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Alessandro Medri

An open system: the meaning of Mysticism in Schopenhauer

In this article, I examine the interpretation which Schopenhauer develops about the meaning, lato sensu, of Mystics. The central point is, he defines it in connection with his own idea of Philosophy, so that it is not possible to talk about the one, without knowing about the other one. Whereas Philosophy is a conceptual, intellectual and rational knowledge des Willens, the Ding an sich, Mysticism offers a direct and meta-conceptual knowledge of it. This means, that Philosophy cannot reach the real and full knowledge of the essence of everything, since in it remains a difference between subject and object, while Mysticism permits to gain such a knowledge immediately. On the other hand, Mysticism is a private and incommunicable experience, which, therefore, cannot be convincing; instead, Philosophy works with concepts, so that, even though it is not a complete knowledge, which leaves unsolved problems, it is useful and convincing.

In the work of Schopenhauer, mysticism1 is always defined in connection with philosophy; hence, the effort in order to understand it implies the comprehension of the meaning of philosophy itself.

According to Schopenhauer, the aim of philosophy is to individuate the essence of the Ding an sich. Now, "Kants größtes Verdienst ist die Unterscheidung der Erscheinung vom Dinge an sich",2 and this intuition is based on the demonstration that between us and things there is still the intellect, so that they cannot be actually known for what they are in themselves. This is, mutatis mutandis, the same truth already proffered by Plato and by the ancient Indian holy books: the world, as it appears to our senses, is not but an illusion; it is not being, but becoming; it is and it is not at the same time:

unser Erkennen, weil es nur im Vorstellen mittelst subjektiver Formen besteht, stets bloße Erscheinungen, nicht das Wesen an sich der Dinge liefert.3

What Kant did not do, was to give a name to the Ding an sich. Schopenhauer thinks that the principal achievement of his own philosophy is that it understood the nature of the thing-by-itself as Wille.

Through the objective knowledge -- starting from representation, that is -- , it is impossible to go beyond the representation itself, the appearance, the mere external dimension of reality; on the other hand, we are not purely knowing subjects, rather also knowable objects. This means that we are the Ding an sich, and, consequently, it implies that we have a direct insight on the Ding an sich. Kant is right for every object but one: ourselves. What we know immediately must give us the key to understand the essence of what we know only mediately.

The main difference between Kant and Schopenhauer is here: while the former thinks that each thing has its own an sich, the latter believes that there is only one an sich for everything, which is the essence of everything; so, if we, by any chance, get to know the an sich of a single thing, we end up knowing the essence of the entire universe. But we happen to gain such a knowledge, precisely in our Selbstbewusstsein.

Like in Hegel, the progress of knowledge passes through the Selbstbewusstsein: but, while in Hegel the process leads to a perfectly rational Principle, in Schopenhauer we discover an irrational and blind force, which drives everything in the world: the single things, from the stones to the man,4 in an increasing degree of perfection, are that force as it objectifies itself. In Schopenhauer's lexicon, "diese Stufe der Objektivation des Willens nichts Anderes als Plato's Ideen sind".5

The Will is the inner essence of man and, as a consequence of what we said before, of everything at all. Schopenhauer explains why he called it Wille in § 22 of Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung:

Dieses Ding an sich, welches als solches nimmermehr Objekt ist, eben weil alles Objekt schon wieder seine bloße Erscheinung, nicht mehr es selbst ist, mußte, wenn es dennoch objektiv gedacht werden sollte, Namen und Begriff von einem Objekt borgen, von etwas irgendwie objektiv Gegebenem, folglich von einer seiner Erscheinungen; aber diese durfte, um als Verständigungspunkt zu dienen, keine andere seyn, als unter allen seinen Erscheinungen die vollkommenste, d. h. die deutlichste, am meisten entfaltete, vom Erkennen unmittelbar beleuchtete: diese aber eben ist des Menschen Wille. Man hat jedoch wohl zu bemerken, daß wir hier allerdings nur eine denominatio a potiori gebrauchen, durch welche eben deshalb der Begriff Wille eine größere Ausdehnung enthält, als er bisher hatte.

