The Standard Interpretation of Schopenhauer’s Compensation Argument for Pessimism: A Nonstandard Variant

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According to Schopenhauer’s compensation argument for pessimism, the non-existence of the world is preferable to its existence because no goods can ever compensate for the mere existence of evil. Standard interpretations take this argument to be based on Schopenhauer’s thesis that all goods are merely the negation of evils, from which they assume it follows that the apparent goods in life are in fact empty and without value. This article develops a non-standard variant of the standard interpretation, which accepts the relevance of the negativity thesis but rejects that the argument assumes that life’s goods are all empty and valueless. Instead, it argues that whatever value negative goods might possess, they do not have the kind of value to compensate for positive evils. This involves additional development of the negativity thesis and a defence of it against objections from Byron Simmons (2021)
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First archival date: 2021-08-03
Latest version: 3 (2021-08-23)
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