chapter  6
14 Pages

The Ideas

In section 25 of the first volume of the main work, towards the end of the book with which we were concerned in chapter 5, Schopenhauer suddenly and surprisingly introduces the notion of Platonic Ideas (for which he always uses the German ‘Idee’, never ‘Vorstellung’). He does not do that in any academic way, as if the notion were simply part of the history of ideas. His invocation of Platonic Ideas is an essential part of his scheme. This has surprised most commentators, and the task of understanding what he has to say on the matter is made worse by the difficulty of assessing just what he took Plato to mean by that notion. That cannot be taken for granted, for, while Schopenhauer was well read in Plato and ancient commentators on Plato, such as Aristotle, and while he quotes passages that are meant to sum up what he is after, the exact status which the Ideas had for him may remain in doubt.