But in the Selbstbewusstsein the ego is not absolutely simple, but it consists of one who knows (the intellect) and of one who is known (the will). So, even in this inner knowledge, there is still a difference between subject and object; nonetheless, the inner knowledge is free from two forms, which instead belong to the outer knowledge: space and causality. What remains is the time:

Demnach hat in dieser innern Erkenntniß das Ding an sich seine Schleier zwar großen Theils abgeworfen, tritt aber doch noch nicht ganz nackt auf. In Folge der ihm noch anhängenden Form der Zeit erkennt Jeder seinen Willen nur in dessen successiven einzelnen Akten, nicht aber im Ganzen, an und für sich: daher eben Keiner seinen Charakter a priori kennt, sondern ihn erst erfahrungsmäßig und stets unvollkommen kennen lernt.6

This relevant quotation allows me to make my first point: philosophy does not lead to an Absolute Wissen, like in Hegel; as a matter of fact, a not better penetrable residue always remains; and this is not a flaw, but it inheres to the structure of philosophy itself.

This is very clearly expressed in the last chapter of the Ergänzungen. Here Schopenhauer states that his thought does not aspire to explain the existence of the world in its last causes; it does not try to investigate the supernatural things in their relationship with the world; so, it makes no conjectures about what might exist beyond every possible experience, but it offers only the interpretation of what is given in the external world and in the self-knowledge. In other words, it is immanent, in the Kantian meaning of the word, and therefore it still leaves open a lot of problems. Yet, these problems are naturaliter transcendent, they cannot be solved through the forms and the functions of our intellect and reason: "er verhält sich daher zu ihnen [the problems] wie unsere Sinnlichkeit zu etwaigen Eigenschaften der Körper, für die wir keine Sinne haben".

The one form according to which our intellect works is the Satz vom Grunde, in its fourfold nature, and it can be applied only to the phenomenon, not to the essence of things. It is a mere function of our brain, at the service of the Will, which it presupposes with all its objectivations.

Now, since knowledge means intellectual application of the Satz vom Grunde, and since the Will is not bound to it, the fundamental consequence is that the Will is essentialiter unknowable (nicht wißbar): where there is knowledge, there is only representation and phenomenon, not noumenon. Space and time (the principium individuationis) make appear multiple the unique Ding an sich;7 ergo, our knowledge provides only an approximation to the truth, not the truth itself.

With this, we do not go back to Kant's viewpoint, because now we know that there is a unique an sich of everything, which in everything objectifies itself;8 but we cannot go beyond the border, which our will draws for us. In Kant and, for Schopenhauer, in the Pantheists,9 the an sich is an unknown "x", while the Will is to us immediately knowable and known. But its essence is something which escapes the limits of our knowledge, the determinations of the intellect and of the reason, because, by definition, knowledge says phenomenon, and the will is noumenon. So, according to the criteria of the regular (intellectual and rational) knowledge, the Will is also knowable only as phenomenon. We need then a different kind of knowledge in order to approach it.

Since the Will is the root of everything, and the essence of all things is the same everywhere, each kind of knowledge of it is tautological: every sort of knowledge can lead to the true essence of the universe, because every object of every knowledge is an Objektität of the Will. Anyways, as a consequence of what I said before, even the most perfect possible knowledge can be only a step, a transition towards something, which no knowledge will ever be able to reach.

So, since in the second book of Die Welt Schopenhauer showed that the knowledge comes from the Will and it is a servant of its, a means of the affirmation of the Will, and since the salvation, the redemption, as anybody knows, is for Schopenhauer the negation of the Will, each religion develops, in its highest phase, into mysticism and mysteries, which are the point where the knowledge ceases. This point, therefore, can be expressed for the thought only by means of negations, and for intuition with symbols:

Mystik, im weitesten Sinne, ist jede Anleitung zum unmittelbaren Innewerden Dessen, wohin weder Anschauung noch Begriff, also überhaupt keine Ernentniß reicht. Der Mystiker steht zum Philosophen dadurch im Gegensatz, daß er von innen anhebt, dieser aber von außen. Der Mystiker nämlich geht aus von seiner innern, positiven, individuellen Erfahrung, in welcher er sich findet als das ewige, alleinige Wesen u. s. f.

