Virtue and the Problem of Egoism in Schopenhauer's Moral Philosophy

In Schopenhauer's Moral Philosophy. Routledge (forthcoming)
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It has previously been argued that Schopenhauer is a distinctive type of virtue ethicist (Hassan, 2019). The Aristotelian version of virtue ethics has traditionally been accused of being fundamentally egoistic insofar as the possession of virtues is beneficial to the possessor, and serve as the ultimate justification for obtaining them. Indeed, Schopenhauer himself makes a version of this complaint. In this chapter, I investigate whether Schopenhauer’s moral framework nevertheless suffers from this same objection of egoism in light of how he conceives of the relationship between morality and ascetic 'salvation'. Drawing upon his published works and letters, I argue that Schopenhauer has the resources to avoid the objection. Because of his idiosyncratic metaphysics, I argue that Schopenhauer can also avoid the problem of self-effacement which may result from the way in which he avoids the egoism objection. The discussion thus intends to establish further nuance to Schopenhauer’s conception of virtue and its value.

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Patrick Hassan
Cardiff University


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