselves is our closest experience to the noumena. He uses the term "will," but divorces the concept from personality; a stick has a will.

Schopenhauer's Pessimism (03:12)

Noting injustice and suffering, Schopenhauer held that underlying metaphysical reality must be bad. Art is a way out, allowing disinterested contemplation and so liberating us from desire.

Art as Path to Knowledge (01:57)

Schopenhauer held that the arts were a way of knowing, not a means of expression.

Schopenhauer's Ethics (01:28)

Each of us is identical with the one ultimate reality, so we are all one. Schopenhauer advocates therefore advocates compassion. Yet his ultimate reality is horrible and leaves little room for compassion.

Fact, Value and Schopenhauer (02:30)

Schopenhauer's ethics apply his metaphysical view that we are all one, but is in tension with his view of reality as horrible. Magee uses the fact-value distinction to accept Schopenhauer's view of reality, but not his evaluation of it.

Fact and Value (01:38)

Copleston argues that the fact-value distinction is valid, but that all interpretations of the world involve value judgment. He and Magee discuss whether it is possible to accept a philosopher's fact judgments without his value judgments.

Denial of the Will (03:00)

Schopenhauer sees reality as evil, and holds that we must reject it through asceticism. This contrasts with Abrahamic religion, which holds that God is ultimate reality. Copleston argues that the will cannot reject itself.

Schopenhauer's Influence (00:51)

Schopenhauer has influenced many great artists. He has also influenced Nietzsche, Freud and Wittgenstein.

Schopenhauer's Influence on Nietzsche (02:06)

Nietzsche regarded Schopenhauer as a bold, deep thinker. He agreed with his subordination of intellect to will. He criticized his turning away from life and the world.

Schopenhauer's Influence on Wittgenstein (03:04)

Schopenhauer shaped Wittgenstein's views on the relationship between "I" and "my world," and his distinction between will as bearer of ethics and will as phenomenon. Wittgenstein moved away from Schopenhauer's system-building approach.

Credits: Schopenhauer (00:46)

Credits: Schopenhauer

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This program examines the systematic, philosophical pessimism of Arthur Schopenhauer and its emphasis on an infraconsciousness, or will, as the irrational motivating force in human nature. World-renowned author and professor Bryan Magee and distinguished philosophical historian Frederick Copleston discuss Schopenhauer’s theory of underlying reality as experienced through the inner self. On a larger scale, the concept of will is ultimately defined as energy, which is judged to be central to scientific explanations of what drives the universe. A BBC Production. Part of the series Great Philosophers. (46 minutes)

Length: 45 minutes

Item#: BVL7288

ISBN: 978-1-4213-8720-8

Copyright date: ©1987

Closed Captioned

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