The inner experience of Mystics, for its peculiar nature, cannot be communicated. As Dante says in the first Canto of the Paradiso: "Trasumanar significar per verba non si poria", it is impossible to narrate the experience of transcending the human condition. For this reason, the mystic cannot convince. The philosopher, instead, starts from what is common to everybody, from the objective phenomenon, which anybody can see, and from the very fact of the Selbstbewusstsein, which everybody can find inside himself. His method consists in reflecting about those things, and in the combination of the data given by speculation: so that he can convince.

Philosophy is valid if it rejects all the hypotheses which cannot be funded and if it welcomes among its data only what can be solidly showed in the intuitively given world, through the forms of our intellect:

Dieserhalb muß sie Kosmologie bleiben und kann nicht Theologie werden. Ihr Thema muß sich auf die Welt beschränken: was diese sei, im tiefsten Innern sei, allseitig auszusprechen, ist Alles, was sie redlicherweise leisten kann. -- Diesem nun entspricht es, daß meine Lehre, wann auf ihrem Gipfelpunkte angelangt, eine negativen Charakter annimmt, also mit einer Negation endigt. Sie kann hier nämlich nur von Dem reden, was verneint, aufgegeben wird: was dafür aber gewonnen, ergriffen wird, ist sie genöthigt (am Schlusse des vierten Buchs) als Nichts zu bezeichnen, und kann bloß den Trost hinzufügen, daß es nur ein relatives, kein absolutes Nichts sei.10

In the last paragraph of Die Welt, Schopenhauer talked about the difference between nihil negativum (absolute nothing) and nihil privativum (relative nothing): if something is nothing of what we know, it is nothing for us; but from this it does not descend that it is nothing absolutely; rather, that means that we are limited to a negative knowledge of it, which can depend on the limitedness of our perspective. From this moment on, only Mystics can proceed positively. There are three dimension of Mystics:

  1. Quietismus: the renunciation to every will;
  2. Askesis: the voluntary mortification of one's own will;
  3. Mysticismus: consciousness of the identity of one's own being with that of all things.

As a sort of Jung ante litteram, Schopenhauer notices the analogies among the authors who wrote about these topics, in every culture and in every time, without knowing of each other. Buddha and Meister Eckhart taught the same thing, but the first one could speak freely, while Eckhart had to use the allegorical language of the Christian mythology. This concordance is due to the fact that they follow their real interior experience, an experience which is not given to anybody, but to the happy few. Schopenhauer recognizes a fundamentally ascetic feature to the eastern philosophies and also to the true Christian religion, that feature which Schopenhauer calls Verneinung des Willens zum Leben, Buddha nirvana and Christianity contemptus mundi. Schopenhauer gives an interesting etymology of the word nirvana:

Die Etymologie des Wortes Nirwana wird verschieden angegeben. Nach Colebrook [...] kommt es von Wa, wehen, wie der Wind, mit vorgesetzter Negation Nir, bedeutet also Windstille, aber als Adjektiv "erloschen" [...] Nach dem Asiatic Journal [...], heißt es eigentlich Nerawana, von nera, ohne, und wana, Leben, und die Bedeutung wäre annihilatio. -- Im Eastern Monachism, by Spence Hardy, wird [...] Nirwana abgeleitet von Wana, sündliche Wünsche, mit der Negation nir. -- J. J. Schmidt [...] sagt, das Sanskritwort Nirwana werde im Mongolischen übersetzt durch eine Phrase, welche bedeutet: "vom Jammer abschieden", -- "dem Jammer entwichen". -- Nach des selben Gelehrten Vorlesungen in der Petersburger Akademie ist Nirwana das Gegenteil von Sansara, welches die Welt der steten Wiedergeburten, des Gelüstes und Verlangens, der Sinnentäuschung und wandelbaren Formen, des Geborenwerdens, Alterns, Erkrankens und Sterbens ist. -- In der Burmesischen Sprache wird das Wort Nirwana, nach Analogie der übrigen Sanskritworte, umgestaltet in Nieban und wird übersetzt durch "vollständige Verschwindung".11

