The Schopenhauer's ethical-metaphysical approach os "sympathy”: between Hume and Plotinus

[email protected]: An International Journal for Moral Philosophy 16 (1):63–82 (2017)
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This article aims to establish the basis for understanding "sympathy" in Arthur Schopenhauer's philosophy. In an undeveloped passage, Schopenhauer defines the concept of sympathy as the empirical irruption of the metaphysical identity of the will through the physical plurality of its appearances, which shows a connection completely different from that known we through the principle of reason. In characterizing sympathy, Schopenhauer seems to indicate both a conception of sympathy from the moral feeling, and a cosmological-metaphysical conception of this concept. Following the clue left by the philosopher of the will, these conceptions seem to find an adequate clarification in the thoughts of Hume and Plotinus. Both develop, in their own way, two conceptions of sympathy, which aid and enrich Schopenhauer's approach. While from Hume the conception of the communication of feelings and affections is extracted, Plotinus develops a conception of the sympathy from the primordial unit of the cosmos. In the face of the two positions, which exert mutual and indirect influence on Schopenhauer, a connection between ethics and metaphysics, between the stricto sensu morality of the individual and the lato sensu morality of the cosmos, becomes possible.



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