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Chapter 5 - Some words on pantheism

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

§68

The current controversy playing out among professors of philosophy between theism and pantheism could be allegorically and dramatically portrayed by a dialogue that might be held in the pit of the theatre in Milan during the performance. One of the interlocutors, convinced that he is in the great, famous puppet theatre of Girolamo, admires the artistry with which the director has constructed the puppets and guides the play. The other objects: ‘Not in the least! We are instead in the Teatro della Scala, the director and his associates themselves are acting along and are actually concealed in the characters we see before us; even the poet is acting along.’

But it is amusing to see how the philosophy professors ogle pantheism as if it were a forbidden fruit and do not have the heart to help themselves to it. I have already described their behaviour in this matter in my essay ‘On University Philosophy’, where we were reminded of the weaver Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream. – Alas, the bread of the philosophy professor is a bitter loaf! First they must dance to the pipe of the ministers, and once they have managed this in an appropriately dainty manner, they can be fallen upon outdoors by savage cannibals, the real philosophers; they are capable of sticking someone in their pocket and taking him along, to produce him occasionally as a pocket-Pulchinello to enhance the merriment of their lectures.

§69

Against pantheism I have mainly only this: that it does not mean anything. Naming the world God does not mean explaining it, but instead only enriching language with a superfluous synonym for the word ‘world’. Whether you say ‘the world is God’ or ‘the world is the world’ amounts to the same. Of course if one proceeded from God as though he were the given and the thing to be explained, and therefore said: ‘God is the world’, there is an explanation of sorts, insofar as something unknown is traced back to something better known; still it is merely a semantic explanation. However, if one proceeds from what is actually given, hence from the world, and now says ‘the world is God’, it is plain as day that nothing is said by this or at least the explanation is of something unknown by something less known.

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Chapter
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Schopenhauer: Parerga and Paralipomena
Short Philosophical Essays
, pp. 92 - 94
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2015

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