It is worth noting how different the interpretations of the same fact can be. Both Schopenhauer and Nietzsche take inspiration from the figure of Jesus of Nazareth, the former to justify his Nein sagen zum Leben, the latter to justify the Ja sagen zum Leben. Schopenhauer attributes to Christ's doctrine an antikosmischen Tendenz, in which he subsumes the teachings of renunciation, of complete chastity, of self-negation (abnegation), of mortification of the will. In Schopenhauer's opinion, the pure and original Christianity is that of the New Testament and of the Fathers of the Church; here, the ascetic inclination is evident: "sie ist der Gipfel, zu welchem Alles emporstrebt".12 Especially marriage was considered a mere compromise, a concession to the ones who were not able to aim higher, an escamotage to avoid a deeper corruption.

The Old Testament does not follow this tendency, or, better, it does not fore-run it. With its panta kala lian, the acceptation and justification of the whole existence, the Old Testament is the extreme opposite of the New; and, moreover, it is in clear contradiction with itself, and with its highest, though mythical, truth (its only truth, to be sure): that of the original sin:

Der innerste Kern und Geist des Christenthums ist mit dem des Brahmanismus und Buddhaismus der selbe: sämmtlich lehren sie eine schwere Verschuldung des Menschengeschlechts durch sein Daseyn selbst; nur daß das Christenthum hierbei nicht, wie jene altern Glaubenslehren, direkt und unumwunden verfährt, also nicht die Schuld geradezu durch das Daseyn selbst gesetzt seyn, sondern sie durch eine That des ersten Menschenpaares entstehn läßt.13

For the very fact of its own existence, mankind is destined to sufferance and pain. It is an innate mistake to believe that we are made to be happy. As we think so, ever since we were born, the world seems to us full of contradictions. It is a perspective error, what Schopenhauer calls repeatedly the proton pseudos. Actually, life manifests itself as something calculated in each aspect in order to make us unhappy, like something that must end up being considered distasteful, bitter, an error from which we have to come back, so that our soul, as the Bhagavad Gita would say, can be healed by the desire, by der Sucht zu genießen, ja, zu leben, and can disaffect itself from the world.14

If we leave beyond our innate error, the world begins all of a sudden to appear harmonic, coherent of a particular kind of coherence, that of the Will. Accidents and mishaps will stop looking unjust and catching us off guard, because we would have understood that pain and anguish cooperate to the true goal of life, that of extinguishing the Will: "Das Leiden ist in der That der Läuterungsproceß, durch welchen allein, in der meisten Fällen, der Mensch geheiligt, d. h. von dem Irrweg des Willens zum Leben zurückgeführt wird".15 Death is the apogee of this process of progressive conquer of self-consciousness: it is the final result, the moment where the entire life is summed up and accomplished:

[Der Tod] mit Einem Male ausspricht, nämlich dies, daß das ganze Streben, dessen Erscheinung das leben ist, ein vergebliches, eiteles, sich wiedersprechendes war, von welchem zurückgekommen zu seyn eine Erlösung ist [...] die Asketen ihr Leben absichtlich möglichst arm, hart und freudenleer machen, weil sie ihr wahres und letztes Wohl im Auge haben. Aber für uns sorgt das Schicksal und der lauf der dinge besser, als wir selbst, indem es unsere Anstalten zu einem Schlaraffenleben dessen Thörichtes schon an seine Kürze, Bestandlosigkeit, Leerheit und Beschließung durch den bittern Tod erkennbar genug ist, allenthalben vereitelt. Dornen über Dornen auf unsern Pfad streuet und das heilsame Leiden, das Panakeion unsers Jammers, uns überall entgegen bringt.16

