University Of Tasmania
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The thing-in-itself and will in the thought of Schopenhauer

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posted on 2023-05-27, 18:30 authored by Nicholls, Moira
The central claim of Schopenhauer's philosophy is that the thing-in-itself is will. After giving a brief overview of the way in which this claim has been interpreted by other commentators I argue that it has at least six possible interpretations. I assess the relative importance of each, both to Schopenhauer himself and to the commentator attempting to construct the most consistent account of Schopenhauees central doctrines. I argue that Interpretations 1 and 2, according to which the thing-in-itself is identical with the will or the will-to-live, are the most important to Schopenhauer, while Interpretation 3 is the most consistent with his other doctrines. According to Interpretation 3, while the thing-in-itself is will, it also has other aspects, and I argue that these other aspects are the objects of mystical awareness and salvation. According to Interpretation 4 the thing-initself is unknown but is called will in the qualified sense that the will stands nearest to the thing-in-itself, and according to Interpretation 5 the thing-in-itself is called will but only metaphorically; I argue that these two interpretations are less well supported than 1, 2 and 3. Finally, according to Interpretation 6, the will is the metaphysical but non-noumenal essence of the phenomenal world, and I argue that this is suggestive of a world-view that Schopenhauer might well have embraced had his thought continued to develop. Next, I turn to issues of justification. One, is Schopenhauer justified in claiming that there is a thing-in-itself and that it is will? Two, is he justified in claiming that we can have knowledge of the thing-in-itself and know it as will? Three, is he justified in using language to talk about the thing-in-itself and describe it as will? I argue that despite the inadequacies in Schopenhauer's own arguments, other arguments provide some measure of support for his claim that there is a thing-in-itself that we can know and describe as will. In Appendices 1, 2 and 3, I consider how the possibility arises of multiple interpretations of Schopenhauer's fundamental claim that the thing-in-itself is will, my discussion focussing on some of the influences of Kant and Eastern thought on his thinking, and some of the influences of Plato.


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Copyright 1995 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Tasmania, 1995. Includes bibliographical references

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