Kantian Journal

2016 Issue №1(55)

‘Genuine criticism’: An unknown reception of Kant’s philosophy in early works of Schopenhauer


This article considers early Schopenhauer’s polemic against Kant's epistemology and views on the objectives and methods of philosophy. The crucial influence of this polemic and Kant’s works on the development of Schopenhauer’s philosophy is stressed. The author investigates Schopenhauer’s reception of the above aspects of Kant’s philosophy in 1811—1813 and its later evolution. For this purpose, the author addresses Schopenhauer’s manuscripts (early philosophical aphorisms and comments and marginal notes on Kant’s works, etc.), as well as the first edition of Schopenhauer’s doctoral dissertation On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason (1813). The mentioned influence of Kant’s philosophy on Schopenhauer and its decisive role in the development of the latter’s philosophy can be summed up as follows. Firstly, early Schopenhauer considered Kant as his only ally in the struggle against the speculative idealism of his followers. Secondly, this resulted in an almost complete acceptance of Kant’s epistemology and terminology. Only later, he developed an independent terminology, which was nevertheless largely influenced by that created by Kant. Thirdly, at the time, Schopenhauer believed his vision of objectives and essence of philosophy to be a direct continuation of Kant’s philosophy, the central objective being the construction of metaphysics of a science responsible for the conceptual grasping associated with cognizing the divine and supersensible. Schopenhauer called such science ‘genuine criticism’ and the faculty of supersensible cognition a ‘better consciousness’. Fourthly, Schopenhauer’s alteration of Kant’s epistemology related to the need to com lete the system of ‘genuine criticism’, since the inclusion of a ‘better consciousness’ into a priori cognitive faculties justified its ‘metaphysical’ character. Fifthly, the first edition of Schopenhauer’s doctoral dissertation adhered to Kant’s concept of noumenal freedom, whereas the metaphysics of a ‘better consciousness’ was associated with Kant’s notion of ‘intelligible character’.

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