Life is a process of purification, and pain is the way to that purification. This is another theme that Schopenhauer thinks he shares with Christ: the one symbol of life is the cross, and only through that cross it becomes possible to win the pain. The optimistic spirit of the Old Testament does not agree with the pessimistic one of the New Testament. The panta kala lian is extraneous to the authentic Christian doctrine, which always speaks about a reign that is not of this world, which talks about this world as a dominion of the devil where we do not belong:

Dies stimmt zu dem asketischen Geiste der Verleugnung des eigenen Selbst und der Ueberwindung der Welt, welcher, eben wie die gränzenlose Liebe des Nächsten, selbst des Feindes, der Grundzug ist, welchen das Christenthum mit dem Brahmanismus und Buddhaismus gemein hat, und der ihre Verwandtschaft beurkundet.17

Schopenhauer presents a perspective very close to that of Buddhism and of the eastern thought in general; actually he also quotes, in a Latin and very brief version, the four noble truths:

  1. dolor;
  2. doloris ortus;
  3. doloris interitus;
  4. octopartita via ad doloris sedationem.18

But the differences are relevant. According to the Zen, the Japanese Buddhism, our psycho-physical energy is tightly tied to the cosmic one; it is a part, a fragment of it. The karman is the space-temporal actualization of this universal energetic impulse, which therefore, operating in and through human subjectivity, realizes itself as will. The cosmic energy acts in us and directs our decision power, our intelligible character, like Schopenhauer says: the personal action realizes the karman, the will determines the action. When we are in harmony with the universe, we can acquire energy: what the Japanese call hishiryo, consciousness, is a comprehensive and total awareness, without ego, beyond good and evil; it embraces the whole existence, because it is similar to the cosmic order, which includes and transcends all the contradictions: it is the complexio oppositorum. The cosmic energy has no beginning and no end, it is beyond space, time and personal choices. Zen accepts the oppositions, the contradictions, without generating dualities, because dualities belong only to the phenomenon.

The point is that Schopenhauer poses the contradiction, not just in the phenomenon, like the Zen does -- so that, removing the ignorance, which makes us see the world as contradictory, we would eo ipso gain the knowledge of its coherence; he poses, instead, the contradiction in the noumenon itself, in the essence, in the nature of the Will: contradiction is the essence of the Will, so that each objectivation of its is intimately contradictory as well. Gaining the knowledge, we do not remove the contradiction, but we recognize it in its deepest tragedy: qui auget scientiam auget et dolorem, says Schopenhauer, quoting the Kohélet:

So sehn wir in der MNatur überall Streit, Kampf und Wechsel des Sieges, und werden eben darin weiterhin die dem Willen wesentliche Entzweiung mit sich selbst deutlicher erkennen. Jede Stufe der Objektivation des Willens macht der andern die Materie, den Raum, die Zeit streitig. Beständig muß die beharrende Materie die Form wechseln, indem, am Leitfaden der Kausalität, mechanische, physische, chemische, organische Erscheinungen, sich gierig zum Hervortreten drängend, einander die Materie entreißen, da jede ihre Idee offenbaren will [...] ist doch dieser Streit selbst nur die Offenbarung der dem Willen wesentlichen Entzweiung mit sich selbst.19

According to Schopenhauer, Protestantism, suppressing the central point of Christianity, i. e. chastity, became nothing but an apostasy. Authentic Christianity is the doctrine of the deep guilt of mankind on the basis of its existence itself, and of the aspiration of the heart to the redemption from that guilt. But this redemption can be reached only by means of the gravest sacrifices and with the denial of one's own ego, that is with a radical conversion of the human nature. Luther removed the ascetic and mystical principles, so he made room for optimism, which is the death of the possibility to see the Truth. The Quakers and other sects, on the other hand, restored the original soul of Christ's teachings, by means of a severe chastity and of the renunciation to sexual pleasure whatsoever.

