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QSCP Summer School 2017: Stephan Atzert on Schopenhauer's Philosophy and its Influence

  • Queensland College of Art, Building S.02, Room 6.38 226 Grey Street South Brisbane, QLD, 4101 Australia (map)

This course is made up of five 2-hour seminar sessions which will run from Monday the 30th January - Friday the 3rd February, 6pm - 8pm.
*Please note enrolments are essential, see the enrolments page for details.

Schopenhauer's relevance lies in the fact that it is a philosophy of the living body and of bodily sensations. The human body and its sensations form the basis for Schopenhauer's physiological and psychological explanations of the Will. Unlike the metaphysical justification of the Will – predominantly an anthropomorphic projection featuring prominently in his main work The World as Will and Representation – the psychological explanation draws attention to an experience-based approach to Schopenhauer's philosophy. The physiological rationale is based upon the capacity of the muscles to contract, whereas the psychological is founded upon the sensations of the body.

In the first session, the second chapter of The World as Will and Representation, which details Schopenhauer's concept of the Will is discussed and its implications for Schopenhauer's ethics for compassion are highlighted. 

In the second and third session, Nietzsche’s critique of Schopenhauer’s ethics of compassion is examined, along with its premises, i.e. Schopenhauer's epistemology. Compassion is the pivotal element of Schopenhauer’s ethics. Nietzsche polarizes and polemically sharpens Schopenhauer’s philosophical standpoints for the benefit of critical controversy. On the one hand Schopenhauer's notion of compassion must be understood epistemologically, as resting on the reality of bodily sensations; on the other hand historically, as social moral concept.

In the fourth session, Freud’s borrowing of structural and substantial elements of Schopenhauer’s writings and, among other things, his use of these to name and interpret depth-psychological phenomena are illustrated. In doing so, his role in the history of ideas as the actual heir of Schopenhauer is emphasised. Examples drawn from various creative periods of Sigmund Freud (On Dreams, Jokes and their Relation to the Unconscious, Future of an Illusion, Beyond the Pleasure Principle) attest to his modification of Schopenhauer’s concepts and reconfigurations of the latter’s psychological observations. 

In the fifth session, the soteriological aspect of Schopenhauer's philosophy - i.e. that which lies beyond the Will, the silencing of the Will, NIRVANA - shall be presented with reference to the philosophy of Phillip Mainländer, Karl Eugen Neumann's translation of the Buddha's discourses from Pali into German, and selected passages from Th. W. Adorno's Negative Dialectics.