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date: 02 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

In his fascinating 1836 volume On the Will in Nature, Schopenhauer demonstrates a familiarity with scholarship on classical Chinese thought that is, at best, glancing. He takes special interest, however, in a remark rendered from the Song Dynasty Confucian thinker Zhu Xi to the effect that the “will of human beings” is at the ground of all things, which suggests to him a deep resonance with his own system. Though there is nothing of substance to be found in this suspected connection, Schopenhauer may have been better advised to delve into Zhu’s reformulation of ancient Confucian formulations of compassion for an opportunity at cross-cultural dialogue. This chapter demonstrates that, while Zhu Xi’s inspiration for his explication of compassion, namely Mencius, took a far more naturalistic view of this moral feeling, Zhu’s commentarial reformulation of Mencius’s thought, which makes compassion a metaphysical manifestation of the basic patterns of human nature, may have prompted Schopenhauer to deeper confidence in his own convictions about the “intelligible character.”

Keywords: Schopenhauer, Confucius, Zhu Xi, compassion, Chinese philosophy

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