Title

Striving as Suffering: Schopenhauer’s A Priori Argument for Pessimism

Author's Department

Philosophy Department

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https://doi.org/10.1007/s11406-020-00316-0

Document Type

Research Article

Publication Title

Philosophia (United States)

Publication Date

9-1-2021

doi

10.1007/s11406-020-00316-0

Abstract

This paper aims to clarify Schopenhauer’s a priori argument for pessimism and, to an extent, rescue it from standard objections in secondary literature. I argue that if we separate out the various strands of Schopenhauer’s pessimism, we hit upon problems and counterexamples stemming from psychology. For example, instances where striving (willing) does not appear to equate to suffering, which puts pressure on the Schopenhauerian claim that human life, qua instantiation of the will, is painful. Schopenhauer’s sensitivity to the complexities of human psychology means that he may be able to stave off such concerns. However, this reveals that true force of Schopenhauer’s argument lies in the manner in which he combines an a priori formulation with empirical observation. I conclude that, though not unproblematic, Schopenhauer’s argument in its most refined forms offers a deep articulation of the human condition, and warrants serious consideration.

First Page

1487

Last Page

1505

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