Even though Christianity taught a truth which was already long known and better exposed in Asia, it was an event and a revelation in Europe, because it disclosed the true metaphysical meaning of life:

Es lehrte nämlich die große Wahrheit der Bejahung und Verneinung des Willens zum Leben, im Gewände der Allegorie, indem es sagte, daß durch Adams Südenfall der Fluch Alle getroffen habe, die Sünde in die Welt gekommen, die Schuld auf Alle vererbt sei; daß aber dagegen durch Jesu Opfertod Alle entsühnt seien, die Welt erlöst, die Schuld getilgt und die Gerechtigkeit versöhnt.20

The truth contained in these great religions -- that of the need of redemption from an existence, which is bound to pain and death, redemption that can be reached only with the negation of the will to live -- this truth is by far the most important one; but, unfortunately, it is not accessible to everyone; therefore, it was always necessary to declare it through a mythical vehicle. The task of philosophy is to offer that content in a pure guise, in abstract concepts; in other words, to express verbally and argumentatively a truth, which Mystics can see and experiment, but not communicate.

Here is the difference between the saint and the philosopher, which corresponds to that between Mystics and Philosophy. Each man is potentially conscious of the Truth, but the philosopher brings it to the abstract and rational knowledge, to the concept. The saint, on the other hand, knows the Truth immediately, and he expresses it with his actions. Only his acting proves that a saint is in fact saint, because he moves in the moral practice not from abstraction, but from the immediate knowledge learned intuitively. So, a saint does not need to be a philosopher, and a philosopher does not need to be a saint: they both talk about the same Truth, in two different ways:

Wie die Erkenntniß, aus welcher die Verneinung des Willens zum Leben hervorgeht, eine intuitive ist und keine abstrakte; so findet sie ihren vollkommenen Ausdruck auch nicht in abstrakte Begriffen, sondern allein in der That und dem Wandel. Daher um völliger zu verstehn, was wir philosophisch als Verneinung des Willens zum Leben ausdrücken, hat man die Beispiele aus der Erfahrung und Wirklichkeit kennen zu lernen.21

Who reaches the state of negation of the Will to live is full of joy and heavenly peace, an imperturbable calm and serenity, which only apparently are a joyless condition full of privations:

Wir fühlen dann wohl, daß jede der Welt abgewonnene Erfüllung unserer Wünsche doch nur dem Almosen gleicht, welches den Bettler heute am Leben enthält, damit er morgen wieder hungere; die Resignation dagegen dem erlebten Landgut: es entnimmt den Besitzer aller Sorgen auf immer.22

This is the permanent version of the transitory aesthetic condition, which in the third book of Die Welt was clarified as seldom and sporadically available for the genius. The saint, who finally won his own nature, survives as a pure mirror of the world, as the Tantra would say, not touched by whatever happens.

The Askesis, in Schopenhauer, is the intentional, deliberate exercise of breaking the Will, refusing the pleasant and looking for the unpleasant, with a persistent and consistent effort of mortifying the will to live:

Wahres Heil, Erlösung vom Leben und Leiden, ist ohne gänzliche Verneinung des Willens nicht zu denken. Bis dahin ist Jeder nicht Anderes, als dieser Wille selbst, dessen Erscheinung eine hinschwindende Existenz, ein immer nichtiges, stets vereiteltes Streben und die dargestellte Welt voll Leiden ist, welcher Alle unwiderruflich auf gleiche Weise angehören.23

Now, since by Schopenhauer's own admission, his philosophy, and philosophy in general, leaves problems open -- it cannot give a whole knowledge without any residue, as Hegel wants -- , because it speaks only the language of the reason and not that of experience, which alone can reach the truth (this also the theme of Schelling's last philosophy), I think I can conclude raising two problems, one solvable, while the other one, I reckon, remains in question:

1) Is it possible to conceive a metaphysical Principle, which generates objectivations of itself that can negate it? Not that they can only rebel or disobey, they can actually extinguish it.

