The Limits of Misogyny: Schopenhauer, "On Women"

Kritike 2 (2):131-145 (2008)
Tom Grimwood
Lancaster University
Given that, for the past thirty years or so, there has appeared a seemingly limitless range of approaches to the “problem of woman” in Nietzsche’s writing, it is somewhat surprising that his oft-cited philosophical mentor, Arthur Schopenhauer, has largely escaped the same scrupulous attention. Indeed, the idea that Schopenhauer despised women has gone relatively unchallenged in general philosophical literature from around the 1930’s onwards. Schopenhauer’s role as an “arch-misogynist” serves as an unproblematic background figure or frame of reference to the more unsavoury elements of texts by the likes of Nietzsche, Freud and so on. For example, in Francis Nesbitt Oppel’s recent work on Nietzsche, Schopenhauer’s texts are cited as a means to interpreting Nietzsche’s “misogyny” as ironic: in order to analyse Nietzsche’s writing on women as an ironic play on misogyny, there is aneed for an “original” misogyny to supply the object of such an irony. Schopenhauer, in brief citation, serves as a ready example of such “original” misogyny, without the need for direct interpretative engagement.
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DOI 10.3860/krit.v2i2.854
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