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Chapter 1 - On philosophy and its method

from PARERGA AND PARALIPOMENA, VOLUME 2

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 November 2015

Adrian Del Caro
Affiliation:
University of Tennessee
Christopher Janaway
Affiliation:
University of Southampton
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Summary

§1

The very ground upon which all our knowledge and science rest is the inexplicable. Therefore every explanation leads back to this, by means of middle terms more or less, as on the sea the sounding lead now finds the bottom in greater, now in lesser depths, yet ultimately must reach it everywhere. This inexplicable devolves to metaphysics.

§2

Almost everyone thinks constantly that they are this or that human being (tis anthrôpos), along with the corollaries arising from this; on the other hand, that they are a human being at all (ho anthrôpos), and which corollaries arise from this, scarcely occurs to them and yet it is the main thing. Those few who incline more the way of the latter than the former principle are philosophers. The direction of the others, however, traces back to the fact that from the start they see always only the particular and individual in things, not what is universal in them. Only the more highly gifted see, more and more and according to their degree of eminence, the universal in particular things. This important difference permeates the entire cognitive faculty to such an extent that it reaches down to the intuition of the most mundane objects; which is why this intuition is different in eminent minds than in ordinary ones. This comprehension of the universal in the particular as it presents itself each time also corresponds with what I have called the pure, will-less subject of cognition, and what I have set up as the subjective correlate of the Platonic Idea. This is so because cognition can only remain will-less when it is trained upon the universal, whereas the objects of willing lie in particular things. Hence also why the cognition of animals is strictly limited to this particular and correspondingly their intellect remains exclusively in the service of their will. Moreover the former direction of the spirit towards the universal is the unavoidable condition for genuine achievements in philosophy, poetry, and in general in the arts and sciences.

For the intellect in the service of the will, hence in practical use, there are only particular things; for the intellect that does art or science, and is therefore active for itself, there are only universalities, entire varieties, species, classes, Ideas of things, since even the plastic artist wants to represent the Idea in the individual, hence the species.

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Schopenhauer: Parerga and Paralipomena
Short Philosophical Essays
, pp. 7 - 22
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2015

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