I would answer that, in primis, Schopenhauer describes the Wille as a contradictory principle (see, for example, § 27 of Die Welt): the contradiction is its inner nature, and philosophy cannot resolve this incoherence, because an irrational condition cannot be explained in terms of rationality. Secondly, we must not confuse the Wille as metaphysical principle of everything and the will of the individual: only this one, which is an Objektität of the Wille, can be negated:

der Zustand, in welchem der Charakter der Macht der Motive entzogen ist, nicht unmittelbar vom Willen ausgeht, sondern von einer veränderten Erkenntnißweise. So lange nämlich die Erkenntniß keine andere, als die im principio individuationis befangene, dem Satz vom Grunde schlechthin nachgehende ist, ist auch die Gewalt der Motive unwiderstehlich: wann aber das principium individuationis durchschaut, die Ideen, ja das Wesen der Dinge an sich, als der selbe Wille in Allem, unmittelbar erkannt wird, und aus dieser Erkenntniß ein allgemeines Quietiv des Wollens hervorgeht [...] der Charakter selbst [but not the Wille], kann völlig aufgehoben werden, durch die oben angegebene Veränderung der Erkentniß.24

2) If the Will determinates the development of everything, if all that happened, happens and is going to happen, is nothing but an objectivation of its, would not our emancipation be just an illusion disposed by the Will itself? Would not it be once again the Will, which, acting through us, at the same time deceives us, making us believe that we are free (freed, liberated), while, in fact, we are more slaves than ever, and precisely because we believe in that illusion, we do not recognize the illusory essence of the illusion? If everything is a fruit of the blind self-unfolding of the Will, included our action, our intelligible character -- and that this is the case is obvious considering Schopenhauer's theory of the freedom of human will25 -- how is it possible to believe that our action escapes the necessity of the Will?

It seems to me, that the possibility of a real freedom for the man is excluded, starting from the premises of Schopenhauer philosophy. But, as I said, this remains a matter of inquiry.

Copyright © 2011 Alessandro Medri

Alessandro Medri. «An open system: the meaning of Mysticism in Schopenhauer». Dialegesthai. Rivista telematica di filosofia [in linea], anno 13 (2011) [inserito il 20 luglio 2011], disponibile su World Wide Web: <>, [37 KB], ISSN 1128-5478.


  1. There are not so many essays dedicated to this theme. One of the most complete is Giuseppe Faggin, Schopenhauer. Il mistico senza Dio (Firenze: La Nuova Italia, 1951). As far as I know, the most famous books about Schopenhauer do not mention the topic (see for instance Bryan Magee, The Philosophy of Schoppenhauer (New York: Oxford University Press, 1983)) or use the word 'mysticism' as a synonym of 'negation of the Will', without developing its actual meaning (see Christopher Janaway, (New york: oxford University Press, 1989), 283). An interesting article about the relationship between art and mysticism in Schopenhauer is Christopher Janaway, Knowledge and tranquillity: Schopenhauer on the value of art, in Schopenhauer, philosophy and the arts (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 39-61. <

  2. Arthur Schopenhauer, Sämtliche Werke, hrsg. von Arthur Hübscher, 3. Auflage, Band 2 und 3: Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung. Erster und zweiter Band (Wiesbaden: F. A. Brockhaus, 1972), I 494 (Kritik der Kantischen Philosophie). <

  3. Ibid., II 217. See Erich Adickes, Kant und das Ding an sich (Berlin: Pan, 1924). <

  4. See on this topic Fabio Grigenti, Natura e rappresentazione. Genesi e struttura della natura in Arthur Schopenhauer (Napoli: La città del Sole, 2000); Marco Segala, Schopenhauer, la filosofia, le scienze (Pisa: Edizioni della Normale, 2009). <

  5. Ibid., I 154. <

  6. Ibid., II 220. <

  7. See §23. <

  8. See Christopher Janaway, Self and World in Schopenhauer's Philosophy (New York: Oxford university Press, 1989). <

  9. See ibid., II 739. <

  10. Ibid., II 703. <

  11. Ibid., II 583. <

  12. Ibid., II 708. <

  13. Ibid., II 693. <

  14. Ibid., II 730. <

  15. Ibid., II 731. <

  16. Ibid., II 732.735. <

  17. Ibid., II 718. <

  18. Ibid., II 716. <

  19. Ibid., I 175. <

  20. Ibid., II 722. <

  21. Ibid., I 453. <

  22. Ibid., I 461. <

  23. Ibid., I 470. <

  24. Ibid., I 477. <

  25. See also ibid., § 28. <

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