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"A World Without God": Emerson And Arthur Schopenhauer

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Chapter Summary

Schopenhauer's work broke with the philosophy of his idealistic predecessors and contemporaries. Schopenhauer was the first major German philosopher who called attention to and was profoundly influenced by Hindu and Buddhist thought. By the 1870s, Schopenhauer's name had become more closely associated with pessimism than any other writer's. Emerson's resistance to the dialectical technicalities of Hegelian thought was akin to Schopenhauer's rejection of Hegel as a proponent of absolute, pure thought. Emerson's belief in "the omnipotence of the will spiritual" contrasted sharply with Schopenhauer's insistence on the self-determining power of the will. Emerson did enter Schopenhauerian territory, however, in that for him the will, conceived as a power of choosing, did not follow intellectualist premises. Again, Emerson here had very little direct debt to Schopenhauer and the relationship was one of convergence rather than influence.

Keywords: Arthur Schopenhauer; Buddhist thought; Emerson; Hegelian thought; Hindu thought



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