chapter  2
16 Pages

Schopenhauer’s Aesthetics Seen from the Buddhist Point of View

ByMoon-hwan Kim

Schopenhauer claims that he has no intellectual debt to former philosophers apart from Kant. He regards himself as a genuine follower of Kant. Yet, particularly in Schopenhauer’s definition of the ‘will’ Kant’s doctrine of the incomprehensibility of thing itself is significantly modified. Schopenhauer certainly assumes (just like Kant) that the surrounding world only exists as representation. This means, everything that is potentially comprehensible, that is, the entire world is but an object in relation to the subject or the observer’s observed, in a word: representation. The whole world and everything belonging to it is inescapably tied to this condition of the subject and exclusively exists for the subject: ‘The world is my representation’ (I, S. 29).1 In return, the subject is the element that conceives without being conceived. It is the transmitter of the world; the permanent, presupposed condition of all substance or all objects. It must be observed, however, that according to Schopenhauer the body of

the subject is but an object among objects and thus answerable to the laws of objects, although it (the body) is an immediate object itself. Schopenhauer regards the body as a phenomenal form of the will: the body is representation and only the will is a thing itself. In other words, the comprehending subject that is identical with the body and thus appears as an individual owns it (the will) in two completely different ways: 1) as representation in the shape of comprehending observance, namely, as an object among objects and 2) as an element that is immediately known to everyone called will (I, S. 143). The recognized (element) in self-awareness, namely, the will, is ‘the primary and original; whereas the recognizing (element) is but secondary and additional, the mirror’ (II, S. 235). Thus, Schopenhauer does not deny Kant’s doctrine. He confirms that time,

space and causality, which are the main and general forms of all objects, can be discovered and recognized by the subject: time, space and causality are not attached to the object itself but are forms of recognizing. Yet, whereas Kant postulates the principal unrecognizability of the thing, Schopenhauer

maintains that it is recognizable as a universal principle. This universal principle is the will. This will is not identical with the Kantian will that is directed by reason. The will as a thing itself is rather something actually recognized; and so thoroughly acquainted that we understand and know so much better what the will is than anything else. The will is the innermost nature of all subjects, and the body is the objectivation of the will.